View Full Version : Going Down? Let's Play DROD: Journey To Rooted Hold

07-22-2008, 09:44 AM
I waited for a couple of the other Let's Plays to finish up, particularly Kagero, because this is going to be yet another long game that no-one here's played and man we have a lot of Let's Play threads.


Deadly Rooms of Death is a game that's been around in one form or another since 1995, where it came out on the tail end of the shareware scene with programmer art and inventive gameplay that resembles a mashup between Robots and roguelikes. It was also friggin' hard. It didn't do so well. (DROD is, or was, because the site's basically defunct now, the highest-rated puzzle game on Home of the Underdogs, just ahead of Cliff Johnson's legendary The Fool's Errand. Number 3? This game, DROD's sequel.)

Somehow, the author managed to wrangle back the rights from the publishers and open-sourced the game, which drummed up enough support that in 2004 they went for a sequel. I was actually involved with the development of this game, and in my opinion it definitely deserves its high rank there as an underrated classic. A lot of my thoughts on game design come, in part, from DROD, and I'll probably opine on them when I run out of jokes.

So, bitches! Let's Play:


Here's the plot so far: we're Beethro Budkin, and yes everyone has names this silly, and he's a retired smitemaster. Smitemasters are basically medieval exterminators, hired to clean out dungeons so prisoners and be tortured and locked up in peace. His big claim to fame is the clearing of King Dugan's dungeon, a massive 9 level dungeon built because King Dugan is an idiot and let the dungeon architect's association convince him that he needed that many floors. Beethro cleaned out the first 9 floors, and discovered that the stairs kept going down; because he's a professional, he wanted to make sure he got every damn monster in the place.

16 levels later, having, among other things, discovered monsters he'd never even heard of before and massacred a small monster town, he came face to face with the 'owner' of the dungeon, a man named the Neather, who claimed he was a prince who'd disappeared into the dungeon hundreds of years ago and decided to stay down there with all his little roach friends. Beethro killed him. Can't have crazy people running around, after all.

So, Beethro has enough meat to stock a restaurant for years, and so that's what he does - retires from the extermination game, opens up a restaurant, and lets the money roll in. And it does, for a time, but he's no math whiz, and the Amazing Expanding Dungeon, and a door on one level that only opened from the inside, bothered him. He's pretty much out of money when King Dugan sends him an angry letter accusing him of deliberately leaving monster eggs behind so that Beethro could hit him up for a yearly cleaning bill. Beethro decides that discretion is the better part of valour and prepares to crack open that door, via a portable orb that would collapse the door when he got close enough.

The only wrinkle is his nephew, Halph, who Beethro's sister pushed on him because Halph had ideas that going down into dungeons and battling monsters for a crust was a great idea for a career. Beethro decides to kill two birds with one stone - see what's behind that mysterious one-way door, and disabuse Halph of the notion that smitemastery is a glamorous profession, filled with heroism and babes.

We're kicking off here just after Beethro and Halph have snuck into King Dugan's Dungeon via a service entrance. The guards were too busy asking each other what was grosser: smearing your face with dog poop or eating a snail. Who the hell comes up with something like that?



Level One: In Which Beethro Attracts The Attention Of Family Services

And bam, here we are. The guy with the sword is Beethro: he can move in all 8 directions, and rotate 45 degrees, each turn. The small kid near him is Halph, who doesn't want to be here. At this point, his voice actor (we got an actual kid because we're hardcore) hasn't quite settled into his role so he sounds sullen and kind of clunky. He gets better. The yellow orb in the corner is an, uh, orb - you hit it, and it makes the doors (the yellow bars) open and close (and by that, I mean ascend and descend. There are puzzles that rely on you closing a door you're standing on).

Let's go over and hit that orb.


Halph: Okay, Unka Beethro.

Door's open, so let's go hit that orb in the corridor to the sou--


Beethro:Just stay here, okay?
Halph:Sure, no problem.

He's totally going to stay put this time! This is why you don't have any kids, Beethro. Any more, at least.


See if you can work out how this room works.

If you guessed that each orb opens up the door surrounding another orb, you're right! If you didn't, you worry me!


Let's head south. So far, we don't see anything familiar, or indeed anything resembling a security mechanism that an 8-year old couldn't get past. (If we double back now, we see that indeed Halph has run off somewhere, somehow managing to slip by us even though we were right there.)


Go West! Life is peaceful there!
Go West! In the open air!
Go West! Where the skies are blue!
Go West! This is what we're gonna do!

The orb in the middle opens up one of the side doors. Hitting it again closes the open door and opens the closed one. A subtle hint that orbs can toggle orbs as well as open them. Naturally, there are some orbs that close doors, which is usually used to piss players off, and sometimes to ensure that monsters don't overrun and kill you, an unpleasant scenario.

07-22-2008, 09:45 AM

But what if we want to go south?! It's blocked off! It's a series of rocks placed on the path! We can't get through that! We're going to miss half th--



The south path doesn't even go west - it turns south on the next screen and deadends in a cute little cul-de-sac. Surely there's nothing here, right?


Not for someone with a Really Big Sword™!


Okay, Talking Time, this is your job. The cracked walls hide secret rooms, which are sometimes plot and sometimes devious optional puzzles. I'm not going to be looking for them, at least not in the screenshots I post, but you will be. If you find one, tell me the room's coordinates (they're at the top of each screenshot), and I'll go back to that room and see what's inside. This one's a freebie.


We smash our way through the little secret wall maze here to reach the design in the centre.

Beethro: Hey, I wondered where this got to. I was worried that the Dungeon Architect Association's seal wasn't anywhere in King Dugan's. Not like the Architects to not mark their own work! Normally they make it out of walls or trapdoors or something. First time I've seen it laid out like this.

...I've never been happy with those lines. They're very 'as you know'. What they're referencing is a little teaser we did - we asked a few of the people making custom level sets in the editor to include a secret room that had this DAA seal (made out of walls) in the levels they were about to release. There are a lot of fans who make custom level sets, and they get quite competitive and clever. It's pretty awesome.

We hadn't come up with the seal for the first game, in King Dugan's Dungeon, and so sticking it off here in the service entrance was our way of retconning this in. You can forget about it, however. It's totally not going to be surprisingly plot-relevant later.


Aand here we are in the north passage we went past earlier. This puzzle gets us to open the three doors to the north, except the orbs that open them also close off the entrances to the other chambers. This is a tedious puzzle, so let's skip to killing things.


Hurrah! This is the first monster we've seen, the fearsome roach. As in cockroach. I told you Beethro was an exterminator. From the game's bestiary:

The five-foot Dungeon Roach is a common sight in infestations all over the world. It can survive all sorts of adverse conditions - extreme heat and cold, low oxygen, even weak acid. They don't like bright light, although it will survive in bright light if it has to. Although it can stand extreme heat, its carapace is not equipped to withstand explosions, and it can't survive in those areas of the Beneath that are hot enough to burn even the air. Thankfully.

Dungeon roaches feed on whatever they are able to scavenge, their large, sophisticated digestive system doing most of the work. They will tend to aggressively attack any threat, if without tactics any better than 'head straight for it and bite', which on the whole probably shouldn't be called 'tactics'. On the Eighth, they are traditionally used as a source of meat, which, when the internal organs are removed and the meat cooked thoroughly, surprisingly turns out pretty good. Smitemasters often have a clause in their contracts which state they retain ownership of any roaches they slay for this reason - it makes a good supplement to the seasonal smitemastering trade.

Hey, I wrote it, why let it go to waste? The bestiary is mostly flavour text, based on the idea that no-one reads the manual anyway so you might as well go nuts, but I put some minor hints on what each monster does so that it's not a complete waste to time to read.

Dungeon roaches are based on the idea that cockroaches only run away when they see you because you're bigger than them. And so, the dungeon roach is 5 foot long and has a taste for blood. These guys beeline right to you like a Doom monster -- so if you're on the other side of a wall, it's not smart enough to go around.


They also do not respond well to swordpokes.

Let me explain a little about combat. Beethro's sword takes up one square, and (most) monsters won't step into it. Beethro can swing it 45 degrees in one turn, as well as stepping in any direction, which moves his sword the same way. Moving it into the same square as a monster (usually) kills it - every monster has one hit-point. Beethro, however, also has one hit-point - if a monster reaches him, he dies, and we restart from the nearest checkpoint or the edge of the room we came in on. After each turn Beethro takes, the monsters all move, which is key to surviving the multi-directional combat in the later levels.

The reason why Beethro only has one hit-point is simple - normally, Beethro dies because you've approached the room the wrong way and been swarmed by the enemy. Giving him more hit-points wouldn't help in the case of being swarmed by multiple enemies, and would allow players to completely break rooms when they get attacked by one in a really inconvenient place. Instead, the game has an undo key, which only lets you go back one turn, undoing slips of the finger and tactical errors. Strategic errors, though, send you back to a checkpoint.

Anyway, that roach was between us and that orb, so let's crack it open and head north.

07-22-2008, 09:47 AM

This green door here opens when we kill every enemy in the room. There's some flimsy justification for why these clearly gameplay objects are here: the green doors are a poorly-engineered infestation containment system. If they detect an infestation, they close. The only reason people install them (other than the DAA having very persuasive sales-people) is because, hey at least it means there's not more monsters coming through. These people soon learn that monsters can breed.

At this point in the series, it hadn't occurred to anyone that it'd be best if the doors were actually drawn on the floor when they open -- in this version, when you kill all the monsters, they just disappear.


We've finally caught up to Halph. Let's get a leash on that boy.


The holes here in the walls are tunnels - Beethro can step in them and zip to the next tunnel along in the row or column. They're limited in some ways, as we'll see later. Using the tunnels to reach and kill the imprisoned roaches in the bottom middle room (the dark walls are just like cracked walls, except more obvious) opens up the middle corridor.


More new elements! Here we have force arrows, which act like every other arrow in any game ever. You can't go backwards on them, and you have to go forwards. Thing is, so do the monsters, so you can stand on these arrows here and kill all the roaches without ever being in danger.


You can also move laterally along the arrows, so we can walk down the corridor to the south to reach Halph, who promptly does this:


Beethro: Quit screwing around! We gotta go home.
Halph: But I can't zig while I'm zagging. At least not yet.

Son of a bitch. Well, okay, Halph's mother isn't that bad, but still. (Tyler, the VA for Halph, really makes this joke.)

The reason Halph taunts you here is to clue you into the fact that you can walk diagonally across the force arrows. This is a critical skill and something that always confuses people. Personally, I would have swapped the two tasks, have Halph run through and then, later, put the roaches behind the force arrows, because players are still really wary of roaches and giving them this many this early freaks them out. They're probably not going to step on the force arrows and discover that they're perfectly safe there.

Halph: Ha ha! Come and get me!
Beethro: I'll come and get you all right, you little punk.


Of course, that's not nearly as bad as this room, the first real challenge of the game. If we go and attack the horde, we can run into problems:


Here, Beethro can't kill any roach and live. If he steps south, he'll kill the roach to the southeast on him but the roach below that will kill him on his next turn. He can't turn his sword, because the other roach threatening him will attack and kill him. He can't step north, because the roach to the southeast of him will move up to the south of Beethro, on his flank, and the roach below that will move northwest -- because of this second roach, Beethro can't kill the roach on his flank. Death won't be far behind.

Beethro's only option here is to step back, in such a way that the horde beelines into a triangle. If Beethro is only threatened on two adjacent squares, he's essentially safe - he can move his sword between the two, and because roaches won't enter the same square as his sword, they'll go in the square Beethro's about to move his sword into. This is a basic skill, and players get lots of practice at it.

Of course, instead of fighting the horde on its turf we can use the tunnel to cross to the other side:


In this enclosed space, we can engineer a way so Beethro is only threatened on two squares, which makes it pretty much rote to mop up. Many game designers think that more enemies equals harder game, including many people starting out making level sets for DROD, many players, and whoever designed this stupid room, but as we see in DROD that's not necessarily true - once you've made your point, any extra enemies are just a grind, not individually challenging and not that interesting to fight. Once you have roaches coming at you from only two directions, it's basically a matter of hitting the battle key until they're all dead. (The battle key is a key that does the opposite of the last action, so if you turn left, the battle key will turn you right - so when you hold it down, you turn left and right, cutting through the roach horde you've got into a manageable shape.) In DROD, the way to make a hard room is to combine enemies and room elements in ways that challenge players in multiple ways at once. It's the same in other games, too: you get good challenge by testing players in multiple ways at once, combining skills that they've learnt over the course of the game in new configurations. I still remember playing The Lost Levels, which had its fair share of bullshit challenge, but it also had sequences where you had to do things like jump on a koopatroopa to reach a pipe which had a piranha plant in it, and you had to time your jump so that you landed right on the edge. Every skill you had there was a fairly common Mario skill, but combining them made a brand new challenge that felt fair.

There's also a parallel here between how Mario is constantly attacked by cheep cheeps which come from below, where Mario automatically jumps on them, and how roaches in DROD inevitably line up in a queue in front of your sword. There's no challenge if the enemies are attacking you from the direction you're least vulnerable. When the roaches line up like this, for instance, you can just hold down the move key to make a bloody mess of things:



07-22-2008, 09:48 AM
Now we mop up the roaches in the corner and head north. There's a dude in a box here, who rates our performance:


Well nuts to you then. (You can in fact sit in the alcove where the tunnel is after a little shuffling of the roach horde, or you can forgo it entirely. If you do either, Mr. Snobby tells you that your swordsmanship measures up to his personal standards, and his hobby is to stand in that box and wait for people to come by so he can watch, something which makes no sense whatsoever.)

Sadly, we were a little slow mopping up:


Halph: He just wants to show me something.
Beethro: Hit that orb and open the door, Halph!
Halph: I'll be right back.
Beethro: Stop! You can't trust him!


The wedding's in three weeks.

Well, let's hope there's a way down somewhere. Considering this is supposed to be the bottom of King Dugan's when it was built, and we're nowhere near the door Beethro found when he first came down here, it's a safe bet that those stairs are relatively recent.


This room should have been much, much earlier in the level. Here, the game reminds you that the monsters move after you do, and going in a tunnel counts as a move. We're standing on a checkpoint here, which lets us return to the red X at the moment we stepped on it if and when we die. The roaches at the other ends of the tunnels to the west will kill us as soon as we step through the tunnel, unless we have our sword oriented so we kill them as soon as we step through. In the centre, we finally get to a nasty trap - the orb opens all four doors, and our job is to use the tunnels to try to avoid getting caught in a pincer, which we won't survive.


Or we can kill one roach, hide in its tunnel, spin round and take out the other approaching roaches. That works too.

DROD's pretty flexible about alternate solutions. So long as there are bodies on the floor, the game doesn't care so much about the 'how'. There are some unintended solutions we'll see later where the rooms are unintentionally designed so that you can bypass some of the challenges.


And we're finally out of the service tunnel into King Dugan's Dungeon proper, on the previous game's Level 10. There's been a cave-in at some point, handily blocking off parts of the level we didn't want to recreate. (I like this Super Metroid-esque touch of using old level design to evoke some nostalgia and continuity. I'd love to see a Zelda game that incorporated parts of the old dungeons into its new ones.) Beethro displays his rapier intellect by informing us this used to be a maze. No shit, Sherlock.


