ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:48 pm 
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Wayist

Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:49 pm
Posts: 19
Hi all,

I’ve been playing RohanKnight/Kobold Hermit Thaumaturgists exclusively for a while now but there seems to be something odd about them: Although I easily can push almost any character to clvl 30 within say two hours or so (route: Bree quest -> swamp south of Bree until lvl 15 -> Angband wilderness until lvl 30), this practically seems to be the maximum. I will usually continue through the Barrow Downs for the Princess/FF rewards and then go on diving into the Orc Cave.

However, apart from the really low-end dungeons like Mirkwood or Old Forest, I tend to get killed after a couple of levels in all the more dangerous locations like the Sandworm Pit or -- most recently -- the Minas Tirith quest. I’m not convinced completing all those minor dungeons makes any sense as it is usually more efficient to just camp wherever dragons spawn. I suppose I could go on indefinitely hunting dragons outside Angband but at clvl 30 my hands regularly start to hurt because of those repetitive key combinations.

So I’d like to ask the more experienced players around here what their little secrets are how to survive while descending etc. And I’d like some confirmation or refutation too about whether this is just my impression or do all those spellcasters get incredibly hard to play at higher levels? Just the opposite of warrior-type characters which take ages to get to a decent level but then they eventually prove quite sturdy.

(And where are all the spoilers gone? I used to consult the wiki from time to time but it seems to have disappeared somehow.)

I’m playing version 2.3.9-ah.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:08 am 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 12:48 pm
Posts: 482
Old Tomnoddy wrote:
Hi all,

I’ve been playing RohanKnight/Kobold Hermit Thaumaturgists exclusively for a while now but there seems to be something odd about them: Although I easily can push almost any character to clvl 30 within say two hours or so (route: Bree quest -> swamp south of Bree until lvl 15 -> Angband wilderness until lvl 30), this practically seems to be the maximum. I will usually continue through the Barrow Downs for the Princess/FF rewards and then go on diving into the Orc Cave.

However, apart from the really low-end dungeons like Mirkwood or Old Forest, I tend to get killed after a couple of levels in all the more dangerous locations like the Sandworm Pit or -- most recently -- the Minas Tirith quest. I’m not convinced completing all those minor dungeons makes any sense as it is usually more efficient to just camp wherever dragons spawn. I suppose I could go on indefinitely hunting dragons outside Angband but at clvl 30 my hands regularly start to hurt because of those repetitive key combinations.

Once typical problem when playing *bands in general is lingering, wandering excessively. It's just a matter of time before a bit of bad luck will get you killed.

Btw, if you're typing a lot of key combos, you should really make macros for commonly cast spells. It speeds up gameplay tremendously to just type, say, Ctrl-D for detection, Ctrl-A for Manathrust, Ctrl-G for detect monsters.

Old Tomnoddy wrote:
So I’d like to ask the more experienced players around here what their little secrets are how to survive while descending etc. And I’d like some confirmation or refutation too about whether this is just my impression or do all those spellcasters get incredibly hard to play at higher levels? Just the opposite of warrior-type characters which take ages to get to a decent level but then they eventually prove quite sturdy.

Though it's been a long time since I've played a "serious" ToME character, I think can offer some advice here.

  • Spellcasters should always be focused on a specific goal. We descending a dungeon, always find the nearest/safest exit as soon as possible using detection.
  • Never fight when multiple breathers have LoS on you. It's a recipe for disaster.
  • Don't fight anything you aren't absolutely sure you can defeat (or at least escape from 100% safely if need be).
  • Know when to quit a fight. If there's a chance you could get double-moved and insta-killed, flee.
  • If possible, stay in walls/mountains. That increases your survivability tremendously since you can then only be breathed at at point-blank range.
  • Kill summoners with splash damage (e.g. Fireflash) from outside their LoS.
  • If possible change the terrain to your advantage. This can be as simple as an ASC or a Wall Creation Blast thaumaturgy spell. Stone Prison is also great for obstructing LoS, and is easy to get out of with a single Dig.
  • I'm sure there's more stuff that I've forgotten.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:57 am 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:56 am
Posts: 1046
Oddly, it is the fact that getting to 30 is so easy for you that makes it impossible to get beyond. You can crank almost any non-weapon-dependent character up to level 30 in very short order with the house quest->shallow water->mountains route. The problem is that once you've done that, your levels are all that you have. Your gear is pathetic (everything you get is off of dungeon level 0), you haven't hit any stat-boosting potions, and you haven't completed any particularly helpful quests. All of this is fixable, mostly by picking dungeons and quests that have the gear that you need and executing on them, and possibly grinding through all of the available fumblefingers and princess quests in order. What's less fixable, though, is that you've basically fast-forwarded the character through the first 30 levels of his life, using strategies that will never be particularly effective again. Your ideas of how to play the character and survive are deeply warped, and walking through the cakewalk dungeon bits won't be enough to disabuse you of them. Thus, even if you do set yourself up with the right sorts of gear (and that's trickier than you might think, as your idea of "decent level of gear" is going to be pretty skewed at this point), when you walk into the dungeon that can actually challenge you, you wont have the right reflexes. You won't know when to tough it out, when to burn a healing potion, or when to burn a teleport scroll and just run. You won't know which princess quests are potentially doable, and which are likely to be flatly lethal. For a thaumatugist, it's even worse, because you won't actually have that bone-deep understanding of what your specific character's individual spells are for, and what situations you can use each of them most effectively in. There's no real way to get that kind of understanding of a character without leveling them the slow way.

