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Old March 3, 2018, 18:47   #1
Sphara
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Hounds

Angband has few too many monsters that you should never fight but these doggies just make it to the extreme. The fear of item destruction and equipment corrosion is part of the game, I do understand that. But is the monster type that is extremely common, annoying and useless to fight against, good for the game? Hounds have been an issue for 20 years now and they still remain the same: you should not fight them if you manage to notice them early.

Kinda useless to give examples here because regular posters here do know the danger they represent. Full removal would clearly lead into the game being lot easier, which I do not want either. If someone has any suggestions I'd like to hear em. If I'd do something about this I'd at least make some of them less buff. Pack of Gravity/Inertia Hounds for instance, constitutes a noticeable danger up in very late of the game. Compared to mature dragons, they are pretty much as buff, hit harder, give no loot, offer way less exp when killed but would be far more dangerous even if they appeared alone. Yet mature dragons are hardly an issue even when you first meet them.

Later in the game, those Time/Plasma hounds you just don't fight ever unless you're an idiot or a complete newbie.

Not demanding drastic actions here, still love the game. This is just something I wanted to bring up having played a lot roguelikes.
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Old March 3, 2018, 20:54   #2
Philip
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I would argue that several drastic actions have already been taken - pack size and frequency are radically lower than they used to be. I don't know if breath attenuation has made it into V yet, but that's a nerf to damage, especially since hounds are traditionally not too scary in close quarters. You could make them squishier, in particular Gravity hounds appear early and have enough hp to survive an attack in melee from most characters, and Plasma and Time and Ethereal hounds will frequently survive attacks from end-game characters, meaning that even if you can outsmart them, you'll probably get breathed on while fighting, and the consequences are bad enough to make them never worth fighting, as you mention. I also haven't played enough to know how hounds, their sense of smell, always awake, and new pathfinding interact with each other, though I imagine it's not particularly pleasant for the player. I've had monsters find me after I teleport a lot more than I used to, and I expect hounds to come back particularly often.

I think, on the whole, that hounds are pretty fine as is. They teach players relatively early on that a lot of things that are possible to fight aren't worth fighting, that objects are impermanent, and that being able to disengage is the most important aspect of the game.

If there were further changes to be made to hounds, however, I do have a couple ideas. The first is to remove always awake from hounds. This would make their perceived frequency a further bit lower, and differentiate them further from vortices. This is a fairly straightforward nerf to hounds.
My second idea is to tone down the most annoying part, which is item destruction. If I'm not mistaken, the current system is still 1-30 damage 1% destruction chance, 30+ damage 2% destruction chance. The fact that 2 attacks, each doing 5 damage, will destroy the same amount of stuff that a 177 damage unresisted Ancient Dragon breath is rather odd, as is the fact that as the game goes on, increasingly irrelevant amounts of damage will still destroy quite a lot of stuff, even with resistances. I feel like hounds would be made more appropriately annoying, and large damage amounts made more threatening, if item damage were more closely tied to %hitpoints the damage takes away from you. Maybe 1/10 of %hp lost as destruction chance? I don't know how the code for this works - I'm not even sure I'm right about how item destruction works - so I don't know how difficult this would be. I also don't know if this would make players too reluctant to fight some of the big breathers without full immunity, since with 1 level of resistance, a full strength breath is liable to take off 1/2 your hp, but the rate could be fine-tuned, and there could be a cut-off point.
A third idea, somewhat related to the second, and targeting a different sort of annoying hound, is to make the strength and/or application chance of status effects on the player dependent on damage inflicted. This would presumably make gravity hounds less horrible, since they wouldn't always phase you, nor would they always slow you, or those effects would be less dramatic than they are now. The issue is, perhaps this would take away some of the charm of the high resist (or no resist), horrible status effect breaths some of the mid-game hounds have.

The second and third ideas I propose would have wide-ranging effects on the game, and would likely require some rebalancing. On the other hand, they could make fighting crowds of monsters (such as you get from summoning) more palatable, since only monsters that are a serious threat to your hp total would have to be separated for a fight.
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Old March 3, 2018, 22:51   #3
Ingwe Ingweron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip View Post
I don't know if breath attenuation has made it into V yet, but that's a nerf to damage, especially since hounds are traditionally not too scary in close quarters.
Yes, breath attenuation is part of Vanilla now.

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Originally Posted by Philip View Post
If there were further changes to be made to hounds, however, I do have a couple ideas. The first is to remove always awake from hounds. This would make their perceived frequency a further bit lower, and differentiate them further from vortices. This is a fairly straightforward nerf to hounds.
I like this idea, and its motives.