One room north, we're here! This was the exit to level 10, except the stairs are blocked off. We get close enough to that yellow door, and we can activate our portable orb and check out the other side!


Here we go.

Beethro: Yeah! Let's see what we got on the other side.

07-22-2008, 09:49 AM

The answer? Corridors.


There's a branch here - one room's closed off until we follow the other branch and clear out the room at the end, so let's go do that.


This room is filled with lots of small fights, none nearly as hard as the fights we've already had. Roaches mostly come at us from one direction, and we usually get to engage first.


For instance: here, we can charge down the corridor and leave a bloody trail in our wake.


And we're done! Let's go back to the first branch and check it out...


And at the Smitemaster's Hall on Fridays, the buffet is only $3! Why wouldn't you go?!


And that's level 1. This is the largest level in the game, and it's also the most filled with plot and corridors. Most other levels are much smaller and harder.

Next up, level 2, where we meet two new foes, neither of which will try to claw our face off.

07-22-2008, 11:25 AM
Okay, Talking Time, this is your job. The cracked walls hide secret rooms, which are sometimes plot and sometimes devious optional puzzles. I'm not going to be looking for them, at least not in the screenshots I post, but you will be. If you find one, tell me the room's coordinates (they're at the top of each screenshot), and I'll go back to that room and see what's inside. This one's a freebie.


There's one right there, innit? Or is that just the end point of the secret passage you're in?

07-22-2008, 11:51 AM


Double Bonus?

07-30-2008, 08:49 AM
What a time to have computer troubles! They appear to be resolved, so let's pick this back up again in earnest.

I have both secret rooms and the first half of the second level done (now that the first level is out of the way, the updates should be shorter and punchier), but I have neglected to do something important:


We need a name for the player file!

I'll put up the next part tomorrow, which should give you plenty of time. If not, I'm afraid I'll have to come to your house and murder you.

Well, maybe just one of you. Or maybe just Brandon. He looks like he wouldn't fight back too bad.

07-30-2008, 08:59 AM
Name = Lumpy McBignose.

07-30-2008, 09:12 AM
Wartface von Sluglip.

Edit: Monkeybrow O'Chinballs?

07-30-2008, 10:18 AM
Burt Earschmaltz.

He looks like a Burt to me.

Red Hedgehog
07-30-2008, 10:30 AM

or Thrackazog.

07-30-2008, 10:53 AM
Treehead Woodfist.

07-30-2008, 01:08 PM
Zap Rowsdower.

07-30-2008, 02:13 PM

Just Björn.

07-31-2008, 04:13 PM
Man, I just love this game. Maybe some day I'll even finish it. I've been stuck on level 18 for the past year or so, I think.

I hear another sequel came out a while ago. Is it good?

07-31-2008, 05:31 PM
I'm partial to Treehead Woodfist, so unless someone comes up with something better, we're goin' with that.

I hear another sequel came out a while ago. Is it good?

I think it's a lot better than JtRH, personally. It's more even in difficulty and the rooms are more interesting (we'll get to the bomb rooms soon enough.)

08-01-2008, 08:13 AM
What is a Let's Play without some playing? Man, what am I doing. I'm screwing it all up.



The next couple of rooms are arranged in a kind of gauntlet fashion, covering all sorts of basic combat moves. I'm going to walk through these couple of rooms a little more indepth than in the last installment. Not a lot of people are familiar with the game and how it works, and I think the danger here is making this too much like a travelogue (Let's Watch Merus Play?). I gloss over the rooms too much and people don't really know how the game plays, it's kind of meh to read. These rooms are pretty short, and it means I don't have to walk all the way through the puzzles later - it's going to be way too tough to crack jokes about them, and the levels don't start getting non-linear until later.


Alright, there's three segments in here. Let's do it.


The first basic combat skill is dealing with a series of enemies like this, in two lines. It's fairly straightforward - each move you make kills the roach right next to your sword, so you can just step up and down like this, or turn your sword clockwise and counterclockwise. The only roach that can reach you is going to get killed before it has a chance to attack, so you're completely safe.


Once they're all dead, we can bash down the crumbly wall at the end and move on to the next chamber, and a checkpoint.


Here, we get to choose how many squares we want to be attacked from. We break down one, we have to get our sword out of the way so a roach can come into range. Not optimal. We break down three, and we run the risk of being flanked. Because we can only kill one roach a turn, we don't get any benefit from being attacked by more enemies. It's best to just go with two - we can kill one roach per turn, and we're perfectly safe.


While we do that, let me quickly go into why we care about efficiency so much. Each room has a global highscore table attached to it, the score being the total amount of turns it takes for you to come in, murder everything, then leave. Getting a top score in a room earns you points for your player account, and the best players are ranked on an overall highscore table. We're just going through the game normally, and for this dungeon the most optimal routes were worked out long ago so there's not much on that front I can add.

Oh, we're done.


Okay, let's move into the next chamber.


Well, this is kind of the same thing as the first one, so let's just skip it.


The last chamber awaits!

08-01-2008, 08:14 AM

Another checkpoint, except this one's really handy, because this chamber is a fairly dangerous trap.


As you can see, if we walk down the middle, we'll be flanked, and we won't be able to swing our sword around in time. The easiest way to do this chamber is to get our sword pointing, say, northwest, then step diagonally around the north wall. We've got just enough time to swing our sword around and catch the roach coming from the south. We're going to do it gangsta style, though, and let them flank us:


That's just how I roll. Here, we've got a roach right next to us. If I rotate to try and hit it, on its turn it'll attack, and I'll die. But that's if I rotate my sword. What I can do instead is backswipe it by stepping southwest.


By stepping like this, I move my sword into the roaches' square, splattering its innards all over the wall. This works even if both roaches flank me on opposite sides - I can backswipe one, and the other roach will follow me.


Anyway, this is the last chamber. We've conquered the room, so let's move on.

08-01-2008, 08:16 AM

The chambers in this room have an additional wrinkle - the corridors are three spaces wide instead of two, which means it's a lot easier to be flanked.


The first chamber here quickly devolves into the same sort of scenario we've seen before - because there's so few roaches, they spread out and settle down into a couple of rows. All we have to do here is stand in the middle and rotate our sword clockwise and counterclockwise to deal with the roaches coming on the sides.


The second chamber is a different story. This is easily the toughest fight so far. The problem here is that, unlike the previous chamber, there's too many roaches for them to settle down into a predictable pattern. There's two ways of going about this: the intended way, which is to run for the corner and use that as cover, or the way I'm going to do it, which is to take them head on. (In later levels, when the hordes get more unmanageable, we're going to have to do this anyway.)


With this many roaches, this wide, eventually you're going to have to retreat. I do a lot of backswiping here to try and deal with the oncoming hordes.


Eventually, the numbers thin out, and I can stand in one place and whittle down the advancing horde until it's all in one line. Once it is, I can simply point my sword south and charge.


In the next chamber, we crack open the orb and have monsters pouring through an awkward gap between the corner and the orb. This is safe enough, because there's two squares roaches can be on, but we have a couple of roaches who get stuck behind the orb. Instead of retreating and letting them come to me, I decide to be proactive, and step across the orb to kill the roach on the other side. This is the same mechanic of backswiping in a different context, here moving through an obstacle without ever touching it. There are quite a few rooms later on that rely on the player being able to do this.


The final chamber is kind of a rehash of a chamber in the previous room: break open a route big enough to allow roaches through efficiently, but small enough that you don't get surrounded. We hit the orb, both sets of roaches get released. If we destroy all the crumbly wall, we'll be quickly surrounded.


It's easiest to break open a passage in the top, so the roaches to the north can stream in, then leave the chamber and kill the roaches that came from the southeast, who'll move up to meet you.

Okay, so that's horde management!

08-01-2008, 08:18 AM
Those of you who nodded off can come back now, because now we've got new stuff:


Roach Queens give birth to roaches, and fulfil much the same role as bee queens do. Unlike bees, however, all roaches that are born are considered workers - the roach queen usually carries around most, if not all, of the ingredients required to make roach eggs, and is usually fed by her worker children during quiet, safe moments (and occasionally feeds on her worker children, usually when she is low on a few key roach-baby ingredients). Roach queens can be identified amongst their children by their enlarged abdomen, their glossy, silver wings (although they never fly), and, most tellingly, the fact that usually all the roaches are attacking you and the roach queen isn't. When threatened, the roach queen will attempt to scurry as far away from the threat as possible, occasionally stopping to lay eggs in promising-looking areas (as these are roaches, this is pretty much anywhere), which will hatch into mostly-developed roaches in a matter of seconds. Roach queens lay eggs at a much faster rate when they are running away from a threat in this manner, and rely on their children for defence, so much so that a cluey smitemaster can count precisely how long it will be until the roach queen lays more eggs. Some roach queens are used in the roachmeat industries, but it turns out to be far more cost effective to hire smitemasters to clean out infestations and haul the carcasses back up than to breed roaches in captivity (which is costly, as opposed to clients paying you to take the corpses, and the problems when a roach gets loose are much greater than with other, more docile meats.)

Let's join the fight, already in progress:

As you can see, the roach queen, and it's damn weird to think of a roach as being regal, runs away from Treehead, which means that unlike the regular roaches who conveniently come right to you, Treehead has to chase them down first.

Unfortunately for Treehead, he has to go the long way around to get into this chamber, and as the clock on the side strikes thirty (it ticks every turn), we get a nasty surprise:


Roach queens spawn roach eggs, which pretty soon turn into grownup roaches, which then decide to go and kill you.


This roach queen has just given birth to Delta Force.


Treehead finally cracks the door open, and goes back around the other way to his showdown with the Queen. Here, you can see that getting level with the queen makes it flee again, to the opposite corner.



08-01-2008, 08:20 AM

Now we have five roach queens to deal with - each roach queen will give birth to up to eight roaches every thirty turns, though they won't lay eggs in occupied spaces. Those queens in the corner will gather together and, together, only lay five eggs per cycle. Let's start by -- wait.


That's better. If we leave the room and it's not clear, it resets, which lets us spend a couple of free turns rotating our sword so we don't have to do it while in combat. This is the other reason for worrying about efficiency - when we get more enemies every thirty turns, we want to cut through the existing ones as quickly as possible, and that means not wasting time turning your sword when you can do it in an empty, safe room.




We're at the disadvantage here - we have to go around this arrow wall, while roaches will charge through it.


All this talk of queens and checkmate makes me want to set a DROD Problem: Genocide in three moves. If you read the combat guide earlier on, this should be easy. If you don't give a shit, this will be somewhat harder.


Now we've turned the corner, the roaches can't see us, and bunch up in the corner chamber. This is not so great, because we have to go past that chamber to get to the queens.


Ah well. If we keep our sword like this, we can keep moving and take out any roaches that step out in front of us.


There's one roach that stepped out behind me, but we can ignore it - because they're not that smart, Treehead can pop behind a corner and escape. I'll kill it later when I have the advantage.


I sunk your battleship.

Completing this room opens up two more new rooms: one to the north, and one to the east. We have to visit both eventually, but it's up to you which one I do first! How about it, Talking Time?

08-25-2008, 11:04 AM
Is this thread still going? If so, I'd like to vote moving Northward for now.

08-25-2008, 08:01 PM
Is this thread still going? If so, I'd like to vote moving Northward for now.
I've been toying with at least getting to the end of the demo, and I guess you've given me the perfect excuse to do so!

05-24-2011, 08:10 PM
Did somebody say north?

Twice South, Once East:

Hi, I'm Tablesaw, and I usually lurk because I often don't have time to follow forums in real time. Still, I've wanted to throw in with some of the awesome Talking Time LPs, so I'm going to try resurrecting an abadoned LP of one of my favorite games. I don't have the same intimate knowledge of the game as Merus, but I have been playing DROD, on and off, for over a decade. I'll do my best to get all the behind-the-scenes details right (secure in the knowledge that Merus will correct anything I get wrong).

So where were we?


Right, our hero, Beethro Budkin Treehead Woodfist. Dungeon Exterminator Extraordinaire, fully licensed member of the Smitemasters' Guild, and part-time fry cook. He returned to the site of his most famous exploit, King Dugan's Dungeon, to find out what was behind a strange door. The answer so far has been . . . more dungeon.


Halph, Treehead's nephew, is his ill-advised companion (sporting a horrifying vision of what Bart Simpson's hair might look like in 3-D). So far, all he's done is shown his ability to appear on the wrong side of doors and not pay any attention to you. So, you know, a typical preteen.

As for monsters, we've dealt with roaches and roach queens. Like the one in this room.


Queens will always try move away from Treehead, so you have to be careful about which direction you drive them. This queen has run into an area blocked by arrows, so while it's possible to run after and kill it, there's no way to get back out.


By waiting here directly beneath the queen, it won't try to move diagonally and will run itself into the little niche that's as convenient as the arrow traps were inconvenient.

The other thing to notice in this screen is the stairs leading down, blocked by a light-blue door. In the same way that the green doors disappear when you clear all the enemies in a room, a blue door disappears when you clear all the required rooms in a level.

So further north, for now.

Once South, Once East:

This room is very similar to the previous one. The moment you hit the orb, the queen will start moving northeast to the arrow trap. This time, you have to use the tunnels to keep the queen in the center.


Once I enter one of the lower tunnels and reappear at the top, the queen will start moving back south. By flipping back and forth, I can keep it in the center long enough to reach one of the orbs that will trap it. Unless . . .


The queen lays roach eggs every thirty turns, even when it's trying to run away from Treehead, and even if it means that the egg will block its escape. And when that egg grows into a roach, the roach will try to move toward Treehead while the queen is running away, trapping them both. We won't even need to hit the orb.

There aren't any other exits to this room, so let's go back one, then go east.

Twice South, Twice East:

Like the last room Merus showed us, Treehead has to go the long way to get the queens while arrows let the roaches attack us. But since each queen only has space to spawn one roach every thirty turns, it's not really difficult. So let's get . . .


Halph: Heya, Unk!

Treehead: Halph! You're alive! You're standing right next to a roach queen! You wanna get all chewed up?

She won't hurt me, Unka Treehead.

Back away from the roaches slowly! I'm coming over there as fast as I can.

Just watch . . . The roaches don't come after me! It's because they know I won't hurt them.

Halph's right, all of the roaches (and all of the monsters we'll meet) are peaceful toward Halph, which can be very useful.


DROD is explicitly turnbased--things only happen when you make a move. So in the many years when fans were playing the first DROD game, it naturally became a thing to challenge yourself and others to see how few moves it took to complete a room (starting from when you enter and couting until you exit, with all the enemies taken care of). Journey to Rooted Hold made this easier by having an online leaderboard system called CaravelNet (after Caravel Games, which develops DROD). When you beat a room, you can upload a record of your turns (called a demo, since it was originally the way in which the attract-mode demos were saved) and see your ranking immediately. You can also download the demos of the top scorers.

The challenge of trying to lower the number of moves in DROD is called optimization. I'm not someone who cares too much about the process (though I still hold a few #1 records), but it leads to some interesting tactics. Merus mentioned a few of them in talking about efficiency: enter the room with your sword already pointing toward the first monster, for example. You also learn to cut corners on the diagonals, kill monsters more faster, and avoid turning your sword unless you have to. But there are some other unusual tricks as well.


Now, here's the general route I took for this room. Obviously, I cut the corners more closely, and I had to move my sword a bit to kill the roaches and queens. My score was 207 moves. But, when optimising, I was able to clear the room in 39 moves. Can you see how?


