Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Guest Post – Roguelikes: Dungeons of Dredmor Preview

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 25, 2011

You are getting a double-dose of Dungeons of Dredmor previews this week. I would say “sorry about that,” but I’m really not. Brian “Skavenhorde” Critser has played a lot more of the game than I have during its beta test period, and has a lot of details to add on this upcoming game. And since he’s already been tackling roguelikes for a month, it meshed nicely with his weekly updates.

Here we go with another delve into the world of the roguelike. This week I was going to focus on three commercial roguelikes, but as usual I wrote too much and cut it down to just the beta to Dungeons of Dredmor.

This game has had me hooked since the first time I started playing it. Everything Jay said about the game is exactly how my experience has been like as well.

Jay just gave you a preview of the game so I’ll concentrate on the finer details.

Beta for Dungeons of Dredmor

Dredmor is a single dungeon graphical roguelike. Your quest is to delve into the depths of the dungeon and destroy the evil lich lord Dredmor. Along the way you’ll be accosted by a host of different enemies. The star of the show are the diggles. The game describes diggles as strange little bird-things that tunnel through walls with a rubbery nasal appliance. That about sums up diggles except it forgot to mention that their cute nasty little bird-devils who will rip you to pieces rather than look at you. If they weren’t so downright mean they’d make a nice virtual pet.

Some of the other monsters you’ll find are blobbie. The game describes them as: “Blobs of animated slime, possible from an adventurer’s armpit”, deth: “Terrifying phantasmal reaper with a menacing scythe” and footies which are giant feet with an eyeball. That is just a small sampling of some of the wacky monsters you’ll encounter. There are also many different variants to the monsters like the elctroblobbies and commando diggles which are invisible and a pain in the side to any mage.

In addition to the usual monsters you’ll also have named ones that are more powerful than their brethren. With my last character I came across ‘Plchooiemag the Queen of Grindings‘ who was an elctroblobby named monster.

Character creation is as simple as choosing a new game, difficulty level: “Elves just want to have fun,” “Dwarvish Moderation,” or “Going Rogue Because Losing is Fun” and then choosing your seven skills out of a choice of 34. The skills are as colorful as Rampant described. You have everything from your usual weapon skills like swords, axes, archery and smithing to the not so usual as viking wizardry, archaeology, fleshsmithing, golemancy (my personal favorite), vampirism, mathemagic and astrology. Those like the monsters are just a small sampling of all that are available.

Each skill comes with 3 – 8 subskill levels. With each level normally offering something different other than just increasing the power of that skill or stat increases. For example: golemancy’s first level is “animate blade being” which summons blades that will hurt anyone who enters that square. It’s second level is “animate sanguineblobby” which is a blobby made from your own blood. I love those cute little disgusting creatures.

*Edit – In the most recent version of Dredmor the “animate sanguineblobby” has been replaced with “animate mustache”. That little blobby thingy will be missed.

That kind of variety isn’t limited to the magic skills. The burglary skill starts off with “lucky pick” which allows you to create extra lockpicks after a certain amount of turns. The next level offers “ninja vanish” which allows you to disappear to get out of sticky situations. None of these skills are mana dependent. They can be reactivated after a certain amount of turns.

There are three crafting skills which influence your ability to craft with certain objects. The three skills are alchemy, tinkering and smithing. In your adventure you will find six different tool types: The Modular Alchemy Kit, Elven Ingot Grinder, Tinkerer Parts, “My Little Anvil” Junior Smithing Kit, Dwarven Ignot Press and Porta-Still. Each of those tools have recipes which come with them or can be discovered through bookshelves. How skilled you are determines how many items you’ll create or the ability to create an item. For example: If you have two skill levels in alchemy then if you create some booze with your Porta-Still instead of creating one booze type you will create two. That has meant the life or death of my mage on a few occasions. Using some of the other crafting items you find you are also able to craft your usual crude iron swords, crude steel swords, copper plate boots and iron plate boots as well as many more items. Some of the more unusual types of items you can make include makeshift bombs, iron bombs, deep omelets, tesla mines, leather armor, and much more. You can find or create crafting components such as as voltaic cells, brass mechanisms, rust, powdered aluminum, all kinds of ingots ranging from copper to plastic.

After choosing your skills you name your character and off you go.

Now comes the part I loved: the stats. Those lovely complex stats. First your six main ones: burliness, sagacity, nimbleness, caddishness, savvy and stubbornness. These stats affect your secondary skills as well as affecting how many hit points and mana you have. Next come the eighteen secondary stats like melee power, block chance, armor absorption, enemy dodge reduction, visual sight radius, haywire chance (critical hit with magic), smithing level and so on.

In addition to the stats there are sixteen different damage types and sixteen different resistances for those damage types. David Baumgart, the Principal Artist from Gaslamp Games says, “There are the three mundane types of damage like crushing, slashing and blast damage which can be blocked by your armor. Everything else can be blocked by resistance to the specific damage type (mundane damage types can be resisted as well). Each damage type has an effect associated with the damage. Crushing often has a stun or knockback, slashing and piercing may have bleeding damage or other wound effect, conflagratory (fire) will have a burn effect, voltaic (electricity) will often stun and so on.”

I have used the conflagratory burn effect to survive many rooms that were swarming with monsters. I set them on fire and then ran for the hills. They start dropping like flies soon after they started to burn and if they didn’t it would only take a few whacks from my staff to defeat them.

