Killing Helpless Monsters

First a few words about my current plans. I plan to release yet another small bugfix release v2.1.2 (hopefully during December) which fixes some more issues that were missed in v.2.1.1. After that it will probably take a while before v2.2 is out, as I’m planing quite huge changes for that release.

Unconscious Monsters

When you start a character you can only deal non-lethal damage. This is to provide an interesting challenge to when and where to rest since most monsters will come back at full health after knocking them out. My intention has always been that these monsters shouldn’t easily be killed.

However, whenever you find something that deals “real” damage; a weapon with reach, a wand or some ammunition, you can go back to finish off unconscious monsters. Finishing them off once you find a source of real damage is optimal and doesn’t involve much tactical decisions or danger. I have explicitly disallowed to do this with a melee weapon since it does not deplete any resources.

However, this is counter-intuitive to many players. To make it worse, the you can still finish monster off with a reaching weapon (something that is allowed because reach weapons are rare). Using rocks or wands is allowed as it uses up resources, but it is still pretty much a no-brainer since rocks are plentiful.

I have been aware of these problem for some time but haven’t found a good solution until now…


In v2.2 you will be able to attack unconscious monsters with any weapon, including your normal melee weapon (by using the same interface as with reach weapons: target and press 0). However

Attacking a helpless monster is considered cruel (almost only living monsters can be unconscious now*) and will cause the temporary status aggravating. Every time you attack an unconscious monster, your aggravating level will increase by 2. Being aggravating means:

  • Whenever you reach a new depth while being aggravating, more monsters than normal will be generated on that level.
  • When you rest while aggravating, more monsters will be generated in the dungeon.

The number of monsters generated is a random number between 0 and your aggravating level.

This means that finishing off unconscious monsters might not be the optimal strategy. However, it is now always an option and in some cases it might be a valid choice. With this mechanic I hope to accomplish two things: 1) to make the rules intuitive and 2) to make it an interesting decision whether to finish off unconscious monsters or not.

Final note: I’m not sure “aggravation” is the best term for this status. Feel free to suggest a better name for this status.

* The rod of knockout can still incapacitate inanimate monsters.


  1. “Aggravating” reminds Brogue, which is okay for the common roguelike player I guess.
    “Menacing” could work also maybe.

    What this mechanism evoke to me is similar to “code of conducts” and Gods in other roguelikes (DCSS). It’s also like the Dungeon, as an entity, react by producing more “antibody cells” to destroy the menace (the player).

    This emphasis and reward stealth quite a lot more now.

    And then, if you want to be congruent you should also make killing fleeing creatures as cruel as killing them while unconscious. This should also give Aggravation.

    Because the reasoning is the same, I often finish fleeing monsters so they won’t be there after my rest, but how it is not less cruel than finishing them while they’re unconscious?

    1. I agree with this! Originally I was actually considering adding alignments or karma and play around more with that, but I didn’t feel it fitted well in TGGW, mostly because it requires you to have a plan before hand, which is something I try to discourage.

      I have also been thinking about a adding penalty for attacking fleeing monsters as well, it makes sense logically but might be irritating when monsters flee into corridors and such. I’ll think some more about it, thanks šŸ™‚

      “Menacing” is a good term, I like it.

      1. I refuse to accept moral vilification for my actions in this game.

        Yes, I have done terrible things. I don’t deny it. But every dog I whipped and poisoned; every crab I locked in a room without food or water; every troll I sickened with a horrible disease and then led ’round and ’round in ever-shakier circles until its rotting insides collapsed; and most especially and above all else every cursed ink-spitting octopus I killed by any and every means at my disposal — I say they all deserved it, every single one!

        That said, I’m very glad I won’t have to go all the way back up every previous floor and find and slit the throat of every unconscious foe every run. That would be very tedious work.

        And so if the dungeon feels it must declare Bad Blood then I say so be it.

        Has it ever been otherwise?

        1. heh.. I’m glad you have no regrets from what you did! I hope you don’t mind being called a “menace” or “aggravating” once in a while for it either šŸ™‚

  2. “Tainted” might be a better term for conveying that the player performed a “forbidden” action that has somewhat intangible repercussions. Aggravation makes me think of the status effect “aggravate monster” from Nethack. Since this effect seems inspired by conducts, it makes more sense to add a metaphysical bent to its name.