Usually, if a room has no enemies in it, no demo is uploaded to CaravelNet. However, due to a quirk in the way demos are handled, the entrance to each level *does* qualify for the leaderboards (this has been fixed in later versions, but the earlier rooms still stand). So the entrance is a good place to get "tied for 1st place" score, since often all you have to do is find the fastest way out.

In fact, the fastest way out of the Entrance of level 2 (back up in Merus's part of the thread), is to head straight back up the stairs to level 1. When you do, you get this message:


"Sometimes, the only way to go forward is to go backwards. Not usually, though." - Tuenan folk saying

05-24-2011, 08:36 PM
Now I bet you're asking yourself, "What's the use of having a bizarro fantasy setting if we can't exploit children in ways that would be considered illegal and immoral in modern society?"

Once South, Twice East

It was a dumb idea to bring you along. But since you're down here, you're gonna help me.

I wanna help.

So if I knock on a door, that means you go open it for me.

No problem.

And from here on out, Halph starts helping. If you knock on a door (essentially trying to move onto a yellow gate) Halph will do his best to get to the orb that opens it for you.

Twice East

Another thing... I've got lots of different strategies. You couldn't understand them--you'll just have to trust me. Sometimes you gotta be in a certain spot for my strategy to work. When I tap you on the shoulder, you follow me. And then another tap means stay put. Got it?

What was the middle thing you said?

Halph normally stays in the spot where he enters the screen. After he opens a door, he'll try to go back to where he started. You can have him follow you too, if you need to make sure he's in the right spot.


Also, since monsters don't attack Halph, he's a terrific meat shield.

But when Halph's following you (and even when he's just standing around in your way) you need to remember that he can be killed by Treehead's Really Big Sword. Which is why you never touch your nephew with your massive, bloody implement.

Thrice East

In this room, if you Treehead hits that orb, most of the roaches will find their way into the arrow traps, making the room impossible. With Halph's help, you can raise the gates beyond the arrows so they get stuck within killing distance.


Or you can have Halph open the door while you're standing next to it and kill all the roaches like a badass.

Going east again . . .

Quarce East

Now here's a room with a lot of options. I've drawn in notes about which orbs open which doors. The only thing that has to happen in this room is Halph opening the door in the northeast corner, since the orb is behind an arrow trap. Don't worry about Halph being stuck, he always makes it out.

So let's go back west one screen, then try going north.

Once North, Thrice East

What is this, a psychiatrist's office?


Receptionist: The Negotiator will see you now.

Oooh, a Negotiator! Will it be Samuel L. Jackson or Kevin Spacey?


Negotiator: Treehead Woodfist! Come over to my desk. Let's talk.

Or maybe it's this lady:


The Negotiator is there representing an "Empire" who wants our good friend Treehead to go away and stop bothering them. They're they ones responsible for the unauthorized expansion of King Dugan's Dungeon, and now that he's gone through the mysterious door, he's on their turf.


So there's a bunch of you kooks down here? What's this Empire you're talking about?

The Rooted Empire, whose ends are Knowledge, whose means are the perfect machinery of empiric will!

The Negotiator explains that building "holds" is the way the empire stores and discovers knowledge, with lots of references to really old boring people. Interestingly, though, the entire things parallels the study of the P versus NP problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P_versus_NP_problem). DROD is itself NP-complete, and so the mechanisms of the monsters can encode many traditional and complex mathematical and logical conundra. For example . . .


You act like we're going to sit here for five weeks talking about it.

Oh, fine, Treehead, I'll cut it short.

After Treehead gets bored with me the Negotiator, he tells her he's leaving.


I don't think you will. If you leave this chamber now, I promise you, a Slayer will be dispatched.

But Treehead fears no '80s thrash metal! Onward to Third Level!


Oh, right. Forgot about that last door.

05-24-2011, 08:51 PM
Thrice South, Twice East

Doubling back to go east instead of north from where Merus left off, we get the last mandatory room of Second Level. It's a pretty simple one, but I do want to show off one thing.

Monsters like roaches and queens can't travel through tunnels, and they won't move to tunnel-entrance spaces. But they'll make an exception if they have a chance to chomp on Treehead while he's standing on a tunnel space.


So if you dawdle too long in this level and let a chamber fill up like this, it's impossible to win. Treehead can kill one of the roaches on his way out of the tunnel, but that'll leave an opening for the other one to grab him.


Like so.

But there's plenty of time to clear this room without that happening.


When you clear the last required room of a level, a harp plays and the "Exit Level!" message appears to let you know you can head out. In this shot, you can also see the results of uploading the last room to the CaravelNet leaderboards.

And now that the blue gate is gone, we can head deeper to Third Level.

. . . But before that, let's head back to First Level for Secrets! I'm going to stick with Merus' plan of requiring you to spot the secret rooms before I show them. And I figured I should clean up First Level, both spotted by DANoWAR way back when.


Here's the way to the first room.

Once North, Quarce West

Good, I made it back to the old rooms. Guess there was a cave in. Kinda looks like somebody knocked the ceiling down on purpose.

Nah. Who would do that?

For comparison, here's what the same room looks like in King Dugan's Dungeon 2.0:


There are enemies in that room, by the way. We just haven't met them yet in the current game.

The caved-in version isn't a particularly difficult ambush, since there's lots of places to hide.


And here's the spot to get to the other room.

Quince North, Quarce West

And here's a pretty straightforward maze. You could probably solve it yourself, from the screenshot.

But look, there's another exit from that secret room.

Quince North, Quince West

And what's up here?

Sence North, Quince West

It's the deadliest V-neck sweater you've ever seen. Again, not as difficult as it looks. It's essentially a more grandiose version of the tunnel challenge that Merus showed earlier.

And that's three out of three secrets for First Level.

I hope to keep this thread rolling, so if you have questions about the game or the LP, let me know!

05-25-2011, 06:48 AM
This game is spectacular, I'm glad to see the LP has been reincarnated.

Is the secret to your 2S2E win entering from the north? I can't see how it can be done that quickly otherwise.

There's a cracked wall on the west side of 2E

05-25-2011, 08:26 AM
This is the first time the blue door's come up, and I wanted to talk about it.

It struck me, while playing Link to the Past recently, just how elegant the blue door is in terms of level design. Zelda games usually use keys in order to control the direction players go, but as the series has gone on they've found that keys aren't all that good a tool for doing so. With keys, it's quite difficult to guarantee that players visit every significant room; you can really only have three 'important' branches. You can put the dungeon item behind one, the boss key behind another and the boss door behind a third... but usually what happens is that the branch containing the boss key requires you to have the dungeon item. Most Zelda dungeons, particularly these days where they try and build rooms that require the dungeon item, end up being pretty linear as a result.

What DROD does instead is have a blue door, and when you finish all the puzzles you're allowed to move on. This frees up the game immensely; you can still control the way players move through the levels by using green doors, so you still get that structure (and we'll see that done later), but the levels can branch as many times as they like and it doesn't cause any problems further down the road. The blue door guarantees that players will, eventually, visit every room you want them to, and it doesn't matter how they connect.

The first three levels are pretty linear, but it starts to open up a lot after you get out of the demo.

That was, in hindsight, a problem with the demo.

05-25-2011, 01:21 PM
This series looks pretty interesting. Are they available for download somewhere, and if so, which game would be the best for a new player to start with?

Looking forward to the continuing adventures of this guy:


05-25-2011, 04:47 PM
This series looks pretty interesting. Are they available for download somewhere?

Great question! All the games are available at the Caravel Games website (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games.html)

If so, which game would be the best for a new player to start with?

Complicated question! I'll do my best to summarize.

There are three major releases of DROD; each release has an official set of levels (a hold) that tells part of the canonical story of DROD and an engine that can be used to play the official hold and any compatible user-created holds.

The first game was called Deadly Rooms of Death, but its hold has been retronymed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retronym) to King Dugan's Dungeon. It went through a few iterations until it finally gained a level editor, and that version was called "DROD: Architects' Edition (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/AE.html)." This engine is usually called DROD:AE or DROD 1. Here's a picture of a room of King Dugan's Dungeon, as seen in the DROD engine.


DROD 1 and King Dugan's Dungeon were open-source, so they are freely available. Engine and hold together can be downloaded fromhere (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/AE.html) for PC and Linux (I don't think this version has Mac port). You can also download the KDD hold separately here (''http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=6547"), and play it in later DROD engines. There's also a remastered version of the hold called King Dugan's Dungeon 2.0 (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/KDD.html) that updates the levels to include character dialogue, scripting, and secret rooms. KDD 2.0 is does cost money, but I recommend it over the original version.

Journey to Rooted Hold (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/JtRH.html), the hold for this LP, was released with the DROD 2 engine. I'm also playing on that engine now, since it's what Merus started with. As you can see, it's a major graphical upgrade from DROD 1. It introduced conveniences like the clock that lets you plan for roach spawning and other timed events. It also introduced the rudimentary scripting tool that allows characters to talk to each other (though it's still mostly used for Beethro to talk to himself).

DROD 2 is backward compatible with DROD 1, and the demo for Journey to Rooted Hold allows you to import and play any hold for either engine. (However, the demo has a limited stock of music and graphical skins for levels.)

The City Beneath (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/TCB.html) is the most recent game, and it includes the DROD 3 engine. The graphical upgrade isn't as stark as between 1 and 2, but there's a lot of little flourishes in things like lighting and player conveniences. The scripting system was overhauled (the game now has more events that are closer to cutscenes), and a whole host of new monsters and dungeon elements were added.

Like DROD 2, DROD 3 is fully backwards compatible, holds can be imported using the demo without buying the full game, and the demo doesn't have access to the full variety of graphics and music.

So asking which game to start with means asking which engine to start with and which hold to start with.

For the engine, I firmly stand behind DROD 3, which you get by either buying The City Beneath (http://caravelgames.com/buyTCB.html) or downloading the demo (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/DownloadTCB.html). I much prefer playing in DROD 3, and if Merus hadn't started this LP in DROD 2, I'd be playing JtRH from the upgraded version. (If I get frustrated later on, I may switch back anyway.)

As for what hold to start with, that's really open for debate. If you care about the story (I do, but in a puzzle-centric game like DROD it's really not necessary) and are willing to pay for the official holds, I'd recommend doing KDD 2.0, JtRH, then TCB. But the story's kind of fungible, so you should be fine if you want to do them in any order.

For free user-created holds that are good for beginners, I'm going to have to punt you over to the DROD Forums: Beginner's Guide to DROD (http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=28303). Unsurprisingly, you'll see a lot of overlap with this post, but the "Which holds should I play" section is invaluable in listing lots of holds for beginners.

Other Premium DROD Stuff

Caravel Games occasionally releases official holds that are smaller than the ones listed above. These are called Smitemaster's Selections (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/SS.html) and can be downloaded for nine dollars per set. These future voice acting and tie in (mostly canonically) with the story of DROD. Also, the Smitemaster's Selection Journey's End (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/SmitemastersSelections/JourneysEnd.html) features "Smitemastery 101," a good beginning hold.

CaravelNet (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/CaravelNet.html) is the online component of DROD. You get a free month when you buy one of the official games, or you can buy a one-year subscription for twelve dollars. CaravelNet is necessary if you want to upload your scores to the leaderboards. Also, it allows for one-click downloading and importing holds from within the game.

DROD RPG (http://caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/RPG.html) is part of the same universe, but the gameplay is very different. Again, it's more of an optimization-puzzle take on an RPG. DROD RPG also has user-created holds.

05-25-2011, 10:19 PM
I started in the DROD 2 engine because I wanted it to be as close to the 'release' version as possible.

Two things I want to highlight: you can play any user-made hold in the demo, so while you won't be able to follow along with the LP for very long you can still play with all the game elements (this was done initially for source code reasons, and it's been kept that way because it's a great community builder); and that the Smitemaster's Selections were one of the few episodic releases in the industry, which I'm pretty proud of. We succeeded where a lot of other companies failed.

I have my objections to CaravelNet; you need an active CaravelNet subscription to retrieve your purchases, and I feel that's overreaching.

05-30-2011, 06:03 PM

"It can often be a surprise when on first discovers that, no matter how skillful one is or adept at one's craft, it is almost certain that, somewhere, there are others who are of equal or even exceeding skill. Whether this competition is eelcomed, or whether it shall lead to antagonism, it is almost always educational." - Professor Tampuk Lobblus, Dean of Education at Mellenfral University

Welcome back to Let's Play DROD.

First, some housekeeping.

Is the secret to your 2S2E win entering from the north? I can't see how it can be done that quickly otherwise.

That is precisely the secret.

If you leave a room without clearing it completely, it will be completely reset when you return. So by exiting the room without killing the second queen, I can come back in from the north and take on the whole thing from scratch, only this time I'm not fighting the arrows.

As Merus mentioned, later levels will make it a lot easier to take rooms in whatever order you like, and in those cases, it's usually trivial to pick the optimal entrance point. But for a few levels like these, you have to do all the work of getting through the room, with the added danger of leaving things alive that can kill you, in order to shave off moves for the leaderboards.

The Entrance

Welcome to Third Level. This level doesn't have stairs back up, not all of them do. Also, when you enter a level, a little swirly thing circles Treehead briefly, which you can see in this shot.

So what do we find on this level?

Once West

Twice West

Some stupid door puzzles.

Seriously, I have nothing to say about them except that it's not possible to leave the second room via the northwest passage. (Note to Self: Think of an appropriate Canada joke before posting.)

Instead, let's take a moment to talk about room coordinates. In DROD, all rooms are referred to by their distance from the room you start in. So as we've moved west from the entrance we've gone once west, then twice west. Once we've moved north, we'll be in room Once North, Twice West. This information is displayed in a scroll at the top of the screen, but I'm cropping it out of my screenshots, so I'll list it when I introduce each room.

The naming conventions are also rather fanciful. They start out with the normal "once," "twice," and "thrice" and move on to more outlandish terms. The official progression is: once, twice, thrice, quarce, quince, sence, septence, octence, novence, tonce, elevonce, twolce, thorce, quartonce, quintonce, sextonce, septonce, octonce, noventonce.

Unsurprisingly, most players just use numbers (like Gerad did in the quote above).

Once North, Twice West

Hey, how'd you get over there?

I don't know. I was just exploring.

Well, explore over here with me!

I can't. There's an arrow blocking me.

Dummy! Why'd you walk over it?

I don't know.

Just stay there. Maybe I can come around and get you.

More roach queens. Nothing too difficult if you take your time. Or if you hurry, really.


Halph! Stay put!

I'm gonna see what's in the next room.

No, stupid! Just wait here!

Aaaand Halph's gone again. Perhaps it's the verbal abuse Treehead's heaping on him, in addition to the child labor.

Twice North, Twice West

I'm pretty sure you can figure out how this room works.

Thrice North, Twice West

Oh, what's this now, another negotiator?



Here comes our silly delver.

He's going to strike the orb.

No, it's . . .well it kind of looks like Prince, a bit, but with red hair and collagen implants.


No! The delver can't be that stupid.

Just watch! Just watch!

In the grand videogame tradition of James Sunderland sticking his arm into Satan's glory hole, there is no way to advance the game without Treehead hitting the orb.


See? I know my delvers.

Indeed you do! How funny!

It's fun to watch him, but we should get on with my presentation.



