As things go
I don't really mind that there isn't a fully functioning kingdom economy - I kind of feel that keeps the focus on what you're doing in and how you're preparing for the dungeons. I agree that prepped and purist runs are hugely different but I think this makes purist special rather than prepped invaluable. I think the trend towards a more double-edged kind of items with a gold cost is working pretty well. I have unlockered the crystal ball for the moment... while the gold costs are a nice cap on that kind of incremental item, and also make you think more about prepping them, they do also make the item more valuable prepped than found because buying them doesn't cut into the resource you use for them.
Some of the double-edged preps are good (and popular), others aren't - I *love* Dracul but I've never prepped his altar.
Locker items are the worst offender in my opinion, with many players, including myself, basing whole strategies around a synergy with certain items.
This I don't mind, what I mind is how few items are used in this way because of the locker-space constraints.
Anyone who doubts this can find hundreds of references to strats involving a (race)(class) wielding an (item probably trisword).
But the only occasions on which that synergy is essential rather than just icing is when the difficulty is scaled for vicious. I think some of the problem is that the way vicious dungeons are balanced, some items which are good but not excessively so on regular difficulty games become essential for dealing with vicious dungeons. For instance, for Dragon Isles you *need* to buff your health for the Matron as just about anyone except priest or berserker, so for that level, having the alchemists scroll lockered is a big deal. I don't think that anyone suggests that a class needs a combo item to work out well in hard dungeons.
I'd also point out that the trisword and the alch. scroll are two of the the most double-edged items in the game, in that they both heavily skew your potion-use to times when you normally wouldn't want to *and* they more or less kill any attempt to buy other items *yet* they remain hugely popular simply because they're so useful as to be essential for so many classes on the vicious dungeons.
I.e. the combination of really tightly limited locker items and the fact that vicious difficulty tends to neccessitate keeping some specific locker items prevents experimentation and exacerbates reliance on a group of 6 or less items. Strategies that can beat vicious relying on items with a more specific synergy are probably being overlooked because they involve throwing out a trisword or a dragon shield or something like that before you can play around with them.
(I am very surprised that noone has called the translocation seal overpowered yet. That prep is a *monster*, especially for happy trisworders who throw elite items into the mix. I'd maybe make it halve the item cost instead.)