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Old September 28, 2010, 23:15   #1
fizzix
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Ideas for non-sticky curses

I kind of wanted to think about some ideas about how to make non-sticky curses. Ideas from other variants are also welcome. The main idea is that the current implementation of sticky curses is kind of broken. The problem is that if you wield a cursed item, you can scum dlevel 1 until ?rcurse appears in the store. If the item is heavily cursed, you can buy enough ?enchant to remove it. These are mitigated somewhat by removing ?rcurse and ?enchant from the alchemist. But I'm not sure this is the best solution. To abstract this a bit. The problem isn't so much that sticky curses exist, but that the curse removal process is tedious rather than challenging.

I do not want to talk about mixed blessing items. These are fine and should exist, especially early on. What I want to suggest instead is to have various different curse removal methods, and a different cursing method. I think this may wind up in variant territory. But since reworking curses is on the short list of changes, this is a worthwhile discussion.

Why have curses at all?
-----------------
Curses used to be extremely prevalent. In the early days, every item with negatives on to-hit and to-dam was cursed. This mean that you could not weild items until you pseudo-id'd it. This was a painful mechanic and has since been dropped.

Currently, curses are mainly encountered on Rings and Amulets. (cursed weapons and armor exist but are very rare) Most of these are annoyances, none are deadly. From memory, the curses you are likely to get are =search, =int,str,con,dex. "search, "infra, "wis. Cursed =dam and =acc exist but I think I've only come across them once.

Wielding a cursed item shouldn't keep you from removing the item. Rather it should impart some negative effect until you break the curse. Receiving a curse can also be given from other methods like traps or maybe even powerful monsters. Curses should be rare, but they should also impart some challenge to the game. It is possible to even consider giving a reward for breaking curses, such as an XP bonus.

Breaking curses
------------------
Coming up with a method of breaking curses that doesn't require the tedium of waiting for the town to restock ?rc is important. I think that when you receive a curse you are also told the method of breaking it. Here are some ideas I've come up with.

- Gain some amount of XP
- Descend 5-10 levels from current
- Kill a specific monster native to around current level depth
- Kill any monster at depth N or greater
- Kill the monster that cursed you (if such a thing can happen, probably should be limited to uniques)

Curse types
-------------
This is fertile ground for ideas. So I'll just through out some that I have.

Aggro (-5 stealth)
Weakness (- to-dam)
Clumsiness (- to-hit)
Sickness (regen is impaired)
Idiocy (bigger spell, activation fail rate)
Naivety (lower saving throw, perhaps require saving through even with rconf or rblind)
Descent (ironman rules enforced, no recall, no ascent)
Vulnerability (- to AC)
Danger (increase in monster spawn rate)
Random teleport (as exists)
Slowness (- speed)

Values of Weakness, clumsiness and slowness should be dlevel dependent. None of these curses should be overly punitive so that the result is to avoid being cursed at all costs. That brings us back to the old days where you need to wait for pseudo. But they also shouldn't be ignorable either. And there's a lot of info from variants that can be useful on both of these points.

And if you want a list of uniques that should be able to put a curse on you that gets killed when you destroy them, the following ones seem like good candidates:

Wormtongue
Draebor
Mim
Eol
Mouth of Sauron
Ringwraiths
Saruman
Angel uniques
Balrog uniques
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Old September 29, 2010, 02:40   #2
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With the stipulation that nearly all cursed items should be sticky.

Breaking curses...

All curses (this plus one of the following). The item gains XP while wielded. Gain more and more XP to increase the % chance of breaking the curse. Additionally, a certain 'waiting period' should have pass between attempts at unwielding a cursed item. This 'waiting period' should be unknown to the player, decrease with gained XP, and be reset if voilated.

Easy curses. Base 50% chance. You can try to unwield the weapon without penalty.
Moderate curses. Lingering effects. Base 33% chance. Negative effects of the curse will persist for some time afterward item is unwielded.
Severe curses. Base 25% chance of unwielding the item. Failed attempts will harm the character in some way significant way.

