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Old January 14, 2019, 10:35   #51
Quirk
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Originally Posted by Wiwaxia View Post
The more I think about this, the more I really like it. It removes an odd disadvantage of pacifist builds that doesn't seem to have a strong reason to be there, further pushes the point that there are things you really shouldn't bother to fight, encourages diving past where you can safely win fights, and cuts out the "running around 100ft killing tanglethorns for the last 10xp you need for the first forge" nonsense I've gotten into occasionally.
Pacifists - and stealth - are already balanced round this lower XP. They're already the speed run kings and the easiest characters for a 50K start.

I think there would be reduced incentive to stab unaware enemies. It would change the game balance quite a lot and I'm not sure I understand all the implications.


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I like the new song tree design aesthetically, especially those two themed pairs. I'm not clear on how Song of Staunching is supposed to differ from the erstwhile Este. If I recall correctly, part of the issue with the original Este was the question of when you were supposed to sing it. If it's going to be a combat song, it needs to regenerate fast enough to compete with simply not taking that damage in the first place courtesy of Staying. If it's going to be a survivability song, it needs to regenerate enough to compete with ending unfavorable fights by scaring away enemies with Elbereth. Otherwise, it's left as a patch-up-after-battle song, which only really saves on turncount over regular healing, especially now that Thresholds makes it easier to make safe boltholes to rest.
A large part of the issue with Este was its cost. Yes, you would rather have Staying and Staying cost less than Este. Here Staunching is very much cheaper - 2300 XP cheaper - and a prerequisite for Staying.

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Whetting granting sharpness by weapon weight is elegant. I'd be curious to see how it plays out in practice, although I imagine it would upset the light weapon vs. heavy weapon balancing you've already tried to do. It makes more intuitive sense for a whetting song to benefit knives more than axes rather than vis versa like adding a damage side would do. Spitballing, but in keeping with it being a whetting song you could have the effect build up over time as you sing it as you "sharpen" your blade.
I think for very light weapons this is okay, they're hard to justify outside stabbing. For 2 lb longswords it is trickier as they are good already. I may have to go to Song/10 which makes 2 lb longswords 20 Song to Sharpen. Maybe that's too much. Would prefer a round number.

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A quick question about song interactions: does Freedom negate your own wards from Thresholds? I discovered that staves of freedom do, but I didn't have the spare experience to test the song.
I believe so but will have to check. Code should be similar.
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Old January 14, 2019, 16:49   #52
Infinitum
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With regard to songs being split by race: currently it's been quite hard to balance them without imposing further restrictions, so I'm not sure how I feel about this. It would be somewhat difficult to make it work as you've suggested - Trees couldn't go at 1 elegantly, as many characters wouldn't have the requisite 5 points to get even one light level of benefit, Staying would be monstrously powerful, etc - but splitting songs between races would go some way to resolve the current crush of songs that need the investment to be cheap to be viable (Elbereth, Challenge, Silence, Freedom, Delvings, Thresholds). That said, we then weirdly incentivise the dwarven or human singer, which is dubiously canonical.
Well, another way to go about it could be to have all characters know all songs intrinsically (without having to spend abilities) but introduce minimum song scores for each song. Pretty sure you or wobbly mentioned that earlier? It might be a more elegant solution. Of course, this would create a gaping hole in the song tree and require heavy rebalancing but hey, new design space!

Also, I think the idea of every new character starting off knowing a language (Quenya for Noldor, Sindarin for Sindar, Khuszdul for Dwarfes and.. Taliska or Haladin (?) for the Edain) and have it affect gameplay somehow is pretty Tolkien-ish. One of the talents of the song tree could be learning a second language, or even the dark tongue or Valarin.

Last edited by Infinitum; January 14, 2019 at 17:00.
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Old January 14, 2019, 19:34   #53
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Well, another way to go about it could be to have all characters know all songs intrinsically (without having to spend abilities) but introduce minimum song scores for each song.
This sounds identical to what we have now, except that abilities would be free?

I think it's better to have the tree work the same way as the other trees for symmetry reasons. Apart from anything else not all songs are useful for all builds (same as any other tree), but without having to commit to a build in Song characters would feel much more samey and hybrid.
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Old January 14, 2019, 20:21   #54
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Well, truth being told most songs are too situational to be useful full stop. At least that way the situational ones would be more likely to find a use sometimes. Which would be nice, seeing as many of the more interesting song concepts are pretty narrow by default, and I think the idea of singers being super-flexible at the cost of yet more melee/evasion is appealing.

