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#1 2013-08-18 13:20:44

CyclopsSlayer
Member
Registered: 2007-10-22
Posts: 104

Any tips on playing a Druid?

Never played a Druid to any extent before and was wondering if there were any pointers to effective play?
Not had great luck so far, especially as the dual spell stat seems to yield a high spell failure chance. So a 'pure' caster seems a poor strategy, at least at the start.
So some style flavor of Warrior with Utility spells would be better?

As well, Hobbit favors the caster side, but weak HP and Str seem to yield an incredibly fragile character.

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#2 2013-08-18 16:51:42

Diego Gonzalez
NPPAngband Source Contributor
Registered: 2004-10-09
Posts: 292

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

I won with a hobbit druid a couple of times, pure caster style. The frost and fire beams are quite enough until you get the drain life burst spell in book #3. I use it a lot, combined with the shield spell in book #1. It's a little funny because it seems that you dance with the monsters waiting for the next burst of the spell. Then, you get ball spells in book #4. They are quite powerful but many enemies resist them. Usually you have to pick your fights carefully. As any pure spellcaster a good bow is necessary in some ocassions. Some people don't like to mix archery with magic but it keeps my characters alive.
The good thing about druids is that you use almost all spells to get tactical advantages. The dungeon books have some powerful offensive spells. At higher levels the nativity spells grant a big protection against meele attacks specially when standing over deep features: lava, boiling mud, boiling water, etc.
Perhaps you should roll a dunadan druid if you like to have more meele skill. I've never played with that race. I think I had some pretty decent half-orc and half-troll druids in the past.

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#3 2013-08-18 17:07:45

CyclopsSlayer
Member
Registered: 2007-10-22
Posts: 104

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

So the Nativity versus melee as you say does indeed sound good.
I was looking at things like "Natural Escape" as a sad joke of uselessness, lets see the 1:50000 chance I am standing on native terrain, need to escape, AND have native terrain close enough to escape into that doesn't leave me still in trouble, makes the very concept of 'limited use' a joke. smile  It might have more use, but not until way later than Book #1, until then the usual stack of Phase Doors i guess.

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#4 2013-08-19 06:43:44

NPPAngband
NPPAngband Maintainer
Registered: 2004-07-01
Posts: 1,647
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Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

In the early game, barkskin should provide enough protection that you won't need to phase door too often.

For combat, the elemental weapon spell is pretty handy against all creatures except those tha resist all 5 elements.

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#5 2013-08-19 08:21:56

CyclopsSlayer
Member
Registered: 2007-10-22
Posts: 104

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

Might need to pillage my starting Physical Stats a bit more, I kept the strength high to avoid encumbrance.
Int/Wis at 18/10, just doesn't seem to be cutting it. Too low mana, too few spell selections (13 learned by L11), too high failure chance it seems. 1 Bark and 2 Beams and I am completely out of mana. smile

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#6 2013-08-19 08:59:36

ramela
Member
From: Helsinki
Registered: 2004-10-01
Posts: 420

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

Here's my experience with Druids in a nutshell or two. Or twenty it seems.

For your starting point, the 2 obvious choices are Hobbits and Dunadan. Dunadan get more HP and a better carrying capacity from better stats and hit dice, but they level slower. Getting levels slower than other races is not a real disadvantage, it is more like an annoyance that requires only patience to overcome, since monsters that can be killed for experience are infinite.

The question is, can you play with a Dunadan at a pace that is fun for you?

Personally, with spellcasters, I value high starting stats for my Spell casting stats and Strenght, use just enough points on Constitution to avoid penalties to HP and ignore all other stats.

This means my spellcasters are pretty good at not getting slowed down by their equipment and thus are well equipped to run away a lot, which they do most of the time in the dungeon.

Over the longterm, the starting bonuses to stats only matter in terms of which stats are harder to maximize to the levels required to beat the game and how that limits the combinations of gear you can wear once you have completed statgain. For example, it is quite hard to get the required 18/200 Intelligence for a Dwarf Mage without wearing a Ring of Intelligence, while the races with a positive Intelligence modifier get there rather easily with only miscallenious bonuses from other gear. Wearing a Rings of Intelligence to reach a high enough Intelligence for a 0% fail chance is a suprisingly big disadvantage, since having 1 or 2 less Ring slots available for wearing Rings of Speed turns out to be quite limiting to assembling your end game gear.

