Deep Dwarf

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Version 0.21: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

This article is about the player species. For the monster, see Deep Dwarf (monster). For a list of all monstrous deep dwarves, see List of deep dwarves.

Deep Dwarves are short, hardy people who, unlike their extinct surface relatives, never left the underground homelands. Living there for countless generations made them turn pale and lose all ability to regenerate health over time, or to have their rate of regeneration hastened by any effects. Deep Dwarves can instead draw on their magical essence to heal, but doing so will gradually deplete their maximum reserves of magic. They are passively able to reduce all incoming damage, and their empathy with the earth allows them to sense their surroundings; these abilities increase in power as they gain experience levels.

Naturally, Deep Dwarves are quite adept with all arts of avoiding blows and damage. Offensively, they are skilled users of axes, crossbows, and slings. Deep Dwarves are highly spiritual beings, often portrayed as actual spirits by outsiders; because of this, their skill with invocations is great, and they often rely on divine assistance for healing. They are most at home with the magic of earth and death, eventually gaining some resistance to the dark powers of necromancy.

Innate Abilities

  • Slow Healing 3: Deep Dwarves cannot heal lost HP naturally, nor benefit from any non-divine form of regeneration (including the Regeneration spell).
  • Passive Mapping 1: Deep Dwarves can sense parts of the layout of the dungeon around them.
  • Damage Reduction (also known as "damage shaving"): Deep Dwarves suffer less damage from every source. This applies separately to every source of damage, every time it is dealt; thus, for instance, damage shaving generally negates the effects of all but the worst cases of being poisoned.
  • Heal Wounds: Deep Dwarves have an innate Heal Wounds ability, which has a 25% chance to reduce the player's permanent MP by 1 when used. Notably it has a chance to fail, so do not rely on this in combat.

Deep Dwarves have a base Strength of 11, Intelligence of 8 and Dexterity of 8 (before Background modifiers) and normal base magic points.

Preferred Backgrounds

Level Bonuses

Damage Reduction

The formula for Deep Dwarves' damage reduction is 1d(1 + 1d(1 + floor(XL / 3))). This is applied against all damage they receive, even against attacks that are normally irresistible like smiting or damnation. It is not applied to damage from spell activation sources, such as Makhleb's abilities. The reduction is improved every three experience levels as per table below.

Level Maximum Average
1 2 1.5
3 3 1.75
6 4 2
9 5 2.25
12 6 2.5
15 7 2.75
18 8 3
21 9 3.25
24 10 3.5
27 11 3.75

Minimum reduction is always 1 point of damage.

Starting Skills and Equipment

Deep Dwarves start with all the skills and equipment listed for their background.

Difficulty of Play


Deep Dwarves are a moderately easy species to play, so long as you work around their lack of natural HP regeneration. They start the game with a heal wounds ability, which functions as a very reliable panic button (as long as you don't wait so long that you would die if it failed to work). Deep Dwarves also have powerful damage shaving that scales up with their character level. However, one should take into account Deep Dwarves' lack of natural regeneration when choosing his or her god and background. Some strategies for how to offset this disadvantage can be found below.

Skill aptitudes

The higher the value, the better the aptitude.

Skill Aptitude Skill Aptitude Skill Aptitude
Attack Miscellaneous Magic
Fighting -1 Armour 1 Spellcasting -2
Short Blades -1 Dodging 1 Conjurations -1
Long Blades 0 Stealth 3 Hexes -2
Axes 1 Shields 1 Charms -1
Maces & Flails 0 Summonings -1
Polearms -1 Necromancy 1
Staves -1 Translocations 1
Unarmed Combat -1 Transmutation -1
Fire Magic -1
Throwing -1 Ice Magic -1 Invocations 3
Slings 1 Air Magic -3 Evocations 3
Bows -3 Earth Magic 3
Crossbows 1 Poison Magic -2 Experience -1


Initially, you start with a heal wounds ability with a chance to lose one permanent MP. Use it. You're not going to regain that lost health naturally, so whenever your HP is at least 20 points or so below maximum, heal. Don't be afraid of running out of healing - you can always train more invocations or evocations to get more MP, and most characters should never run low on max MP. Save potions of curing for situations where you have a negative status effect, such as poison or confusion, and potions of heal wounds for life-or-death situations where you cannot afford the fail chance on your innate ability - using them to simply heal HP is wasteful.

Later on, you will need a source of renewable healing, in addition to the usual means of non-renewable (ability and consumable) healing. Consumable healing and your maximum MP will eventually be exhausted if you don't find another way to heal. There are only a few ways to go about this:

Healing Through Necromancy

Deep Dwarves cannot use the Regeneration spell, but they can use Vampiric Draining. This spell requires a living target in melee range to be effective; luckily, the game provides plenty of these. It is only found in the Book of Necromancy or in randart spellbooks. Vampiric Draining can be obtained in three ways:

  • By starting as a Necromancer
  • By finding it randomly
  • While Kikubaaqudgha worshipers normally only have a 50% shot at getting Vampiric Draining, the fact that they can't cast Regeneration means that Deep Dwarves always receive it at * piety.

