Deep Elf Conjurer of Vehumet

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The following article is a character guide. This article contains advice from other players, which may be subjective, outdated, inaccurate or ill-advised. Read at your own risk and alter to fit your play style as necessary!
Version 0.13: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

This is a work in progress.

In this guide we explain how to play an offensive spell caster in Crawl – namely a Deep Elf Conjurer (DECj).

Attack magic will be your primary way of dealing damage throughout the entire game. You will focus on killing enemies before they can get to you; this means you won't have to focus on armour nor evasion.

The strategy proposed here is very straightforward, and not complex. This makes it a good way to explore a spell caster even if you have no experience with that so far.

You will also find that your survival rate through the early game will be quite high, and you will reach the mid-game much quicker than most other characters – after all, you want to see the high powered spells and late game content that the game has to offer, right?

Strategy Overview

The main point of this character guide is to show you how to reach the Lair of Beasts with a high probability, and how to develop your character from there towards a win.

Key spell: Iskenderun's Battlesphere – This will be your primary damage dealer and best friend through the early- and mid-game, and many of the great survivability of the DECj hinges on having this spell in the starting book.

God choice: Vehumet – the main reason is not the offensive spells he offers us (although those are welcome, of course), but how he supports the use of offensive magic that we already know (range extension, wizardry bonus, mana restoration).

Your WMD: Fire StormFire Magic will be what we focus on as early as possible, to claim the big prize later in the game: Fire Storm. It is a level 9 spell, and not usable before very late in the game by most characters. We will be able to access it earlier through the help of Vehumet, and by keeping focused on Fire Magic.

Walkthrough (early game)

The early game is the most difficult phase in Crawl. Most characters die before reaching any dungeon level below 10. We try to avoid this by enabling one of the most reliable damage sources the game has to offer for any character in the form of Iskenderun's Battlesphere. We will find the Ecumenical Temple and worship Vehumet. We then find the Lair of Beasts and harden ourselves there for the road to triumph...

Starting out

Start a new Deep Elf Conjurer, enter the skill selection screen by pressing m, and put the skill selection to manual (/), then disable all skills except Spellcasting by pressing Shift-i).

Spellcasting (Spc) gives us additional mana (MP), and it does reduce spell hunger (in combination with the Intelligence (INT) stat). It also raises our spell success rate and overall power, but these are secondary benefits. Right now we are very interested in getting as many MP as possible; soon enough we will train specific spell schools in addition to Spc.

Then, enter the identified items screen by pressing \, and disable auto pickup for all missile items except needles and darts. We won't be using physical ranged attacks at all with this character, but certain needle and dart attacks are useful early on; we also do not want to leave dangerous ammunition (such as curare-tipped needles) laying around for monsters to pick them up and use against us.

Start exploring the dungeon, using auto explore (o key) as much as possible. Auto explore will stop automatically when your character encounters anything interesting, including monsters that may come into your line of sight. Since we are a stealthy character, this often means that you see a monster that is still sleeping ("zzz") or unaware of you ("?"); this makes it possible to avoid a fight, or take a different attack route.

One of the key advantages of our main attack spell (Magic Dart, later with Iskenderun's Battlesphere) is that it's completely silent. You can pick off monsters from the edge of your line of sight, without any other enemies becoming aware of you. Use this to your advantage as often as possible. Do not run into groups of monsters. When you encounter an enemy, shoot at it and then draw it back with you to an area of the dungeon that you have explored already, and fight it there. Many monsters occur in groups, and if you meet one of them, chances are there will be more just around the corner. Be aware of that, and use auto explore to avoid running into an ambush by accident. One single misstep can be the difference between life and death in Crawl.

Pick up any weapon that you find, and pick up things you can throw at monsters as a weapon (clubs, darts, stones, hand axes, javelins, spears). These are useful very early on, when you do not have enough MP yet to kill your opponents with magic alone. Throw weapons at them to soften them up; also don't be afraid to wield a weapon and melee – most opponents on dungeon level 1 ("D:1") are very weak, and can be killed with a blunt weapon wearing a robe.

Having said that, the most important thing for you to remember is to avoid unnecessary risks, one of which is going into melee fights. If you can kill the monsters with a ranged attack, do so. Even if it's just a rat or newt. Heal up to full HP and MP after every encounter. Do not worry about going "Hungry" all the time – you can eat most of the things you kill except Kobolds (they are poisonous), so lack of food won't be a problem at this point. Save the permanent food for later (although it's not a problem to eat some of it if you see fit, as there is plenty to go around anyway).

If you run out of MP during a fight, either finish off the monster with a physical attack (if it's very low on HP and not wearing heavy armour), or run away. The safer option is to run away. However, do not flee into unknown territory, but rather keep going in a circle around a wall (in Crawl this is known as pillar dancing). This allows you to refresh your MP and take another shot at the enemy (which will be pursuing you the whole time, mind you). Do not try this against fast enemies such as Jackals and Adders. Especially not Adders, as they will keep poisoning you to death.

After you have explored the first level, clear the level map (by pressing X, then Ctrl-f), and explore it once more. This is to encounter the monsters you have missed during your first tour. Why are we doing this, instead of descending, you may ask. Well, our first goal in the game is to get to experience level 4, so we can learn Iskenderun's Battlesphere, and train the Charms skill. Furthermore, we want to be able to do that before we encounter enemies that are actually dangerous, which won't be before D:3. In other words, we want to kill as many harmless monsters as possible on D:1 and D:2, and have our primary attack spell almost ready by the time we enter D:3.

Do not re-run any floor more than twice, however. The game starts generating very dangerous monsters if you spend too much time on a level, in order to keep players from farming low-risk areas indefinitely.

What to wear

You start out wearing a robe, which makes spell casting easy, but gives almost no protection against physical attacks.

Armour class (AC) is a big deal in Crawl; every single point counts, and you want to get as many of it as possible while still being able to function. In our case "being able to function" means to cast our spells with a good chance of success. If you wear too heavy armour, you will see the spell success rate dropping off rapidly.

As a general rule, anything with an Encumbrance Rating worse than "4" (leather armour) won't be an option for a pure caster character such as us. However, since we are an Elf, we can wear Elven Ring Mail, and it won't encumber us more than normal leather armour would.

So the first order of business regarding armor will be try pick up each and every set of leather armour that you find, and try it on. Some of them are better than average ("+1" or "+2"), and every single point of AC is a big deal at this point in the game. It is therefore worth to spend the time looking for that "+2" leather armour (you won't find anything better than that unless it's an artefact).

If you find an Elven Ring Mail, this is what you will be wearing – if it's enchanted or better than "+0", rejoice, because this will give you a big edge.

Any other piece of armour you find (boots, gloves, helmets or caps), you will wear as well, always looking out for the highest AC possible. Only armour in the main (body) slot will hinder your spell casting; anything else can be worn without drawbacks.

Shields: the only type of shield that you should be using, if at all, is a buckler. If you happen to find one, train your Shields skill immediately to about 1 (one) skill point, then turn it off again. Having a single point in Shields is enough to eliminate the casting penalty from wearing a buckler. We are not interested in becoming experts with shields, but the additional protection it provides us will be worth the minute investment in skill points.

Iskenderun's Battlesphere