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Old May 8, 2008, 12:11   #1
Psi
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[FA] Tales of the impossible...?

The one mode that scares me to death in FAAngband is ironman. There are so many occassions in normal play where I have to retreat straight back up the stairs that I don't know whether this mode of play is even close to possible. Your starting town is the only time you can purchase anything (which my first char found to his cost when he arrived at Ossiriand to find all the buildings had gone!) but due to most of the towns only having an apothecary, a temple and a travelling merchant (black market prices) anyway you cannot stock up on much!

I decided that an Ent would give me my best chance of progress - being able to hide in forests should allow me to make the most of those levels and I'd just have to cross the other terrains as quickly as possible. The obvious route for this race is across the Ent Path to Ossiriand, then across the plains of East Beleriand, through the forests of Doriath via Menegroth, across the plains of Dor Dinen, into the mountains and then forests of Dorthonian, through the desert of Angfauglith and finally to the dungeons of Angband. All of my ironman characters so far had died in East Beleriand and I expected any char to get past the plains to meet his death in the mountains.

My next concern was how to avoid starving to death, as food is hardly plentiful and the wilderness takes a long time to traverse. I settled on playing a ranger as foraging (the druidic counterpart to satisfy hunger) is the first spell you can learn. Weak pseudo is a right pain in the wotsit when id is about as scarce as food, but it would have to do. Unfortunately Ents aren't the best at archery, but that's life!

So here begins the tale of Psironic the Ironman Entish Ranger. I don't expect it to be very long...

Psironic started her life (yes she's a gal - they start with more money) in the town of Taur-Im-Duinath. She opted for the athletics speciality (+2 and partial sustains to Dex and Con) to improve her to_hit and to offset an Ent's poor (and decreasing) Dex. She spent her 150 gp on an ?Id, a ?Phase Door and a stack of torches (didn't want to run out of light!). She then made her way east along the Ent Path through the forest picking off the usual jackals, centipedes and icky things. As she can never revisit a depth once she has left it, she has to make the most of each level - particularly in the forests where Ents have such a big advantage. Therefore she made CL5 when only at DL3. By this time she could cast foraging, so ditched the food she was carrying.

DLs 4&5 were her first two plains levels so she crossed from one side to the other as quickly as she could to reach the safety of the forests at DL6 where she progressed to CL7. On entering the deserted town of Ossiriand - deserted in that the buildings had all gone rather than the townsfolk! - she came face to face with the ever-miserable Complainer. Rather than endure his moaning, Psironic quickly eliminated the fellow and he ever-so-kindly dropped boots of stealth - crossing the plains had suddenly become more of a possibility!

On entering DL7, Psironic was challenged by the player ghost, Alexander Ulyano, the Skeleton. After an awful battle (ranger melee is really very poor in the early game - as is archery for any class), he dropped a chest. Failing to disarm it flung the contents "to the four winds". Later, she found a few crappy wands on the level, so I guess that was what was in it. She then lingered on the level, reaching CL10 whilst waiting for night to fall.

So under cover of dark (*all* monsters start asleep), Psironic began the dash across the plains of East Beleriand in her stealth boots. Unfortunately these levels are arranged horizontally so they take a long, nerve-wracking time to cross! The 'crappy' wand of confusion came to her rescue a couple of times, allowing her to get enough of a lead on chasing monsters that had woken up and begun pursuit. She also woke up a plainsman's camp but managed to reach the pathway before they achieved LoS on her. Eventually (and much to my surprise I might add), Psironic arrived at the relative safety of the forest level of Doriath 16! My first Ironman character to survive that far.

She hit her first 'attemptable' wilderness vault here which yielded a chest of unId'd rings which she did not have the space to carry! As the 6 rings were of 3 distinct flavours, she picked the ring that was only represented once. It proved to be a good choice as a later ?Id showed it to be Free Action! Moving north to Doriath 17, detecting objects revealed the lamp of Gwindor (the FA equivalent of the phial) in an Orc encampment guarded by Balcmeg. The battle went on for ever, with Psironic frequently retreating into the trees to hide and recover. Eventually she emerged triumphant at CL15 and her prize meant she could no longer run out of light as well as food now.

Carrying on north, she was fortunate to pick up copies of her next two spellbooks and then had another big battle, this time against Ulwarth. Had it not been for Ent's 'superstealth' in forests he would have easily have had the upper hand, but again Psironic prevailed. There were also several sightings of Ulfast, but as he has a great drop in FA, I decided to leave him for a later level. Then just as I was about to leave the level I spotted a longbow that I'd previously missed (the perils of playing on a handheld where your detection radius is bigger than your screen!). This proved to be the find of the game so far as it had to be a Longbow of Ossiriand (equivalent of Lothlorien) given the increase to Dex when wielding it.