Hey, look. He hit that orb with his funky cane, just like Treehead does with his Really Big Sword. Nothing about this is ominous in light of the level's opening quote.


On the way out, the toady hits the last orb to toggle in intersection. When you hit an orb, waves of lightning briefly shoot out from the orb to the doors it affects.

I guess we have to see the presentation, now. It's probably in Powerpoint, too.

05-30-2011, 06:41 PM
Thrice North, Once West

Students of the slayerly arts... Oh, privileged pupils! Pay close attention, for today I will demonstrate the techniques of removing delvers. Unfortunately, we have just one delver with us today, so our lesson will be painfully short. But more painful for him than us, of course!

So this is our Slayer, eh? Well, Treehead'll show him. The roach queens cluster together fast, so it's not hard to clear them out. But then there's a door we can't open and Halph is off discovering his changing body. So Treehead demands the Slayer opens the door.

Open the grebbing door!


Yes, yes, yes.

Students, please watch now and take notes later. You will miss important points if you are busy writing.

Allow me to pause here to talk about voice acting. Journey to Rooted Hold introduced scripting so that characters could talk, as well as voice acting for all the major characters. It's not the greatest acting in the world, but everything sounds vaguely appropriate, so it's a nice complement to the game. Treehead sounds like a blue-collar guy, and Halph is voiced by an actual ten-year-old. And the slayer sounds like this:

Ogg File (http://sites.google.com/site/tablesaw/asdfgh/waitthereillbealong.ogg)

It's almost a reverse falsetto, using a breathy, throaty, overly deep voice that is not unlike the voice one might use if you were parodying a sex-line operator.

Now think about that voice saying:

Yes, yes, yes.

It sounds as horrifically like he just had an orgasm as you imagine.

(Not to knock the acting though, because it does fit the character and the silly setting well enough that its easy to go through the whole game before some asshole points it out to you and suddenly the slayer always sounds like you're being charged 3 greckles per minute.)

Ahem. MOVING ON. The slayer opens the door and situates himself just in front of the exit. Then he . . .


No, no, no! I said we're moving on, and now you're shooting out a stream of white spirals at Treehead?


And only after this strange white projection attaches itself to Treehead does the Slayer start moving.

Fine, let's just go around and EEEEAAAGHHHH!


Meet your new opponent, the slayer. Think of Michael Meyers in Halloween, the serial killer that walks slowly toward you as you flee in terror: that's a slayer.

We've already seen that the slayer has a Really Big Hook with the same abilities as Treehead's Really Big Sword. It also has the same disadvantages; the slayer has to spend a turn to rotate the hook, and he can't kill other than with the hook. For movement, he uses "The Wisp" which are the white spirals. The slayer stands still while the wisp moves closer and closer to Treehead. Once the wisp reaches him, the slayer will begin following the wisp directly to Treehead, making it difficult to escape. The slayer will always be following you.

However, you don't need to defeat a slayer to clear a room. You just need to avoid him long enough to kill everything else and leave. And the slayer's patience helps make that easier.


This is outstanding! Pursuit will be necessary!

The main tactic to use against the slayer is to make the wisp nice and long (I usually think of it as the slayer's leash). A long leash means you've got time to do things other than run away. The other useful tactic is to make sure that the path of the wisp leads the slayer to somewhere you can manuever around him.

Notice that sword positioning makes a difference if you try to move in close like I did. The slayer is as wary of your sword as you are of his hook.

Now that we're out of danger, let's get out of here. Heading north.

Quarce North, Once West

A blue door already. Guess we're heading south.

Twice North, Once West

Treehead, wherever you go, my wisp will find you. Come back into the auditorium. I want the students to see us.

Because it's always better when someone's watching.

Dear readers, if you would like me to stop pointing out sexual subtext between Treehead and the slayer, you will be disappointed. Ever since I made the joke about the wisp being semen, I can't take off these dam slash goggles (http://fanlore.org/wiki/Slash_Goggles).

Listen, I've got my own plans. They don't need to involve you bleeding all over the floor, but if that's what you want, that's what you'll get!

Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds? I am 39th Slayer! You've met your Unmaker. I shall remove you from the beneath. And I'll do it with flair! You will be applauding my impeccable maneuvers, the likes of which you've never seen.

You talk too much.

For the hero of a puzzle game, Treehead really doesn't much like people talking.


39th Slayer generally enters a room on the same space that Treehead did, five moves later. However, if Treehead is too close to that space, the slayer will wait another five turns. This can sometimes help you squeeze out a little bit of a lead on him.

In this room, there's plenty of space for the wisp to create a really long leash for 39th Slayer. That's plenty of room to move around the room opening doors and killing roaches.

Good! You're returning to the auditorium.

Quarce North, Once West

Good students, A delver can always be found by the tendrils of the wisp. With patience, it will always reach him, and your route will be clear. You see how it is impossible for our delver to escape the wisp's touch?

In general, the best way to manage a slayer is with circular movements. When you backtrack directly, you shorten the length of the wisp very quickly. But if you keep moving forward in a wide circle, you can get back to where you needed to go without the slayer getting closer to you. That's how you deal with the close quarters and bottlenecks of the little maze on the right.


However, I decided to be badass, went straight for the orb and walked right back out with only a few moves to spare.


Now he has sealed himself in. But eventually he will again expose himself to the wisp.

When 39th Slayer has no way to get at Treehead, he'll follow the wisp as far as possible, then just try to get as close as possible. So he moves around outside while Treehead clears the roaches inside.


To get the last roach free, Treehead has to hit all three of the orbs inside this room. Each one opens one of the entrances to the room Treehead's in and shuts the other two, as well, as opening one of the doors blocking off the roach (and the exit orb) in the northeast corner. Everytime 39th Slayer sees an opportunity to grab Treehead, the wisp will start up again, so you want to hit these three orbs quickly,

In this picture, you'll notice the coloring on certain doors, which is one of the conveniences that the DROD 2 engine offers. If you use the mouse to click on an orb, the doors that it affects are highlighted to indicate how they are affected. Blue means the door is always opened, red means the door is always closed, and orange means the door is toggled (it closes if it was open, and opens if it was closed). I'll try to make more use of this feature for you guys, especially when the doors are confusing.


He comes out of the little chamber.

Our demonstration will continue in the west end of the auditorium.

I'll also try to remember to get rid of the door coloring afterward, since it stays until you deliberately clear it.

05-30-2011, 07:01 PM
Quarce North, Twice West

Always trust the wisp! Its path is perfect and should not be questioned. I lay my judgments aside and follow the wisp. I know it will not fail me.


Another way in which 39th Slayer's Hook is like Treehead's Really Big Sword is that it will destroy crumbling walls; the damage over by the western orb is a result of Treehead and 39th each taking a pass at those walls.

Treehead moved quickly to strike the two orbs that would release the sole roach that needed to be killed in this level. A little too quickly, given that he trapped himself into that final room with no way to reach the now-freed roach. His only hope was for 39th to keep following the wisp into the little corridor, taking him right to the roach and killing it. But how likely is that?


Gah! My mistake was made... intentionally, for uh... illustrative purposes!

Quarce North, Thrice West

It's actually not that difficult to keep the slayer at a nice distance in this room. The last trick of slayer avoidance is that 39th Slayer can't move his hook and the wisp at the same time; that's why he usually avoids turning the hook at all. But when Treehead gets close--either because the slayer has caught up with his prey, or because Treehead is independently threatening him--39th Slayer will turn to focus on him, giving Treehead a chance to escape. Once he's free of the wisp for even one move, Treehead can spin out another long leash.

My biggest problem with this room is that the slayer's hook kept activating orbs when I didn't want it to (but none of the screenshots of it turned out interesting).

Thrice North , Thrice West

Any reasonable player should immediately see that there's no way to build a lead long enough for Treehead to kill the southeast roach and then get out again before 39th catches up. (I mean, it is possible, but it's really hard, and the demo I had of someone else doing it didn't load correctly.) Luckily, there's an easier way.


Oh no! I'm sure someone will come along soon and let me out.

By leading the wisp over the door, Treehead can guarantee that the slayer will plow straight into Treehead's waiting box.

I mean . . . oh forget it.

Twice North, Thrice West

Entering this room, Treehead had a simple plan: Get through the door and close it behind him. The slayer would be stuck on the other side of the wall, too dumb to know that the orb next to him would let him through.


It was not a very good plan, though.

Being sealed in is one thing, but if 39th Slayer can get to the orb that'll let him get to Treehead, he'll find it, activate it, and return to the task of bringing Treehead his tainted love.

But Treehead has already moved on to a new plan: in this one, he leads 39th around to hit the orb, so that he doesn't have to deal with the ambush. That plans worked so predictably well that we'll move on.

Once North, Thrice West

Hey, it's Halph! Waiting for Treehead exactly one room west of where he ran off the first time.


With the green door in the way, this can be pretty close quarters to have to avoid the slayer and kill the queens and roaches. But it's still not too bad. With the green door clear, Treehead makes tracks away from the slayer toward the exit.

A bad way to go, delver. That door doesn't open from this side.

Oh, that's right. We haven't introduced 39th Slayer to Halph yet.


(sigh) This really make me look bad.

Halph, hurry up!

Hey, don't leave! Wait!

And down we go to Fourth Level!

Psssst:There's a cracked wall on the west side of 2E


Oh, right, there certainly is.

Second Level: Once East

Like in the last secret room (1L:1N4W), the amount of debris lying around gives Treehead multiple safe areas in which to plan his nest move. Unfortunately, there are a lot more roaches trying to attack him in this room, and the queens will keep spawning more, so it's another good place to learn efficiency tactics.

Next Time: Ackbar Was Right!

05-31-2011, 10:26 AM
I've always felt that the Slayer lesson really drives home the point that you're not in King Dugan's Dungeon anymore. It's a simple piece of scripting, but it introduces a new enemy type and is an interesting setpiece at the same time.

06-13-2011, 11:30 PM

"The Trapdoor, for all its simplicity, is an extremely useful device for any dungeon architect, and, properly used, it shall lead to fame and wealth. Not only does it allow the architect to create masterly traps, it also enables him to receive an ongoing maintenance stipend to ensure that dropped trapdoors are replaced regularly." - from a keynote speech given at a Dungeon Architect's Association dinner


Don't think you've gotten away. I'm always watching you.

It's Fourth Level. And our stairs are gone. But 39th Slayer followed us, somehow ending up waaay over there. Well, at least Treehead wont have to worry about running in circles trying to avoid him for now, so lets just step over this curiously colored floortile to the left and kill those roaches.


Um, okay, that's new.

Fourth Level introduces a new dungeon element: trap doors. Treehead can stand on one as long as he likes, but once he steps off of it, it falls into the dark pits below. The gap that's left can't be passed by Beethro or the monsters.


But it only applies to Treehead; all the monsters can do whatever they like on them. So it doesn't take too long for Treeead to lure these roaches to their doom.


Runner #82 reporting for duty!

Yes, there's a delver here that's causing trouble. Send word down to the Empire: "Beethro Budkin is approaching. Send reinforcements."

Yessir! Right Away!

Once East

Now, before we let Treehead kill hordes of giant insects, let's talk about level design. Merus has already mentioned that the first three levels are pretty linear compared to others, and Fourth Level really makes a point of showing it. Other than the entrance, all the other rooms in this level can be completed in any order, and several of them require that you enter the room from a particular point in order to be solvable.

To demonstrate this point, let's take a widdershins tour through Fourth Level without clearing any rooms. Treehead hurries east out of this room before the roaches can spawn.

Twice East

Coming upon a fork in a deserted passage, Treehead went south.

Once South, Twice East

Rubber #124! The 39th Slayer has a message for the Empire. Tell them that a delver named Beethro Budkin is coming. He might be trouble, so send reinforcements.

Interesting. That's . . . not exactly the message, but probably close enough. Treehead ran west over the collapsing bridge to see what else was around.

Once south, Once East

Only one entrance here, so Treehead backed out the way he came.


And the bridge had been miraculously rebuilt!

Trap doors always reset when you re-enter a room, even after you've cleared all the monsters.

Thrice East

A nice garden theme here. Fourth level is also the introduction of a new set of graphics. The closely trimmed gras has always been my favorite of the standard floors. Treehead took the upper passage to take him west then north.

Once North, Twice East

Treehead hurried by all the queens, thinking that it would probably be safest to enter from that arrow anyway.

Twice North, Twice East

Them secrets--they're aboundin'
but I seldom ever found 'em
even when I was around 'em

What could that song possibly mean?

06-13-2011, 11:47 PM
Twice North, Once East

With the roaches threatening to attack from the south, Treehead wondered if it would be best to make a stand right here. But the two of the queens scurried north into areas protected by trap doors, so he pushed on.

Twice North

Hey, while Treehead and I are looking at the rest of the rooms, you guys might want to read up on Eulerian paths (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eulerian_path), okay? (Don't worry, there won't be a quiz.) Let's detour south for a moment.

Once North

And here's the exit, with the blue door immediately in front of it. On the other side, you can see some more blocked-off stairs. Presumably that's how 39th Slayer got down and then ran away to write in his diary about how he was humiliated by Treehead. Back up north and west.

Twice North, Once West

Treehead thought he might be blocked in this direction, but he smashed through some walls and continued south. With all the running away he'd been doing, it felt good to smash something, even if it was inanimate stone.

Once North, Once West

And we zoom south, along the western path.

Once West

And that's everything on Fourth Level. To the east is the Entrance room again, though this time Treehead would be on the side the slayer was on. So we might as well work our way back, and clear all the rooms.


As you can see very clearly in this room, trap doors allow for some more traditional puzzles of graph theory (or, if you don't want to sound to much like a nerd, mazes). In this one, you have to get down to kill the queen, and then back to the exit. Not the most difficult maze, but a good warm-up. In particular, the tight spaces in the southwest corner force you to learn how to move diagonally to avoid blocking your return path.

Once North, Once West

Like the entrance, this is room is about leading roaches to you, since there's no way for you to get out of the maze if you try to enter it. Also, as you can see, the only way to solve this puzzle is by entering from the eastern entrance from the south.

Twice North, Once West

Having already maneuvered along a tricky pathway and manuevered roaches toward him, Treehead had to do both at the same time. This one also has a few arrow traps for roaches (and for Treehead). The arrows near the roaches are such that you have to enter the room from the eastern south entrance if you want to defeat it. (In fact, the whole level is easier if you go clockwise instead of counterclockwise.) The other arrows mostly remind Treehead that he can move diagonally to cut corners along trap doors.

Twice North

Okay, so now you guys know all about traversing undirected graphs so that all edges are visited exactly once (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eulerian_path), right? Because that little red door that's got the roach trapped will only open once every trap door in the room has dropped. It's not particularly difficult here, but red-door problems can get more complicated (and occasionally more tedious).

Twice North, Once East

Ah, here we go, a real smity challenge. Entering from the west means that all of the queens are running in the right direction, but Treehead still has to be careful. Roaches can cross trap door with immunity, but they can't cross the gaps that Treehead makes. So by intentionally dropping this trap, Treehead keeps the next queen from getting away from him. And at that point, it's just blood, blood, blood.

06-13-2011, 11:58 PM
Remember how I said there would be no quiz on Eulerian paths? Well pop quiz on Hamiltonian paths (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamiltonian_path)!

