Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chaos Strikes Back: Better Equipped

Leyla tries to decide among all the weapons suddenly available to her.

I was hit last month with a heavy load of work that kept me from investing too much time in games, and when I finally got out of the pile, I felt I was a little too exhausted to head right back into Chaos Strikes Back. Thus, I tried a number of alternatives:

  • I made a final attempt on Dragons of Flame, but I still couldn't get the controls to work right.
  • I tried to download an Amiga emulator for the first time to try both Heroes of the Lance and Dragons of Flame, but I kept getting some error message about ROMs that I didn't have the patience to solve.
  • I tried Girlfriend Construction Set and actually wrote an entire posting about it before I realized I didn't want to pollute my blog with a posting about a crude, juvenile non-CRPG.
  • I strove to get further in NetHack but kept dying.
  • Seeing that it was intended for novices, I downloaded Tangled Tales and started writing an entry about it.

About this time, I realized I was putting far more effort into avoiding Chaos Strikes Back than I would if I simply played it. So I reluctantly fired it up and found I was in a better mood to play it than I had been last month. I still don't really love the game, but it's possible that it and I might reach some kind of accord.

I decided I hadn't gotten so far in my previous outing that it would be a horrible idea to start over. The events of my first journey had left me hopelessly lost on an unknown level, and multiple commenters were telling me that I'd missed a host of things in the first level. (For the record, since I made everyone self-conscious about spoilers, telling me about stuff after I've already passed it isn't a spoiler. It's my choice if I want to turn around and go back.)

I was about to call "liar" on the anonymous commenter who told me there were more secret doors in the starting area, but after circling the room a few times, I found there was one that opened when I shoved a torch into a wall sconce. It led to a corridor that ended in a quickly appearing-and-disappearing pit, and a message on the wall helpfully told me to "Run and Jump." I spent a while poring over the game documentation before coming to the conclusion that there is, in fact, no way to "jump" in the game (please tell me if I'm wrong); I suspect the sign just means to book it down the hall. There's a pressure plate just in front of the pit that closes it for a micro-second, at which point you can cross if you really haul it.

Knowing that torch sconces do something is valuable intelligence for later.

On the other side, I was assailed by these flying eyeball things (I really wish the game had named the damned monsters), but I was able to take them out fairly easily with melee attacks and fireballs. I was surprised to find a stairway up. I had assumed I was starting on the top level of the dungeon and had to work my way down. [Later edit: This had been spoiled for me, but I had forgotten.] This means the game's opening act makes even less sense. The stairs just end in a closed, locked door, so I must have to approach from another direction later.

I like the scratches and dents in the door, as if someone's been beating at it to get through.

Beyond this was the "Supplies for the Quick" area that Petrus had talked about. A sword gleamed ahead of me in an alcove, but I suspected that the moment I entered the room, something would happen to make it live up to its "quick" name, and I was right. I managed to grab the sword and nothing else before a pit opened up below me and dropped me screaming to the next level.

Moments before I have to run for my life.

My rules prevent reloading except in cases of full-party death, but wouldn't you know my party rather lost the will to live after that. The pathetic losers couldn't even be troubled to avoid pits. In a few minutes, I had another shot at the room. After another few bouts of falling and suicide, I got the hang of it. Basically, after you enter the room, you have time to grab one thing before running for one of the exits, at which point the pits stop opening, but you can re-enter the room as many times as you need to. My inept flailing about (I keep confusing the strafe keys for the turn keys) didn't help, but it did accidentally lead me to a secret area that I wouldn't have otherwise found if I had turned (like I had intended) instead of moving to the left.

My map of the opening area. The yellow indicates something still left to explore: there were a bunch of keyholes on the first level that I wasted keys on and couldn't figure out what they did.

When I finally got out of there, I had a host of items I had missed the first time, including a Staff of Irra, a mace, a Vorpal Blade, an axe, a waterskin, a "Claw Bow," a "Staff of Claws," a "Stormring," a bunch of food, and a couple of potions. As I've mentioned repeatedly, although I can tell the special uses of these items from the menu options that appear when I equip them, I have no idea which of them perform best in combat.

