RichBRichB

I've just submitted a new run based on a strategy of getting experience from as many treasure hoards as possible, and an early trip to the castle to grab a Wand of Lightning and Necklace of Missiles to mop up any time consuming encounters like the orcs and hobgoblins on Sokal Keep.

I was pretty lucky with RNG on this one (a battle with a displacer beast in the wilderness notwithstanding), but there were quite a few stutters at the beginning and next time, I'm going to start looting some bows and arrows so that I can mop up the 8th level fighters a bit more quickly. I'd say with some luck and some tighter execution, this one could go down to close to 15m.

MSKainMSKain likes this. 
  RichBRichB

And I’ve done three runs today that were on target for under 16 minutes and all came unstuck against Tyranthraxus. Oh well, I suppose that’s the risk you run by going low level. 🙁

 
  Ozzy_98Ozzy_98

I've been working on some Tyranthraxus strats, but he has strange powers that I don't understand. Like he can hit displaced people it seems, and attack even when you've forced a pre-emptive attack. The second thing though might only apply to his breath weapon.

Edit: If he worked like other foes, the cloak of displacement would prevent his breath attack most rounds, and cause one of his 1d6 attacks to miss every time, plus cause all the attacks to be focused on one target. The problems is that he seems to ignore that, has a 19 dex so can go first more often than any other foe, ect. Stinking cloud however DOES WORK on him. It can't paralyze him, but if he does cough, his AC changes from -4 to 4.

I've not checked to see if you use the dust of disappearance yet, which nullifies his breath.

Also, if you use good aligned NPCs, they won't turn on you in the final fight, likewise, that mage at the end you can get to join also doesn't turn on you, but all he likes to do is spam lightning bolts from his wand. Neutral aligned are supposed to side with majority vote if it follows the tabletop rules, but I've not tested yet.

All the fighters you can get in the hall are evil, so they always turn on you. However, Skullcrusher I think is good, so if you can add him into the route near the end, you have another npc. I think it's 2 required fights to get him, and they're fights that sleep works in.

Another option, bring the evil fighters with you, and charm them. You lose one turn, but if you move faster than them (Odds are good) and you charm them (Odds are also in your favor), I THINK you have an 80% chance to charm them. Magic armor does affect saving throws, so if you try this, after the 8th level fighters fight, use the view command to unequip their armor. they should re-equip it, but if not, I think they have an AC of like, 3, with armor. And with dragonbutt's THAC0 of 5, wearing that armor doesn't help much vs an AC of 10.

Also, mirror image doesn't seem to work right on him, but I'm not 100% sure how it's supposed to work in this game, they changed it.

Also not sure if you saw it in my route, but I used clerics from town, who could 1) use hold person on the 8th level fight 2) be meat shields against Tyranthraxus 3) Use resist fire to lower his 2-20 fire damage aura to 1-10 The 4th level clerics have non-magical plate mail, so with the rings +3 they have an AC of 0. They will stop and cast hold person on Tyranthraxus so that hurts. They;re also harder to find in the training hall than fighters, so even more luck added to the run, but they might work better in the end than fighters. 4 hold persons per round can really take out a lot of fighters.

RichBRichB likes this. 
  RichBRichB

I do want to experiment around with some different strats for the final battle, because that seems to be the most obvious area where there's real room for optimisation. I like the idea of hiring the 4th level cleric (I remember that from your run), problem is that they don't come up that often. But it would also give a few extra 2nd level slots that could be devoted to Resist Fire, which would definitely be useful against his flaming aura. And the idea of having meat shields is definitely appealing. The 4th level thief would be good for that purpose too.

I haven't had a Stinking Cloud work on him yet, but I do have a spare one left over on that scroll, so there's no harm in trying. It's possible that there's a difference between versions there (I'm playing 1.0 from the old WizardWorks CD from the 90s). I know Magic Missile works on him, and there's a Wand of Magic Missiles that I've got left over from the temple, so I suppose I could give that to one of the characters, put him on Quick and that's a guaranteed 10 or so points of damage a round. Every bit counts.

I think the biggest predictor of whether you win or not in the last battle is whether his fear aura works. 4th level characters don't get paralysed, but it does seem to weaken them, which I'm guessing from the names of the codes, mean that you'll only do half damage. Since the last battle is a damage race, you won't make it if he effectively has 160 hit points.

Oh, and I remember that thing about neutral NPCs from the module, so I experimented with that. I'm pretty certain it's only the evil aligned fighters that will turn on you.

