The Yeoman is a role that appears in SLASH'EM and SlashTHEM. Yeomen are based primarily around the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London, and are melee-focused combatants similar to Knights, with more skill in riding and polearm use. Yeomen must be generated male and lawful, and may be humans, elves or hobbits. According to the guidebook:
Yeomen are sturdy fighters. They are famed for their ability to stand doing nothing for hours. It is said that this is because they are none too bright. Yeomen can both take a lot of damage and inflict it on others.
- a +2 short sword
- a +1 partisan
- +1 leather armor
- +0 high boots
- +0 leather gloves
- 10-20 apples
- 10-20 carrots
- 3 uncursed potions of water
- a fishing pole
A Yeoman's starting pet is always a saddled pony.
Yeomen can identify all non-magical weapons and armor from the beginning. Yeomen begin the game with the calm steed technique, which does nothing likely due to a bug.
Yeomen also start the game with intrinsically slow speed, making 4 moves for every 5 units of time.
- At experience level 7 Yeomen gain intrinsic speed.
- At experience level 15 Yeomen gain the intrinsic ability to swim.
The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:
- XL 1-2:Usher
- XL 3-5:Steward
- XL 6-9:Keeper
- XL 10-13:Marshal
- XL 14-17:Master Steward
- XL 18-21:Chamberlain
- XL 22-25:Constable
- XL 26-29:Chancellor
- XL 30:Regent
Yeomen vs. Knights
There are quite a few similarities between Yeomen and Knights. Both can become expert riders, and start with a saddled pony. Both start with apples and carrots to keep their ponies fed and to train apport. Yeomen cannot intrinsically jump, but can easily gain that ability with boots, without being restricted to a knights move. Yeomen get the calm steed technique, but miss out on the healing hands and turn undead. Yeomen can become expert at polearms, but only skilled at lance, where it is the opposite for Knights. Another similarity is their quest artifact, the Crown of Saint Edward is a Lawful Helm of telepathy, it confers magic resistance and half spell damage when carried. The Knight's Magic Mirror of Merlin also confers magic resistance and telepathy, and doubles some spell damage.
Polearms (and Reaper)
Yeomen are the only class that can gain expert at polearms. Like lances, you can use a polearm in melee normally without bashing while mounted. Unlike lances, you cannot joust an enemy with a polearm. However, polearms have a few distinct advantages over lances. They will not break like lances can on an unlucky joust. They are much more common. They are lighter, ranging from ranseurs and spetums weighing 50 to halberds and lucern hammers at 150. Lances weigh 180. The better polearms do more damage, and though your starting partisan is the weakest in the category, its average damage is equal to the knight's starting lance.
- Lances do 1d6 vs small and 1d8 vs large or 3.5 to 4.5 on average.
- Halberds do 1d10 vs small and 2d6 vs large or 5.5 to 7 on average.
There are no artifact lances, but the Yeoman's second sacrifice gift is the fantastic lawful halberd Reaper which has +5 to hit and +20 to damage when pounding and in melee while riding. Pounding a large monster with Reaper while mounted gives an average base damage of 27, with a follow-up melee for another 27. That is an average damage of 54 points before most monsters can hit once, and before enchantment and skill bonuses. The same scenario with a lance would pound at 4.5, and joust (20-80% of the time) for 16 for a total of 20.5 points. If you have jump boots, and a light source you can do massive damage just pounding with Reaper, without the risk of breakage, or the chance of not jousting, and the +5 to hit means you will rarely miss.
Although you start with a pretty well enchanted +2 short sword, and can gain expert in the skill, if you can find a longsword, you should consider switching. Yeomen can become skilled at longsword have relatively easy access to Excalibur. The first sacrifice gift for Yeomen is the very good Sword of Justice, a longsword with +5 to hit and +12 to damage against neutral and chaotic monsters. Since Yeomen can become skilled at two weapon, and in Slash'em you can #twoweapon with two artifacts, Excalibur and Sword of Justice are a very effective combination.
If you are skilled at #twoweapon and skilled at longsword, and are wielding both the +7 Excalibur and +7 Sword of Justice, you will do more damage per hit than with an Expert +7 Reaper. You will also get drain resistance and searching, but there are disadvantages to carrying Excalibur, particularly in Gehennom, and Sword of Justice is less effective in the Astral Plane. There are fewer keystrokes involved in just slashing away at monsters than applying a polearm, jumping and applying again, so lazy Yeomen will prefer this strategy.
Note that hobbit Yeomen cannot #twoweapon at all, so advancing longsword is less attractive.