Mapping around the rest of the areas accessible from the start, it soon became clear that everything funneled me to a single square on a level below the starting area, labeled "To the junction of the ways." Ultimately, I had to step into a teleporter in this square, taking myself to an unknown level in relation to the opening one.

What I had taken in the first game for a square that always faces me in one direction was actually a square with four adjacent one-way doors. Each of them faces a corridor with an alcove and a symbol representing, I assume, the four different classes. I don't know which one is best to explore first, but since the corridor closed behind me, I could only choose one. Remembering the difficulty I had with the armored fellows last time, I went the opposite direction (south), which the game informs me is KU. I assume this is the way of the fighter, since the alcove in front of me held a sword called "Biter."

I hope it's not called that because it bites.

The corridor ended in a dead-end with a shield on the ground, but I soon found a secret door to the south. As I passed through it, I heard a familiar and infuriating sound: the chortle of a "giggler," an enemy so annoying I put him on my list. Fortunately, I had some fireball spells ready and loosed them at him. When he died, I looted an onyx key and a second Stormring from his corpse.

I'm not pleased to discover I'll be facing these little bastards again.

The level beyond featured a few interesting encounters. I entered an area with a message on the wall that said "NO FIREBALLS." I wasn't sure why, but beyond a series of grates was a room full of those sword-wielding armored guys stuck in alcoves. They wouldn't leave the alcoves in response to my presence, but if I cast fireballs at them, the fireballs would fly back in my face--as did every other spell I tried, plus throwing items. The fighters did leave the alcoves if I walked up to them.

Moments after lightning-bolting myself.

Also in the room was an axe called "Executioner" in a niche on the wall. Taking it released the fighters and closed the grate out of the room.This was a turn of events I could survive for exactly three seconds. Since I was capable of lasting against any one of them in melee combat for only slightly longer, I either had to find a creative way to kill them or abandon the area for later.

It took a long time, but I ultimately killed them with the old trick (used extensively in Bloodwych) of leading them down a looping corridor and poking at them from behind and the sides, then darting away. It was worth it. They had fantastic armor, and I got what at least looks to be a cool axe.

Leyla dressed up in her enemy's armor.

As I wrap up for now, here are two questions that I won't mind a spoilers to:

1. Are there any places in which a pit is the only way from one level to another (or to a section of another)? I'm not sure if I should painstakingly note and number all of them, trying to fall down each one in case it leads to a secret area.

2. I've found a couple of magic weapons that have special attacks, but I've been reluctant to use them because I don't want them to disappear if they run out of charges. So I guess this is a two-part question: a) do they even have charges, or will the sword called "Storm" cast lightning forever; and b) if they do, and they do run out of charges, does the weapon disappear, or does it just cease to work as a magic item?

The torch-sconce-secret-door thing has made me paranoid about every little mark on the wall...

What is it? How do I manipulate it?! WHAT DOES IT WANT FROM ME????!!!

...but otherwise I feel like I'm settling into the game's groove, now that I have the proper time to devote to it. It's largely a matter of being methodical, testing different routes and options, and not being afraid to commit suicide and reload if I want to try something different.

78 comments:

  1. Oh wow, you updated just as I got done reading your last post! Glad to see you're getting the hang of the game, this is one I'm hoping we don't spend too much time on : )

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  2. "I had assumed I was starting on the top level of the dungeon and had to work my way down."
    Didn't you notice all the holes in the roof in the starting room? Keeping track of all the pits is part of the mapping challenge. I'm not sure any of them are the only way to an essential area, though.

    I remember first time I played, staring at that scratched and dented door, wondering what was behind it.

    In the "Supplies for the Quick" room you can actually sidestep around the column, and grab all the stuff, if you time it properly. Just hope those annoying eye balls don't get in your way (right, Amy?).
    Glad you found that Vorpal Blade. Use it wisely.

    The Executioner is a nice reward for killing the knights. The trick is to kill them one by one, and then get the axe.

    Items like the Storm Ring have limited charges, but the game doesn't disappear when the charges are spent.
    Some items are cursed, though.
    I did provide a link to a list of what the items do. I'd use that info, since it's all but impossible to find it all out in game.

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    1. Thanks, Petrus. I'm toying with looking at the list, but it seems like cheating.

