Choosing a god

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This article contains advice from other players, and may be subjective and/or outdated. Read at your own risk and alter to fit your play style as necessary!

In Crawl, one's choice of god has the most significant impact on the progress of the game other than choice of race and class.

How Do I Choose a God?

There are two ways to choose a god. The quickest is to begin the game with a background that worships one by default: Berserkers, Chaos Knights and Abyssal Knights all begin the game serving a particular god and receive a small head start on piety gain.

Alternatively, you can find an altar dedicated to a god along the way, stand on it, and pray. When asked if you want to join its religion, press y to accept. They can be found as follows:

  • Most gods will have an altar in the Ecumenical Temple, a harmless branch located between Dungeon floors 4 and 7.
  • If the temple lacks a particular altar, it is guaranteed to be located between floors 2 and 9, with the following exceptions:
    • Beogh's altar can be found in the Orcish Mines, but having a conscious (i.e. not asleep, paralyzed, etc.) orc priest or orc high priest in view grants hill orcs the ability to convert to Beogh on the spot.
    • Lugonu's altar can be found in the Abyss or occasionally in a corrupted version of the Ecumenical Temple.
    • Jiyva's altar can be found on the sixth floor of the Slime Pits, occasionally in the Lair and the lower dungeon floors, and very rarely in an early jelly vault.

You can only worship one god at a time. If you abandon a god's religion or switch to another god, you'll incur penance (unless you worship one of the three good gods, Zin, Elyvilon, or The Shining One: they only react if your new god is evil, or chaotic if your god is Zin). Note that if you do switch from a good god to a non-evil one, and later switch to an evil god, you will face penance from both abandoned gods.

What do all the *** mean?

The asterisks are an indication of your piety, or your current standing with your god. Higher piety generally means more and stronger god-granted powers. See the piety article for more details.

Primary Melee Fighters

These gods work best for characters who primarily kill monsters with weapons rather than with spells.

Okawaru the Warmaster

Okawaru is the "default" god for melee characters.

His simple, straightforward effectiveness has made him one of the most popular yet criticized gods in the Crawl pantheon. He provides only two activated abilities to the player: Heroism (gives bonus to combat skills), which can be invoked at *, and Finesse (increased attack speed) at *****. Used in conjunction, this will allow three or four extra attacks per turn, making any non-magical enemy trivial. These enhancements come with no downsides but glow, so one can also use magic and abilities if they wish.

After the activated abilities come the gifts of weapons, armour, shields, and ammo. Since these behave like a slightly nerfed scroll of acquirement, many of these will be of little permanent use, but by the end game you will likely find yourself using mostly god given equipment. While Trog will also provide ammo and weapons, Okawaru is the only god who bestows armour and shields as gifts.

Players going for an all-rune win can often benefit from abandoning him in favor of The Shining One before Crypt.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Melee characters who rely or plan to rely on magic, such as High Elf Skalds, Merfolk Transmuters, and Naga Warpers. Any character who needs rare equipment (quick blades, rare needles), as like Trog, he also gifts ammunition.

Trog the Furious

Trog is the most offensive-minded melee fighter's god. Piety is gained by killing living monsters, demons, holies and spellcasters; sacrificing their corpses, and burning books.

His abilities are tremendously useful early on - Berserk, which temporarily boosts damage, speed, and HP. At high piety it is extended for every kill, though its end brings an exhaustion effect which slows and hungers the user and prevents them from berserking for a while, so make sure that you've either killed every monster in that short time or have some means of escaping the survivors. Trog's Hand adds temporary regeneration and magic resistance, and is one of the few ways for a Deep Dwarf or bloodless Vampire to heal.

Brothers in Arms summons always friendly, always berserk ogres, trolls, bears, and giants, which in numbers are more than a match for nearly every enemy in the game, and are a great way to take down tough but stationary enemies like oklob plants. None of these require training of the Invocations skill, just piety and food, so experience can be focused elsewhere, usually Fighting, weapon skill of choice, missile skill of choice, and Armour/Evasion. At highest piety he will gift weapons weighted toward brute damage and the antimagic brand, and also branded javelins, sling bullets, arrows, and bolts if you have at least 8 levels in a ranged combat skill, and the respective launcher on hand. If your best ranged skill isn't throwing, you can drop your crossbow, bow, longbow, or sling if you want melee weapon gifts.

