Mandevil, Merfolk Death Knight

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This page is a Diary of a Crawler, the journal of an individual character. This page probably contains spoilers.


After splatting inumerable MiFi's, HEHu's, HEIE's and so on I was looking for some survivable combination. I have found this Merfolk Death Knight Guide. I splatted several of them, when I suddenly got a nice game going. This is a write up of that game. Note, that I'm complete noob player, I never got rune before and so far my best was Minotaur Fighter of Okawaru who stupidly died in Swamp:4 after clearing Lair and Orcish Mines.

Merfolk Death Knight is very easy and powerful combination for several reasons:

  • great aptitude for polearms allows one to quickly get combat skill needed to survive
  • polearms have great synergy with undead servants: it's very easy to hide behind mob of allies and use your polearm's reaching to pound opponents (but remember there's flat 50% chance of actually succeeding).
  • great Yredelemnul gifts: even the lower level ones are very useful; the high level ones are just insane killing machines for the time you start getting them
  • Enslave Soul ability allows one to get high level opponents and uniques as your allies retaining all their abilities, esp. spellcasting
  • much easier Shoals, plus water anywhere greatly aids you (retreat into deep water, pound enemies with polearms in safety or at least get EV bonus where your opponents struggle and fumble)

The Story

Early Game / D:1-10

I followed the guide and switched off training of all skills but Polearms. On D:3 I gained the ability to animate all corpses in sight. On D:4 I met my first ogre; too weak to defeat it in mêlée, I kited it to upstairs where I had small mob of zombies waiting. From behind my mindless allies I was able to beat the ogre easily and safely. This turned out to be a good general tactics if something nasty turns out on a new level (which means without undead allies as these cannot follow). Later on the same level I took an orcish trident off a defeated orc and my Polearms skill reached level 10. At this moment I defocused Polearms (keeping it on) and focused Fighting, Dodging and Invocations and also adding unfocused Traps & Doors. On D:6 I received first undead ally from Yredelemnul: a wight. Unfortunately, it soon succumbed to a player ghost on that dungeon level, but I got three flying skulls to replace it. These servants made fighting what would normally be dangerous fights like swarms of killer bees, hungry ghosts, war dogs etc. a breeze. In D:8 I had to teleport away from powerful player ghost who wiped remains my entourage, already decimated by pack of war dogs, ogre, Grum and gnolls. Another more intense fight was Eustachio on D:8 again, who summoned pack of imps and I had to blast him with wands of fireball and disintegration and then run away from his summons. Joseph followed Eustachio shortly as did my first troll who once again destroyed most of my zombies. D:9 had Blorc the Orc and entrance to Orcish Mines. D:10 had unannounced portal to Bailey. I thought that I can enter later, as long as I won't see the actual portal (behind closed gate). Well, that later turned not to be the case and when I wanted to go to Bailey I only found empty arch of stone. D:10 also had 5 shops, one of them had boots of running that I somehow managed to overlook, even though I had the money to buy them. At least I got randart +3 leather armor {Str+2 Int+2}.

Lair of Beasts

Lair (entered from D:10) was smooth sailing until Lair:4, where I fought large pack of elephants, which were quite tough for me, especially as they again rolled overy my servants leaving me alone to fight them off. After lot of stair dancing and kiting I killed them, only to run into packs of yaks. On Lair:5 I found crude glaive, which turned out to be +4 glaive of Sloth with dragon slaying, rF+ and rC+ egos which becomes my only weapon from now on, replacing my plain +3,+0 trident. With my new shiny weapon the packs of elephants are no longer so threatening. In Lair:6 I entered the Ice Cave, which was small one with teleporter to another separate part. I happened to get skeletal warrior servant before teleporting to the other part, but I didn't know I can recall him there. In that other part there were two ice statues that started to blast me with shards of ice. I invoked Injury Mirror, but it was soon clear that it wasn't enough. I tried zapping wands, but nothing worked well enough. In the end I recalled my skeletal warrior who destroyed one statue why I pounded the other. It was pretty nasty fight, but I made it -- the loot wasn't very good, however. After getting back I got a very close call with pack of death yaks; at one point I got to mere 3 HP. I had to burn through several potions of heal wounds before I managed to make them flee, greatly reducing my Yredelemnul piety in the process (Injury Mirror). Lair:8 was not a big deal as it has enough choke points to fight death yaks at. The vault was the one with dire elephants, so I got my share of dire elephant fighting.