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    2. Eh, I wouldn't worry about it. It's the game's missing documentation. It's like the nethack spoilers - any hacker worth his name was expected look through the game's source code to find the game's obscurities. The spoiler files are just that information nicely collated instead of spread out all over the place.

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    3. Right, Petrus. The most dangerous things about those eyeball things are them getting in your way when you have to move somewhere quick. Grrr.

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    4. Fie on thee, Harland! Using spoilers is cheating, both in Nethack and in here. Real men experiment, experiment and experiment.

      You may want to put your non-reloading policy on hold though, Addict - this isn't the sort of game where you should handicap yourself by not using tools the game itself gave you. If you missed spells in the first game you may also want to find a spell list to keep on hand, because CSB assumes you know everything about DM like the back of your hand.

      About the four corridors - they should be marked with either a rune or a word, if you look around: these correspond to the runes tied to classes (refer to DM manual's descriptions on runes).

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    5. With apologies to our anonymous friend, I've decided to look at the list. I'll explain my reasoning in the next posting. I followed that logic on the spells and looked at the DM spell list ages ago.

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    6. Petrus, on that list you linked me to, do you understand the difference between the "Damage" figure within the "Actions" column, and the separate "Damage" column next to it?

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    7. The separate Damage column is the raw damage the weapon does, while the numbers in the first column is the relative effectiveness of the various attack modes. But how you compute the excact end result I'm not sure of. It's also complicated by the various attack modes having different "cool down" times.

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    8. All right. So that would suggest that "Storm," even losing its lightning-casting ability, still outperforms a regular sword.

      The "cool down" thing would have been nice to include in such a table, though I suppose it must vary by character level. If I can make three "Swings" faster than one "Melee," the former attack option is best. I haven't had the patience to try to time it yet.

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    9. Fie? There is no fie. Anyone who played nethack AND had access to the source code...well what would you do? Being a clever nethack player? You'd do the obvious thing, that's what.

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    10. What would I do? Control myself, obviously. Figuring out the complete "rules" of the game is one of the game's challenges, and consulting an outside source for them is an admission of failure as a gamer. And yes, source code most definitely is an "outside source".

      I'm fairly sure that the designers of Nethack (or for that matter, CSB), didn't even intend any individual player to know all the ins and outs of the game, even if they beat it ten times. I understand this infuriates a certain kind of player - having to operate on hunches and gut feeling instead of cold calculations - but it is an entirely valid mode of play.

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  3. "Biter" will most likely be a reference to The Hobbit, as it's the name the goblins give to one of the Elvish swords that Gandalf & Co. find on their journey.

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    1. The goblins didn't "give" the name to the sword, they already knew it by that name! It had been used against them and they hated it, and hated worse the one who carried it.

      Besides, I thought we all knew this and it didn't need to be pointed out.

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    2. Damn, I should have realized someone would have already pointed this out.

      .....I was very annoyed how they screwed this up in the movie.

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    3. For $@&$'s sake. If I never seen another Tolkien reference in a game again, it will be too soon.

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    4. Unfortunately for you, I expect you'll see quite a lot as you go forward (see also: Monty Python)

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  4. The Stormring will run out of charges and thereafter become a grey ring, useless. The swords that cast spells will also run out but still function as swords. The problem is that other weapons are always better, so the sword is best used as a spellcaster and not as a sword. Don't know how many charges they have, yet another victim of DM's "dungeon realism".

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    1. I'm not sure I understand how "the sword [Storm] is best used as a spellcaster and not a sword." From the item list I consulted...

      http://dmweb.free.fr/?q=node/266

      ...it looks like the "Storm" sword and a regular sword do the same damage with the "chop" attack (48), and they both have an attack that does 8 ("jab" for Storm, "parry" for the sword), but a regular sword has an additional "swing" attack that does a maximum of 16.

      However, there's a separate "damage" column on the list I'm looking at that indicates "Storm" has a higher "base damage" (49) than the sword (34). I'm not sure how this varies from the max damage figure given earlier.

      Another advantage to "Storm" is that it weighs 0.2 less than a regular sword.

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    2. Ooo, you finally looked at the weapon tables? Good for you! The missing documentation, nothing more.

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    3. Something the list doesn't mention is that certain attacks have an effect on your own defense during cooldown (parry raises it, berserk lowers).

