Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Most Annoying CRPG Enemies


#1

I've made some progress in Demon's Winter, but not enough for a full posting. This "special topic" occurred to me in my Oblivion thread when I was talking about Morrowind's cliff racers. I'll update it as I go through future games, but based on the games I've already played, these are the creatures that make me long for NetHack's Scroll of Genocide.

1. Reapers (Ultima IV)


The reapers in Ultima IV have a spell that puts your entire party to sleep, and they use it over and over and over. "But I have an (A)waken spell!" you say. You fool. The spell only awakens one party member at a time, and by that time the reaper's put your entire party to sleep again.

This would be forgivable, maybe, if reapers were otherwise challenging, but their regular attack is so pathetic that there would be no reason not to set up camp right next to a reaper. In fact, if you could capture one, they might come in handy. Take it out of its sack at night, let it put everyone to sleep, and enjoy it's occasional tickle as you dream. Mothers would say, "Oh, honey, you can't sleep? Let me get the reaper out of the attic."

Their only purpose is to slow you down; to make you take baby steps through the room before you can finally get in weapon range. The room above, which had nine reapers, took me 45 minutes. Jackasses.

2. Sprites (Might & Magic I)


Sprites love to roam the corridors of Sorpigal, the starting city in Might & Magic, and if you encounter a pack of them before you hit Level 4, you might as well shut down the game and reload. Their special ability is a "curse" spell that lowers your chances of hitting them, and when they cast these spells en masse, you can't hit anything. Only when you get spells that affect entire groups of monsters do they stop being a threat. Centaurs are almost as bad, but by the time you start encountering them, you have better defenses.

3. Gigglers (Dungeon Master)


Everything about these little thieving bastards is annoying, from the shuffle of their feet as they approach from behind to the annoying sound they make [MP3 link] as they steal your stuff and go scampering off into some dark corner. Eager not to lose your prized Sword of Whatever, you go charging after them, falling into traps, encountering foes you didn't expect, getting lost, only to finally run into them, have them steal something else, and go running off again. The only solution I found was to keep a couple of fireballs handy and loose them at the moment of their approach.

4. Flying Eyes (Might & Magic VI)


Technically, this is a class of creatures, including flying eyes, terrible eyes, and maddening eyes. The last name is best, though it would be better if they'd called them drive-you-insane-and-make-you-want-to-smash-your-computer eyes. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways: you stay out of melee weapon range; you keep moving, so missile weapons and spells usually miss you; you have a spell that cancels every single one of my spells, and you don't even have to hit me with it; indeed, you can even cast said spell through walls, so that the merest hint of your presence on a level above or below me, or through a wall adjacent to me, will send me spinning into the dark with no protection. Your ranged attacks turn my characters insane. And there are about 600 of you in Castle Darkmoor; clearing the castle literally takes a day of game time.

One of the greatest pleasures of Might & Magic VI is returning to Castle Darkmoor once it's respawned and you've achieved mastery of blaster rifles.

5. Cliff Racers (Morrowind)


These relentless @#^*$s are near-legendary: The way they tail you from above and suddenly descend without warning; the way they pile up on top of each other so suddenly you're facing eight of them; their heart-stopping screech; and most of all, the way they chase you tirelessly across the entire island of Vvardenfell. They're everywhere. You literally cannot outrun them. (If you're very lucky, you might be able to trap one behind a fallen branch and make your getaway.) If you encounter one as a low-level character with waning health, you'd better hope you have a teleport scroll, or you might as well lie down. They'll even follow you into towns, mercilessly attacking guards and citizens, sometimes killing quest-dependent characters. Oh, and they have a reasonably good chance of giving you blight disease!

Their only saving grace is their racer plumes, which you need for levitation potions.

The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages notes that "the development team has admitted the sheer amount of cliff racers in the game was a mistake." No kidding. In Oblivion, there's a reference to "St. Jiub, who drove the cliff racers from Vvardenfell." Jiub is the Dunmer who you encounter in the ship at the very beginning of the game. I'd love to replay Morrowind as him rather than the Nerevarine.

6. Beholders (Baldur's Gate II)


Man, these guys are tough. You encounter them by the dozens during one of the quests, and they blast you with rapid-fire damage, petrification, and death spells. They also have an annoying habit of ignoring your summoned creatures. Your only defense is to seriously buff your lead character and send him gingerly forward while everyone else rains missile weapons at them.

