⟵ Back 7 min · 2023-02-09

Oathbreaker: Creating the Night

I'm nearly done with the first iteration of Oathbreaker's first faction, which I had planned for some months now but only recently found to time to implement.

Introducing: the Night Creatures.

Player attacked by Night Creatures

Unlike the other enemies you'll face while trying to escape the Dungeon, the night creatures are collectively neutral to both you and your enemies. They only becoming hostile if you trespass on their lairs, special areas that appear on most levels.

Lair screenshot

And why would you trespass on their lairs?

Trespassing: the perks

The answer, as is typical of roguelikes, is to get more shiny loot.

Although you should be able to survive just fine without raiding lairs, doing so can net several types of rare potions and evocables, as well as unique Lair-only equipment:

Finally, there are two Lair-only rings.

The Ring of Excision spawns a spectral sword, which pierces enemies in a line whenever you move in the direction you moved.

GIF showcasing the excision ring

The Ring of Conjuration spawns a few volleys of spectral sabres, which simply attack any enemies that you can see and then vanish when there are no more enemies in sight. The number of sabres in a volley is dependent on your Conjuration stat, which starts out at 2 and can be increased by wearing spectral equipment (spectral crowns, spectral cloaks, spectral vests, etc), another Lair-only speciality.

GIF showcasing the conjuration ring

Moreover, by finding spectral orbs in lairs, you can gain a number of Conjuration augments that modifies the spectral sabre's stats or introduces new abilities:

Conjuration rings start out fairly weak (two spectral swords with 1 HP and mediocre stats can barely kill or distract a single guard, let alone several), making them more of an auxiliary strategy than a powerful item to build around. However, if one chooses to continue raiding lairs and collect spectral equipment and conjuration augments, the Conjuration ring can become extremely powerful -- what's not to like about an ability that can summon 6 evasive enemies each turn, and then create more just by moving near walls? The swords are still just as fragile, of course, but by the time that patrol squad has killed them all a skilled player will be on the other side of the map.

Trespassing: the consequences

Obviously, the night creatures aren't going to sit around while one breaks down their barricades and steals their things. Thus, raiding lairs carries both short and long-term consequences.

The short term consequence: the night creatures within the lair, if there are any, become angry. And an angry night creature is easily one of the most dangerous creatures you'll ever meet in the early-to-mid game.

GIF showcasing the conjuration ring

The good news is that you can pacify them simply by moving off their turf.

However, whenever you break into a lair you'll lose 2 reputation, an unique stat that begins at 0 and decreases as you raid more lairs.

At -5 reputation, night creatures remain hostile to you even if you're not trespassing. (This can be seen in the above screenshot on the HUD's top.)

At -10 reputation, you'll very rarely find that a night creature has stormed out of its lair specifically to hunt you down and exact revenge. Oops.

This would be a bit difficult, especially for players with the ring of conjuration (since they'll typically want to visit multiple lairs in hopes of finding spectral equipment or spectral orbs). But as you reach new floors and move away from the lairs you've raided, your reputation goes up by 1, enabling incorrigible robbers to listen to the piper's tune for a bit longer before they'll have to pay him.

The night creatures

But these night creatures themselves -- what exactly are they? Demons? Nature guardians? Ghosts of previous players?

The answer is complicated, and explaining it would require divulging much of the game's in-universe lore. Although it's not possible to find that lore yet in-game, eventually I'd like to do something similar to Cogmind and allow players to find manuscripts and such in special branches, which would describe the game's backstory and lore. For that reason, I don't want to discuss their lore here in any way.

There are currently four night creatures, with three more planned for a later expansion.

Spectral totems are stationary enemies that overwhelm enemies by conjuring spectral swords.

Night reapers are highly competent warriors wielding shadow mauls, which as mentioned create spectral clone of enemies.

Grues emit a special insanity-inducing gas when wounded, as well as causing retaliatory Spikes damage when attacked.

Slinking terrors are spectral monstrosities, able to attack up to 6 times in a single turn. They always stay near walls, never moving into open space.

With one exception, the night creatures are only found in lairs, minding their own business and hoping that you'll mind yours. Rarely, you'll see them traveling across the map to visit another lair, on which occasions they'll use a special Mass Amnesia ability to dispose of inquisitive guards and patrols.

Night Reaper fending off enemies while player looks on

Aligning with the Night

The exception to this is a special encounter on 7/Prison (the second floor from the player's starting point), where you can meet a lone Night Reaper locked in a cell. When you show up, he'll ask you to let him out.

Player finding the Night prisoner and releasing it

If you oblige (by breaking down the cell's door, as seen in the GIF), he'll thank you ("I appreciate it.") and go on his way back to a nearby lair. At this point you'll notice that your reputation is now positive, signifying that you've aligned yourself with the Night.

Aligning with the Night has two main consequences:

Admittedly, aligning with the Night is currently the most optimal choice, because there are many immediate and strong benefits to doing so (free potions of petrification!). Eventually, though, I'd like for Night-aligned builds to be as difficult or, for tackling the extended game, more difficult than unaligned builds.

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