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Originally Posted by Philip View Post
My second idea is to tone down the most annoying part, which is item destruction. If I'm not mistaken, the current system is still 1-30 damage 1% destruction chance, 30+ damage 2% destruction chance. The fact that 2 attacks, each doing 5 damage, will destroy the same amount of stuff that a 177 damage unresisted Ancient Dragon breath is rather odd, as is the fact that as the game goes on, increasingly irrelevant amounts of damage will still destroy quite a lot of stuff, even with resistances. I feel like hounds would be made more appropriately annoying, and large damage amounts made more threatening, if item damage were more closely tied to %hitpoints the damage takes away from you. Maybe 1/10 of %hp lost as destruction chance? I don't know how the code for this works - I'm not even sure I'm right about how item destruction works - so I don't know how difficult this would be. I also don't know if this would make players too reluctant to fight some of the big breathers without full immunity, since with 1 level of resistance, a full strength breath is liable to take off 1/2 your hp, but the rate could be fine-tuned, and there could be a cut-off point.
A change to item destruction chance, something along these lines, would be interesting to explore. Especially liked the supporting argument of hound breath versus Ancient Dragon breath item destruction chances.


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A third idea, somewhat related to the second, and targeting a different sort of annoying hound, is to make the strength and/or application chance of status effects on the player dependent on damage inflicted. This would presumably make gravity hounds less horrible, since they wouldn't always phase you, nor would they always slow you, or those effects would be less dramatic than they are now. The issue is, perhaps this would take away some of the charm of the high resist (or no resist), horrible status effect breaths some of the mid-game hounds have.
Didn't really like this idea, as being too much of a nerf to hounds.
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Old March 3, 2018, 23:57   #4
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Didn't really like this idea, as being too much of a nerf to hounds.
On second thought, I'm inclined to agree. It's not even just that it's a nerf to hounds, but that it makes the whole set of elements less interesting.
The only part which I still feel could work in some way would be to make the power of the effect scale like equipment damage, with %hp damage dealt, and the total size of the effect would be cumulative. I don't think it would nerf mid-game hounds too much at depth, since gravity hounds can take off somewhere between 1/6 and 1/3 of your hp in one breath at the clvl you're likely to first encounter them at. It would nerf them for more powerful characters, but it's kind of odd for a dlvl 35 monster to be a meaningful threat to an end-game character anyway.

A thing I remembered while looking through monster.txt to find out hp (damage) values for the various hounds is that a lot of these elements don't end up being used, except for several uniques and a bunch of plasma spells. I propose that some of the high dragons get to play around with them too. These breaths are already fairly weak later on due to damage caps, but they would make these fights a bit more interesting. Law dragons could have force, or inertia or gravity, chaos dragons could get nexus, death dragons could get time, many colours wyrms could have plasma.
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Old March 4, 2018, 00:50   #5
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Someone needs to remind me about this thread when I'm doing the monster list.
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Old March 4, 2018, 15:26   #6
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You could make them squishier, in particular Gravity hounds appear early and have enough hp to survive an attack in melee from most characters, and Plasma and Time and Ethereal hounds will frequently survive attacks from end-game characters, meaning that even if you can outsmart them, you'll probably get breathed on while fighting, and the consequences are bad enough to make them never worth fighting, as you mention.
I don't like the general idea of having the dungeon filled with glass cannons. Angband is already too reliant on "teleport it away before it can take a turn" gimmicks, in my view.
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Old March 4, 2018, 22:28   #7
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Yeah, the problem there is that the strength of their breaths depends on their hp, so if you tone them down, they become much less threatening (and won't really be a glass cannon), and their AI isn't particularly clever, so if they can't survive a round of attacks, the entire pack is probably going to end up doing nothing at all. Also, I checked again, and Time Hounds only have 330 hp, which is definitely doable in one round by end-game characters. The only hounds with a significant amount of hp are Chaos, Ethereal, and Aether, and maybe those should be horrible. Reduced pack sizes already mean that it would be difficult to die from full hp when fully exposed.
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Old March 5, 2018, 08:21   #8
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There's one issue atm... with impact hounds. Basically when you meet one in a corridor, it goes like this:

Z-------------------@

Z---@

"the impact hound breathes force"

Z--------------------@

The only way to deal with it is with spells or magic devices.
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Old March 5, 2018, 09:14   #9
Ingwe Ingweron
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There's one issue atm... with impact hounds....
The only way to deal with it is with spells or magic devices.
No problem, just don't meet the impact Z in a corridor.
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Old March 5, 2018, 16:23   #10
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No problem, just don't meet the impact Z in a corridor.
You joke, but seriously, part of getting good at the game is learning when it's safe to approach enemies (rarely) and when it's safe to have them approach you (more common). Impact hounds are one of the less punishing ways to learn this, frankly.
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