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Tom Warner May 19, 2021 16:22

Paladin Spell Review there you are, a level 48 Dwarf Paladin, running around at 4800', looking for item drops to make your melee damage bigger, and you see a unique 'v' in a vault. And you think 'this "Wiruin" is another new unique for this version! Let's check it out!'

So the first thing you notice is that it can't move. So you work around the LOS so it can't see you, and you hit it with a trusty Rod of Probing. You notice it has a reasonable amount of hitpoints, no physical attacks, and a bunch of summons and breaths. Now, you could just leave it in the vault--but where's the fun in that? You could just stand where you are and plunk it down with your crossbow bolts--but that seems cheap, and it would take a bunch of bolts. Besides, you've been using Single Combat to beat up Qs all game--this is basically just a big Q that can breathe, right?

So you pull it into the Single Combat cell, confident in your ability to run up on it, beat it up, and heal from the breaths as necessary. But you didn't count on how fast it is, or how if something doesn't move, can't summon, and only has breath weapons available, there's only one action for it to take every turn.............anyway, Rest In Peace, Holy Diver. You would have beat Morgoth if you got that far.


Overall I really like how focused the new Paladins are. There's a lot more emphasis on combat buffs, with a handful of utility spells thrown in that all feel very thematic. Single Combat is a game-changer, despite the obvious risk, and it makes the late-game playstyle unique for the class. Here's my spell reviews, (from memory, since I don't have the dungeon books anymore.....this is also based on 4.2.1 because I still haven't gotten 4.2.2 to compile on my machine).

Book 1: Novice's Handbook (the only town book)
  • Bless: Nice combat buff. Cheap. Used all game.
  • Detect Evil: Useful early on, has obvious limitations. Used regularly until I started picking up Rods of Detection, even after that it's sometimes useful if you want to keep an eye on something evil and don't want to burn Detection charges.
  • Call Light: Obviously useful to light rooms. I never used it to do damage. I sort of wish that light (and rock remover) would do way more damage to vulnerable monsters; right now they're basically novelty attacks that do less damage than the more basic ones.
  • Minor Healing: Was a little expensive/unreliable at first, but I started off as a dwarf with relatively low WIS (16) so that happened on a lot of spells. As soon as I got enough mana and got the fail rate down, this became a mainstay--it's your only healing spell for a while, and even after that, it's much cheaper to heal by spamming Minor Healing if you can sneak a few turns without getting attacked.
  • Sense Invisible: Obviously useful. Obsolete once you have a source of SI, but it's nice to not need to dedicate a slot to that in the midgame--I was able to wear a Lantern of Shadows instead of True Seeing which was cool.
  • Heroism: This is kind of weird when you first get it at level 12--it's a 10-point heal that removes fear, without the combat boosts. It's more expensive and heals less than Minor Healing, which also has a lower fail rate by then, so you would never use it as a heal, which leaves it as an expensive way to remove fear. When you hit level 15, the Heroism part kicks in, which is a nice combat boost, but when I first got it the duration was 3+d3 (iirc) which is honestly pathetic and usually not even worth burning a turn to cast it for. All that said, once you get a few more levels on you it's a mainstay--I fought every battle with Bless+Hero active from about CL 20 onward.

Book 2: Healing and Sanctuary (dungeon book)

