Berder's Naga Transmuter of Chei Guide
Imagine having AC 50, EV 50, 350 HP, plus the ability to cast both Shatter and Tornado without brilliance. This could be you, as a Naga Transmuter of Cheibriados in Statue Form with Stoneskin and Phase Shift. With these buffs, I've killed Antaeus by punching him, without dropping below 75% health. I've even finished a ziggurat. The one downside: a movement delay of 3.2. But Controlled Blink does a lot to help deal with that.
This guide is based on one game I've played. I can't say I'm an expert. But I think it's worth sharing, because the endgame stats are just so ridiculous. Here's my morgue:
Also, I have to admit my game wouldn't have worked as-is without finding a Book of the Warp in Lair. However, I was still godless until after Lair:8, so if you get that far and don't find the book, you can pick a different god and retain the ability to run from fights with spider/ice form.
First off, train transmutations at 100%. The goal is to be able to cast Spider Form and Blade Hands ASAP. It's might not be worth training poison magic for spider form, because it's useless to you otherwise and you want blade hands too.
Throughout the game, put all your skill points except maybe one or two into INT. Yes, you fight with unarmed combat, but your largest gain in melee power will come from being able to cast better transmutations earlier - not from having a few extra points of dex or str. Once you are with chei, you'll have plenty of dex and str.
Until you have spider form, you really have to be extremely careful about not getting into situations that you can't handle, since running is often impossible. Stay as close to the stairs as possible, and try to explore a moderate sized circle around all three stairs before you start venturing into areas farther away. Don't forget to use sticks to snakes if some dangerous enemies spot you - a few snakes can help kill them, or can help occupy them while you retreat.
Make sure to identify your scrolls. Being able to teleport away from danger makes many situations much more survivable. Blinking is less useful unless stairs are near.
Spider form is great for two reasons. First, it increases your defenses and damage a bit. More importantly, it gives you a normal walking speed, making it possible to actually run away from danger. Although you're still slightly slower than normal since you have to stop and recast it occasionally.
DO NOT worship Chei yet. For now, your ability to run from fights is more important than the stats he can give you.
Once you have blade hands, you can use them for almost every fight. Remember that blade hands makes it much harder to cast spells. When blade hands failure rate is in the yellow, you can train other skills - mostly unarmed combat, and if you get some good evocables, train evocations. Training a little fighting is good too.
Still don't worship Chei.
With blade hands and naga HP, most of lair becomes fairly easy, even with mediocre equipment. The really tough enemies are hydras since your blade hands are useless against them. If possible, kill them with evocables. Otherwise, run away with spider form. Don't try to fight them in spider form unless they're confused.
Now hopefully at some point by now, you've found a book of the warp with controlled blink. If not, you probably shouldn't worship Chei. Try Jiyva or some other god. Once you get the book, train translocations at 100%.
When controlled blink failure rate is at, say, 50%, begin worshipping Chei. If this happens at the beginning of Orc, you will have cblink by the end of Orc, and you'll also have maxed out Chei piety. At this point, some invocations - no more than 12-13 - will let you make the most of Chei's abilities.
Get statue form if you find it (train plenty of earth magic). Also, stoneskin and phase shift.
As you do Vaults 1:4 and the Lair branches, you'll make heavy use of controlled blink, both to get close to ranged enemies and kill them, and to get away from dangerous enemies. You can really finish the rest of the game this way.
It might be a good idea to get shields at some point. I'm told that shields don't hurt your unarmed combat that much, though I didn't try it myself.
I chose to get shatter, which is useful to take out many scattered ranged enemies such as orb spiders. But I didn't use either spell more than a few times; mostly, I punched things in statue form, using cblink or semi-controlled blink to get around.
My strategy in zig was to have high stealth and wait in a corner for enemies to come to me, then just punch them. I tried to avoid using shatter or tornado because of the attention such a noisy spell would draw. Demonic zigs with torment and hellfire and smiting were too much, so for those I first read a scroll of magic mapping, then made some noise to draw their attention and get them away from the exit, then used tele, and then semi-controlled blinked over to the stairs. I considered using Disjunction to help clear them away from the stairs, but I tested it on an easier zig level and it didn't seem very effective.
rN+ or rN++ and statue form do a lot to take the sting out of torment in pan, hell, and zig. You'll probably want to get lichform to do tomb, though. Tomb was the last area I did, and I found it more difficult than anything else except zig.