Twice North, Twice East

When it comes to red gates in DROD, Eulerian paths don't come up as often as Hamiltonian paths, since it's more common to have awkward clusters of tiles than nice long paths. So each tile (vertex) has lots of possible moves (edges), and it doesn't matter which moves you make, as long as you can get to all of them. Challenges like this--where Treehead has to maneuver to a particular orb, then get back out--are common.

Once North, Twice East

Treehead was right about entering from the arrow, as he was able to wipe out one entire line of queens before they spawned. Then he used those force arrows to guard his back while took out the line to his right.

Thrice East

Hey, Halph's back, and just in time. Funny how he always seems to wander back around whenever Treehad needs an inconvenient door opened.

You'll notice that, like the monsters, Hapl doesn't drop trap doors when he walks over them. (Actually, the first time you see it is at the very, very end of Third Level, but I didn't want to get bogged down explaining trap doors during Treehead's daring escape.)

Once East, Once South

The moment Treehead drops that lone trap door, the walls of the maze will disappear completely, and any roaches left alive will be able to swarm him. So, as tedious as it was, he killed every single roach he could find on this side of the trap door, until there was only a small number left.


And here's the badass shot of Fourth Level, Maurog didn't want to muck about in corridors, so he dropped the trap door and took on all these roaches gladiator-style.

Once East

And so we're back where we started. A very, very common theme in DROD rooms is to make Treehead go back and forth dealing for a bit while enemies keep spawning and attacking him. In this room, this is accomplished by making him run to the four trap doors before he can get to the north portion of the room where the queens are.

Once North

And down we go.

Next Time: The Monster in the Mirror!

06-14-2011, 06:39 AM
Good stuff. There's definitely a secret room north of 2N2E, as evidenced by all the cracked walls along the right and top of the room. The question is how to get into that passageway. Do any of the cracked walls at the top-left of 3E lead to 2E, then up to 2N2E?

The rooms are still easy enough for now, but I think it'd be really interesting if you showed more screenshots for difficult rooms, especially if you've got a cleverly optimized solution. It can be tough to tell what the key step in beating a room is from one screenshot.

06-21-2011, 01:47 AM
Good stuff. There's definitely a secret room north of 2N2E, as evidenced by all the cracked walls along the right and top of the room. The question is how to get into that passageway. Do any of the cracked walls at the top-left of 3E lead to 2E, then up to 2N2E?

"Where ya going, Unka Treehead?"

"Quiet you," grumbled Treehead as he backtracked through Fourth Level. The voices in his head would not let him be.

"But if you cross those trap doors . . ."

"I know what I'm doing."

Sure it was a risk, but there were secrets to be had; he knew it. Just over this little bridge were the walls he'd batter down to find secret passages. And once he made his way to another room, he'd be able to get back down her and the trap doors would reset!


For the first week, Halph tossed him food across the gap. After that, there was no one at all.

06-21-2011, 05:35 AM
Hey, I'm not sure if you're aware but I have serious problems with loading the images in the LP. I think that makes it difficult to see where the cracks are. (I know, but I'm not telling unless everyone else gives up.)

06-21-2011, 06:45 AM
I didn't mean to get you killed, Treehead. Forgive me.

How about the bottom-right corner of 1N2E? If so, that's a tricksy cracked wall.

06-21-2011, 11:27 AM
Hey, I'm not sure if you're aware but I have serious problems with loading the images in the LP. I think that makes it difficult to see where the cracks are. (I know, but I'm not telling unless everyone else gives up.)

What kind of problems? I see that there are a few images that I need to re-upload, but everything's moving smoothly for me. Anyone else?

ETA: I corrected a quirk of tinypic where it likes to rename .png files as .jpg for no good reason. Most browsers seem to be unfooled, but I went through and changed a bunch of the extensions to match the actual file types. Let me know if that fixes your problem.

06-21-2011, 11:53 PM
Nope, they're still not loading.

06-22-2011, 12:24 AM
They work just fine for me.

06-22-2011, 12:36 AM
The thread page takes forever to load for me, and after it's "done" it'll usually still have quite a lot of pictures with the bottoms cut off. A refresh or two of the page will generally get most of the pictures loaded.

07-03-2011, 04:25 PM
I have lost the draft of this goddamn level so many times, so forgive me if I sound bitter writing about everything that happens in the first few rooms. AGAIN. I . . . I don't even know how this happens. Am I naming things too creatively? I swear I save them, and then I go back and nothing. It's all cloud from now on, baby.


Danger lies in the most unexpected places. Also, it lies in a lot of the expected places.


Hey, look, stairs!

Often, as one grows older, one feels a strong desire to revisit familiar places, even if one isn't entirely sure what to do there.

Wooooooooooooo! That was fun. Woo. Now let's get going.


It's quiet here.
Quiet and cold.

It's a new level palatte, too, to enforce that sense of coldness in blue and white. As you'll see soon, the bottomless pits in these levels have bright clouds obscuring their depths, which is beautiful, if incongruous with the whole "underground" concept.

Once South

Peaceful here, but I won't be lulled. I'm unlullable.

And, indeed, Treehead was not lulled. He carefully noted the blue door to the west and the arrows to the east and knew he'd be back again.

Twice South

What's this? A piece of paper lying on the ground?


Beware! Wubbas!


Like I wasn't going to be careful anyway.

In DROD 1, scrolls left on the ground were the only way to communicate any sort of text to the player, which meant they were the only sort of "story" you really had moving through. In player-created holds, there are sometimes whole corridors of scrolls to express Beethro's inner monologue. Obviously, with the scripting available in Journey to Rooted Hold, they aren't as common any more. When they do appear, they tend to be either in-character (that is, something an dungeon-dweller might reasonably leave on a piece of paper) or meta messages from the constructor to the player.

Scrolls also have a few odd qualities when it comes to monster movement, but I don't think they'll come into play this game.


Scarbations! That wubba's charging me!

. . . Treehead exclaimed, readying his Really Big Sword to strike a killing blow.


Gah, they're so puffy . . . my sword just goes right through them!

Treehead hacked and slashed and slacked and hashed, but none of it had any effect on the wubba. It was like trying to brutally murder a marshmallow, but without subsequent sugar rush. Finally, he fell to his knees to await his horrific death.

The wubba licked him.

Fortuitously spared, Treehead collected himself to push past the wubba.

And the wubba licked him harder.

See, Wubbas can't be killed by Treehead's sword. Luckily, unlike most monsters, wubbas don't actually want to kill him. They just like running up to him, then passionately nuzzling him. So in a tight corridor like this, there's no way past a wubba.


Treehead backed out of the corridor into the open space so he could get around the wubba as it followed him around. "Stay here, you bothersome bonbon bag!" he yelled. And to his surprise, it did.

And now, a word about monster movement. Most monsters want to get as close to Treehead as possible. They do this by figuring out which adjacent space is the closest and moving into it. Because each room is laid out on a grid, that usually means moving along a diagonal. But what if that diagonal space is blocked?

When roaches (and most basic monsters) want to move diagonally but can't, they have a backup plan. First they try to move vertically, then they try to move horizontally; if both of those fail, they stay put. This lets roaches "slide" along walls to find Treehead.

Wubbas have no plan B. If they can't move diagonally, then damnit, they're going to stay right where they are. This means that they have a tendency to get "stuck" along walls, like above.


Think I got a handle on these critters.

Treehead rushed forward ready to kill the roach behind the yellow door, but then he paused. "I suppose," he thought, "just in case there's some invisible creatures who have nothing better to do than count how long it takes me to clear out a dungeon and then give me some sort of ranking, then I might as well let this roach live, so I can kill it faster in a little bit." Despite the outlandishness of this idea, Treehead did it anyway.

And guess what, there's still more technical information to talk about in this room. Notice how the wubba managed to get in between Treehead and the roach? How that happened relates to another quirk of DROD: monster turn order.

With everything moving around the board, there has to be some sort of order to resolve conflicts. Obviously, Treehead gets to move first, so that he can kill monsters reliably. But the monsters take their turns in a particular order too. Monster order is based on when a monster was placed into the room during character creation (or when they were spawned), so you can't rely on it to be the same from room to room. High-level players use the quirks of monster order to do predict unusual movement. I . . . usually ignore it.

But it explains what happened in this picture. At one point, both the wubba and the roach had the opportunity to move into the space directly east of Treehead, and because the wubba had a higher priority, it got to move in first. But there's no guarantee that future wubbas will move before roaches in other rooms.

07-03-2011, 04:44 PM
Twice South, Once West

In this room, the two groups of roaches in the northwest and southwest are easy enough to handle by Treehead forcing them to come through the corridor one by one. But the other roaches are in a good position to flank him once he comes out.


But wubbas can act as a meat shield for when Treehead's nephew isn't around.

Let's see what's west.

Twice South, Twice West

Yeah, this is one of the most pointless things in the game. I've never understood it. Moving on (or back, as it were).


HAHA! Victory always tastes best when it's allowed to ripen!

Twice South, Once East

Whoa. That's a lot of wubbas.


With the wide passageways between "chambers" in this room, it's easy for Treehead to get around. Wubbas will get stuck in the little alcoves, preventing them from overpowering Treehead. But backtracking can get a bit trickier, like the situation I got myself in right here. But even this wasn't too hard to move around.

Once South, Once East

This doesn't look like it's so many Wubbas, I'm sure Treehead will be out of here in no time.



There are a few less wubbas than in the previous room, but in a wide open space, it's a lot trickier to get around them.


Treehead's best bet is to use very, very wide circles to flatten them out along the wall and hold them still while he goes in for the queens.


Well, that was easy enough. Now let's get through the blue door and head for the exit with absolutely no further complications.

Once South, Once West

Oh god. Oh god. It's this room.

A long, long time ago, after I'd beaten the game, I thought I'd play through it from the beginning on a new character and take the opportunity to optimize some of the rooms. That playthrough ended when I reached this room.


This is, I think, the first really challenging room of the game. There's lots and lots of stuff going on at the same time, including a number of deathtraps, and the wubbas constrain your movements pretty severely.


There are lots of places that need special attention, but I want to highlight this area in particular, which I saved mostly for last. It's designed as a pretty cunning deathtrap. If you rush in to get the queen, the wubba will close in behind you. You have to draw out either the queen or the wubba to have a shot. And that gets really complicated once the queen has blocked up the passage with a bunch of roaches.


With judicious use of the save point, it's far from impossible. From here, it was simple to scare out the queen, lure out the wubba, then remove the last roaches, but it still took a while. This is the first room where you've got to deal with multiple problems and lots of chaos.

07-03-2011, 05:03 PM
Once South, Twice West
Oh boy, it's Halph again.


Hi, Unka Treehead.

Halph, what are you doing?

I was just playing with the wubbas. You never told me about them.

But you . . . well . . . I . . . Ah . . . Come on, let's go.

Halph, being an idiot, doesn't understand how to use the tunnel to open the gate blocking the wubba in the center north. But if Treehead does it, the wubba blocks off the passage before he can get out.


So we arrange a meat-shield party. To protect Treehead from the other meat shields. This game is weird.

Also, there's nothing to kill on this screen, thus there's no high score to be had. So don't waste your time trying to optimize like I did.

Twice South, Twice West

I learned my lesson! I'm not touching that arrow.
It's okay. Come with me.

Of course, he doesn't.


Oh no, Unka Treehead! The wubbas are blocking my way to the stairs.



I'll go through that passage!


Helpful for one room, then disappears again? Is Halph Tuxedo Mask or something?

Anyway, we've got stairs to go down, and a Sixth Level to explore.

I didn't mean to get you killed, Treehead. Forgive me.

How about the bottom-right corner of 1N2E? If so, that's a tricksy cracked wall.


Well, would you look at that.

The secrets on levels with this set of graphics can be really hard to spot. I had a hard time spotting this one when I was replaying through, even though I knew what I was supposed to be looking for.

The passageway empties out south, but . . .


It doesn't go anywhere. This little divot only exists because, without it, it's possible to get trapped in the secret corridor if you rush into it before cleaning out the room. So let's go back north and head to where we're actually going.


Now this is a promising secret passage.


And it leads us directly to where we're going, too.

Thrice North, Twice East


And where we're going is hell, apparently.

Hey, guys, mind if I finish this room after my vacation? You don't? Wonderful. That room on Fifth Level is what made me stop my previous replay, but this is one of the rooms that gave me nightmares the first time around. Secret rooms are going to start ramping up in difficulty compared to the main dungeon, and in retrospect this isn't even close to the worst this dungeon has to offer, but it still takes a while to get through.

Next time: Amadeus or Sexy Jesus?

07-04-2011, 03:15 PM
I liked that secret room! Sure, it's tricky, but it's no tar in terms of frustration. Also, there's a cracked wall at the south side of 2S1E, 5th floor.

07-13-2014, 11:11 PM
After over three years of trying to find time and resources to resume this LP, I know have a streaming/recording setup, so I'm going to try this LP again. I'm going online in a little bit to start catching up with the thread so far.


07-16-2014, 06:52 PM
The first two levels are up on YouTube:

Part 1: Going Down?

Tablesaw introduces things, creates a Treehead Woodfist profile, and fixes the sound quickly. Beethro enters the dungeon via a back entrance and clears First Level without much trouble.

Part 2: Child Labor Laws
Beethro confronts a few hordes of roaches, finds his first roach queens, forces his nephew to risk his life opening doors, and confronts a negotiator. We also optimize some rooms and visit the settings screen to turn on infinite undo.


Part 3: Show No Mercy
On Third Level, Beethro encounters 31st Slayer who speakings in a creepily husky voice. He outwits him several times to make his escape with Halph. We also double back to find and complete secret rooms on First and Second Level.

Getting ready to continue in just a few minutes at www.twitch.tv/thesawofthetable

10-21-2014, 11:59 AM

08-19-2017, 03:14 PM
Soon to be revitalized by Gerad!

So, look forward to that!

08-21-2017, 10:11 AM
So, look forward to that!
I absolutely am!

09-05-2017, 09:08 PM
Thanks for that lead-in, False! I’m neither Tablesaw nor Merus, but DRoD is one of my favorite games, and this here abandoned DRoD LP seems like as good a place as any to try to show you why I love it so much! It fits nicely in an intersection of several things I like in games: puzzles, optimization, the freedom from the need for manual dexterity, and a fun aesthetic.

I’m going to handle this the same way as Tablesaw: running through all the main rooms to the end of the game. If you see any spots that look like they might have secrets, let me know, and I’ll tackle them as they come up!

So, without further ado, let’s pick up where Tablesaw’s screenshots left off!


This seems ominous.


And yet the entrance is completely empty. Guess this level is going to draw it out.


Golem 1: Golem, what’s that?

Golem 2: Is it a rock?

Once East has the answer: some new ugly rocky enemies with scary glowing eyes. What’s their deal?


They die with a stab, just like a roach, but upon death, they leave behind a rock that basically functions as a wall. I guess that’s why 43rd Geozoologist urged caution in the opening quote! In this wide-open room, the rocks are no trouble at all.


Once North Once East removes that room to maneuver. Killing a golem such that it blocks the way out of the room, or in any other fashion that makes the room unsolvable, requires a room restart.


Golem 1: It is not hard like a rock.

Golem 2: It is soft.

Golem 3: If it is soft…we must crush it!

Big thinkers, these rock golems.