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  5. Can you upload the Girlfriend Construction Set article somewhere? I want to read!

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    1. The way he presented it, we all want now! Plus, it sound like a Princess Maker (PM) sort of clone or prequel. And PM is a pretty legit decent RPG.

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    2. Good choice not posting something about a juvenile non-CRPG.

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    3. The game was crude in both interface and plot, vuglar, and misogynistic. I "won" in about 20 minutes, so if you're really curious, just download and play it.

      It was a bit of shareware written by someone with a limited command of programming who never developed any other games. It wasn't worth anyone's time.

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    4. Quick look at screenshots says it is inferior version of Alter Ego. Kinda life simulator. There's browser version available if you want to have a quick look.

      http://www.playalterego.com/

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    5. Girlfriend Construction Set sounds like a non-sexual version of Slavermaker. No like, due to Chet's wishes, but I'm sure you all know how to use Google.

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  6. As a compromise you could give me a list of items and I could tell you which is better as a weapon, without telling you what the special ability does or exactly how much better.

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  7. You're right. This is a jump-free game.

    Those are called Flying Eyes, by the way. There's a way to find out what they're called, but they'll most likely be attacking you while you do so.

    I did advise you to take the KU way (indeed the way of the fighter), but I guess you missed that, or read that afterwards.

    Take a good look at that Death Knight armor.

    1) I'm not sure if the pits are the only way to get from one place to the other in some cases, but they're certainly a shortcut. I find myself returning to the starting area sometimes, and I use the pits to do so. Yes, keeping track of them (ceilings and floors) would be helpful.

    2) The items do have charges, and when the charges run out, the items remain. In the case of the weapons, you can still "jab" or "cleave" (etc) with them.

    Oh, and I say look at the item stats.

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    1. Thanks for helping to clear all of that up! But please elaborate on "there's a way to find out what they're called." Am I missing some interface option?

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    2. No, it's a scroll you can find. Instead of attacking a monster when it's in front of you, read the scroll. Not worth it, imo.

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    3. Got it. I seem to be asking for a lot of spoilers here, but could you elaborate on "Take a good look at that Death Knight armor"? Do you mean the weight?

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    4. Yes. If you've already done so, and you see nothing, then that must be another detail where our versions differ. Yes, it could be considered spoilerish, but if yours says nothing, I say fair game. Something that didn't make it into the conversion. If you want to know what mine says:

      Zvar fnlf gur jbeq Phefrq. Bbcf.

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    5. Oh, dammit. I keep forgetting you can look at things with the "eye" icon. No, you were right. Everyone's naked again.

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    6. You must curse at this game quite a bit!

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    7. Sorry, putting on cursed armour makes you nude?

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  8. Somewhat offtopic: I just can't get it why everyone keeps calling Tangled Tales "intended for novices". It's light on stats, sure - but so is Ultima, which nobody calls introductory. TT on the other hand has a good load of puzzles (up to the point of being an rpg/adventure hybrid), some of them pretty sophisticated as far as I remember. So if it's really intended for novices, then it's doing this particular job pretty bad.

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    1. It probably has more to do with the relative ease of the controls. Also, you can't die. But otherwise, I agree: I was expecting something clearly intended for children.

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    2. Actually a couple of the puzzles are so easy they loop back around and become hard again. Tangled Tales is the review I've waiting for, my dad and both played when I was little. Very small hint: Gurer gjb fcryyf lbh pna trg ng gur ortvaavat bs gur tnzr, trg gurz obgu!

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  9. While the manual doesn't explicitly mention why you start in the middle of the dungeon sans equipment, it's easy to imagine reasons, like the only way in is via a special teleport which doesn't take any of the equipment?

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    1. The Terminator theme just started playing in my head for some reason.

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    2. Sure, if you're a CSB apologist, you can make up all kinds of reasons why your characters started on Level 6 with no equipment. Maybe you were swarmed by Gigglers. My point is that the manual contains a thickly-written short story that explains the entire background and plot of the game, but for some reason ends just before the two sentences that would transition you from the story to actual gameplay.

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  10. "On the other side, I was assailed by these flying eyeball things (I really wish the game had named the damned monsters),"

    Actually they are named, and in CSB there is a way to see the names in-game, though it's kinda-sorta secret (n pregnva fpebyy lbh pna svaq ernqf rvgure "ab perngher" be gur anzr bs gur zbafgre lbh'er snpvat).

