User:Phol ende wodan/Monster letter rearrangement

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One source of moderate annoyance in the Mazes of Menace is that sometimes you can't identify a monster from a distance. Is that a dwarf king, or a master mind flayer? Is that a jackal that I can kill easily, or a werewolf that's going to summon help and tear me to pieces? Of course, farlook will inform the player of what the monster is, but it's not too useful of an interface.

Another confusing thing is that some monster letters are not letters at all, but punctuation marks. Punctuation is not quite as prominent to the human eye, especially on a map that mostly consists of punctuation marks. This is particularly problematic when apostrophes, semicolons, and blank spaces represent some of the more perilous monsters in the game.

This is a proposal to change monster colors and some classes in vanilla or a vanilla-like variant to fix those problems. It's based partially on a discussion with jonadab and several others with regards to this in Fourk; partially on User:Red_kangaroo/YANIs/Monsters#Class_symbols. Note that NetHack 4 has done a similar rearrangement.


The basic goals are, in order of priority:

  1. Eliminate the punctuation monster symbols, &, ', ;, and  , but not @ because it's traditional, iconic, and would probably cause a revolt if changed. (As noted below, perhaps & could be kept as well.)
  2. Keep monster colors within a letter as distinct as possible so the player has to do the minimum amount of farlooking to identify monsters. Note that there is no ANSI support for orange; NetHack's CLR_ORANGE uses bright red, which can variously render as orange, bright red, or pink depending on the terminal.
  3. Even out the number of monsters in each letter, so some classes (@) aren't overloaded while other classes (x, X, Q, z) have only one or two monsters.
  4. Have each letter be able to be summed up as something that describes the whole class or at least a large subset of it (a for ant; B for bat or bird; C for centaur).
  5. Avoid coloring things as white that are not already white, associated with ice/cold, or associated with humans, because statue glyphs always display as that.
  6. Avoid dark gray and blue conflicts, because of use_darkgray coloring anything dark gray as blue.
  7. Bright magenta is underused in general and not currently used for any monsters, though it is used for warning level 5. It seems like it ought to be used to denote the strongest, most powerful monster of a class.
  8. Werecreatures shouldn't change color in their different forms.
  9. Avoid changing a monster's established color, unless other rearrangements force it to be changed.

This assumes that few or no monsters are going to be added to what already exists in vanilla. When discussing this with regards to Fourk, that was not the case.

Moving monsters around

  • Golems are moved to the g monster class, and retain their colors. The previous residents of this class are moved to the B class, now described as "a bat, bird, or flying creature":
    • Gremlins are B
    • Gargoyles are B
    • Winged gargoyles are B
  • Elves are moved to the Q monster class, now described as "a Quendi (elf)", and retain their colors. Quantum mechanics are merged into the humanoid monster class and retain their colors: h.
  • Lizards are moved to the l monster class, now described as "a lizard". Not all of them keep their colors; see below. Leprechauns are merged into the imp monster class, which is now described as "an impish creature", and are recolored to i.
  • Major demons are moved to the I monster class, now described as "an infernal being". Not all of them keep their colors; see below. Instead of I being used to denote an unknown but observed monster, use a ? instead.
  • Possibly, retain & on the basis that it's not actually hard to identify (it used to be a letter of the alphabet, after all), and it has a longstanding association with demons and difficult monsters. However, rather than retaining all major demons (which still move to I), it could become a class for obvious boss monsters. The Riders would retain this symbol, and the class description could be "a demon lord or destructive force". Each demon lord could get its own unique color, with the Riders all being &. I'm undecided on this point.
  • Sea monsters are moved to the K monster class, now described as "a kraken or sea monster". Pirahnas don't keep their colors, see below; but everything else does. Keystone Kops, being human, are moved to the @ monster class, and are recolored as if they were Yendorian Army soldiers; see below. (Fourk removes the Kops entirely.)
  • Ghosts and shades are merged into the W monster class. No monsters in this class except Nazgul keep their colors; see below.
  • Puddings and blobs are merged into the j monster class, now described as "a jelly, blob or amorphous monster". This isn't strictly necessary unless you need the P and b monster classes freed up because you wanted to add some other new class, but it works thematically.
    • Gray ooze is b
    • Brown pudding is b
    • Black pudding is b
    • Green slime is b; acid blob is recolored to b
    • Blue jelly is b
    • Spotted jelly is b
    • Ochre jelly is b

Recoloring existing monsters

Recolors that are independent of letter rearrangement

  • Aleaxes are recolored to A.
  • Foxes are recolored to d, for three reasons: they are not really that distinct from jackals, the werejackal should be more immediately recognizable, and "red" foxes are actually brown.
  • Wererats are recolored to @ in their human form.
  • Werejackals are recolored to d in their jackal form.
  • Werewolves are recolored to d in their wolf form.
  • Wolves are recolored to d.
  • Wargs are recolored to d.
  • Floating eyes are recolored to e. Maybe this will shut up all the players complaining they can't see it.
  • Shriekers, as the "most dangerous" type of fungus, are recolored to F.
  • Minotaurs are recolored to H. Conflict with the non-generated giant monster is rare enough not to matter.
  • Dwarf kings are recolored to h. This removes their "purple = royal" association, but keeping mind flayers on magenta is more important both for assessing their level of danger and for consistency with that type of monster. If more "Lovecraftian horror" monsters got added, that might provide some impetus to create a class for them and move mind flayers into it, though.
  • Master mind flayers are recolored to h.
  • Arch-liches are recolored to L.
  • Human mummies are recolored to M for consistency with human zombies and humans in general.
  • Dwarf mummies are recolored to M.
  • Titanotheres are recolored to q.
  • Baluchitheria are recolored to q.
  • Mastodons are recolored to q.
  • Giant rats are recolored to r.
  • Wererats are recolored to r in their monster form.
  • Rabid rats are recolored to r.
  • Cobras are recolored to S.
  • Monkeys are recolored to Y.
  • Apes are recolored to Y.
  • Owlbears are recolored to Y.
  • Gnome zombies are recolored to Z for consistency with gnome mummies.
  • Dwarf zombies are recolored to Z for consistency with dwarf mummies.
  • The Wizard of Yendor is recolored to @.

Recolors that depend on letter rearrangement but could be applied in their current class

  • Demon princes (not the demon lords) are recolored to I.
  • Erinyes are recolored to I.
  • Mariliths are recolored to I.
  • Hezrous are recolored to I. Conflict with djinni is rare enough not to matter.
  • Barbed devils are recolored to I.
  • Nalfeshnees are recolored to I. Conflict with the mail daemon is rare enough not to matter.
  • Pit fiends are recolored to I.
  • Vrocks are recolored to I.
  • Imps are recolored to i.
  • Pirahnas are recolored to K.
  • Geckos are recolored to l.
  • Chameleons are recolored to l.
  • Baby crocodiles and crocodiles are recolored to l.
  • Keystone Kops are recolored to @.
  • Kop Sergeants are recolored to @.
  • Kop Lieutenants are recolored to @.
  • Kop Kaptains are recolored to @.

Recolors that depend completely on letter rearrangement

  • Ghosts are recolored to W.
  • Shades are recolored to W.
  • Wraiths are recolored to W.
  • Barrow wights are recolored to W.