As the screenshot shows, golems move like wubbas. The bottom one has found a path toward Treehead and has advanced; the middle one would have been blocked from advancing even if it were a roach. But the top golem, unable to move directly toward Treehead on a diagonal, has refused to move rather than get closer by only moving vertically.

This is property is very important when herding rock golems and attempting to make sure their bodies don’t clog up any important passageways.


It’s just a matter of dancing along rows the golem can move on in order to lure it into a safe spot to be killed without blocking the path.


And again, with the next two. Can you figure out where Treehead can leave their bodies?


Anywhere he can move diagonally past them will work well. The middle golem has a few placement options, while the third one has only a single safe killing spot.


2N1E is a crossroads. Having learned well how to solve mazes as a child, Treehead keeps his left hand on the wall.


The result? Lots of golems.

Due to their wubba-like movement, and that breakable wall in front of them, these won’t move until Treehead steps north or south.


Which he delays as long as possible. With clumps of golems, you often get this type of zigzag pattern: step diagonally, killing the one on the diagonal, then turn your sword to kill the one in front of you. Rinse and repeat until they’re all behind the zigzag wall. Then find a new spot to start and do it again. You can can also move sideways only, turning your sword back and forth with each step, to create a straight line.


In this case, Treehead wants some protection from what will happen when he steps on that lone trapdoor. So he makes sure one of the lines of golem bodies provides him with that.


Indeed it does…but the walls formed by the bodies of Treehead’s defeated foes will protect him.




As long as Treehead makes sure not to box himself or any golems in a corner, the rest of this room is a piece of cake.


North from the fork has golems as well, if considerably fewer of them. Most of the golems here are straightforward to kill; only the four in the upper-right pose some difficulty. If Treehead steps in to attack them, one of the others will jump on him. The only way to lure one of them out is the trapdoor on the right side of the room.


That trapdoor allows Treehead to lure one golem out, leaving a manageable three golems in that corner.


East from the fork has an empty path; looks like Treehead will have to come back from another direction for those golems. In the meantime, a cutscene:

Runner 1: I’ve got an urgent message for the Empire! 39th slayer says a troublesome delver, Beethro Budkin Treehead Woodfist, is going down to the Empire. He’s asking to send some help.

Runner 2: Okay, I’m on it.


And it’s back through the other side of 1N1E to new territory.

09-05-2017, 09:10 PM

Golem-filled territory. Like 2N, these golems won’t move until Treehead steps north or south.


Then it’s standard golem-fighting procedure: make a line all the way down, and then loop back around to clear out the rest.


Once they’re all piles of rock, the green door will open and Treehead can continue north, then east along the path the two runners were on.


On to another room where Treehead has to exploit the golems’ movement to avoid blocking himself in.


As long he leaves himself some room on a diagonal or at the edges of each formation, he’s fine. The golems at the bottom are a little tricky, as Treehead comes down into the middle of them from above; the answer is to lure the two nearest golems out a step, then backswipe them and use the cover from their bodies to take out the rest.


With that down, the rest is easy. The orb opens the yellow door, and after clearing the room, Treehead heads south first.


But south is a dead end. Back north he goes.


North has (of course) more golems. This is the tightest space yet in which multiple golems need to be dispatched; it’s important to try to leave diagonal lattices of golems, through which Treehead can slip with diagonal movements.


With that in mind, it’s just a matter of luring the golems to their deaths and then hitting the orbs to open doors.

Oh, Halph is here too for some reason. As Treehead moves through the game, Halph sometimes shows up just to make a better puzzle, and sometimes for the vestigial story.


So Treehead sends Halph on the long walk to the northeast orb to open up this door. Kids these days, so lazy; they need to be put to work every now and then.


The golems in the twisty passages, like the one south of Treehead here, need to be lured out so that Treehead or Halph can go hit the orb they’re guarding. It’s the trickiest part of this room, which isn’t saying much.


Eventually, all the doors are opened, and Treehead can move on to the west.


Here’s where things finally start getting a little less tutorial-y, and we actually see some things that aren’t rock golems. Here, Treehead needs to lure the rock golems out of their spirals, so that Halph can open doors and he can step on trapdoors to access the enemies hiding in the corners. In the meantime, the roach queens are sending roaches his way, so Treehead has to kill them while he’s circling the spirals.


The golem in the bottom-right is a little tricky to get out with killing Treehead; Treehead’s sword comes in handy to hold it up from exiting the spiral for a little bit, so that he can backswipe it later.


Once he’s done, those four golems from earlier are just south, finally letting Treehead clear 2N2E.


4N2E has many more golems, and the (re)disappearance of Halph.


The first couple chambers are another exercise in golem herding and killing, though in a little tighter quarters than before. They can get you if your golem-killing skills aren’t up to snuff.


The second one has the added complication of this line of golems at the bottom. Be careful where and when you lure them out!


You don’t want to end up trapped, like Treehead here!



OK, much smarter with the diagonal patterns this time. Cleaning up the left side is fairly elementary: just dig to a golem group, kill them, and repeat until done.


Like so.


With all required rooms now clear, the blue door is open, and Treehead can return to 1N3E for more of the same golem goodness.


This room, though, has a twist; 39th Slayer is back again. This adds some urgency to the proceedings.


Try to move efficiently and keep moving and you can stay ahead of him. You can also circle back to the start of the room, lose the wisp, and then run out a big lead on him if you’re nervous, but that’s slow.


This level sure has some superfluous little passages.

09-05-2017, 09:10 PM

Here’s another “kill the golems in specific spots” challenge, this time with a Slayer about to enter the room close behind. Can you spot where the golems need to be killed?


One in each of the corners, and one in the extra square where the path jogs.


Then one on the extra trapdoor, and another next to the other trapdoor, sealing off the Slayer behind. But this golem is a problem; there’s nowhere safe to kill it!



The answer is to avoid spending too much time in the same row as the bottom middle golem, keeping it stuck in its vertical row. Then, when Treehead gets down to the bottom, he’s able to kill it next to the extra trapdoor, and kill the last one in the middle of the last trapdoors, and then (finally) finish the room.


The last room is another Slayer race; Treehead has to hit the orbs to open the doors and kill the golems, all taking as little time as possible. Try to move your sword as little as possible in situations like this to keep your movement efficient.


Then it’s more of the same, until the last orb closes the door behind Treehead, allowing him to exit the level in peace.


Next time on DRoD:JtRH: sounds like another enemy introduction! Until then.

09-12-2017, 07:18 PM

With that lead-in, Treehead is dumped into the middle of a curiously peaceful leafy garden. How peculiar. The minimap is clear, so this screen really is clear already. Let’s find some enemies to stab.


To the east is this enigma. Looks like Treehead is going to have to come back later from another direction for this one.


To the north is this mess. Surviving all these roaches is going to take some crazy footwork…


…yeah, clearly not possible from this entrance. Another one for later.


1E is another one for later (this is becoming somewhat of a theme for this level). 39th Slayer is talking about some Beethro guy, but nobody knows who that is. In any case, he’ll eventually be a problem with those cheap staircamping tactics of his, but that’s a problem for later, when we figure out how to come back from the southeast. Going in the front door renders the room unwinnable, as Treehead has to go down the long windy path to hit the orb to open up the stairs down, and there’s no way to get enough distance from the Slayer to do so without him sealing Treehead in.


1N1E is, at last, a solvable room. In fact, it’s trivially easy; you can make life easier on yourself by killing the roach queens first, but unless you’re truly reckless, you’ll solve this one eventually.


On return to 1N, Treehead can now reach that inviting purple potion. Let’s chug it.


Whoa! The purple potion is an invisibility potion of sorts; when Treehead drinks one, only enemies five squares or less from him can “see him”; other monsters don’t react at all. Those roaches off on the left won’t follow him, and the roach queens in the corners won’t spawn roaches like the normally would. As you can imagine, this is quite useful!

I mean, in this room, the convenient bushes on the right side of this little hut did the trick, but in general: quite useful.


The invisibility definitely makes the cleanup easier, though! DRoD: Tactical Espionage Action.

Finishing the room opens up the green door to the west, but Treehead opts for the north path instead.


Invisibility potions are going to be a thing here. This room looks pretty straightforward; it’s not even clear what the invisibility potion is for, since Treehead can withstand all the roaches from the entrance hall.


But…there’s no way to get at the roach queens once they make it inside the little clusters of arrows without getting stuck on the arrows and unable to leave them room. Of course it’s not that easy. Reset!


OK, back again. This time, Treehead hustles straight to the potion.


Hmm…the roach queens still made it to the arrows, and this is as fast as Treehead can get there. First order of business: kill off the nearby roaches.


Once that’s done, the rightmost roach queen can be killed by approaching it from the west and killing it while stepping off one of the arrows.


But that won’t work for the left roach queen; stepping on the arrows that will let Treehead kill the queen and escape will also cause the queen to flee north and require a reset. And yet there’s no way to prevent the queen from getting to this point. So how can Treehead kill it? Take a second and see if you can think of a way.


The answer is to let the queen spawn a roach! The roach blocks the queen from fleeing north, and then it’s a simple matter of stepping onto the arrow to kill it, then off and back on to kill the roach.

This is really an excellent room. Aside from the well-executed invisibility tutorial that fits in well with the whole floor’s theme, there’s a great puzzle riffing on the additional wrinkle of how invisibility interacts with roach queen spawns – and since you had to enter this room from the south, you’ve spent the last room and a half trying to use invisibility to prevent roach queens from spawning, so it’s easy to forget in this context that they can.


To the west: back to the theme. Treehead obviously needs to pick up the nearby invisibility potion to keep from being swarmed by all the roaches those queens will spawn. But there’s no other invisibility potion in the room to turn the effect off, so he also needs to make sure all the roaches can get, if not off the trapdoors, at least within invisibility range.


That should do it. Now to clean up all those roaches.


But there’s a problem here…can you spot it?


One roach queen has escaped onto the trapdoors. And while Treehead can go to get it, he’ll get stuck on a trapdoor island if he does so. Let’s try this again.


Turns out there was an upper limit to how long Treehead could wait to grab the potion. Wait too long and that roach makes it onto the trapdoors. But if it’s even a step short of them…


…Treehead can approach directly from the south and take it out safely. With this room a dead end, Treehead circles back around and below to 1N1W.

09-12-2017, 07:19 PM

Wherein he has the distinct feeling that he’s being watched. This room is more for flavor than for challenge; if you take your time and don’t bite off more than you can chew, it poses very little threat. As for the flavor:



TREEHEAD: Kind busy, here!

VOICE: I won’t interfere. Much. Can you see me, Budkin? Because I can see you!

TREEHEAD: Whoa! How’d you get down there?

VOICE: Oh, just spilt and left behind like putrid milk. You could come down and visit. A fashioned hole in which you’d fit snug.

TREEHEAD: I…plan to stay up here.



VOICE: You plan to do a lot of things. But what will actually happen…who knows?

TREEHEAD: Nobody, but I got my own notions.

VOICE: I…FEEL that you should come down here. And I…FEEL…deeply…that you will. When the Mothingness rushes up for you, you’ll shake with forgotten fears of a child. Stand close to the edge and you may witness it gathering…

TREEHEAD: What do you want already? Jeebus, what?

VOICE: You want things, man above – not me. I am content to wait for certainties to fall into position.


Well, that’s a real upper of a conversation. At least all the eyes make thematic sense now.


Treehead has some parting words for the pit-lurker, who doesn’t see fit to respond. Enough of this frippery, let’s get back to the puzzles!


On to 1S, which it seems must be solved from the other entrance. But there is an inviting passageway straight ahead!


Here’s a room that is incredibly trivial…until you notice the roach on the force arrow at the far-right side of the room. That roach means Treehead has to drink the invisibility potion immediately if he wants to be able to kill it…which means that Treehead has to come out and get the enemies instead of just waiting inside the starting corridor.


As long as Treehead is careful around that rightmost roach, everything is fine. This is an odd placement in the level for what amounts to one of the simpler invisibility tutorials on offer.


And, once he’s done, the blue door remains to block further progress. So it’s back to try the previous room from the correct entrance.


This one is more of a thinker. Treehead is faced with three invisibility potions, then a one-way passage into the heart of the room. How does he need to tackle this one?

The roach in the bottom left has to be killed last, or else Treehead can’t escape after killing it. This means that the green door over on the right side of the room isn’t relevant, and the far right side of the room is jail. Now there’s an issue: the roach queen in the bottom middle of the room. How can Treehead prevent that roach queen from escaping over behind the force arrow in the lower-right?


Grab all three invisibility potions! If Treehead grabs two of them, he’s still visible upon reaching the bottom half of the room, and the queen escapes. If he beelines for the third, the queen just barely makes it over into no-go land. But if he grabs all three, the queen is stuck out in the open, and Treehead can kill it at his leisure.


Then he works on the remaining parts. The trap at the top-left causes the two roaches to pincer-attack Treehead as he strikes the orb to let them out; he can fix that by backswiping them using the little doorway to the area. The roach queen below them has to be carefully herded out of the area by approaching it from the opposite direction you want it to go.


The first eye can be killed by using its own aggression to lure it out.


For the others in the middle, Treehead needs to wade in and take out the first two to let the third come to him.


But there’s a snag over on the right-side of the room: Treehead can’t get these eyes to see him and come for him unless he walks out toward them, stranding himself in the process. And that means that he needs to make it down to this area while visible, drinking two of the three potions at the top of the room. So how can Treehead do that without letting the roach queen escape over to the right of the room?

Any ideas?


The answer here is to wait until the roach queen is about to spawn some roaches before drinking the second potion!


When that happens, the roach queen will block itself in. It’s easier to time this so that the roach queen and the roach end up blocking each other in the bottom-right passage, but it’s also possible to hold up the queen long enough with its babies to catch it before it can escape and attack it from directly above.


Once that roach is out of the way and the eyes on the right can be easily lured over to Treehead, the rest of the room can be solved the same as before.


And, at last, the roach in the lower-left can be picked off.

This is quite the clever room; in the same vein as 2N, it’s easy to get so caught up in how many invisibility potions to take that you forget to use the roach queen’s spawns to your advantage. The other mini-puzzles in the room also help to distract you, as they all look like whether you’re invisible or not might affect the solution, but they can actually be completed either way – except the eyes on the right. To 1S1W!


That’s…a lot of queens, and a lot of potions. First item on the docket: the roach queen near the entrance has to be killed on the way in, since it needs to be dead to open the green doors, and the trapdoors prevent backtracking for it. But it’s also important to become invisible quickly and avoid letting the roach queens spawn a ton of roaches and/or escape up the trapdoor-filled paths to the north.

09-12-2017, 07:22 PM

So Treehead races across the arrow to find a potion (if he entered on the left trapdoor, he could never escape this area) and gets told that this is the challenging option, by an observer who’s here hanging out for some reason. Huh.


Then he jogs to the potion. Looks like he was one step late for the spawn cycle; there’s going to be some cleanup to do.


But at least the roaches won’t come for him until he gets close!


But there’s a problem, as soon as Treehead inevitably becomes visible again. See the roaches in the lower-left? Yep, unwinnable. Looks like Treehead can’t ever be visible when the spawn cycle hits.


One way to do it is to go for the left side first, getting to the potion just before the spawn cycle. But the observer implies there’s some way to do it, while going over the arrow instead.