 
  Ozzy_98Ozzy_98

Odd, your version starts at speed 1 is looks like. The numbering of PoR versions is a bit confusing, as only 1.3 has a number. There's a 1.0/1.1/.1.2 as far as I know. The non 1.3 version I have starts out with speed of 4.

And after testing, Tyranithraxus is sorta affected on this version. He'll cough, but won't lose AC like in the 1.3 version.

His "blind spots" for breath weapon seem about the same. If you attack the lower left side for example, he can't hit you with lightning. Not much help since you're using the dust, but if you ever think you want to try it without dust, it's an option. He normally gets the opening shot though, so that's 80-160 HP damage right there, meaning 1-2 people instakilled.

 
  Ozzy_98Ozzy_98

Oh hey stinking clouds stack in this version, causing 2x saving throw rolls. They dont do that in 1.3

 
  RichBRichB

Hmmm. I didn’t realise Stinking Cloud behaves more like later games in later versions. Might need to invest in a version 1.3 from GOG to make it fair.

I mean, it’s an advantage and disadvantage - you make a saving throw every round in the cloud and if you fail it, you’re helpless for that round, rather than just one for the duration of the spell, but consistency is still important.

 
  Ozzy_98Ozzy_98

What it did for me testing now, 2 clouds caused 2 saving throws a round. When you cast it on Tyrax, he for some reason has 3 texts, in my case, unaffected, unaffected, coughing. With 2 cast on him, I got 6 notifications. If I'm not too busy in the morning I will try to see how exactly it does work on him.

I also want to see if he can be "tricked" into wasting his attacks on a displaced foe.

 
  RichBRichB

That's weird. When I tried it on him, it just told me he was unaffected. Ah, the eccentricities of 30 year old games.... 🙂

 
  MSKainMSKain

Dragons attack three times every round, so his 'ignoring' Cloaks might just be the first attack auto-missing but the other two getting full chances to hit (if the 'Attack of Opportunity allows all three attacks, which I believe it does). If the order of attacks follows the generic way 1st Ed Monster Manuals write it, he would claw/claw/bite for his three attacks. Also, since you have 3 mages if you run into damage trouble you could dupe your Wand of MM before the final stretch and give one to each fighter/mage, allowing them to deal guaranteed damage. And if you use dust, you can move them away from Thraxus so he can't hit them and just Quick until he's dead

 
  RichBRichB

Interesting you should say that, I tried that exact thing in one earlier today, actually. Some bad RNG luck and the execution on the duplication was a bit shaky, so I wound up at about 16:45, but it’s got potential. I also remembered there’s an extra Potion of Speed in the NW castle corner, which gives about the same XP reward as the sword and is much less of a detour, so that’s a small time save, and another character with 2 attacks per round doesn’t hurt.

 
  Ozzy_98Ozzy_98

>Dragons attack three times every round, so his 'ignoring' Cloaks might just be the first attack auto-missing but the other two getting full chances to hit

What I saw was 3 hits strike him, plus three fires. Then the same round, he breathed lightning.
There might be some "surprise rounds" in there though, sometimes some of your party can move before others it seems.

I think the "unaffected" for the stinking cloud is tied to his attacks though. I'll try to record a video of the two versions so you guys can see what I'm seeing.

 
  Ozzy_98Ozzy_98

So I was playing around with dragon butt some more on 1.3 version. Running away from him does control his attacks and makes him "waste" his turn, so he won't use the breath weapon. But with a dex of 19, he goes first pretty quickly. And with 3 attacks, even if the cloak did work, he would still have 1-6/2-20/1-6/2-20/bite attack/2-20. I was hoping could skip the dust this way since it's one of the last remaining out of the way items; should really be able to skip sokol keep too without the dust.

There are spots where he can't use his breath weapon, so placing your best fighters there will help, but he has such a good change of blasting you with it first round.
If you could get a mage to level 5 though, use invisibility 10' at the end of the last combat, that might also help.

 
  Ozzy_98Ozzy_98

So Rich, how often would you say a run on your path goes south and fails? I was adding a speedrun section to my faq I'm working on, and was just wondering. I think of the three runs on here, yours is the most luck dependant, but it doesn't seem like too much luck involved. From what I see, it's the last fight where you would have the most trouble with bad RNG.

