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Messages - dtsund

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Discussion / Re: A Beginner's Guide to DoomRL
« on: January 18, 2017, 01:59 »
I couldn't begin to imagine why you'd say such a thing!  They've been here all along, and I certainly didn't just reupload everything to imgur.

Discussion / Re: Babel on AoPc?
« on: April 26, 2013, 13:14 »
Enter Babel with plenty of Invulnerability duration left (#2: Gatekeeper).

Alternately, do Babel as Fireangel; it's pretty easy to defeat the Cyberdemon without taking damage with that trait.

Discussion / Re: Opinions on new special levels needed!
« on: April 17, 2013, 13:42 »
Killing stuff in doorways disposes of their corpses, and it's not hard to find a doorway in Hell's Armory.  Just sayin'.

Why'd you install the library manually?  Do it using your distro's own package manager; what you did is asking for headaches like this without end.

Discussion / Re: A Beginner's Guide to DoomRL
« on: April 14, 2013, 16:13 »
Also, I don't know if you mentionned masterless builds. I think you introduced things like "choose a mastery first", but as I said with Shottyhead, masterless build can sometimes be a great choice, since most masteries block useful skills.

Just noticed this; masterless builds was a deliberate omission, since my target audience for this guide is mostly rank beginners.  Masterless builds can indeed be powerful, but the prerequisites for mastery traits tend to gently push you in the direction of specialization in a useful way.  When you're still learning the game and the trait system, I think this makes things more manageable.

Discussion / Re: A Beginner's Guide to DoomRL
« on: April 14, 2013, 16:09 »
Apologies for the delay; got distracted by taxes and AliensRL testing.

A Beginner's Guide To DoomRL, Part 4: Advanced Tactics

This chapter will cover a few of the advanced tactics you can take advantage of in DoomRL.  This is by no means a comprehensive guide to everything you can do to stay alive; it merely covers some of the more commonly useful tactics.

Use of Sound

This is something that doesn't really come across in pictures, but it's often extremely useful to pay attention to the game's sound effects.

That arch-vile on the left is out of Doomguy's line of sight.  I can see it here thanks to the effects of a Tracking Map, but even if I couldn't, I'd still know one was somewhere in there.  Arch-viles periodically make a very distinctive "chuckling" noise as they walk around, and DoomRL has directional sound; since the arch-vile noise (dsvilact.wav in the wav or wavhq folder, in case you're curious) was coming from the left, I knew there was one in that direction, and I could tell approximately how close it was by how loud the noise was.

Many of the game's most dangerous foes have sound effects unique to them - in fact, I'd say the only really dangerous foe that you can't specifically hear coming is the former commando (which shares most of its sound effects with former humans/sergeants/captains).

For the purposes of being able to hear the sound effects well, I recommend either turning the music volume down or going without it altogether (I'll touch on how to do that in an epilogue), or, if you're playing on a Windows system, downloading the low quality version of the game.  The primary difference between the low and high quality versions is that the low quality version uses MIDI versions of Doom's music, whereas the high quality version uses Sonic Clang's metal remixes of same in mp3 form.  I personally prefer the MIDI music myself anyway, but even apart from that preference, I find that the Sonic Clang music at the default volume tends to drown out the sound effects.  Non-Windows systems often have difficulty dealing with .midi files; on Linux, you'll need to install a MIDI-parsing program like TiMidity yourself if you want to use the low-quality version.  OS X doesn't have an officially supported low quality version at all, for exactly this reason.

Shotgun Scouting

Sometimes, while you'll have a good idea that something nasty is somewhere to the left of you, you'll want to know more exactly where it is.  As it happens, there's a method that often helps pinpoint where your foes are... and where they aren't.

Recall the figure depicting the area of effect of the various shotgun types:

The blasts from regular and combat shotguns, as you can see, extend far beyond your LOS radius.  What's more, just as enemies have distinct idle sound effects, they have their own sound effects for when they take damage; firing a shotgun through that door and listening for the arch-vile's pain sound can tell me more about where the vile is.  Shotgun scouting also has another implication, which I'll discuss shortly.


Not all enemies can open doors, and no enemies will try to shoot you through them.  The simple act of closing a door can occasionally make the difference between getting away from an encounter scot-free and taking a serious beating.  Even if your enemies can open doors, closing a door to break LOS followed by hitting tab to start running can give you enough of a headstart to get away from an encounter completely.  Closing a door temporarily can stop an exchange of fire long enough for a reload, if you need one.  And always remember that you can destroy doors by shooting at them, even from a distance:

Rather than stand your ground and fight, it's much smarter in a situation like this to close the door, get some distance on the demons, and shoot it back open.  The demons will have to traverse more ground to reach you, which means taking more shotgun blasts to the face, which in turn means you're much less likely to get mauled by them.


I'm not, presently, in cover from that hell knight.  If I had Brute, it might be a good idea to just rush it with my chainsaw, but in this case I don't; standing my ground and fighting, with my chainsaw or my shotgun, is likely to hurt.  But by drawing him through that chokepoint to the left, moving in a zigzag fashion so as to repeatedly sidestep his attacks, I can make the situation a lot more favorable:

Drawing enemies through chokepoints can be a valuable thing to do, as it gives you a lot of control over where they go.  This is especially true in cases like this one, where there happens to be some good cover near the chokepoint; chokepoints with nearby cover are extremely valuable terrain features, and you should try learning to recognize them.  But it's not just cover that makes chokepoints good; getting a cluster of enemies to rush at you through a chokepoint limits how many can attack you at once while simultaneously setting them up for heavy damage from area of effect weapons like shotguns and rocket launchers.


However, you can't just expect enemies to follow you wherever you go.  Generally, unless monsters have been provoked, they won't simply wander into your line of sight; you have to do something to get their attention first.  An enemy that's been shooting repeatedly at you will usually follow you; an enemy that's taken a single shot at you before you duck back behind cover might not.  One surefire way to get something's attention and make it approach you is to shoot at it.  Enemies that have been shot at will pursue you for a while (but not indefinitely) even outside of their line of sight.  It's usually easiest to hit something outside of LOS with a shotgun blast, especially if you don't know exactly where it is.  This is the other good use for shotgun scouting: getting enemies to approach you when you've got a good defensive position.


Shooting enemies isn't the only way to coax them to a good position, though.  As I've mentioned before, some enemies can and will pick up and use items (med-packs, armor, and phase devices): formers, hell knights, and barons of hell.  Notably, if they aren't currently chasing you and they see a medpack, phase device, or better armor than they're already wearing on the ground, they'll make a beeline for it and grab it.  You can take advantage of this.

When any of those former sergeants to the left wander near this open door, they'll see at least one of the medpacks, head over toward them... and then take a shotgun blast right to the face once they pass through the door.  On the higher difficulty levels, "gift-dropping" is a very valuable technique to save med-packs that have been taken by former humans/sergeants/captains, as instakilling them with a shotgun prevents them from using them up.  It might be possible to save one from a former commando in this way, but that'll probably require either a double shotgun, a good damage roll, and an unarmored commando OR a powerful melee strike; if a hell knight or baron gets one, you can usually write it off as lost (burst build Doomguys with hyperblasters can kill hell knights quickly enough, but don't necessarily need to get close to do so).  It's also a good tactic to keep in mind for melee builds who'd rather not get shot repeatedly whilst engaging in Leeroy Jenkins tactics.

Powerup Usage

Obviously, there are good times and bad times to take powerups.  Taking a small health globe when you're already at 200% health is clearly wasteful; what's less obvious is that it can likewise be a waste to take one when you're at 70% health.  Keep in mind that your first few turns on a level are often the most unpredictable and dangerous.  Saving a few powerups for the next level can save your life, or at least your med-packs, should you find yourself staring down a horde of arachnotrons as soon as you advance.

By no means are these rules here hard and fast; at the end of the day, you'll often have to rely on your own judgment.  These guidelines can give you a starting point when thinking about the problem, though.

Computer Maps and Tracking Maps should be picked up as soon as it's convenient (read: you're not likely to get shot at while doing so).  This is especially true if it's a Tracking Map or you're playing as a Technician; the information they give is extremely valuable, and there's no downside to grabbing them early.

Armor Shards should be taken when your armor of choice is at 75% durability or below.  If you're wearing your b-list armor to preserve your best armor's durability and you see one of these, it might be time to switch to your good armor if it isn't banged up; the damage it takes in the near future can easily be undone.

Small Health Globes should be taken if your health is critically low and there aren't any large health globes around, OR if you've taken a few hits and want to restore tactics to Cautious.  In particular, if you find a few of them in one place, keep in mind that each one is a license to start running to avoid damage - don't be afraid to hit tab!  If there are some of these left over when finishing a floor, be sure to scoop them up to go into the next level with an overheal.

Large Health Globes should be your healing of first resort when your health gets dangerously low.  They don't overheal any more effectively than their smaller counterparts, so there's not much point in saving them for the end of the level in favor of the small version.  If a mixture of Small and Large Health Globes remains after clearing a floor, take one of the Large ones first; that'll usually maximize your total overheal.

Supercharge Globes and Megaspheres should, if possible, be saved for the end.  Going into a new level with almost 200% health lets you soak up a lot of RNG malice gracefully.  They can be useful as a super-heal before fighting something nasty, but usage of other powerups first is preferable (unless, of course, there's more than one available...).

Invulnerability Globe: Flippant version: see Supercharge Globe, but replace "almost 200% health" with "complete invincibility".  Less flippant version: the invulnerability effect, if the Globe is far from the staircase, often won't last long into the next floor; in that case, use it to help clear out the current floor when something unpleasant gets close to you.  There are also cases when the thing you're dealing with right now is simply more dangerous than anything you're likely to see at the start of the next floor; if you're dealing with a mess of arch-viles and arachnotrons, by all means go invulnerable immediately.  If the terrain allows it, you can sometimes squeeze a bit more usefulness out of an Invulnerability Globe by chaining rocket jumps toward where you want to be (possibly the staircase).

Berserk Pack: By and large, use them like you'd use Invulnerability Globes.  These are quite common in the early game.  Keep in mind that their effects stack, and that grabbing two in quick succession will give you an extra-long berserk effect; this is only sometimes a wasteful thing to do.

Light-Amp Goggles: Unlike the other temporary powerups, this one is probably best used sooner rather than later.  If you wind up in trouble on entering a new floor, it tends to be the sort of trouble that isn't significantly improved by having a bigger LOS radius.  Conversely, as you're advancing through a floor, seeing things before they can see you can be useful to save your resources.


Levers have various effects when pulled, some of which are good and some of which are bad.  Let's run down the list of common effects (uncommon effects are specific to certain special levels or are indicated by a level feeling):

"Suddenly water starts gushing from the ground!": The current room is filled with water.  This is mostly a cosmetic effect, but its (very few) gameplay effects typically work in your favor.  If the room's walls have been destroyed by any means, the lever fills only those tiles that the room originally comprised - this is true of the other liquid-generating levers as well.  With one rank in Intuition, this is given as a neutral effect.