Still, let’s continue. Treehead just needs to continue to clean up all the roaches, making sure never to let a spawn cycle hit while he’s between invisibility potions. It’s not too difficult, just be careful.


Once they’re all gone, just go and finish off the last queen.


But Treehead can’t resist a challenge like the one the observer offers! Using the magic of the game’s restore function, he can go back to the start of the room. And if he can’t solve the room the hard way, he can always undo that and get back to where he left off. It’s neat!


Kill the first roach…


…and beeline to a potion. Still too slow!


Here the game shows, possibly for the first time, that where your sword points when entering a room can be important. With his sword northwest, he can trim off a step while killing the first roach queen.


And that step makes all the difference. Treehead gets to the potion just in time, and the rest of the room is just as easy as the first time, as long as you keep a careful watch on the spawn clock.


The observer has no words of congratulations for Treehead. Sad!


On to the last room, 1W, where Halph shows up over the arrow. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t there before…


In any case, this room is all about getting to those eyes in the lower-right. They’ll get themselves stuck if they see you, so the top priority is to close the door in front of them. The orb near Treehead here closes the little door near the top…


…which lets Treehead go up and hit it without awakening the eye over on the left-hand side, closing the bottom-right door.


Then Treehead can send Halph up to the top middle orb to open the door around the trapdoor, and drop the trapdoor to allow access to the orb on the far left, which will give Treehead access to the eyes.

But…what about those roaches in the bottom-left?


Yes, a reset is required. Turns out those roaches can only be lured out of their little room if Treehead enters from the south entrance. Tricksy!


With those roaches gone, Treehead can repeat the whole process, leaving only the north-west evil eye standing.


Then he can sneak by that eye, using the invisibility potion to his advantage, and circle around to kill it. This is why Treehead can’t pick up the other invisibility potion and use it to hit the orbs up top; then this potion will make him visible, and the last eye will trap itself forever.

09-12-2017, 07:23 PM

Hey, Halph ol’ buddy? Can you move out of the way for Unka Treehead?

No dice. And yet another restart is required, because – of course – killing Halph is the same as a death.


The secret is to catch Halph when he goes to open one of the doors (or even at the very start of the room) and park him somewhere out of the way. I’d be surprised if anyone ever completes this room for the first time without restarting at least once, maybe even twice.


Then, at last, Treehead is free to return to the blue door.


And the blue door leads, of course, to the back door into the Slayer’s area. The orb by Treehead opens both the door next to him and the one blocking the potion to the north. Then he’s got to get to the long, twisty passage to hit the orb that opens up the stairs.


First things first: an all-out rush toward the Slayer will get Treehead close enough to get around him without being impaled.


Then it’s over to the potion, which predictably makes the Slayer lose track of Treehead. While the Slayer can’t see him, his wisp won’t reach out for Treehead, giving him all the time in the world.


Enough time, even, to navigate this annoying passageway.


Ah, 39th Slayer, you card. Fun little setpiece, this room.


And, next time, we’ll be on to the Eighth Level! This time it has to be introducing a new monster!

09-13-2017, 09:00 AM
I don't have a meaningful comment but I wanted you to know I'm enjoying this LP

09-13-2017, 10:07 AM
I don't have a meaningful comment but I wanted you to know I'm enjoying this LP

Much appreciated! I was wondering!

09-14-2017, 05:25 PM
I do have a meaningful comment and I'm also enjoying this LP!

Here the game shows, possibly for the first time, that where your sword points when entering a room can be important. With his sword northwest, he can trim off a step while killing the first roach queen.

This seems kind of bad! Like, if I was playing this and found out that this was the solution, I think I'd be pretty steamed!

09-14-2017, 06:00 PM
Well, it is for the challenge path only. And you can always step out and back in to reset where it's pointing.

This won't be the last time we see initial sword direction matter!

09-14-2017, 08:06 PM
It's not the size of your sword - it's how you position it.

09-24-2017, 08:43 PM

Another icy-cold level. Those strange tiles up in the upper-left are new, but the path Treehead is on certainly seems to be hinting at another new enemy…


Why did it have to be- *gunshot*


Treehead lays out the situation here. Serpents can’t be hurt with his really big sword, so he’s got to use the environment and set traps for them. But how does that work?


First, the orb will let him into the room with the serpent. Nothing Treehead can do with his sword will damage the serpent, as advertised, and the serpent also follows some peculiar movement rules.


Firstly, serpents can only move orthogonally (i.e., not diagonally). They will also always move toward Treehead, if possible. Their single-mindedness in closing in on Treehead coupled with their long tails can make them difficult to evade; since serpents can’t move diagonally, Treehead uses one move of his for every two of theirs whenever he does so.


Serpents’ long tails can make them do some strange things when there’s a wall between them and Treehead, or when Treehead moves quickly around their heads. This is often an annoyance when trying to control a serpent’s movement, but it can also help in specific situations. Their last movement quirk is that, when given the choice between horizontal or vertical movement, serpents will prefer one or the other depending on the last digit of the spawn clock (which is why it appears on the left when a serpent is present). If the spawn counter ends in 0-4, the serpent will prefer to move horizontally; if it ends in 5-9, the serpent will prefer to move vertically. This is rarely, but sometimes, useful. Serpents have some other small movement intricacies, but they can be safely ignored.


Treehead lures the serpent through the narrow corridors into the south part of the room, and now we can see how serpents can be damaged. As the serpent gets stuck and can’t move, its head stays in place, but its tail still shrinks.


Eventually, its tail gets short enough to free itself and come after Treehead again. So how can he finish it off?


By hitting the orb again to trap the serpent in the passage. This gives it no escape, causing its tail to shrink until it dies.

The only way out of this room for now is the southwest passage, so Treehead goes there.


This leads him back to the entrance and to those strange tiles. Treehead can quickly see, from the roaches’ movement, that they only move orthogonally while in these tiles.


And that applies to him, too! Diagonal movement is forbidden when inside these bracketed tiles. This doesn’t do anything to stop Treehead from killing off these roaches and opening the door to the east, though.


Treehead hits the nail on the head here: with the diagonal movement advantage removed, serpents will become very difficult to avoid.


1E has an obvious method to kill the serpents via the trap at the top, but Treehead can’t reach that now. His only option is over the arrow to the south.


And here Treehead tells us that serpents can’t cross force arrows, not only against the grain, so to speak, but in any direction.


As Treehead says, later it’ll have to be. This room is purple on the minimap, not red, meaning that it doesn’t need to be cleared to open the level’s blue door; the other side of this room is probably behind the blue door.


The next room is an empty fork, with a blue door blocking the other half of 1E, as predicted. Treehead follows the right-hand rule and moves on to 1S, which surprisingly has no serpents.


It does have the return of wubbas, but due to the room’s construction providing narrow exits for each chamber, Treehead can avoid taking a growing collection of wubbas with him as he goes, as long as he’s careful. The rest of the room is trivial roach-killing.


That room leads to this one, where the entrance orb decides where Treehead goes next. Looks like he’ll be returning to this room – maybe several times.


And that one leads to this mess. A handy scroll that Treehead is standing on explains how all those orbs and doors work. It’s possibly even more confusing than it sounds!


Here’s what clicking on one of the orbs shows: hitting an orb will close all adjacent doors, but open all other doors adjacent to each of the surrounding orbs. How does that apply to the task at hand (snake manipulation)? Beats me! The lone orb by the checkpoint will let out all the snakes; how does Treehead kill them?

09-24-2017, 08:44 PM

It’s possible there’s a better way, but I prefer to close a door while Treehead is standing on it (enemies can’t hurt you then) and just wait around for a while until the snakes kill themselves. It’s not that efficient, but it has the least amount of engagement possible with the snake manipulation device, and that’s important!


Meanwhile, all the roach queens are spawning roaches, and the snakes will eventually all die. Then it’s a matter of killing roaches, stepping off the closed door, and becoming mobile again.


Of course, the room isn’t over yet. Treehead still needs to go into each of the snake chambers and hit the orb there to open up the way to a single roach queen, then kill it, and repeat five more times. All the while killing roaches from the other queens and trying to avoid interacting with the snake manipulation device.

I’ll spare you the screenshots. This room is unique and memorable, but it’s really not very fun.


Once that room is finally over with, it’s on to the south. Here the puzzle is again killing the snakes, with the door/corridor contraption on the west half of the room the only way to do it aside from making snake traps out of roaches.


The way it works is pretty easy. Both orbs toggle all three doors; so you lure the snake in, hit the bottom orb while the snake is in the top half, and profit. Then you do it again. Then you clean up the roaches.

…can you tell I’m getting tired of snakes?


Once again, this room looks like it will be backtracked through. But not yet; on to the east.


Here we’ve got a race to stay ahead of several snakes, on orthogonal tiles, while also being beset by roaches from a queen. The objective is to hit the orbs, first top, then right, then left, to open the way to kill the roach queen and set up a snake trap using its crumbly walls.


The force arrows are oases in the desert of orthogonal tiles for Treehead; the snakes can’t cross them, so he can stand on them and be safe, then wait for an opening to dash to the next arrow. Due to the tiles, this is harder than it sounds!


Plus there are roaches coming at him from the central chamber. The good news is that the mass of snakes tends to kill a few of their own number off by forming temporary traps with their bodies, which frees up some room for Treehead to move around.


It’s often best to keep moving as much as possible to stay ahead of some of the snakes, though usually at least one will be right behind you.


Finally, once all three orbs have been hit, it’s all about making your way back to the middle.


There, Treehead can get ready to kill off the last snakes. The middle allows diagonal movement, which helps considerably; just be sure not to break too many walls!


Eventually, Treehead manages to herd all the snakes to their doom and can continue east.


To more snakes! The orbs on the right each open up half of the snake trap-looking thing in the middle, but also open up half of the walls that keep the snakes penned in. But how will Treehead get back after he goes over to hit those orbs?


With Halph! Treehead just needs to Frogger his way into the middle and let Halph do the opening-doors work.


Get Halph to open up the two traps…


…and dance around them like your life depends on it!


The difficulty is in surviving the initial snake onslaught; once you’ve made it far enough, the room is easy. And the only way out of this one, at least for now, is back to the east, using Halph to open up the door next to the force arrows.

There is an easier way to do this room without using the snake traps at all. Can you think of it?


Circling back around, Treehead finds his next room to solve at 3S1E. Looks like some more snake-dodging is in order.


The room is a light course of wubba-herding, snake-herding, and roach-killing. The biggest challenge is figuring out how to kill the snakes, as the second one has the obvious niches blocked by wubbas, and the third one doesn’t have any obvious snake-traps accessible.

09-24-2017, 08:44 PM

Some roaches will get the job done for the third one.


Then a wubba will do for the last one. Thank goodness for those force arrows; this would be very tough without them. On to the east.


Invisibility makes a triumphant return here in 3S2E. Treehead is forced to drink a potion immediately on entering the room, so he can choose when to engage with all the enemies in the room.


The roaches around the outside need to be lured into the central room to be dealt with; this can be done by using the snakes to wall off the force arrow traps that the roaches could fall into.


The other two bunches of roaches can be done the same way.


And the two roach queens can be forced out of their homes by carefully approaching them from the side that won’t force them into the force arrows. Easy does it, right?


But…uh…how do we kill the snake? We can’t get out to drop the trapdoor in its path because of the force arrows…


A little foresight is required; one of the roaches can be left in the path of the snake…


…which will kill it off just as well as anything else!


Circling back, Treehead finds his way to 2S1E, for more fun with orthogonal tiles.


Time for a welcome breather. This is a straightforward room, only requiring Treehead to chase down the roach queens while fighting off pursuing roaches. The only complication is the orthogonal tiles, which do change things up a bit; but they affect the roaches just the same as Treehead, so the danger isn’t too great.


That threat soon over with, it’s off to the north.


Which leads back to previously-visited 1S1E. East from there is an unsolved room. This looks like one that Treehead probably should have taken on earlier in the floor.


The orb opens the doors and makes the snake traps viable; Treehead can just wait in safety below the arrows to kill off most of the snakes.

Also, Halph is here for some reason, but he’s completely useless on the other side of the tunnel. ???


Treehead has to wade into snakeland to kill the last few snakes, but it’s easy with the ready-made traps.


South of there are a bunch of islands with snakes, each of which provides its own unique snake-killing challenge.


The first snake is a race to the finish. Hit the orb to open the door and then race through. Just – as the screenshot shows – be careful when you do it!


OK, much better. See any convenient place to lure snake 2 to its demise?


The upper right is the way to go. This snake is just short enough that it’ll let you step out of its trap once it has chased you in almost all the way.


Snake 3, in the middle, can take some time, but doesn’t pose any threat. Hit one of the orbs on the sides to open up a trap for it, then lure it down the middle and into the trap. Snake movement makes it tricky to get the snake in there, but keep at it and you’ll get it eventually.

09-24-2017, 08:45 PM

Snake 4 is also fiddly. Open up the door, get it so that it wants to move directly toward you but is blocked by its own body, and opposite you into the trap it’ll go.


I find it easiest to do snakes 5 and 6 in one go. 6 is easier; once you open the doors, you can lure it into the trap easily from an adjacent platform.


And 5 is best handled by looping back around, standing below it, and luring it into the trap from there.


With that done, it’s back to a previously-cleared room, and it looks like the blue doors are open! First, though, where do these tunnels lead?


Oh, yeah, Halph is here again somehow.


Well, that tunnel was a bust. After some searching aroud for where to go next…


…it turns out all the tunnels in 3S1E are the way to go.


This leads to 4S1E again, where some scrolls have a message for Treehead, contradicting what the arrows in the walls seem to be saying.

Scroll 1: Turn back.

Scroll 2: No, seriously, turn back.

Scroll 3: Trust me, turn back.

Scroll 4: TURN BACK!

Scroll 5: This is your final warning! TURN BACK!!

Scroll 6: Okay, THIS is your final warning. TURN BACK!!!

Despite the increasing number of exclamation points, Treehead soldiers on.


To find a new room, with lots of curious and seemingly-superfluous orbs. Looks like luring some wubbas in to kill the snakes is all there is to it.


Wubbas: come with me if you want to live!




OK, there’s one down.


And there’s the second. Good work, team wubba.


But Treehead raises a good point here. The orb below him will get him out of this little enclosure, but the only ways out of the room are in the northwest, and I’m pretty sure those didn’t go anywhere….


Nope. Back down. Maybe there’s a way to exit the room with it solved.


Uh…hi! Wasn’t expecting you here! By the way…where did you come from?


OK, looks like there’s some urgency to finding a way out of here now. The southeast passage is the obvious candidate, but the first orb closes the first door and toggles the other three, while the second orb only closes the second and third doors. So how to get out?


Making a dash for it just leads to a trapped Treehead.


And trapping the Slayer in with wubba buddies, while fun, doesn’t really solve anything.


No, the answer is to get the Slayer into the passage, then make a dash for it.

09-24-2017, 08:46 PM

The second orb will seal the Slayer in behind you…


…and then he’ll strike the first orb again to give chase, letting you out of your trap. Neat!


Well, we didn’t have much choice, did we, scroll?


OK, this one looks complicated. Nothing for it but to follow the snake around the circuit!


The orb alcove here gives Treehead a chance to catch his breath and ping this orb.


Which opens up the way to the inner snake. Luckily, Treehead can sit here in a standoff with the Slayer indefinitely, letting him wait for the inner snake to make its way around.