The early game
The early game can be difficult with your intrinsic slowness, but can become quite a strong fighter very quickly if played well. Your initial focus should be on helping your pony to grow into a warhorse and improving your skill with polearms. A good strategy is to repeatedly engrave Elbereth in the dust and chop away at foes by applying your partisan at range. Other strategies to improve polearm skill include moving so as to keep your horse between you and your foe, picking up an item in a shop and attacking over the shopkeeper's head, and attacking with it in melee while mounted. The last strategy should be delayed until you have enough HP to survive a failed mounting attempt (at least 20). You will get speed at level 7, and by the time your pony grows up it will let you move faster than even a pair of speed boots.
Your starting +2 short sword will help you hit foes and gain your first few levels, but it's not worth trying to advance short sword skill in light of the other powerful weapons you will soon have access to; focus on polearm instead. You may want to collect a stack of daggers in the mines to use for ranged fighting, but these are heavy and burdening an already slow player is particularly dangerous. If your horse grows up into a warhorse pounding with your polearm while mounted is probably a better strategy. If you find an early long sword, begin training with it as soon as possible. Once you get to level 5, you can begin to dip for Excalibur, which is somewhat safer in SLASH'EM as water moccasins don't have an instakill attack anymore (but are still tough foes in the early game). The Rat King has a longsword, but is not always generated. Watching your horse fight a watch captain will reveal what weapon he carries, and if it's a long sword, you may try to disarm him (and then be ready to run!) In the worst case, you will eventually get one from a barrow wight or from the quest. When you find an altar, you will also be able to sacrifice for the Sword of Justice (your guaranteed first sacrifice gift), one of the best lawful artifacts in the game. Two-weaponing with the Sword of Justice and Excalibur makes for a potent offense.
You should trade up for a better polearm if you come across one. Spetums are a favorite because they are light and do a good deal of damage. Bardiches and halberds are upgrades in damage, but are heavier. Any other unenchanted polearm would be a downgrade from your +1 partisan, or at best a wash. Once you find an altar, do keep sacrificing until you get Reaper (your guaranteed second sacrifice gift), at which point the game will suddenly become much easier.
You should also try to find a skeleton key, lockpick or credit card (check the Minetown shops, the mall, or kill a plastic golem), so you don't have to dismount to open locked doors. An axe or pickaxe will do in a pinch as well.
The Yeoman's midgame is straightforward and not overly difficult. Try to get a source of reflection and magic resistance; the latter is especially critical as losing your warhorse to a polymorph trap will make you much slower. As with most SLASH'EM roles, you should make for the Black Market as soon as you finish Sokoban (or possibly after getting the luckstone from Mine's End) and before doing any of the dangerous SLASH'EM dungeon branches. If you plan to kill Sam for his ascension gear, hold off on buying protection until after you have done so.
Once you are sufficiently strong in melee and well-armored, you should complete the Yeoman quest. Colonel Blood hits hard, but is not an overly tough foe, and the Crown of Saint Edward will give you both magic resistance and half spell damage, as well as extrinsic telepathy. You will also find plenty of bullets and firearms from the soldiers on the quest, as well as a guaranteed long sword and co-aligned altar. Pick up bullets whenever you see them, as exploding grenades will destroy them if they are lying about or in a soldier's inventory.
The late game
In the late game, a good scenario to aspire to is:
- Expert at riding, riding a ki-rin with a blessed saddle (worth a wish to get a blessed figurine of a ki-rin)
- Expert at polearms, wielding the blessed rustproof +7 Reaper (or two-weaponing with Excalibur and another powerful artifact such as Grayswandir, Frost Brand, Fire Brand, or Sword of Justice)
- Wearing blessed +5 fixed gauntlets of dexterity (This is a nice boost to AC for every SLASH'EM character)
- Wearing blessed +5 fixed jumping boots (speed boots don't enhance speed while riding, but jumping does work)
- A lit blessed magic lamp or magic candle. Although the candle is preferable (lighter and no chance of giving a wish), having a permanent source of light is more important than an 80% chance of one wish while using Reaper, and required for jumping and pounding in dark places. There will always be a magic lamp you can swim for in the Sunless Sea.
- the rest of a standard Ascension kit
It is also worth sacrificing for minions at higher levels, as a Yeoman has access to powerful devas, and eventually mega-powerful Archons, Planetars, and Solars. With your full ascension kit, your fast flying steed, and your powerful retinue, you can head into the end-game as a nearly unstoppable tank and have a very satisfying experience.