Thursday, March 1, 2012

I'm going to talk Dungeons of Dredmor because I like Dungeons of Dredmor. Today's topic: Astrology.

The Astrology skill is a defensive school of magic. It offers some nice passive buffs and defensive spells that make it nicely-suited for wizards, warriors, and rogues alike. It starts you with an Astrologer's Hat, which gives a little mana buff--not awesome, but hey, it's free.

The first skill is Radiant Aura, a buff. This is a great starter skill; it gives you some boosts to offense, defense, and vision, and it gives you a chance of triggering a blinding flash that stuns and damages all the enemies around you every time you get hit. The nice thing about Radiant Aura is that you can activate it and forget about it--it doesn't have any upkeep costs and there's no timer. It just lasts until you take 5 hits. Rogues and wizards should appreciate the boost to their vision, which will let them attack from further away, and warriors will love the random blinding flashes. Since it's so cheap and only needs to be occasionally reactivated, it's perfect if you've got a build with no other magic skill trees--you don't need a lot of mana to make full use of this spell. All in all, very handy.

Next is Solar Inscription, which drops a rune on the ground that blasts any enemy who walks over it. This one is actually bugged, I think, because the description implies that it's supposed to cause paralysis, but it actually doesn't. The fix is easy--I just jumped into the spellDB.xml file and saw that the paralysis was there, but commented out. Remove the <!--comment--> tags and it'll work. Assuming you get the paralysis back, this spell becomes a lot more useful, especially for rogues. Drop it in front of an approaching enemy to stop it in its tracks for a couple turns. Use that time to set up a trap or two, or toss some ranged attacks. It's mana-intensive, so you can't use it too often, and it's not very effective against groups of enemies, but its got some solid utility.

Then there's Blinding Flash. This one is a little awkward because it only hits enemies that are next to you. If you're a melee build, you want to get up close and personal, but you also won't have the magic power necessary for this to deal decent damage. If you're a mage, the spell might have some teeth, but you also really don't want to get too close to an enemy because you'll be squishy. Basically, it's only good when you're surrounded, and even then it's risky because it doesn't always give you the stun effect. The other time is when an enemy is approaching you diagonally, and you get to use this as a pseudo-ranged hit. I hardly ever activate this spell manually--it triggers automatically sometimes off Radiant Aura, and that's usually fine.

Syzygy is next, and it's the weakest spell in the spellbook because it doesn't do anything. The actual buff is great--it gives a substantial boost to HP, plus some other boosts that are great too--but Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters are common and cheap in vending machines, and they're easy to pick up off the ground in later floors. They duplicate this spell exactly. This wouldn't be a big deal except that Syzygy is an untimed buff, so if you find one Gargle Blaster you can keep it running indefinitely. Having the actual spell is handy if you need to cut it short and want to reactivate it, which, in fairness, could happen in some wizard builds. But it's not usually a concern if you have Blood Magic, and if you're running out of mana, it's because you're in combat, and if you're in combat, you want this active, right? So this is not a super-useful slot.

Celestial Aegis is the penultimate spell, and it's not bad, I guess. It gives some defensive boosts, costs 1 mana every 5 turns, and disappears if you take 5 hits. It's actually weaker than Radiant Aura, I think. The defensive boosts aren't bad, and it's not too painful to turn on and off if you have decent Savvy (the min cost is 5). So it's okay, but not very exciting.

The capstone is The Stars Aligned. This is the big one. I love this spell. It's like Blinding Aura, but with a HUGE radius, a sizable chunk of hard-to-resist damage that scales quickly with magic power, and it paralyzes! It starts out costing a lot, but with enough Savvy it's possible to get it as low as 5 mana! Woah! Spam that shit. If you're a wizard, or a wizard/rogue hybrid, this is great for managing crowds of enemies at medium range. If you're a warrior, you probably won't have enough mana to cast it, which is sad. But it's a sweet spell.

I like Astrology for wizards as utility; if you're a blood mage, you can easily afford to keep the buffs running, and you can get great use out of The Stars Aligned once you hit the top level. For warriors, it's a nice skill to take just for the first level; if you're not doing anything else with your mana, you may as well enjoy Radiant Aura, which is cheap, powerful, and requires no skill points. It's pretty sweet to randomly proc Blinding Flashes in close combat. For rogues, you can make good use of Solar Inscription (assuming you fix the paralysis thing), and if you have enough skill points later on, aligning the stars isn't out of the question either.

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