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Old May 23, 2008, 19:11   #1
bron
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Feature request: mod for birth_no_artifacts

I've been playing Vanilla Angband for about 2 years now. I've found that I enjoy the challenge of playing without artifacts (i.e. set "birth_no_artifacts" to true). I have beaten Morgoth a few times now without artifacts, so it is clearly possible, but there are some problems, and it takes a very long time to get the items you need. The recent postings about playing with no artifacts emboldened me to talk about my suggestions to make playing with birth_no_artifacts a little more accessible. I certainly think that birth_no_artifacts *should* be harder and take longer, but I find it is a bit excessive as it stands.

In fact, just one minor change would go a long way to making birth_no_artifacts more reasonable to play: namely, allow "Metal Shod Boots" to be "(Dwarven)". I'm no expert, but I believe this just involves adding the line "T:30:6:6" to the ego_item.txt definition of "(Dwarven)". I wouldn't think that this would affect the play balance of the main game. It would be nice to couple this with making the chance of finding Metal Shod Boots more likely; change "A:20/1" to "A:20/1:60/1" in the object.txt definition of "Metal Shod Boots". Admittedly this makes Boots of Speed more likely as well, but I think not by so much as to cause concern.



[I am now going to launch into a lengthy and boring discussion about why the above is a good idea, and suggest other small changes. If you are not a fan of birth_no_artifacts, I'd suggest you stop reading right here. You have been warned.]



Playing birth_no_artifacts involves the same sorts of problems that the regular game has, namely: speed, resists, and HP. They are just harder to get. They also tend to conflict, since NONE of the +CON items have any resists (except *Slay Dragon*, and all it has is "resist fear"). For example, you cannot really afford to wear Dwarven body armor to get the +CON: you would have to give up too many resists in exchange. This means that you pretty much have to play either a Half-Troll or a Dunadan (or maybe possibly a Dwarf), and be a Warrior or Paladin, so that you don't need too many +CON items, so you can have those equipment slots available for items that have resists. And even so, you are typically forced to find "Gauntlets of Combat (+2)", which can take a very long time.

Equiping enough resists is a difficult problem. In general, you cannot expect to be able to resist everything (unless you are lucky enough to find Power Dragon armor). The best you can do is to pick which attacks you don't resist, and to carry multiple items to swap between depending on the monsters you face. This is complicated by the fact that NO normal objects or ego items resist Nether by default, so you have to find an ego-item with an "extra" resist (e.g. Elvenkind), that resists Nether in particular. It is also difficult because some of the equipment slots don't have any items that have resists. For example, the Missile Weapon slot, or the Light Source slot. So choices are limited, which means it takes extra time to find what you need.

Becoming fast enough is yet another difficult problem. In order to get enough resists and enough HP, you need to resign yourself to fighting Morgoth with a "base" speed in the 20's, not 30's, and using e.g. Potion of Speed to make up the rest. It is barely possible to get speed in the 30's by spending *enormously* long to find big boots of speed, two big rings of speed, an Amulet of Trickery, AND exactly the right combination of "extra resist" ego-items with exactly the right set of resists.


Having Dwarven boots gives an extra slot for a +CON item that doesn't interfere much with resists, allowing you more choices on how to equip a character. It should also allow at least a couple more choices for race+class to be viable.



There are of course plenty of additional possible changes that would make birth_no_artifacts go faster (by not needing to spend quite so long to find a complementary combination of objects) without particularly making the normal game easier. For example, any or all of:
An ego missile weapon that has a resist (or two).
(Either random, or related to shooting, like blindness or confusion)
Gloves with one random resist
(like a Cloak of Aman, but for gloves)
A normal object "Dwarven Lantern" with +CON and a resist.
(A random resist would actually be best)
Dwarven ego-weapons (only Axes I would think)
(like Westerness, but bigger +str and +con, and no +dex)
At least one Ego item that resists Nether
(e.g. Shield of the Seraphim: resist nether, plus 1 random resist)
Since these items are not individually unduly powerful (in particular, they are weaker than artifact(s) that would occupy the same equipment slot), and could be placed fairly deep (level 60 or 70), they shouldn't interfere with the main-line game.

