Mr. K's DEFE example

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

This journal is a practical demonstration of the Deep Elf Fire Elementalist guide by Mr.K.

In media res

In the interest of skipping the somewhat boring early game and not wasting time describing a character who ends up dying to an ogre on D:2, we'll be joining our Deep Elf Fire Elementalist after a few levels in the Dungeon. Here are some stats:

  • XP level 8 at Dungeon level 6.
  • Found Vehumet in the Temple on Dungeon level 5, one piety star currently.
  • All spells from the Book of Flames memorized except for Inner Flame. Sticky Flame and Fireball still have small hunger costs.
  • A bit lucky in the equipment department: I'm wearing the +2 robe of Dishonesty (+2 Int +3 Dex), a +1 horned helmet, a +0 cloak, and some +0 elven boots. The robe is very good, though not amazing -- that would be a robe of the Archmagi.
  • My weapon is a staff of enchantment. Would be useful if I had any enchantments. Soon.
  • Jewellery consists of a +3 Int ring and ring of life protection, no amulets yet. Good stuff.
  • Plenty of permafood, some scrolls (including blinking), and lots of good potions (curing, heal wounds, and speed). I left a small stash at the Temple until I find the Lair.
  • The best find so far is a Book of Conjurations. Usually it's gifted by Vehumet at five piety stars, but having it in my possesion means that a) I can start learning its spells earlier, and b) my other book gifts are going to be sped up since Vehumet won't give you a book you've already found, so he'll skip ahead to the Book of Power.
  • I've killed a couple of uniques so far: Grinder (a scary encounter that Sticky Flame won for me) and Prince Ribbit. I've also cleared a sewer portal, which was damn easy as a DEFE, since steaming kobolds is one of the best ways to kill them while stopping them from throwing darts your way.


D6 is an incredibly empty level. You know a level is boring when the highlight is picking up a single potion of heal wounds. Sheesh.

I hit XP level 9 at the start of D7 off a hound skeleton, and boost my Str to 7. One more stat increase and I should be safe from insta stat death. After that, it's all Int! I also grab a pair of +0 gauntlets to protect my delicate magical hands. An ice beast is quickly liquefied; the crimson imp that follows falls to my wand of frost, an excellent buy from a general store on D5 -- though it's down to 3 charges. Speaking of which, I come across another imp a few turns later, but since it hasn't seen me I tiptoe away to conserve my wand's charges. Can't wait for Mystic Blast! Killing a giant eyeball grants me a second piety star with Vehumet, enhancing my spell success rates. I could learn Lightning Bolt right now (Great), but instead I think I'll focus Conjurations (along with Spellcasting) and wait for Bolt of Cold (Very Poor). I can rely on Fireball just fine for now.

A crooked gold wand I find right off the bat on D8 turns out to be a wand of disintegration -- not bad for dealing with orange statues or powerful monsters, if my MP runs out. The rest of the level is sinuous, featuring multiple orcs and yet another crimson imp. I swear to God, whenever I play an Ice Magic Conjurer, these guys never show up, but now they're coming out of the woodwork like they're on sale. I try to blast it with my wand of frost but can't quite kill it. I could retreat to another staircase, but I do have a lot of scrolls I haven't tried yet, and one of these might end up being recharging, so I turn a corner and start reading. The first scroll is noise ("You hear an angry buzzing noise!") and the second teleporation. Let's hope I don't land somewhere too rough... Nope, back to the staircase I came from. Whew. The other scrolls are vulnerability and fog. Ah well... Bolt of Cold is still at Poor too. Well, it's worth a shot, ain't it? I memorize it on the second try and return to the crimson imp. Iced on the first cast! I pat myself on the back. I take down the killer bees I woke up with the scroll of noise, a bunch of wights, a phantom, and then Fireball one last wight and the centaur next to it. Great balls of fire! I also pick up a staff of cold off an orc wizard (le sigh), but by now I am Burdened, so I kill a bunch more orcs then retreat to the Temple to drop my loot. The Mines have to be on this level.