In the early game however, the stats do have a big impact on how you have to start your adventures. Bows are really powerful, but you can do without them as a spellcaster, if your spellcasting stats are high enough. Melee is pretty much out of the question, unless you are a Half-Troll Priest with maximum Strenght and 10+ Dex and even then you are a really bad fighter for a really long time.

On to Druids specifically.

Since Druids are really bad at all non-Magical combat, which makes bows annoying to use and melee self-destructive, I prefer to start with maximum stats on the spell casting stats. Whether you want to go for the high strenght for carrying capacity plan or a more well-rounded setup is a matter of playstyle. For example where I value carrying capacity for the sake of convinience, you might want a higher Constitution for more HP, which reduces the risk of dying from getting randomly poisoned at a bad time by a trap or some creeping coins.

In terms of strategy having high spell casting stats is very usefull for excecuting some exploits that Druids are capable of. Druids have two advantages over Mages in the early game. Better area effect spells, particularly the two beams and cheaper Stone to Mud. Druids have an easier time to create corridors to pits and inside strongholds that you can exploit with the beams. As a bonus Frost and Fire are both effective against creeping coins which are frequent in quest early and quite dangerous for spellcasters without easy access to Stone to Mud.

Another thing I've noticed that once I have the money to buy Stat increases, it is better to focus on one spellcasting stat until it reaches 18/80 rather than alternating between the two. I haven't actually checked if this is the case, but I'm very sure that this approach is at least not worse than alternating between two stats.

Bark Skin is good, but running away is better.

Spell combat is mostly a matter of maximizing the amount of damage you can output with your mana. Make note of how many hits from a spell you need to kill a specific monster and then exploit that knowledge later with corridors on groups.

And always remember to run away first and ask questions from a distance.


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#7 2013-08-19 11:01:52

Diego Gonzalez
NPPAngband Source Contributor
Registered: 2004-10-09
Posts: 292

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

Try a dunadan druid with 18/50 INT and WIS. If you don't like 9 STR you can use 18/40 for the spell stats. Natural escape becomes handy later when you have access to the create elements spell. That way you can turn any spot in the dungeon into a teleportation target. Sometimes it remembers me of the dimension door spell, sort of. Of course, the mage teleport spell is better, but orinally druids didn't had any sort of teleportation spell, by design. Natural escape is some kind of nerfed thematic teleportation. I always say to Jeff that druids are somewhat the "hard" spell casters in NPP. By example, an early quest for killing baby multi-hued dragons is really hard for druids, but for a mage is much easier. And it's okay for me. Their spells are powerful (later you have access to a really good bolt spell of elemental nature), but you have to avoid more monsters. Sometimes I think about replacing the acid bolt spell in book #1 for a water bolt, but it's almost the same as using mana bolt. Only a few monsters resist water. This makes me think that the hurricane mage spell is a bit overpowered.

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#8 2013-08-19 11:52:54

CyclopsSlayer
Member
Registered: 2007-10-22
Posts: 104

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

Not a bad idea about Water Bolt, lots of things resist Acid.

Restarted with a Dunadan and 18/40 spell stats. MUCH easier time of it so far. At L8 I have the same spell abilities as my old L11, lol.

As to the Mage... between Shock Wave and Hurricane, most Lairs, pack/escort mobs and such are all easy mode. Only L25 on the current incarnation and it has been almost sleepwalking. WHICH is why I am trying the Drood... smile

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#9 2013-08-19 12:22:07

Diego Gonzalez
NPPAngband Source Contributor
Registered: 2004-10-09
Posts: 292

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

my problem with mages is that i get overconfident after finding raals and then die.

I think that acid bolt works for most early monsters. I just have to get used to fail that quest.

Remember that life draining bursts only work when you have a line of fire to the affected spots all the time.

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#10 2013-08-19 15:01:45

CyclopsSlayer
Member
Registered: 2007-10-22
Posts: 104

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

Yeah, overconfidence and impatience is why I haven't had a winner in quite some time now.

