When we left our plucky halfing assassin last week, he was about to shoot a dangerous human hero with a nasty poisoned needle…
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Inck sucked in a lungful of dank dungeon air, pressed his lips to the blowgun, and exhaled mightily. The curare needle flew out of the tube, cut through the gloom, and embedded itself in Terence’s unprotected throat.
The big human yelped, more in irritation than agony, and started towards Inck, somehow able to see the little halfling in the shadows. However, he only managed two steps before his skin flushed and his breathing became laboured. Inck fumbled another needle into the blowgun and fired again. Terence thrashed and jived, as though to eject the poison from his blood through force of movement alone. It didn’t last long.
Bam! Here we see the power of curare for the first time. Not only does it deliver a massive dose of poison, it also slows enemies down.
Inck plucked the needles out of Terence’s bloated flesh before hurrying to investigate the rest of the floor. Flushed with pride from his success, he almost didn’t hear the raucous noise of an orc raiding party before he walked into their midst. Fortunately, he saw them before they saw him, and he was able to dart behind a wall.
Packs of orcs can be extremely dangerous to meet this early in a character’s life. They’re often accompanied by a magician or a priest, the former able to cast spells that Inck can’t resist yet, and the latter being able to invoke the power of the orc god Beogh to smite his arse for hefty damage. The orcs themselves are a step above the other monsters Inck has faced so far, too.
Inck fondled his Putrid Penetrator nervously. He could run away, take one of the staircases down to the next level, maybe come back later. Or he could deal with them now. His monobrow creased as he thought. He could have run away from Terence, but he’d killed Terence, no problem. Maybe the orcs would be just as easy.
He stepped out from his hiding place. One of the patrolling orcs caught a glimpse of him. Not enough for it to know what he was, but enough to draw it closer.
Inck waited till he could see the yellow of the orc’s eyes before burying his blade in its solar plexus. A bellow escaped the beast’s maw, and Inck heard shouts as its mates were alerted. He fled into the parts of the dungeon he’d already explored, hoping to scatter his pursuers.
You’re likely to do quite a bit of running away in Crawl. When you do, it’s always a good idea to retreat into parts of the dungeon you’ve already seen: the last thing you want is to stumble onto a trap or attract more enemies.
He paused in secluded area to try out some of the scrolls he’d picked up.
The first he read flashed a brilliant yellow before fizzling into nothingness.
A scroll of Random Uselessness, which is exactly as described.
The second made his dagger glint red.
Score! A scroll of Enchant Weapon II adds a point of extra damage to the weapon you’re wielding. The Putrid Penetrator is now at a respectable +2, +3.
The third caused his cloak to tighten on his shoulders and grow cold.
A scroll of Curse Armour, which curses a random piece of armour that your character is wearing. Cursed armour and weapons can’t be unequipped until the curse is removed by using certain scrolls or spells. Inck not being able to take his cloak off also means he can’t change his armour until it’s uncursed, but this isn’t a disaster at the moment. Cursed items are indicated by a red background in the inventory, as you can see with the cloak in the below screenshot.
The orcs were no match for Inck as individuals, and soon even the priest and magician fell to his stinky blade. In celebration, he ate a wedge of cheese he’d found lying on the floor.
Food is a huge part of the Dungeon Crawl experience. For many characters, the game is a race to beat starvation by hurrying down the dungeon, searching for sustenance to fuel magic and abilities. Food is particularly important for spellcasters, as every spell in the game has a food penalty, while ghouls, in classic zombie fashion, rot at a constant rate and need flesh to avoid degradation.
I won’t touch on it too deeply here, as Inck shouldn’t have to worry about it quite as much as other characters, owing to his slow halfling metabolism and lack of food draining skills.
Inck moved more cautiously, now realising that the deeper he went, the more dangerous it would become. He poked his head round a corner and saw an ogre slumped on the floor, at rest, snoring and farting in steady rhythm. Seizing the opportunity, Inck leap forward and gutted the beast with lightning fast stabs and slashes.
Killing sleeping monsters is one of the best things you can do as an assassin. He’d have a tough time going toe-to-toe with an ogre—it could turn him to paste in about two hits.
Inck pulled the Penetrator out of the ogre’s belly and flexed his tiny biceps in triumph. It seemed like nothing in this dungeon could match him. More goblins, kobolds, and orcs fell as he explored the level.
A cold voice out of the darkness stopped him in his tracks.
“There is no future for you.” A figure followed the voice, hideous and deformed, wielding a huge axe. Inck recognised it as Careful the Demonspawn, an exile seeking redemption in the depths of the dungeon. Careful had been a formidable creature before, who knew what vile strength it had attained before dying? Inck turned tail and ran. To his horror, the ghost was catching up with unearthly speed, gliding smoothly over the stones, swing its axe wildly. A rat, perhaps sensing scavenging opportunities, gave chase. Careful’s ghost’s monologue was interrupted with a yelp as the rat ran in front. Inck saw the apparition hesitate, and made it to the stairs.
Ghosts are immune to poison and Careful was at a higher level than Inck when he died. We get a bit of luck here, though, as the ghost was blocked off by a helpful rat as it pursued Inck down the corridor, allowing him to reach the stairs back up safely. Stairs are extremely useful for escaping enemies. Ghosts can’t leave the level they originate on, and regular enemies can only follow if they’re on squares next to the stairs when you ascend or descend.
Inck took a moment to catch his breath before taking a different set of stairs, far away from where he last saw the ghost. He crept about, eyes and ears sharp for any signs of the vengeful spectre, but there was no sign.
Instead, he found a pool of phosphorescent water and a drain. Unable to resist the call of sewage, Inck splashed through the shallows and slithered into the slimy orifice.
The Sewers are a Portal area leading to a separate mini-dungeon that will occur only once in a game. They often contain some interesting loot and fairly easy monsters, so in we go.