A martini glass in black and white

Path Overview: Shrunken Adventurer

2023-11-29 // Old Man Yells At Paths

A large portion of the articles on this website are going to feature a hidden secret agenda, a little easter egg for careful readers. For instance, anything written by Gausie will probably have a secret subliminal message trying to get the reader to send him some toast. Any article written by Sweaty Bill will, between the lines, extol the virtues of spaghetti witches and the film catalog of Yorgos Lanthimos. This one? I'm just going to say it upfront: good path, terrible name. Guys, "Honey, I Shrunk the Adventurer" was right there! RIGHT THERE!!! Pfah! Misnamed or not, let's have ourselves a little discourse about the smallest path around.

Core Path Modifications

From a narrative perspective, the entire premise of Shrunken Adventurer (or SMOL, as I'll probably call it from here on out) is simple. You're small! That's it! Look at this pipsqueak here!

Being a small adventurer manifests in three meaningful ways:

  • Your stats are locked to 1/1/1. This means that all % based stat increasers are effectively useless, as 100% +muscle will only give you 1 muscle worth of a buff. For players with few IOTMs, this can make combat a little dicey; usually-easy fights can become a bit dicey in this path!
  • Despite your puny size, your campground remains big and tall. This means that you can't access most of your normal campground things, like gardens or your telescope or (in unrestricted) things like a Source Terminal or a Witchess Set. You instead gain access to three bug-filled grassy zones, where bugs drop cute items that give you a high boost to your flat stats to help with survivability for low-shiny players
  • Because you are so tiny, you only have a stomach that can digest 2 fullness of food and 1 drunkenness of booze; you also cannot eat anything above size 2 or drink anything above size 1. Every single cleanser and expander in the game fails to operate in SMOL; no melanges, no sweating out booze, no distention pills, nothing. So, that sucks. But there's a positive side -- every food and drink item is given 10x to their adventure and stat gain. So, that 11 adventure astral pilsner? Prepare to get a cool 110 turns from that frosty pils!

Beyond this, there's a few small aesthetic and flavor changes -- every combat features a bizarrely zoomed in version of the monster you're fighting, which doesn't really impact anything but does make every fight take some extra scrolling. There's also new council text, and a cute bit where the player character doesn't realize they're so small. Cute stuff!

Consequential Speedrunning Diversions

The biggest diversion, by far, is centered around getting to play with 10x organs at 10% size. This allowed you to fill your organs with top quality adventure gains at minimal expense, setting up SMOL to be one of the easiest 1-day Standard paths of all time. As with Grey You and Dark Gyffte, multiple runners who achieved a 1-day weren't even able to squeak in at a Silver Moon. In fact, there's a funny nuance to that -- the slowest in-standard Shrunken Adventurer 1-day (a very respectable 1/494 from Capoke) still ended up being faster than the Gold Star 1-day for Dark Gyffte (an excellent 1/502 from monsieur bob).

While this is more a function of the bonkers standard suite we're rolling with right now than anything inherent about Shrunken Adventurer, there is one small special attribute all paths shared that enabled this. At their core, each path had powerful turn generation boosters inherent to the path that allowed for 1-days without major expenditure of pulls. In DG, you could generate blood-fueled comestibles that averaged 23 adventures per fullness and inebriety, making it relatively trivial to turnbloat your way to obscene turns without having to pull major turnbloat gear. In SMOL, due to the 10x adventure boost, you were able to (effectively) fill 20 fullness and 10 drunkenness with >10 adventures per point, giving you a trivially filled stomach and liver with just one pull. In Grey You, the adventure absorption from monsters was so ridiculously generous that 1-days were trivial, to the point that there were people in-standard that were looping 1-day runs of the path for profit.

Beyond the boon you get with the boosted turngen, the 1/1/1 stat limiter was a bit frustrating. For the most part, combat was trivialized by Cleaver, but there's one stat issue the Cleaver can't trivialize -- the tower stat test. Due to the lack of access to your telescope, you had to wait til the tower to figure out which stat you had to boost, and that was a bit annoying. But trying to hit the 600 stat you need to cut the Smoothest/Smartest/Strongest adventurer contests at the base of the Sorceress' Tower is, in a word, terrible. Without one extraordinarily funny bug-ish wish (covered below), this is the kind of diversion that either adds 5-10 turns or takes 3+ wishes and a few other resources to solve. Major, major pain.