"Green acid covers the floor!": The current room is filled with acid.  Harmful, but not usually deadly if you start running immediately (running halves damage from acid and lava before boot protection is applied) and head for a room exit.  With one rank in Intuition, this is given as a dangerous effect.

"The ground explodes in flames!": The current room is filled with lava.  This effect is a lot deadlier than the acid, and if the lever is far from an exit, you may need to burn a consumable to escape alive.  With one rank in Intuition, this is given as a dangerous effect.

"The walls explode!": The current room's walls are removed.  This is usually a bad thing for you, since you tend to rely on cover more than enemies do, but can be safely ignored if nothing happens to be around you.  With one rank in Intuition, this is given as a dangerous effect.

[No message]: Detonates every exploding barrel on the floor.  With one rank in Intuition, this is given as a neutral effect, but I'd say it skews against the player; while it often damages a lot of enemies, it also destroys powerups and items.

[No message]: Spawns some depth-appropriate enemies adjacent to you.  These enemies won't start acting for a few seconds, so you can often kill them before they get a chance to attack you, but you won't get any experience from them.  They will drop ammo, however, if they're ammo-bearing enemies.  With one rank in Intuition, this is given as a dangerous effect, but it can actually work in your favor if you come out ahead in ammo.  This lever can be pulled 1d3 times before it vanishes.

"MediTech depot.  Proceeding with treatment...": Restores your health to the same extent as a small health globe.  It does not restore tactics to Cautious, however.  This lever can be pulled 1d3 times before it vanishes, and is listed as a beneficial lever with one rank in Intuition.

"Armor depot.  Proceeding with repair of equipped armor...": Repairs your armor to the same extent as an armor shard.  This lever can be pulled 1d3 times before it vanishes, and is listed as a beneficial lever with one rank in Intuition.

"The smell of blood surrounds you!": Deals 20 damage to all enemies in the room.  Enemies killed by this lever do not leave corpses or drop weapons/ammo/picked up items, but still yield their normal experience.  With one rank in Intuition, this is given as a beneficial effect; early on, though, it can be undesirable if it kills a lot of formers carrying your ammo type of choice.

So, when should you pull levers?  The first thing to notice is that there's only one lever that'll usually help you if pulled mid-fight (the damage-dealing one); all the other levers will either not change the situation significantly, help just as much if you wait until you're not fighting anymore, or complicate matters.  Additionally, the damage lever will only instantly kill weaker enemies; against anything more resilient than a demon, the lever will only hurt the monster for a fraction of its health, and the lever's likely to get blown up as you approach it anyway.

What I'm getting at here is that you should usually only pull levers if you're already reasonably safe.

Moreover, you shouldn't pull levers when low on health hoping for a MediTech depot unless you're very desperate; acid, lava, and monsters will all be dangerous results in that case.  Usually, when a MediTech lever is useful in a non-Intuition game, you'll have pulled it once when not in trouble earlier, identified it, and made a note to return to it later after taking some damage.

Pulling a lever near a room exit is a lot safer than pulling one far from any doors.  Occasionally, if there are a lot of spare rockets on the floor of the level, it might be a good idea to poke a hole in a wall near the lever before trying it (but not so close that the explosion will consume the lever too).

The real reasons to pull levers are the armor depots.  If you're confident that you can handle the bad effects, putting on a good but beat-up set of armor before pulling a lever can be very rewarding; on average, an armor depot lever will restore 50% of its durability, and can restore as much as 75%!

Oh, and for obvious reasons, you should push any nearby barrels away before you pull a lever.  The last thing you want is to get caught in an explosion that you just caused.

Level Feelings

Let's run through the common level feelings, and how you should respond to them:

"You feel a breeze of morbid air..."/"You sense a passage to a place beyond..."/"You shiver from cold...": These three level feelings are used interchangeably to indicate the presence of a special level.  Play normally; when you see the special level, decide whether it's worth it to attempt it.  I'll talk about the game's special levels in greater detail in the next chapter of this guide.

"There's something special here..."/"There's the smell of blood in the air!"/"You feel excited!": These three feelings are used interchangeably to indicate the presence of a vault.  Vaults are enclosed rooms with one door leading into them (occasionally, you'll find one with no door; if you do, there'll be a lever somewhere else on the level that opens it) filled with monsters of a single type and some out of depth loot.  Very early in games on I'm Too Young To Die! difficulty, you'll sometimes find former humans guarding the loot (likely taking any med-packs, armor, and phase devices for themselves; gift-drop to lure them out and blast them with your shotgun so they don't consume them), but mostly they're guarded by lost souls, demons, or cacodemons.  You can usually tell the location of the vault, as well as what type of monster is in it, by listening; vaults tend to make a tremendous racket.  In the early-game, you usually want to head for the vault quickly, especially if you're playing a nascent shotgun build (which can handle demons and lost souls especially easily); the treasure inside will help you clear out the rest of the floor, and you want to get it before anything else on the floor dies.  Later on, when the loot's probably being guarded by cacodemons, it may be wiser to clear out the rest of the floor before opening it so you don't get interrupted.  Head for the vault, clear out everything around it so it doesn't get raided, and expand from there.

"You feel there is something really valuable here!": One of the uniques was generated.  Don't worry about accidentally destroying it, since they're indestructible, but be a little less ready to abandon the floor before thoroughly exploring it than you otherwise might be.  N.B.: If the unique was a piece of armor, it might get picked up by an enemy!

"Twisted passages carry the smell of death...": It's a cave-type level:

Cave levels have an organic, cavernous layout with little cover and are usually filled with a single enemy type (in, you sometimes find caves with a mixture of the eligible enemy types).  Early on, the enemies will probably be lost souls or demons, easily dealt with; later, cacodemons and arachnotrons become eligible.  Stumbling into an arachnotron cave is usually a good reason to use a few choice swearwords, and frequently grounds to start running immediately and make a frantic dash for the exit.  On the higher difficulty levels, you can also get pain elemental caves, which, frankly, tend to be easier than the arachnotron caves.  On the bright side, no cave enemies can use items, so any loot that gets generated is yours for the taking.

"Where the hell is the way out of here!?!": It's a maze-type level.  In older versions, maze levels consisted of one space wide corridors, similar to a NetHack Gehennom level, but now they're two spaces wide.  This change, plus the addition of rivers, made mazes much easier to navigate (they're not noticeably harder to traverse than most other levels), but the terrain can sometimes be a little tricky to fight in.  More importantly, though, maze levels also have more enemies on them than is typical for the current depth.

"Suddenly monsters come from everywhere!": Hope you don't like cover!  You've arrived in the center of an arena-type level, and there's almost none of it.  There are four staircases out of the level instead of the usual one, all in the corners of the level (not counting the special level staircase if there is one; that one can be anywhere).  About half of the monsters are flagged to charge your position even if they can't see you, so the first few dozen turns on arena levels tend to be extremely hectic.  Arenas probably aren't quite as nasty as arachnotron caves, but they come close.

"Khe, he, he.  This will be a mess...": The level is packed with exploding barrels.

Be very careful not to stand too close to any while fighting and try not to rely too heavily on shotguns (especially shotgun scouting) if you can avoid it - one big chain reaction can seriously hurt you or make a lot of the level's items and powerups evaporate instantly.

"The air is really humid here...": There's a lever on the level that will turn all floor tiles into water.  For the most part, this doesn't matter much.

"In the state of Denmark there was the odor of decay...": There's a lever that will turn all floor tiles into acid.  Do not pull any levers, unless they're mere steps from the staircase or you have special boots with 100% acid resistance (such as the cerberus boots assembly).  You'll probably regret it if you do.

"You feel that smell?  That gasoline smell?  Oh hell...": As above, but with lava.  Definitely do not pull any levers, unless you have a source of 100% lava resistance.

"You hear the trumpets of Jericho echoing in the distance...": There is a lever that will destroy all of the walls on the level.  Generally, this means you shouldn't try messing with levers before killing all the enemies, but that's kind of a good idea anyway.

"The smell of a massacre...": There's a "The smell of blood surrounds you!" lever that affects the entire floor.  Early on, I'd rank the effect as more amusing than really helpful; it tends to wipe out the entire floor, but at that stage, you tend to want the ammo drops.  But man, is it ever fun.  Later on, hitting everything for a flat 20 damage is kind of nice, if not especially amazing.

"As you enter, some weird alarm starts howling!": Every monster on the floor knows where you are and hunts you constantly.  If you can get to cover quickly, do so.

"Descending the staircase, you see a familiar object...": A nuke is armed as soon as you enter the floor, and you have a limited time until it explodes.  You can survive the explosion by being under the effects of an invulnerability globe, but nothing else will save you short of being on a different level.  Find the staircase out as soon as you can before settling down to clear the floor out and loot it, and keep an eye on the game's periodic reminders of how much time you have left.  Head for the exit when time starts running low.  Keep in mind that the timer is based on time, not turn count, so if you've got tactical armor and/or boots, this would be a good time to wear them.

"The air seems deadly here, you better leave quick!": Your health (along with the health of all monsters) is gradually drained simply by being on the level.  Using an envirosuit pack nullifies the effect.  You'll want to play these levels a bit more quickly than normal, but as long as you remember to keep an eye on your health, take restorative powerups as needed (be a bit less concerned about saving them for the next level when this effect is in play), and don't dawdle, it tends to be more scary than truly dangerous.

"You feel the sudden need to run!!!": You start on one end of the level; the staircase out is on the other end.  Acid (or, later on higher difficulties, lava) will gradually flood the entire map starting from the side you arrived on.

While this event puts pressure on you right (or possibly left) from the start, don't lose your head; advancing incautiously can be more dangerous than the acid itself.  Phase devices won't drop you into acid or lava, so they can be helpful if you find yourself cornered.  Sometimes, it might be necessary to break out your heaviest weaponry, clear a path, and run or rocket jump through it.  Perhaps cruelly, if there's a staircase to a special level, it can be anywhere on the floor.

"Yes... hell just froze over...": The walls are all made of ice, which will break when hit by anything.  Any cover you find will be extremely short-lived; you'll need to trade hits more than you'd probably like to, so be ready to use your strongest weapons.  You generally won't encounter this except on the higher difficulty levels, and it's rare even then.

"The walls here seem tough!": The walls are indestructible.  This isn't quite as nasty as ice walls, but the inability to alter the terrain with explosions isn't something to be happy about.

There are others, but don't expect to see them outside of the Angel of 100 challenge on high difficulties.

Corpse Disposal

When dealing with arch-viles (especially in the Mortuary), playing on the Nightmare! difficulty setting, or playing the Angel of Darkness challenge, corpses can come back to life.  This is generally a bad thing, even if resurrected enemies farmably drop the same ammo they dropped the first time, so you'll want to prevent this.  One of the ways you can do this is by making sure there's no corpse to revive at all.

First, there are a few ways to make sure enemies don't leave corpses.  Corpses are, effectively, their own terrain type; only one can occupy a square, they can only be dropped on certain types of terrain, and dropping a corpse on a square already containing one overwrites it.  In particular, if an enemy dies standing in liquid, in the middle of a doorway, or on a staircase, it won't leave a corpse, though it'll still drop ammo/items in the latter cases.  Luring an enemy over another enemy's corpse before killing it ensures that the two enemies will only have left one corpse to resurrect, cutting down on future re-killing work.

