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Old March 28, 2012, 04:55   #1
fizzix
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curse scrolls

It has always seemed to me that the curse weapon and curse armor scrolls are very poor gameplay. The main problem is that they can be avoided, and the way of avoiding them is either hackish (Identify) or tedious (remove all armor, read unknown scroll). They also do not agree to me with what a cursed item should be.

However, the effects of the curse scroll is ok. Having something blast an item in your inventory is pretty good gameplay, albeit frustrating. (The sticky-item part sucks though, but we've discussed that ad nauseam already).

So, a crazy idea I had would be to remove the curse scrolls as they currently exist, and then give a small chance for every scroll to be cursed. A cursed scroll, when read, does the appropriate effect, but also invokes a curse. The curse can scale with the level of the scroll. So reading a cursed ?phase will have a small effect, like causing 5 turn blindness, but reading a cursed ?mass banishment could have a large effect, like junking your nice artifact sword. This also means that timed effect curses or small damage curses will have a place, since some scrolls will be read in tricky situations.

The idea came to me while thinking about scrolls, but it can also apply to spells and other consumables etc. Having cursed wands/rods/staves sucks because of stacking issues. But we certainly could have items and spells backfire, which for gameplay purposes is basically the same. If you fail to cast a spell or use an item, you have to roll again. If you fail twice, the item/spell backfires.

All consumables: scrolls, staves, wands, rods, potions have slightly different characteristics, so curses/backfirings can be tailored appropriately.
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Old March 28, 2012, 12:15   #2
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You want Angband to move into NetHack direction, eh?
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Old March 28, 2012, 12:54   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
It has always seemed to me that the curse weapon and curse armor scrolls are very poor gameplay. The main problem is that they can be avoided, and the way of avoiding them is either hackish (Identify) or tedious (remove all armor, read unknown scroll). They also do not agree to me with what a cursed item should be.
I think I've managed to make the gameplay a bit more interesting in Fay. (Ey already had different Curse Equipment scrolls, and I've tweaked them further.)

A Curse Equipment scroll has about 2/5 chance of cursing each worn equipment. So in order to identify the scroll by use you want to be wearing at least two or three pieces of "bad" equipment. If no equipment gets cursed, you will not learn the scroll's type.

There are also dangerous summoning scrolls of several different types to make getting naked before reading scrolls more dangerous! I just realized that I should probably make one extra tweak: the level of summoned monsters should depend on your maximum depth, not your current depth, to make reading scrolls in town more risky.

I agree it can be a bit tedious. But because there are big enough risks and rewards involved, I think identifying scrolls by use is actually quite fun, for me at least.

Two caveats:
- Identify scrolls/effects need to be quite scarce to make id by use worth it.
- If there are too many scroll types, identifying by use gets tedious. For this reason I've removed lots of "boring" scrolls and potions from the game.
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Old March 28, 2012, 14:19   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by relic
You want Angband to move into NetHack direction, eh?
I never got too far in NetHack, can you elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Lehtinen View Post
I think I've managed to make the gameplay a bit more interesting in Fay. (Ey already had different Curse Equipment scrolls, and I've tweaked them further.)

A Curse Equipment scroll has about 2/5 chance of cursing each worn equipment. So in order to identify the scroll by use you want to be wearing at least two or three pieces of "bad" equipment. If no equipment gets cursed, you will not learn the scroll's type.

There are also dangerous summoning scrolls of several different types to make getting naked before reading scrolls more dangerous! I just realized that I should probably make one extra tweak: the level of summoned monsters should depend on your maximum depth, not your current depth, to make reading scrolls in town more risky.

I agree it can be a bit tedious. But because there are big enough risks and rewards involved, I think identifying scrolls by use is actually quite fun, for me at least.

Two caveats:
- Identify scrolls/effects need to be quite scarce to make id by use worth it.
- If there are too many scroll types, identifying by use gets tedious. For this reason I've removed lots of "boring" scrolls and potions from the game.
I think this probably aligns with mostly with my thinking. The only difference is that if possible I'd like cursed items to be more than a "once-a-game" issue, which means that I don't really like flavored bad items. I'd rather have the bad items be replaced with bad effects for failing/cursed good items.

ID by use is certainly fun, and I'd really hate for optimal gameplay to require forced scrounging for ?ID because the risks are too great.
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Old March 28, 2012, 14:48   #5
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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I think this probably aligns with mostly with my thinking. The only difference is that if possible I'd like cursed items to be more than a "once-a-game" issue, which means that I don't really like flavored bad items.
I think there are too many flavoured bad items in Vanilla for id-by-use. I think I've removed most of them.