The next orb lets Treehead get into the inner chamber, carefully stepping diagonally past the Slayer’s hook on his way by.

There’s a roach trap in here that’s intended to kill Treehead when he opens it up by surrounding him from both sides, but a cracked wall above the orb is a glaring flaw, letting Treehead clear out the north side, hit the orb, then take out the south part.


Agreed, Treehead, agreed.


The Slayer now steps into the inner snake’s path, helpfully killing the snake as he does.


And Treehead can step back out into the outer snake’s path.

But here there’s a problem: once he does, the Slayer steps onto the force arrow behind him. And when Treehead comes back around with the snake, he has no way to get past the Slayer’s hook; either it gets him or the snake does.


Approaching the Slayer from the inside doesn’t seem to help; he’s stuck on the arrow, and no amount of intimidation will get him to retreat in front of the snake’s head.


Lastly, there doesn’t seem to be a way to get the Slayer to step in front of the outer snake on the first time past it, at least not one that’s immediately apparent.

Well, I’m stumped, and clearing this room is the only way to proceed with the game. Any ideas, Talking Time?

09-25-2017, 11:47 AM
Snake 4 is also fiddly.
Yeah, you'll want to lure the Greater Nagas out of the vault one at a time and try to engage them in isolation, and be careful when they Haste themselves. :D

Well, I’m stumped, and clearing this room is the only way to proceed with the game. Any ideas, Talking Time?
Hey, I didn't sign up for any homework! :toastybert:

09-25-2017, 06:57 PM
…can you tell I’m getting tired of snakes?On these 2D planes?

10-22-2017, 10:03 PM

So, back to this snake room that nobody has any idea about. When faced with a difficult problem like this, with no apparent ideas even after racking the collective brains of TT for one, there’s only one place to go.

That’s right, to the hints and solutions (http://forum.caravelgames.com/userfile.php?f=/11/71/0&BoardID=1#611/3715/0/0)
page of the Caravel Games forum! Where you can look up threads people have submitted asking for help on any room in any hold, even user-created ones. For popular holds like Journey to Rooted Hold, if there aren’t any threads on the room, you’re probably way, way overthinking things.


In this case, the threads have our answer; once the Slayer is on the force arrow, step over near the orb to get him to walk off in the path of the snake. Sure, it seems easy…once you know what the solution is!


With that done, we can finally let the Slayer kill of the snake and exit this room, where Treehead has been stuck for weeks, to the northeast.


Where we find that some backtracking is in order. Some trapdoors trap the Slayer behind Treehead, but he must move on, and the newly-opened path is the obvious way.


Running away…


Hm…what to do here? No exits are open.


The obvious answer is that structure in the southwest. Hitting either of the orbs toggles all three nearby doors, but also opens up an exit in the northeast.


Treehead can shimmy around the Slayer, once inside, by hitting the bottom orb while the Slayer is in the top part, then making a break for it once the Slayer lets him out. Easy enough.


The scroll reveals that Treehead would be trapped here forever if not for the Slayer’s assistance. Thanks, buddy!


Then, hitting the nearby orb opens up the tunnel on the far west side of the room, and the chase is back on.


Back past this mess of a snake-manipulation machine…


…back through the room full of orbs, where Treehead has to hit them as quickly as possible to stay ahead of the Slayer…


…to 2S1E, where an orb traps the Slayer behind Treehead (this time for longer than just one room, as indicated by Treehead’s line) and lets Treehead continue north.


And we’re back near the start of the level, but now able to continue down a previously-closed path.


Where we find the other side of the room from way back at the start of the level, where killing the snakes will be trivial thanks to the snake-killing doors and orb that are so thoughtfully provided.


Also Halph is here too for some reason. That reason? Exposition!

Treehead: Halph, listen close. There’s a man down here dressed in purple – you saw him before.

Halph: Yeah, the Slayer.

Treehead: He’s looking for me. I think he wants to kill me.

Halph: Can’t you stop him? I mean, you’re the best swordsman ever, right?

Treehead: I can’t stop him, Halph. He’s too good.

Halph: So we have to go back?

Treehead: Yeah, but not the way we came. Pretty sure he’s waiting back there. I got a reckoning sense I’ve learned to rely on. We’ve been heading down, sure, but also south. Toward Blorn.

Halph: I’ve been to Blorn before. With my cousins last year.

Treehead: Quiet! So somebody told me about a passage in the sewers below Blorn. The guy couldn’t open it, but it would let you in from the other side.

Halph: Just like that one in Dugan’s Dungeon we came through.

Treehead: Exactly! I think we get to that Blorn passage, by heading north here. So Halph, when I drop the green door, I want you to run, got that?

Halph: You bet, Unka Treehead.


How dramatic!


So…where did he go? I guess Treehead doesn’t have to worry about him, in any case.


By stepping diagonally, Treehead avoids the eyes’ gaze for as long as he can. (The checkered pattern on the floor helps here; note that most eyes are on dark tiles and look diagonally, meaning they can only see dark tiles.) It turns out to be a good decision; once an eye sees him, the Slayer is back for more chasing.


And Treehead has to spend a lot of time in this spiral, hitting the first orb, doubling back for the second, then going to the center to kill the eye that’s staring at a wall. And he has to do it before the Slayer bottles him in.

10-22-2017, 10:03 PM

In the end, he makes it out with a couple spaces to spare. Delaying walking into an eye’s vision for as long as possible is crucial here.


One last revisit for the road.


The stairs are in sight! Just have to get those pesky wubbas out of the way.


Na-na, you can’t catch me!


Treehead circles up to the northeast, making sure to draw out all the wubbas, then back south. Now to weave his way past them.


Which he does by going as close to due north as possible, sidestepping wubbas. On to level 9 at last!


Where it sounds like a new potion lies in store. See you next time!

11-14-2017, 07:00 PM

Level nine! We’re going to get a look at the level’s new potion right away, it looks like – there’s no other way Treehead is going to get to that roach queen in the upper-right.


Sure, whatever that is!

(Treehead already knows about this because mimic potions aren’t new to this game; they’re a carryover from DROD 1.0.)


Upon stepping on the potion, time pauses, and a blue copy of Treehead appears, which can be placed in any empty floor space. The top-right is definitely the place for this one.


Once the mimic is placed, it does exactly what Treehead does. So all Treehead has to do is swing his sword and the mimic does the same to kill the roach queen in the top-right. Then it’s a simple matter of chasing down and killing the other roach queen, and Treehead is free to proceed. He heads west.


1W holds another mimic challenge, this time exploring mimic movement in greater detail. Treehead has to navigate the mimic around the west side of the room to kill all the rock golems.


This seems pretty easy, but the mimic can’t reach from where Treehead set it down! What do we do?


Answer: you can “push” the mimic relative to Treehead by finding a place where its movement is blocked in a direction and Treehead’s isn’t, then moving in that direction. So by walking east here…


…Treehead can get the mimic far enough west to get to that golem. Then it’s more of the same for the rest of the room. To the south!


Hmm…looks like this is the wrong entrance to complete this room from. I’m sure we’ll be back!


Backtracking around to the entrance, Treehead continues on to 1S. Here he has three groups of enemies that require mimics to kill: the roach queen groups in the lower left and upper right, and the serpent in the middle. Conveniently enough, there are three mimic potions. Treehead just needs to take out the whole left side before going over the force arrows for those potions.


Efficient killing will help Treehead clear the left side before the other roach queens spawn too many enemies, making the room easier and speeding it up at the same time. Here, it looks like Treehead should kill the eye to his right before proceeding, then wake the next eye. But he can do things more quickly by stepping south to wake up the next eye, then northeast to backswipe the right eye, and northwest to backswipe the left eye.


The rest of the left side is pretty easy, if slightly complicated by roach queen spawns.


At last, Treehead can get over to the right side, with his mimics in position to take out the enemies on the islands. After that, it’s just cleanup. Let’s head west to the puzzle room we already discovered.


Here’s the gimmick: Treehead has to drop all the trapdoors to let loose the roaches. But there isn’t enough to push the mimic off of to get it to all the trapdoors. So he needs another mimic in the north to hit the switches and toggle one door at a time, so that the mimic can get to the next trapdoor, drop it, and push off the resulting gap. It’s a pretty cool puzzle that is essentially a remake of a similar puzzle in King Dugan’s Dungeon (22F 1S):



While it’s likely possible to get stuck here if you push the mimic too far away from the doors, there’s no time limit; take it nice and slow, and remember to keep the mimic’s sword pointed in a direction that won’t hit a different orb and open the door you’re trying to push off of!


Once the mimic is at the last trapdoor, don’t get too excited; remember that you’ve got to be ready for the roaches! Make sure your sword is pointed toward them and you should be fine.


On to 1S1E for another puzzle (notice that mimics are very well suited to puzzles like this, as opposed to simple “kill things quickly enough to survive” challenges). This one looks tough; where does the mimic potion sitting out in the open go?


Well, that orb on the far right opens the door to the second potion, and you need two, so I guess it’s going over there. Now to make sure that nothing from the main chamber makes it over the arrows. Treehead needs to get all the eyes tracking him, so that when he steps in to the small island with the second mimic potion, the mimic can kill everything with only a small movement change, and still make it to the north orb, which lets Treehead off of that little island.


But then he’s got to hurry north; that orb also closes one of the nearby doors, and if any of the enemies get behind any of the three southernmost sets of arrows, there’s no way to kill them with the second mimic and also let Treehead off of the northern island.

11-14-2017, 07:02 PM



Hitting the orb along the way closes the next door, which allows Treehead to get the enemies to the northernmost (safe) set of arrows.


Then he’s got to open the doors and move into the other eyes’ line of sight to get them to tag along.


This almost looks good…most of the eyes are looking diagonally and can be snagged later. But what about the one remaining horizontal one?


Yep, that’s a restart. This time, Treehead grabs that eye before heading back and opening the other door.


OK, much better. To the north!


With all the enemies piled up, Treehead can push the mimic off the enemies to get it inside the arrows, where he can kill all the enemies and then hit the orb.

This is a pretty devious room! There are several layers to the solution, and they have to be done in a specific order. It’s easy to forget a step and have to go back and redo the whole thing. At least it’s not as tedious as some later puzzles…


Aha! What’s this? Looks like a secret! (This is also a reminder to shout out any possible secrets you see as I’m playing to make me go check them out!)


It leads to a secret scene, after circling around several inaccessible areas from previous rooms.


RUNNER 1: I need to get a message to the Empire right away! Please tell them that the 39th Slayer’s got trouble. This delver’s coming down, so please send someone after Treehead Woodfist quick.

RUNNER 2: After Treehead Woodfist. Right.

This one is another in a long series of side conversations you can see via secrets. I think this message may be getting distorted a little…


Anyway, back through and on to 1S2E. This one’s a mimic maze! The mimic can only be placed on the floor space, not open doors; once it’s down, Treehead has to find a way to get the mimic through the maze to the orb so that he can continue onward. It’s a fun way to learn more about pushing mimics.


Notably, if Treehead tries to move diagonally and the mimic is blocked from doing so, it’ll move orthogonally in one of those directions instead: first vertically, if available, then horizontally. Here, if Treehead moves southeast, the mimic will only move east.


Anyway, trial and error will eventually solve this one, getting the mimic to the orb and letting Treehead continue east.


East has yet another diabolical puzzle. The three mimics need to go in the orb enclosures to the far north; then Treehead needs to find a way through to kill each roach without getting the mimics stuck on the arrows. Each orb toggles one door but closes others, so Treehead has to manipulate them from orb to orb as he moves.


The first mimic goes in the rightmost orb chamber, opens the first door, and can then be discarded on the arrow. The other two mimics in the other two chambers will be opening the rest of the doors. With both of them hitting their leftmost orbs, the way north is open.


Treehead can kill the first eye and carefully make his way forward by having the leftmost mimic hit its center orb. It’s quite possible to get stuck in the eye chambers, unable to exit without sending a mimic onto the arrows, so the checkpoints are important in this room.


The rest of the room is difficult to convey in screenshots. Take it slow, check the mimics before each north or south step, and you’ll get there in the end.


Once the room is complete, you’re free to trap the mimics on the arrows forever. Treehead moves on to the south.


To another mimic maze!


This time, the mimic needs to start where it can kill the rock golem, then push off the wall below the golem and the arrows in order to get out of that chamber.

11-14-2017, 07:02 PM

Then it needs to hit this orb to let Treehead into the central chamber, where he can park the mimic below the force arrows and then walk into the maze on the left side of the room.


Once both are in their mazes, it’s a matter of guiding the mimic through its area while dropping all the trapdoors. The orthogonal tiles down there are both a help and a hindrance; they make it easier for Treehead to move in a different direction than the mimic, since diagonal moves for Treehead only result in orthogonal moves for the mimic, but they also make it more difficult for the mimic to drop the trapdoors without trapping itself, since it’s unable to move diagonally to make up for a mistake.


Again, take your time, think before you move, and you’ll get there eventually.


Once the mimic gets to the end, it can kill the lonely roach and clear the room. Make sure you drop all the trapdoors, though, or else Treehead is stuck forever!


To the west is a peculiar room. Three mimics, three chambers; it should be easy, right?


But here’s a problem. Two mimics can be placed just fine, but once Treehead steps onto the third mimic potion, that last roach queen formation will tighten up, and Treehead can’t place the potion in among them.


He can place it next to them to kill two, but then there’s no way to move the mimic left to finish off the last two.


Letting the roaches spawn doesn’t help, as the roaches will walk vertically out of range and can’t be used to push the mimic west.


Putting the mimic below the roach queens will allow it to be pushed west…


But there’s no way for the mimic to get the northmost roach queens, nor all the roaches, as they quickly escape out of his range.

Well, I’m stumped. Any ideas, Talking Time? If not, we’ll have to make another trip to the Caravelnet forums!

11-15-2017, 07:12 AM
How do enemies interact with mimics? Can mimics be killed?

11-15-2017, 11:07 AM
Mimics can be killed, but pretty much only by swords or bombs(spoilers?), as far as I know. Enemies like roaches and roach queens basically just treat mimics and their swords as walls.

11-15-2017, 11:37 AM
And vice versa?

11-15-2017, 12:02 PM
Mimics kill enemies just fine; it's the thrust of this room. If mimics try to move into enemies, they basically treat the enemy as a wall; that's how Treehead manages to shove the mimic a spot or two left, relative to himself, in the last image. But the enemies still get a chance to move afterward.

Hint (I already looked it up):

The solution does not involve pushing the third mimic off any enemies. But Treehead does need to find a way to push that third mimic west relative to himself...

11-15-2017, 01:32 PM
Does it involve attempting to move diagonally?

11-15-2017, 02:18 PM
Does it involve attempting to move diagonally?

No, attempting to move diagonally won't do anything for the mimic, since Treehead can't move diagonally. It'll only make the mimic move diagonally if Treehead can move diagonally and the mimic can as well, or orthogonally if Treehead can move diagonally but the mimic can't (in which case the mimic will move vertically if possible and horizontally otherwise).

11-15-2017, 03:26 PM
Oh hey, is the solution to place the last mimic against the right wall? Then you could retreat/advance to get it where you need it to be.

11-15-2017, 09:14 PM
Oh hey, is the solution to place the last mimic against the right wall? Then you could retreat/advance to get it where you need it to be.

Basically! Good stuff!