Remove Curse should lessen or break most normal curses. *Remove Curse* should be very rare and break all but 'special' non-random curses.
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Old September 29, 2010, 04:21   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzkill View Post

All curses (this plus one of the following). The item gains XP while wielded. Gain more and more XP to increase the % chance of breaking the curse. Additionally, a certain 'waiting period' should have pass between attempts at unwielding a cursed item. This 'waiting period' should be unknown to the player, decrease with gained XP, and be reset if voilated.
I like this. Well, I like most of it. I wouldn't overly mind a sticky curse that required you to kill some XP worth of enemies to unwield. I don't know about this 'waiting period.' I just think the curse should vanish (and maybe the weapon change) when the curse is broken.

Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzkill

Remove Curse should lessen or break most normal curses. *Remove Curse* should be very rare and break all but 'special' non-random curses.
My hope is that sticky curses will be rare enough that we can either eliminate ?rc or make it dungeon only.
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Old September 30, 2010, 00:49   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzkill View Post
This 'waiting period' should be unknown to the player
The thing with Angband is that its code is so dissectable and readily known (and discussed) by people on this and similar forums. As such, nothing is actually unknown to the player. Since just about everything else is moving towards full disclosure (easier ID, better/more monster info, averaged damage, etc), it seems a bit odd to suggest something be a "hidden attribute" - as inviting as that concept might feel to people like myself who grew up on tabletop gaming full of homebrew rules inscrutiable to the player.
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Old September 30, 2010, 05:26   #5
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There have been a lot of ideas for improving curses. I know Takkaria has some plans, and I have seen some of what Nick has done in FA.

I think my biggest gripe with curses is that they aren't interesting and don't give the player interesting choices. As fizzix notes, the original mechanic was solely to prevent people from being able to use items until they were identified (or pseudo-identified). This is boring. Other than that "gotcha" factor, and the fact that at least one item (Calris) needs to be uncursed before it can be safely used as a swap, there is nothing interesting going on.

While I think we would all miss curses if they simply vanished, the games I currently play act as if curses don't exist.

I think Buzzkill has the right idea in terms of items needing to gain XP to break curses... I can imagine good items with curses which offer a choice between grinding for a period while the weapon is "bad" in order to make it good (Calris might be a great example of this, I could imagine it's negative to-hit becoming positive if/when the curse is broken).

In terms of the literature, I think the idea of powerful weapons with terrible curses makes a lot more sense than a useless item that also happened to get cursed. In that sense (and despite being annoying and/or broken) I think aggravate works better than the current curse mechanic. So I could imagine weapons that are mostly good but with weird (or serious) side effects, e.g. random effects, random teleportation, increased spell failure rate, illiteracy, drastically reduced AC, whatever... as long as the side effect offers interesting tactical trade offs. A much less drastic form of earthquake also would work in this regard.

Though like most of our ideas here, it's hard to say if/when someone will really rework this stuff.
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Old September 30, 2010, 06:59   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_m View Post
While I think we would all miss curses if they simply vanished

(Calris might be a great example of this, I could imagine it's negative to-hit becoming positive if/when the curse is broken).
I would not miss them at all.

I think Calris would be much more interesting if enchantment was removed from the game. If you want to use it, you have to cope with -20 to hit. Maybe even make it -40. That might require bless+hero for mixed classes to use it effectively.
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Old September 30, 2010, 08:23   #7
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Originally Posted by d_m View Post
While I think we would all miss curses if they simply vanished, the games I currently play act as if curses don't exist.
If curses as they currently exist were to disappear, I wouldn't miss them at all. I'd barely notice.

If they were replaced with interesting curses I'd be happy.
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Old September 30, 2010, 15:33   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zyphyr View Post
If curses as they currently exist were to disappear, I wouldn't miss them at all. I'd barely notice.

If they were replaced with interesting curses I'd be happy.
I think that's what I meant... that from a flavor point of view it would be a shame to remove them but in terms of gameplay it would be fine.
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Old September 30, 2010, 22:31   #9
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Quote:
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I think that's what I meant... that from a flavor point of view it would be a shame to remove them but in terms of gameplay it would be fine.
Is there a fear that if they were removed wholly, then it would be harder to introduce a more appealing alternative in the future?

I kind of like games with individual, different challenges. The random nature of Angband gives it a lot of different challenges (for example, early ESP, no TO until late.) I think I would be a bit saddened if curses were just chucked entirely when there's the ability to replace them with interesting challenges.
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Old October 5, 2010, 22:31   #10
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Anyone looking for ideas for non-sticky curses should ask the FAangband maintaner, his curses are genialistic....
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