There are also some more direct ways of dealing with corpses.  Hitting an enemy with a powerful enough attack will "gib" it, preventing it from leaving behind a corpse or any items (in practice, usually the rocket launcher against weak foes will actually do this, though).  Once a corpse has been left behind, catching it in the radius of any sort of explosion will also destroy it.

I will say, though, that dealing with this stuff is the primary reason I don't much enjoy playing on Nightmare! difficulty.  It's almost never necessary anywhere else.


When shooting at your enemies, it's not necessary to directly target the square they're standing on.  Sometimes, it's smarter to abuse the game's line algorithms for fun and profit.

In the above image, firing my chaingun the way I'm targeting it right now is quite likely to result in my untimely demise.  Any bullets that don't hit the former human will likely hit the acid barrel behind it, blowing it up and catching me in the explosion.  Even if the former human were resilient enough to take all of the shots and survive (it isn't), there's still the fact that some of my shots are simply going to miss him.  Solution:

Adjust my aim a bit so that the bullet's trajectory still passes through his square, but not the barrel.

You can take advantage of this in more offensive ways, as well:

Any shots I fire from my chaingun here that miss the demon will simply be wasted.  Why not put them to good use instead?

By shifting my aim a little, I can make sure any shots that miss the demon or are fired after it dies will still get a chance to hit the former human.  With a proper burst build setup, this'd probably kill both targets at the cost of only one shot!

Shotguns, in particular, occasionally benefit from indirect fire:

If I targeted this shotgun blast directly at either of these two former humans, it'd only hit one of them.  By aiming between them, however, I can catch both of them in the blast, and there's no damage penalty for hitting something indirectly with a shotgun blast - a hit is a hit.

And here, I'm aiming a little away from that lost soul so that the barrel of acid won't get hit by my shotgun blast.  It's close enough to the small med-pack to catch it in its explosion, so there's a chance that the med-pack would get eaten by the blast, and med-packs are valuable enough to avoid destroying so casually.

(If I were using that double shotgun just to the south, I'd need to skew my aim a bit further off to avoid hitting the barrel, because of its wider spread.)

Feel free to comment on any important tactics you think I might have overlooked; this is one chapter I might need to expand!

Next time: An overview of the special levels.

Thanks! I guess I'll try that sometime. Does this mean you can rocket jump repeatedly and right through in between the bruiser brothers? x)
Yes (especially since Fireangel means Shottyman means you don't even need to stand still to reload your launcher), but you can only get Gatekeeper Platinum this way - Diamond requires you to kill everything.

Good point, though a master before anomaly sounds a bit tight. You might be limited to UV and N! for that.

Pretty much, but it makes Gatekeeper Diamond a snap.

A little bit late as a reply, but you can totally rocket jump for the purposes of Gatekeeper badges... provided you have Fireangel.

Discussion / Re: A Beginner's Guide to DoomRL
« on: April 04, 2013, 01:32 »
I didn't say Hellrunner wasn't useful for pistol and burst builds, I just said it was less useful for them than it is for melee and shotguns.  There are certainly times when they'll want to run and dodge, they just need to do so less often than melee and shotgun builds will, and Hellrunner is correspondingly a lower priority trait for them.  Same goes for Eagle Eye and pistols; like I said, it's useful for them, just not as critical as for a pure burst build.

I like Blademaster quite a bit!  All I meant when I said it was the weakest of the melee Master Traits was that the trait itself, in a vacuum, is generally weaker than, say, Malicious Blades.  But in real games, the traits don't exist in a vacuum, and Malicious Blades comes at the serious penalty of not being able to take Berserker.  And as awesome as Blademaster is in the City of Skulls (and if someone reading this has never taken a Blademaster there, you owe it to yourself to do so), most levels aren't the City of Skulls.

Your point about fireproof armor on Malicious Blades, though, is well-taken; I'll amend that section accordingly.

Discussion / Re: A Beginner's Guide to DoomRL
« on: April 03, 2013, 17:52 »
I've edited the corrections in (thanks!), and added a diagram showing the rough areas affected by each type of shotgun blast.

EDIT: Actually, I think that diagram is wrong.  I'll fix it later tonight.

Discussion / Re: A Beginner's Guide to DoomRL
« on: April 02, 2013, 23:53 »
A Beginner's Guide To DoomRL, Part 3: How To Train Your Doomguy

In today's update, I'll be discussing how to put together a coherent character build in DoomRL.  Making a good DoomRL character and knowing what his strengths and weaknesses are goes a long way toward surviving the depths of Hell.

Note: This will probably be the densest update in the series!  Don't expect to absorb it all in one sitting; it might be better to just pick one of the four build types and skim the parts that aren't relevant to it.

This list of traits is one of the first things you see on starting a game of DoomRL; you take one of these traits at the start, and get to take one more each time Doomguy levels up (the "only" benefit of gaining levels is getting an additional trait; nothing else changes).  It's an intimidating list, but by the end of this lesson, it should be a lot more approachable.  For now, just know that the game's traits come in three tiers.  Ironman through Brute on that list are the "Basic Traits", which can be taken from the start; all of them can be thought of as basic stat boosts.  Badass through Whizkid are the "Advanced Traits", which generally give Doomguy capabilities he didn't have before, and which have prerequisites before they can be taken.  And Vampyre through Survivalist are the "Master Traits"; all of them have hefty prerequisites (and are incompatible with certain other traits!), you can only take one of them, and they're all very powerful. 

First, let's note up front that there are four broad types of character builds, each emphasizing a particular kind of weapon.  Most successful DoomRL characters stick to one or two of them and take their traits accordingly:

Pistol builds are focused on the use of, well, pistols.  Pistols are weak by themselves, but can become very powerful if you take the appropriate traits.  Pistol-based builds are very versatile; they tend to get a lot of damage done without spending a lot of ammo, which frees up inventory space you can use for luxuries like extra medpacks or rockets, for the times when pistols just don't cut it.  Pistol-oriented builds rarely run into ammo issues.

Shotgun builds are based around the use of shotguns at the start, and later on combat shotguns and double shotguns.  Shotguns have excellent crowd-control capabilities, and their knockback means shotgun users can often make better use of cover than other builds can, but they sometimes have issues against single, powerful targets - especially if said target is heavily armored.  Shotgun builds occasionally run into ammo issues very late in the game; it's good practice, when running a shotgun build, to take every shell box you find so you can raid them as needed.

Burst builds are based around the use of the chaingun and plasma rifle as primary weapons.  Well-made burst builds have the highest general-purpose DPS in the game, usually at the cost of needing a lot of ammo to fuel the huge quantities of lead and/or plasma with which the Doomguy's filling the air.

Melee builds are based around the use of melee attacks.  Melee attacks can be ridiculously powerful, and being in melee range means a lot of enemies aren't using their most dangerous attacks.  However, it can also sometimes be hard to get close enough to use them.  If you're majoring in melee, you'll probably need to minor in something else.  N.B.: while melee fighters have no trouble landing their attacks even with the accuracy penalty from running, running also cuts melee damage in half. 

With that, let's get into the traits.  Rather than discuss all of the Basic Traits first, followed by the Advanced Traits, I'm instead going to group them together based on what the prerequisites are (so, for example, Juggler will get mentioned alongside Finesse, because Finesse is the prerequisite for Juggler).  For each trait, I'll discuss how it's useful, and tell you what build types they work best with.

In all cases where I don't mention how many times a trait can be taken for extra effect, the trait can only be taken once.


Ironman (Basic): Gives 10 extra HP (recall that the default maximum is 50).  Taking points in Ironman is the only way to increase Doomguy's maximum HP.  It's pretty much equally useful to all builds, but unlike every other Basic Trait, it doesn't lead to any Advanced Traits.  As such, this tends to be a trait to take later rather than sooner.

Initially, you can take up to three levels of Ironman.  If you hit level 12 (which typically only happens when playing on higher difficulty levels), you are allowed to take two more.


Finesse (Basic): Reduces the time taken by your attacks by 15%.  The effect is additive rather than multiplicative; two levels of Finesse reduce time taken by 30% (this is true of all speed-increasing traits).  As with Ironman, this is useful for everyone.

Initially, you can take up to two levels of Finesse.  At level 12, you're allowed to take one more.

Juggler (Advanced, requires Finesse 1): Allows you to switch between your primary weapon and your off-hand weapon (with the Z key) without taking any time.  If your off-hand weapon is a melee weapon, the game even swaps to it automatically if you try to attack in melee.  What's more (and I suspect this part might be a bug), using the 0-9 hotkeys to ready one of the game's main weapon types does so instantly too, even from your inventory!  I usually don't bother with this trait, but for what it's worth, everyone benefits about equally from it; it can be useful if you stick a panic weapon in your off-hand slot for instant access.

Whizkid (Advanced, requires Finesse 2): As stated in the previous lesson, weapons, armor, and boots can normally only take one mod-pack each.  Each level of Whizkid lets you apply two extra mod-packs to weapons and one extra mod-pack to armor and boots.  This happens to have some pretty significant implications, which I'll discuss later; for now, suffice to say that Whizkid is a very useful trait for everyone.


Hellrunner (Basic): Ah, a trait that doesn't help all builds equally.  Where Finesse reduces attack time by 15%, Hellrunner reduces movement time by 15% and grants +15% to sidestepping chance.  This is most useful for the build types that do a lot of running around: shotgun builds, which tend to run for cover, and melee builds, which need to close distance.  Pistol and burst builds are more likely to stand their ground and shoot, and Hellrunner is correspondingly less useful for them.

Initially, you can take up to two levels of Hellrunner.  At level 12, you're allowed to take one more.

Dodgemaster (Advanced, requires Hellrunner 2): If you make a sidestepping move, and an enemy shoots at you, its first shot is guaranteed to be successfully sidestepped.  Rapid-fire enemies can still hit you with their non-first shots (but your levels in Hellrunner still help avoid them), and sidestepping an explosive does you little good if you still get caught in the blast, but this is still extremely good; the trait is basically an "I Win" button against the Cyberdemon.  As with Hellrunner, works best with shotgun and melee builds.


Tough as Nails (Basic): Grants you an intrinsic point of armor, stacking with any armor you choose to wear.  Well suited for burst and melee builds, which often take a lot of hits.

Initially, you can take up to two levels of Tough as Nails.  At level 12, you're allowed to take one more.

Badass (Advanced, requires Tough as Nails 2): One level reduces all knockback by 1 space and allows you to maintain an overheal of up to 150% without it decaying.  A second level reduces knockback by 1 further space and prevents all overheal decay.  Melee builds really appreciate the knockback reduction.

As you've probably guessed, you can take up to two levels of Badass.


Son of a Bitch (Basic): Each shot/attack you do has its damage increased by one.  This trait was made for burst builds; it applies to each individual chaingun/plasma rifle shot, so each level of this trait increases an attack from one of those weapons considerably.  Pistol builds can occasionally make decent use of it too, but it's not as essential for them.  It's pretty much a waste of a trait for melee builds.