I make it back to the Temple safely but am Near Starving. Fortunately, my permafood stack is significant at this point: two bread rations, four meat rations, a honeycomb, a royal jelly, and a large variety of assorted fruits. That's on top of the two bread rations and two pears I always carry on me. Fruit makes a great snack if you ever find yourself Starving while in a pinch since it only takes two turns to eat.

I don't have any unidentified scrolls, though I have some unidentified potions. Hmmm... nah, this game's going too well for me to start playing potion roulette, with my luck I'll get teleportitis from a potion of mutation. Spellcasting is at 11.0, Conjurations at 9.1, and Fire Magic at 8.4 -- a good balance. Bolt of Cold's success is now Fair but has a Honeycomb hunger cost. More Spellcasting required!


I return to D8 and resume clearing the level. Turns out it was pretty much done already, and I've found all the staircases, so no branch quite yet. Oh well. Down I go.

I start D9 by picking up even more permafood. Sultanas, snozzcumbers, oh my! Oh, and I hadn't noticed it, but some time in my mass incineration on D8 I'd picked up a third piety star with Vehumet, boosting my conjurations's range. Being able to Fireball stuff offscreen is a great advantage. The first surge of excitement comes as I enter a room full of gnolls, including a sergeant. Fireballs for all! A minute later, though, I meet my first pack of yaks! Yay! These guys are worth a ton of XP, always come in packs so you can Fireball many of them at once, and they almost always leave a corpse behind, giving chunks of non-contaminated meat. Not only that, but maybe the Lair is around the corner too... Unfortunately, my pyrotechnics attract multiple orcs and an eye of draining. Ruh-roh! Eyes of draining can drain MP from staring at you, but remember: they are very slow moving, so you can outrun them or slam a door in their face. I choose the running option, regain some MP, then Fireball it twice for victory. More orcs come and fall to fire, but no, it wasn't the entrance of the Orcish Mines, just one of those small rooms filled with them. I finish the level safely but have some nutritional problems, as I can't quite get out of Very Hungry/Near Starving since I all I find is contaminated meat... Oh and I'm missing a staircase down. Hmmmm.

D10 helps with my nutritional problems somewhat: I fight off multiple jackals, orcs, and a worker ant right off the bat, taking the stairs back up once a water mocassin joins the fray. The ant is kind enough to provide me with a chunk of edible meat, taking me back to Hungry, which is good enough for the moment. I return to D10... and there you go, the Orcish Mines! Whose entrance is surrounded by gold piles, sultanas, scrolls and a book! Ho ho ho, Christmas came early! Sadly the book is a Book of Debilitation, which isn't very useful. Ah well. I'll continue clearing the level before delving into the Mines. Oof, I turn a corner and a hill giant spots me... I retreat, put up Conjure Flame to block him, but he's kind enough to walk into several more of them before Sticky Flame tags him at close range for the massive XP boost. I still need some Spellcasting levels: Fireball is down to a Sultana cost, but Bolt of Cold remains at Honeycomb. Finally, that third staircase up!

Back on D9, there isn't much to see in that other part of the level save for two bands of orcs, which are Fireball fodder. I do find a wand of paralysis, which is meh, but better than nothing in an emergency I suppose. Back to D10.