- Also, and this is common among many *bands, once you hit 50, leveling slows way down anyway. You're in statgain mode at that point, which means that you really should be hanging around the statgain floors and not going deeper until you've maxxed at least your most important stats. The monsters that you run into after statgain are a *lot* harsher than the ones beforehand.

- Also, there are points in the game by which you really need to make sure that you have certain intrinsics. If you head into those areas without those intrinsics (say, because you're coasting through after power-leveling) then the lack of them can kill you quite dead.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:29 pm 
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Wayist

Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:49 pm
Posts: 19
Hi again,

first of all, thanks Sirrocco and Anonymous Hero for your insights. Made things a lot clearer to me!

AnonymousHero wrote:
Btw, if you're typing a lot of key combos, you should really make macros for commonly cast spells. It speeds up gameplay tremendously to just type, say, Ctrl-D for detection, Ctrl-A for Manathrust, Ctrl-G for detect monsters.

True, but for thaumaturgists I’d have to redo the mapping with every new character. With respect to the frequency of their deaths I guess it‘s more efficient without macros. (Also, playing with the Rogue key bindings I have trouble locating unused parts of my keyboard.

AnonymousHero wrote:
Spellcasters should always be focused on a specific goal. We descending a dungeon, always find the nearest/safest exit as soon as possible using detection.

Good advice. Sometimes I just can’t resist going after that giant vault or clearing that “superb” level until my inventory is full.

AnonymousHero wrote:
If possible, stay in walls/mountains. That increases your survivability tremendously since you can then only be breathed at at point-blank range.

Hmm, I ask myself: is there anywhere a guaranteed item that grants the mountain climbing intrinsic? I recall it was extremely useful at the Lonely Mountain.

Sirrocco wrote:
Oddly, it is the fact that getting to 30 is so easy for you that makes it impossible to get beyond. You can crank almost any non-weapon-dependent character up to level 30 in very short order with the house quest->shallow water->mountains route. The problem is that once you've done that, your levels are all that you have. Your gear is pathetic (everything you get is off of dungeon level 0), you haven't hit any stat-boosting potions, and you haven't completed any particularly helpful quests. All of this is fixable, mostly by picking dungeons and quests that have the gear that you need and executing on them, and possibly grinding through all of the available fumblefingers and princess quests in order. What's less fixable, though, is that you've basically fast-forwarded the character through the first 30 levels of his life, using strategies that will never be particularly effective again.

So basically, it’s all about psychology: the higher the clvl, the cockier you get – I did experience this myself and I’m still trying to figure out a remedy. What puzzles me is how this kind of asymmetric character development emerged in the first place. It just doesn’t feel right going dragon hunting with a physically pathetic spellcaster-ling right from the start. The wilderness mechanics provide huge tactical advantages for even the weakest yeek: as long as you manage to avoid being instakilled the refuge is only one move away behind the edge of the map. Monsters gone->rest->try again. (Btw. as a long-time Nethack player, the non-persistance of about everything in *bands still confuses the hell out of me even after a year or so of TOME2. But I concede that in *bands scumming is a lot more interesting than farming black puddings for hours …)

Sirrocco wrote:
For a thaumatugist, it's even worse, because you won't actually have that bone-deep understanding of what your specific character's individual spells are for, and what situations you can use each of them most effectively in. There's no real way to get that kind of understanding of a character without leveling them the slow way.

I do take some time to figure out the values of every thaumaturgy spell I get with every character – that’s essential, as is decent knowledge of divination spells. This doesn’t appear to be an issue to me. “Know your character”, however, is as imperative a motto as it could be, particularly when it comes to resistances.
TOME’s two-grade system (resistance-immunity) is actually one of its best parts. Until you obtain a source of immunity all encounters are a more or less a wager: there’s always a chance the bronze dragon or nightmare or whatever will confuse your character and in a dungeon this means certain death. After reviewing my last thaumaturgists‘s death causes I know that statistically confusion is their nemesis.

Sirrocco wrote:
Also, and this is common among many *bands, once you hit 50, leveling slows way down anyway. You're in statgain mode at that point, which means that you really should be hanging around the statgain floors and not going deeper until you've maxxed at least your most important stats. The monsters that you run into after statgain are a *lot* harsher than the ones beforehand.

