I think I have a handle on this game now. I'm on my 158th character, but I've worked out the key to success in The Game of Dungeons: trust nothing. Touch nothing. Drink nothing. Read nothing. And know when to get the hell back to the surface.
I have found that the only way to survive in this game is to treat every encounter as though it could kill you instantly. I don't drink potions unless I can identify them first. I don't open chests unless I know they aren't trapped. I don't pick up items unless I know that they're safe. And I never, ever read books, because there's no way to tell if they contain explosive runes or not. Anything you touch could explode and destroy your character. Any potential gain is not worth the risk of permanent death.
|I am absolutely not about to open that chest.|
Combat, funnily enough, feels less tense than finding treasure. I'm at a point now where I can kill lower-level monsters with impunity, and any higher-level monsters I encounter will be destroyed with a well-chosen spell. I only recently realised that there are only six types of monster in the game: Man, Glass, Wizard, Ghoul, Demon and Spectre (a Glass is basically a nerd with big glasses, and your guess is as good as mine as to how they made it into the game). They're all easily destroyed with a Fireball or a Lightning Bolt, though you have to be careful not to use lightning on a Spectre or fire on a Demon. Cleric spells like Holy Water and Exorcise work well on Ghouls, Demons and Spectres. As long as you have spells, combat is a cakewalk. You just have to keep track of them, and know when it's time to retreat from the dungeon.
|To Fireball, or to Lightning Bolt?|
Sometimes that's trickier than it sounds. As I mentioned in the last post, the monsters get stronger the more treasure you carry. If you have too much, you might be attacked by a monster that's too strong for your magic (although I still find that a good Fireball usually weakens them enough for a melee victory). The option is there to drop your gold if the combats are getting too tough, but I haven't tried it yet; in this game, more treasure means more hit points, so I'm loathe to get rid of it.
There's a passwall spell that can be accessed by pressing the P key, which allows your character to walk through a single wall; it uses one magic-user spell slot and can come in handy for taking a shortcut to the exit. There's also a Teleport spell (shift-T) that moves you up a level. It uses two slots, and can be a life-saver when you're on a level in which you don't know the location of the transporter that will take you up. Unfortunately, it has a 10% chance of backfiring and moving you down a level, and that can be a death sentence. If you expend too many spell slots trying to teleport up to a familiar level, you'll be very lucky to escape the dungeon alive.
|Some spare change lying unguarded on level 13 of the dungeon.|
My current character, Godric, has nearly 10 million gold pieces, and is easily my most successful character to date. I'm currently exploring level 12; the Orb that I'm looking for is supposed to be on a level somewhere between 17 and 20, so I might not be too far from success. I just need to keep my head, take as few risks as possible, and progress as slowly as I can. I really don't want to lose this guy.