Game-related ramblings.

Roguelike Highlights: Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup

EDIT: If you are reading this from the FUTURE, please note that Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup was on version 0.9 at the time of writing, and the game has changed significantly since. Older versions are all archived here, however, if you want to try any of those.

As I mentioned in my introduction to roguelikes, most players eventually gravitate towards the most complex games. These are the games that can last you an entire lifetime, with deep, complex systems that take years to fully learn and master. Finally managing to win one of these games is a truly momentous event, one that many players will never achieve. But even if they do not, they’ll still fondly remember their best attempts, sagas of their own making that were not pre-determined by the developers. Just because your character eventually succumbed to overwhelming odds doesn’t mean he or she was not a great hero, whose last adventure became a legend for the ages. Or maybe your character’s death was actually rather stupid and humorous instead. Either way, that particular character is gone, living on only as a fond (or humorous) memory. It’s time for the next would-be hero’s story.

The steep learning curves of the most complex roguelikes mean that players will usually pick a favorite and stick to it, as recalibrating one’s playstyle to a different game is difficult. There are three main options: Nethack, Angband variants, and Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. While the title of the post gives away my personal pick of the three, I’m going to briefly discuss the other two in comparison. Let’s begin!

1) Nethack

Nethack is possibly the most famous roguelike. It’s also one of the longest-running, with its first version released in 1987, followed by continual communal development that is still active today. But the last gameplay changes were made in 2003, with more recent updates including additional tilesets and support for more operating systems. This means that Nethack is also that most rare of beasts: an (essentially) completed roguelike.

Those unfamiliar with the game often assume it has something to do with hacking or computers, but this is not the case; it’s a traditional fantasy-themed roguelike, although there’s a lot of humor mixed in. The name arose because the game was based on an earlier roguelike called Hack, which was in turn based on the original Rogue. Development of Nethack included online collaboration over Usenet, therefore the “net” prefix was added to the title.

Indeed, the influence of the original Rogue is clearly present in Nethack. The game opts for basic ASCII graphics (although there are options for tilesets), dungeon levels are single-screen, and it utilizes the traditional style of keyboard commands. Except there’s a lot more commands. A lot more. The level of simulation in Nethack is simply staggering. You can engrave messages into walls of the dungeon. You can train your pet to steal from shops for you. You can grow crops, dig out tunnels, cause explosions, become permanently invisible, transform into other creatures, and much, much more. The game is also packed with secrets, from unexpected uses for items to various ways to bypass certain special enemies to tricks involving the shopkeepers, and so on. Even veteran players who have played for years can discover some previously unknown behavior.

Unfortunately, this complexity means Nethack has one of the steepest learning curves of any roguelike. There are plenty of guides online to help you out, but the onus is on you to learn it. While I’ve never really gotten deep into the game, I can definitely understand the appeal. If Nethack sounds interesting to you and you don’t mind a few spoilers, I’d recommend looking for some “ascension posts” which describe a player’s first win. These will give a better sense of how rewarding the game can be than anything I could write. A great example is this one.

2) Angband variants

I haven’t spent much time with this family of games either, so I’m not sure if there’s a “definitive” variant or not. The one I tried was called ZangbandTK, but there are others. The original Angband began in 1990, as an extension of Umoria, a roguelike heavily inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Angband variants show a lot of similarities to Dungeons & Dragons in their character and combat systems, and I imagine this will appeal to many fans of the tabletop game. The most notable design characteristic of these games is that unlike Nethack and many others, a new dungeon level is generated any time you use a stairway, meaning you can never return to a dungeon level once you leave it. This makes retreat dangerous, but also means that the player can continually regenerate dungeon levels in order to build their character’s skills or to look for special loot. The dungeon is very large, featuring 100 levels, but there is a town to retreat to in order to sell things and accept quests. Some variants contain an overworld map as well with side dungeons in addition to the main one. By the end of the game, a player can obtain some extremely powerful loot, typically much better than can be found in other roguelikes.

Graphics are again ASCII or simple tilesets, and the games are played with a large set of keyboard commands. The learning curve is also quite steep. A similar level of complexity as Nethack, perhaps, but with alternate rules that some prefer.

3) Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup

This is my personal favorite. It is the open-source continuation of Linley’s Dungeon Crawl (aka Dungeon Crawl or simply Crawl), which was first released in 1997 and was abandoned in 2005. The Stone Soup continuation has considerably updated the base game, and is still active today, with v0.9.1 released recently.

I like Dungeon Crawl for many reasons. One of the biggest is that it makes a great effort to improve the user interface. While the game can be played in a console with ASCII graphics and keyboard-only commands like Nethack and Angband, the game also includes a graphical tiles version. But rather than simply acting as replacement graphics for the same game, the tiles version adds much more, from mouse support to visual displays of inventory and character statistics. Many people claim that Dungeon Crawl has the most intuitive roguelike interface, but let’s be clear: it’s still not very good. All the keyboard commands are still there, with a mouse control system and graphical displays incorporated on top. It’s better than most roguelikes but it’s nowhere near as intuitive as Dungeons of Dredmor, for example.

But the tile graphics really help in a lot of other ways too. Not only are there unique graphics for each type of enemy in the game, but at a glance the player can determine what type of weapon the enemy is wielding, whether it has noticed the player, whether it is attacking or retreating, how wounded it is, and whether it is berserk or in some other special state. There’s also a minimap, which is crucial since the dungeon levels are much too large to fit on one screen. Add an in-depth auto-exploration option which can be adjusted to have your character automatically pick up certain items, and determine which events will stop the exploration and return control to the player, and the tedium of traveling through these large dungeon floors is gone. There’s also an (admittedly slightly clunkier) fast-travel system which lets you make a bee-line for the stairs, or even travel to a specific dungeon level or special location, which makes moving through the dungeon a breeze. Then there’s great search feature. Do you vaguely remember dropping a certain potion somewhere, and now you need it? Just search for it, and the game will let you know that there is indeed one back on level 6… would you like to fast-travel to it? There’s even a shopping list to help you remember which items you wanted to buy from shops but didn’t have enough money yet.

But in addition to the streamlined control and presentation, there are some core design decisions that I really appreciate. The game eschews things like towns, NPCs, quests and an overworld area in favor of a single, giant dungeon. This creates a more focused playing experience: it’s just you versus the dungeon, no running back to town to heal up and sell things. There are shops in the dungeon, but you can only buy items, not sell them. This removes the desire to tediously drag every piece of loot you find to a shop to get more gold. Dungeon levels are persistent, with three upstairs and three downstairs per level, making strategic retreats a viable and essential tactic. When a dungeon level has been cleared out, the monster spawn rate is much slower, which means the player is always encouraged to move forward. In fact, some of the most difficult decisions in the game arise when you’re not sure where to go next. You could explore the Lair of Beasts, but there’s a hydra in there that will trounce you. You tried the Orcish Mines instead, but the bottom level is filled with powerful orcish warlords and sorcerers. You’ve traveled down the main dungeon a bit farther and found the Hive, but you don’t have poison resistance so that’s a bad idea. And going any deeper in the main dungeon means you get wrecked by stone giants and invisible horrors. So where do you go? You’re going to have to try somewhere, and hope you can survive it.

These various dungeon branches are another great thing about the game. The main dungeon is only 27 levels deep, but there are myriad side-branches with various themes, some of which lead to even more branches, and you’ll need to explore at least some of these if you want to grab the Orb of Zot from the bottom of the dungeon and win the game. Some branches contain the runes you need to gain access to the Orb, while others simply contain treasure vaults, but all of them are quite dangerous when you reach their lowest level. Depending on your character’s race and class, you will likely want to tackle some of these branches rather than others, and ideally in a certain order. A fighter and a mage might end up going to completely different locations in their attempt to retrieve the Orb, as some areas are more appropriate for the mage’s long-range magical attacks while others are better for the fighter’s brute force melee approach.

