So I’m continuing on, slowly, with my boy Darindel the High-Elf (cheating) Ranger. Despite having found a couple of Neat Items, the game is becoming a bit of a drag.

Last night he was wandering around level 1, looking for a stairway down. I figured it was time to try out something slightly (I hoped) tougher, because the current level was a bit dull. Besides, the treasure might be better.

But I hadn’t been walking around long when I got the message that there was “something special about this level”. That usually – though not always – means an artifact is lying around in some obscure corner. And I had to find it on this trip, or I’d lose it forever. No leaving the dungeon, or heading downstairs, until it was found. My greatest dread at that moment was walking into a trap door that would dump me below.

So of course a Greater Hell-beast shows up. Since I’m cheating, I know this thing has AC 75, 1125 hitpoints, is resistant to a lot of magic, can go right through rock, is worth a big 5 x.p., and has three attacks per round, two gazes and a crush.

As the “cheat death” was on, I wasn’t too worried about dying. Only this critter turned out to be annoying rather than deadly. It gazed at me. Nothing happened. It crushed me. Nothing happened. Was it “cheat death” keeping me from harm? Nope. It looks like the GHB is there just to fool you.

The bad part is that it follows you around, “attacking”, and that means searching is just about impossible. Now I was really terrified of running into a trap door. At least every so often it got bored and teleported off somewhere.

Happily, I didn’t fall down to the next level, and finally did turn up the “something special”, which turned out to be a phial of eternal light, one of the game’s artifacts. Very nice for level 1, I think.

Today I was messing around on level 2, and who did I run into? Smeagol! Yeah, the game is heavy on “borrowing” characters from LOTR, as well as Amber (Roger Zelazny’s Amber), and Cthulhu, among others. I got rid of him fast, and he dropped a mysterious “corded armor”.

I don’t know what it is, because I can’t afford an *identify* scroll. That’s the one that reveals everything about an item. There’s a lesser one, but it only tells you a little about something.

After stashing it in my home (a handy convenience for holding stuff, something more games should have for us packrats), I went back down to level two. And finally, Darindel met his almost-demise.

It was my own fault. I was wanting to get back to town, and came across a room with stairs up, and a bunch of little spiders, who were all sleeping. Since his steath is listed as “excellent”, I tried edging for the stairs, but they woke up. And pretty much nibbled him to 0 hitpoints.

So the game asked if I wanted to die, and of course I said “no”; the whole point of cheating is to ensure that doesn’t happen. Anyway, I was popped out of the dungeon, and the hitpoint/spell point/food bars were maximized.

That gives one pause for thought. On level 2, it’s fine. On level 20, it wouldn’t be so fine, not when you consider the levels are always recreated when you re-enter. Not to mention, I had a momentary chill, thinking about that Greater Hell-beast. Had it actually been dangerous, I’d have lost my chance for the eternal light artifact forever.

In any case, progress is slow, and cash not so easy to come by. Darry is only level 7. Of course, being both a High-Elf and a ranger, there’s a significant experience penalty involved. I can deal with that. But not having enough gold really bites. And like I said earlier, poking around the dungeon is a drag. But I’m still with it for the moment.