Initially, you can take up to three levels of Son of a Bitch.  At level 12, you're allowed to take two more.

Triggerhappy (Advanced, requires Son of a Bitch 2): For each level of Triggerhappy, you get an additional shot when firing a rapid-fire weapon*.  As with Son of a Bitch, all burst builds will want this.

You can take up to two levels of Triggerhappy.

*Fun fact for you DoomRL veterans: this trait works with the Jackhammer (one of the game's uniques, a shotgun).  Two levels of Triggerhappy mean you fire it five times in a turn.


Son of a Gun (Basic): All pistol shots deal 1 extra damage and take 20% less time.  This trait is what makes pistol builds viable; don't even try running a pistol build without maxing this one out.

Initially, you can take up to three levels of Son of a Gun.  At level 12, you're allowed to take two more.  While the speed boost, as mentioned before, is additive, five levels of Son of a Gun do not make pistol shots take no time at all; there's a lower bound of 0.1 seconds for time taken.

Dualgunner (Advanced, requires Son of a Gun 2): Allows you to dual-wield pistols (stick one in your off-hand slot), firing them both simultaneously while taking only 20% more time.  While dual-wielding, you get an alternate reload (shift-R) action allowing you to reload your off-hand weapon without swapping to it, for convenience.  Obviously, this is another pistol build trait.  Less obviously, you're usually slightly better off taking your third level of Son of a Gun before taking Dualgunner (that third speed boost helps a lot).


Reloader (Basic): All reload actions take 20% less time.  Where pistol builds universally want Son of a Gun, and burst builds universally want Son of a Bitch, shotgun builds universally want Reloader.  Early on, it takes the edge off needing to reload after every shot; later, it makes using double shotguns in the heat of combat much more viable (their 2 second reload time is painful otherwise).  It's also a useful trait for rocket launcher use, though you can't exactly build around rocket launchers as a primary weapon.

Initially, you can take up to two levels of Reloader.  At level 12, you're allowed to take one more.

Shottyman (Advanced, requires Reloader 2): If you have an unloaded shotgun or rocket launcher (...yeah...) equipped, you automatically reload it if you take a step.  As with Reloader, this is essential for shotgun builds.  This trait has excellent synergy with the Hellrunner/Dodgemaster line.


Eagle Eye (Basic): Each of your attacks get +2 to-hit.  For those curious about what this means: attacks hit if 10 + (accuracy modifiers) is greater than or equal to a roll of 3d6.  The most notable modifiers are intrinsic weapon accuracy (listed in the inventory menu), distance (-1 to-hit for every three spaces distance), and running (-2 to-hit for your attacks, -4 to-hit for enemies attacking you).

The simplified version is that Eagle Eye has a very significant effect on your hit rate, with one level being enough to completely offset the accuracy penalty from running.  It's especially helpful in cases where unaided accuracy would be roughly 50%; the effect of +2 to-hit is huge there.

Eagle Eye is of greatest benefit to burst builds, whose best weapons tend to be somewhat inaccurate.  Pistol builds can make use of it too, but not quite as much, since pistols are less inaccurate to begin with.  It's mostly useless to shotgun and melee builds, however, as they have no trouble hitting anyway.

Initially, you can take up to three levels of Eagle Eye.  At level 12, you're allowed to take two more, but I'm buggered if I can see why you'd need that much of it.

Intuition (Advanced, requires Eagle Eye 2): Gives extra information to the player.  The first level of Intuition reveals the location of all powerups on the floor and tells you whether pulling a lever will have good or bad effects; the second level reveals the location of enemies outside your LOS (up to a radius of LOS + 3) and tells you exactly what will happen when you pull a lever.  If you take one level of Intuition, definitely take the second.  Strangely, while its prerequisite trait is useless for those running shotgun builds, they're probably the ones who benefit most from Intuition 2 (but it's a pretty good trait for anyone).

You can take up to two levels of Intuition.


Brute (Basic): All melee attacks deal +3 damage and get +2 to-hit.  A must-have for any melee build, but obviously useless if you're not using melee.

Initially, you can take up to three levels of Brute.  At level 12, you're allowed to take two more.

Berserker (Advanced, requires Brute 2): Striking enemies repeatedly with melee attacks, or taking a lot of damage from a single attack, will trigger a lesser version of the Berserk Pack effect (you get the boost to melee damage, speed, and resistances, but not the healing, and for a shorter duration).  Extremely powerful trait for melee builds; most characters with designs on melee take this one as soon as possible.


And, with that, the Basic and Advanced Traits have all been covered.  Before I get to the Master Traits, there's something else I want to discuss: Assemblies.

Assemblies: More than the sum of their parts

While it's normally true that, without Whizkid, you can only apply one mod to a weapon or piece of armor, there's a very important exception to this rule: making an assembly.

Certain pieces of equipment have combinations of modpacks that have special effects on them.  What's more, as long as only two mods are required for the combo, you're allowed to apply the second mod even without Whizkid!  Some examples that are useful for almost all characters (if you've got the spare mod-packs):

Fireproof armor: Any armor, plus a bulk mod and a technical mod.  The armor gains +30% fire resistance, but takes -30% melee resistance (this can become negative, making you more vulnerable to melee attacks!).  Fireproof red armor, with 55% fire resistance and an armor rating of 4, will take a 20 damage blast of arch-vile flame and soften it to a much more reasonable 7 damage (20 * 0.45 - 4 = 7), and it's even more helpful against mancubi and revenants.  You want this.

Tactical boots: Steel boots, plus two agility mods.  Tactical boots provide no protection from acid or lava, but let you run 15% faster and gradually repair damage sustained to themselves.  Since you can usually walk around acid and lava pools, these are a fine thing to have in your boot slot even if you're not running a build that usually cares about fast movement.

Ballistic armor: Any armor, plus an agility mod and a technical mod.  The armor gains +30% each to bullet, melee, and shrapnel resistance, but loses 30% fire resistance.  Very useful early on, when most attacks are of one of those types.  Later on, the fire vulnerability hurts a lot, but there's one special level where the melee resistance can be a lifesaver...

...those examples may all be armor, but weapons have assemblies too!  It's just that they tend to be more build-specific than the armor.  There are also assemblies which are made using three modpacks, and some that even take four; they require, respectively, one and two levels of Whizkid before you can make them.

For the full list of assemblies, see this page.  Some of them require rare and exotic mod-packs* that you're hardly assured of seeing in a given game; I don't give them as recommendations, simply because you can't count on being able to make them.

*Firestorm, which gives burst weapons two extra shots and gives explosive weapons greater radius; Onyx, which makes armor indestructible; Sniper, which eliminates the accuracy penalty for shooting distant foes; and Nano, which makes weapons regenerate their own ammo and armor regenerate itself.

One more thing before I get into the Master Traits: classes.  Before you pick your first trait, you choose one of DoomRL's three classes.  Marines get 10 extra HP, 50% longer powerup duration, and can take the Badass trait without its prerequisites.  Scouts get an across-the-board 10% speed boost, know where the staircases are on every level, and can take Intuition for free.  Technician, which uses items almost instantaneously, uses Computer Maps as Tracking Maps, starts with a technical mod-pack, and can take Whizkid without Finesse.

I brought all this up because each of the classes has its own set of five Master Traits: one for pistol builds, one for shotguns, one for melee, one for burst, and one that's just generally useful.  Because Master Traits, more than anything else, define what your character does, I also wanted to be able to list the assemblies that work best with each Master (I'll more readily recommend assemblies that require Whizkid for the Technician Masters, and I often won't bother reiterating the above assemblies).

My advice for the rest of the lesson would be to pick one of the Master Traits before playing a game, read up on it below, and just skim the rest of these; if you're playing a Sharpshooter game, you don't really need to know how Army of the Dead works.  Without further ado, the Master Traits:



Vampyre (Melee): Requires Berserker (Brute 2), Badass 1, and one other trait; incompatible with Eagle Eye, Son of a Bitch, and Hellrunner.  Each time you kill an enemy in melee combat, you gain 3 HP.

It's a good thing this trait has such a powerful effect, because blocking Hellrunner is unpleasant for melee builds.  Eagle Eye and Son of a Bitch being blocked also means you can't reasonably use burst weapons as backup when you can't close to melee range.  As such, you'll want to consider taking extra traits around pistols or shotguns instead.

Some assemblies to aim for: A piercing chainsaw (chainsaw + agility + power) will help a lot against heavily armored targets.  Grappling boots (any boots + technical + technical), which drastically reduce knockback, can be extremely useful for those times you just need to rush something, especially when Berserker triggers and you don't care as much about tanking hits.

Bullet Dance (Pistols): Requires Dualgunner (Son of a Gun 2) and Triggerhappy 1 (Son of a Bitch 2); incompatible with Hellrunner, Eagle Eye, or Brute.  For each level of Triggerhappy you have, you get an additional shot from each wielded pistol at the cost of taking 50% longer to fire.  Aimed shots are unaffected, allowing you to fire single bullets, albeit with the aimed shot speed penalty.

DPS, DPS, DPS; Bullet Dance makes for a pistol build that plays like a burst build, with the benefits and drawbacks this entails.  There are some notable differences, though; getting to stack the Son of a Gun and Son of a Bitch damage boosts on top of the pistols' base damage, plus the speed boost from Son of a Gun (which can be further augmented with some Finesse) mean you're hitting the high DPS tiers a lot more easily than Burst builds usually manage without advanced assemblies and power cell use.  Of course, you're also consuming ammo like a Burst build, and unlike those builds, you need to reload very frequently - after every other shot, with Triggerhappy 2 and vanilla pistols.  You might want some Reloader to help deal with that; that'll also help you use shotguns, which will be good to help deal with swarms of popcorn in an ammo-conscious efficiently.

Some assemblies to aim for: Since two levels of Triggerhappy will mean needing to reload after every other shot, investing in a pair of speedloader pistols (pistol + agility + technical), which reload in half the time, would not go amiss.  If you still have a spare technical mod pack, a good use for it would be to make a tactical shotgun (combat shotgun + technical + power), a combat shotgun that doesn't need pumping between shots; tactical shtogun blasts are a good way to ease off on your bullet supply when confronted with swarms of weak foes.

Army of the Dead (Shotguns): Requires Shottyman (Reloader 2), Badass 1, and one other trait; incompatible with Finesse, Eagle Eye, and Hellrunner.  Shotguns deal piercing damage instead of shrapnel damage; instead of being applied twice, armor doesn't apply at all.

Man, what is it with Marine Master Traits blocking Hellrunner?  Oh well; Army of the Dead is a powerful enough effect that you can get by without it, even if it's something shotgun builds normally want.  Armor-piercing shotgun blasts make a huge difference against moderately distant, heavily armored targets like Barons of Hell.  You'll find yourself needing noticeably fewer shots to kill things like that, both easing the ammo pressure shotgun builds sometimes find themselves in and making things less painful in those situations when you can't get to cover (which... come up more frequently, since you can't take Hellrunner).  Army of the Dead is a flexible mastery; if you want to develop a subspecialty in pistols, melee, or burst weapons, any one of them can easily work.