Also one could combine this idea with the languages; eg each song has an original language (say, Elbereth and Sindarin) and is only fully available to characters speaking that language. Some songs could then be incompletely translated to other languages; Eg Quenya-speakers might also have access to Elbereth (because they are aware of Varda, even if they've fallen out of favour) but at a song malus. Other, higher tier songs could then be available only to specific languages eg Mastery could be a Valarin-only affair to require some investment in the song tree.

So they'd function like spellbook abilities, pretty much. Down to certain spells being available but weaker in different lores (like Nature and.. Holy healing spells in vanilla? Have barely played Angband).

For an instance each character could start off with their native tongue (represented as a "free" ability) which lists which songs are available (and at what penalties). Then they could purchase abilities to eg learn an extra base language (formatted as Bane), then have the option to learn Valarin or even the dark tongue (which could even give a stealth bonus vs awake enemies depending on Song score, similar to disguise).

Spoken languages could also add some extra diversity to character classes, should you ever wish to add those (eg Hador Nobles/Sages speaking Sindarin instead of Taliska).

Also, the notification messages could be different for different languages; eg a Hador might start singing the Song of the Trees with the message "You start singing about the splendour of the sun" whereas a Sindar Elf could go on about the stars and Dwarfes about the glow of the forge, and so on and so forth.

Haven't really thought about the game balance much, but there's plenty of inherent thematic potential there.

Last edited by Infinitum; January 14, 2019 at 20:34.
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Old January 14, 2019, 20:39   #55
Pete Mack
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One tricky thing here. You get points for killing monsters you can't see. I dunno about for 'seeing' them.
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Old January 14, 2019, 21:53   #56
Quirk
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Well, truth being told most songs are too situational to be useful full stop. At least that way the situational ones would be more likely to find a use sometimes. Which would be nice, seeing as many of the more interesting song concepts are pretty narrow by default, and I think the idea of singers being super-flexible at the cost of yet more melee/evasion is appealing.
Infinitum, forgive me for being impatient, but you are again making sweeping statements that are hard to reconcile with reality. This is along the same lines as claiming that Smithing is not useful when two-thirds of winners take it.

The cheap songs are on the whole decidedly useful. Elbereth and Silence and Lorien support entire builds. I'm aware of players who take Challenge more or less every game to force engagements on their terms. Freedom is a bit more niche, I'll grant, useful as it is against Morgoth or in the absence of a digging tool; Trees is potent throughout the whole late game, particularly if one has been unlucky with lamps. Delvings is fun, but too pricey for the reward so tends to be seen on the ascent. Staying is a combat character go-to song at about 800 feet. After Lorien - yes, we're in luxury territory and it is a real problem getting people to invest.

You could call Freedom situational. I don't think anything else up to and including Lorien qualifies. Three of these songs are central to a build, Challenge and Staying are potentially relevant any time you have enemies to fight, Delvings you use throughout the ascent non-stop and would probably use all the time on the way down were it cheaper. Trees is very strong in a game in which light is so important. In fact I don't think anything after Lorien is necessarily situational either, just (in some cases) overly expensive.

I get that everyone's experience of the game is different, and perhaps you haven't found ways to use the songs effectively. Let me assure you this is not the general case, and while your suggestions on the Song tree are undoubtedly well meant, I'm finding it hard to mine them for usefulness.
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Old January 15, 2019, 02:27   #57
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One tricky thing here. You get points for killing monsters you can't see. I dunno about for 'seeing' them.
Yes, we do get points for seeing monsters. Seeing the monster(s) for the first time, definitely yes. But, for the # of times afterwards, I don't know.
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Old January 15, 2019, 07:11   #58
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Quirk asked me for my thoughts on the relative strengths of songs based on this recent character: http://angband.oook.cz/ladder-show.php?id=22225


Thresholds seems quite strong. On reflection, I think its current price (9 song, iirc) is probably around right, especially if all elves are going to be getting a free song. It's not as nuts as Mastery, but offers you a huge amount of control over encounters. It's stronger than high-song Elbereth for avoiding combat, because enemies can't come back after you after you stop singing. I'm not sure how it stacks up against Lorien, which would be the other point of comparison cost-wise. It's extremely versatile without being much of a drain on voice resources because you can tap it on to lock a door and then tap it off, so it plays well with having other songs even if you don't have Woven Themes. Having that much ability to pick battles on relatively non-combat-ready build felt about right balance-wise, but I'm concerned that a Thresholds brawler might feel a bit too safe, especially if it's made much cheaper. I'll give that a test run if I have time.