Orcish Mines

Orcish Mines were very easy as number of corpses meant massive mobs of zombies that made overpowering even large orc regiments trivial matter. I killed Harold, Erica and Nergalle, the latter whom I enslaved. Nergalle the spectral orc was a lot of fun, since she kept summoning spectral orcs and hasted her allies, including me! Also, on Orc:1 I bought very nice +3 leather armor with SInv and Dam+6 bonuses.

Mid-Dungeon / D:10-17

I descended deeper and deeper, more difficult monsters started to appear, but nothing really dangerous: ugly things, slime creatures, various giants, trolls, centaur warriors etc. All of them were massacred by our unholy company of me, spectral Nergalle, her spectral orcs, and granted ghouls. I started to feel pretty overpowered. At one point I got message that Margery was killed -- I haven't even seen her, she was handled by some ally of mine out of sight. Somewhere on D:15 Nergalle died to large pack of yaks, orcs and centaurs. I haven't quite noticed until all spectral orcs disappeared. I was down to two ghouls and few zombies. On D:16 I got Fannar, who tried to use his ice magic to no avail and was promptly ripped to shreds by my ghouls and a death cob. On D:17 I finally got the ultimate undead servant - the feared and horrible dark angel - profane servitor, who wreathed the area around us in unholy shadow. On D:17 I found downstairs to Vaults. I stashed some stuff there and headed to the Lair to do the Swamp.


The Swamp turned to be non-existent -- the downstairs were actually a mimic. After some deliberation I decided to clear upper levels of the Shoals. As a Merfolk I should have quite easy time. Well, Shoals turned out to be even easier than I thought. There was nothing much threatening: mermaids were a non-issue, flocks of harpies were taken care of by my undead friends before they could cause much trouble and my compatriots merfolks just begged to be massacred. On fourth level I got Polyphemus with his death yaks, but my undead dispatched him before I had dealt with the yaks. I was too scared to enter Shoals:5, so I turned back and resurfaced at Lair.

Spider's Nest and the first rune

Spider's Nest should be fairly easy I though: I have ring of poison resistance, my allies are all poison resistant and those spiders are weak. It turned out exactly like I thought and most of the Spider Nest was just a bug hunt where I was sweeping floor clean of all the damn arthropods. I got Roxanne the Statue on Spider:2, no biggie. On Spider:3 I got my first bone dragon, another highly desirable gift from Yredelemnul. Spider:5 was a little tougher, but nothing really threatening. There were several ghost moths, who completely drained my MP, but what the heck, I need no stinkin' magic. In the final vault there were emperor scorpions with moths of wrath berserking them. Those scorpions were somewhat tough, but still nothing to run away from. Then, finally, I got my very first rune ever -- the gossamer rune of Zot! Wow!