I also love the system of gods and religion in Dungeon Crawl. Many roguelikes use a simple system based on character alignment: there is a good, neutral and evil god, and each will respond to your actions appropriately. In Dungeon Crawl, there are 18 unique gods, each with their own characteristics, desires, advantages and disadvantages, and you can choose to worship any one of them. Fighters might choose Trog, the god of rage, who grants them the ability to go berserk at will and provides gifts of weapons, but who disallows the use of magic and requires constant kills and corpse sacrifices to keep him happy. Okawaru is similar but supports less aggressive play, providing gifts of both weapons and armor and granting bonuses to combat skills. Or maybe Cheibriados, the slow god, is a better choice; he encourages you to wear heavy, cumbersome armor that slows your movement speed, but in return grants huge stat boosts and several invocation abilities that help slow and damage enemies. There’s also a god of healing, several gods geared towards magic users, a god of necromancy, a plant god, a god of slimes, a god of orcs who only accepts orcish worshippers, and even a god of chaos who will bestow great boons or heavy curses depending on his fickle mood. Or you can try and play through the game as an atheist for an extra challenge. Whatever you choose will greatly alter your playstyle, and makes for very interesting variations on subsequent playthroughs. And if that’s not enough variety for you, you can try out another of the 23 (soon to be 24) character species or 27 character classes, each of which plays very differently.

When you find the Ecumenical Temple, you can choose a god to worship.

And of course, like all the best roguelikes, Dungeon Crawl is always fair. If you die, it’s because you did something wrong. You didn’t retreat when you should have. You went to a dangerous area before you were ready. You misjudged an enemy. Recently I was doing fairly well with a dwarven fighter, and I’d just stumbled across some crystal plate armor. Since it was better than my current armor, I decided to put it on. I was at full health, and there were no enemies in sight. But as my character was changing armor, a hydra came around the corner and mauled me. I was literally caught with my pants down, trying to hop into a new suit of armor as the hydra bit chunks out of me. I never got another turn; I was forced to watch helplessly as the hydra methodically took out my entire health bar. I died. It sucked. But the thing is, I knew the hydra was around somewhere because I caught sight of it before. I knew that changing armor takes several turns during which I would be unable to act. Why didn’t I retreat to a safer location before making the switch? I was stupid. So I died.

But I’ll be back. Not with the same character, but with another, trying his luck against the legendary dungeon that has claimed the lives of so many adventurers.

I’d like to finish with my own most memorable playthrough. Once, on a previous version of of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (v0.6? I can’t remember), I made it to the bottom. My dwarven fighter (I have mainly been playing that combination) had become the champion of Okawaru, glorifying his name through battle. I had fought my way through the Snake Pit, and through the hydras of the Swamp, and finally to the bottom of the deadly Vaults. I had found treasures of immense power to aid me in battle, and received more as gifts from Okawaru. Countless times I’d escaped deadly situations, or prevailed against immense odds. I was a master warrior, more than a match for anything I encountered, so I descended to level 27 of the dungeon and entered the Realm of Zot. The monsters there were some of the toughest I’d faced, but with Okawaru’s guidance I prevailed, and finally reached the Orb’s chamber. I stepped inside.

This was it; the ultimate test of my mettle. No other adventurer had ever made it this far. I knew the Orb must be heavily guarded, but I’d never been here before, so I didn’t know what I was about to face. Soon, I found out, as several terrifyingly powerful Ancient Liches appeared as I rounded a corner. Before I could reach them they’d summoned hordes of huge demons. My weapon was enchanted with holy wrath, dealing out extra damage against my demonic foes, but they called upon the fires of hell, dealing massive damage. I tried to run, but freshly summoned demons blocked my escape, and all of my teleportation scrolls had been burned away by fiery attacks during my descent. So I made my last stand. I took as many of the demons with me as I could, before I was finally struck down, on the threshold of victory. The greatest adventurer to ever face the Dungeon had fallen.

I never made it that far again, and the more recent updates to the game have made things even tougher. But I’ll keep trying. And one day I’ll see that chamber again. When that day comes, I’ll be ready.

If you’ve tried some simpler roguelikes and are looking for something deeper, or perhaps you’re just intrigued by these complicated and crazy games, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is the easiest of the three for new players to get into. It has a tutorial (which, like Dungeons of Dredmor, is separate from the main game as I recommend), as well as a hints mode for the main game, and the mouse controls are often easier than the keyboard commands. But if Nethack or one of the Angband variants sound more like your thing, by all means check those out.