However, learning, training, or casting magic of any kind will offend Trog, so you must specialize only in physical combat. Note that he doesn't mind use of magic scrolls, potions, staves, wands, or rods. In addition, his non-training of Invocations can be a mixed blessing, since if you plan to switch to another god, you'll have to spend time working on that as well.

Trog is a great god for a player new to Crawl, or for any melee character who plans only for a three or four rune run.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Any character with zero short term interest in magic. Trolls, Ogres, Minotaurs, Merfolk, and Hill Orcs will have the easiest time due to their excellent melee aptitudes. Kobolds are also an excellent choice, since they have few food issues early on and so can berserk rather freely. He also works well for sturdier ranged fighters such as Halfling and Centaur Hunters due to his ammo gifts.

The Shining One the Righteous

The Shining One is a more defensive-minded god who crusades against evil. He will protect you from negative energy and may intervene to save your life. You'll gain piety gradually from discovering monters, and also when you destroy evil or unholy monsters such as the undead, demons, or priests of other religions.

The Shining One is tremendously useful for the Hells, Pandemonium, and Tomb because he allows you to add the holy wrath brand to a weapon (the best for those areas), grants you HP and MP for demon/undead kills (often allowing you to avoid having to rest in those areas), gives you rN+++, and gives you Angel and Daeva summons that are extremely effective for killing the lords of Pandemonium and Hells and killing everything in Tomb (allowing you to avoid curses).

You will also be surrounded by a halo that, within its range, increases your to-hit roll and reveals all invisible enemies around you. His Divine Shield ability grants you a floating shield (and stacks with your existing one), and you can eventually conjure Cleansing Flame to destroy undead and demons around you. Finally, holy beings you encounter will be peaceful at high piety.

Worshipping him has some downsides. You will not be able to use necromancy or poison related items and spells (including the Regeneration spell, usually the biggest downside), have much less stealth due to the halo, and are unable to stab anyone sentient natural beings due to the paladin code (but demons, undead, and animals are valid targets).

Although a great choice for late-game because of the prevalence of undead and demons, gaining piety with The Shining One is painstakingly slow outside of the demonic branches, and his abilities only shine when your Invocations skill is high. Many experienced players start off with a different god with which they train their Invocations skill, then switch to The Shining One when they are about to enter some of the later branches where holy powers are most useful. Elyvilon is the best choice if you want to switch to The Shining One early, because you won't suffer her wrath and you can quickly gain piety by pacifying monsters.

Starting with Okawaru is also a great choice, because he is helpful in the early game and offers great armor gifts. Once you have all the artifact armor you feel you'll need and get your Invocations skill up to at least 10, switch to The Shining One and head for the Crypt (where you'll probably reach maximum piety with TSO). You will suffer Okawaru's wrath, but you should be able to survive at this point (just cast Blink and run away when he summons giants around you).

Make sure you bless a weapon before taking on the Hells or Pandemonium: the best choice is usually one of a claymore, an executioner's axe, a bardiche, a demon whip, a demon trident, or a demon blade. Blessed demon whips (holy scourges) and blessed demon blades are the best one-handed weapons in the game against demons (except for weapons of speed). For ogres or trolls, bless a giant spiked club instead.

Undead and Demonspawn characters may not follow him, and casting Necromutation will result in excommunication.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Melee characters with dreams of the fifteen runes that lie in undead/demon heavy branches, such as the Abyss, the Crypt, the Tomb, Pandemonium, and the Hells. Those with good Invocations aptitudes, such as Hill Orcs, High Elves, Merfolk, and Deep Dwarves, are particularly well-suited.

Primary Spellcasters

On the other hand, if magic is your character's planned forte, you'll find Sif Muna, Vehumet, or Kikubaaqudgha more to your liking.