I would also like to see the likelyhood of finding shields increased. I typically find 5 or 6 times as much Body Armor of Elvenkind as I do Shields of Elvenkind or Shields of Preservation. This is both because there are so many different kinds of body armor compared to kinds of shields (more possible body armor items to be picked), and the body armor occurs deep (making it more likely to be chosen at the deeper levels). This can be adjusted by just adding to the allocation line; e.g. change "Large Metal Shield" from "A:30/1" to "A:30/1:60/1"

In the same way, I think the likelyhood of gloves, cloaks, and boots should increase. Right now, "Gauntlets of Combat (+2)" are nearly a requirement, and they are hard to find since gloves are not common enough at the deep levels. [This would be partially mitigated if other +CON items were available.] Similarly, a Cloak of Aman is often a very useful item, not because it is particularly powerful in itself, but because the random resist can be used to plug a hole in your defenses. But only if you can find one with the right enchantment. Cloaks are not so common at the deep levels, since there are only 2 kinds to select, making a Cloak of Aman a rare find, and the likelyhood of finding one with the right resist very rare indeed.
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Old May 24, 2008, 04:36   #2
Garrie
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I gotta say that as someone who has trouble even with artifacts... that is a very well thought out answer to a problem which it would seem involves only modding the equipment text file to test.

Have you tried your own suggestion (at least I don't think the base part involves any code)?

I fully agree that there should be ego shooters as described, the jump from shooters of power / accuracy / multiple shots to artifact shooters is a bit much.
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Old May 24, 2008, 05:52   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bron View Post
Playing birth_no_artifacts involves the same sorts of problems that the regular game has, namely: speed, resists, and HP. They are just harder to get. They also tend to conflict, since NONE of the +CON items have any resists (except *Slay Dragon*, and all it has is "resist fear"). For example, you cannot really afford to wear Dwarven body armor to get the +CON: you would have to give up too many resists in exchange. This means that you pretty much have to play either a Half-Troll or a Dunadan (or maybe possibly a Dwarf), and be a Warrior or Paladin, so that you don't need too many +CON items, so you can have those equipment slots available for items that have resists. And even so, you are typically forced to find "Gauntlets of Combat (+2)", which can take a very long time.
You should take a look at the discussion of an old comp, an NPP
artifactless hobbit rogue. You might want to give NPP a try, though
I prefer the older versions before terrain got out of control [just IMO].

http://groups.google.com/groups?q=Ke...=1&sa=N&tab=wg
[Just search on Kelumen if that does not work.]

NPP has dragonscale shields, not in current V, and allows you to get
your ammo branded for about 1K apiece IIRC.

There are some other issues you addressed.
I think they deserve their own threads, but quickly ...

(1) Item generation is broken. Perhaps you should first generate the slot,
and then a random item for that slot, rather than a random item.
We could argue for years about that.

(2) Better egos in general, particularly for boots and bows. Sometimes I think
that weapons and launchers should never provide any resists. Sometimes
I think weapons and launchers should be similar in resists.

(3) Different egos or max pvals for playing artifactless.
I am opposed to this one. If they should be better, just make
them better, not only for artifactless games.
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Old May 24, 2008, 05:55   #4
bron
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[QUOTE=Garrie;8294] Have you tried your own suggestion

I am currently experimenting with this, yes. But it's hard to know how well it really plays without actually playing it. And while I have started up a new game with a few of my suggested mods, it will be some time before I can run the game end-to-end and say for sure if it "feels" right.
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Old May 24, 2008, 13:29   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerDiver View Post
(1) Item generation is broken. Perhaps you should first generate the slot,
and then a random item for that slot, rather than a random item.
We could argue for years about that.
I've been moving towards that view for a while now.
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Old May 24, 2008, 14:24   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerDiver View Post
(1) Item generation is broken. Perhaps you should first generate the slot, and then a random item for that slot, rather than a random item. We could argue for years about that.
Yeah, I think I agree too. Or something.

Quote:
(2) Better egos in general, particularly for boots and bows.
I'm looking to have more egos that scale with depth (so Elvenkinds have at least one random resist, more likely to have more deeper) and cut down the number of egos.

Quote:
Sometimes I think that weapons and launchers should never provide any resists. Sometimes I think weapons and launchers should be similar in resists.
I incline towards the first one, brand-related resists aside..

Quote:
(3) Different egos or max pvals for playing artifactless.
I am opposed to this one. If they should be better, just make
them better, not only for artifactless games.
Agreed. Artifactless just means take out the artifacts.
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Old May 24, 2008, 20:26   #7
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Ego items are already pretty powerful (especially since the JLE stuff was added) as it is. Honestly, the only slots where I never have an ego item late in the game are melee weapon and light source, and the properties of the Arkenstone are hardly essential to winning the game. Boots of speed, ring of speed, ring of constitution if needed, amulet of trickery, crown of might, bow of lothlorien (for a ranger), shield of preservation or elvenkind, cloak of the magi or aman, balance DSM. I'm not really seeing a problem here. Make them too powerful and it waters down the game in general.
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Old May 25, 2008, 10:16   #8
bron
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> Boots of speed, ring of speed, ring of constitution if needed,
> amulet of trickery, crown of might, bow of lothlorien (for a ranger),
> Shield of Preservation or Elvenkind, cloak of the magi or Aman,
> balance DSM. I'm not really seeing a problem here.

