Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Orthanc: Grinding to Failure

For most of my time playing this game I've been quickly building my characters up, then sending them to map as much unexplored territory as possible before their inevitable demise.  A few days ago I decided to try something different: I was going to slowly and methodically grind a character up, keeping him stronger than the monsters encountered and increasing his survivability.

It worked, for a little while.  Getting a character from level 1 to about level 6 is no problem at all, and can happen quite quickly.  Things slow down after that, however.  For every level you gain the experience points needed to reach the next level double, like so: 1000, 2000, 4000, 8000, 16000, 32000, 64000, 128000, 256000, 512000, etc.  From level 7 onwards the target starts to get really high, and you need to delve deeper to get a decent amount of treasure, unless you're patient enough to chip away at it on the first couple of levels.  I wasn't.

I managed to grind my way up to 9th level, which gave me 20 spell slots and about 60 hit points.  I also found some choice magic items along the way: a ring of protection, elven boots and the all-important ring of light.  I would wear the boots to avoid random encounters, and the ring of light so that I would always know where the set encounters were.  I switched to the ring of protection before every battle, and also before going through a door.  It was a good system, and it seemed to be working well for me.

Ultimately, I was thwarted by the randomness of the game.  No matter how careful you are, there's no way of knowing what the next fight will be.  It could be against a Level 1 Kobold, or it could be against a level 8 Gorgon.  I wasn't done in by a single combat, however, but rather by the respawning of a dungeon level.  I was grinding on level 4 of the dungeon, and decided to return to the surface with 6 spell slots still remaining, but when I got to level 3 it had been restocked, and was crawling with encounters again.  For some reason every one that I hit was high level, and I was soon left with no spells.  The one that got me was a Sphinx, which is in the Animated category that's immune to most spells anyway.  There was nothing for me to do but chop way at it and hope the numbers came up in my favour.  They didn't.

So I'm going to forget about grinding.  At least with my old tactics I was progressing with my maps, however slowly.  I wasted two days of gaming trying to develop a powerful character, and in the end it got me nowhere.

Also, this happened:

Yes, your magical items can be destroyed after any battle.  Wonderful.

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