Soon, you’ll have some epic sagas of your own to tell.

I’ve covered the main roguelikes that I wanted to cover, but the Roguelike Highlights series is not over. I will still offer some highlights on interesting or unusual roguelikes in the future, so keep your eye out for those. In the meantime, may your characters suffer many epic and / or foolish deaths!


Roguelike Highlights: Brogue


History Lessons: Duke Nukem 3D


  1. Joe

    Hey Walter,
    Nice posts. I tried three of the roguelike games your wrote about – Brogue, Dredmore, and Stone Soup. I like Stone Soup the best by far. Anyhow, one question – is it some sort of cardinal sin in this genre to backup your save files? Starting fresh with a random game is fun and all, but permanent death gets annoying once the character has progressed a bit. Seems like you’d be against this practice, but it’d be messed up if I beat Stone Soup before you just because I backed up the damn files every once in a while. Alright, thank you for the excellent game recommendations. As always, Rock on.

    • Glad you’re enjoying the game! Backing up save files, known as “save scumming”, is generally frowned upon, but it can be a useful way to learn some of the game mechanics. A win is not considered “legitimate” if the player has used save scumming. I’ve also noticed that in Dungeon Crawl at least, deaths happen more frequently early in the game. This isn’t to say that the end of the game is easy; far from it, but typically if you’ve built a character that can survive to the middle sections of the game, you’re in pretty good shape, and it’s far more likely that your eventual death with be from something epic rather than something that’s more accidental. Things like attempting to clear the bottom floor of a dangerous dungeon branch. While it can be annoying to start over after getting that far, I’m always surprised at how quickly I can get back into things with a new character.

      Interestingly, it’s far more acceptable among roguelike players to look up “spoilers” about the game. Dungeon Crawl has an extensive wiki that covers all sorts of things, including several strategy guides, advice on what order to tackle different sections of the dungeon, and full lists of all enemies and items. I admit that I’ve used the wiki for some of its more general advice, which can help when you are doing fairly well for the first time and you’re faced with a bunch of dungeon branches and you don’t know which ones are dangerous or not. A key tactic: run away often and try other locations, you might find that going deeper in the main dungeon is much less dangerous than exploring the Elven Halls, for example, even though you can find the Elven Halls fairly early on. Wiki link: Note that not everything has been updated to reflect the new version 0.9.1 yet.

      Anyway, if you do decide to back up the save files, you have to find them first… I think the new version places them in your %AppData folder, which is a hidden folder by default in Windows 7. This location also stores your morgue, which is a catalog of all your previous characters… that’s where the memory of my best adventurer would be preserved, but since it was an earlier version of the game it got reset now.

      Most importantly, have fun!

      • schillingklaus

        I’ve been keeping remorselessly on savescumming for fifteen years. In order to make it useful, it is necessary to keep many savefiles from various stages of the game and keep track of them, one would otehrwise possibly save in the wrong spot when it is too late, anyways. I don’t care what is frowned upon or not.

        • To each their own! I do not condemn others for save scumming, and I’ve used it myself, especially when first learning a game. But I personally enjoy the extra challenge that permadeath provides, and consider it to be one of the most interesting features of many roguelikes. And it is true that most roguelike players consider save scumming to be cheating.

  2. Woot, played through the tutorial yesterday and had my first amusing death in the main game this morning: My Kobold was poisoned to death by eating Kobold flesh. That’ll teach you, you twisted cannibal! Looking forward to many more deaths to come.

    I’m playing WebTiles right now, mainly for portability across different machines. Do you know if there’s any way to get the graphical inventory/etc panes on WebTiles? I can’t find anything in the help menus. I can live without them, but that part of the screen is completely blank for me so it’d be nice to have something useful there.

    • I’ve actually never used WebTiles myself… it only launched back in May 2011, and I’d been using the offline version so long that I didn’t end up checking it out. My guess is that the inventory panel is something that’s planned for it as it continues to improve. When it launched I don’t think it had the minimap either, but that’s since been added, so the inventory may not be far behind.

