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Old June 24, 2022, 15:02   #1
emar
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Thoughts on Moreia and Lessia

I'm planning on splitting this into two separate projects, given the large divergences already in my thinking. Project codenames (everything needs codenames) being Moreia (town mode) and Lessia (ironman [glassman?] mode).

Philosophy: Angband is still Moria at heart, so let's have an ill-fated expedition to reclaim it. The hope is to make a game that is near impossible to beat in the town mode, but reguarly achievable in ironman mode. Artifacts are truly legendary. The ironman player is almost guaranteed to never see one. In town mode, regular Angband gameplay resumes on dlvl 51, with artifacts easily acquired.

The feeling in ironman should be one of desperation rather than power. This isn't a Peter Jackson movie. The Fellowship has failed. It is The Road, House of Leaves, Southern Reach, and the Kolyma Tales. Gaming-wise, it is Thief: The Dark Project, Hitman, Sil, and Angband as a glass-canon rogue diving too greedily and too deep. Stealth and avoiding conflict are your primary tools.

'A time may come soon," said he, "when none will return. Then there will be need of valour without renown, for none shall remember the deeds that are done in the last defence of your homes. Yet the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised."'

Ironman mode: Goal is to descend 50 levels at which point the game reaches maximum difficulty. The second half is ascending 50 levels of pure escape, being chased relentlessly by the Balrog. The player is not expected (or probably even possible) to kill the Balrog.

Each race/class combination reflects a member of the Fellowship; only Frodo gets a mithril shirt, Sting, and the One Ring for a newbie class, or is it? [...my precious...] Starting gear is standardized by member, but not overpowered. Aragorn and Gandalf have previous knowledge of the city levels, but not what lurks there.

Speaking of Gandalf, he has Narya, Glamdring, and his staff, of course.

"Each Wizard carried and utilised a powerful staff, through which they channelled and performed most of their spells and magic actions. They could, however, use magic without the aid of their staffs such as telekinesis and healing; however it is uncertain how far they could go magically without their staffs. Their magic could cast illusions, shoot firebolts, summon lightning, heal grievous wounds, hurl enemies around with ease, disintegrate structures and even ensnare the minds of other beings. Yet for all their power, the Wizards were expressly forbidden by the Valar from openly using their magic except in times of great need and as such they (with the exception of Saruman) more often relied on their wisdom, quick-thinking and reasoning skills to overcome challenges than through use of magic."

This is Gandalf's playstyle in a nutshell: "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement."

It is not only feasible but optimal for Gandalf to act as a pacifist. The Fellowship has failed. He is an immortal: there is no just self-defense here. Sowing death and destruction in what is now Sauron's domains will only inflame the wrath of Mordor against the remnants of the Free Creatures. When Gandalf hits a low HP threshhold, he is permitted to use his powers, but no more than to terrify, injure, and escape. If he deviates from his appointed task his powers and memory of Valinor will begin to wane.

Town mode: The core Angband gameplay will be kept, with the Balrog put back on level 50 replacing Morgoth. The second half of the game (dlvls 51-100) is for prestige and will be delving into the deep, where the nameless creatures dwell. On dlvl 100, Nidhogg must be battled and whatever strategies players use to win will be subverted in the next version to prevent victory, akin to the original Moria. Because this will be for player levels well beyond Ironman, balance should be easier to maintain.

In both modes, the first seven levels are randomly generated city levels. In ironman, the last 7 levels are also city levels. These levels are the ruined Dwarrowdelf. Every level in ironman will be populated with monsters and eventually flavor objects, like (not rodent) skeletons, rusty gear, wagons, and handcarts. remainder are randomly generated using standard dungeon generation. Persistent levels by default on both modes, with a birth option otherwise. Some legends talk of stairs that never end.

Food in the dungeon is old cram and cave fish and whatever the character brought with them. Cram is available in town mode for purchase, but supplies are limited. The goblins may carry their own provisions, but these might not be fit for the fairer forms of life.

Packrats will have to haul around their loot via handcart. Encumberance is real and deadly.

Light is equally limited in both modes. There is no phial.

Ranged weapons will suffer penalties in narrow halls.

Goblin gear, if you can acquire it, will help you blend in, but it is heavy, and dirty. Wounds may not heal as fast, or at all.

(Ironman Intro) "You are the last survivor of an ill-fated group tasked with transporting the One Ring to be destroyed in Mount Doom. What nameless horror slayed your guides lays behind. The doors are closed and will not open again. You must find your own way through the darkness. The wind malevolently carried one word before the abyssal silence descended: "Moria..." You hear drums, drums in the deep.

They are coming.