Late in the game, you get a cloak of mirroring that turns their own spells back at them. The character wearing it can stroll through a beholder dungeon, letting all of them slay themselves, collecting all their experience, without having to lift a finger. They're either bloody impossible or no challenge at all. That's what we call "bad balance."

7. Barrow Wights* (Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter)

The opening sections of the Heart of Winter expansion to Icewind Dale have a host of creatures that are good candidates for this list, including wailing virgins (spirits who decimate you with magic while hovering just outside of attack range) and drowned dead (nearly impossible to damage). But barrow wights have to be the worst. When you first encounter, them, they are way overpowered. A single wight can tear apart your entire party if you encounter him unprepared, and they move at double-time, so you can't outrun them.

Fighting them is like preparing for Waterloo. You buff the hell out of your characters.You set any traps you have. You summon as many creatures as the game will let you summon. You cast "haste" on your party. You slowly advance forward, keeping your summoned creatures ahead of you, until one sees you. If you're lucky, he charges your summoned creatures while you pummel him with arrows, spells, and magic items. In a few seconds, your summoned beasts have been turned to vapor. Hopefully, by the time he comes in melee range, he's either badly wounded or almost dead. He takes your lead character down to 1/4 hit points before you finally kill him. You stand over his corpse, arrows running low, spells spent, exhausted from the "haste" spell wearing off. Congratulations: you've killed one. There's like 25 more.

(*The original posting had "cold wight" here, which is a separate creature in the game that I confused with barrow wights. Thanks to an anonymous commenter for pointing that out.)


8. Wisps (Ultima V and Oblivion). Wisps are very different creatures in these two games, but they're infuriating in both of them. In Ultima V, they can possess your characters, with leaves you with no good options except to kill them. You can negate the possession with a "negate magic" spell, but the problem is that wisps hide out behind walls, and they need their magic abilities to teleport into range. Thus, if you have "negate magic" active, you can't fight them, and if you turn it off, you end up fighting your own characters.

The only thing worse than wisps is wisps AND sharks.


Oblivion's wisps are some of the toughest bastards in the game. They take very little damage from non-magic weapons and they cast continues "drain health" at you, which not only depletes your health but regenerates theirs. It's possible to beat at one with a sword, axe, or mace for an hour, constantly refreshing your health and stamina with potions, and still have them at full health. The only solution is to charge them quickly with a magic weapon--shock works best--and wail at them before they can get a good rhythm going with their damage health spells.

The good news is they drop glow dust. I was always short on "light" potions.

These two games, however different their original treatment of wisps, have something in common: they both completely retcon wisps in later installments. In Ultima VI, they become telepathic communicators to another dimension, and in Skyrim, they become dangerous-but-nowhere-nearly-as-annoying emanations from a "wisp mother."


More annoying enemies added to this list as they occur to me!

88 comments:

  1. Oh, so the reflecting cloak is a common solution for Beholders? I was so proud of myself when I thought of this. :D

    To be honest, I thought the levels sucking vampires were more annoying than beholders.

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  2. Balls of fluff from Wizardry II. They're 100% immune to magic. They have no offensive attacks. Their one ability is to call for help, which may attract another ball of fluff.

    Sure, they die in one hit, but in Wizardry II only the first three characters in your party can do melee. So, do the math. You can kill three of them per round. They can summon up to as many per round as there are. Not a big deal in groups of five or less. Groups of seven or more lead to a seemingly never-ending cycle of 'kill 3, watch the remaining ones call for help and max out the group at nine. Repeat until you get lucky and they decide not to call for help.'

    Encountering four groups of nine of these things is enough to make you want to throw your computer out a window.

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  3. Beholders never bothered me too much in BG2, but man did I have trouble with Mind Flayers on my first playthrough! All those domination effects, ARGH!

    Then I stopped being stupid and discovered chaotic commands...

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  4. Another problem with Gigglers: they're apparently Nazi sympathizers. Not cool, guys.

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  5. Cliff racers have, sadly, not gone the way of the dinosaur with modern games. Many an omniscient, tenacious attack helicopter has forced my once-proud space marine to cower behind a wall, looking vainly for the one remaining rocket launcher round in the level.

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  6. Reapers would look so cute in a SkyMall catalog.

    I don't remember having any issue with the Beholders, but I also don't remember what strategy I used. I know I never found a reflecting cloak. It's possible with a certain set of characters (which I happened to have by random chance) it goes smoother. Or maybe there's a particular spell? Dunno.

