Idle Hands

I’m not racin’, I’m just sprintin’

So. Death.

Morbid I know, but that eventual shuffle off of this mortal coil is never too far from my decision making processes. I thrive on progress (progression, really), and there are few sins greater than time wasted.

(Also, I’m something of a romantic. And an agoraphobe. And a misanthrope — planes are the perfect place for me, really.)

Anyway, this makes vacations something of a problem.

I flew halfway across the Americas with the admittedly nebulous goal of “making the most of things.”  Sights were to be seen, pictures to be taken, a sense of meaning and purpose extracted — a reboot to get me out of the self-effacing funk born of… we’ll call it a lack of satisfaction with the particulars of my day-to-day schlep.

That doesn’t necessarily mean steering clear of idle fancies (video games but mostly comic books), as those mesh rather well with my progression-aims. Writing was supposed to be in the cards. Didn’t work out too well — there’s something about stereotypically idyllic about warm waves, complete with schools of fish leaping out of the sea fleeing the dolphins that’re chasing them, that makes putting pen to paper in the never-ending pursuit of TKTK seem kind of frivolous.

But we’re here to talk about video games, amirite? So let’s talk Dungeons of Dredmor.

If you don’t have much experience with rogue-likes (I don’t), the genre in toto: Nasty, Brutish, Short. Dredmor hits all three notes with aplomb, tossing in an extra bit of flourish — a quirky, not altogether annoying sense of humor that blends remarkably well with the nagging realization that your end is near.

The backstory is largely irrelevant: A great evil lurks underground, somewhere. Being a “hero,” it’s your job to head into the randomly-generated labyrinth and make with the slaying of nasties. The trick, of course, is that you’re comically (or realistically?) weak, and the most insignificant beastie can and will make short work of you over and over and over again, once your best laid plans and stratagems inevitably fall flat.

Here’s the important bit: once you’ve died, you’re done. Save deleted, thanks for playing try again.

So. Death.

But also, Progress. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, yah — such is the beauty of the rouge-like. The challenges lies in finding a character build that works — I’ve traditionally been partial to minion-summoning, spell-slinging types, so I followed those lines. Death comes early, and often. But with a bit of patience, practice, and care, you’ll eventually find your niche, stumbling into a character design that fits your playstyle.

Or so I’m told. It’s been mostly Death on my end, and I’ve had little luck getting past the first or second floor, to say nothing of seeing what the rest of this dungeon / game might have to offer.

But there’s always that crunch forward. Every misstep is a lesson learned, an opportunity to tweak (or throw out) a character build and take another swing at things. Sort of exactly what Life isn’t. Opportunities for rebirth, etc. A chance after Death.

Morbid, I know. But it gives me something to ruminate on.

Eventually. There’s plotting and planning to be done, and I’m not so much interested in seeing the finish line as getting there, alive. Eventually.

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