Of course, on D10, the crimson imp parade continues, and I have to resort to Bolt of Cold every time since I want to save my wand of disintegration's charges. A spore colony gets me to XP level 11! Cherish those level-ups: they mean more HP and MP, both of which you direly need. In another room I fight off Erolcha and Erica at the same time, thanks to Fireball and Sticky Flame; my high Spellcasting skill gives me good MR, so I can resist all their spells except for Erica's Slow (which doesn't save her from Sticky Flame anyway). As I turn a corner, however, I find a room with a centaur and multiple undead mobs (worker ant zombie, two mottled dragon skeletons). This does not inspire trust. Only the zombie spots me, so I close the door and sneak away to explore the rest of the level. This path of exploration leads me to Gastronok, enemy spellcaster extraordinaire! I exploit his slow speed and retreat while I deal with the hippogriff in the same room. Once I do and Gastronok catches up, I unleash a fiery torrent on him, turning corners to let him catch up and regen some MP. And what do you know, he drops a +2 hat of Intelligence! I'll take that. I follow this feat of bravery by snacking on some giant gecko meat and killing my first troll. Somewhere in all of this excitement, I earn my fourth piety star with Vehumet, reducing the cost of my best spells (Fireball and Bolt of Cold) by 1 MP. I am now faced with a choice: should I keep exploring the Dungeon to the Lair, return to the Orcish Mines, or check out that room with all the undead? Well, undead are dumb and will walk through fire, so let's go with that. Ah yes, Josephine. Damnit. I use Fireball to clear her undead retinue, then retreat, letting her catch up to me without the remaining skeletons and zombies, which are much slower. Well, now that that's done, where to? I'm used to tackling the Lair first, after all, so I'll keep going down with an eye to that.

Eeep, slime creature on D11... let's go check explore in another direction. That other direction, on the other hand, contains a cyclops and a pack of hill giants. Egads! I don't know what I would have done without Bolt of Cold, but soon I've killed five hill giants and am rewarded with level 12. Str to 8 and Int to 31! Not only that but my Spellcasting and Conjurations skills are taking great strides forward. Jeez, how many hill giants do I have to kill? Along with wolves, kodomo dragons, and wargs? Oh, this was a small vault! The vault itself contains a few gold piles, more hill giants... and then a stone giant and cyclops pair. Oh poo.I turn around and make a break for it, closing a door in their face to stop their rock throws. A nearby escape hatch takes me back to the relative safety of D10. Whew! At least I did get a metric ton of XP and my fifth Vehumet piety star. Bolt of Cold's success rate is now at Excellent so I unfocus Conjurations (but not Spellcasting). Time for the Mines after all.


There are a couple of nice things about the Orcish Mines. First, you won't be picking up too much loot, unless you want some of the weapons and armour the orcs carry -- everything else is gold, gold, gold! Second, the orcs always come in convenient packs and leave many corpses behind, which are sadly contaminated but better to nothing -- Nausea is a small price to pay to avoid starvation.

Orc 1 begins with lots of orcs around me, but nothing Fireball can't handle; I prioritize wizards, priests, and warriors, using Flame Tongue and Throw Flame to kill off the plain orcs. After I've killed roughly fifteen of them I'm still at 16 MP out of 36. I decide to start focusing Fighting, as it's about time I got some more HP (I'm only at 59). The rest of the level is the same: see orcs, Fireball orcs, eat orcs. I find all three staircases down, but am missing one up, so there's probably a tiny unreachable part to this level. Worth a scroll of magic mapping? Not at this time.

I am greeted on Orc 2 by another dozen of orcs, which I Fireball, only to draw the ire of additional warriors and even one orc knight. Fireball spam takes care of everything and leaves me with 4 MP to spare, though I took some damage from plain orcs I ignored, but who were blood-lusted by the knight. Later on I am faced with multiple orcs and wizards; taking a look at my spell arsenal, I realize Bolt of Cold's hunter cost is down to Strawberry. That'll be very useful for groups of enemies all neatly lined up like these! I stumble upon a wand shop that has nothing amazing (which would be heal wounds, hasting, or maybe fireball), though a wand of fire wouldn't be a bad buy either... Let's go for that, and a cheap wand of magic darts just to identify it. The level's not over, as I am missing a staircase up, so I return to Orc 1 and take the third staircase down. Surprise! It's... more orcs! And an ogre, which is technically not an orc, but might as well be.

