ARCHIVED Demos' Deep Dwarf Necromancer guide
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN FOR AN EARLIER VERSION OF CRAWL, AND IS NO LONGER RELIABLE. TO HAVE IT REMOVED FROM THE ARCHIVES, PLEASE UPDATE IT FOR THE CURRENT VERSION.
How to Get Through the Early Game with a DDNe
- Use Pain on any enemy affected by it (it doesn't hurt you) and learn Vampiric Draining.
- Keep casting until both spells are at excellent.
- Use Vampiric Draining to heal, or the wand of healing in case of emergencies.
- Find the temple and worship Makhleb (free healing and demon summons).
Learn Dispel Undead (as Pain doesn't effect undead). Finding a vampiric weapon can help regain your HP as well. Train up fighting and maces/axes. Damage shaving plus armor can be effective, but given that you are casting, don't wear anything that drops your spells from excellent. This means a robe/leather with maybe some dragon armour lategame. It may be worthwhile to wear a buckler, since it doesn't take very much training in Shields to counteract the spellcasting penalty.
Some Expanded Notes on Deep Dwarf Necromancers
If you don't recognize a monster, look it up!'
Seriously, nothing sucks more (besides dying) than running up to a monster while already low on health, quickly casting Vampiric Draining, only to find out the monster is a demon or undead. This does some nasty damage to YOU, not sure if it can kill you, but it can definitely make things worse. Use the wiki or Henzell's LearnDB to find out what something is, or as an alternative try casting Pain or Agony on the target first. Chances are, if one of those doesn't have an effect on a target, they probably aren't safe to drain. Note that this does apply to monsters resisting the spell, just ones that are unaffected. Also be careful when you actually cast Vamp Drain against invisible targets, as you don't get the normal warning against doing so and some demons are innately invisible.
Beware of & prepare for demons!
As stated above, Dispel Undead can make the game much easier, not only handling lowbie undead early on, but even taking on powerful player ghosts & ancient liches in the endgame! Since only the undead & demons are immune to your necromantic skills, this just leaves the demons as a problem. Abjuration is very useful against summoner-type demons (it hits everything in line of sight), but you will need something else to deal with the inevitable ones that come at you. An early Holy wrath branded weapon or Silver ammunition can be a real help if a demon won't leave you alone. Don't be afraid to run away & drop them on another floor till later either.
Focus skills early, spread out later
This is more of a general tip for most players, but you should probably turn off most of your skills early in the game so the others will build faster. Dodging, Fighting, Spellcasting & Necromancy are good ones to keep on in the start. Try to stick to axes & slings or crossbows if you can, although don't be afraid to take up long blades or maces & flails if you find a good randart early on like I did. In the end I was lucky to find a couple good xbows, and used them heavily in the endgame, putting all my enchant weapon scrolls into steel and silver bolts, until I found out about bolts of penetration.
To that end, shield and stealth skills can pay off quite well later on as well. Being able to wake only a couple monsters in a pack or avoid them totally, and being able to deflect damage, can both save your life several times over.
Your fifth spell (after Pain, Agony, Vamp drain & dispel undead) should probably be Animate Dead, unless you've found another low-level summoning spell. Kiku can help with corpses, although be aware that the branch you are on will dictate what types of corpses you get. Try not to over-use it early, as building your piety to full so you can get a pain brand or Necronomicon can be useful. Note that Kiku's abilities use (and train) Necromancy rather than Invocations; this is great because you want high Necromancy anyway for your spells, but if you decide to switch to another god you'll have to train Invocations from scratch.
If you continue in this vein, go for Twisted Resurrection fairly soon after animate dead. Large abominations can be created with 2 or more corpses on a single square, although it seems to take about 3 humanoid-sized corpses to ensure a large, but stacking more corpses makes them more powerful. Early on they are nice because they follow you up & down stairs, helping to protect you from ambushes. Later on they tend to be meatshields that aren't worth assembling vs just animating a dozen zombies, but they can definitely hold their own for quite a while if you stack corpses together. Small aboms are weaker but seem to be quicker, although I had a couple larges that kept up with me as well.
I'm sure after reading this someone will prove me wrong & win a game with no spellcasting skill except necromancy and minimal fighting skills, but I don't think it would be easy. You may have started as a necromancer, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to that specific skill set!
In the end the short guide is a great starting place, it's what got me started on what ended up being my first win! Hopefully it will inspire others to try this combo, and maybe my advice will even be helpful to someone... Hey, a guy can dream!