    Going with the metaphysical theme might also open up more gameplay possibilities later if you wish – for example: some merchants may refuse to sell to ‘tainted’ players, while others may only sell to tainted players, or even some enchantments might be averse to one or the other, etc.

    1. Good ideas! As I wrote to HedoNNN above, at first I was also thinking along those lines, like having a karma system or similar and maybe having an alignment of sorts that had various effects in the game. However, I don’t feel it fits too well to make the game rely on that kind of mechanics right now.

      I think “tainted” might be a little too strong also considering that you can actually rest off this status (it is temporary). Also, I don’t really mean to “forbid” the behaviour, just preventing it from being strictly optimal.

      That said, these are all interesting ideas and I will think more about them. Thank you very much for your input!

  3. Hmmm… It increases by two eh? Then clearly something /else/ must increase it…

    It sounds like a really neat idea though. I could certainly see it having a huge impact on the whole idea of enemies in corridors, because as it stands you basically never need to push past enemies.

    As for knocking out (with the rod of knockout, can the wand even do it to frail creatures?)would you still be aggravating if you killed a helpless, say, zombie?

    Also, I had an idea for an inverse frail mechanic, whereby a certain type of monster /can’t/ be killed by physical damage, and only gets knocked out or has to be killed by elemental means.

    1. It increases by two just to make it be up to two new monsters every time you do such an attack. But as HedoNNN mentions, maybe attacking fleeing monsters should incur a penalty as well?

      Yes, a wand of knockout can knockout frail monsters and monsters that are immune to non-lethal damage. This is because the wand has nothing to do with non-lethal damage, it just knocks them out. Killing any inanimate (undead, construct or mindless) creature does not cause the aggravating status.

      You know I had the exact same idea for inverse frail šŸ™‚ I’m considering adding “immortal” monsters which are knocked out from all types of damage and can never be killed…

      1. I think you’re confusing the wand and the rod of knockout.

        The wand is the 2 non-lethal damage wand, which, up until recently, was my go to mage weapon, because it was the most mana efficient. It still is, but it no longer works on many late game creatures, so you need something else to back it up. It’s still really good though.

        The /Rod/ of knockout, on the other hand, is the most powerful tool in the game, which, as you said, incapacitates all enemies.

        1. Ah yes, sorry, I was talking about the rod, not the wand. I’ll update it in the article. Actually the wand should maybe have another name since they don’t do the same thing.

  4. Alright, I gotta ask now.

    Do the dragonflies and the queen ant still drop their artifacts from yore? Ever since v2.0, I have yet to get a single queen plate or piece of dragonfly armour. And I’ve been playing /alot/ of 2.0.

    1. I haven’t made any changes to drops so probably you have been unlucky (drop rate is 25%).

  5. Oh, yep, you’re right.

    Just got the Dragonfly Gloves! Then I managed to pull a pretty solid all rounder, 0 armour run ascension! I got rid of my weapons and spent a fair bit with a wand of gold, got myself a rod of knockout from a merchant, got lots of training and a wand of war and a wand of vision, then pretty much just cruised through the game on a scroll of trap detection from depth ~9 onwards!

    That’s 3 wins in 2.1!

    1. Congratulations!! Glad to hear there wasn’t any bug with the drops and also fun to hear a weaponless/0 armour win! I really like to hear about different kinds of wins šŸ™‚

      At least from what I’ve heard, it seems you have the most wins overall! šŸ™‚

  6. Wielding a whip and carrying a food bag, an amulet of escape, and 24 blunt arrows, I target an enemy in range and press 1. I get “You use an amulet of escape” and my MP is set to -43/7. The effects of the amulet of escape are applied to the target as temp. This is repeatable, but my mp does not continue decreasing, it stays at -43/7.

      1. I just got the same bug, but I can describe it in a little more detail. After picking up an Amulet of Escape on the first floor, I tried to see if Esran’s thing worked for me.