Dredmor has three different types of gods. You have the Lukefisk god which demands you sacrifice lukefisk at its lukefisk shrines. If you sacrifice enough it will reward you with an item. Next comes Krong. Krong is a fickle god and you have to take your chances when you see his anvil shrine. You place an item upon the shrine and depending on Krong’s mood it will either be blessed, cursed or nothing will happen. Last is Inconsequentia. If you pray at her shrines she will give you a quest to fulfill. If you fulfill this quest you will be rewarded with a magic item.

There are your usual stores you’ll find in any roguelike. There will be display cases you can find a variety of items as well as being able to sell any excess items you are carrying. In addition to the usual shops you can also find vending machines that offer different items depending on which vending machine you find. There are four types of vending machines; food, drink, thrown weapons and bolts. Food and drink vending machines are a godsend for any type of character.

Speaking of food and drink these are the easiest way for your character to heal and regain mana faster. You eat food to regain a hit point each round and you drink alcohol to regain a mana point each round (mages are notorious drunks in this world). Each food or alcohol item has a number associated with it. That number determines how long that item will last. There are a few potions/spells that will heal a large chunk of health or mana. Some of these potions are one shot deals while others while others will have a timed effect similar to the food/alcohol, but not associated with it.

Each dungeon is randomly generated and each room has individually names such as, “The Annex of Sneezes!”. Every dungeon level offers a new setting from your normal dungeon: a crypt, a lava setting, and more. With each new level you will find new types of monsters to harass you on your way down.

There are a lot of different types of traps that are out to harm you or your enemies. A trap doesn’t care who steps on it (flying creatures don’t set off the traps). The tinker skill helps you create more complex types of traps like “tesla mines” and “shoddy dwarven IEDs” or if your “trap affinity” skill is high enough you can disarm and pick up any traps you find.

The regular equipment you can find or buy is as varied and unique as the crafting items. Some of the equipment you’ll find relatively quickly are robes, hefty sticks, golemancy cap (if you choose the skill golemancy), rusty sword, woodsman’s axe, refurbished staff as well as rings of varying quality. I don’t want to spoil the surprises in store so I mainly listed equipment you can find early on in the game. All of the items (magic items included) have a star rating ranging from one to ten. One being the worst and ten being an artifact from the gods.

You’ll find magic items along the way with such names as “Wkomarp, the Crushing Guacomole” or “Chrpoarp, the Charlatan Feasts.” A few of the powers a magic item can offer are resistances to certain damage types, a certain damage type, skill boosts, etc. The magic items are as unique and varied as the rest of the game. I’m still coming across items that offer something unusual. Like my last golemancy cap that I blessed at a shrine of Krong gave my melee attacks the added bonus of shooting fire a few squares from where you hit the creature. Those diggles never knew what hit them after that.

The music is very good. I don’t normally pay too much attention to the music, but with this game it was quite lovely. Lovely isn’t a word I use too often, but it fits so well with the game. With one of the tracks I got a Leisure Suit Larry vibe from it. It had a sort of happy and yet silly beat to it. This may be my imagination, but it was quite nice.

Above all the details Dredmor is a fun game that is both challenging and funny. A sort of Quest for Glory for roguelikes.

I think that just about covers it. I’m sure I have forgotten a few hundred things, but that should give you a pretty good idea of what the game offers.

Here are some of the features written by David Baumgart (the one on the website didn’t include enough detail for me):

– Select 7 skills from 34 to make your own character class
– Each skill has from 3 to 8 sub-levels you can upgrade
– Randomly generated dungeon levels
– Tactical gameplay
– Around 500 unique item graphics
– Ridiculous random (and some less random) magical artifacts
– Find or create and then set traps
– Can throw and shoot sharp things, poison gas, or firey bombs at your enemies
– Six strange spell schools from Mathemagic to Necronomiconomics to Viking Magic
– Sacrifice Lutefisk to the Lutefisk God for Fishy Rewards!
– Potions that do things besides heal!
– Fairly easily moddable with items, spells, monsters, dungeon rooms
and so forth stored in xml files, with stronger mod support planned…
– Ten variates of cheese.
– Crafting, including a pointlessly realistic production chain for the
creation of Aqua Regia, which you can then drink if you’re so
– A needlessly educational metallurgy system
– Completely non-educational tinkering system allows you to make
crossbows, traps, and odd devices.
– Sprites! Lots of sprites! Many hand-wrought pixels.
– Music that people like!

A big thanks to David Baumgart, Principal Artist for Gaslamp Games, for answering my one thousand and one questions.

Filed Under: Guest Posts, Roguelikes - Comments: 5 Comments to Read

  • Wannabuythisbut said,

    What’s with the eyebrows?

  • skavenhorde said,

    You’re not the first to ask that question 🙂

    Here’s the official story from David about the eyebrows:

    “They took on a life of their own. Originally the eyebrows were fairly large due to making art based on up-sizing the Hero sprite whose features were necessarily exaggerated to be visible in tiny pixel art form. Then from there … oh, from there they just grew and grew. I think we thought it was funny to make them bigger. It’s like how wizards and Russian politicians have huge eyebrows because they’re so powerful. We were drinking a lot of coffee; it made sense.

    You get used to it. Takes time.”

  • Jaes said,

    Sounds interesting. Is in possible to acquire followers/companions? If no, I hope it will be included later/via a mod (hint, hint).

  • skavenhorde said,

    They have lots of followers. There are two kinds you can summon in the Mushroom skills, two in golemancy, One in fleshcraft and I’ve seen a few others too, but don’t recall which skill they were in. I think the fire skill had a salamder you can summon. I’m still finding more everytime I try out new skills.

  • Jaes said,

    That’s pretty cool. Thanks. Actually I was thinking about more permanent followers, but I guess monster summoning, when done right, can be just as interesting.