Path Focus: In-Standard

As I noted earlier, the fact that this path overlapped with the June Cleaver is, frankly, a blessing. Combat is a tiny bit annoying at first, and there are still a few dangerous fights in bleeding edge speed, with the high-ML fights against swarms of ghuol whelps being notably easy to sod up if you're not paying enough attention. But combat ended up being far less of a problem than one might think at the outset, because the Cleaver and the Designer Sweatpants overlapped to create a damage-dealing machine that was virtually unbeatable across anything you'd face throughout your run. Pretty hard to beat an adventurer that's rolling in with an unblockable 200-something damage after turn 30, especially in a 1-day run.

So, with combat trivialized, Shrunken Adventurer generally played pretty similarly to standard. This meant that you ended up with a path where Sicko Mode -- one of the most powerful yet abjectly terrible to execute speedrunning strategies ever concieved -- had a chance to shine. It was powerful in early-year paths, with a brief cameo appearance in a few gold runs for AoSOL, but it was a mainstay in many of the top speed runs for SMOL. In my final softcore run, I nailed around 30 green smoke bombs for around 27 turns of delay saved. In hardcore, with two days of resources and much more turngen flex, you could end up with upwards of 60-70 bombs. Highly recommend reading Gold Star runner The Erosionseeker's wiki overview -- it's an absurdly frustrating strategy that is nevertheless worth reading about, because it really puts the lovingly sharpened knife in the concept of "facestabbing" for turns saved and leaderboard glory. Yeesh.

Path Focus: Unrestricted

Given that this path was standard as recently as a month ago, I'm not going to focus too much on how Unrestricted differentiates itself with this path. There just isn't much meat on the bone. There is, however, one semi-interesting note. While in standard, there wasn't a mass exodus from Community Service scripts to Shrunken Adventurer scripts, but there -was- one successful coder (Kasekopf, a member of the Loathers Collective) who was able to code up an automated loop script that leveraged SMOL. Immediately after the path ended, Kas released the script. So, within a few weeks of path end, Shrunken is already making a wave among scripters who run looped ascensions!

Is it better than Grey You or Community Service? It's hard to say. So far, reports from the Discord would indicate it's close. Especially with the advent of the leaf guide (which was producing leaves at an enviably high cost as recently as a week ago), having so many turns to get ambient drops was proving better than the raw turngen provided by Community Service low-turn loop runs. But this isn't the be-all and end-all -- there's always a possibility TPTB will nerf the path, or (alternatively) an IOTM will be released where the benefits of having a non-neutered aftercore outweigh the benefits of raw farming turngen. My guess is it'll be quite a while until the score is settled between the new looping hotness and the old looping standard, but this is currently the most important post-standard fact about the path. I'm no looper, but if you are, it may be time to check out LoopSMOL.

Any other fun anecdotes, stories, or strategies worth mulling on from the path?

I noted before that there was a cute bug-ish wish that could solve the otherwise resource-drain pain of the tower's stat tests. Might as well share that here. The core path mechanic of SMOL involved tying your stats to 1/1/1. As noted above, that meant %stat effects were completely useless. But what if there was a wish that overrode the path's stat limiters? What if there was one single wish that not only enabled a 1-turn stat test, but ALSO allowed most runners to (semi-easily) crush through the Wall of Bones with a few slung spells?

Ready to feel insignificant?


Yes. Really. Turns out that effects that otherwise limit your stats -also- override the 1/1/1 stat-tie that makes up the core path mechanic. This meant that at the cost of one wish, a clever runner could get both +99 flat stats to all their stats, and vastly improve the tradeoff of %stat buffs; instead of +1 for +100% muscle, you're now rolling in with +100 for that same buff. So, yeah. A ton of the top runners were, at the end of their runs, wistfully thinking back to the old days, when you could Evoke Eldritch Horror and face your insignificant form off against Sssshhsssblllrrggghsssssggggrrgglsssshhssslblgl. Incredibly funny strategy, incredibly powerful wish. At least for this path! (Big ups to The Erosionseeker for discovering and sharing this!)

Article contributed by Captain Scotch