However, I want to keep *some* nasty effects in Fay. In Fay, characters with high INT+WIS get more Identify effects, and I want braindead characters to be appropriately punished!

Actually you might have the same thing in mind -- punishing characters with low INT or low magical skills -- because you did mention "bad effects for failing"? How about giving some concrete examples of that?

Also, what kind of tactics could the player use to deal with cursed good scrolls? What matters most is tactically interesting gameplay.
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Old March 28, 2012, 15:07   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I never got too far in NetHack, can you elaborate?
Sorry, I read your post a bit hasty. I read it as if you suggested that wands/staves/rods could be cursed, but after rereading I see that you don't.

Well, all, (or most) items in NH are either cursed, uncursed or blessed, with corresponding bad, neutral or good effects when they are used. This has never existed in Angband, so introducing this would be something new. But since I misread, my comment is moot.
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Old March 28, 2012, 15:12   #7
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Backfiring spells or devices might be perfect for effects that don't have any penalty for failing, for example Identify, Detect Traps, or Satisfy Hunger. At the moment you can just keep trying until you succeed.

BTW, in the dev version of Fay, when you fail to use a device, and then fail Magic Device check again, you lose one charge. This makes Device skill relevant even with Staff of Perception.
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Old March 28, 2012, 16:08   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
So, a crazy idea I had would be to remove the curse scrolls as they currently exist, and then give a small chance for every scroll to be cursed. A cursed scroll, when read, does the appropriate effect, but also invokes a curse. The curse can scale with the level of the scroll. So reading a cursed ?phase will have a small effect, like causing 5 turn blindness, but reading a cursed ?mass banishment could have a large effect, like junking your nice artifact sword. This also means that timed effect curses or small damage curses will have a place, since some scrolls will be read in tricky situations.
I don't know if I like this. Identified scrolls are currently a no-fail single use magic device. The only no-fail magic device for many classes (well potions too I guess). That no-fail bit is important in a games where a character can go form fully healthy to fully dead in a single turn.

You used phase door as an example and I think that it illustrates my point well. A failed phase door is bad enough (assuming used as a low level escape). Tacking on 5 turns of blindness could easily lead to death, or at the very least another turn wasted curing the blindness (if potions can carry similar hidden curses, then the problem is compounded).

My point is, if already ID'd scrolls are going to be occasionally cursed, then there should be a way to detect such a cursed scroll ahead of time, else you're just screwing the player (rock falls on head, you die), but allowing them to be discovered ahead of time defeats the whole purpose.

Here's my half-baked solution. Forget about that last paragraph. Lesser stack sizes (in inventory) are less likely to be cursed, because carrying large stacks of like items somehow causes corruption. A single scroll will never be cursed, but a stack of two might have a 1% chance of being cursed, of three 2%, of four 3%, and so on. Maybe cap it at 25%.

Non-critical scroll like phase door or detect foo, that are often carried in large stacks, will have relatively high fail/cursed rates when carried in large stacks. Therefore it's in the players best interest not to carry twenty scrolls that are critical to survival (teleport level). It might better to carry just one if you want to be sure, or maybe just two or three if you're feeling lucky.

EDIT: DAJ also does some unusual things with cursed items (or maybe they're mimics) which are interesting. It's been a while since I've played DAJ. Maybe Will will chime in and explain what happens.
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Old March 28, 2012, 16:15   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzkill View Post
Non-critical scroll like phase door or detect foo, that are often carried in large stacks, will have relatively high fail/cursed rates when carried in large stacks. Therefore it's in the players best interest not to carry twenty scrolls that are critical to survival (teleport level). It might better to carry just one if you want to be sure, or maybe just two or three if you're feeling lucky.
... but this interacts badly with elemental destruction of scrolls and potions.
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Old March 28, 2012, 16:26   #10
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If you wanted to reduce scroll stack sizes, I think the best way would be just to reduce maximum stack sizes.

I agree with buzzkill. I wouldn't like to be surprised with a malfunctioning, identified Phase Door scrolls either.

But I would like to know beforehand that a scroll or wand is cursed, and then risk using it anyway if I really needed to.

Maybe items could sometimes become "damaged" when hit with elemental destruction? Using those items would be chancy and dangerous. (If there's no room for a new pile of scrolls in the inventory when they get damaged, drop the damaged scrolls on the ground.)
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