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Old February 27, 2011, 17:24   #1
NotMorgoth
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Fun Times with Hidden Curses (Sangband)

Gnome mage just wandering around on DL69 - saw a Great Wyrm of Venom, so wielded my Scythe (serpentine) for rPoison...

Oh no.... as you wield the scythe it changes horribly....

Ended up with a Scythe of Savagery - which among other things aggravates, prevents spellcasting and severely reduces int and magic device skill.

So... as I was relying on Mordekainen's Escapes for WOR, I had no detection except ESP, no way to get back to town, a weapon I had no skill in, and a rapidly dwindling supply of escapes and healing (my 2 ?tele level and 1 ?alter reality didn't last long) and no rPoison. Even my attack wands and rods were unreliable as I had a much greater chance of failure than usual thanks to the Savagery.

Playing with disconnected stairs, so no way to stairscum my way out.

I figured my most likely way to survive was to take stairs up whenever possible (shallower level = less likely to meet something that will instakill me) and when possible kill monsters that might drop something that could get me out. I did a lot of teleporting with the staff, whenever it looked like I could not avoid something too dangerous, but my supply of ?recharge was nearly out.

And, amazingly, I survived - I made it up to about DL60 then found a rod of recall on the floor.

Character dump here

I know I'm often complaining about hidden curses, and I would have been annoyed if I'd lost this character because of one - but now maybe I'm changing my mind, as this made for a very exciting couple of hundred turns.

However, it will probably just mean that I always test-wield new items for the first time in town, to avoid nasty surprises like this... and hidden curses will be practically instadeaths in ironman, but only an annoyance in normal play.

@ camlost - if you want to be really sadistic, maybe hidden curses should not reveal themselves until you are wielding the item in the dungeon. But this might be too nasty and drive some players away from the game when it happens to them.

The only other comment I have is that this game is going MUCH slower than my last Beorning winner - the early game in particular was painfully slow. At times I was finding it almost impossible to kill anything that would give reasonable amounts of XP and was gaining most of my XP from use-IDing items.

While this was probably partly due to my skill choices (it may have been a mistake to use melee at all as a gnome caster,) I suspect that the reduction in amount of XP gained for killing low-level monsters relative to power has exaggerated the difference between those characters who already have an easy time in the early game (eg due to good HP or fighting ability) and those who find it hard.
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Old February 28, 2011, 08:25   #2
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Trivia time! There is one type of {S} spellcaster that can, by combining a spell with ordinary identification, detect hidden curses - but not on [excellent] items (which makes this bit of trivia useless in practice outside of a few edge cases for cloaks). Which class and spell is it?
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Old March 3, 2011, 19:06   #3
Bostock
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(Trivia answer: Scan Object.)

...by the way, you forgot to mention the part where hidden curses make wearing identified GLOVES in the dungeon after the switch to _Tele and -Recall a probable instadeath .1% of the time. Reeeeeal improvement to the game there, I reeeeally feel glad that I have had the opportunity to be instakilled in slow motion as punishment for 80% of .1% of my glove testing. Boy, I am so happy. Happy, ha AREWAUWDHPUEWOFOASQJQPJ
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Old March 3, 2011, 19:31   #4
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Gloves of unmagic? Ouch.

(note to self -- gloves of magic mastery have no T: line, and thus are ungenerateable )
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Old March 3, 2011, 19:54   #5
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I was thinking about Scan Object, but not having played a priest for so long I couldn't exactly remember what it does or how it would work for detecting hidden curses.

I assume if it shows up the item as 'excellent' but there is no ego-level power on normal identify, then it is detecting an ego-level hidden curse...
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Old March 3, 2011, 19:59   #6
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Right. (It calls ego-level wargear "truly blessed" during casting and "blessed!" thereafter -- though only after a certain casting power level.)

I don't believe sub-ego hidden curses exist. I don't have any real foundation for this belief though.

One minor unpleasant quirk in the spell: devices already marked with "blessed"/"blessed!" are not removed from its picking list, so if you're not careful you can fumble and cast it on an already-scanned device where it will tell you nothing.
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Old March 15, 2011, 16:33   #7
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An update to this: Gnasty went on to become the first gnome winner on the Sangband ladder.

I had a very scary moment right at the end, when I was paralyzed with fear by a helldark or darkness storm cast by Morgoth. I think I must have only been paralyzed for one turn as he did not do anything to kill me before I recovered.

What is interesting is that even at power 100 I only had 782 HP. I'm sure that before the recent changes a character with gnome/dark-elf hit dice would end up with about 820 HP at power 100, even with a magical oath and 100% spellcasting.

While the difference between 780 and 820 HP is not that great, there is a kind of psychological comfort blanket of having over 800, and this made me very careful about using genocide effects when fighting Morgoth, in case the damage from casting it put me within reach of his mana storms.
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