Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Game of Dungeons: Back to Square One

Since I began this blog, I have been praising the way that these early games use permanent character death.  I've waxed lyrical about the tension of knowing that every step could be my last, and that should death come there will be no way to bring my character back to life.

All of that has come back to haunt me.

Since my last post, I lost Godric.  I had managed to map out the whole dungeon with him, and gained over 48 million gold pieces in the process.  He had over 12,000 hit points.  I decided it was time to find the Orb, and the Dragon that guarded it.

What could possibly go wrong?

I had actually encountered the Dragon while mapping Level 17 of the dungeon, but not being prepared to finish the game I fled.  The manual says that you can always run from the Dragon, which is great, because it also says that it can dish out 100,000 points of damage.  When I returned to fight him for real, though, I wasn't worried by that.  Because, as you can see above, there's a little thing known as the Dragon Spell, which will kill it automatically.  It does so at the cost of almost all of your magic, but I thought I might be able to fight my way back to the surface through sheer muscle.

My first battle while carrying the Orb dissuaded me of that notion pretty quickly: a level 6,000 Ghoul.  For comparison, the strongest foes that Godric was normally encountering were around level 300.  I tried to run, but failed, and died in the ensuing melee.  I have to assume that it wasn't even close.

Naturally, there's only one solution to my problem: grind, grind and grind some more.  Which I did, eventually building up a very strong character who was unfortunately named Fred.  (I've used a lot of characters.  Good names are getting scarce.)  Fred accumulated over 125 million gold, and about 30,000 hit points.  I was planning to build him even further, but...  I can't even explain what happened.  I was on a routine foray, laden with gold and heading for the surface.  I was wounded, but I thought I had plenty of hit points left.  Then, when encountering a Ghoul, I let loose with a Fireball that backfired on me, and...  I was dead.  I suppose I got cocky, not bothering to check how many hit points I had left.  It was a shock, to be honest.  I think I stared at the screen for a good minute before rolling up the next guy.  (The next guy didn't do so well, as he died with a grand total of 0 gold.)

Currently I have a character with about 400,000 gold, which is a good base to start from.  Barring stupidity, a lapse of judgment or plain old bad luck, I should be able to get him to the point where I want to fight the dragon again.  I'd like to get my hit points up to 100,000 before I do that, but that could be way too much grinding.  Time will tell if I have the patience.

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