    Cold Wights definitely are in the "what were they thinking?" category. I did eventually beat them but rather than continuing I quit in disgust.

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  7. Brown Bears in Oblivion.

    I hate those things so much. First, they hit you with a power attack, causing you to stumble backwards. Then, while you're stumbling, they'll hit you -again-, causing the stumble to start over. Then they'll hit you again. And again. Until your health is completely gone even though there was nothing you could do because you were stumbling the entire time.

    Oblivion has given me an extreme hatred for bears of all kinds. Especially after the underwater bear thing. Bad times.

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  8. Leprechauns in Nethack: Take your gold, teleport away, screwed. Nymphs do it too, but with items, except that at least they carry useful items with them... Leprechauns just have more gold, and not much more either!

    It isn't a CRPG but the ReDead from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are annoying enough they should be on the list anyway... *paralyze, kill, paralyze, kill again....*

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    1. ReDead, yes. HELL yes. They are more annoying then any CRPG enemy I can think of.

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  9. Reapers are easily dealt with if you know the secret hierarchy of character ailments in Ultima 4; namely, poison supersedes sleep, with the exception of static sleep fields. Since only one player condition can be applied at a time, you can "buff" yourself up for a tough reaper fight by casting a poison field and infecting all of your heroes, who will then be immune to the reapers' sleep attacks. Afterwards, if you're in a safe location (like a dungeon room after it's been cleared), you can save yourself the cost of eight cure spells by stepping each of your characters in and out of a sleep field. :) I'm not sure whether this was a legitimate "feature" or an unintended consequence of the coding, but it always seemed like reasonably defensible game logic: the pain of the poison coursing through your veins fortifies you against all but the most concentrated of sleep magic. Okay, maybe "reasonably defensible" is a slight stretch...

    Gremlins, on the other hand ... grr ... not as horribly unfair as in Ultima 3, but still - I have unpleasant memories of that one north-south dungeon corridor checkerboarded with gremlins, where if you enter from the hidden east or west entrances, all of your characters begin "stacked" in the same square, right in the midst of the gremlins.

    (Long-time admirer of your blog/project, by the way! Thanks for all the insightful, entertaining commentary.)

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  10. The armor-devouring guys in Lands of Lore. It doesn't help that armor is really rare in that game, and even if you do find more sets than you need, the inventory is so limited (towards the end half of it is filled with quest items).

    Oh, and the ghosts from Lands of Lore. They can stand inside a wall and attack you, and they respawn all the time.

    - Joe

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  11. Oh, and the ghosts are immune to regular weapons and spells as well.

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  12. Seems like the common threads are creatures that neutralize your character (ie by paralysis) or that remove some benefit. These sort of attacks can often be disproportionately powerful given the weakness of the attacker. Nethack's nymphs are not that tough- but when one stole my Mjollnir and fell through a trapdoor when I chased after her, she did much more damage than any other creature could have.

    The exception, of course, is the cliff racers. Hate those @#!*% .

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  13. Cliff racers are most notable as the only creature in baseline Morrowind that can fly. I'm not sure if they introduced any fliers in the expansions, but I don't -think- so. This means that my favorite method of getting around in the later game (boots of blinding speed + some method of resisting blinding + a permanent effect source of levitiation) would let me cheerfully sail well over the heads of everything between me and my destination...except 40 or 50 angry cliff racers. They weren't really a threat by then (I had permanent effect regen gear), but, arrrrrgh.

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  14. Otyguhs (sp) in Curse of the Azure Bonds. First the engulf you, eliminating your movement, then they lower your THAC0, then they do damage each round. I learned that for me, this was the ultimate use of wands of magic missles, the only sure way to do damage each round to these bastards.

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    1. I think you mean Shambling Mounds. Otyughs are just ugly eyeless melee attackers.

      http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2013/01/curse-of-azure-bonds-pile-of-filth.html

      I don't know when I felt compelled to respond to a 3 year old comment ...

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  15. That goddamn Miltank in the original pokemon gold. I know it's not a crpg and it's lowering the tone a bit, but try being nine years old and facing that tank again. I was really dissappointed when they nerfed it in the remake.

    Also, cliff racers, not really a problem until you realise you've been walking in the same direction a while and then realise you have a tail of 20 or so.

