Dicey Dungeons Reunion Design: The Inventor
Hey! It’s time for one last Dicey Dungeons Reunion design thread. Our final contestant is… the Inventor!
The inventor episode isn’t the hardest episode in the DLC, or the most complicated. So why is it last?
Because it’s complete chaos! And once you’ve done that with a roguelike, you can’t really go back.
The Inventor episode is an different take of the “Inevitability of Rust” episode from the original game – the one where everything has a limited number of uses, and you have carefully ration item uses to last till the end of the run.
In the reunion version, once an item rusts, it is replaced, immediately, with something completely random from the game.
Almost anything can show up – ranging from Lady Luck’s overpowered endgame boss cards, to totally useless filler cards that just clog up your hand!
So, this episode becomes about trying to control this as best you can. Here’s the readme from the dicecord alpha build:
There are a few sections in vanilla Dicey Dungeons that play with chaos, but it’s very rare. (For example, the Yolanda remix rule, which allows the shops to potentially offer you any item from the game.)
But this episode is different: it has no restraint, it doesn’t hold back at all. So it has to be the last episode, because once you’ve played a few rounds of this, you’ve seen almost everything in the game. It’s peeking behind the curtain.
Slightly tangential, but the first thing I tried to do with the Inventor episode was actually a bit weirder than this, inspired by something on the dicecord…
Basically @Jackeea_ fed some items into a neural network, and this is what it came up with:
I thought this was hilarious, so I actually made a serious attempt at making a Markov-Chain episode!
(This was before I’d really even decided I wanted to make Reunion, and I was just doing it for fun.)
Was delighted to discovered earlier today that I’d actually kept the spreadsheets from this experiment, so I was able to plug my attempts into the current version of the game. Here’s an example!
I figured: I’d generate hundreds of these, and then actually edit the scripts so they would be working items. Here’s some more!
The obvious problem is that, uh, none of these items make any sense
And even the ones that sorta do, they don’t actually work as *items*. You can’t balance around them.
Destroy a failed experiment
Anyway, this experiment might not have worked out, but playing around with this lead directly to trying out a mode where equipment was replaced as soon as you used it, which is how I ended up with the current Inventor Reunion episode!
I generated these with some simple online GPT-2-era tools. It’d be interesting to see what the terrifying new generation of AI would come up with here!
(The two most useful sites were app.inferkit.com/demo and projects.haykranen.nl/markov/demo/)
This was an interesting episode to balance! It’s kind of hard to do much when all your equipment is random. But there are a few things going on that make it interesting:
Shops don’t make a lot of sense in this episode, so there aren’t many of them. Instead, there’s a trade tent on each floor! In this episode, Val offers equipment with some twists, like items that you’re incentivised not to actually use:
…or items that trade an equipment slot for a passive bonus….
…or items that offer you a reward, if you’ll take on the risk.
The biggest balance change in the episode is a tiny thing, though: you just get one less dice than you would normally get.
That was a fairly late tweak, and I can’t overstate how much of a difference it makes. Before, the episode was trivially easy, after, it becomes an episode you have to *think* about.
People blame the RNG when Dicey gets hard, but this episode has a surprising amount of control. Doing consistently well in this episode is possible, but requires careful planning, controlling when to change things up, and holding on to powerful things when they come along.
My favourite item in this episode is this one right here:
There’s one more cool thing about this episode I want to mention, and it’s one of my favourite things in the whole DLC: the guest items.
Included in the random item pool are 16 items contributed by Dicey Dungeons modders, from various mods.
For example, here’s Pugnacious Sword, from Dummy’s mod Further Dungeons:
When a modded item is added to your hand (like XAngelMoonX’s Love Hertz here), a cog status effect displays a little credit line:
Modded items feel like they come from a completely different design place from my items, and I love when one comes up when I’m playing this episode! I think this episode is so much better for having them!
The full list is here:
I basically started a channel on the modding discord and asked people for contributions. Pick one item from your mod that you think would work well in this episode. I had some rules. Probably too many!
Gonna post the whole lot! The first four:
“Quick Attack”, from The Grab Bag by XenonZed
“Sheer Will”, from ncrmod by Titku & Diane, of Wibi
“Torn Glove”, from Buncha Stuff by LevelWorld
“Three Handed Sword”, by unsuspiciousperson
“Steinway Axe”, from UnfriendlyMod by Dee
“Crucihall”, from Yet More Episodes by not mario
“Love Hertz”, from Cosmic Variations and Diceaversary, by XAngelMoonX
“Stall of Mirrors”, from Jester: Bonus World by Kirb
“Countvalanche”, from Indeed by Matt101
“Dazzler”, from Reference Stuff by Neypah_Tit
“Haunted Sword”, by onetruepurple
“Bottled Message”, from MegaQuest, by TheMysticSword
“Pugnacious Sword”, from Further Dungeons by Dummy
“Polar Storm”, from mod.exe by StereotypicalBlobby
“Dynamite Stick”, from Backstage Reunion by Matzie
“Best Defence”, by Polly
That’s all I’ve got to say about this episode – and the whole DLC, in fact! Thanks for reading, hope ye all enjoyed the Reunion