| This tall and powerful demon is Mara, Lord of Illusions, mighty among dreamers. He is capable of creating intricately detailed illusions, so real that they are almost as deadly as the creatures they impersonate.
“This night the Lord of Illusion passed among you, Mara, mighty among dreamers, mighty for ill. He did come upon another who may work with the stuff of dreams in a different way. He did meet with Dharma, who may expel a dreamer from his dream. They did struggle, and the Lord Mara is no more. Why did they struggle, deathgod against illusionist? You say their ways are incomprehensible, being the ways of gods. This is not the answer.”
Mara, Lord of Illusions, is the unique lord of all rakshasas. Armed with a deadly array of illusory magic, he is an extremely dangerous opponent capable of turning all your strengths against you. He always generates with a branded demon weapon, and his unique spellset makes him challenging regardless of your preparations:
- The Depths:1-4
- The Elven Halls:3
- The Swamp:3-4
- The Snake Pit:3-4
- The Shoals:3-4
- The Spider's Nest:3-4
- The Vaults:2-5
- The Crypt
- The Tomb
Tips & Tricks
Mara is a notoriously dangerous unique. First and foremost, remember that you do not need to kill every monster you come across in Crawl in order to win the game. Mara may generate in a place that makes it difficult to progress without killing him, and some players may wish to take him out in order to get the demon weapon he wields, but in general, it is often a good idea to simply avoid fighting Mara entirely. If you decide to take him out, however, there are two primary threats to keep in mind:
Mara and his clones
Mara is a capable threat on his own, armed with a powerful melee attack and capable of dealing heavy fire damage at range. Soon after any fight with him begins, he makes things significantly more dangerous by summoning two identical clones. These clones have all of Mara's offensive capabilities, and will harass you until they time out, are abjured, are defeated, or when Mara is defeated. Also, Mara may swap places with one of the clones upon summoning them, making it impossible to know which Mara is the real one. Retreating up the stairs can isolate Mara from his clones since only Mara can follow you.
In order to deal with these foes, fire resistance and good AC/EV are critical (at least rF++ is advised), and you should be able to deal solid damage without relying on fire, poison, or negative energy. He also has high enough magic resistance to render all but the most powerful Hexes ineffective. Finally, be careful if he is wielding a demon trident - this weapon's reaching attacks will allow Mara and his clones to attack you far more often than normal in spite of their constant blinking.
There are a few methods for disposing of Mara very effectively. Stealthy stab-focused characters may be able to sneak up on Mara while he's sleeping. Simply step back out of his line of sight, quaff a potion of agility, read a scroll of blinking to immediately place yourself next to him, and stab him for lethal damage. Wasting two consumables in order to eradicate a major threat is well worth it. If he awakens, use of throwing nets can often set him up for a killing stab, but his blinking makes that difficult. Heavy melee fighters can haste themselves and then lay into him with an antimagic-branded weapon. Assuming they can get some early hits in, this may disable all of his most dangerous methods of fighting back.
The other thing to be concerned with when facing Mara is his ability to create a clone of your character. This clone will essentially be a player ghost based on your character; it will know many of your spells, have all your melee and defensive capacities, and will benefit from any buffs you currently have active. Fighting it in a straight one-on-one duel would be risky; fighting it with multiple Maras around is generally suicidal. As such, the best approach to dealing with a player clone is generally not to deal with it at all.
It is entirely possible to deal Mara lethal damage before he can summon a player clone. If you fail to do so, teleporting away and returning when you're better prepared is a perfectly acceptable idea; the clone will vanish after enough time has passed. Alternatively, casting Aura of Abjuration will eventually destroy not only your clone but any other copies of creatures that Mara has summoned -- nothing prevents him from simply summoning more, but it might be enough to give you a reprieve.
Any buffs you give yourself will also be given to the clone if they are active when Mara clones you. This doesn't mean you shouldn't buff yourself - giving yourself Haste before the fight will make it much easier to take down Mara before things get out of hand. Just be aware of how these effects will boost the clone as well. In particular, you should avoid berserking at all. Mara's blinking means you'll hardly ever have him in range to attack, and when it wears off you'll be slow and exhausted. The clone, meanwhile, will have no difficulty catching up to you and dealing savage damage.
One all-too-common piece of advice one often sees is to attempt to cripple your ghost before fighting it. The idea is that casters can wear artefact jewellery with -CAST, or melee fighters can wield a bread ration; when Mara clones them, the resulting creature will be nearly harmless. This is a bad idea, mainly because while you sit there waiting for Mara to clone you, he'll be blasting you with Bolts of Fire or attacking you in melee while you are incapable of responding. In general it is best to treat Mara like you would any other extremely dangerous summoner: kill him as quickly as possible, and if he summons something you can't handle, teleport away.
Be advised that Mara's cloning ability does not only apply to players; he can and will make copies of any other monsters in the area. Your clone will likely be the most dangerous thing he can make, but it's still not ideal if he gets ahold of any other dangerous monsters. This is an excellent reason to make sure you only ever fight Mara alone.
In Buddhism, Mara is the demon that tempted Buddha to give up his enlightenment.