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  16. Basilisks from Baldur's Gate 1. Petrification was worse than death. At least with death you could drag the body to a temple for resurrection. With petrification, you had to go buy a scroll and come back (unless you happened to have one on hand).

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  17. Gotta disagree with the basilisks.

    They were pretty rare and from what I remember you were always warned by environmental clues.

    They created an interesting tactical situation. In fact I'd say my most memorable fights in BG1 were with basilisks.

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  18. Robyrt, it's off-topic, but you just reminded me of something I hated about Half-Life 2. In the first game, you could bring down a helicopter with a pistol if you had a little patience. In HL2, you HAD to use mounted machine guns or rocket launchers to destroy helicopters. One of the joys of HL1 was emptying your submachine gun, shot gun, and other minor weapons into helicopters, and cheering when they finally crashed.

    Zink..."underwater bear thing?" But I agree. Come to think of it, bears thrash you pretty good in the Baldur's Gate games, too. Between them and Oblivion, they've made me scared of bears in real life.

    While I'm thinking of BG1, if you're playing an evil party, one of the coolest and most evil things you can do is cast dire charm on bears (and other neutral wildlife) and have them fight for you. That and casting Larloch's Minor Drain on squirrels.

    Rpk, that would have been handy many months ago. Definitely makes sense. I thought about putting Ultima III's gremlins in there, but since you don't actually face them, they're not really "enemies." They're still annoying in U4, but at least you can face them and gun them down long-range.

    Nemorem, I think the very problem you state is the reason that you encounter Corak the Ghoul on the same screen. You can send him out ahead of your party and the basilisks all target him. What Jordan says about environmental clues is true. I still remember the first time I played the game, and I was wandering through the forest and suddenly came upon all of these statues. I imagined my characters suddenly saying, "oh, $#*&!" while trying to simultaneously look around and shield their eyes.

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  19. Ah, you guys are probably right. While being petrified was definitely annoying - and I remember it happening to my characters - the game gave you the means to avoid it.

    Of course, the same could be said of beholders in BG2, I think. In the Unseeing Eye quest, you were given ample warning about what you would be facing in those caverns. And, if my recollection is correct, you could avoid most/all of the beholders by scouting ahead. The last one could be severely weakened with the rift device.

    By the time you encounter beholders again, you're much higher level.

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  20. Fun post! But I never understood why people hated cliff racers. Maybe it was my play style. I liked to sneak around, taking my time. So I'd just shoot cliff racers with a bow, before they ever saw me. They'd die pretty easily (with one shot, if I remember correctly).

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  21. Nemorem, you are right--you could absolutely avoid most of the beholders. I guess it's just the desire to leave every enemy dead, and collect all the experience, that gets you in trouble here.

    WCG, my recollection is that cliff racers only died in one shot if you were at a really high level or if you had the game difficulty set very low. I wish Morrowind would have allowed usable poisons; it would have been satisfying to nail cliff racers from a distance and watch them collapse after a few heartbeats.

    I think they became most annoying, paradoxically, once your character was more advanced and probably capable of defeating them. You'd just be trying to get from Point A to Point B, but you'd have to keep stopping and whacking birds. In Oblivion, by contrast, there's almost nothing you can't outrun.

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  22. Cliff Racers are why "always on" items of invisibility were invented. The little bastards finally drove me to turn a helm into one, and flying around got a lot more pleasant after that.

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  23. I'd add they Sylandro Probes from Star Control 2, tho it's iffy since Star Control 2 is hardly a traditional CRPG. Plus the Sylandro Probes can be eventually turned off, which is a great relief when their constant barrage finally ends.

    But the pain returns again when you try to play them in melee. Strangest control scheme in the game makes them a challenge just to fly around the screen, never mind dodging attacks of your enemy.

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  24. OK, that probably explains why I had no problem with cliff racers. My character never got to a high level (although he was highly skilled in archery), but I'm so inept with "real-time" games that I often can't play them at all except on "easy" (and with some games - notably anything with real-time spaceship combat - even that's not enough).

    At any rate, I almost always took out cliff racers before they realized I was there at all. It was great fun.

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  25. I'd add every monster that drains levels or ability scores to this list. Experience is the mother's milk of RPGs, losing it is grounds for any act of violence in my book.

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  26. I agree. In most D&D games, you can at least restore levels, but in games like The Bard's Tale, lost levels are lost for good. Level-drainers are infuriating.

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  27. Temples can heal level loss in Bard's Tale (in fact they heal it for higher than the level you started with!)

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  28. New special topic posting coming: "Top 10 comments that would have been helpful when I was still playing the bloody game."

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  29. Bit off topic but how about annoying npc's that join your party? I like Baldur's Gate and I'm playing it now but that has the most irritating npc's going in terms of their speech. Wimpy fighter Khalid, squeaky voiced Immoman and hamster fetish barbarian Minsk. I keep their speech to a bare minimum in the settings.

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  30. Both BG and BG2 have some irritating NPCs, I grant you. Tiax is a one-joke character, and I agree with you about Khalid (I usually get him killed in BG1 and then pretend that we had him resurrected so he can get killed again in BG2), but...really? You don't like Minsc? I tried to play BG once without him (so I'd have room for an NPC I'd never tried) and I just couldn't do it. Have the fun of the game is listening to him shout, "Jump on my sword while you can, evil! I won't be as gentle!"

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  31. I like Minsk and he's crazy when he goes berserk but like most of the characters they seem to scream their lines "GO FOR THE EYES BOO..AHHHHHHHHHH!!" Wakes up the neighbors when he does that.

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  32. As someone who just replayed MM6, I cannot agree more about the Flying Eyes. It's not as if the sleep / fear / insanity status effects matter too much at that point in the game, but the fact that the recovery spells only target one character at a time and have a long cooldown time make the whole affair an exercise in frustration. This time I tried something different with Darkmoor and just ran through the entire dungeon as quickly as possible. As much as it bothers me not to clear it out completely, it's the only way I got through to the endgame without pulling out all my hair.

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  33. The map with the dozens and dozens of dragons is almost as annoying, if like me you insist on clearing each map at least once.

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  34. I've played 50+ hours of Morrowind and never had trouble with cliffracers. I played on normal difficulty and got to quite high levels. It just didn't seem like they attacked all that often... but I did use the mark/teleport spells and ships/sandstriders (or whatever they were called - the giant flea thingies) to limit travel. If I was going cross country, I had a 1 second duration super high effect jump spell to hurl myself forward and into the air at high speed, then a 1 second featherfall spell to break my velocity so I didn't splatter upon reentry. Maybe I just zipped past them too quickly for them to catch up.

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  35. The main problem for me when playing Morrowind for the first time was that most of the first 15 levels were gained from running from cliff racers, blocking their attacks and killing them with my sword. There was somwthing very unrewarding about getting powerful that way.
    Fortunately for those of us not stuck with a console there are lots of mods that make the Morrowind experience far batter.

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  36. There's also a shield in BG2 that reflects beholder rays.

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  37. FUnny you mention that, Lugh. I remembered that shield, but the last time I played I couldn't find it. I think maybe it only shows up if you have a special version with an extra shop.

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  38. " I'm not sure whether this was a legitimate "feature" or an unintended consequence of the coding, but it always seemed like reasonably defensible game logic"

    This is a staple of Pokemon games, too: there's about 6 status effects, but you can only have one of them affect you at a time, so getting poisoned before fighting a tough battle with a Poke that knows a sleep move is useful.

    Regarding miltanks, they're tough right up until you get a fighting type, which you could obtain in Gold, IIRC, via a trade.

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  39. Excellent list I to have problem understanding the problem with cliffracers. Having some sort of ranged attack was pretty effective, a bow worked nice but required some skill, an enchanted item with fire damage on target killed them easy. And yes they was the only flying creature in any Elder Scroll game before Skyrim.

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  40. The list isn't called the "hardest" CRPG enemies, just the most annoying. Even when it was easy to kill cliff racers, it was annoying to have to constantly stop and do so, especially since they had a way of sneaking up behind you. You'd be trying to sneak into an Ashlander camp, and suddenly, "Chee-Kah!," whack.

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  41. OK my number one most hated/feared Monster of all time only because the little *!@#!@$ wouldn't die for any reason is the MEGA-DRAGON of MM2.

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  42. How about those Gargoyles in Ultima V? How do you beat those freaks? They split each time you hit them, but unlike the slimes it seems they can split indefinetely.

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  43. Let me also add Slimes from Ultima V. These little suckers always attack in huge numbers and they when hit they split. Not split as in flee, but split as in turning into two Slimes.
    So there goes another half an hour of your life that you will never get back.
    Monsters like Slimes were the reason Auto Combat was invented, and Ultima V could really need one.

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  44. Mongbats from U5 may also debut on this list soon. I haven't encountered gargoyles or slimes yet, but I seem to remember that slimes offered a huge opportunity for experience. Since they hardly did any damage, you could arm your characters with fists and just keep beating on slimes for hours, racking up the XPs along the way.

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  45. If you went and downloaded the bonus pack merchants and installed them into BG2, beholders becames a joke. I know this goes against the rules of this blog as you're installing a mod, even if it is Bioware distributed and approved. The bonus merchant in the adventure's mart sells the shield of Balduran which reflects all Beholder rays. On the other hand, if you install the expansion (Throne of Ball), the cloak of mirroring is nerfed and has an annoying animation.

    Personally, I'd go with any level draining monster. With the right equipment (the amulet that you get before the attack on the vampire lair or after the attack on the thieves guild and the mace of disruption enhanced with whatever that ore was would protect you) you could protect up to two party members. Otherwise, it was restore, choose spells again, rest to avoid fatigue and hope you weren't jumped by a wandering monster. That is if you weren't killed by the fact that your hp could drop to 2 if there were enough of them and as your level dropped you had trouble hitting them and didn't have as powerful spells.

    God, I hated vampires and wraiths and vampiric mists.

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    1. What was REALLY evil was that there wasn't any temple offering spells of restoration from Chapter 3 until, like Chapter 6. If I remember right, they had temples, but they were all to evil deities like Umberlee, so they spell wasn't available.

      So if you got level-drained in the fight with the vampires at the start of Chapter 3, and then saved, you were in for a long, grim slog through the following twenty (plus!) hours. I still carry some scars from that one, although I suppose it was my fault for not carrying a dedicated priest in my party (Jaheira and Aerie sadly didn't really cut it).

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    2. It'll be interesting when I play this game again under my stricter rules.

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  46. I agree--level drainers suck. I should have picked one and used it as an example.

    It wouldn't be against my rules to install official mods.

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  47. Gremlins in U3 were nothing. Gremlins in Akalabeth. . . now we're talking. Turn around and 3/4 of your food would be GONE!

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  48. New candidat: Phase Spirits in Might and Magic 2. They are blindingly fast (Speed between 35 and 55), immune to physcial attack and immune to magic (or at least to Fire, Electricity, Energy and Ice) and they Drain Magic. How are you supposed to beat these freaks? If if my Cleric has Holy Word she won't have any spell points with which to cast it.

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  49. Cliff racers weren't the only flying creature in any Elder Scroll game before Skyrim - you forgot netches.

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  50. But Imp's don't really fly, they just hover at a fixed distance above ground, giving the impression of flight. They can't cross chasms, for example.

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  51. Various roguelikes have creatures with ranged breath attacks that can kill you - from offscreen.

    "It breathes. You die." is almost a trademark of the genre.

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  52. Yeah, that'll make the list when I encounter them.

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  53. In Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter you confused cold wights with barrow wights.

    Cold wights only appear in the main game (you fight some hordes in chapter 2) and not in the expansions.

    I remember having trouble too at Burial Isle the first time I played the game although I had an extremely powerful powergaming party, but when I recently replayed the game with a much weaker party (consisting only of pregenerated characters, I didn't even enable max HP at level up) it wasn't very difficult any more, I didn't even have to reload a single time.

    The reason why it felt more difficult the first time was that I wasn't flexible enough to change the standard summon, buff and shoot tactic although I could see that they had very low AC and the barrow wights were resistant and the drowned dead almost immune to missile damage.

    With a weaker party but more flexible mind, I had to add a different tactic, offensive magic. It turned out that all undead are very vulnerable to fire and the drowned dead hardly ever made their saving throws.

    Those barrow wights are challenging since they force you to change your tactics since the standard buff, summon and shoot tactic doesn't work well.

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  54. 'Nym, this has been up for months and you're the first to point this out. Thank you! I've fixed it above. I remember the cold wights now; they cause continuous cold damage if you're too close to them, but they move rather slowly.

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  55. I'm another who never understood the hate for cliff racers. My character took her time exploring and shot them with her bow; I don't remember them ganging up on me or causing any of the problems described.

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  56. If you take your time, they probably can't gang up on you. The problem is more when you're trying to run from one place to another, not constantly watching the skies, and suddenly there's six of them above you.

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  57. Add Herb from The Bard's Tale II to this list. Herb is this guy who apparently can summon more of himself. (Go figure.) Problem is, when he summons himself, he appears 70 feet away. So only a few of your spells can reach him, but he has so many hit points that they don't do enough damage to kill him before likely summons another copy of himself.