        It did, I got exactly the same results as him. I also noted that I could now do this with /any/ item. I was able to apply item affects to me as temp effects multiple times (I applied studded leather armour 5 times and got 100% armour, though that did take EP), I could apply consumables to more or enemies as often as I wanted, and I could use rods on single targets infinitely. Having any wand in my inventory prevented this however. As did trying to use an item I couldn’t use (like food when I’m full, or armour without EP).

        It was really odd, but I unfortunately do not have the save file. I’ve tested it with other saves, but it doesn’t seem to work unless you have had an AoE. I don’t know about other amulets, but once you’ve had the AoE, you can do it infinitely, even after resting.

        1. Thank you very much for the details! Found and fixed the bug, it actually had nothing to do with the amulet of escape…

          I’m working on yet another bugfix that I hope will be out this month. Thank both of you for reporting!

  7. Hey BTS.. Having ascended for the first time in TGGW (and in any roguelike I take serious) I just wanted to thank you once again for this great game šŸ™‚ Too bad the win was in one of those plays that I did at work (guilty consciences hehe), started it thinking it’d last about 5 minutes and not being able to get too much into the atmosphere.. anyway, as a quick recap I raided a treasure room, used the funds found there to upgrade my equipment and made it with an icicle of accuracy, white shield of cold resistance (which contributed to get 95% cold resistance), snowballs (sort of a cold build?) and green tunic of health. Started to dive at lvl 9 and got my stats temporarily boosted on lvl 11. The rest went surprisingly easy (since I had lost many characters that I thought were overpovered till now). I loved the simplicity and the (maybe ironic) sense of freedom of the final screen šŸ™‚ Thank you again and sorry if there is a forum or whatsoever to where posting this would have been more appropriate.

    1. Congratulations! šŸ™‚ I’m happy that you won and thank you for the details! Seems like a really good character!

      This is the best forum right now, but maybe it’s time to start a forum or subreddit soon šŸ™‚

  8. I was next to a trapped goblin in a dead end when it used Panic, and I got the effects as well. I assume that this is a bug, and that there are probably some related issues with spell targeting, but I’m not sure.

    1. Yes, it is a known bug. I’m working on a bugfix release right now that should fix it and other things. Thank you for reporting!

  9. I’ve noticed throughout my play, that most weapons tend to have other weapons like them. The wooden/iron/goblin spears. The Deathsword, the Woodensword, and the Short sword. The Dagger, the Silver Dagger and the Runed Dagger. Heck, even enchanted and rusted equipment is hugely similiar to other equipment of the same kind.

    However, you can only dual wield when they are exactly the same. I think it’d be really cool to be able to dual wield these similiar weapons together. Especially with regards to rusted and enchanted equipement, because it’s still the same weapon.

    I dunno, maybe this just me, but I think it’d be cool to have an iron spear and stumble upon a wooden spear and get to incorporate it into your build, rather than just acknoledging that it’s a straight up worse version and as such useless. There may be balance concerns, as dual wielding would be easier to reach, and stats would be harder to handle… I’m not sure, but it’s just something to think about.

    1. Yes, I thought all this through when I decided upon the mechanics for dual wielding and I think it will stay as it is (even though I see your points and agree it could be interesting).

      The reasons it has to be the exact same weapon are some of the things you said:

      – it would be way too easy to get dual wield, and very powerful dual wield boosts, especially if one of the weapons is very rare.

      – it is very difficult to communicate and determine which of the stats that would apply (if a one weapon give +1 melee and the other one +2, which one applies? Both? Different depending on attack?). In addition it would be hard to communicate to the player without the player having to read the manual.

      – I really like how it is now very interesting to find an exact copy of an item where it in most cases would be boring/useless.

      – It self balances by making common weapons a common dual wield combo, while very rare weapons are exceedingly rare dual wield combo (I read about someone once were dual wielding two whips of fire!)

      – Since it is difficult to obtain dual wielding I don’t have to add balancing such as a accuracy penalty (like most other roguelikes do), which would also be non-trivial to communicate to the player.

      1. Those are all very valid points, I can defintely see where you’re coming from, it’d be very hard to do without the current simplicity that makes the game so unique.

