User:Ion frigate/Role difficulty (SLASH'EM)

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The roles from vanilla nethack have all been slightly altered in some way in SLASH'EM. This page aims to point out those differences, and reassess the difficulty of the old roles, while evaluating that of the new ones.

Archaeologist

Easier

  • Fedora acts somewhat as a blessed luckstone (keeps positive luck, but does not give extra luck)
  • Ability to identify gems is handy for buying 1000zm magic lamps
  • Better spellcasting abilities
  • Start with scrolls and a spellbook
  • Research technique allows occasional identification
  • Can gain skill in firearms

Harder

  • Thick-hided baby dragons appear fairly often early on, making the bullwhip an even worse weapon

Overall

The archaeologist is similar in difficulty to vanilla in SLASH'EM. They have a lot of seeming advantages, but none of them are particularly useful in the early game, especially given their still-woeful combat abilities and HP growth. The advantages they gain in SLASH'EM, primarily the almost always positive luck, do not offset the general increase in difficulty of SLASH'EM monsters.

Barbarian

Easier

  • Nothing in particular, berserk technique is a mixed blessing

Harder

  • Items cost 3x as much in shops

Overall

Barbarians are a pure hack-and-slash class, and this is retained is SLASH'EM by leaving them relatively unaltered. The increased price of items in shops is somewhat vexing, as a barbarian can expect a magic lamp to cost at least 3000zm or more, but not that hard to overcome, given barbarians' overall better survivability. They remain one of the easiest classes in SLASH'EM.

Caveman

Easier

  • Excellent guaranteed first sacrifice gift, Skullcrusher, a club (according with the caveman's starting weapon) that does an extra 10 damage against all monsters
  • Natural 2-square night vision radius

Harder

  • The Sceptre of Might has been significantly decreased in power, doing a mediocre amount of extra damage against cross-aligned monsters

Overall

The guaranteed gift of Skullcrusher is a huge advantage, and the night vision is a huge plus in the mines. The decrease in the power of the Sceptre is hardly noticeable, as Skullcrusher is almost superior to the original one anyway. Overall, cavemen are a much easier role in SLASH'EM.

Healer

Easier

  • Start with a wand of healing
  • Can use medkits effectively and start with one
  • Start with lots of gold, which is more important in SLASH'EM

Harder

  • Nothing in particular

Overall

Healers remain a fairly difficult role; the wand of healing is helpful for surviving the early game, but combat abilities still matter more, and the healer still starts with a very substandard weapon, and cannot use the more powerful ones. Overall, given the increase in pure melee damage that most monsters do, healers are more difficult in SLASH'EM.

Knight

Easier

  • Start with better armor (plate mail, large shield)
  • Only role that starts with a long sword, to get Excalibur
  • Will almost always start with very high strength

Harder

  • Inability to gain skill levels in attack spells makes their quest artifact less useful
  • Are pretty much guaranteed to start at or near maximum encumbrance (increased strength is there to prevent them from starting off actually encumbered)

Overall

The problem of encumbrance is fairly vexing, as Knights are going to have to drop stuff to even pick up food. However, they have an easier time surviving the early game, although their HP growth is still pretty abysmal. In total, a slightly easier role.

Monk

Easier

  • Gain natural protection from not wearing body armor other than robes
  • First sacrifice gift, Gauntlets of Defense, is among the best items in the game, able to alone provide the equivalent of 18 or 19 AC
  • Redesign of robes means they don't have to leave body armor slot empty, just fill it with a robe
  • Techniques all can be quite handy, mostly doing additional damage
  • Can naturally hit all monsters regardless of any sort of enchantment, eventually
  • Chaotic monks can now wish for a quest artifact that provides magic resistance, meaning all monks now can

Harder

  • No longer gain elemental resistances from leveling up (still gain poison resistance though)
  • Using a weapon costs a lot of natural protection, making the Staff of Aesculapius a much less viable option
  • Have to be careful about meeting a few monsters too early, as they won't be able to harm them
  • No good way for them to gain drain resistance, a now much more needed property, as they will likely need the amulet slot for reflection

Overall

Monks are much, much easier in SLASH'EM. Many of their advantages are formidable in the early game, in particular the Gauntlets of Defense. They no longer suffer from a dearth of AC; eventually, a monk can get to AC -40 or so like any other SLASH'EM character. They still suffer from poor HP growth, and have to be very careful of wands of draining in the later game. However, they are a far easier class than before.

Priest

Easier

  • Blessing technique is very useful in early game for enchanting weapons and armor (by blessing the respective scrolls)
  • Can gain skill in long sword
  • Always start with a spellbook of healing
  • Start with a +2 small shield

Harder

  • Mace is now +0, instead of +1
  • First sacrifice gift is mostly a late-game artifact
  • Change in robe mechanics means they no longer start with MC 3 or enhanced spellcasting.