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    1. Looks like I'll still have to wait a while before I can refer to them properly, then.

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    2. Oops. (I'm reading and replying to these comments in order.) I don't think it's a big deal, though.

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  11. Honestly, I think every game that bothers to include torch sconces on the walls and gives you torches as equippable items should have at least one torch-activated secret door. Especially if you could reenact the "put the candle back!" scene from Young Frankenstein.

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    1. In retrospect, it should have been obvious. Though in my defense, both DM and CSB have all kinds of wall decorations that don't do anything.

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    2. Did you find the second Vorpal Blade in Dungeonmaster? The one that requires you to pull a wall ring?

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    3. That was over two years ago. I don't have any idea.

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  12. Glad you're having more fun now with your return to CSB.

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  13. "I tried to download an Amiga emulator for the first time to try both Heroes of the Lance and Dragons of Flame, but I kept getting some error message about ROMs that I didn't have the patience to solve."

    You need a system ROM image for any Amiga emulator to work: these are not distributed with the emulators for legal reasons. Recommended one is "Kickstart 1.3".

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    1. If you buy the Amiga Forever emulator, which has the easiest interface of the Amiga emulators, the Kickstart ROMs are included.

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    2. All right. I'll keep both things in mind the next time I give an Amiga emulator a try. Thanks!

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  14. Pits in certain sections of the dungeon have a way of funneling you back to the beginning room. This is generally a good place to drop things that you don't wanna lug around. I believe there is at least one pit puzzle, however, I don't think there are any important locations that are only reachable by pits that wouldn't seem obvious to you.

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  15. Chet, when you reach DDD (you'll know what it is once you get there), there is one place there was a possible game stopping event. One path will lead to a dead end, and once you turn back a squad of Chaos Knights will charge you (from the west, IIRC). This is not the time for bravery and to stand your ground against them, since if the knights don't reach a certain square another event will not trigger. So when you see them, retreat and when you see the dead end has opened, then you can kill them.
    It is possible this has been fixed in the version you are using, but it may be wise to keep it in mind.

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    1. Hmmm, necessary spoiler? As for me, I don't fight them at that point. I just leave. ;)

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    2. V gubhtug gur Qrnq Raq unq n Qrgu Xavtug trarengbe ba n ybat pbbyqbja engr. Be vf gurer n irefvba jurer vg'f ohttrq naq gurl qb abg erfcnja?

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    3. Gurer vf n trarengbe gurer, n fdhner be gjb nurnq bs jurer gur jnyy jbhyq bcra hc. Gung'f jura gur xavtugf fubj hc. V arire fghpx nebhaq gb frr vs zber jbhyq nccrne.

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    4. Right now, I'd be happy to just get up the stairs to this area. There's a legion of demons up there. Every time I kill one, another one appears.

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    5. Is it two levels above the starting area? That's the DDD someone mentioned. Is it three levels above the starting area (that seems the more likely answer)? If so, you're not supposed to be there yet. Unless you've gotten four matching items from a pillar with disappearing and reappearing pits. That is all, unless you want further clarification, of course.

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    6. I have no idea where I am relative to the starting area, since the only way I got out of the starting area was via teleport. However, I did reach what I think is the bottom level of the dungeon (there were no more pits and no stairs down), and the place I'm at now is 6 levels above that. There's a sign that says "Diabolical Demon Director" right next to a set of stairs. If I go up the stairs, I get assaulted by a never-ending series of salamander-demons.

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    7. LOL, the more times you go up the stairs, the more and more enemies are generated. I get the feeling you may be fleeting down the stairs when the demons hurt you too bad (a perfectly understandable tactic in any other situation). If you go left from the top of the stairs (with the stairs at your back), you can get to some areas. If you want to start heading down the right corridor, hmmm... okay, rot13 time. (Just in case you don't know this much.)

