I'm chugging along at a nice pace on Orthanc now, having mapped level 5 and most of level 6. I'm using my spells more effectively, and I'm also taking the game's comprehensive documentation into account by checking the stats of monsters before I decide how to tackle them. Basically, I'm playing smarter, and I'm losing fewer characters because of it. It's not only the spells that are keeping me alive, though: it's also the magic items I've found, and they're what I'm going to write about today.
|Equipping my Light Ring. Note that I also have a +2 sword.
Magic items in Orthanc come in four categories: boots, equipment, manuals and rings.
Boots: Boots are equipped in the dungeon by pressing 'B'. (For the longest time I hadn't realised that you need to equip magic items, so I was finding them and wondering why they didn't do anything. Read the instructions, kids.) You can only wear one set of boots at a time, so you have to make a trade-off, and pick whichever one you think will be best in the current situation.
Elven Boots: These boots make you completely silent. You can avoid all wandering monsters, but not those that are stationed in one place. They're useful for when you're trying to escape the dungeon, as you will most probably have a clear path back to the surface as long as you retrace your steps; if that's the case, wandering monsters are the only ones you might encounter.
Boots of Speed: These work just like the Speed spell, giving you the first strike in combat and allowing you to move faster. In the last post I wrote about how a lot of the spells have durations that are too short to be of much practical use. Magic items are the remedy for that, as a lot of them replicate spells, but function permanently.
Boots of Levitation: Give you the power of Levitation, permanently. Perfect for when you're exploring unfamiliar territory, and don't want to fall down a chute.
Equipment: This inaptly named category contains magical weapons and armour. You can find weapons, shields and armour of +1, +2 or +3 value, which is D&D as hell: the original D&D booklets only went up to +3, so Orthanc is sticking close to the source. There's also a Mythical Arrow of Slaying. You can carry up to 31 of these, and they'll automatically kill any creature of the Mythical type. That category includes Balrogs and Dragons, so yeah, I'd like to have a few stocked up for lower levels. I haven't found any yet, though.
Books: I haven't found a single one of these yet. Most of them raise your stats, and there's one for each (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Constitution). There's also the Book of Vile Darkness (another lift from D&D) that permanently lowers your hit points by half. That sounds nasty, but as I said, I haven't found any books. There may be a clue to let you know when you have the cursed book, but I doubt it. These PLATO games can be unforgiving.
Rings: Magic rings, much like the boots, can only be worn one at a time, and are equipped by pressing 'R'.
Ring of Light: Works like a permanent Light spell. My current character has one of these, and it's indispensable, allowing me to see every secret door, and where all the monsters are standing. It's great for letting you pick a safe path, and for avoiding battle when you're low on resources.
Ring of Protection: Makes you harder to hit, basically, just like the Protection spell.
Ring of Invisibility: Wearing this ring gives you the spell Invisibility, permanently, meaning that you're completely immune from attack. I want one so much - it would make mapping a breeze.
Ring of Regeneration: Restores 1 hit point for every 25 moves. Your hit points and magic restore even without this ring, but it takes 400 moves for every point. The ring makes things a lot faster.
The instructions inform me that magic items can be lost after battle, and are gone forever, but I haven't had this happen to me yet. I guess I'm just lucky? Hopefully I haven't jinxed it.
There's a wide variety of items here, much more than in pedit5, and about on par with dnd. The latter had a tendenct for magic items to be cursed, and blow up in your face, but Orthanc has avoided that, mercifully. The ones I've found so far have been really helpful, and there's a little bit of thought involved in which ones to wear. It's a pretty robust system.