Deep Dwarf

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Version 0.19: 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 on their own (nor are they receptive to any effects which merely hasten regeneration), as well as all ability to recover from losses to their primary attributes over time. On the other hand, Deep Dwarves have developed the ability to instantly counteract small doses of damage. Their empathy with the earth makes them sense their surroundings; this ability increases in power as they gain experience levels.

Given their lack of innate healing, few Deep Dwarves venture out for adventures or even combat. Those who do bring a wand of heal wounds, or rely on divine assistance.

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. They are most at home with the magic of earth and death, eventually gaining some resistance to the dark powers of necromancy.

Deep Dwarves can tinker with wands so as to recharge them. However, each time they do so, they lose a bit of their magical essence.


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.
  • Device recharge.png Device Recharging: Deep Dwarves can recharge wands and rods at the cost of 1 permanent MP.
Recharges a wand or rod, at the permanent cost of one magic point.
In 0.20 device recharging (and the wand of heal wounds) will be removed and replaced with a healing ability that has a chance to remove 1 permanent MP (25% chance as of Feb 15th), the total expected amount of healing being similar to a 0.19 deep dwarf recharging their starting wand.

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, with the following exception:

Difficulty of Play


Deep Dwarves are an easy species to play, so long as you work around their lack of natural HP regeneration. They start the game with a wand of heal wounds, one of the most powerful items in the game, and also have the ability to recharge it or any other wand or rod at the cost of 1 permanent point of their maximum magic. 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 wand of healing, and the ability to recharge at the cost of one max 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 to use the recharging ability - it is better to end with 45 max MP instead of 50 than it is to die. Save potions of curing for situations where you have a negative status effect, such as rot or confusion - using them to simply heal HP is wasteful. Use the wand instead, charging it if necessary.

Later on, you will need a source of renewable healing, in addition to the usual means of non-renewable (consumable) healing. Consumable healing will quickly 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

Five gods have abilities which can heal Deep Dwarves. All of these abilities cost piety, although to varying degrees.

  • 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 Our 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.

Additionally, two gods turn normally non-renewable sources of healing into renewable ones.

  • Pakellas gives a Quick Charge ability at * piety that can recharge your wand of heal wounds. Its piety cost is fairly small, though it also costs MP, which does not regenerate normally under Pakellas.
  • Nemelex gifts decks of war and escape, which contain cards that can heal you. Decks are a fairly unreliable way to heal in combat, though they can be made more reliable through judicious use of Nemelex's abilities. You may also burn through lots of useful cards looking for healing. Nemelex worshippers should try to have some other options at their disposal.

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 more flexibility in god choice, however.

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 maximize 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 incentivized to choose between Makhleb, Elyvilon, Trog, Pakellas, and Kikubaaqudgha. Yredelemnul is a very iffy option, while The Shining One is only effective for the purposes of Deep Dwarf healing in specific, optional areas of the game.


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.

HumanHigh ElfDeep ElfDeep DwarfHill OrcHalflingKoboldSprigganOgreTrollNagaCentaurMerfolkMinotaurTenguDraconianGargoyleFormicidVine StalkerDemigodDemonspawnMummyGhoulVampireFelidOctopode