We’ve had several discussions in the past on that eternal topic, “Death & The CRPG”. Usually, the debate centers around saving and restoring, that is, ways to make death “meaningful”. Death, however, is not the worst. As I am learning from ZAngbandTK, there are things worse than death.

Which is not to say I go bouncing blithely around the levels in carefree abandon, secure in the knowledge Darindel can be revived. From the one time (so far) that he bit the dust, I know that resurrection means being popped to the surface entrance of the dungeon, hale and hearty again.

It also means walking back down to whatever level he died on, because using Word Of Recall is too dangerous. That level would be regenerated, and I could easily find myself in a room full of monsters. That happens regularly just going up and down the stairs. So while death doesn’t mean “game over, man”, it does mean at the very least a long and tedious journey downwards.

Still, there are other nasty things that cause me to walk with prudence. For instance, there are traps that permanently reduce stats. These can be restored by potions, but the Alchemy Shop’s inventory is always random, and what I want may not be in stock for some time.

Any number of critters have the ability to bite/touch and reduce stats, as well. Typically, just one stat, but consider several of those hits in one fight. Darindel could easily emerge rather crippled from the encounter.

Then there are the priests and paladins. While described as “good”, they never hesitate to attack on sight, and usually the first thing they try to do is put a curse on me. Thanks a lot, “good guys”. Scrolls of Remove Curse are available, but there often isn’t time to use one while fighting for your life. And deeper down, those priests usually come in groups; I’ve counted as many as ten at once.

Perhaps worst of all are the critters who can steal or destroy items. These I avoid at all costs. While artifacts are immune to the usual destructive attacks, others are not. I’ve already lost some scrolls to an acid-using monster; there was a big surprise waiting for me behind a door, and I couldn’t get away in time.

Enemies who can steal from you with a touch are no better, since the result is the same. Some can show up outside the dungeon, too. Black Market Agents, for instance, are always on the prowl for “good stuff”. I kill them on sight.

So yeah, death is the least of my worries. Not that I’d want to see a lot of this in a standard RPG, especially not the way Roguelikes tend to pour it on. One nerve-racking game is quite enough! The usual save and restore is just fine with me when it comes to the “A titles”, or, for that matter, the indie products.

In fact, I appreciate that ability even more now, and would hate to see it reduced in effectiveness. Having experienced ZTK, I can well do without any more fates worse than death.