Crawl Legends 1 - 78291's xl12 Ascension

by demonblade

Crawl Legends 1 >Crawl Legends 2

Originally written: February 28, 2016

Gather round, and I will tell you a tale

Long, long ago, in the days of the ancients, the dungeon of Zot was… different. There was no Cheibriados, no Spider's Nest. People spoke in hushed tones of arcane magic such as Divinations and Enchantments. It was a time when there was no manual training, and many more elves and dwarves roamed the character screen. It was a time of legends. Back then, men were real men, women were real women, and spriggans were real spriggans.

And 78291 was the realest spriggan of them all.

It's time, my fellow divers, to relive the legends, to bring the forgotten to life. Gather round for the tale of 78291 and his quest for the legendary orb of Zot: a venture he would pursue at an experience level when lesser spriggans feared even to enter the Lair of Beasts. Yes, it is time for the story of the XL12 victory, which stands as the second-lowest-level Crawl victory of all time. And the lowest doesn't count. (We'll cover it later.)

It started like any other game of Crawl, really. No, he wasn't exploring every crevasse of the dungeon, but he ran around like any newly adventuring Spriggan Air Elementalist, casting and miscasting Shock on the various goblins and rats of the dungeon. It was simple enough: run, zap, run some more, dive down, repeat.

Soon enough, he learned Mephitic Cloud, leaving centaurs and others to stumble around blindly. As I said: normal. Simple.

Killer bees threatened him once or twice, but he reached level 10 more or less without incident, in what was shaping up to be a wholly unexceptional game.

We'll pause here for a moment, after noting his exploration far into the Lair, to note a couple of things: First, he chose Sif Muna to allow him early access to a carefully chosen set of spells.

These spells.

Second, you'll notice his Exp. Pool. And his Repel Missiles spell.

In ancient times, wanting to use a spell school was simply not enough. You had to prove your loyalty through an obscure ritual spoken of only in hushed tones: Victory Dancing. It was a difficult task for only the most dedicated of adventurers… Put simply, he'd cast Repel Missiles like 30 times after every few fights so all the experience from defeating those monsters would flow into the Enchantments school (today split into Charms and Hexes), preparing him for future Haste and Invisibility.

It was at this point, deep in the Lair of Beasts, that he would go from an ordinary explorer of the dungeon to a legend. You see, the moment he was able to cast the spells of his choice, he dove.

Straight into the Swamp. The first few levels provided a largely inconsequential clump of giant frogs, insubstantial wisps, and vampire mosquitoes, which he dispatched with little trouble as he went deeper.

Soon enough, he reached Swamp 5: underleveled, frail, and with no business there, ready to employ a strategy soon to become very familiar. He explored cautiously, waiting for his moment, then teleported.

First: Spot the vault, detect (rip detect creatures) a dozen dragons and hydras ready to end his life in a turn.

Then: Teleport, working to draw little attention as he approached his goal.

He landed nearby, went invisible...

and blinked in. Simple. The diligent guards crowded the entrance, eager to destroy any intruders to their vault.

But he was long gone, teleporting out of there with the first of three runes.

Back to the Lair, with a bit of victory dancing for good measure.

And onward into the Snake Pit, after a bit of exploration and combat to push him to level 12. It was to be his last level gain, with the rest of the dungeon passing with very little true combat.

Curious spectators commented several times throughout the adventure, seeking to understand the secrets for themselves. Bonus points for any who know what ziropiro is saying when he mentions “it adds up to it”.

Careful exploration meant that he had to deal with some of the faster snakes, but ran from just about everything else. A berserker ghost gave him some trouble.

The Snake Pit would prove a tougher challenge than the Swamp, though the basic strategy remained the same: Dive, teleport, teleport, run, teleport, run, rinse and repeat.

It took several teleports, giving him the chance to see a veritable army of nagas.

Eventually, he found himself again near the rune vault. You'll notice Guardian Serpents were once Guardian Nagas.

With a few careful blinks and a distracted naga army, 78291 found himself at his second rune.

He teleported out...

...and was nearly killed by a spell from a greater naga. This moment really illustrates the razor's edge of games like this one: had things gone just a bit differently, this would have been just another splat in Snake.

But, with care and a good helping of luck, he got back to the staircase.

“How long have you been playing?"

He goes on to clarify that it was actually a bit longer, but this gives an idea of the timeframe.