I think the other two books are strong all the way through, but this one just feels like it's filling space for a while when you first find it. There are nice spells in it, but you need to get a lot of levels first.....
  • Protection from Evil: there's a very specific window where ProtEvil is useful, which is basically between about 0' and 1500', where you're regularly fighting monsters which are lower level than you but still pose a threat in melee. The RNG didn't drop this book for me until around 1700', when I could already beat up all the lower-level orcs and trolls, so I barely used the spell at all.
  • Remove Curse: I get the use case, but I think that again, I found the book too late. Earlier on, I would have been more likely to need some bonus provided by an otherwise cursed item. As it was, I only found a use for the spell once, when I found a cloak with rDisenchant and a hitpoint removal curse--unfortunately both attempts failed and I blew up the cloak forever :(
  • Word of Recall: Once you can afford it, it's nice to save the inventory slot and not worry about your scrolls burning up.
  • Healing: This is the other healing spell that Paladins get, and it's massive. Full heal, cures all stun/poison/etc--and the fail rate and cost to match! I did spend most of the game with my wisdom lagging behind, because of my point buy and an RNG that hid all the WIS potions, but it still took a long, long time before I could actually rely on this one in battle. I think it would be very nice to have a sort of mid-level heal to bridge the gap between the two extremes.
  • Clairvoyance: This is basically a Potion of Enlightenment that you can cast, though it only detects objects weakly. As soon as it became affordable, I cast it first thing on every level.

Book 3: Battle Blessings (dungeon book)

This one is huge and really ties the class together.
  • Smite Evil: Puts a temporary Slay Evil brand on your melee weapon. Big, obvious combat boost--used all the time.
  • Demon Bane: Puts a powerful, temporary Slay Demon brand on your melee weapon. Absolutely shreds demons, and it's fun to seek them out to beat them up.
  • Enchant Weapon: Enchants your weapons. This is a little weird for Paladins because you probably have a melee weapon with all the plusses you need when you get the spell, so you mostly use it on ammo, but it's still nice.
  • Enchant Armor: Enchants your armor. Obviously nice.
  • Single Combat: People talk about this one a lot, and I get why now--it's a game changer! For anyone who hasn't found it yet: you can use this spell to target any monster in LOS. They get a saving throw to resist it, but it rarely succeeds unless the level gap is huge. When it works, it transports the monster, and you, to opposite corners of an empty 4x4 room with permanent rock walls. Monsters are not disturbed by the spell, so sometimes you can get them in while still asleep, and then wake them up to a nasty surprise :D No one can cast any summoning spells, and any blinks or teleports have no effect. This means it's shockingly useful on things like Qs (you can just walk over and beat them up) or will-o-the-wisp type monsters that have annoying blink-spam. Terrain effects like Earthquakes and Create Traps still work in there, however.

    As soon as you defeat the monster, the cell disappears (including anything you left behind in it--pick up your arrows while they flee!), and you are transported back to the dungeon where you were standing, with whatever health and status effects you had at the end of combat, as if no time has passed. So be careful if you lost a bunch of health and there are more monsters around! Your defeated enemy's drops will appear where they were standing when you pulled them into combat.

    Single combat is huge. The most obvious advantage is that you can use it against summoners, but it's nice against anything with annoying teleports too...or shriekers...or you can use it to pull in group monsters and kill them one at a time...or monsters with breaths that you don't want to wake anything behind you.....but as I discovered, it's an easy way to die too. So don't be reckless!

A few other things:
  • I like a lot of the new item changes! Curses especially are neat.
  • Rods of Probing are SOOO much more useful now that they reveal everything--it's a lot easier to play unspoiled and still have a fighting chance against all the new monsters.
  • There are Hounds now that breathe Time, Disenchantment, or Nether and they have passwall....that's cruel and unusual!

Pete Mack May 19, 2021 17:38

Ouch, Wiruin in single combat! Ungoliant was bad enough, especially since I didn't have enough light to see. (If I wanted to cast, or read, I had to get at least a square away.)

archolewa May 19, 2021 18:58

One of the few times I got defeated by Morgoth, it was because I cast Single Combat against him without enough healing. So yeah, I agree Single Combat is an awesome spell...that carries a lot of risk.

I also agree that Protection from Evil is borderline useless on a paladin. On a priest it's more valuable, since they tend to have a rougher (and thus longer) early game (also they get it sooner), but paladins have good enough melee and healing that they honestly don't even need it even during the window when it's useful.