Starting Orc 3, I take out the ogre next to me, then the priests and plain orcs, finally granting me level 1 in Fighting. An orc sorceror (a somewhat dangerous enemy) falls to Bolt of Cold as I continue exploring, with Vehumet soon gifting me the Book of Power! I memorize Mystic Blast and Orb of Destruction -- the latter being one of my favorite spells for blowing up baddies. Like stone giants. Hmmm, Poisonous Cloud would also be great for the Lair and Orc 4, and it's at Very Good, which is usable. I'll have to be careful since I don't have poison resistance. Jeez, this level is huge! I stumble upon an antique armour shop guarded by a cyclops who eats two Bolts of Cold before keeling over. The shop itself carries only one item of interest: a bloodstained robe. 114 gold is pretty cheap... The cursed -4 robe of Fortitude (rN+). Well, that's not an upgrade. I find the entrance to the Elven Halls nearby; pondering my situation, I wonder if I shouldn't go back to the Dungeon and again try to find the Lair, since Orc 4 can be a bit brutal at times, and although I've got plenty of area damage spells, I lack Repel Missiles/Deflect Missiles for orc warlords. I'd also like to get Poisonous Cloud to Excellent in case I am faced with a large vault of ogres or some such. Let's try that stone giant on D11...


I decide to take another staircase down to D11 just in case there's a welcoming comittee at the other one, but it takes me right next to the first one... I go back up and try the third staircase: ah, there we go, I'm in an empty room far away from that giant vault. I find a general store with nothing of value, but the rest of the level has nothing amazing, until I stumble upon another stone vault. Gah! What's in this one, shadow dragons? Nope, a treasure trove! Woohoo! It's asking for two potions of cure mutation, which is a bit steep, but I haven't even identified them yet so I'll have to wait. I chuckle with glee as a crimson imp dies to Mystic Blast, and a pack of yaks nets me Fighting level 2. Still haven't found that stone giant... I make my way back to the escape hatch I use earlier, but only find two cyclops, who fall to Bolt of Cold efficiently. And there we go, here's that bad boy, in the final room of the vault. Time to work some destructive magic! The angle is perfect for Orb of Destruction so I unleash it and start backpedaling. The stone giant is severely wounded by the explosion and dies after two more Bolts of Cold. Oh God, that woke up hill giant zombies! So many hill giants! Not only that, but a damn stone giant zombie too... I kite them around and use Mystic Blast to whittle them -- staying in melee range for Sticky Flame is risky. Titan zombie now? Okay this is getting ridiculous, where are the ancient liches while we're at it? I have to pillar dance around a small rocky area for what seems like ages while Mystic Blast takes it down slowly but surely... but I am rewarded with Spellcasting level 18, removing the hunger cost from all my spells except for Orb of Destruction. Whew! I rest and return to giant vault to finally claim its loot: some permafood, scrolls, and a hoard of weapons in a separate room. Three of these are artefacts: two halberds and a sabre. The one halberd I identify turns out to be the +7, +4 halberd of Harmony (flame, rF++ rN+ MR). This is better than a staff of enchantment for now! I am Burdened, but barely, so why not read some scrolls? The first one is enchant weapon I, the second one curse weapon, the third random uselessness, the fourth immolation (which I resist thanks to my new toy!), the fifth vorpalize weapon, and the sixth torment. Ow. Okay, didn't resist much of that one. I rest for HP, gulp down a bread ration, and finish exploring the level, which holds some ogres and ogre-mages who give me Fighting level 3. Hang on, this looks like -- yep, you guessed it -- another vault with a door. Oh boy, here we go... Aw damn, a room full of gold. Probably was a silent bazaar I missed. At least I'm up to nearly a thousand gold. What a level!

Some orcs and a giant spore await me on D12, and then Harold shows his ugly face. Orb of Destruction and a Bolt of Cold take care of him, then I used my newfound halberd to chop down the spore colony (surprisingly effective!). Psyche is no match for a single Orb of Destruction, but damnit, I'm Burdened again and I really don't feel like going back to the Temple when the Lair could be around the corner. Hi Jozef, eat some Orb, it's good for you! Ack, so many wands and potions and stuffs... Maurice? Orb. Hill giant? Orb. Oooh, a cloak of poison resistance! A nice find. I enchant it to +1, finish exploring the level, and still no Lair. Damnit. Okay, time to toss away some stuff. That crappy artefact robe goes, along with the staff of enchantment and that second artefact halberd I haven't identified yet. I'll come back to get them soon, since the Lair is guaranteed to be on the next level.