        And yeah, dual-whips of fire is monstrous.

  10. Right now I have a wooden club of acid. What would happen if the nonlethal damage knocks out a monster, and then the acid kills it? Technically I attacked a helpless monster – would I still get aggravating? This would make nonlethal weapons with damage enchants dubious propositions at best.

    1. That would be ok and would not cause you to be aggravating. The game checks if the monster is unconscious before you make the attack only, not after each effect.

      1. What if you attack with dual wielded clubs, and the first hit knocks out the monster, only for the second to knock it into a wall and kill it?

        1. The game checks for that too, but thank you both for pointing out these special cases, they are easy to miss and I often miss situations I didn’t think about!

  11. I found two more bugs.

    Sleep spells are worthless at the moment. Everytime a monster is spelled asleep, they just wake up immediately, regardless of whether it can hear or even see anything.

    And for some reason the Enchantress kept giving me my newly enchanted items unidentified, which was rather annoying.

    1. In another run I’m being told I can’t equip a shimmering staff for being confused.

      1. Yes, that is another known bug, you also cannot eat teleberries while confused… I’ve already fixed this, will be in the next release.

    2. Yes, I know about the sleep spells, will fix.

      The enchantress I didn’t know, this doesn’t happen every time right? I will look into it!

      Thank you very much for reporting!

  12. I feel like I’ve posted way too much here recently… I’ve just been binging this game over the holidays. But anyways…

    The Thundering Mace (which seems like a pretty solid weapon) does 2 damage, 2 lightning, and -1 block. It’s upgrade, the Giant’s Mace, is also the upgrade for the regular two-handed mace, and does only the 2 damage and -1 speed. It just seems worse all around.

    1. I just used an enchant scroll on a firestaff, and I got reaching, which is an epic enchantment… But it got reach one, so now it can attack creatures from a whopping 1 square away.

      Also, enchant weapon scrolls should totally work on gloves (if you don’t have a weapon. And yes, I tested). It’d be super cool if they gave weapon enchantments to them (without you being able to get them otherwise).

      1. There is no such thing as posting too much here šŸ™‚ I really appreciate your posts and the bug reports, it really helps me (but I’m starting to feel there are too many bugs šŸ™ )!

        Both thundering mace upgrading to Giant’s mace and reaching enchantment not working are bugs that I didn’t know about but which are luckily very easy to fix. They will be fixed in the upcoming bug release.

        Weapon enchantments for gloves are a really good idea, and since coating gloves also works it’s only logical! It could make hand combat extremely deadly with the dual wield.

  13. Pretty please make it easier to play this in fullscreen without tooling around in properties.

    1. I really would like to, but it would require me to change library totally, which would be a lot of work. The game now uses the Windows console which I have no control over in-game.

  14. As loathe as I am to report this bug (as I just barely scraped a win with it being basically my only method for dealing with statues) I feel I must. Guardian statues can be diseased…

    Also, rust traps should totally stop statues from being able to move.

    1. Don’t worry, your win still counts šŸ™‚ But yeah, it’s a bug, thank you very much for reporting!

      > Also, rust traps should totally stop statues from being able to move.

      Yes, that is a good idea! The rust trap should definitely be useful somehow.

  15. 3 things I want to share:

    ![Frustrating bug where I wasn’t able to drop items]( because there was no more room around me. The Enchanted rusty daggers mysteriously also split themselves in the inventory…
    Hopefully I’ve been able to eat and drink enough stuff to get out of the menu but that was unnecessary.

    ![This killed my run…]( and there was no other stairs, I’ve checked… Not anymore please. šŸ™

    Finally, I’ve managed to kill my very first alien. I would have expected a better loot than a ring of stealth for a creature which is this rare to kill.

    1. 1) Thanks. Yes, I guess I ought to do something about the situation where you can’t drop anything. But in this case it happened because of that weird bug with the multiplying rusty daggers. That bug is very very weird and I don’t even know where to begin looking for it. Do you happen to still have the savefile?

      2) Bubbles are killable now (although still dangerous). It is possible that that situation would be survivable with patience since they move randomly. So unfortunately I regard that situation as unlucky but not impossible.