Some assemblies to aim for: The aforementioned tactical shotgun (combat shotgun + technical + power) is a must.  Army of the Dead plays well with relatively distant shotgun blasts, and the combat shotgun is the one that handles distances most gracefully, so you'll naturally want the upgraded version.  If you want to try offsetting the absence of Hellrunner, tactical armor (green armor + agility + agility), which increases speed by 15%, repairs itself over time, and grants a +10% sidestep chance, will be helpful.  An elephant gun (shotgun + power + power), which deals 50% more damage than a normal shotgun at the cost of much longer reload time, is also there as a potent, ammo-conscious option.  Since Army of the Dead blocks Finesse (and therefore Whizkid), all advanced assemblies are off-limits.

Ammochain (Burst): Requires Triggerhappy 2 (Son of a Bitch 2) and Reloader 2; incompatible with Tough as Nails, Son of a Gun, and Eagle Eye.  When firing a burst weapon, only the first shot consumes any ammunition.

Ammochain: because you want to have the luxury of killing former humans with the plasma rifle.  That's only a slight exaggeration; with this trait, all the normal concerns burst builds have about ammo go right out the window.  Which is good, because blocking Eagle Eye and Tough as Nails means this build isn't otherwise as innately powerful offensively or defensively as other burst builds.  While Reloader is almost useless for burst weapons in conjunction with Ammochain, it does mean that you can easily use shotguns as a backup crowd control device, especially if you spend an additional level to get Shottyman.

Some assemblies to aim for: Since you have no ammo concerns, burst assemblies whose primary downside is heinous consumption of ammo are naturally quite good with Ammochain.  The gatling gun (chaingun + bulk + bulk), in particular, is a good weapon you can get early on (you won't have Ammochain early on, but 10mm is easy to find in the early game).  Less obviously, the absence of Eagle Eye makes accurate burst assemblies desirable too.  If you're willing to invest the three levels needed for Whizkid, a hyperblaster (plasma rifle + agility + technical + technical) will serve you extremely well.  Don't bother with the burst cannon assembly; it's too inaccurate without Eagle Eye.  If you don't want to go for Whizkid, you probably simply want to agility-mod your plasma rifle.  If you feel like taking a shotgun minor, the tactical shotgun (combat shotgun + technical + power) is, once again, a pretty good assembly to make.

Survivalist (General): Requires Badass 1, Ironman 3, Tough as Nails 2; incompatible with Hellrunner, Berserker, and Son of a Bitch.  You are allowed to overheal using medpacks, and damage that would get reduced to 0 by resistances and armor (that would normally get increased back to 1) has a 50% chance of doing no damage to you.

This trait is all about soaking up huge numbers of attacks without giving a crap.  In general, you want the biggest, baddest armor you can get; shrugging off damage is the name of the game here.  In terms of offense, the fact that the trait blocks Berserker and Son of a Bitch points away from trying to take burst or melee traits, though plasma rifles can still be useful; once your defenses are in order, consider taking pistol or shotgun traits.

Some assemblies to aim for: As you'll be taking a lot of hits, you'll want armor that'll let you do so gracefully.  Nanofiber red armor (any armor + bulk + power), which grants half protection but is indestructible, is a good choice to swap in to tank against swarms of weak foes.  You might prefer to just bulk-mod a spare set of red armor for those situations, though.  For uglier stuff, switching to fireproof (any armor + bulk + technical), ballistic (any armor + agility + technical), or just plain power-modded armor will be preferable.  As for weapons, well... that'll depend on what additional traits you take.



Blademaster (Melee): Requires Berserker (Brute 2), Brute 3, and Hellrunner 2; incompatible with Tough as Nails, Son of a Bitch, and Son of a Gun.  When you finish off an enemy with a melee attack, you instantly get another turn.

Blademaster is probably the weakest of the three melee Master Traits, but, on the other hand, it's also the only one that doesn't block something melee users really want.  It does, however, block the necessary traits to take alternate specialties in pistols or burst weapons, so you might want to consider using shotguns as your melee alternative.

Some assemblies to aim for: The same piercing chainsaw (chainsaw + agility + power) Vampyre wanted is still good here.  Unlike Vampyre, though, Blademasters actually have high movement speed to help close the distance to their foes; consider augmenting that with tactical boots (steel boots + agility + agility) and tactical armor (green armor + agility + agility), especially since closing to melee often means having the ability to beat everything surrounding you to death without taking any hits.

Gun Kata (Pistols): Requires Dodgemaster (Hellrunner 2) and Dualgunner (Son of a Gun 2); incompatible with Tough as Nails, Son of a Bitch, and Brute.  After a successful sidestep, your next pistol shot takes only 0.1 seconds, and finishing an opponent off with a pistol instantly reloads both wielded pistols.

As with Blademaster, Gun Kata is a relatively unimpressive pistol Master Trait, but nonetheless the only one that doesn't come with serious downsides.  Fast firing after a sidestep is nice, but pistols are already fast weapons; that aspect is most useful if caught in the open against a large cluster of slow-firing enemies.  Not needing to worry about reloading is better, though.  The blocked traits preclude burst or melee focus, but shotguns are fair game.  You'll probably also want to avail yourself of the Scout's free access to Intuition.

Some assemblies to aim for: The speedloader pistol isn't worth your time.  Consider, instead, a pair of high power pistols (non-shotgun clip weapon + power + bulk); this would normally be a weird choice for a pistol build given its smaller clip and that reloads tend to be where pistols stumble somewhat, but Gun Kata isn't so concerned about this.  If you take Whizkid, a storm bolter pistol (pistol + technical + bulk + bulk), which fires two shots at once, or an energy gun (pistol + technical + power + power) with high plasma damage are both decent, if maybe not worth the required level investment.

Shottyhead (Shotguns): Requries Juggler (Finesse 1), Shottyman (Reloader 2), and Hellrunner 1; incompatible with Tough as Nails, Son of a Bitch, and Eagle Eye.  Firing any shotgun takes 1/3 as much time.

Shottyhead is really good at doing three things.  One is blasting something repeatedly with a tactical shotgun.  Another is putting sidestepping to good use in conjunction with Shottyman; when you're firing your shotgun so quickly, chances are that your enemy's turn will come up right after you move rather than after you fire.  In this way, Shottyhead can sometimes be played as a sort of shotgun-oriented version of Gun Kata.  And the third is dual-wielding powerful shotguns: shoot something with the shotgun in your main hand, use Juggler to swap to your other shotgun, and shoot again.  Make sure you take both levels of Intuition; Intuition 2 works really well with shotguns.  As is proving to be a common thread among Scout Master Traits, burst weapons are a no-go with both Son of a Bitch and Eagle Eye blocked.  Pistols and melee are fair game as sub-specialties, though.

Some assemblies to aim for: As just mentioned, the tactical shotgun (combat shotgun + power + technical) is very good for this build.  With this being another sidestep-heavy build, tactical armor (green armor + agility + agility) is a good addition.  If you're willing to spring for Whizkid (and taking the required second level of Finesse may be a good idea with Shottyhead anyway), a focused double shotgun (double shotgun + power + agility + technical), which deals more damage and has less damage falloff than a normal double shotgun, is exactly the sort of power weapon this build wants.  Failing that, or perhaps in supplement of that, an elephant gun (shotgun + power + power) might also be a good idea.

Cateye (Burst): Requires Triggerhappy 1 (Son of a Bitch 2), Intuition 1, and one other trait; incompatible with Reloader, Brute, and Tough as Nails.  Increases your line-of-sight radius by two, letting you see enemies before they see you - and shoot at them before they shoot at you.

Back in the old days, before classes existed, Cateye required two levels of Eagle Eye so that you could take the required level of Intuition.  These days, it's no longer required, just a really good idea.  Cateye is best when you get to use your LOS boost and the high damage of burst weapons to kill enemies outright before they get close enough to start attacking you back, and a couple of levels of Eagle Eye are needed to hit reliably at long distance.  Once you have those, there are two natural ways to keep building a Cateye character: take Son of a Gun and Dualgunner to ease off on your burst weapon ammo consumption, or take Finesse (and later Whizkid) to get more shots before things close distance.

Some assemblies to aim for: Cateye means wanting to do the most damage in the shortest time possible.  If you're taking Eagle Eye like a good little Doomguy, hitting things shouldn't be a problem.  High power weapon (non-shotgun clip weapon + power + bulk) applied to a chaingun or plasma rifle (or both) is a good choice for non-Whizkids, or even to keep on hand for Whizkids who want something relatively cheap to fire.  If you've got Whizkid at the ready, though, don't be shy about making a burst cannon out of a chaingun (rapid-fire weapon + power + bulk + bulk), which is a lot more powerful (at the cost of accuracy; you'll probably want to take a third level of Eagle Eye if you make this one), and the hyperblaster (plasma rifle + agility + technical + technical) is just as good here as it was with Ammochain, if perhaps less spammable.

Gunrunner (General): Requires Dodgemaster (Hellrunner 2) and Juggler (Finesse 1); incompatible with Son of a Bitch, Tough as Nails, and Whizkid.  Running lasts 50% longer, and while running and wielding a non-burst non-empty weapon, you automatically shoot at the nearest enemy each time you take a step.

Burst weapons are explicitly blocked from benefiting from this trait (not that you'd really want to use them anyway, with Son of a Bitch being blocked); I'm not sure if melee weapons work with it, but even if they do, willingly giving up half your damage wouldn't be the best of ideas.  The natural way to play Gunrunner, therefore, is with pistols, shotguns, or some combination thereof.  Once you get the trait, you should make a beeline straight for Shottyman or Dualgunner.

Some assemblies to aim for: Whizkid is outright blocked, so you can't take any of the advanced assemblies.  The ever-popular tactical shotgun (combat shotgun + power + technical) is a great choice for Gunrunner, allowing you to get multiple shotgun blasts without stopping to reload even without Shottyman; if you do take Shottyman, an elephant gun (shotgun + power + power) may be a better choice.  Tactical boots (steel boots + agility + agility) and tactical armor (green armor + agility + agility) are no-brainers, with their increase in movement speed translating directly to more shots.  If you decide to go with pistols instead, a speedloader (pistol + agility + technical) or two would be nice to have.



Malicious Blades (Melee): Requires Dodgemaster (Hellrunner 2), Brute 2, Finesse 1; incompatible with Berserker, Tough as Nails, and Eagle Eye.  While having a combat knife or knife-derived weapon (chainsaw does not count) in each hand, you get to attack with both in the same action; additionally, while carrying a knife as your prepared weapon, you get 75% melee resistance, 50% fire resistance, 50% bullet resistance, and 50% shrapnel resistance.

Yes, you saw that right: this is a melee Master Trait that blocks Berserker.  As compensation, though, it gives a sort of low-grade permanent Berserk effect from its boost to melee damage (when dual-wielding) and resistances.  This is a weird (but good) trait; its biggest selling point is actually the permanent boost to resistances when carrying a knife in the off-hand, which you get even if your primary weapon isn't a melee weapon at all.  While it certainly works well with melee, you can feel free to build a secondary specialization around any one of the other three weapon types (with the caveat that you obviously can't use Dualgunner) while still enjoying the benefits of MB.