Wow, those were some pretty tough run-ins I had, considering how early in the game I am. Still, my magic has proven its reliability, and I shouldn't have too many problems from now on with how powerful my skills and spells are getting. I could use a buckler, though.


A slew of kobolds, a troll, and a giant frog greet me as I enter D13. Since I now have poison resistance the most pressing threat is the troll. I kill it, grabbing Spellcasting level 19 in the process, then toss out then toss out two Poisonous Clouds for the kobolds and nuke the giant frog. I also chop down a few enemies that run in afterwards using my halberd, which I'm starting to like quite a lot, though I mustn't get attached; it'll eventually be replaced by a staff unless I get some good enhancers in other slots. I pick a tubular ring, and it turns out to be a ring of see invisible, which I immediately put on to replace my ring of life protection. Unseen horrors beware! I find a small forest-type vault with lots of fruit (as if I didn't have enough already) but most of the fruit is watched over by an oklob plant, so I backtrack. Then, not long after, I finally spot a lake with a tiny island in the middle... the entrance to the Lair! About time that one showed up, I've been killing stone giants already! Time to stash some stuff and kill me some beasties.


I drop all my unnecessary possessions on Lair 1, spot an agate snail, and nuke it for Bolt of Cold. My reward? A Book of Annihilations from Vehumet! Fire Storm's success rate is at Very Poor, but I don't let that stop me, Conjurations and Fire Magic will level plenty in the Lair and once I clear Orc 4 too. I explore the entire level, killing its (by now) totally unchallenging citizens of various species. I use my halberd whenever possible to save MP and train Fighting even more (though I've been careful to turn off the Polearms skill to not drain XP from other skills).

Lair 2 is one of those large, wide-open levels without any bottlenecks whatsoever. These can be dangerous if you make too much noise and attract monsters from several directions at once; thus, it's a better idea to explore the outer edges first, then move towards the middle, which is what I start doing. Ooooh, my first hydra! Eat Orb-induced death! Sadly, the rest is all rats and jackals, hardly difficult fare after you've cleared a vault of goddamn hill giants.

On Lair 3 I kill a bunch of green rats, a giant iguana and a shark -- the level is open like the last ones, but with small ponds of water everywhere -- then pick up a steaming lead ring. I have no more scrolls of identify! Well, one, but it's all the way back in the Temple and I'm not going back there quite yet. Near a group of green rats I find not only the stairs to the Snake Pit (I've already got poison resistance!) but a heavily runed chain mail. Usually, chain mail is a bit heavy to wear for spellcasters, but with proper training (and since I haven't gotten a robe of the Archmagi yet) it might end up a decent pick. Oh wow, and the stairs to the Swamp too while we're at it! This is convenient. I kinda miss the Shoals, on the other hand, it's been a while since I've explored them. The rest of the level is uneventful.

Lair 4 is boring as hell, save for a catoblepas who gives me enough piety to earn the Book of Callings from Vehumet, a sparkling copper ring I find, and XP level 14. I'm dangerously close to my carrying limit with all this loot, so I return to Lair 1 and drop off my spoils of exploration -- multiple wands, permafood, a lantern of shadows, and assorted potions and scrolls. While I'm here, I also return to D12 and grab the stuff I'd dropped here previously, moving it to my stash. Why not use a scroll of detect curse? The sparkling ring turns out to be cursed, but the rest isn't, so I try it on. The steaming ring identifies nothing: it might be a ring with multiple resistances, or something like sustain abilities. A random ring is a ring of ice (bleh), that artefact chain mail is a +0 chain mail of magic resistance (ugh), the glowing sabre is rElec, rC+, Str+4 and Int+3 but mutates me (gaaah), and the second halberd has chop, rElec, rPois, rC- and rN+. Not a great haul, all things considered, so I put on the cursed stuff and read a scroll of remove curse in case the ring turns out be good. All that identifies is Str+4 and Dex+2. I'll stick to what I have for now. More beast-slaying for now.