[This reply turned out to be too long, and on re-reading it,
it sounds kinda snooty. Sorry about that - it was NOT my intent.]

The problem is simply the amount of time needed to find the equipment.
We'll probably need to spend a couple of million turns at a deep level
looking for an exactly complementary set of ego extra resists.

Let's consider the above: With the ring and the crown, we have plenty of
+CON. We'll assume that the boots+ring+amulet give us 20+ to speed.
We clearly need the Shield of Elvenkind to get the basic 4 resists.
Cloak of the Magi has no resists, so go with Aman. This set of equipment
is missing resistance to light, dark, blindness, confusion, nether,
and fear, and the shield and cloak give you 2 extra resists.

We can easily skip light and fear, and just accept that we have no
resistance to them. Not having resistance to dark is a problem since
a darkness storm does just as much damage as a mana storm, but we can
probably wield (or switch to) a weapon of Gondolin if the monster has
a dark attack. But you really need blindness and confusion
to be able to read an escape scroll. So you need to find a Cloak of
of Aman that has either resist blindness or confusion, and a Shield
of Elvenkind that has the other one. Shields of Elvenkind and Cloaks
of Aman are pretty rare to start with, and we have pretty narrow
requirements for them, so we'll probably have to spend a couple million
extra game turns to find that exact combination of items. But at least
that may give us enough time to find the Balance DSM (an item I have
only found twice in two years of playing). I also don't like being
without resist nether, particularly since Morgoth has a nether attack,
and he tends to summon lots of undead. But we are pretty much forced
into it here, since resist nether can only come from the body armor,
shield, or cloak, and we really can't afford to switch out any of those.

Better would be to switch out the crown of might for a crown of night
and day, and find a cloak+shield that resisted confusion and nether.
This gives pretty complete resist coverage, while keeping high +CON
and +speed. But finding such an exacting combination of items just
takes too blasted long.

A slightly better (IMH0) combination is to go with body armor of
Elvenkind, Shield of Preservation, Cloak of Aman, Crown of Night
and Day, and Amulet of Trickery. This set is missing resistance
to confusion, sound, shards, nether, chaos, and fear, and we get
3 extra resists from the armor, shield, and cloak. We are willing
to accept no resistance to sound, shards, and fear. We can get
chaos resistance by wielding a Blade of Chaos. So we only need
to find a cloak OR a shield that resists either confusion OR nether.
Elven body armor is much more common than Shields of Protection or
Cloaks of Aman, so by the time we find the shield or cloak we need,
we'll probably have the complementary armor already sitting in our
home. This can still take a long time, but WAY less.

This scheme does still require boots of speed sufficiently fast so
that the boots+ring+amulet add up to 20+, something that is not trivial
(and believe me, finding Boots of Speed (+2) is really discouraging).

Having Dwarven boots would allow you to wear a second ring of speed
instead of a +CON ring. The boots are only +1 or +2, unlike the
ring, so you'll still need to find e.g. Gauntlets of Combat, and
probably switch off a weapon of Westerness with the Blade of Chaos,
but that's only fair since rings of speed are a lot easier to find
than Boots of Speed.

The suggested "Shield of the Seraphim" (resist nether, plus one random
resist) would make Chaos DSM and Balance DSM actually useful items,
coupled with a Defender weapon. As it stands, I can live without
sound or shards; the Shield of Protection covers disenchantment, and
I can get chaos from the blade. And I can't afford to give up the
extra random resist from a suit of elven armor. I find it remarkably
annoying to find Chaos DSM or Balance DSM, and realize that I have
found a rare and powerful item, and be unable to make use of it.

The suggestions about the bow, or gloves, or lantern, would just
make it easier to find a good set of resists. I don't know if
they would make it too easy; certainly doing ALL of them would be
way too much.

I think the Dwarven boots and the Seraphim shield would allow for
more variety in viable sets of equipment (and race/class choices),
which in turn would shave a million+ turns off the time required
to win a no-artifact game without particularly making it much
easier to win (just shorter), and without affecting the mainline game.
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