I guess I’m going to have to get used to the different stages in gameplay. Am I right that they losely have this order: (1) gaining experience; (2) gaining equipment (=intrinsics); (3) gaining stats? Or are (2) and (3) to be swapped? What are the canonical locations for phase (3)? (Those monsters you referred to are still in my vivid memory: I once managed to get a kobold warrior to clvl 43 with all stats maxed out, with all the easy dungeons cleared, yet he still fell prey to a bunch of eye druj during a Mordor princess quest …)

Well; the day is still young. I’m going to take all your advice seriously and give birth to another thaumaturgist.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:14 pm 
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Wayist

Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:49 pm
Posts: 19
Hi, I’m scumming the lower levels again :). It came to my mind that I might invest some skill points into the Meta school in order to use spell binding for insta-escape. Is this a good idea or should I rather forget about it?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:57 am 
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Reaper

Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2003 11:49 pm
Posts: 1715
Location: West Virginia
I would not recommend starting out learning Tome playing thaumaturgists. The problem is that their power is totally random based on what spells they get. A high level Vision/Inertia spell makes the game a cakewalk, while elemental bolt spells are mostly useless at high level. Unfortunately you won't know whether you have a good character until you get clvl to the mid 40s.

There are several types of relatively easy types of characters to play. First is a tough swordmaster- troll, rohanknight, dunadin, ent, etc. Next is the same type of character with antimagic- no more worries about spellcasters. Third is a sorceror- pick a race with lots of hit points and don't worry about intelligence. Deathmolds are the best, but trolls, dunadin, and so on are fine. Fourth, mindcrafters are a great combination of mage and fighter. Finally, a summoning character is boring but effective.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:40 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:56 am
Posts: 1046
Apparently, I misspoke. The point where it slows down is 30.

The traditional angband development cycle is something lke the following:
- Stage 1: get enough levels and basic equipment that you're not just meat. This is usually about level 3-5 or so.
- Stage 2: develop levels, gear, and kit. (in this case, gear is what you wear, and kit is what you carry with you *all the time*). This has a number of sublayers where, for example, you make sure that you have free action before descending to a certain level, confusion resist before a different level, the 4 base resists, and so forth. Sadly, I don't happen to know what those levels are. Generally speaking, kit is bought in stores during this phase, while gear is primarily found in dungeons (with a few lucky store buys). Knowing which gear and which kit you need to progress is a big part of that "know yourself" thing. This is complicated in TOME by the existence of side dungeons that have their own particular hard requirements (for the orc caves, for example, light damage and melee defenses are more valuable. Helcaraxe loves ice immunity, but doesn't much care about fire immunity - and so forth. This stage lasts until level 30ish or so.
- Stage 3: max your stats. This involves hitting the same levels over and over and over again for stat boost potions, accumulating healing potions (and other similar-leveled largely dungeon-only consumables) and upgrading your gear as the gear comes to you. Don't try to dive past statgain levels until your pertinent stats are maxxed, as the dungeon assumes that you have, and the difficulty level rises accordingly (and precipitously).
- Stage 4: dive to Sauron, and kill him. You'll generally be picking up gear improvements and maybe a few levels along the way, but once you're done with statgain, as long as your gear is set properly, you're reasonably close to being able to just dive to game end.

Now, that's basic Angband. TOME complicates it a bit, by the addition of wilderness areas, quests (and special levels), alternate dungeons, and an uberplot.
- Quests/special levels: guaranteed rewards, and guaranteed enemies in known locations. Before you know how quests work,t hey can kill you quite dead, but after you know how they work, they're an excellent, easily controlled source of exp, predictable gear, and other benefits. Among other things, the thieves quest can take you through stage 1 all by itself. Note that the acceleration here is only your friend if you take it in moderation.
- Wilderness areas: Guaranteed enemies of predictable types in controllable environments with lousy loot. You can have all the exp you might like (up to level 30 or so) and those that care about bodies can relatively easily acquire some fairly decent ones. As previously noted, though, exp and levels is *all* that you'll get here (aside from things like identifying all of the really low-level rings). Generally use in moderation. An excellent source for scouter characters, though - crank all the way up to level 30, then play through a bunch of low-level quests so that you know what's in them and how to deal with it.
- alternate dungeons: as previously noted, there are a lot of dungeons in this world, with flavor of their own and some guaranteed rewards. Knowing which dungeons are out there and which ones are particularly beneficial/easy for your character can let you game the "I can't go down any more levels, I have no fire resistance" portion of the game to a degree.
- uberplot: unlike the traditional angband, where the plot is essentially defined by descending through the primary dungeon, TOME's uberplot is almost entirely in the quests and side dungeons. Descending through the main dungeon is still worthwhile (especially for the fumblefinger quests) but the main dungeons are (up until pretty close to the end) more dungeons that one goes through to develop skill and power for dealign with other things than the place where one iterates the plot itself.


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