Being The CRPG Addict is tough around the holidays. My wife always wants to do things. Every time I settle in for a night of gameplay, suddenly it's time to put up the tree, or buy a wreath, or watch The Muppet Christmas Carol for the millionth time. Does this woman not know that I have a Firestaff to find?
In my few stolen moments from the last week, I have managed to press through Levels 10 and 11. I am currently on Level 12, and boy is it a challenge. A quick question for veterans of the game: almost all of my characters are "adept" in almost all of the classes. Where should I be at this point in the game?
Level 10 introduced some nasty giant scorpions (which seemed to respawn frequently) in addition to the beholders from previous levels. There were some more tough wasps on Level 11, and a section where I had to slice my way through endless hordes of goblins or something. There were more annoying thieves on both levels; fortunately, these fall to a single fireball, so I got in the habit of keeping one queued for when I heard an annoying giggle.
Both levels also introduced a new element: choices in the doors to take. I found keys on each level that opened one of a selection of doors, and notes on the walls, like this one...
...suggested that I wouldn't be able to try both. On Level 10, this left a small space to the west that I was never able to explore. On Level 11, where I had to choose one of three doors, it left an enormous unexplored space. Something seemed wrong with that, but I spent a long time looking around for additional keys and found none.
I found a pair of "boots of speed" on each level, which seem to make my characters a bit faster in combat, and a wide selection of weapons and armor that I think are better than the ones I had before, but of course I can't be sure.
I had just begun to wonder why I was carrying around a selection of copper coins--some going back to Level 4 or 5--when I came across a room full of slots that accepted the copper coins and gave me magic items in return. These include fire bombs and magic freezing boxes.
This is a good time to talk about combat in Dungeon Master, because I've yet to cover it in detail. This game's approach is unique in that it's tactical but real-time. The monsters don't wait for you to make your moves.
Assume I'm facing a group of beholders, like this:
Offensively, I have five options:
- Attack with a melee weapon
- Attack with a ranged weapon
- Cast a spell
- Employ a magic item
- Throw an object
But each of the options except the last has a number of sub-options based on the type of item equipped. In the above screenshot, Leyla has a crossbow, which can't do anything but shoot, and Nabi has a FUL (fire) bomb, with which he cannot do anything but throw. But Hawk, who is unarmed, can punch, kick, or let out a war cry (no idea what this does, but it seems to advance both fighter and priest skills), and Syra, with her axe, can either chop or cleave. Hence, when I click on the objects in the combat viewer, I get these associated options:
Swords can swing, thrust, or melee. Daggers can throw, stab, or slash. The Horn of Fear blows. The Mace of Order swings, bashes, or stuns (at least in theory; I've yet to get the stun to work). It's tough to know the best option. Certain attacks work better against certain creatures. Certain attacks take longer than others but do more damage. Since I'm usually trying to click through them quickly while taking damage, I find it hard to be precise.
The option to throw objects is an interesting one. You can throw anything in the game--suits of armor, swords, food--and each item seems to do at least some damage the the creatures you hit. But equipping a proper missile weapon and throwing it through the combat options group seems to do more damage.
Spellcasting is tough in combat because of the time it takes to look up the spell's run sequence and select the right runes. I have "fireball" memorized, and it casts fast; anything else, I'd better queue up ahead of time.
The video below shows about six minutes of gameplay, including some combat with beholders and giant scorpions.
As I begin, Nabi is poisoned from an earlier fight, and I'm trying to mix a cure poison potion to heal him. But the beholders get on my nerves, so at 00:12, I open up the gate, toss a fireball at them, and close the gate. I continue mixing the potion, but at 00:24, just as I'm having Nabi drink it, I hear the beholders open the gate themselves (I forgot they can cast "open door" spells). I close it, re-equip my weapon, and wipe them out with another fireball.
At 00:48, I prepare some more fireballs and work my way through the dungeon. I encounter a giant scorpion at 01:11 and pound him with my prepared fireballs, but pretty soon I'm in melee combat. Leyle and Hawk (in the back ranks) shoot missile weapons while Syra and Nabi attack with an axe and a mace, respectively. Suddenly, at 01:34, with Nabi almost dead, I realize I'm being attacked by a second giant scorpion behind me. I dart off down a side passage and heal Nabi with moments to spare.
At 02:19, it's time to get some more fireballs ready and finish off the bastards. I have Syra equip a magic freezing box and return to the battlefield. At 02:57, I stop the giant scorpion in his tracks and pummel him with missile and melee weapons. At 03:08, he dies. I cure my characters' poison again and then begin the long process of retrieving my missile weapons. They're not all here, which means some must be embedded in the other scorpion. I finish him off at 04:15 and pick everything up. After that, it's time for a brief save, some food, and a review of my equipment.
I thought the scorpions were hard, but that was before I encountered the...whatever the hell this is...on Level 12. I'm still battling forward, though, and if my next posting isn't a "won!" posting, I'll be surprised.