Sif Muna the Loreminder

Sif Muna is the "default" god for spellcasters. Of the three, she is the least demanding, and the most predictable. Her primary ability is spellbook acquirement: as you gain piety, she will gift you spellbooks, each guaranteed to have at least one spell you haven't yet found, weighted toward your magic skills. You will eventually have access to every spell in the game.

Also central is the * ability that gives you MP at the cost of a turn and some hunger (only of a turn if in lich form, or using a race not on a food clock i.e. bloodless Vampires, Mummies). This allows easy correction of mistakes if you get cornered with no MP left. It is more powerful than the staff of channeling, and is reliable unlike the Crystal ball of energy. At *****, you can forget spells similar to the scroll of amnesia and you will acquire protection from all miscasts.

Piety gain is straightforward: train magic-related skills (Invocations and Evocations don't count) and it will rise. Although you'll need to train Invocations to improve the MP channel, all other benefits are passive. Note that the only ways to lose piety are to "forget her," which is difficult to do as your piety decays extremely slowly (about one point every 2000 turns), or destroy spellbooks (which you won't need to do since she gives you the ability to forget spells).

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Any and all magic users, though pure casters will gain piety (and usefulls spellbooks) much faster. If your primary target is to just gain destructive spells consider Vehumet. If you want to focus on Necromancy Kikubaaqudgha is a more straightforward choice. Over an infinite time Sif Muna will give you all spells, but that won`t help you if you need these Conjurations or Necromancy now.

Vehumet the Battlemage

Vehumet is the god for offensive mages, for whom piety is gained through the bringing of death, which his rewards further supplement.

Killing monsters will grant you piety and may restore some MP. Later, Vehumet will reduce the chance of conjuration miscasts and increase your conjurations' range. He'll also gift you with Destructive spells after you reach *..... piety. All of Vehumet's benefits are passive, making him a great, low-management god if you're new at playing a spellcaster. Also, you can ignore Invocations!

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Conjurers and dedicated nukers of all kinds. Common ones include Demonspawn Wizards, Deep Elf Fire Elementalists, and Spriggan Venom Mages. Tengu, with good aptitudes for Conjurations but a poor aptitude for Invocations, are especially suited for Vehumet.

Kikubaaqudgha the Soulstealer

Kikubaaqudgha is the god of the necromantic arts.

Spellcasters who dabble in darker domains can opt to worship Kikubaaqudgha. This demon-god appreciates the slaying of living things and demons. You'll learn how to summon multiple corpses for your own nefarious uses (requires Necromancy instead of Invocations); later on, she will reduce torment damage, and protect you from Necromancy miscasts, grant you the ability to invoke torment using a corpse, and finally, gift you either the Necronomicon (the most powerful necromantic spellbook in the game) or the Pain brand on a weapon of your choice. The torment resistance and the spells you'll learn from the Necronomicon will make any spellcaster extremely powerful in the late-game. Anyone who uses melee should opt for the pain weapon, as it virtually kills everything in a three-rune game, bar undead, which you can easily dispel. (Watch out fot the occasional demon and golem though.)

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Any character with a need for corpses aka Trolls, Ogres, Vampires, Ghouls and Necromancers. Also any character aspiring to become well versed in Necromancy for differing reasons. The undead races especially profit from an easy way to torment your enemies, without hurting themselves. Any character build that must have pain or the Necronomicon.

"General" Gods

Instead of choosing a god who will simply enhance your character's specialization, you can also go with a god who shores up your weaknesses or who'll provide some emergency help.

Makhleb the Destroyer

Makhleb is the god of violent death. Followers earn piety by killing enemies and sacrificing their corpses to the Destroyer. Doing so will eventually grant you a chance to heal some HP when dealing a killing blow, the ability to hurl minor/greater destruction, and finally the power to summon minor/major demons. This makes Makhleb a solid choice for characters with healing issues (Deep Dwarves and Vampires, among others) or those who want to have access to an easy-to-train ranged ability. The demons summoned are perfect fodder to cover your escape but can also overwhelm weaker enemies.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Anybody who can't heal naturally, or heals slowly. Besides the obvious Deep Dwarves and Vampires, Ghouls can do well with Makhleb.