Moving north into the 'town' of Menegroth is where Psironic is found in the dump as of 7th May. I hope this is vaguely interesting as it took ages to type! I will add that Psironic is surprisingly still alive after another session's play, so there will be another update, but how much further she can get in ironman without much means of escape or healing is somewhat debatable!
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Old May 8, 2008, 18:53   #2
Rizwan
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A very good read. Riveting. It kept me waiting for the next action sequence of which there were plenty. Waiting for the next Adventures of that wonderful lass
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Old May 8, 2008, 20:29   #3
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Neither too personal nor too impersonal. Perfect.

Good luck!
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Old May 9, 2008, 11:58   #4
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Here continues the adventure of Psironic the Ironman Entish Ranger...

Doriath 20 yielded a close battle with none other than the maintainer! Nick the Mummy had a nasty poison attack which saw Psironic's HP plummeting. Thankfully she lost him in the trees when another round of melee would have brought her dangerously close to death. After resting, a more tactical battle ensued rather than the original frenzy and Psironic came out on top. Nick left the customary chest, but disarming it proved almost as tricky as the fight! Three times, the summoning runes were triggered leading to a new mini-army to overcome! Most interesting summoned opponent was Orfax, but he was not much of a challenge by this stage of the game - particularly on home turf for an Ent. The level also yielded my first _Perception - Id at last (well for a few charges anyway...)!

From level 20 onwards the wilderness levels increase at a depth of 2 (not really what you want in an ironman game but hey-ho!), so Psironic found herself in Doriath 22. There she fought and bested Antoine, the Spirit for the usual chest - with the seemingly usual rubbish contest (at this depth at least!).

Doriath 24 was unremarkable save for reaching CL20, but this led into the plains of Dor Dinen where Ents are obviously exposed again. As in the previous plains dash I ensured that it was night before setting Psironic on her journey, but this did not stop her accidentally walking into an Orc and Troll Town and waking up the denizens! Thankfully a ranger's ability to walk through the trees without penalty gave her enough of a lead to reach the next pathway before the chasing mob could catch her! A lesson in detecting monsters more frequently was learnt...

As Psironic was approaching the pathway from Dor Dinen 30 to the mountains of Dorthonian 32, she spotted a sleeping Elven Thrall Lord. Standing on the pathway, she decided to take a pop at him knowing she could quickly escape if it turned nasty given his extra speed and offensive power. He dropped after three arrows, leaving what turned out to be Narthanc. The branding made this an instant swap for her current weapon.

So to the mountains - a dangerous maze of pathways between the solid rock, mostly leading to deadends and quite likely death with nowhere to run. Psironic carefully made her way along the narrow gulleys, detecting frequently. Unfortunately for her, the pathways to the next level are not stairs so cannot be detected by any spell save magic mapping types (which had a crippling failure rate at this stage) and though she reached the top edge of the map, she found herself at a dead end. However using her Entish talents, she unwielded her dagger and tunneled horizontally across the top edge of the level with her barehands. Thankfully nothing had followed her into her makeshift passage and almost half a level later she tunneled her way out and onto the pathway to the next level.

Dorthonian 34 started in the worst possible way. Detecting monsters showed a Corvid of Shadow just a few steps from the stairway. These nasty birds have a tendency to wake up everything within earshot. Psironic's best chance was to drop it before it woke up. Her first shot was good, but not good enough, as the Corvid flew in terror into the darkness. Not knowing where the wounded beast was, Psironic used her next move to detect again. The bird then fell to the next arrow, however that one wasted turn was all the time it had needed to let out a shriek of warning of Psironic's presence. Disaster! Detecting showed that a Cloud Giant, a Grave Wight, A Killer Stag Beetle and two Halfling Slingers had answered the call. Psironic backed down a vertical corridor with a single point of entry into some rubble (which offers some defensive bonuses) to take up her position. As her foes approached she let loose a volley of arrows. Each eventually fell and Psironic made up the XP the Wight had drained by subsequently killing it. Best of all, on quaffing the unId'd potion the Cloud Giant had dropped yielded enlightenment of the level! Though she found herself in the middle of the bottom of the level with the exits in each corner at the top (typical) - at least she knew where they were! So carefully using tunneling to circumvent dangerous sleeping foes she found her way through the mountains and once more into the friendly surroundings of a forest.

Dorthonian 36 - 46 is what this particular game is all about. These are the last available forest levels and where I hope I can transform Psironic into a force to be reckoned with. The first of these levels did not disappoint! She finally quaff-Id'd her first !Wisdom which handily removed that drained stat and then she came across two warrior settlements. Without Id (again) I had her destroy most of the gear she could not carry in the hope of an artifact, but no such luck. Worse still was that an ?Id on the floor showed that the 4d5 war hammer was merely enchanted. However wielding the {good} flail boosted her Int by 3 proving it to be a randart. This then became her weapon of choice for the bigger damage dice over her 'thanc. Later it was shown to only slay animals, but had the useful bonuses of SeeInv and more importantly, rConf. Ulfast was again wandering the level and though she had resisted to this point, on clearing the level, she decided it was time to see what gift(s) he might produce. As the soft leather boots hit the floor, Dal-i-thalion came to mind, but boots of stabiliy seemed more likely... better still though - Boots of Speed (+9) !!!