    And of course, sometimes there are multiple copies of Herb summoning himself (selves?).

    The only solution was to wait for the limitations of the Bard's Tale II combat engine to be met: wait until there are 4 Herbs at once, all equidistant from you. Then march up to them, 10 feet at a time, each time while each Herb tries to summon another of himself ("... but there's no room for summoning!").

    Then when you reach melee range, you clobber all of them with death spells and flesh-to-stone spells and melee weapons. What a pain in the $#%!

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  58. He sounds like a great candidate. I must have quit before I encountered him. Do you know where he was?

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  59. You start seeing him in Fanskar's Castle. He also pops up a lot later, because high-level mages summon him. Argh!

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  61. Hi there, I was just doing a X-Com Terror From The Deep replay (not really a pure cRPG, but hey, X-Com is on your master list...) and thought of a worthy addition:

    The Tentaculat.

    Horrible monster thing which looks like a big flying brain with tentacles and which:
    - moves very fast, can fly in all directions, get out of range, come from above, etc.
    - very damage resistant and hard to kill
    - when it touches one of your men, not only it kills it outright, but turns it into a zombie which starts to attack other members
    - new zombies can kill on touch too
    - and the best part, when you shoot down your zombie ex-colleague, it was actually a host for a new Tentaculat identical to the original which grows out of the body to zombify more party members and reproduce on and on. (Most of the time you usually didn't even manage to kill the first one at that point.)

    Neverending fun.

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    1. That thing sounds authentically horrible. I feel like I should play the game to "officially" add the enemy to my list, but I'll watch for it when I get to X-Com.

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    2. Those things were pretty traumatic, and I got really paranoid about them when I was playing, because they could easily destroy my team.

      It got better when I adopted a very cautious playing style when invading alien bases where I could expect those horrible floating brain things. I would have people stick together in groups, only moving short distances, to give them plenty of reaction time to shoot the things when they appeared. In the infrequent event that one of them was turned into a zombie, the others could should him at point-blank range (and then shoot the brain that arose from the zombie).

      I also had them hide behind a corner and send one of them out to look around before scooting back to the group. That usually gave me plenty of warning of where they were located, allowing me a better chance of giving me a jump on them. Then it the bigger rooms I'd sometimes just shoot rockets into them, blowing everything around them to smithereens. Destructive but fun.

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  62. PetrusOctavianusJuly 14, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Dark Queen of Krynn has some annoying enemies:

    1. Dark Wizards: Protected by Fire Shield (vs Fire), Mirror Image, Globe of Invulnerability and Protection vs Normal Missiles which makes them hard to kill. In addition they have 18 Dex, so they have a decent chance of starting combat in which case they cast Delayed Blast Fireball for up to at least 92 damage. Nasty buggers...

    2. Black Puddings.
    Immune to weapons, cold, lightning and death spells, so you end up wasting lots of Fireballs and Magic Missiles on these freaks.

    3. Enchanted Sivaks. When they die they erupt into a Meteor Swarm doing massive damage to those adjacent.
    Fun if they are surrounded by allies, though.

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    1. PetrusOctavianusJuly 16, 2012 at 8:03 AM

      Protection from Fire protects against Meteor Swarm, though. So I'd nominate the Enchanted Bozaks instead. These bozos have Fire Shield, so attacking them with melee weapons really hurts, fire based spells don't work on them and they have high magic resistance so they usually avoid effects from other spells. And when they die they explode in an Ice Storm, against which only the only protection for (some of) your characters is a Globe of Invulnerability.

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    2. That's funny. I didn't think I'd played the Dragonlance Gold Box games, but sivaks and bozaks ring a bell. It sounds like they're likely to make an appearance here.

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  63. Another nominee: the Twisted Sylphs from Wizardy: Bane of the Cosmic Forge.
    This annoying little gnats have very high initiative, they Blink, they cast spells like Silence, Charm and Hold Monster, they have like 12 attacks per rounds, and they have a chance to Paralyze with each hit.
    Usually they Silence and/or paralyze most of your characters before your own characters can even act.
    The only good thing about them is that you very rarely meet tham as random encounters, and they don't have much HP.

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  64. Ghosts in Heroes of Might and Magic. Each time they kill one of your units, they turn it into more Ghosts on their side. Pretty soon there are so many of them they can one-shot anything you have. Completely unbalanced as a few of them can take out almost any party.