      Lbh unir gb trg n zbafgre gb fgrc ba gur cerffher cyngr (whfg nurnq sebz gur fgnvef) vs lbh jnag gb urnq evtug. Gung jvyy pybfr n cvg. Tb bar fdhner cnfg gur abj pybfrq cvg, naq chg na vgrz ba gur sybbe. Gung jvyy pybfr na vaivfvoyr cvg va sebag bs gur fgnvef gb lbhe evtug. Sver n mb fcryy ng gur qbbe qbja gur unyy. Gurer'f n qrzba vafvqr n gval ebbz, fgrccvat ba n cerffher cyngr gung xrrcf na vaivfvoyr cvg bcra va sebag bs lbh (lbh fubhyq or noyr gb urne uvz onatvat njnl va gurer jvgu sveronyyf). Vs ur'f eryrnfrq sebz gur ebbz, lbh'yy or noyr gb nqinapr gbjneqf gung ebbz. Bs pbhefr, lbh'yy unir gb xvyy gur qrzba abj. Va nal pnfr, lbh qba'g unir gb eryrnfr uvz hagvy lbh jnag gb rkcyber va gung qverpgvba.

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    8. The last English sentence in parentheses should be "In case you don't want to *know* this much."

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    9. DDD = Diabolical Demon Director, by the way.

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    10. You got it. I was using the ol' dart upstairs/attack/dart downstairs trick. I didn't realize it was just causing more of them to spawn. This freaking game.

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    11. Now I'm wondering if I may have some latent sadistic tendencies, given the fact that I am laughing my ass off...!

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    12. Diabolical Demon Director is like a rite of passage in CSB. :-)

      Interesting how different ideas we have about "cheating". To me using an item list is completely legit, but I never used the upstairs/attack/dart downstairs trick. And I only use the dance of death against dragons.

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    13. I don't think it's cheating to use mechanics available to you in the game. I honestly don't know how I would have survived the onslaught of giant spiders on some mid-level without the stair trick. If you can, congratulations on being a better player.

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    14. Addict: I think there is a line between 'smart playing' and 'exploitative'. For example, the killing Drizzt trick in BG, or exploiting game bugs to get infinite master balls in Pokemon.

      Basically, there is a point you stop playing the game as the devs intended and no longer get the true gameplay experience.

      That said, I don't think you've crossed it.

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    15. Complaining about hit-and-run tactics in DM clones is like complaining about circle-strafing in Doom clones. You may not like the mechanic, but it's there on purpose and surviving without it on harder difficulties is nigh impossible.

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    16. Canageek, I agree with a category called "Exploits" that exists in between simply taking advantage of what you can and "cheating." For instance, duplicating items in the Gold Box games by using the character removal trick is what I'd call an "exploit"--technically doable in the confines of the game, but clearly not what the developers intended.

      I don't regard hit-and-run as an exploit, though. I can't imagine the developers really expected players go to mano-a-mano against that dragon.

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    17. I agree completely. What I hate is games built around exploits, like Magic; The Gathering.

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    18. It's hard to draw a general line to fits all games, but if something is obviously going to make your party/character exceedingly powerful (level/experience exploits), or break basic laws of game physics (item duping), then you're probably crossing that line. Granted, the first is a little hard to see happening than the second, but you'll know it once you've crossed it.

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    19. Ah, the Diabolical Demon Director... I love CSB just for that. I am sincerely in awe at the esthetic beauty of the intricate design of those floors. (Not the difficulty, that's another thing.)

      I think the "dead end" bug has been fixed in this version, but isn't there another one that prevented you to get to the Ros section? I know it could short-circuited by jumping down a pit in the corbums room to avoid the bug... (I don't think that's spoilering enough, it's way too complicated so that Addict won't know what we are talking about).

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  16. I see you're using the original portraits for the characters. The Atari/Amiga versions of CSB came with "updated" alternate portraits visible here at the bottom of the page: http://dmweb.free.fr/?q=node/191

    Some of those were pretty funny. It also came with a portrait editor, a tiny drawing utility of sorts, and I'm not 100% sure, but I think that might be the first instance of fully customizable character art in a game.

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    1. They're a little more interesting. But I'm not sure that the CSBWin application supports portrait editing. If I get bored with the actual game, I'll check it out.

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    2. I like how Halk's portrait has him wielding a sword and shield, which is, of course, regardless of whether he has them or not.

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1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: Spam has gotten so bad lately that I've had to turn on comment moderation for posts older than 10 days. I apologize if it takes a little while for your comment to appear.