One of the reasons I parked my Mage for a bit, Guardian Quest at 1000', 15x Shades and me having no See Invisible. tongue

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#11 2013-08-19 18:45:22

Diego Gonzalez
NPPAngband Source Contributor
Registered: 2004-10-09
Posts: 292

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

My last win was 4 or 5 years ago. These days I play a level once and take the down stairs. So, I reach dlvl 80 or 90 without enough speed or CON, scared to death. Before, I descended slowly, usually finishing statgain and reaching clvl 50 around dlvl 60, with decent speed.

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#12 2013-08-20 01:47:24

ramela
Member
From: Helsinki
Registered: 2004-10-01
Posts: 420

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

I have quite the opposite experience with Mages than most, I guess. The high fail rate and mana cost of Hurricane and the low(ish) damage from Shock Wave usually leave me in trouble against bigger groups early with Mages, while singular monsters are easy due to the unmatched efficency of Magic Missile.

If you feel that Hurricane is too powerful, I  suggest raising the fail rate before anything else. At 0% fail rate, the damage output is pretty closely calculated to be roughly equivalent to Druid's ball spells while being worse than OoD against evil and better than OoD against non-evil.

If people start dying after finding Raal's, I guess that means it is pretty close to being balanced. tongue


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#13 2013-08-20 07:37:45

Diego Gonzalez
NPPAngband Source Contributor
Registered: 2004-10-09
Posts: 292

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

The damage made by Hurricane is okay. The thing that doesn't convince me is that most monsters are hurt by water. It´s like some kind of mana ball. This raises another issue that was on my mind since some months ago. Should Morgoth be susceptible to water?

SPOILER ALERT!

Almost all druid spells are useless against him. I think that only the life draining spells work, but it takes forever to kill him. Adding a light spell is like a priest thing to me. I think that a year ago Morgoth could be hurt by water and Ulmo's wrath worked fine. But then he could be killed by hurricane, with patience. It doesn´t sound good. This issue is somewhat difficult to balance. Perhaps we should add a time based spell, like O druids? Or a spell that grants a big melee bonus if you are barehanded? Notice that my creativity these days limits to stole from other variants smile

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#14 2013-08-20 08:19:54

ramela
Member
From: Helsinki
Registered: 2004-10-01
Posts: 420

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

I have the impression that I often faced monsters that resisted water or were immune. Not all the time, but enough that Hurricane never felt like a panacea.

Adding some amount of water resistance to the monster population is, on reflection, a better approach than tweaking the spell itself.

Note that it is propably enough to add water resistance to only a few monsters, if the monsters are common enough and challenging enough and players are motivated enough to fight them instead of just avoiding them at all times.

Overall, I think it is much better that most monsters have a few specific attack types that they resist instead of having just a specific weakness. (Even though I designed the Unique Istar this way on purpose.)

EDIT:

One notable monster that is very dangerous for Mages is the Power Drake, which resists pretty much anything a Mage can throw at them until Mana Bolt/Storm. That is a good example of a monster that can be an important problem for a class.

Last edited by ramela (2013-08-20 08:23:17)


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#15 2013-08-20 09:03:35

CyclopsSlayer
Member
Registered: 2007-10-22
Posts: 104

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

<mutter><mutter><curse><mutter>
Ground my Mage through the Shades... would fight 2-3 of them, until they drained my Int to ~7, recall to town, restore and head back down... And wouldn't you just figure... the second last kill dropped a Defender Broadsword so seeing the last one was easy... smile


As to the Druids, they just feel awkward to me, likely just not my style. Mana Pool:Mana Cost makes it feel like they just don't have enough to finish the job. Mages can fall back on a bow and with a good +toHit rarely miss, while Druids seem to still miss even with a +8/+6 Longbow @L14 it is not at all uncommon to only hit 50%. (just missed 8 of 11 shots vs. a Black Orc... with me caught OOM and out of scrolls leading to a most frustrating death)

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#16 2013-08-20 09:57:47

Diego Gonzalez
NPPAngband Source Contributor
Registered: 2004-10-09
Posts: 292

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

Black orcs are nasty for a low hp character. I've lost several characters (druids, mages and priests) in quests for killing a bunch of those guys. Dark elven priests and uruks are hard too. I usually avoid them. As Ramela said, sometimes you have to run away, perhaps failing a quest. Those records in the character dump make me uncomfortable but I prefer to have a character who is alive, at least for a few more turns since they all die anyways smile

I'm playing a druid now (made a hiatus from my dwarven warriors). I chose a long bow (+10, +8) for my first reward and it helped a lot. I will carry a few ?blessing and !heroism from now on.

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#17 2013-08-20 17:43:36

camb
Member
Registered: 2006-01-29
Posts: 705

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

ramela wrote:

One notable monster that is very dangerous for Mages is the Power Drake, which resists pretty much anything a Mage can throw at them until Mana Bolt/Storm.

Yep, it's possible to kill a Power Drake with nothing but Magic Missile, but time consuming and dangerous and can consume a lot of potions. Having to kill a dozen to clear a dragon nest is another matter... my heart sinks whenever I see many Power Drakes in a nest with an underpowered Mage.

Cameron

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#18 2013-08-20 21:45:02

RunningAway
Member
Registered: 2012-02-27
Posts: 246

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

Best way for a mage to kill power drakes is with good arrows.  Even non-slay arrows with a good bow makes short work of power drakes.  Spells?  I find teleport/teleport away to be useful.

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#19 2013-08-21 17:26:14

camb
Member
Registered: 2006-01-29
Posts: 705

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

RunningAway wrote:

Best way for a mage to kill power drakes is with good arrows. Even non-slay arrows with a good bow makes short work of power drakes.

Not sure about the best way, but yes good arrows or a good bow are effective... if you have them.

I find Rend Soul a reasonably cheap and effective option, especially when you line several of the buggers up for multiple hits with the same spell.

Cameron

Last edited by camb (2013-08-21 17:29:42)

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#20 2013-08-21 19:54:41

RunningAway
Member
Registered: 2012-02-27
Posts: 246

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

Rend soul is good, but I've had the misfortune of running into the drakes without that spellbook.  That's when you need the arrows.

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#21 2013-08-22 07:15:16

ramela
Member
From: Helsinki
Registered: 2004-10-01
Posts: 420

Re: Any tips on playing a Druid?

RunningAway wrote:

Best way for a mage to kill power drakes is with good arrows.  Even non-slay arrows with a good bow makes short work of power drakes.  Spells?  I find teleport/teleport away to be useful.

The problem with that (for me) is that I dislike shooting bows (and especially running around picking up my good arrows), particularly with spellcasters. (If I'm supposed to shoot arrows at things, why am I carrying these paper bricks around?)

The thing that makes Power Drakes bad for me (as a Mage) is the combination of avoiding bows (I sell the good ones and buy INT boosts) and and a general tendency for deficencies in hp, resistances and speed. Usually, when I see start seeing Power Drakes (without the effects of mushrooms being involved) I can usually cast Haste at a fail rate < 10% and Magic Missiles at 1% fail rate, but most of the time that only leaves me at an equal speed with some basic resistances still missing. (Nevermind having any of that fancy confusion/blindness resistance nonsense yet.)

But this is propably a function of my play style. My stat gain starts when I find creeping coins in a pit and does not involve killing mosters for potions, because that is more tedious. Because I am very focused on killing animated piles of loot and then buying drinks from the alchemist with said loot, I propably have below average gear and better than average fail rates and mana pools.

While those attributes line up adequately well against most monsters, the Power Drake is one where it does not. I think this is because it's resistances make it hard to kill with fast and focused application of mana (Hurricane and such), while a generally high HP, speed and hard to resist breaths make it hard to nickle and dime it with Magic Missiles.

Using Magic Missile on it in the midgame without a significant advantage in speed is propably a very risky proposition, because IIRC the buggers can breath Nexus, Gravity and/or Time for some really deadly secondary effects.

Obviously I like it that way. Every class should have a monster that it really hates around dlvl 35-45. Maybe we should make a monster that is somehow immune to ranged attacks and has DRAIN_ALL in melee, just to annoy the Fighters and Semi-Spellcasters. Especially the Rangers, those guys have had it way too good. :-P


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