I never had a ward actually be broken. I don't know if this is due to the strength of the wards or their effect on monster pathing (which I assume is the same as a glyph of warding?), because I couldn't tell if monsters were trying to bash them down or just milling about on the other side. I don't think this is a bad thing, necessarily; being able to control the direction monsters move is more interesting than a ward door/break ward shoving match, but it does make the song much more potent. The ability to put entire levels on lockdown by closing every door you see may or may not be too much. I don't have a great sense of exactly how it stacks up against other expensive songs. It means that you are essentially never going to have an unexpected monster sneak up behind you or outflank you, but it also doesn't remove monsters from the level or defang them if you need to move through the room you locked them in. Wall-eaters and anything that can bash doors down before you get to them also are a limitation on this strategy.

Selected other uses of Thresholds, for a sense of how versatile it can be:
  • Make a safe retreat corridor of open doors with all side doors locked (remember to lock the last door to the stairs so things don't come up the stairs behind you).
  • Secure the stairs room as soon as you enter a level for a bit of safety while you get your bearings and start exploring.
  • Trap archers and scouts in a room with you so you can pin them in a corner and kill them without them running away.
  • Trap things in a room with you and the stairs so Elbereth scares them off the level rather than into another room.
  • The build I ran wasn't a fighter, but presumably one could lock off an arena to fight a unique or the like without having to deal with other monsters, or the unique running away.
  • Use the additional stealth from doors staying locked between you and enemies as a quasi-Vanish.
  • Shut a door behind you in a corridor so unaware wandering monsters path down a different, open corridor instead.
  • I didn't try it on this build, but I imagine you could also do the pathing trick where you keep an enemy in archery range by locking a door when it gets too close so it starts to take the long way round and then opening the door so it paths back to you before it gets out of sight, etc.
  • Lure dangerous enemies into an out-of-the-way room and lock them in.
  • Proactively lock away monsters or room types you don't want to deal with after detecting them with Listen/Delvings/staves.
  • Make a safe bolthole to heal.
  • Lock a door to sing Delvings without worrying about the sound waking things up.
  • Escape pursuit, obviously. To do this, you need to have some way to open up at least two spaces between yourself and a normal-speed enemy (one to start singing, one to lock the door). I used Elbereth and Mastery for this. Lorien and Sprinting are the other obvious choices, but Knock Back + Controlled Retreat should also work, and might be fun.

The additional information about the dungeon from Delvings and Listen is very powerful with Thresholds and using it proactively. Delvings and Thresholds alone are enough to semi-consistently survive the upper levels without any other skills. I imagine scouting with high stealth would be similarly helpful. If you have _treasures, too, you can plan relatively safe grabs of specific items.


Delvings is definitely too expensive right now. Despite all the comments about it being something to take for the ascent, I really like having it as an early-game song. Having more information about the dungeon is always valuable, but especially when you have low light. Knowing the size and shape of a large, dark room you just stepped into already tells you something about the possible risks before you wander around and bump into a white wolf, and finding forges is just a massive quality-of-life boost. Like Thresholds, it's not a major drain on voice, for the same reason. I usually try to find some safe corner to sing it in to fill in my immediate surroundings when I reach the edge of my map, rather than singing it continuously as I explore.

I completely forgot the secondary digging/doorway fighting effects on these songs existed, so I can't speak to that except to say that maybe that's a sign in favor of cutting those.
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Old January 15, 2019, 13:53   #59
Quirk
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Thresholds seems quite strong. On reflection, I think its current price (9 song, iirc) is probably around right, especially if all elves are going to be getting a free song.
Thank you. This is really useful feedback. I felt the wards were powerful from my own experimentation, which was more combat oriented, but it was hard to put a finger on it. Knowing that it would be broken at a low price means I do need to go back to my latest sketched redesign and reconsider it, but better that than wreck game balance.

Lorien is stronger than Thresholds at 50' on a Sindar, but gets markedly weaker as enemy will and perception ramp up. This levels off late game so while I usually get Lorien about 500' on a pacifist and it is weakish at 15 song or so there, at 900' with Song in the mid 20s you are basically untouchable.

I think the weakness of Thresholds currently is that you need to survive to the point you can afford it, or go all in early with few other tools. Staying tends to be bought by combat characters at about 800', so such a high cost makes it unattainable until very late game, and I suspect the build you're running needs it to survive. I think maybe dropping it to 6 or 7 would make it a plausible option from the start while being enough of a sacrifice that it forces some dedication to the build?

I'm thinking of dropping Delvings to 2 or 3; does that seem reasonable?
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Old January 15, 2019, 15:17   #60
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I'm thinking of dropping Delvings to 2 or 3; does that seem reasonable?
I tried it with a bunch of low grace dwarfs & it is much weaker at low levels, it starts getting strong around 10 song level, so with current numbers I doubt 2 or 3 is going to overpowered unless you're running a high grace finarfin or doriath.
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