Some assemblies to aim for: You'd probably think, looking at the list of assemblies, that a pair of chainswords (combat knife + power + bulk) for extra melee damage would be the way to go.  You'd be wrong.  More powerful still is to take a level of Whizkid, ignore the dual-wielding aspect of Malicious Blades altogether, and make a double chainsaw (chainsaw + power + power + bulk), sticking a plain combat knife in your prepared slot solely for the resistances.  Alternately, you can take two levels of Whizkid and make a ripper (chainsaw + power + power + bulk + technical), which is noticeably less accurate but twice as fast.  Perhaps surprisingly, though, assembled highly-protective armor isn't as important for this build.  While fireproof red armor (any armor + bulk + technical) on a Malicious Blades character brings fire resistance all the way up to the maximum of 95%, the 75% resistance from wearing regular red armor coupled with red's 4 points of is good enough for almost anything.  Likewise, ballistic armor just isn't very necessary.  Consider instead making a set of tactical armor (green armor + agility + agility) and tactical boots (steel boots + agility + agility) and keeping a bulk-modded set of red in reserve when you need protection.

Sharpshooter (Pistols): Requires Son of a Gun 3 and Eagle Eye 3; incompatible with Dualgunner, Tough as Nails, and Son of a Bitch.  All damage rolls when firing a pistol are maximized; a basic 2d4 roll for pistol damage, for instance, will always come up 8.

Yes, you saw that right: this is a pistol Mastery Trait that blocks Dualgu-hey this sounds familiar.  But, as with Malicious Blades, this trait carries that crippling penalty by design; if you could take Dualgunner with Sharpshooter, it'd be flat-out overpowered.  Aside from merely increasing your DPS, Sharpshooter gives two significant benefits.  First, Sharpshooter has one of the highest damage-to-ammo-cost ratios in the game; only melee builds and Ammochain do better.  This means you have a lot of spare inventory space for luxuries, even moreso than most pistol builds.  And second, you have reliability.  Eagle Eye 3 means you almost never miss at any range; when you take aim at an enemy, you can confidently predict exactly how many shots it'll take to bring it down.  You'll definitely want a level of Whizkid, but beyond that, Sharpshooter is very flexible (with the caveat that you can't really work with burst weapons well).

Some assemblies to aim for: A high power pistol (non-shotgun clip weapon + power + bulk) is a surprisingly excellent upgrade for Sharpshooters; an extra 4 damage is nice enough on its own, but what really makes it shine is that it's potent enough to reliably inflict knockback.  Knocking an enemy out of LOS before it can shoot at you is both common and awesome.  Sometimes, that won't cut it, though; you'll want a level of Whizkid in order to make a storm bolter pistol (pistol + technical + bulk + bulk), a faster, double-shot pistol.

Fireangel (Shotguns): Requires Dodgemaster (Hellrunner 2) and Shottyman (Reloader 2); incompatible with Son of a Gun, Son of a Bitch, and Eagle Eye.  You don't take damage from any explosion unless you were directly hit by whatever caused it.  You do still take knockback, however.

Behold, the most potent evasive trait in the game.  Make a move to sidestep, and nothing but rapid-fire enemies can possibly hurt you; arachnotrons will be your worst enemies, and even their shots can be sidestepped with 80%+ success while running and wearing appropriate gear.  Perfect for retreating to cover for shotgun action or just plain retreating to the stairs.  And it gets better: you can even rocket jump without damaging yourself!  The biggest downside is that the blocked traits preclude any emphasis on pistols or burst weapons; if you decide to supplement your shotgunnery, it must be with melee.

Some assemblies to aim for: You'll want a full set of tactical gear.  The tactical shotgun (combat shotgun + power + technical), tactical boots (steel boots + agility + agility), tactical armor (green armor + agility + agility), and tactical rocket launcher (rocket launcher + bulk + bulk + bulk) are all great Fireangel gear.  That last one requires Whizkid, but gives you a rocket launcher with a clip size of 5, perfect for those times when you want multiple rocket jumps in a row to get out of danger.  If you've still got the mods to spare, also consider adding a focused double shotgun (double shotgun + power + agility + technical) to the mix.

Entrenchment (Burst): Requires Triggerhappy 1 (Son of a Bitch 2) and Badass 1 (Tough as Nails 2); incompatible with Finesse, Reloader, or Son of a Gun.  While using the alternate chainfiring mode of burst weapons, you gain +30% resistance to all attacks.

30% resistance may not sound like much, but keep in mind once again that this stacks with any other resistance you get from armor.  With the right armor, Entrenchment characters are practically indestructible while chainfiring - just be leery of starting a fight you can't finish without a time-consuming reload.  Inability to take Reloader or Son of a Gun seriously curtails the possibility of supplementing your burst build with pistols or shotguns.  Melee can be viable if you're worried about running out of ammo; if you're not, the Eagle Eye/Intuition series is a good choice, as is Tough as Nails.

Some assemblies to aim for: Be prepared to take two levels of Whizkid.  The ultimate armor for an Entrenchment build, what you really want when running one, is cerberus armor (any armor + power + power + technical + agility).  The cerberus assembly sets an armor's protection to 0 and reduces movement speed by 30%, but sets its fire and acid resistance to 70% each and plasma resistance to 50%.  Adding the Entrenchment boost to those means you shrug off all three of those attack types very effectively.  As far as weapons go, you probably want an assault rifle assembly on a chaingun (rapid-fire weapon + agility + agility + agility), which gives you a high-power, high-accuracy way to spend your 10mm ammo, as well as the good ol' hyperblaster (plasma rifle + agility + technical + technical).

Scavenger (General): Requires Whizkid 2, Intuition 1 (Eagle Eye 2), and one other trait; incompatible with Triggerhappy, Berserker, or Dualgunner.  You can destroy modded, assembled, exotic, or unique weapons to receive mod-packs.  Destroying a modded weapon gives you one of the mods used on it.  Destroying an assembled weapon has an equal chance of yielding a power, bulk, agility, or technical mod.  Destroying an exotic weapon has an equal chance of yielding a sniper, firestorm, agility, bulk, power, or technical mod.  Destroying a unique weapon has a 1/6 chance of producing a nano mod-pack, a 1/6 chance of producing an onyx mod-pack, a 1/3 chance of producing a sniper mod-pack, and a 1/3 chance of producing a firestorm mod-pack.

Scavenger is... not a Master Trait for beginners.  The prerequisites and anti-requisites push you hard in the direction of generalization; having Triggerhappy, Berserker, and Dualgunner blocked would seem to suggest shotguns as a good specialization, but shotguns are the one weapon type that doesn't benefit from the required two levels of Eagle Eye.  What the trait really demands of you is the ability to look at the mod-packs available to you, pick good assemblies, and roll with them.  You'll have an easier time getting those assemblies than the other builds, though, thanks to the ability to scrap unwanted exotics and uniques.  You'll also be more free to use mod-packs with abandon; where most characters need to save mod-packs until they find the weapon they plan to use them on, prospective Scavengers can just use them on whatever weapon they want and retrieve them later.

Some assemblies to aim for: The majority of the assemblies listed here can be put to good use by a Scavenger.  While the advanced traits conducive to using most weapon types are off-limits, you can still take the basic traits, and your mastery and required two levels of Whizkid mean you can pretty much take whatever you want from that list.  If you go for Son of a Bitch, make yourself a burst chaingun (rapid-fire weapon + power + bulk + bulk) and a hyperblaster (plasma rifle + agility + technical + technical); if you decide to take some Brute, make a Ripper (chainsaw + technical + power + power + bulk); if you get Shottyman, the focused double shotgun (double shotgun + power + agility + technical) is there for you.  In any case, you probably want a tactical shotgun (combat shotgun + bulk + technical) too.  The virtue of Scavenger is that it's quite possible to get all of those and some swanky armor to boot.



Again, don't feel bad if you didn't absorb all of that.  This was more of a "refer to as needed" lesson; the test will be open-book and open-notes.

Next time: Advanced tactics.

Discussion / Re: A Beginner's Guide to DoomRL
« on: April 02, 2013, 23:52 »
A Beginner's Guide To DoomRL, Part 2: Items and Enemies

Warning: wall of text incoming!  This may seem like a lot of information, but it'll be good to have all this up as a reference in future chapters of this guide.


All powerups are used immediately when you pick them up; you can't save them for later.  You'll often want to go around completed levels to pick up as-yet unused powerups so you can enjoy their effects going into the next level.

Small Health Globe (, red ^): Restores 10 health and resets tactics to cautious.  Can take you above 100% health, up to 200%, but any overhealing achieved this way will gradually decay.

Large Health Globe (, dark red ^): Either restores 10 health or takes you to 100% health, whichever is better for you; also resets tactics to cautious.  As with its smaller counterpart, you can be overhealed from them.

Supercharge Globe (, blue ^): Overheals you to 200% health and resets tactics to cautious.

Berserk Pack (, dark red ^): Restores you to 100% health if you're below that, sets tactics to cautious, and makes you go berserk.  While berserk, you take drastically less damage from all attacks; you get 60% resistance to all types of damage, which is applied before armor reduction.  Additionally, you get a 50% speed boost to all actions and deal double damage in melee.

Invulnerability Globe (, white ^): Restores you to 100% health if you're below that, sets tactics to cautious, and makes you temporarily invulnerable.

Armor Shard (, yellow ^): Restores the integrity of your worn armor by 25%, and that of your worn boots by 10%.

Megasphere (, magenta ^): Effectively, a Supercharge Globe that fully repairs your worn armor and boots.  Fairly rare.

Computer Map (, dark green ^): Reveals the layout and item locations on the current floor.

Tracking Map (, acid-green ^): Reveals the layout, item locations, and enemy locations on the current floor.

Light-Amp Goggles (, brown-yellow ^): Temporarily increases your LOS radius.


Items go into your inventory when picked up.  They can be used at will.

10mm ammo (, light gray |): Ammunition for pistols and chainguns.  You can carry up to 100 of it at once in an inventory slot; you have a total of 22 inventory slots, and there is no weight system, so this count is important.

Shotgun shells (, dark gray |): Ammunition for the various types of shotgun.  You can carry 50 per slot.  Shotgun users, in my experience, tend to run into ammo issues in the late-game.

Rockets (, brown-yellow |): Ammunition for rocket launchers.  You can only carry 10 per slot.

Power cells (, cyan |): Ammunition for high-tech weaponry. Weapons that consume power cells are generally the game's strongest, but power cells are relatively hard to come by.  You can carry 50 per slot.

10mm ammo chain (, light gray !): When equipped, you reload 10mm-using weapons from this instead of ammo from your inventory.  Ammo chains start with 250 bullets in them, making them a much denser way to carry bullets, and reloading from them is much faster than reloading from inventory.  If you're using 10mm ammo frequently, pick these up and save them for rainy days.

Shell box (, dark gray !), Like an ammo chain, but for shotguns.  Starts with 100 shells.

Rocket box (, brown-yellow !): Like an ammo chain, but for rocket launchers.  Starts with 20 rockets.

Power battery (, cyan !): Like an ammo chain, but for weapons that consume power cells.  Starts with 120 power cells.