      Unfortunately, not having that panel might have been part of why your kobold died. In the graphical inventory, there’s an icon (a green skull) that appears on poisonous neat, to let the player know. Of course, I also found out about poisonous kobold meat for the first time by eating it, so I can’t judge.

      • The chunks showed up in green text, but I have no idea if that means poisoned or what. Other items have various text colors (grey, light grey, brown, green, blue, yellow, white), but with few exceptions I have no idea what those colors mean. White is for artefacts I think. Light grey means it’s useless to my character. Brown corpses and chunks have a chance of making me sick. Grey for weapons and missiles I think signifies mundane, unidentified stuff? I don’t see a color reference in the manual.

        • I believe you are correct about white text for artefacts and brown text for corpses and chunks indicating they might make you ill (although certain races can ignore this). As for the other colors, I think they are often related in some way to general usefulness. If you are ever in doubt, simply examine the item in question. If you’re in your inventory screen, just pressing the letter corresponding to an item will take you to a detailed description. I bet if you had examined the kobold meat it would have told you it was poisonous.

          Grey text is for “normal” items but doesn’t relate to whether or not they are identified. Identified items will simply add more information to their name, for example and short sword will become a +0 short sword, or a wand will change its name to tell you what it does and if fully identified will tell you how many charges it has left in parentheses.

          • Heh, I tend to examine equipment (offering no clues beyond that “glowing” = green and “runed” = blue) but have never examined meat before. Good tip. I found this, which does explain what equipment colors mean. And here’s a reference for food colors. Green does mean poisonous.

            When I killed myself with Kobold meat it was because I had already associated that green color with “goodness”, since that seemed to be true with equipment.

  3. Yeah, I am absolutely wrong bad addicted to this game already, and I’ve hardly done anything in it yet. I’ve been playing the same easy-mode build repeatedly so far (Kobold Berserker), Engorging myself on chunks and liberally calling on Trog. I got one down to D:7 and managed to find my first Branch (just the Temple), after storming a castle full of Kobolds and killing a massive Ogre that knocked more than half my Berserked life bar off before I prayed to Trog to summon an even bigger, badder Ogre to kick his ass. Of course his days were probably numbered once I kinda read a scroll of Curse Jewelry while wearing a Teleportation ring. I mean c’mon! I had more of that scroll than anything else! I didn’t think it would be something that silly. Oddly enough I don’t remember how that character died, and it was only a couple hours ago…. Another character got killed on D:3 by a weird blathering Unique indigent weilding a Chaos staff that randomly hit me with a massive lucky electrocution effect for 20-odd damage just before I was about to kill him. Curse you, crazy chaos hobo!

    I just now had my first really epic moment though, when two Uniques spawned on literally the same turn: Grinder (a blinking magic-casting Imp) and a player ghost. I didn’t have enough favor with Trog to summon yet, but I managed to scrape by on two Berserks (it lasted that long!) and repeatedly invoking Trog’s Hand for regen and magic resist. I went from level 2 to 7 just on those 2 kills. A spectator said “Prepare for rape.” when he saw the spawns, and I got to respond “not so much!” 😀

    I can already see how a deep system like this consistently generates compelling stories despite the minimal graphics. I’ll be playing it for a long time I think.

    • Random notes:

      -First encounter with Sigmund. He teleported away and I scampered down to the next level. Where I died to a Gnoll blessed with a +2,+2 weapon while I was waiting for my Berserk exhaustion to wear off. Pffffft.
      -I just found “a scroll labeled SEXAGYGOTE”. Thought you should know.

    • Man, it’s hard not to just come post every little thing that happens today….

      I normally try out any “glowing” or “runed” weapons I pick up just to see if they have a brand, and I hadn’t realized that “glowing” and “runed” have no similar special significance on jewelry, so I found myself a minute ago with 2 awesome magical weapons gathering dust in my inventory when I tried on a runed weapon that happened to be cursed, plus the Cursed Ring of Hunger I had put on earlier (since it was described as “glowing”). I finally said “fuck it” out of pure frustration and started reading off my big stack of unidentified scrolls… promptly cursing my amulet and armor. But then in an enormous stroke of good fortune I finally read a scroll of remove curse to make it all better, and now I can recognize scrolls of curse amulet and armor too! I also got Blinking, Fog, and Teleportation in the bargain. Sweet! So this character has easily the best stock of scroll knowledge since I first started being more cautious about reading scrolls, plus some sweet-ass equipment. And I already found Sigmund and escaped to a lower flow. Maybe my dude can make it down a few more levels before he dies 😉

      • Glad you’re enjoying the game so much! That victory against Grinder and the player ghost sounds pretty epic. As for Sigmund, I think you will find that he does not teleport, but he does like to turn himself invisible, which is probably what you witnessed.

        I’ve actually never really tried kobold characters but I see why they’d make good berserkers since they can fill up on meat. My current favorite build is a sludge elf transmuter (sludge elf just because they’re good at trasmutation magic). They fight unarmed, and can extract potions of confusion or poison from corpses and then throw them like grenades (via a spell), which is pretty sweet. Then they learn to turn into spiders and later ice beasts, or transform their arms into blades, T-1000-style. My current one is the one who’s gotten the farthest, and he just found a spellbook with the spell to transform into a dragon. He’s not nearly good enough to cast it yet though. I’m still learning the strategy for magic skills. I’m also still not sure which god is best; I’ve been worshipping Okawaru for his armor gifts (although I want to stay in robes if possible to keep my casting sucess rates high) and his ability to boost unarmed combat skill. But I should maybe have taken a magic-focused god instead.

        I’ve also learned that transmuter player ghosts are a much bigger pain for low-level characters than my fighter ghosts were, because they love to throw confusion clouds at me that prevent me from running away. But once I can turn into an ice beast and resist the poison effect of the cloud they’re no problem.

        In webtiles you can run into other players’ ghosts, right? That must be pretty crazy.

        • Yeah, I’m looking forward to trying some more esoteric builds eventually. I’ve barely even scratched the surface of playing a pure melee character, and there’s so much more to character builds beyond that!

          I had a policy against wearing any heavy armor until I found a +3 leather, so that’s what the current dude is wearing (same dude, now on D:6 having cleared out the entrance to the Orcish Mines). I’ve been focusing on Stealth a bit, mainly for survivability, and consequently Stabbing as well. Learning when to run away is probably the hardest gameplay skill for me in this game, and I’m only just starting to learn it 😉

          The big benefit of being a Kobold as a Berserker is that you can eat almost anything and stay Engorged most of the time, and pretty much Berserk and use Trog’s Hand at will. My most badass weapon at the moment is a Vampiric sabre… and I actually keep it in reserve to weapon-switch in for tough fights, because I’m essentially always at least “Full”.

          And yes, you do run into other players’ ghosts on the online servers. I think I’ve only been killed by a player ghost once though, and I’ve probably killed 3 others. Grinder has killed me a couple times, Sigmund once, an Ogre once or twice, and I think my most common death is being gang-raped by Orcish magic weilders – assuming you don’t count being killed by the first random mob I face in the dungeon, or the first Snake I see before I have any access to healing and before I make level ~3. It’s gotten so I’ll berserk for every single enemy (except rats and bats) until I make level 2.

      • Well, I just learned a really painful lesson: you can quaff potions while Confused. I was on D:9 with really great equipment and lots of scroll knowledge (same character I was talking about yesterday) when a Giant Spore blew up and confused me and the Troll that was also on top of me while blowing up 2/3 of my health bar and leaving me with 22/60. I tried to get away toward the stairs with random movement, thinking there was no way to escape Confused status other than time. I wasted 6 or 7 turns, allowing the Troll to recover, before I tried quaffing a Potion of Healing (which worked). I got to the stairs but he knocked off the last of my health bar as I was ascending them.

        • Ah, yes. The other lesson in there is that if an enemy is next to you when you try to use the stairs, they get a free attack on you and will probably follow you up. It’s often a better idea to keep running in a circle while you regain some health. Also, movement speeds are sometimes randomized so you might get lucky and get a single tile ahead of the troll, at which point you can use the stairs safely.

          Being able to berserk all the time sounds pretty sweet. Be careful with Trog’s Hand, though, as is uses piety as well as food. This means that if you use it too much, Trog will like you less and you might even lose the ability to use it. Keeping Trog happy is a great idea because when he really loves you he’ll start giving you gifts of very powerful weapons, and having a powerful weapon is the most important thing for a melee character. Also keep in mind that eating meat from corpses means you can’t sacrifice them to Trog, so you won’t gain piety as fast.

          • I do know enemies follow you up stairs, though there were multiple enemies following me so I was trying to just pull the troll up with me (or get lucky and get a tile ahead of it). I haven’t figured out how to kite in a circle yet… it seems like you always end up having to do a diagonal movement from a tile next to the mob to another tile next to the mob, which I think gives them a free hit, unless it’s a REALLY big circle? I kited a Jelly in a circle today, but they’re quite slow. Advice on kiting technique would be appreciated! I do already know how to circle-kite around small sections of wall. I guess maybe my perceptions are clouded by that Jelly encounter: I had to keep it inside one room because all the nearby rooms had items for it to eat.

            Being able to eat any and all non-poisoned corpses (basically everything except Kobolds and Scorpions, at least so far), even rotten ones, means I have plenty of food to stay Engorged or Very Full while using Trog’s Hand all the time and still sacrificing enough corpses to move up the piety ladder. That character had enough piety for “Fair” success on Brothers In Arms (high level 4 piety) by D:9. Remember you get Trog piety just for killing living things, too. Anyway, yeah, I was definitely paying attention to my piety levels 😉 I actually had an earlier character up to level 5 piety by D:5, though that was because he found an Amulet of Faith really early.

  4. I want to make a more general comment here: Auto-explore (along with other fast-travel commands, Ctrl-F, etc) and the fact that you can’t sell anything to vendors are massive benefits of this game. Those 2 features pare away like 90% of the tedium of typical adventure games. At this point I can’t even fathom playing another roguelike without auto-explore, and I think from now on any adventure game with an inventory limit where I’m expected to lug around vendor trash for later sale is going to be enormously tedious for me. Inventory management in Crawl isn’t completely effortless, of course, but it’s not the huge chore it can become in a lot of adventure games. The inventory management/vendor trash/cheese grating/lutefisk cube aspect of Dredmor (which already felt like a bit of a fun-suck at the time) seems like an abominable affront in retrospect.

    I’m still not over my packrattitude, but on the new character I just rolled I’m going to make a conscious effort not to insist on big monolithic stashes of equipment I might conceivably want to use some day, just leave dubiously- but potentially-useful shit lying around and Ctrl-F to find it later if I do decide I need it. I’ve already learned not to pick up plain grey gear that I’m pretty sure I will never ever want.

    • Yeah, auto-explore and the fact that you can’t sell items are two of my favorite features as well. I can still play games with manual movement, but in those cases I prefer smaller maps (Dredmor actually breaks that rule with its large levels, but there are enough other features in that game to keep me interested, at least for now).

      Making stashes of stuff you don’t need at the moment is very important, and there are certain places that are better than others to do so. The Temple is a great place as no enemies will spawn there so no one will take your stuff. The Lair of Beasts, once you find it, does not contain any humanoid creatures so no one will steal a stash either. It’s often a good idea to hoard certain enchanting scrolls so you can use them later on a really good weapon or piece of armor; if you carry them around they’ll get burned up.

      Oh, and when I said “run in a circle” I was referring to running around walls. There’s no way to do it effectively without a wall unless the enemy is slower than you, and if they enemy is slower than you then you can just run away anyway.

      • You don’t want to just run away from Jellies! 😉 Thank god Kobolds have high Sling aptitude; Jellies are actually not a problem for me so long as there aren’t other enemies around. On my current character I only need about 6 tiles of space between me and a Jelly to kill it with slung Stones (basically the only thing Jellies can’t eat) without even kiting it.

        Thanks for the advice about Stashes. I’d forgotten about stuff getting stolen or eaten by mobs.

        I didn’t have a big problem with level exploration in Dredmor, actually. There’s so little empty space in the dungeons that just following the right-hand wall was enough to get each floor explored without it feeling like a chore. What was really tedious was returning to locations you’d already visited (vendors, Uberchests, shrines, previous floors, etc), so I really appreciate the other fast-travel options in Crawl.

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