 
  RichBRichB

Very often at the moment TBH, although that’s more because I’m experimenting with some alternative strats, including using three characters and duplicating the necklace. If I’m playing the route I used on the video, there will be a death maybe 40% of the time, mostly against Tyranthraxus, but sometimes, it’ll be something like Mace or the 5th level cleric winning initiative and getting off a Hold Person spell, or maybe the mage in the castle knocking out a character with his wand.

Once you’ve got past instant deaths and the execution is a bit tighter, getting a decent pace is dependent on your luck with random encounters. You can avoid 50% of the encounters in the slums and Kuto’s well and most of the encounters in the temple and the wilderness. There’s only one spot in the graveyard on my route that’s actually in the random encounter zone, so you’ve got a good chance of getting through that unscathed. On my run, I managed to largely avoid random encounters, so I definitely got good rolls of the dice there. Each random encounter will cost you 15-45 seconds, depending on when and where, so getting sub 16 depends a lot on luck.

The last battle is one where you're definitely more at the mercy of RNG, but that would be the case no matter what route you take. I've experimented with using wands of lightning, but they're just too slow - the animation takes a while. Duplicating the necklace is a possibility that I'm exploring though.

 
  RichBRichB

I also used a few game mechanics to manipulate the size of random encounters and make sure the monsters surrender rather than run, so that minimises the time impact. The game uses an algorithm to determine your party strength, which is used to determine strength of most random encounters, among other things. Giving the F/C 10 hit points instead of the max of 11 keeps the score just low enough to stop the random encounters in the slums including leaders. And not buying armour for one character means the orcs and hobgoblins will surrender as they have a movement rate of 9 and intelligent monsters will only run if they’re at least as fast as your fastest character.

 
  RichBRichB

Well, speaking of new strats, I've just submitted a run (pending approval) that uses roughly the same route, but has two human fighters and two human mages, and duplicates the necklace after picking it up in the castle. I then mow down the fighters with the four necklaces and use a combination of the Wand of MM and the two fighters to take out Tyranthraxus on Quick, finishing up in 14:24.

As you'll see from the lack of comparison splits, this was the first time I tried this route while recording, and so while I was lucky with random encounters, only having one battle with goblins in the Slums, it was pretty sloppy in places, especially the duplication, so this definitely has some scope to come down, probably to below 14. But I'm pretty happy with the route - it allowed me to skip the graveyard visit, and the trip to grab the treasure in Sokal Keep.

Incidentally, as an academic exercise (not sure it makes too much sense to add categories with only a handful of people running this game), I'd be interested to see how fast you could do a glitchless category. I'd be inclined to do something similar to my first run, although obviously, you couldn't fight the mage in the castle that way - without the walk up walk back glitch, he'd wipe you out with his wand.

Here's the link:

 
  Ozzy_98Ozzy_98

I also like the glitchless one, but the hard part is defining glitches. Mostly it would be a non-duping run I think.

Side note, I triggered a level underflow glitch on NPCs, but can't recreate it. After leveling up mad man, he gained a property of 254 levels drained. Restoration spells "restored" the levels, but only gave him 1 hp. It also gave him the exp to be just shy the next level. If you restore him past level 8 his levels show split like dual class, but his class remained fighter. I had him to level 17/8, bit he wasn't a superpowered tank, so even if I could reproduce it, it doesn't help much. It wasn't just him, on that game, all NPCs were affected on level up. I was using GoldBox explorer writing notes for my faq, and I wonder if it was the cause of the bug, not the game.

However, I did trigger the money overflow glitch too, so it might be related to the trigger (sell a ton of wands, buy something, all youroney turns to jewelry)

Another run I'm wondering about, 100%. I'm thinking just complete all quests, but that might still miss stuff, not including the random caves/groves.

 
  RichBRichB

Very interesting glitch there. I wonder how exploitable it would be. I tend to agree that they’re hard to define. Maybe they should be defined as not doing anything too obviously cheesy. 🙂 Duplicating items and walk up walk back are definitely glitches. Hiring NPCs to kill and loot them is cheap, but not a glitch.

I seem to remember there’s a glitch around the Bag of Holding which can give you backpacks full of various goodies, which could have some potential if used properly.

I also like the idea of a 100% category in theory, although I’m not sure I’d have the patience to sit through a multiple hour run. I’d simply define it as doing all the quests - although that in itself can be hard to define, because not everything you can be rewarded for comes up in the roster. Doing all the groves and caves in the wilderness would be a nightmare - they come up as very rare (1 in 32) random encounters, so it would take a very long time to get them all.