On the next level, Psironic had a run in with Pete Mack the Ghost. The chest contained launchers that were duly squelched - not worth lugging around for weak pseudo when I already have a quality bow. A !Con, the death of Othrod, Lord of the Orcs and a _Perception were the other highlights. The latter showing that another sword from the previous level was a randart that slew demons. Psironic also reached CL25, the first 'aging' point for an Ent. She gained +1 to Str and Con, but lost a point of Dex. This is repeated at CL40 and CL45 - though she will be fortunate to get close to either of those landmarks!

Dorthonian 40 contained some sloppy play, where Psironic foolishly meleed an Erinyes. "I won't waste my arrows. It is unlikely to hit me and thus reduce my strength.". Of course it did when nearly dead, she then decided to finish it off with her sword and of course missed with all her blows and was further weakened... The level also yielded a scimitar of poisoning and another _Perception.

The next level was where it all nearly went horribly wrong. Ulfang had fallen easily when the Queen Ant was spotted in a 1x1 chamber within a 4x4 room. Psironic opened the door and then realised that the Queen Ant only had one direction to move in, so superstealth was useless here. She backed away to release her majesty only to be surrounded by summoned red ants. With HP plummeting she hacked her way through one red ant and made it adjacent to the wall of the 4x4 room. Using her -StonetoMud she opened the wall and dashed out - with just 11HP remaining. Phew! Having rested and recovered, Psironic came back and finished the job with her bow, using the terrain to break up LoS this time.

Dorthonian 44 saw the death of Draebor (what would have happened if he gestured at her feet in ironman mode? The ?Teleport Level she tried just vanished with the message "Nothing happens"). He dropped a lance of melting 2d12 which was then used to bash Lokkak to death. Best of all though was a Spirit Naga who dropped the Battle Axe of Balli Stonehand - a very good weapon, just in time! The Thief of the Mountains was the third and final unique to fall on the level. Psironic then entered the final forest level, Dorthonian 46, where I took the dump.

Not much play since, but Dorthonian 46 has so far yielded three artifacts, so there should be a short update tomorrow before Psironic dies horribly in the deserts of Angfauglith!
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Old May 9, 2008, 12:52   #5
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I am so impressed. I currently have a cl9 Dark Elf Druid - I'll post one if I get it to 20, but I'm not holding my breath.
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Old May 9, 2008, 13:27   #6
Psi
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Originally Posted by Nick View Post
I am so impressed. I currently have a cl9 Dark Elf Druid - I'll post one if I get it to 20, but I'm not holding my breath.
Whilst you are here Nick, what is the deal with ?TL and monsters that can do that to you? Does ?TL simply not work or only in dungeons (and only send you down)? Also can a priest still alter reality - if you can get far enough to get the spell that could make things very different with gathering consumables in the late game.

If I now rest for a day (the sun has just risen), I have a (somewhat slim) chance of getting to Angband as I now have superb stealth - however if I am to survive there I think I am going to need to disturb a few desert vaults on the way in the hope of some better equipment - scary!
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Old May 9, 2008, 15:05   #7
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Whilst you are here Nick, what is the deal with ?TL and monsters that can do that to you? Does ?TL simply not work or only in dungeons (and only send you down)? Also can a priest still alter reality - if you can get far enough to get the spell that could make things very different with gathering consumables in the late game.
TL is just completely disabled, by monster or player. Alter reality is still possible - if it seems like too much of a dodge for priests I can change it, but I think at the moment if you get that far with a priest, good luck
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Old May 9, 2008, 15:38   #8
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TL is just completely disabled, by monster or player.
In which case, I'll drop the ?TL I'd been saving! Would have been an embarrassing way to die in Angband...

You read the scroll of Teleport Level.
Nothing happens.
All the monsters laugh at you.
You die.

I've also just realised that rangers have a blink spell! That would have been a better escape from the Queen Ant earlier (if I'd bothered to learn it anyway ). In other news, progress in Angfauglith has suddenly got *very* interesting... report tomorrow!
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Old May 9, 2008, 16:33   #9
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*Very* interesting! Thanks for the DitL

Some little questions: in FA randarts are always pseudo-ided as {good}? So they can also be destroyed with k? No weapon in FA is sentient?
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Old May 9, 2008, 17:23   #10
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Randarts are indestructible but you run the risk of destroying some rather nice ego-items - I think randarts are limited to about 12 or 16 in total, anyway.

No FAa equipment is sentient (assuming that you mean in the ToME sense).
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