Overall

The priest is a somewhat easier than in vanilla; their initial combat abilities are worse, but they can enhance those much more easily now, and the spellbook of healing is great for surviving the early game. Unfortunately, Disrupter is not a very useful weapon in the early game (it does 30 extra damage against undead), but is very handy in the later game, where undead spellcasters such as liches and ghoul/vampire mages will be the bane of your existence. The ability to gain skill in longsword (up to skilled, actually) is useful for lawful priests who want Excalibur, or anyone who gets lucky with a bones pile.

Ranger

Easier

  • Most new monsters do their damage through melee, thus ranged combat is more useful

Harder

  • Bows are now two-handed, hampering their effectiveness once you find a good shield (or vice versa)
  • It is no longer possible for Elven rangers to guaranteed a gift of Stormbringer

Overall

Rangers are much the same as in vanilla, not particularly easier or harder comparatively. They are still middling in hand-to-hand, excellent at ranged combat. The reflection provided by the Longbow of Diana is now much more crucial for any Ranger using a shield of reflection.

Rogue

Easier

  • First sacrifice gift is easily the best weapon in the game, the Bat from Hell, which does a flat 20 extra damage against all monsters, and unlike Grayswandir is immediately useful
  • Ability to poison more weapons, daggers in particular, is highly useful for rogues
  • May start with a firearm, and can get to Expert in them
  • Always start with a stack of +0 darts, a useful backup weapon
  • Start with large amounts of gold, good for buying magic lamps
  • Start with 4 blessed scrolls of teleportation, which in SLASH'EM give teleport control for a few turns (allowing you to choose where you teleport to)

Harder

  • Are somewhat overcharged in shops (2x, less than barbarians)
  • Still have poor HP growth and hand-to-hand combat abilities in the early game

Overall

Rogues are still a somewhat difficult early game role in SLASH'EM, but even past the early-middle game become just about the easiest role, pretty much all thanks to the wonderful Bat from Hell. Firearms can also be immensely damaging weapons, and Rogues can get to skilled in them. The ability to poison their starting daggers can be a lifesaver in the early game, but a Rogue's early game is going to be almost all about finding that altar to get the Bat from Hell.

Samurai

Easier

  • Nothing in particular

Harder

  • Are overcharged in shops

Overall

Samurai are still a strong role in SLASH'EM; they have received little alteration, with the overcharging in shops intended to make them a little bit harder. Still, their excellent starting weapon and rustproof armor are major advantages in the early game, allowing them to slice and dice their way through most of the lower-level monsters. They are just a small amount harder.

Tourist

Easier

  • Have artifact speed boots guaranteed as first sacrifice gift (they also grant stealth and act as a luckstone)
  • Start with more gold (always 1000+)
  • Start with six scrolls of magic mapping instead of four, always enough to reach the shopping mall if it exists
  • Can gain Basic skill in firearms, and their quest always contains a large amount of weapons and ammo

Harder

  • Guaranteed armor sacrifice gift makes it harder to get a decent weapon to fight with
  • Neutral artifact weapons in general are weak, more so in SLASH'EM comparatively

Overall

Tourists follow the same general pattern of difficulty as in nethack; they are very difficult in the early game, but trivial in the later game. However, their early game is somewhat easier, due to the guaranteed speed boots and more gold, and their late game is a little harder, as they won't have a good artifact weapon almost certainly. About the best they can hope for is Vorpal Blade, which in SLASH'EM at least beheads 10% of the time instead of 5%. Firearms can be very useful to offset this, but require carrying large amounts of enchanted ammo. Overall, however, tourists are slightly easier in SLASH'EM.

Valkyrie

Easier

  • Have a starting stack of five daggers, occasionally useful at range
  • Weapon practice technique lets them more easily use weapons in the early game

Harder

  • Start with a +1 spear instead of a +1 long sword; this is a much worse weapon
  • Lawful valkyries can no longer easily obtain Excalibur

Overall

Valkyries, by the simple replacement of their starting long sword with a spear, have in a stroke been made a much more difficult role. For a lawful Valkyrie, the early game is all about finding either an altar or a long sword; for neutrals, it is about finding that altar. The starting spear is very quickly outclassed. The slight advantages they are given to offset this, more daggers and the weapon practice technique, do not make up for much.

Wizard

Easier

  • Start with four spellbooks instead of two
  • Gain a number of useful spellcasting techniques
  • With careful management, need to reread spellbooks can be quite diminished

Harder

  • Second sacrifice gift is close enough to useless (Deluder, an artifact cloak of displacement that grants stealth and acts as a luckstone, is really not worth the loss of reliable MR and MC 3.)
  • Can only start with low-level spellbooks; no more wizard with the spellbook of identify
  • Have a chance of starting with sleep as an attack spell, which is less universally useful than force bolt, and somewhat dangerous to non-elven characters
  • Dragon scale mail now interferes with spellcasting

Overall

Wizards are about the same in difficulty in SLASH'EM, despite all that is listed above. Spellcasting in general is more powerful in SLASH'EM, and wizards can take advantage of this well. They still have the huge advantage of starting with magic resistance, and the spellcasting penalty of DSM decreases to tolerable amounts at higher experience levels.