78291 escaped back into the dungeon

And then he dove. The dungeon was generally uneventful, as he was able to outrun most everything and dive to the next downstairs. He stumbled on the Vaults almost by chance around this dungeon level, and was greeted by...

This guy. In a moment, a dragon right at the Vaults entry had taken two thirds of his HP with a single hit.

After that nearly game-ending burst of carelessness, he blinked and ran deeper into the Vaults. Again, it passed for the most part without incident.

Most of the time, he was able to avoid confrontations and get quickly to the next level down.

He even found a labyrinth! Going this quickly through the dungeon, you miss out on a lot of equipment, and he explained that it was a good chance to potentially pick up some much-needed resists. Without finding anything special inside, though, he had no choice but to continue on.

Down to Vaults:7, back when it was eight levels of mostly-identical rooms instead of the shortened, intensified layout of today.

And Vaults:8, with 60hp, 9ac, and 25ev. And 24 vault guards eager to dice him.

But they had no ready response to a teleport, and he was off.

Until recently, the corridors around the outside of the final level of the Vaults were a fairly safe place to be, with few monsters and plenty of empty space.

After a bit more exploration and teleporting, the level looked something like this.

Things got fun a couple of times.

He even found a largely unguarded room of loot where he picked up a +5 ring of evasion, improving his defenses to a degree.

Soon enough, he found the rune under a sleeping spiny worm. He apported it and was off.

But escaping is always a tricky subject, and he almost died again to a stone giant.

“When you play, do you see the code behind things, like Neo?”

Here we get to see the essence of strategy, from the mouth of the master strategist himself. Savor it, apply it, and rejoice in your newfound power.

“So you are like the prime example of mind over matter?”

Our friend the dragon reared his head again, but a blink scroll and spriggan speed again saved the moment.

From there, three runes in hand, it was a “simple” matter of diving through twelve more dungeon levels and the realm of Zot.

"oh hi"

The only really tricky moment until Zot:5 came with this welcoming party into the Realm, which led to magic mapping and a chain of teleports all around the level until he got away.

This was about the eighth set of dragons and draconians he met on the level.

Hidden under a draconian is the staircase he eventually managed to escape down.

He prepared to enter Zot:5, with all the protection of a +3 Robe of Fire Resistance and a ring of fire, Insulation, and absolutely no other resistances to complement his 60 total health. In a position like that, there is one option: Teleport like a madman and hope you get lucky.

Not so lucky.

Not particularly lucky.

Sorta lucky, maybe.

Lucky, but with a nice crowd of creatures just out of sight waiting to end him.

Surrounded by enough firepower to end him three times in a turn or so.

And here we are. He finally got a lucky teleport into the orb chamber, letting him apport the orb and teleport away. From there, he had to teleport out of Zot:5, which involved a sequence of near-death experiences with orbs of fire and other friends, a well-timed blink scroll (back before the orb prevented controlled blinks), and finally a 'port away from danger and upward. Through this, his HP stayed generally at about 50% full.

78291's review of his performance

“no way that should have lived through that”

You might expect an orb run full of drama and intensely threatening moments, but, well, the orb run then was even tamer than it is now, and this spriggan was no exception to that.

With only a few threatening instants, carefully handled, the luckiest spriggan ever to enter the dungeon rushed back out to the first floor.

And won.

If you've never watched a 78291 speedrun… go do it. There's something enthralling about his constant string of near-death experiences, combined with a knack for knowing exactly what to do to cheat the dungeon of its rightfully deserved kills. This game stands both as one of the trickiest challenge runs to pull off and a reminder of how much has changed about Crawl, as every section of the dungeon looks dramatically different from the days when 78291 danced his way through.

Thanks for reading this saga. I'll continue working through dusty annals of Crawl history, looking for the best games to dust off and highlight. There have been a lot of incredible moments in this game, and they deserve some attention.

About the Author:
demonblade (or: Blade-) is a writer and (mostly retired) Crawl veteran who spent his glory days, such as they were, cheerfully scumming MuCKs, setting obscure Dungeon Sprint speed records, and getting ##crawl to save his hide in tight spots. He wrote several well-received chronicles of Crawl legends, then faded away with a promise to return with another story within months. Several years on, that promise seems suspect, but those who know where to look can still find him lurking around and taking notes on the new legends.