Yredelemnul the Reaper

Yredelemnul is the dark god of death. By following him, your character can learn various necromancy-related powers without having to train spellcasting or necromancy. Like Makhleb, Yredelemnul grants you a way to heal (by sucking the life force out of every monster around you!), but he also brings some unique tools to the table, such as the power to reflect damage inflicted to you. Yredelemnul will regularly send his undead minions to help you (an early bone dragon buddy is great fun!). Somewhat redundant for spellcasters already versed in necromancy, but still far from useless. Be aware, however, that in the extended endgame (i.e. Tomb, Pan, Hell), gaining piety with Yred is very difficult, and his servants will usually be outclassed, rendering him considerably less useful in those places. Luckily, his wrath is relatively light, making a switch easy.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Any sort of character who wants some free, powerful allies and some potent panic buttons. Some, but decidedly not all, of his abilities are redundant to Necromancy or Summoning, meaning it is more often melee characters who favor Yred.

Beogh the Brigand

Beogh can only be worshipped if your character is a Hill Orc, but grants many useful passive powers and bonuses. You'll get more mileage from using orcish gear (i.e. better offensive and defensive bonuses), and the orcs you encounter in the dungeon may become allies (who may follow you between floors) upon meeting you! Worshipping Beogh also gives you access to a powerful Smite spell that uses Piety but is well worth it. The Orcish Mines will never get easier than this... although by late-game your orcish followers probably won't be up to the task of taking over Hell or Pandemonium by themselves.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: If you're planning on playing Beogh as a melee character, there is virtually no reason not to start as a Hill Orc Priest, given that altars to Beogh can be difficult to find, setting your character way behind on piety. However, a player who wants to use magic to support their orcs (i.e. hasting them and making them invisible) might consider a casting or hybrid class, but even that is likely to be suboptimal: a better option would just be to train Int on a HOPr.

Elyvilon the Healer

Elyvilon provides healing, rot curing/stat fixing and divine vigour. As one of the "good gods", she does not accept undead or demonspawn worshippers.

Elyvilon followers play similarly to fighters, except they can heal themselves virtually anytime and can avoid fighting some difficult enemies, such as hydras, by pacifying them and turning them into neutral monsters. Pacifying demons and undead this way is less effective, but the ability to heal yourself in the middle of a fight can add tremendous lasting power to any tank. On top of that, as a last resort you can activate Divine Protection, letting you survive fatal blows for a time in exchange for piety.

Formerly, Elyvilon was popular for training invocations before switching to another non-evil god. As Invocations training no longer requires spending much piety, she is now significantly less popular.

Recommended race and class combinations: Any character with trouble surviving in combat can make use of her healing abilities. Good candidates include Deep Dwarves and Felids (who have the added bonus of not requiring weapons of any sort).

Lugonu the Unformed

Lugonu allows you to instantly banish yourself and depart to/from the abyss. This can instantly save your life. In addition, the corruption ability makes Zot:5 and many branch final levels much easier since you it allows you to create walls in areas that would otherwise be open. Getting the orb is easier, since you can corrupt the walls or immediately banish yourself to the Abyss if needed.

Recommended race and class combinations: Any character seeking alternative means for dealing with particularly meddlesome monsters and levels. Outside of the abyss, an altar to Lugonu can only be found on a corrupted temple layout, often making Lugonu more of a situational and opportunistic choice, rather than a pre-planned one. This situationalism extends to the Abyss as well, where conversion can offer rare means for reliable and relatively quick escape.

Exotic/Challenging Gods

The following gods grant unreliable benefits or are simply more challenging to worship than others.

Zin the Law-Giver

Zin provides followers with the ability to boost their stats and resist various physical effects, such as sickness, rot, poison, and mutation. His Recite ability can be greatly helpful in dealing with particularly dangerous demons, undead, or priests. At higher levels of piety, he provides the powerful defensive abilities Imprison and Sanctuary, and especially pious followers may receive a one-time cure for all of their mutations. Zin's piety gain requires donating gold, so expect to have considerably less money than usual. His dietary restrictions are also the most stringent of any god, as he forbids the consumption of sentient creatures. A great "ninja" god.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Zin works well for any characters that highly benefit from increased stats, be it spellcasters who want to improve their spells or stealthy characters who can benefit from increased dexterity.