      3) Yeah, I can understand the disappointment… well, they just drop what they took from the ground, so killing it is just a way to get back the item you left on the ground. You can see what they are carrying when you target them.

      Thanks for your input!

      1. Regarding 2, they are immune to nonlethal, so I myself have come very close to being stuck between a bubble and the stairs without a melee weapon.

      2. I don’t have the savefile anymore. šŸ™
        I didn’t knew it was a known bug.
        But I think it still could have happen as my character was trapped like that:


        I basically trapped myself with items around me… items that I could have walked over it.. šŸ™

        Why not thinking about a mechanics of burdening where speed is dependant on the amount (or type) of items we carry so we may never be stuck in “overflowing” inventory?

        1. I knew that you can in theory get stuck if you can’t drop items, but didn’t think it was an issue in practice. Still not sure since it was caused by a bug.

          The duplication bug was not known to me, but very rarely but occasionally it has been reported that strange things happen with items, and I have no clue what is going on..

          Hmm.. burdening mechanics maybe. But in that case it would be a binary effect that sets your speed to 1 if you carry more than one screen of items. Actually a good idea!

            1. Yes, I don’t think of it as something that you are supposed to do (go around with too many items), but as a way of dealing with the possible lock-out when not able to drop items.

  16. I think disease is kind of an out place mechanic in this game. All other status and the food clock are turn-count independent. But disease changes that and makes the player value turn efficiency. This may be your intention but I think the resting mechanic is one of the things that defines the strategic pacing of the this game in a unique way.

    1. I agree. Both disease and poison are a bit out of place and I’m planning to change both. Still not sure how (although there are several ideas). I’m exploring options but plan to change it as soon as I’m satisfied.

      1. On the other side of this, I have often diseased/poisoned a monster and then kited them for many turns, so while it’s a disadvantage to the player it’s also a weapon.

        1. Yes, but I consider that problematic too. Since poison/disease never wears off for monsters, it is enough to give them the affliction once and then leave.

          What I’m trying to come up with is something that works for both monsters and the player that doesn’t rely on passing turns.

          Some ideas I’m leaning towards currently is to have the effect (poison/disease) somehow carry over to the next day (after resting).

          1. > Some ideas Iā€™m leaning towards currently is to have the effect (poison/disease) somehow carry over to the next day (after resting).

            That’s an idea I like because it makes decision to rest without having find a cure for poison or disease much interesting and risk taking.

            Would you like to share the other ideas with your fan base? šŸ™‚

            1. Here are some ideas that I’m considering (independant from each other). Some of these ideas comes from yourself and other players as well šŸ™‚

              – hp (or possibly hp-regeneration) is decreased by poisoned level the next day
              – poison level reduces by one every time you take damage (as gza suggests below)
              – poison damage is taken each turn but is decreased
              – disease is permanent rather than temporary, and has to be cured.
              – disease reduces ep-regeneration for the next day

              I’m very open for more ideas, I’d say this is still in the brainstorming phase šŸ™‚

              1. Perhaps disease could apply a number of random stat debuffs for the next time? sleep and it reduces melee by 2, speed by 1 and HP by 1 or something until the next time you sleep.

                As for poison, I like your ideas, particularly the first.

                1. For some reason I don’t like plain stat debuffs for disease, because plain stat debuffs already exist. But thank you for the idea, keep them coming šŸ™‚

          2. A compromise might be to just have X poison do X damage over time (rather than unlimited damage without resist). Still need to pass turns but at least it is a set damage amount consistent with the other damage types.
            Disease maybe just a stat debuff until cured, or maybe cuts your EP in half. Lots of possibilities I think.

            1. Yes, for poison I have thought the same. It would be better than now, but still kind of time based. The difference would be that you have a chance to cure yourself before the damage is done, which I like.

              For disease, I think just a stat buff would be no different from an actual stat buff (except that it could be cured).

              Thank you for your suggestions! If you have more ideas let me know šŸ™‚

  17. Huh, interesting bug; monsters made glowing and confused, when they stumble out of your natural range of vision, can only be detected through noise, they don’t glow.

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