Ideas for Potion of Degeneration rework

After removal of hunger, curses, item identification, pot of potion, changes to Nemelex… development seems to go away from machanics that are strictly detrimental to player. Save to say that this potion is the last consumable left that has no practical use for player - and the negative effect is quite lame anyway. I personally think this item deserves being changed to be more interesting and offer more decision - but i myself have no ideas for rework. What to you think?

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As far as I can tell, the sole function of potions of degeneration is to catch you out if you quaff-id potions. Do they achieve anything else or have any other purpose?

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I am certain not - and i think that wasting pot of Haste, or quaffing Attraction when running away is enough of a punishment for quaff-id-ing.

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Thematically, first thought would be spawning miasma clouds

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But that’s not really the reason for these changes. Monster spells are strictly detrimental to the player, but they won’t be removed.

Anyway. The thing is that degen takes no inventory space after identified. As the design decisions are, a rework can’t take inventory space either. Otherwise it would have to replace/cycle with something else, and could in principle exist alongside degen.

If a rework has positive effects for the player, you’d need to either drink it immediatly, or never drink it on a given character. Which doesn’t leave a lot of room for creating interesting decisions.

(very late edit: I’m wrong, you actually can make it useful if it’s still bad enough so that you can just drop it when you have better options.)

If it has no positive effects, it’s just for the quaff-id impact, like degen.


At the moment, the impact of degen in quaff-id considerations depends a lot on whether it’d give you stat-zero. Maybe it could significantly drain your health instead?

Maybe it could provide more interesting decisions by giving you options like trying to barf it out or keeping it in, leading to different debuffs. Barfing prevents using potions for a while, keeping it in drains your health? Idk.

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Maybe being able to throw potions similar to pixel dungeon would make it more useful but still dangerous to drink?

Then you could id it by throwing. It’d also take inventory space to keep degen around because you could throw it. And whatever other reasons caused the Evaporate spell to be removed.

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Development went away from the strictly negative effects because they were generally uninteresting.
Curses became trite very quickly as you got id/rmcurse, so they got the boot:

Strong poison was functionally just poison, so it got the boot:

Poison was very boring, since it either killed you or more likely made you wait a few turns, so it got the boot.

You’ll note that that last commit isn’t very enthusiastic about degen either- interesting at most once per game still applies, and I think there’s a strong argument that as is degen is just about as dull as the other strictly detrimental effects were.

I am also very unsure where the impression that there is a fixed number of types of useful item allowed. Xom’s chesspiece was added recently. Later, evokables got item sets applied. At no point was some usable item cap referenced in the reasoning.
(for reference, the item set commit)

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I think they should not be thay harsh with the negetives, and maybe consider adding other negative effects like confusion or health drain, or even maybe one bad mutation instead. I hate having stat defects, but all the same time it makes since for the average
‘quaff-a-maniac’ to have some consequence or something.

You said it: The real reason is that those things were deemed uninteresting, not that they were strictly negative. Which does clarify how subjective this is.

The problem with uninteresting things in this context is tedium. Things that don’t create interesting choices, but add no tedium, can still exist for flavor. Like different wall tiles or monster descriptions. Is a single strictly bad potion tedious? Is it worth the few interesting decisions and the flavor it provides? What’s the line between an interesting and an uninteresting decision? It’s important to recognize that there aren’t rigorous answers to those.


I don’t think there is an explicit useful-inventory-item cap, either. It’s just that inventory pressure is a concern. I guess I formulated it too strongly that a rework taking inventory space has to replace/cycle with something else? Sure, you can add useful items, but eventually you need to make up for that added inventory pressure. So there’s also the case where you add something, and some other things become an item set.

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I do think, though, that they seem to be moving away from ID traps. (But not entirely, since scrolls of noise still exist.) But I’m fine with potions of degeneration remaining in the game; I accidentally quaff one maybe ever 5–10 games, and it’s a moderately interesting challenge to survive the experience (and becomes much more interesting if one is an Armataur :wink: ).

I could see a degen potion be reworked to give 1 bad transient mutation and 1 good transient mutation from a list of not the worst and not the best mutations (no -potion/scroll or clarity but maybe shoutitis and other similar muts). Make it more interesting and not be an only negative potion. Muts being transient keeps it in line with how degen works now as well: quaff it, and figure out how to survive/benefit from the good mutation.

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!Degen was a potentially disasterous but otherwise just an innocuous annoyance.

If a mob triggering a trap affects you, why not having !Degen affect all in LOS with degeneration effect(s)?

Could also just remove the thing

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One of the mechanics I love most in games is being able to throw items at enemies. I think throwing potions would be really cool & it would give them use

Potion throwing was in the game at one point with the spell Evaporate and was removed in 0.12. You’re not going to be able to convince the devs to put it back in, but you can play an old version and see what it was like. I know CAO still hosts historic versions to play in Webtiles all the way back to 0.11. The last time I gave 0.11 a try as a palate cleanser, I was killed by an escape hatch mimic. Lots of fun silly stuff, but a lot of it also makes the pacing and tedium worse.

Those really old versions had throwing of all sorts of weapons, too. I’m not sure exactly what the reasoning was for removing that, but I appreciate not feeling obligated to pick up every random dagger I see on the floor, just in case I need it.

One game can’t be everything, even a super cool roguelike unfortunately. What games do you like to play that have throwing anything in them?

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Inventory cluttering was probably one of the main reasons for that change, I’d assume. In the earlier versions of DCSS (or Linley’s Dungeon Crawl) you got a full inventory quite early and then had to decide what to drop each time you wanted to pick up something. The game has improved so much in that regard.

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I think discussing if !Degen is “bad” and needs a revamp, a rework, a throwable secondary use, worth an “inventory slot”, etc. is a fun thought experiment, but it’s mostly missing the point. DCSS has changed and now !Degen doesn’t have a home in it.

Like @vvokhom said right off the bat, the devs have (largely) removed “item identification” as a challenge/threat/metagame. The !Degen effect isn’t “bad”, there’s just nothing around it to give the negative effect a meaningful context. I agree with @dead_alchemy, if it were removed it would make a lot of sense.

(And if “give and take” consumables want to be given another look later, then !Degen could be fun inspiration down the road.)

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My impression is that it those aspects of identification were removed because they never were essential to any challenge/threat/metagame to begin with.

I think what that means is that the id minigame just needs to be more difficult.


Here’s another suggestion: Let ?Id scrolls only identify other scrolls. !Mutation, !Curing and one random potion (maybe more?) are always known to the player from the start, but the rest requires quaff-id. Now the question is not whether to quaff-id, but when to quaff-id and deal with the consequences of !Degen.

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At this point I think identification scrolls could be simply removed. You can always generate 1 more scroll/potion on average per game if you strongly feel this would be a nerf. Random reading and quaffing is more fun. I see no need to keep identification just for scrolls, for example.

If you do not want to force random mutation potions (I do not think this is a big deal), you can simply make them identified from the beginning, as suggested.

I think degeneration could be simply removed in either case.

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