Gifted necromancers can also use Borgnjor's Revivification to heal, but this is as much of an emergency spell for Deep Dwarves as it is for any other character, given its cost in max HP.

Passive Divine Healing

Two gods passively give HP for kills:

  • Makhleb gives HP for killing most enemies. He is by far the more common choice, since his healing is useful everywhere, and his other abilities are useful to just about any character build.
  • The Shining One gives HP on killing "evil" enemies (namely demons, undead, and many spellcasters). This alone is not sufficient in most areas of the game, however; only in certain optional areas of the game this is likely to be a reliable, consistent source of healing. Also note that worshiping The Shining One precludes necromancy and vampiric weapons as means of healing.

Active Divine Healing

Six gods have abilities which can heal Deep Dwarves.

  • Elyvilon gives two healing abilities, Lesser and Greater Healing. Both cost piety, but they are gained reasonably early on (at * and **** piety, respectively), so most players are unlikely to lose them. While piety is only gained through exploration, accomplishing this is aided by the Deep Dwarves Passive Mapping ability. Training Invocations skill increases the effectiveness of Lesser and Greater Healing.
  • Trog gives a regeneration ability at ** piety, Trog's Hand. Unlike all other forms of regeneration, this works on Deep Dwarves. The ability does not require Invocations to be effective - rather, it becomes more effective with increasing piety. Moreover, because worshipers of Trog are punished for training or casting spells anyway, one can lean on the Deep Dwarves' recharge ability more liberally, as the loss of max magic points is of no concern. Training Evocations under Trog for (among other things) greater max MP, and using a combination of the wand of heal wounds as well as Trog's Hand, can be an effective means of negating Deep Dwarves' liabilities. Note that Trog does not allow any forms of healing that involve spellcasting, and that too much use of Trog's Hand may diminish how often one can use the powerful Brothers in Arms ability.
  • Yredelemnul gives worshipers the ability to drain ambient lifeforce at **** piety. This ability is quite expensive, requires considerable Invocations investment (the max it can heal you is Invocation*2), and only works on living monsters. Taking Yred for the sole purpose of this ability is inadvisable.
  • Ru lets you use Draw Out Power at *** piety. This ability also has a cost attached to it, giving you slight drain upon using it. In a similar vein to Yredelemnul, taking Ru solely for this ability may not be wise.
  • Gozag's Potion Petition ability usually offers at least one option that includes a potion of healing or curing. However, it's unreliable and expensive, so is more suited for emergencies.
  • Nemelex gifts decks of escape, which can contain the Elixir card which will heal you. However, Nemelex gifts aren't going to grant sufficient healing for the rest of the game; you can expect to get about 5 Elixir cards the entire game.

Vampiric Weapons

Vampiric weapons heal Deep Dwarves when they hit a living target. Unfortunately, they are quite rare, and there is no way to guarantee that they will be on a useful weapon. An early vampiric weapon may give a Deep Dwarf somewhat more flexibility in god choice, however - it is still advisable to take Makhleb, Trog, Elyvilon or at a stretch Kikubaaqudgha though.

Non-Renewable Healing

Deep Dwarves can also heal themselves through the following consumable means:

So What Does All This Mean?

All of this essentially means that Deep Dwarves who wish to maximise their chances for success are fairly limited in their choice of god. Necromancers have the most flexibility; since they start with Vampiric Draining, they can do reasonably well with any "non-good" god they desire, although it may still be advisable to pick one who gives renewable healing. All others, with the exception of those who get lucky and find a Book of Necromancy early on, are strongly incentivised to choose between Makhleb, Elyvilon, Trog, and Kikubaaqudgha. Yredelemnul is a very iffy option, while The Shining One is only effective for the purposes of Deep Dwarf healing in Pandemonium, Hell, Crypt and Tomb.


Prior to 0.20, Deep Dwarfs started with a wand of heal wounds and a Device Recharging ability which would recharge any wand or rod for 1 permanant MP, instead of their innate heal wounds ability.

Before 0.17, Deep Dwarfs could not regenerate back temporarily reduced stats, and had to use the now-removed potion of restore abilities. Deep dwarf player ghosts also used to share the same regeneration restrictions as their living counterparts.

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Intermediate HumanKoboldDemonspawnCentaurSprigganTenguDeep ElfOgreDeep DwarfGnoll
Advanced Vine StalkerVampireDemigodFormicidNagaOctopodeFelidBarachiMummy