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    1. Yeah, those ghost were a bad design decision.
      Sometimes you could recruit ghosts yourself and by killing peasants you could make an invincible army.

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    3. if your hero knows "turn undead" at a fairly high level/number of memorizations they become pretty trivial. Otherwise good luck.

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  65. Friendly NPCs that you accidentally turn hostile.

    Enemy clerics in Gold Box games.

    Random encounters.

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  66. I'd argue with Beholders as well. I spit in their general direction. They're only impossibly hard if you don't know about reflecting items like Shield of Balduran when you do Unseeing Eye in Chapter 2...which is a side quest, not a main line quest.

    I think as far as what you encounter on the main quest, Illithids are far more annoying when you come across them than the Beholders when you reach them.

    That said, I do agree with your assessment that Beholders are bad monsters in BG2 because they are hard or too easy...I just think if you look only at main line questing, Illithids are much worse when you get to them.

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  67. Cliff races in morrowwind are annoying, always pestering you when you are busy trying to get to the next dungeon or such. One thing not yet mentioned about level-draining monsters, when they drain your level they take hp from that level as well, but its not always what you rolled. Say you got 3 hp when you levelled up, the level drain might cost you 7 hp. It could leave you with a character who has many less max hp for their level than they should. It can sometimes work the other way around, but its not something you can easily engineer.

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  68. Beholders in Underdark area of BG2 were annoying, luckily my Minsc had some freemove ring and resist against their mind (i think) spells... as most annoying creature from BG2 i would chose Lichs

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    1. Lichs are a decent choice. They were bloody impossible if you took them head-on. If you knew the trick, though, they became very easy. The trick was to stand outside their range of perception, use various summoning spells and items to summon creatures, and send them in one at a time. The lich would always cast his most powerful offensive and defensive spells at the beginning, so you could just wait for the defensive ones to wear off and keep sending in creatures until the lich was reduced to casting "acid arrow." At that point, it was safe to walk up to him and pummel him in melee combat.

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    2. That was also my strategy for the various spellcasting foos you encounter. I confess I enjoyed it, despite the cheesiness.

      I think I played pre-patch, because you find a cloak that seemed to break the game in a big way. It seemed to reflect everything, which made wizardly types as easy as beholders.

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  69. I remember fighting Q in one of the Might and Magic games and he took forever to kill.

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    1. Yes, and he cast constant death spells during the fight. He wasn't a lot of fun, but I don't think I want to put unique enemies on this list. He'd be a better entry for a list like "The Most Difficult CRPG enemies."

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  70. Good call on the Barrow Wights. I have a party trapped in an unending winter of their own, having been essentially abandoned on Burial Isle until I summon up the stones to return to that particular meat grinder.

    I found Heart of Winter to be generally a thing of unremitting brutality, though. Beholders and Harpies and Barrow Wights, oh my! Which is to say noting of the legendarily misnomered Stone Nuisances, who have magic immunity, slashing/piercing resistance, and cast max level Magic Missiles once per round. And come in pairs. The idea that the ten towns, with their fishermen and their hoopers and their complete absence of an established military, could have existed as long as they have seems frankly incredible.

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    1. Huh. I don't remember "Stone Nuisances" at all. I suppose that's a good thing. Maybe the game will be completely fresh to me when I finally get to it again.

      I think part of the problem was that many players (including me) went to the HoW module as soon as they could instead of waiting until they were at a reasonably high level. The game does force you to wait to a minimum level, but if you go immediately at the minimum, you face a much harder game.

      I think about your last sentence all the time when I play certain CRPGs. Baldur's Gate is full of these quaint little farms, with families living out there on their own, among maps full of basilisks, ghouls, ogres, dire wolves, kobolds, and other associated horrors. It would be like living in Detroit on Hell Night 365 days a year.

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  71. don't forget the wild boars in gothic 3 with their deadly hit combo. you could easily handle 3 orcs, but it took only one of these to charge at you out of the deep grass. most annoying especially when it took about 5 minutes to load your last save game.

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  72. Aaargh..Gothic 3. The boars´ attacks got nerfed soon enough, but hey, who played this bugfest anyway.
    That said, dear Addict, please don´t do this to yourself (I know you´ll do it anyway...you have been warned :-)).
    Seriously, Games like that one give german crpgs a bad name.

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