I entered and started to explore the Vaults. Packs of centaur warriors, yaktaurs, slime creatures and ugly things could offer little in a way of resistance to my company of bone dragons, ghouls, profane servitors and mob of zombies. I took up on some spellcasting, going for Charms (Repel Missiles, Haste) and Translocations (Blink). On level 3 I killed and enslaved Louise, which was good. But I did not know that I can only have one enslaved soul, so she was freed when I enslaved Kirke. Spectral Kirke was promptly destroyed by her hogs, so I came out of it empty handed again. Also on that level I found the amulet of Suspicion {rMut rN+}. Vaults:4 saw me fighting Mara, who died before he could do much mischief. On level 5 I literally bumped into Boris as I was mashing keys madly. I was bit worried about fighting him, so I recalled my allies, cast Haste and then started to fight. Well, he lasted whopping 4 turns before being crushed by my bone dragons. Better luck next time, Boris. Shortly after this encounter I ran into Mennas. He immediately cast Silence, so no buffing myself and definitely no escaping. Things weren't looking great as my undead friends were taking some beating from his holy weapon while having trouble hitting him. Having no options left, I started to melee him and killed him without much difficulty with about half HP remaining. So much for the feared angel-preacher. After exploring the level, there remained one large rectangular structure with gate on the right side -- clearly a vault of some kind. I entered to be greeted by 6 vault guards. After dispatching them and proceeding inside the vault there were two wings with gates, both housing big horde of monsters. The resulting battle was quite intense, but eventually I prevailed. Level 6 was more of the same, though I found {Acc+4 Stlth+} randart helmet here. Finally, I cleared level 7 and it was time to decide what next. After cruising through the all of Vaults I felt extremely powerful and thus decided to do Vaults:8 right away. I had four bone dragons and two profane servitors at my command and high Yredelemnul piety. What could go wrong, right? Well it wasn't such a great decision, but first things first.

Vaults:8 and the second rune

After descending the stairs I appeared in the middle of diamond-shaped formation of vault guards. I defeated them very quickly by repeatedly invoking the Drain Life ability. After few turns all the guards were dead and after recovering my and allies' strength I started exploring the quadrants. The fight was tough but manageable: quite what I expected. Storm and shadow dragons were quite easy for my glaive of dragon slaying and I had rN++ anyway. The second quadrant had titan and also a powerful player ghost of Yermak the great SpIE, but he was demolished by my profane servitor. The third sector held the silver rune. Superb, my second rune ever is purportedly the difficult Vault rune. I felt good. Not for long though. As I continued clearing the level, just moment later I ran into two hellions, two blizzard demon and a lich. And thing got ugly real fast and from behind a corner brimstone fiend approached the melee. My HP was falling fast as I got fried with hellfire and when I saw my profane servitor being blasted to pieces by the lich, even I knew it's time to run for life (and actually when I'm reviewing the ttyrec now, I see there was also an executioner, both 1's probably summons by the lich). I managed to escape, but the toll taken was high. Of all my undead only two bone dragons made it back to safety. In the retrospect I think I should have delayed Vaults:8 raid a bit.

Shoals:5 and the third rune

After almost not making it out of Vaults:8, I headed for the Shoals:5. After the horror suffered in Vaults I expected it to be a breeze. However, on entry there was quite a fight as Ilsuiw with her suite was there waiting to greet me. Fortunately, bit of stair dancing solved all the problems. After that, clearing of those little vaults was easy and thus I got my third rune.

Deep Dungeon

I continued to descend through the main dungeon. The fights are getting more difficult as prevalence of hard monsters increases, but so far it's still manageable. I slowly get my undead helpers back, but this time it's not such easy sailing. This time my bone dragons and profane servitors keep disappearing. I never actually see them destroyed, they just are not there when I try to recall them. Strange. On D:19 there's strange green crystal walled structure I have no idea how to enter. D:20 sees the demise of Aizul. This level has large section of it inaccessible, though there are transparent walls so that one can see there are monsters inside. On D:22 there's small room filled with demons of various ranks including one brimstone fiend. I manage to kill the fiend with only 17 HP remaining. I seem to like living on the knife's edge. D:23 has treasure trove portal that wants 17 potions of curing... which I don't have. Anyway, I explored down to D:26, there I stopped and thought about what to do next.