Small med-pack (, red +): Restores slightly over 25% of your maximum health and sets tactics to cautious.  Unlike health globes, med-packs will not overheal you.

Large med-pack (, dark red +): Restores your health to 100% and sets tactics to cautious.

Phase device (, dark blue +): Randomly teleports you elsewhere in the current level.  Will never teleport you into a vault, acid, or lava.

Homing phase device (, blue +): Teleports you to the level's exit stairs.  If the stairs are blocked, this will teleport you near them.

Envirosuit pack (, dark green +): Temporarily makes you immune to harm from wading in acid or lava and grants 25% resistance to fire and acid damage.

Thermonuclear bomb (, dark blue %): Ten seconds after activation, nukes the current floor, destroying all living things and items on it.  This includes you, unless you're invulnerable at the time.  Using this against the final boss at the cost of your own life is counted by the game as a (partial) victory.

Agility mod pack (, cyan "): Allows you to improve weapons, armor, or boots.  Putting an agility mod on a weapon increases its accuracy; putting one on a piece of armor or set of boots allows you to move faster while wearing it.

Bulk mod pack (, dark blue "): Allows you to improve weapons, armor, or boots.  Putting a bulk mod on a weapon either increases its clip side (or, if this isn't applicable, reduces its reload time); putting one on a piece of armor adds 100% to its current integrity and allows it to be repaired up to 200%.

Power mod pack (, red "): Allows you to improve weapons, armor, or boots.  Putting a power mod on a weapon makes it deal more damage; putting one on a piece of armor or set of boots increases its protective rating.

Technical mod pack (, yellow "): Allows you to improve weapons, armor, or boots.  Putting a technical mod on a weapon allows you to fire it more rapidly; putting one on a piece of armor or set of boots reduces the knockback you take while wearing it.

By default, each piece of equipment can only take one modpack, but there are also ways to combine them... which I'll talk about in the next update.


Pistol (, light gray }): The pistol is the weapon you start the game with, and most characters will simply discard theirs once they find something better (the shotgun, with its downsides, is not strictly better; most players will wait to find a chaingun before tossing their pistol aside).  It is possible to build a Doomguy that favors pistols over all else, and this makes for an interesting game... but that's for another lesson.

Alternate fire (fire using shift-F instead of f): aimed shot.  Much more accurate, but takes twice as long for your turn to come up again.

Shotgun (, dark gray }): The shotgun is an excellent crowd-control device, thanks to its spread.  For most players, it's also more generally useful than the starting pistol, so it's a good thing for them that a shotgun is guaranteed on the first level!  Be careful using it around exploding barrels, though, since it tends to set them off at the drop of a hat.  Close-range shotgun blasts usually do enough damage to cause knockback, which can be very useful.  Some monsters are melee-only, and knockback to an enemy you're covered from will make it take longer to reach you.  Be advised that the standard shotgun suffers a damage falloff of 7% per space of distance to your target.

Note: Shotguns of all types deal "shrapnel" damage, which applies armor reduction twice (green armor, for instance, will reduce damage taken from shotguns by 2 instead of 1).  Attacking distant, armored foes with shotguns tends to be rather ineffective.

Combat shotgun (, blue }): The combat shotgun only deals 7d3 damage (as opposed to the regular shotgun's 8d3), but can hold five shells at once.  It needs to be pumped between shots (using the reload key), but this only takes one-fifth as long as a normal reload... and if you take a step while carrying an unpumped combat shotgun, it'll automatically be pumped as you move, letting you sidestep or retreat while preparing your next shot!  It also has a narrower spread than the vanilla shotgun, making it easier to avoid triggering barrels and only losing 5% of its damage per space of distance to your target.  For most players, the combat shotgun, when you find one, is a straight upgrade to the regular shotgun.

Double shotgun (, white }): The double shotgun fires two 9d3 shots at once, making it an excellent way to hurt something in your face very badly.  Of course, it costs two shells to fire, loses a full 10% of its damage per space, has a wider spread than even the regular shotgun, and has a longer reload than the other two shotguns, so use it wisely.  It also fires its shots sequentially, which means an enemy takes knockback from the first shell before getting hit by the second, so anything that isn't very close is going to take a lot less damage from the second shot.

Alternate fire: single shot.  Fire only one of the double shotgun's shells.

The approximate effective areas of the three shotgun types are given below:

Chaingun (, red }): Chainguns fire four 1d6 10mm shots at once.  For most Doomguys, this pretty much replaces the pistol, but watch your ammo count.

Alternate fire: chainfire.  Good when you want to commit to firing at one enemy for a while; you only fire three shots at first, but then four the next turn, and six the turn after that.  Thereafter, you keep firing six shots.  If you change targets while chainfiring, some shots will be wasted.

Plasma rifle (, cyan }): A straight upgrade to the chaingun, except that ammo for it is precious.  It fires six 1d7 shots at once, but each one costs a power cell instead of a bullet.

Alternate fire: chainfire.  Akin to the chaingun's chainfire, except that instead of a 3-->4-->6 progression, it's 4-->6-->9.

The plasma rifle deals plasma damage, against which armor is only half as effective.  Plasma rifle shots are one of the standard ways of dealing with distant, heavily armored foes.

Combat knife (, white \): The combat knife is the weakest of the melee weapons, dealing a mere 2d5 melee damage.  "But dtsund," I hear someone ask.  "Why would anyone use that when a pistol deals nearly as much damage, and at range?"  The answer is: there are ways to drastically increase your melee damage.  One of them, berserking, is listed above; you'll learn about the other later.

Alternate fire: throw.  Very rarely useful.

Chainsaw (, magenta \): The chainsaw is Doomguy's melee weapon of choice.  Its 4d6 damage makes it a huge step up from the combat knife.

The chainsaw's magenta coloration indicates that it's one of the game's exotic items.  Exotics are items which are subject to normal generation, but appear much less commonly; don't expect to see a chainsaw appear via normal item generation in a typical game.  I'm listing it here among the common items because, while it is rarely generated "normally", there's a guaranteed chainsaw in one of the special levels, the Chained Court.

DoomRL also has unique items, which would be called artifacts in most other roguelikes; very rare items that can only appear once in a given game.  You'll know one was generated on the current floor if you get the "You feel there is something really valuable here!" level feeling.  You can also tell them on sight from their bright green coloration.

Rocket launcher (, brown-yellow }): A nice 6d6 fire-type explosion, when you really want something (or a group of somethings) dead.  Rocket launchers can also destroy walls; using them to manipulate terrain to give yourself some cover can be a good idea on occasion.

Alternate fire: rocket jump.  Pick a square adjacent to yourself, brace yourself to take some explosive damage, and go flying in the opposite direction.  Can be a fantastic way to get out of trouble even if it does damage you.

BFG 9000 (, magenta \): And, of course, DoomRL wouldn't truly be a Doom game without the Big Fucking Gun.  Like the chainsaw, the BFG 9000 is an exotic; also like the chainsaw, one of them happens to be guaranteed in a special level.  One shot from this thing deals 10d6 plasma damage to everything in an area that pretty much encompasses a third of a given level, and unlike most explosions you'll wind up causing, it doesn't hurt you.  It costs 40 power cells per shot, though, so use it sparingly.


Green armor (, dark green ]): Grants 15% resistance to bullet and shrapnel damage and has an armor rating of 1.  Slightly decreases movement speed (but not fire speed, reload speed, etc) when worn, but not enough to worry about.

Blue armor (, dark blue ]): Grants 20% resistance to plasma and has an armor rating of 2.  Decreases movement speed when worn, to a slightly greater extent than green armor.

Red armor (, dark red ]): Grants 25% resistance to fire and has an armor rating of 4.  Decreases movement speed enough to be concerning to characters dependent on moving fast, but still very nice to have.

Steel boots (, white ;): Has a foot protection rating of 1, reducing damage taken when wading through acid and lava pools by 1.  Slightly decreases knockback.

Protective boots (, dark green ;): Confers 25% resistance to acid (but only from wading, not from acid-based attacks) and has a foot protection rating of 2.  Decreases knockback somewhat.

Plasteel boots (, dark blue ;): Confers 50% resistance to acid and 25% resistance to lava to your feet, and has a foot protection rating of 2.

There are many more weapon and armor types out there, but all the rest are exotic or unique; be on the lookout for things with magenta or acid-green coloration!


First, some notes:

All monsters, if caught in melee range with the player, will use their melee attack over anything else.  Some monsters are extremely weak in melee; these cases are noted.

Some monsters are always generated carrying something.  Some monsters can pick up and use med-packs, armor, and phase devices.  Some monsters can open doors.  All of these cases are, likewise, noted.  Some enemies have attributes that strongly favor the use of certain weapons; these are listed as well.

Former human (, light gray h): The first enemy you'll generally see in the game.  Comes with a 2d4 pistol and has 24 spare 10mm rounds, and is pathetically weak in melee.  Can use items and open doors; this is unendingly annoying on the higher difficulties, where they have a tendency to get medpacks before you do.

Weapon to use: anything, really.  If you're on a higher difficulty and think it has a medpack or two on hand, though, you'll ideally want to kill it in one hit so it can't use them up.  For this purpose, a close-range shotgun blast or a chaingun burst are appropriate.

Former sergeant (, dark gray h): The second enemy you'll see in a given game.  Comes with a shotgun and 30 spare shells, can use items and open doors.  Almost as pathetic as former humans in melee, but their shotgun blasts tend to knock you back; you'll seldom be in melee with them unless you lure one around a corner.

Weapon to use: Same as the former human case.

Imp (, brown-yellow i): Fireball-hurling monster; its fireballs are easy to sidestep, but if your back's to a wall that won't do you any good (you'll be caught in the explosion).  Stronger than former humans and can still open doors, but can't use items.

Demon (, magenta c): Fast (as fast as a running player without armor), melee-only monster.  Doesn't pick up, carry, or use any items, and can't open doors.  Has two points of intrinsic armor, but shotguns are still often the weapon to use, unless you're built to use something much more effectively; the knockback is very useful.

Former captain (, red h): Like a former human or former sergeant, but carries a chaingun.  Sucks slightly less at melee than those two (but still sucks); isn't any more resilient than either of them.  Can open doors and use items.

Weapon to use: Same as the former human case.

Lost soul (, yellow s): Lightning-fast melee enemy, but one that is considerably more fragile than a demon.  Close-range shotgun blasts almost invariably kill them instantly.  Their AI pattern involves charging straight at your location when they notice your presence; as in Doom, it's possible to sidestep their charge and watch them go sailing past you.  They have 50% bullet resistance and 75% fire resistance; pistols, chainguns, and rocket launchers are ineffective against them.  Can be found in groups, especially when pain elementals are involved, which is just another reason why shotguns are the best weapon to use against them.

Cacodemon (, dark red O): Functionally, a mostly-upgraded form of the common imp.  It deals a bit more damage (and it's plasma damage rather than fire, partially penetrating your armor), but the big thing is that it takes a lot more abuse before dying.  Thankfully, it can't open doors, so you can shut one in its face and walk away if you don't want to fight one.  It flies, so don't expect acid or lava to impede it.