Fedhas Madash the Natural

Fedhas Madash allows you to alter the terrain around you and create plant allies to aid you in battle. This god isn't well suited for a 15-rune game, due to the rarity of corpses in the extended end-game. Fedhas can significantly help you in Zot:5 by allowing you to create a large Oklob farm, which can be quite effective in clearing the Orb chamber, by luring monsters into it.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Merfolk and tengu are well-suited to Fedhas, as they are least hindered by his rain invocation. Other good candidates include grey or black draconians and octopodes.

Jiyva the Shapeless

Jiyva constantly alters your body with (usually) good mutations and stat shuffling. In exchange, worshipers have to frantically run around grabbing items, before jellies devour them. Typically, you'll have very few items to use in the end-game. Jiyva is best for brawny unarmed fighters.

Recommended race and class combinations: Ogres, trolls, felids, and octopodes can't wear boots, gloves, or helmets, so the Unarmed Combat mutations and potential resistances offered by Jiyva are exceptionally useful for them.

Xom the Unpredictable

Xom is an interesting god that'll likely cause you to die in a hilarious way. Most of his actions are either harmful, flavourful, or somewhat helpful. Xom rewards high risk play-styles.

Recommended Race and Class Combinations: Chaos Knights start off worshiping Xom. This is considered a "challenge class", and the game does not recommend it for any race.

Cheibriados the Contemplative

Cheibriados is a deity who rewards you for moving slowly and killing fast creatures, but detests seeing you haste yourself. Being slow is a big disadvantage, but possibly worth it in exchange for massive stat boosts, the abilities to slow adjacent enemies or to deal huge amounts of damage with the Slouch ability.

Recommended race and class combinations: Nagas are slower than most everything else in the dungeon, letting them gain piety at lightning speed with Chei and enhancing the damage output of Slouch even further. Transmuters of all stripes are best suited for worshiping Chei, due to the odd fact that he doesn't seem to mind you transforming into a fast creature and that his stat boosts give tremendous bonuses to the Blade Hands spell.

Nemelex Xobeh the Trickster

Nemelex Xobeh allows you to use powerfully magical decks more safely. Playing with cards is time consuming and risky, but offers great utility and even more power than spells. Decks of summoning provide powerful allies, legendary decks of dungeon have the Trowel card (makes portals to bazaars and ziggurats), and decks of escape provide life-saving effects more powerful than anything else in the game (Tomb, Portal, and Warp).

Recommended race and class combinations: Any character who can use some powerful magic can usefully worship Nemelex Xobeh. Greater benefits fall to characters who are otherwise lacking magical options, or those with good Invocations. Melee oriented Deep Dwarves, Hill Orcs and Formicids especially can benefit.

Ashenzari the Shackled

Ashenzari is the bound god of Divination, and lets players identify items, see through walls, and gain knowledge of their equipment as you gain piety. Piety gain is easy; simply explore new areas and collect runes to access his powers. However, in order to access these gifts you must be as bound as he is, allowing your equipment to be cursed. How dangerous this trade-off is depends on your character and play style. Fortunately, Ashenzari doesn't mind if you uncurse yourself on occasion to switch gear.

However, Ashenzari is a great god for Pandemonium scumming/Ziggurat raiding. At that point you will likely have the best gear you can find, so you're fine to curse yourself permanently. Piety gain is extremely quick in the Abyss, so you can transfer XP constantly while there (as you will be frequently, between Pan trips.) Instant Ziggurat portal detection upon entering Pandemonium levels and free IDing for everything you find in there reduce the headaches involved tremendously.

Recommended race and class combinations: Ashenzari works well for characters that could use a boost in their abilities. He can help mediocre spellcasters cast things they would normally have trouble with, and average melee fighters can perform considerably better than average with his help.