My one and only other ascension run, I found three of 'em -- two before the castle and another one lying on the ground in Gehennom. Talk about setting the bar unrealistically high. They've been much less frequent in this game.They certainly are rather underpriced for their utility. Of course, the problem isn't having the gold to pay for one but finding one in the first place.
Very much this. I find them almost meditative.I mean, I certainly wouldn't mind some variety a la SporkHack's cavern filler levels. But mapping these out in their entirety is...well, "fun" is probably the wrong word, but I do feel a pleasant sense of mild satisfaction when I finish one and look at the whole thing.
Even with a blessed artifact weapon they still took an annoyingly long time to kill.You probably lost your intrinsic speed when you tangled with the shades in OrcusTown. They are deceptively more dangerous than they look, being capable of permanently removing your intrinsic speed and paralyzing you for lengthy amounts of time. They share the same tile representation as a completely harmless player ghost, and they only ever appear naturally in OrcusTown so you don't really get much chance to acclimate yourself to the threat they pose. They're also completely invincible if you somehow made it this far without an artifact weapon and your regular weapon got unblessed by some enemy spellcaster earlier.
It's probably a good idea to never fight a shade with other monsters nearby.