(Town Intro)
You are a dwarf of the second expedition sent to reclaim the city and mine from the Orcs and whatever creatures remain in the deep. The expedition has been successful and a town before the entry settled. The long fight to empty the ruined city and mines has begun.

(Standard Angband start, but with only dwarf races)

Last edited by emar; June 24, 2022 at 15:19.
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Old June 24, 2022, 15:04   #2
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Random thought: A Gandalf-only version could easily be called wizard and spawn a historic legacy of wizardlikes.
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Old June 27, 2022, 02:33   #3
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Where are you planning to start on this? I think you could achieve quite a lot of it with just changes to the data files, but there will of course need to be change to dungeon generation and a bunch of other things like inventory and ranged combat at least.
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Old June 27, 2022, 13:02   #4
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Where are you planning to start on this? I think you could achieve quite a lot of it with just changes to the data files, but there will of course need to be change to dungeon generation and a bunch of other things like inventory and ranged combat at least.
Changing the data files is mainly where I'm working on at the moment.

I changed world.txt to be (at this point) West and East Moria with the midway point to be the Room of Mazarbul with West Moria 1 being the Doors of Durin and East Moria 1 being the Dimrill Gate. Canonically, the Fellowship reaches the city after the maze of mines, so I figure I'll leave the city generation and placement until later. I changed the dlvl display to display the level name, but left sidebar mode currently truncates it, but top displays it fine.

I've set player depth to begin at dlvl 1 and made a simple check to prevent going to town ("It's no use. The gates are blocked from behind.") along with changing the default birth options to persistent levels and no artifact generation.

I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out how the birth generation process works (to prune it to be a single selection of 9 race/classes, or at least racially determined classes) but gave up for the moment and just reduced p_race.txt to one "Fellowship" race with the classes representing members. My current target is building out everyone but Gandalf, but I may work on the non-magic members simultaneously with pruning the monsters.

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Old June 27, 2022, 21:19   #5
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Current question: Is it possible for a class to have starting ego or artifact equipment via class.txt?
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Old June 27, 2022, 22:23   #6
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Quote:
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Current question: Is it possible for a class to have starting ego or artifact equipment via class.txt?
Not in V, but some FA races start with ego weapons. There's an ego: line in world.txt (that you could as easily put in class.txt), then it's parsed here and used here. Artifacts could be done in a similar way, I think.
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Old June 29, 2022, 15:44   #7
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Given the design decisions that seem appropriate while stripping down Angband, it seems like I'm just going to reimplement something close enough to Sil to not be worth doing (or at least not until Nick finishes the Sil reimplementation in the V codebase along with water tiles).

I'm now actually wondering if Sil began as something similar, especially given that the intro screen has a Moria couplet (The world was young, the mountains green, no stain yet on the moon was seen...), which admittedly could refer to many aspects of Sil.

If you try to Tolkienize Angband and remove the non-canonical monsters and items, the dungeon becomes too large and empty, requiring smaller dungeons and monster intelligence to fill the vacuum left by minmaxing resists and gear. Hence 4GAI+ in Sil.

The weapon/armor/damage (and generally the game) model then has to be changed from asymmetric to symmetric because monsters become absolutely unforgiving, which means armor actually has to reduce damage in a linear way (as well as other implications). Stealth similarly requires redoing the geometry of the dungeon such that connecting tunnels don't act as monster-feed tubes leading to instadeath.

Along the way, I discovered that the author has very similar tastes and attitudes concerning game-design and philosophy (and also discovered that he was a founding member of Effective Altruism, which is a neat fact), so I have a feeling that this would just be a retread, anyway.

It does make me wonder what the results of a Bartok Angband comp would be:

Quote:
New rules are introduced to Bartok by the winner of each round, making the game more complex as it progresses. The creator must tell the other players what this rule is. Rules cannot be specific to particular players (such as "skip Bill every turn") and cannot remove or alter a rule introduced in a previous round, unless that is the wish of every player. Additionally, if there is a unanimous veto, that is, every player bar the creator vetoes a new rule, then the rule is not used and the creator must think of another. Commonly, there is a time out rule, whereby if players need clarification during a round of a newly introduced rule, they may call time out and discuss it.
As a final note, I'm going to leave this permutation of Greenspun's tenth rule in case the authors ever happen to organically stumble upon it:

Any sufficiently complicated moral or ethical philosophy contains an ad hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of pre-sectarian Buddhism.

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Old June 30, 2022, 20:55   #8
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If I was ever going to try make a variant...
(I have thought about it, looked at some of the code and had second thoughts.)

It would be a similar concept to this, but maybe called something like "Samband:"

Frodo was killed by Shelob's poison in Cirith Ungol...

Your goal is to take the One Ring and get to the Cracks of Doom without either being discovered by Sauron's forces or succumbing to the temptation to claim the ring for yourself.
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