After getting suggestion on ##crawl to do Crypt, I headed there and started going down. The threat level was really mild. Skeleton warriors, some vampires, maybe bone dragon here and dragon zombie there -- really nothing to write home about. I enslaved Wiglaf, but he died rather soon. All things considered, Yredelemnul abilities definitely lose their lustre as the game progresses. At this time I was essentially a melee fighter with some supporting magic. To Haste, Repel Missiles and Blink I added some new stuff, the most important being Deflect Missiles (Repel Missiles doesn't seem to cut it against yaktaurs) and Abjuration (for which I started training Summoning). The worst thing in the upper Crypt were the curse skulls. For a test, I destroyed one, but decided it's not worth the trouble and risk. I tried to send enslaved Wiglaf against one, but surprisingly, it extinguished him without much fuss.

Finally, I reached the Crypt:5. I appeared on in a watery area with lots of flying skulls. As a merfolk I was able to deal with lot of monsters by kiting them to the water and then pounding them with my glaive without them being able to fight back -- oh the joy of being amphibious. Anyway, in the crypt area itself the fight was going fine until I stumbled upon horrible red L, an ancient lich. I was fairly low on HP and the first spell from the lich took me to mere 35 HP. I stopped to evaluate my options. Teleport would take too long, killing the lich wasn't fast enough, I had no scroll of blinking. I considered zapping Blink spell and hoping for the best. At any rate, situation looked dire and I saw no safe way out. Then it dawned on me... the lich's power lies in his spellcasting, without it he can only offer weak resistance. And I had 3 scrolls of silence! I read one and easily destroyed the horrible undead mage. The rest of the vault was fine, some hell knights and vampires could hardly spoil my cruise. Of the loot there was nothing game breaking (or really interesting).

Realm of Zot

After the Crypt I was thinking about what next. I shortly considered going to Elven Halls, but ultimately decide to short cut it and go Zot. I (partially) cleared D:27 and entered Realm of Zot. Firt four levels weren't that bad, though fighting draconians of all stripes was quite annoying and it destroyed good amount of my scrolls and potions. There were occasional dragons and other monsters, but I was never in danger of dying. During Zot:1-4 I upgraded to XL 27 and got my Silence spell to useful fail rate (my scrolls of silence were burnt by draconians). Eventually, after taking some advice on ##crawl I entered the ultimate level, Zot:5. I explored the areas outside of the Orb chamber, then started slowly lure monsters from it. I got first impressions of orbs of fire, electric golems, orb guardians. I could kill them individually, but it was vital that they don't gang up on me. I had rF++ resistance for the orbs, for electric golems I cast Insulation spell, along with liberal use of Haste. During one foray into the Orb chamber I caught attention of two ancient liches, orbs of fire and orb guardian. I started to run back to stairs, but I got some headway. I hasted myself, cast Silence and turned back against the ancient lich pursuing me and destroyed it. So far good. But after few other monster the fatal mistake came. I kited tentacled monstrosity (a monster I was killing without much trouble many times before) to upstairs. I went to Zot:4 and completely healed myself. Then I descended to Zot:5 after a turn the green X started to constrict me. At this moment, electric golem appeared from behind a corner and managed to take two hits at me before I managed to escape up with 95 HP out of 213. I continued to melee the tentacled monstrosity, but I wasn't killing it fast enough. Eventually, I was 14 HP and it was still alive, albeit almost dead. At this point I did the fatal mistake. Instead of trying to land killing blow, I zapped Blink spell, expecting it to succeed unconditionally and bring me away from the monstrosity's clutch. Little did I know that Blink counts as an attempt to extricate oneself from the monstrosity's constriction and thus can fail, which is what happened, of course. The next turn, I was dead.

Good bye, Mandevil the Merfolk Death Knight.


Despite not winning, the game was beyond my wildest expectations. My goal was to get at least one rune. Not only I got three, I also made it to Zot:5 and have had a good shot at winning. I have to thank to many participants on ##crawl who helped me with their advice.

Game dump:

TTY recording: