04 March 2021

Angband: On the Doorstep pt. 2

So, here then is the Human Druid, Embor.
Child of a serf and black sheep of his family.


In pack and on person are carried small treasures.


Modest but honestly earned gear wielded.


And, after descending a flight of stairs to level 22 is now On the Doorstep, in the dungeon that is Angband.



Entry & Starting Map on Level 22

What appears to be a normal start map.
Your results will vary as Angband randomly generates all maps.

The Bad Feeling

On the Angband scale of feelings a character gets upon entering a level 'Omens of death haunt this place.' is number 9...on a scale of 1 to 9.
In contrast, number 1 on that scale reads 'This seems a quiet, peaceful place.'

Druidic Powers and Magic Devices

Druids have the ability to 'map' a portion their surroundings with the use of the spell 'Sense Surroundings'...aptly named. 

It is incredibly helpful as you can imagine and is found in the 'Book of Nature Magics [Gifts of Nature]'.


With a quick evocation of nature magics Embor is able to sense the environment within the dungeon.

Nothing out of the ordinary as of yet, I am intrigued by the doored small chamber to the north west and the cross shaped chamber to the north east.

Embor now employs a helpful magic device taken from a blackguard on level 21, the 'Rod of Treasure Location'.


And, with a quick zap...

 Lovely '*' populate the chambers that contain objects magic items or weapons and '*' denotes buried treasure such as coins or jewels. The chambers I was interested in contain loot and only a short distance from the start location. Promising.

Now for the last of my starting actions before moving I cast 'Detect Life' from the 'Book of Nature Magics [Lesser Charms]', an incredibly useful and potentially lifesaving spell, especially when you feel that omens of death haunt the place you stand.


 'Obad Hai reveal to me those living denizens of this sunless deep!'

A crushing blow.
A long list of foes and at the top a beast of legends,
the old wyrm himself...Smaug 'D'!

Smaug is no joke and running into him on level 22, 40 levels above where he's normally found is, to say the least, unexpected. The experience gained upon killing him is insane, just one catch there, you have to kill him.
The chambers to the west look just about as bad with a number of long fights and 3 named, unique monsters; Ibun 'h', Uglúk 'o' and Lugdush 'o'. 
 Ibun, Son of Mim

Meow, Meow?


Meow, Meow, Meow.


The 'Plan'
I'm not sure Embor is up for this fight, having struggled with smaller fights in the past. I'm more concerned with aggroing the entire lot and simply be overrun.
I suppose if I'm clever enough and, with a little luck, I could pull the groups out individually and work my way through them, taking short rests in between to recover hit and spell points before moving to the next. Might work.
Or, I could simply bypass all of it and pick my way through the remainder of the level without getting mixed up in this mess at all. Could be some good loot scattered about this level.
 Or, I could call the level a wash and head back up the stairs to start over.

Anyway, while mulling it all over, I take another look at Smaug not knowing if or when our paths would cross again and grabbed some screen shots to send to a friend for a laugh or two when I notice something about the cross shaped chamber.
There, the small northern chamber, an object all by it's lonesome, unguarded.

Also, no doors...anywhere.
Now that doesn't really mean anything as secret doors reveal themselves only when you get up next to them but, maybe I could access that north chamber without having to fight Smaug and grab whatever that object was.
My imagination begins to run away with thoughts of mithril shirts, magic rings or, dare I think it, the Arkenstone. What could possibly be stashed away in the chamber behind a dragon's chamber?
'Probably something good,' the burglar in me says 'something shinny'. 
Thoughts of leaving evaporate as I now start looking at ways to 'Bilbo' a trinket from Smaug and bring it back to my waiting company of dwarves.

'What now?'

25 February 2021

Angband: On the Doorstep pt. 1

'And how do you intend to enter Smaug's chambers?
Through the front gate? As a house guest?
You would be ashes before you took your seventh step.'



 Several weeks ago I was presented with an interesting and quite unexpected situation while playing Angband.

I had at the time started to play a Druid class character, in part because I was intrigued to see how the class would play in Angband and also to take a small break from the Priest character I had been leveling for the past month or so.
Now, playing the Priest took place during a break from playing my Ranger and, playing the Ranger took place during an even longer break from playing my 'iron man' Warrior character and, is a story for another post.
I am currently on a break from my Druid playing a Paladin within a break from a Mage but, this story concerns the Druid.
So many breaks and yet, always playing.

The Druid had been (still is) a learning experience in the application of cautionary movements and selective engagements. Though I relied heavily on spell casting they weren't abundantly offensive or overly powerful. Ranged weapons helped little and melee was an act of desperation most times.
I was just starting to get a feel for the classes subtle control and wary exploration type of play when the adventure presented itself.
I didn't recognize it initially, I think I was a bit stunned by what I was looking at.
I laughed and pshawed out loud for certain.
I stared at the screen for 10 or so minutes trying to figure out some way to salvage the level.
I wasn't sure the Druid had enough ass in his pants to tear into the mess I was looking at, not like the Priest anyhow.
So I continued to look at the screen.

I was ready to call it quits, 'shift <' and head back up the stairs, reset the level and return when, I recognized what it was I was looking at, something familiar, and thought...maybe?

Here, before me was the chance to burgle from the 'Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities'...Smaug!

And I was going to do it Bilbo style!

Well, I was gonna attempt to rip the old wyrm off and run away...at the very least.


11 February 2021



This week I mark 2 years of sobriety and the last of the small dates to note it.

After this there are only the large dates at 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and finaly 40.

I wasn't sure if quitting would take or not and honestly I was concerned that I couldn't.
I had no idea what the extent of my addiction was or if I would need to seek outside help to quit, which would never have happened. I had managed to quite tobacco years before, that was brutal, so I wasn't sure what getting off the booze would look like. I just felt, deep down, that I needed to quit.

Anyway, for me it began after a particularly rough night of excess. I wouldn't call it 'hitting rock bottom', just another random week night of too much cheap vodka from a plastic bottle.
The early morning commute in traffic to work the next day with a raging hangover, the recovery during the day in a dingy beige cubicle lit in cold fluorescent and a longer commute home in more traffic was my tipping point.
I started that night.

I set small goals and kept adding to them.
I told myself that if I could do 1 day without drink, then I could probably do 2 days.

And if I could 2 days, I certainly could do 3.

If I could do 3 days, I could make the effort to do a week.

1 week then 2.

2 weeks then a month.
This was a big one and I felt that at this point the real hard part was over for me.

1 month turned into 3 months.

3 months turned to 6.

6 months, a year. 
This felt like an accomplishment.

Last year, the covid year of job loss, home loss, moving, lifestyle upheaval and so many other things offered many excuses to get off the wagon, to say 'Fuck it!' and tip up a bottle again.
But it didn't happen.
And this week is now 2 years.

I'll check back again at 5.


10 February 2021

Angband the Unforgiving


I've been playing Angband since November-ish of 2020, not my first go around with the game but definitely the longest serious stretch of play.
It has captured my attention.

Recently a very interesting situation presented itself in game, a unique and unexpected encounter that I'm chomping at the bit to get into and want to document here.

Before I get into those upcoming posts I feel I need to give a very brief, bare bones description of the game to maybe pique your interest and look into for yourself.

 If you're not familiar with Angband it's not your fault. We play in a world drowning in games and Angband is an OLD GAME, built on a OLDER GAME, inspired by a SLIGHTLY OLDER GAME which places us somewhere around 1980.

It's a dungeon crawler based on Tolkien's legendarium but it feels like old school D&D to me...imho.


In short, the game is:

'Angband is a roguelike game set in a high-fantasy universe. The game world is made up of levels, numbered from zero (“the town”) to some maximum depth. Levels are increasingly dangerous the deeper they are into the dungeon. Levels are filled with monsters, traps, and objects. Monsters move and act on their own, traps react to creatures entering their square, and objects are inert unless used by a creature. The objective of the game is to find Morgoth at depth 100 and kill him.'

The Angband Manual 



Angband is low tech.
No big tits, big pecs characters with unique glowing armor sets.
No community gathering place to show off your rare epic mount.

Just you (@), the drooling village idiot (t) and your little home (8) in an ASCII world.
There are options to play with very basic tile set graphics but I perfer ASCII.

Angband is the devil in the detail.
This game may seem simple but it's more complicated and difficult then you may expect. 

 You will need to manage the limited resources you carry, watch your encumbrance, eat, and maintain a light source.
All those pesky little details that have been removed from so many modern games are in play here and may kill you if you're not careful. 

In contrast, I had a character in WoW with a quiver that held 28,000 arrows and as unbelievable as that was, those arrows also weighed nothing. What's the point in keeping count at all?
Arrows in Angband take up space, have weight and they break...often.

Angband is unforgiving.
It's a difficult game that punishes stupidity and mistakes.
Don't believe me? Roll up a Human Mage as your first character and see how far you get.
This poor bastard didn't even make it to the dungeon, killed in town, level 0...there's 100+ levels to this game.
May as well have died during character creation ala Traveller.

And while were looking at this gravestone keep this in mind when playing. When your character dies, it's dead. No re-spawn points, no resurrection, no do-overs...just dead.

Permadeath abides.

Angband is imagination heavy.
The player must engage with this environment, especially when playing ASCII, by imagining that this: 'S

is a Mirkwood Spider

Lazy Lob, Attercop!


This: 'j'

A Gelatinous Cube



And this: 'D'...

well, here there be Dragons!

So, I guess it's no wonder that this and others games of similar ilk (Dwarf Fortress) mostly go unnoticed in the world or are, in general, 'unknown'.
They're too hard, require too much thinking and reward you with...text?

But I was promised unique, oversized spaulder skins!!!



 This game will challenge you.

You will yell.

You will die...repeatedly.

It may be the most skillful bit of gaming in your life.


I invite you to explore the game on your terms and make your own opinions.

Download it from the curators: Angband

Very helpful: User Manual and Strategy Guide

A good post to whet your appetite: All About The Games

Luck friend!

More to follow...

29 January 2021

Elric the Eternal Rocker


'In the long litany of sword-wielding mass murderers that
populate the pages of a thousand lesser fantasy novels, Elric
of Melniboné is far and away the coolest, grimmest, moodiest,
most elegant, degenerate, drug-addicted, cursed, twisted and
emotionally weird mass murderer of them all.'

Jason Sheehan - NPR Book Suggestion


I like the description and don't find this article odd at all.

*eyebrow raised



The Elric Saga:
Stories I've once started, never finished and continually remind myself to revisit...at some point.

I was hot on reading them some time ago and did manage to finish, mostly, Book 1.
And not unlike 'The Stars My Destination' I ended up feeling I missed something, not understanding the praise placed upon this series or the idea of the Eternal Champion.

I feel that the last couple of years have brought on a new found sense of purpose and maturity into my life, a broader state of mind in understanding.

Certainly this is age related but also I feel an expansion of consciousness is at work as well.
Nothing profound, just a bit more grace in my thinking.
With this has come a re-reading or first time reading of many many books, I feel that I'm final 'ready' to digest those ideas properly.
Watch out Delany, I'm coming for you. 


So Elric...
I've been jonesing to read the saga lately and, of course, I did not bring the books on our trip here.
This isn't the first time I've wanted to read them and simply did not have the books to read. At some point in the past I collected up a complete set determined to be ready for the next time Elric beckoned.
Well wouldn't you know, that urge to read them is here again and alas my tomes are locked away upon a mountain side.

This urge is always brought on when I hear one of two songs that were inspired by Elric, both of which have been mercilessly earworming their way through my head this week.

 It was a couple of years back that I discovered to my surprise that two legendary bands had ties to Elric.
There are others but I'm just going to mention two of them here, they're the ones I listen to on a regular basis.

Both quite good in my opinion.

And though not a substitute for the books they'll have to tide me over until I'm reacquainted with my stash.



Deep Purple
Perfect Strangers
Perfect Strangers

Crunchy organ intro by the late Jon Lord sets the tone for this lament to Morcock's doomed hero.

Masterful lyrics credited to Gillan, Blackmore and Glover but I have a feeling most of it was driven by Blackmore's influence.

Gillan's wizened voice commands mournfully strung lyrics like:
'I know I must remain inside this silent well of sorrow'.
There is a wonderful layer of mystery to this song and I can imagine someone not knowing of Elric and later discovering it was inspired by a book would be compelled to seek it out to read.

The Perfect Strangers single was released with the B side, 
'Son of Alerik'.
A smokey atmospheric instrumental to get lost in, featuring Blackmore and Lord.
I think this would pair well with an Elric read..give it a go.

Also, check out Blackmore's Night...if you're so inclined.

Jon Lord...\m/


Bardic Blackmore


Perfect Strangers

Can you remember, remember my name
As I flow through your life
A thousand oceans I have flown

And cold, cold spirits of ice
All my life
I am the echo of your past

I am returning the echo of a point in time
And distant faces shine
A thousand warriors I have known

And laughing as the spirits appear
All your life
Shadows of another day

And if you hear me talking on the wind
You've got to understand
We must remain perfect strangers

I know I must remain inside this silent well of sorrow

A strand of silver hanging through the sky
Touching more than you see
The voice of ages in your mind, oh-oh-oh

Is aching with the dead of the night
Oh, oh, oh, precious life
Your tears are lost in falling rain

And if you hear me talking on the wind
You've got to understand
We must remain perfect strangers 




Blue Oyster Cult
Black Blade
Cultösaurus Erectus

 I associate BOC with the song 'Veteran of the Psychic Wars' which I first listened to on the 'Heavy Metal' soundtrack sometime in the 80's.
I played those albums over and over and over and over. So much so that I eventually started having weird dreams with Psychic Wars as the background music. I was haunted by the pounding drums, eerie synth, hopeless lyrics and ended up not being able to listen to it for a long time as it always produced dark, depressing thoughts and imagery in my head.
I suppose that's precisely the intent of any successful anti-war song or writing.

 I've never been a huge BOC fan, especially considering 'that one song with the cowbell' that everybody knows being what they're best 'known' for but, after listening to 'Black Blade' I've been more inclined to spend time with the band.

Black Blade is a type of song I love; one that conveys a compelling story without being overly obscure, artsy fartsy or require a masters degree in literature to understand. That said however, I'm not suggesting it's simple either. I find it to be quite clever and the perspectives it takes are compelling.  
It sings of The Black Blade and the poor sod wielding it or it of the wielding poor sod and like 'Perfect Strangers' I feel that one would be eager to find the source of the lyrics after listening to them.

But the coolest part about this song, aside from the skill and musicianship that I cannot properly convey in any meaningful or intelligent way other than to say 'It's cool, I like it!' is that Moorcock wrote/co-wrote the lyrics...'nuff said.

And as it turns out, Moorcock also wrote/co-wrote the lyrics to 'Veteran of the Psychic Wars'...hmmm.
Veteran harkens back to the band 'Hawkwind' (post Lemmy) and their Eternal Champion inspired album 'Warriors on the Edge of Time', which Moorcock also help write...double hmmm, hmmm.

And while we're talking about Hawkwind, check out the album 'The Chronicle of the Black Sword"' another Elric inspired album with a small assit from Moorcock on one song.
I like this album as well.



 Black Blade

I have this feeling that my luck is none too good
This sword here at my side don't act the way it should
Keeps calling me its master, but I feel like its slave
Hauling me faster and faster to an early, early grave

And it howls! It howls like hell!

I'm told it's my duty to fight against the law
That wizardry's my trade and I was born to wade through gore
I just want to be a lover, not a red-eyed screaming ghoul
I wish it'd picked another to be its killing tool

Black Blade, Black Blade
Forged a billion years ago
Black Blade, Black Blade
Killing so its power can grow (grow, grow, grow, grow...)

It's death from the beginning to the end of time
And I'm the cosmic champion and I hold a mystic sign
And the whole world's dying and the burden's mine
And the black sword keeps on killing 'til the end of time

Black Blade, Black Blade
Bringing chaos to the world we know
Black Blade, Black Blade
And it's using me to kill my friends
Black Blade, Black Blade
Getting stronger so the world will end
Black Blade, Black Blade
Forcing my mind to bend and bend

I am the Black Blade
Forged a million billion years ago
My cosmic cycles are for eternity
Carving out destiny
Bringing in the Lords of Chaos
Bringing up the Beasts of Hades
Sucking out the souls of heroes
Laying waste to knights and ladies
My master is my slave
You poor fucking humans




07 January 2021

Black Sabbath: The Mob Rules


Ahhh, come on!

Close the city and tell the people,
That something's coming to call.
Death and darkness are rushing forward,
To take a bite from the wall.

You've nothing to say,
They're breaking away.
If you listen to fools,
The mob rules.
The mob rules.

 Kill the spirit and you'll be blinded,
And the end is always the same.
Play with fire you burn your fingers,
And lose your hold of the flame.

It's over, it's done,
The end has begun.
If you listen to fools,
The mob rules.

You've nothing to say,
Oh, they're breaking away.
If you listen to fools...


 Break the circle and stop the movement,
The wheel is thrown to the ground.
Just remember it might start rolling and
Take you right back around.

You're all fools!

 'One fool makes many.'