Personally, I would like to see the light feature expanded upon some more, and then replace Protection from Evil with an Inner Light spell or something (inspired by the Inner Light ability in Sil). Imagine if say light sensitive, undead, and enemies who created an unnatural darkness had a chance of being repelled every time they attempted to attack a sufficiently lit up opponent. Then the paladin could use their Inner Light as effectively a less generally applicable, but useful-for-longer Protection from Evil.

This could also give room to buff a few of the artifact light sources. Like, maybe give the Phial of Galadrial an effect where it doubles how "lit" a character is, without changing their light radius. This could potentially give players a reason to use the Phial over a Lantern of True Sight or one of the other artifact light sources, especially if used by a paladin.

Selkie May 19, 2021 19:38

I hate Wiruin more than any other unique, I think.

That said, if you manage to detect him, he's easy to spam kill with ball spells from a distance.

Thanks for the review. I've had single combat crash on me a few times. You get stuck in the cell after killing the monster and have to WoR back to town. It means you lose the loot they dropped... but at least you don't know what you missed out on.

Tom Warner May 19, 2021 19:40

Yeah I won't be so cavalier about Wiruin again!

The Inner Light idea is clever, makes sense as the sort of "opposite" of a Necro too.

Nick May 19, 2021 22:16

Thanks for the excellent review. A few thoughts:
  • Maybe the second book should be a town book instead of a dungeon book?
  • I really like the idea of replacing PfE by a light-based spell. Oangband had a specialty called Holy Light which gave extra light radius, did extra damage and increased chance of fear against a bunch of monsters, and rLight - having that as a spell might work.
  • Single Combat had a bug that made it crash occasionally that was fixed in 4.2.2.

Tom Warner May 19, 2021 23:53

I think it makes a lot of sense to make the second book be a town book instead--the big spells are locked by level anyway, and the lower-level ones would be nice to have early.

Fully endorse any kind of PfE rework that makes it work through the game without being too OP!

archolewa May 20, 2021 02:07

But...but town books are vulnerable to fire! My Heal spell could be destroyed! Noooooo! (I play without WoR).

In all seriousness, I dont have a strong opinion. Only time I ever had a problem with running out of spellbooks was losing all of my Magical Defense books as a mage and not finding any more. Less of a problem for strong paladins who only have three books (more CC for duplicates).

Pete Mack May 20, 2021 02:15

Paladin book 2 is so common that you'll find it long before you need it. Even with inner light, it won't be particularly useful til around DL 40 or below.

Angdrim May 20, 2021 19:44

My last win was with a paladin, but I was so afraid of not being able to escape that I never used single combat.

I know it doesn't look like it, but 'Wiruin' is an anagram of 'death'. He's not evil, he doesn't show up on ESP, he's super fast, and he hits you with crushingly powerful breath attacks. Just run. Or, well, get out of line of sight.

Tom Warner May 21, 2021 15:35


Originally Posted by Angdrim (Post 153354)
My last win was with a paladin, but I was so afraid of not being able to escape that I never used single combat.

Oh man you gotta try it on Qs at least! And then you get tempted to use it on more and more monsters........


I know it doesn't look like it, but 'Wiruin' is an anagram of 'death'. He's not evil, he doesn't show up on ESP, he's super fast, and he hits you with crushingly powerful breath attacks. Just run. Or, well, get out of line of sight.
I will not underestimate him again!

Pete Mack May 21, 2021 16:17

It is amazing i agree. It's not just the lack of summoning. It's the complete isolation of the battlefield. No Black reaper is going to show up, and you won't wake the other vault monsters. It's especially good on The Nine, who don't spam Nether Ball or the like.

archolewa May 21, 2021 16:41


Originally Posted by Pete Mack (Post 153375)
It is amazing i agree. It's not just the lack of summoning. It's the complete isolation of the battlefield. No Black reaper is going to show up, and you won't wake the other vault monsters. It's especially good on The Nine, who don't spam Nether Ball or the like.

It's also great against enemies who drain charges. Drop all your precious, destructible staves and wands, Single Combat the baddy and then laugh as their mana storms and fire breath *don't* destroy all that gear you dropped, because it's back in the main dungeon!

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