Hell knight (, brown-yellow B): Very similar to cacodemons; they can't fly, but are in all other respects an upgrade.  They have a bit more health, their attacks are a bit more accurate, and they can use items and open doors.  Unlike with former humans, if a hell knight gets its claws on a med-pack, you can pretty much kiss it goodbye; there's no way you can kill it before it decides to use it.

Former commando (, blue h): Former humans with twice as much health, two points of intrinsic armor, and a plasma rifle instead of a pistol.  Do not take them lightly!  Their melee attacks aren't as laughable as the other formers, but next to the vicious beatdown they can unleash with their plasma rifles, melee is far preferable.  They can, of course, use items and open doors; they all come equipped with plasma rifles, but no spare power cells save the ones already loaded.

Pain elemental (, brown-yellow O): Tries to avoid attacking the player, instead preferring to spawn groups of lost souls.  Avoid engaging them in melee; not only is that the only time they'll choose to attack you, you'll find yourself swarmed with lost souls that way.  Instead, stay moderately distant and use a shotgun, which will damage both it and the lost souls it spawns.  Can't use items or doors.

Baron of hell (, magenta B): Hell knights, but worse still.  They've got more health, more armor, and more powerful attacks.  To top it off, their attacks are acid-based, which means they degrade your armor twice as quickly!  Their melee attacks aren't much nicer, either.  Consider breaking out your plasma rifle against them if the terrain is unfavorable for you.  They can, of course, open doors and use items.

Arachnotron (, yellow A): Similar to former commandos, but sacrificing power (they fire five 1d5 shots instead of six 1d7 shots) for resilience (over twice as many HP).  They can't open doors or use items, and when killed, they always drop 20 power cells.  Much weaker in melee than at range; in fact, arachnotrons take double damage from melee attacks.

Revenant (, white R): Rocket-launching demons with a nasty property: their rockets always explode when they arrive at their target space, rather than continuing until they hit a wall.  The explosion, of course, has a (small) radius, so sidestepping won't save you!  As if that weren't bad enough, they're also pretty fast, and have 50% bullet and 25% fire resistance (though their HP count is nothing to write home about).  Their rockets will inflict knockback if you tried sidestepping them, so running away can be effective; you'll get a little bit of help from the explosions at your back.  If you're caught in the open against one, and can't run to cover, wear red armor if you've got it and use a plasma rifle.  Revenants can use doors, but not items.  Their melee attacks are significantly weaker than their rockets, but good luck closing to melee while getting knocked around by their rockets.

Mancubus (, brown-yellow M): Where revenants favor pinpoint accuracy, mancubi prefer straight-up rocket spam.  Each time they fire, they shoot three rockets: one straight at you (or at where you were if you're sidestepping), and two at slight angles from it.  If the terrain is bad, you can find yourself caught in multiple explosions, which will hurt.  They also have an unfortunate tendency to try firing at you even right after you leave their line of sight.  Their melee attacks are unpleasant, but often less so than getting mauled by multiple rockets (if you're wearing appropriate armor, melee can still be worse).  Mancubi can use doors, but not items.

Arch-vile (, yellow V): And finally, the worst of the lot, the dreaded arch-vile.  Arch-viles avoid closing to melee range with the player whenever possible, though they'll willingly use their melee attack when in range.  Their melee attacks aren't weak per se, but nothing to write home about either; what makes arch-viles nasty are their other two abilities.  First, their ranged attack: they'll raise their arms to conjure hellish fires where you stand.  This can't be blocked, but if you manage to run at least two squares away after you get the "arch-vile raises its arms" message, you can dodge it.  The attack deals a flat 20 fire damage, so avoiding it is desirable, but it comes out quickly enough for this to be easier said than done.  Second, on roughly 1/4 of their turns, they'll resurrect nearby corpses to full health.  That mancubus you just killed?  Yeah, it's back now.  The only things it can't resurrect are lost souls, pain elementals, and (mercifully) other arch-viles.  Kill them first, use whatever you need to.  The BFG will usually be overkill, but don't be shy about using your most powerful attacks.

How is Doomguy supposed to deal with all of this, you ask?

Next time: Traits and Assemblies: Building a Better Doomguy

Discussion / A Beginner's Guide to DoomRL
« on: April 02, 2013, 23:45 »
Crossposting this from another forum, because I think this is a good place for it.  The first three lessons will go up rapid-fire, since I've already written them; the rest will go up as I write them.  All of this is based on the version, which is current at the time this was written.

A Beginner's Guide To DoomRL, Part 1: Avoiding Damage

(I'll be using the graphical version for this series, but will be mentioning what things look like in the console version.  Normally, I don't play in such a small window as this; I either play in console or fullscreen graphical, depending on my mood.)

I'm not going to talk about the controls; if you want to see those, you can just hit ? at any time in-game.  I'll just say that they're rather simpler than those of, say, NetHack.  Instead, let's talk about the, uh, HUD.  It's mostly pretty self-explanatory.

At the top of the screen is your message buffer.  If you've ever played a roguelike before, you already know what this is, and if you haven't, well, you'll figure it out quickly enough.

At the bottom, we first have the player's name, in blue.  Below that are health and experience indicators; the game doesn't make this obvious, but Doomguy has 50 HP (by default; I'll cover the two ways this can be increased in a later update).  Below that is an indication of my current Tactics setting, which can be "cautious", "running", or "tired"; I'll cover those shortly.

Doomguy here currently isn't wearing any armor; I'll cover that when he finds some.  He does have a pistol, however, which deals 2d4 damage on a hit.  All players additionally start with a few extra bullets and two small med-packs, which each restore just over 25% of your maximum health (except on the easiest and hardest difficulty settings).

Finally, Phobos Base Entry is the name of the current area.  All games begin here.  When you completely clear out a level of all its enemies (unlike some roguelikes, DoomRL doesn't normally have respawning enemies), the name of the area will turn blue.

There's also a minimap above the area name.  If you're playing in console mode, you don't get one of them; you just see the entire level at all times.

Nothing to do for now but advance to the left, to get to the marine base where all the action takes place.  The first room has two more small med-packs for the taking...

...but as Doomguy reaches out to take one, a former human (light gray h for you console players) bursts into the room!

Unlike other top-down, ASCII-friendly roguelikes, DoomRL is primarily a game about ranged combat.  Whereas most NetHack characters would charge straight at the former human, Doomguy prefers to shoot at it.

Like so.

After a few shots, the former human is dead.  But Doomguy took some damage himself; former humans come armed with the same pistols (light gray }) Doomguy starts with, and a bullet hit him for 4 damage.

All former humans also come with 24 extra rounds of 10mm ammo (light gray |), suitable for use in any of the game's bullet-based weaponry.  Doomguy picks them up and reloads his pistol.  While he has no use for the former human's pistol himself (it's no different from the one he already had), he does make sure to scavenge its remaining ammo by unloading it (shift-U).

Opening a door, Doomguy sees a second former human, and this one's perfectly positioned to show off one of the game's main means of avoiding damage: taking advantage of cover.

When you're behind a wall tile, as Doomguy is here, enemies won't shoot at you.  Of course, this won't work from all directions; I've marked the squares from which enemies won't shoot at Doomguy in the above image.

With the impunity afforded him by his cover, Doomguy kills the former human.  At one point, the former human, in his approach, left Doomguy's line of sight; you can still shoot at squares outside your LOS, albeit at a hefty accuracy penalty.  The message "You hear the scream of a freed soul!" indicates that an enemy just died somewhere on the level outside of your vision.

Advancing again, Doomguy sees a third former human.  This time, I'm going to try showing off a second way he'll be avoiding damage:

Sidestepping projectiles.

Any time you move in DoomRL, enemies have a chance to fire at the space where you were previously, instead of the space you're now standing in.  Exactly how big of a chance depends on a number of factors; some enemies are more accurate than others, and there are things you can do to make sidestepping more likely to work.  DoomRL may be the first roguelike ever to make circle-strafing a viable tactic!

While I was dancing around trying to adequately capture a sidestep, another former human shows up.  Rather than stand here and fight both of them, I retreat to cover...

...after I start running.

By presing the tab key, you can change Doomguy's tactics from cautious to running (or from running to tired), as now seen in the lower-left corner.  While running, Doomguy becomes much more evasive; projectiles are less likely to hit you, and your chance to sidestep successfully is greatly improved to boot.  There are two downsides, though.  First, while running, Doomguy is a lot less accurate himself.  Running is usually a defensive thing.

And second:

After you stop running, either willingly or when the status runs out, your tactics change to tired.  Tired is functionally identical to cautious, except that you can't start running at will, and the only way to revert to cautious is by healing yourself or finishing the current level.

Just ahead is a former sergeant (dark gray h).  They're significantly more dangerous than former humans; instead of 2d4 pistols, they carry 8d3 shotguns (dark gray }) and a reserve of 30 shotgun shells (dark gray |).  Shotguns deal more damage per shot, cannot miss, and affect a wide area, but have the disadvantages of losing damage over distance (7% per space, to be precise, if you care) and needing to be reloaded after every shot.

Of course, once he's dead... again... Doomguy takes the shotgun for himself.

In the next room are the stairs to the next level.  Doomguy equips his shotgun and advances.  In DoomRL, once you move past a level, you're done with it; there is no returning.  Make sure you've gotten everything you want from the floor!

First, some new terrain types.  Crates (# of various colors) provide cover, but are destroyed fairly easily; don't rely too heavily on them in the presence of imps or other enemies with explosive attacks.  Supply crates (the crates with the yellow triangles on the corners; more brightly colored #) can be destroyed even more easily, but often contain goodies.  The blue stuff (==) is water, which is mostly the same as normal ground.  Later on, some levels will have other liquids that damage you when you walk through them: acid (==) and lava (==).

Also, on entering the floor, Doomguy gets a level feeling ("You shiver from cold...").  I'll talk more about those in a later update; this one means there's an entrance to a special level on the floor.  Let's bust open those supply crates (by shooting them, of course) and see if there's anything good in them!

Jackpot!  A large med-pack, which can be used to restore Doomguy to 100% health, and a set of green armor!

Green armor reduces incoming damage by 1 when worn (to a minimum of 1; this is true of all armor).  It's... the weakest armor in the game, but about the best I could've expected this early.  Later on, you'll commonly find blue armor (which grants 2 protection) and red armor (which provides 4).

The (100%) next to the armor in the HUD is its integrity.  Each time Doomguy gets shot at, he'll lose both (a reduced amount of) health and some armor integrity; when it hits 0%, it's destroyed.  Armor can be repaired by picking up armor shards, so if you've got a really good piece of armor on hand, it's usually best to take it off before it gets completely trashed so you can repair it later.  As for the [1/1]... when armor gets sufficiently damaged, it starts protecting you less.  There's no significant effect on green armor's protection, but blue armor only provides 1 protection when it's below 50%, and red armor drops to 2 and 1 protection when it respectively hits 50% and 25%.  All this is another good reason to take a good set of armor off when it's been damaged.

This concludes the first lesson.

Next time: I'll talk about the game's items, powerups, and monsters.

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