This goddamn game.
Okay, so I'm irritated with Moria, but really what I really should be typing is "my goddamn self", because I need to quit. I need to quit, put this game behind me, move on to other games and never think of Moria again. I could be playing something good. Better yet, I could be playing something short. But no, I'm still trying to beat the goals I set for myself in Moria, and could be doing so for months to come.
As you might have guessed, my character Robilar died. Worse, he died when I was super-close to my goal. I wanted to reach Level 50 of the Forest so that I could search for the Reaper's Ring, but I was killed by a Fire Elemental on Level 52. (I was on a lower level than my target because I found stairs on Level 47 that went down multiple levels, and I was trying to make my way back up.) I don't feel as though I made a mistake. I was following my usual routine, cycling through the various attack forms, and when my Vitality dropped below 40 I tried to run away as usual. And I failed. And I failed again. I failed over and over, while this group of Fire Elementals burned me to death. It had been literally weeks since it took more than two attempts to run from a battle, so I don't know what the hell happened here. Perhaps the difficulty level of the monsters ramps up after Level 50.
To my credit, I didn't miss a beat in creating another character and starting over. My new character inherited a load of great items from my previous guy's guild locker, which has made surviving the early stages of the game really easy. For the last week I've been grinding to get my stats back to a respectable level, and soon I'll head back into the Forest and try to make it to Level 50. The good news is that I have the maps, so getting there won't take nearly as long. Unless I die again. Without the enforced patience that map-making provides, it's going to be hard not to descend too quickly.
To end this update on a more positive note, I completed my second goal and became the guild master of the Circle of Wizards.
There was nothing to it: once my Wizardry was higher than that of the previous guild master, I went to the guild and got the above message. The only benefit of being the guild master seems to be getting another attack with your primary stat. When casting spells, I could kill up to five monsters per round. Other than that, nothing, which is a shame. Still, it was nice to check off goal #2. Now all I need to do is find that Reaper's Ring, and I'm done. I may just throw an actual real-life party when that happens.
Now let's turn our attention from the fact of my death to the monsters that have been inflicting said death. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the monsters encountered are different depending on which dungeon you're in; because I've spent the vast majority of my time in the Forest there are a decent number of monsters that I've never encountered. At first they're encountered solo, but gradually their numbers increase the deeper you explore the dungeons. They also start appearing in multiple groups, up to a maximum of three types at once. I don't know if there's a cap on the number of monsters that can appear in each group. I got to level 52, and was encountering groups with up to 15 monsters in them. The dungeons have 60 levels each, so I can't imagine that the group sizes would get much larger. The monsters definitely get stronger as well, but it's difficult to say by how much, because all of the number are invisible. All I had to gauge it on was the damage dealt by my magic missile spells; by level 52, I was casting spells that dealt over 100 points of damage that monsters were surviving. At the beginning that number was much lower (around 15-20), and it gradually increased as I descended dungeon levels.
There are eight categories of monster in Moria. I'm just going to show the lists for each type, and write a bit about my experiences with them. You'll see below that each monster has a Level, ranging from 5 to 80. I don't know exactly what this number represents, other than a rough guide to which monsters are the most powerful.
There's not much to the humanoids in this game; they're all bags of hit points with no particular strengths or weaknesses that I've been able to discern. There are a bunch on this list that I've never encountered: Seekers, Fritzes (?), and Sun Warriors being the strongest. Killer Elites are deadly to lower level characters, but even though all monsters get stronger on the deeper dungeon levels, they eventually become a negligible threat.
Of the list above, Reapers are the deadliest, and with a Level of 90 they are theoretically the deadliest monster in the game. I can confirm that: they hit often, and do a lot of damage. Undead, however, are all super-weak against the Holy Word prayer. It almost always kills them instantly, which turns the most dangerous monster in the game into a pushover. I'm not complaining.
None of the Mythical monsters are particularly dangerous. I've had low-level characters killed by Manticores, but it's not long before they can be easily dispatched.
Again, the Animal group has some monsters that are dangerous early in the game (Slasher Worms, Nematoads) but easy to kill later on. A lot of the monsters on this list are susceptible to the Sleep spell. There are also a few that give you food when you kill them, Lizards and Bears in particular.
The Priest class isn't all that deadly, but it does have one monster that is the enemy of starting characters everywhere: the Iconoclast. With a Level of 75, it's by far the strongest monster that can be encountered in the Wilderness, which is the area that beginning characters will be doing most of their grinding. Most of my characters that didn't make it past that stage were killed by Iconoclasts, which are hard to kill and (because your Cunning score is still low at that stage) hard to run away from. Priests are weak against Dispell Magic, but that's not helpful early on because spellcasting drains a lot of Vitality.
All of these monsters are tough, with no obvious weaknesses, and remain so for the entire game. Nothingnesses in particular are difficult to kill, and can deal a lot of damage at once. Battles against large groups of Elementals can last a long time, with multiple instances of running away to heal before returning.
Magic Users are almost completely immune to spells. With one exception they're not all that hard to kill, though. That one exception is the Wondark, which is one of the monsters I hate most in the game. When fighting large groups of monsters, I rely on spells to clear them out quickly (using the multiple attacks gained through advancement in my guild), but that can't be done with Magic Users. They have to be killed one by one using the other attack forms, and with Wondarks that can take a while.
High Priests can be dangerous, but other than that the Lawful monsters aren't all that tough. I'm not sure what makes them Lawful, in the D&D alignment sense of the word: they're just as hostile as every other monster in the game, and they pal around quite readily with them as well. I sometimes wonder if there's a non-violent way around these fights, but then I remember how much fun it is to carve through a pack of 15 Hobbits.
Well, that's it for monsters. I have one more post for Moria lined up, on equipment, and there's a lot to discuss on that topic. After that, I think I'm tapped out on this game. If I haven't found the Reaper's Ring by then, it's probably time to shift Moria into the background. I'll keep playing it, but I won't be blogging about it. Instead I'll move on to the next game on my list, which is Oubliette, another PLATO CRPG that may or may not eat up the better part of a year. Huzzah?