Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Dungeon Master: Put it Back

I make sure I have as much food as I can before proceeding back down. It'll be greatly inconvenient to return here later. By the same token, I make sure Sonja's priest skills increase. Since Zed is acting as a second wizard, it only makes sense to have a second priest. Especially since Syra is running out of mana quite quickly now. I need my party to get their mana up, and getting some points in underused skills is a good way of helping with that.

That's one hell of a mustache
Level 8, or there abouts, starts off seemingly just an enclosed small area. A scroll telling me how to cast lightning bolt, which requires all 4 runes. But writing on one of the walls helpfully implies that one wall is false. Inside are the usual new enemies, giant rats, weird rock rat things, and a gnome wizard. He shoots fireballs. Two drop food. Making my trip back up mildly pointless. Its fitting into the usual routine I have when things are getting too easy. Map some, fight any enemies, retreat, rest, repeat.
Thrown items seem to go the same way 100% of the time, making for amusing visuals like this
But then it gets...interesting. Another set of stairs up. An area I missed one floor up? Not unreasonable, given that area's potential for undiscovered secrets. But no, its just a closed off area containing some skeletons guarding some food. Then after a near death encounter with some gnome wizards, I find the stairs down. Its not actually the stairs down, its just an area underneath a closed off room. There's a level next to that room which opens a pit trap. I assumed I had screwed myself slightly, but no. This gives me even more food and a green gem, along with a note telling me to put it back. Like...in the chest or somewhere else? No matter, I can take anything the game dishes out at me.
Its eventually pretty clear that I'm missing something. Not a hidden button or a hidden wall, because I go through that pretty quickly. Maybe I'm supposed to toss the gem back in that room or put it down in front of it? I can't get in there yet. I put it down, nothing, I throw it and all I get is walking back down to it. There's even a pattern to throwing it, as you have to throw it through the grates. But even at the farthest back you can be that still doesn't work. It just won't go on the spot the chest was. It takes a while before I finally realize, wait, what about that one staircase up? That had a hole in it. And that hole leads down above the exact spot the chest originally was.
Rarely have my TPK been in such a swift fashion
It worked. Next is a puzzle involving pressure plates linked to a fireball thrower. The objective is to weigh down the pressure plates with items instead of trying to rush past them. From here there are two paths. To the north, a few enemies, effectively just guarding some food. Man, I really miscalculated there. Those gnome wizard dudes are tougher than I thought, because it seems like every encounter with one forces me to stop to rest. Thankfully they don't seem to be respawning. I do find something called "corbamite" though, which seems to be a Star Trek reference. I'm guessing its going to be useful soon enough.
In-universe, what kind of sicko creates rats of this size?
Sure enough, there's an alcove in front of a door with a message next to it, "Lighter than air", as the corbamite has no weight. I ignore it at first, since its not the only path forward, and this locked door seems the obvious way down. RPG logic, ignore that, look for loot. There really isn't any. I do find a big room full of the big rats, which in theory respawns, like the mushroom ones earlier. But that seems strange since there are regenerating rats near the stairs up anyway. Not really much of a concern. The corbamite door, on the other hand, opens up the stairs down, and another key. A key I know opens another door in the firestaff area. Which I decide to use since I'm smart.
I still need another key, and all I really did was frustrate myself running up and down the stairs twice, reload a half a dozen times, and generally waste time.

Its really hard to show this in screenshot form
Level 9 starts off with a monster in my face. Its a skeleton. I'm giving this game too much credit as a RPG for not criticizing this. Or maybe just no load time not criticizing this. However, I will criticize the font on the wall messages. "Beware my twisted humor. The Deceiver. The Snake." Which in this font is hard to decipher. It doesn't click for me until I start looking at the level. Oh...no, a series of alternating pillars. I imagine the idea is to find the right path...but I know this is going to be twisted.

Doesn't really convey the true terror of a scorpion this size, but what does?
Its not, its just go all the way down, then up, then down. The tricky thing about this is the game stuffs beholders in my path. Then two locked doors, and a note on the wall saying to pick a door. Knights and knaves, without the knights and knaves. Interesting. I choose the southern door, inside is a scorpion. It hits like a dump truck, but at least it didn't poison me. My party is dead, but at least they're not poisoned. I'm forced to retreat from this fight, as its very hard. Hopefully he doesn't respawn. Its bad enough that those beholders respawn, forcing me into an awkward position.
After a couple of attempts, I kill the scorpion and make it through the area. Curious, its led behind the starting area, to a pressure plate. Is this a one-way path? Is it a trick? I found another key for the door I missed, but it seems it could also be used here. Interesting, making that path optional. Which means I should check that other door. And its gremlins again. I'm getting sick of them.
Its really hard to show this in action
There's not really anything there except another key. Not really surprising that they didn't have anything interesting, there was just as much chance of heading there first. Back at the rejoining of paths, the door leads to some pressure plates in front of a wall scrawling that just says zoom. What does that mean? You get teleported along a series of pressure plates, around and around, like a weird, noisy train. Getting off is a pain, if you don't time it right, you're going to hit a wall. Those sick developers even put some food down next to a teleporter, only that one takes you back to the start of the level.
The most dangerous hunt
These big, open monster filled arenas are starting to get me down. Its one thing that they tend to have monsters that can stop me dead, but its another that they have those AND these gremlins. This section is interesting because you have a safe area you can stay in with a door you can close. Beholders can open them, which makes them first targets. If a scorpion tries to get into the door, and a gremlin is behind him, he's stuck, which means he's trapped as the door is closing down on him. This means you're actually just as likely to die in this situation than if you didn't use the door. Meanwhile, the gremlins are a pain in the butt. Oh man, gremlins are a pain in the butt.
This brings in a curious pattern for the rest of the level. A gremlin appears, which causes me to chase him, which leads me to a scorpion, which causes me to retreat to assess, whether or not I killed the gremlin or not. Then solving both issues, and finding a pair of open doors, and repeating the whole process. I end this entry after dealing with a trio of scorpions, only to discover they're just guarding a whole bunch of nothing. Well, the stairs down, but otherwise nothing. There's a magnifying glass, and a button which creates a teleportation field. Which gives me a bunch of confidence that I have to walk back here later. That's just going to be great if it ends up being true.

This Session: 3 hours 00 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours 40 minutes

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