I start Lair 5 surrounded by various animals, and start slinging fire to kill them, attracting the attention of a huge pack of blink frogs -- we're talking at least eight of them. I run back, kill the agate snail that followed me, then rest and take a second staircase down. From looking at the map of Lair 5 I can tell one of the two staircases will land almost right next to where I was, so it's a bit of a gamble, but not a very risky one. Well, this had a hydra and a water mocassin, but that's not too bad. I do catch a blink frog (along with rats, a kodomo dragon and a giant igunana). I go back up, rest again, and dive for the third time. By now the blink frog pack has broken up so I take them down one at a time as I continue exploring the level. Yikes, elephants! Those guys have a ton of HPs but behave much in the same way as yaks do. I let Poisonous Cloud weaken them, then line them up for a Bolt of Cold or a Fireball. As I finish exploring, I find a spider nest entrance! Hell yeah! I have poison resistance and Poisonous Cloud; apart from the demonic crawlers, I should be able to slaughter everything in there without trouble. Let's give it a try!

Spider's Nest

Usually nests are quite dangerous, since they tend to feature a lot of monsters that can poison you badly and chase you down, but I'm feeling confident this characte can handle it. Too bad I didn't learn Poison Arrow... The vault is a very tiny one, sadly, not the large one that greets you with a legion of caterpillars, and I clear it in no time flat. I claim a Book of Control (yay Control Teleport), a jeweled staff, and a bit of gold. The staff turns out to be a staff of death. Meh. Back to the Lair.


Back on Lair 5 I spot a crystal war axe and pick it up before finishing to explore the level. Onwards!

I begin Lair 6 next to a pond full of big fishes, which I kill with my halberd for sport; magic just isn't fair anymore for them. As I round the pond, I spot one of the few challenges left in this branch, a death yak -- imagine a normal yak on steroids. And they come in packs too. I grab a nearby ring then head back up to try another staircase: if I go exploring in another direction but make noise, the death yaks could wake up, catch me from behind, and cut me off from my staircase. This is safer! Indeed, I am taken to another part of the level entirely, though still with ponds of big fishes all around. Finally, an amulet! It doesn't identify so it could be many things, including innacuracy, but at least it's not guardian spirit or faith (which I don't need anymore). I take a group of blink frogs by surprise with multiple Poisonous Clouds, which not only kills them all, but does so after they've blinked away to escape, saving me the trouble of hunting them later. Spellcasting level 20 and Fighting level 6 is my reward! After it's all said and done, the death yak(s) are the only thing left, so I steel myself to face them. I'll be fighting them near a staircase so I can escape, and I make sure I have plenty of backups if my magic fails me: multiple wands, scrolls of blinking, and my trusty halberd, although that's a last resort. Let's see how this goes... I spot the first death yak, toss out a Poisonous Cloud on him, shout to attract the attention of the rest of the pack, then start backpedaling, tossing out more Poisonous Clouds. "You feel a bit more experienced. x4" Easy peasy!

I enter Lair 7 and hear a distant snort. Oooh, a labyrinth! I race back to my stash, drop off my unnecessary gear, grab my one scroll of magic mapping and a few extra bread rations just in case, and run back to the level. Oh goodie, the entrance is just a few steps away! Time for some spelunking.

Labyrinth #1

Labyrinths are rarely difficult, unless you're out of permafood, and it takes me two minutes to find the Minotaur. He doesn't spot me back, so I hide behind a corner, toss a Poisonous Cloud that'll catch him, and nuke from max range with Bolt of Cold. Victory! I automatically pick up a blood-stained necklace (which I know is a Necklace of Bloodlust, not very useful), a wand of fire and a wand of frost, and a Book of the Sky (Deflect Missiles!). Other stuff on the ground include not one but two staffs of cold (haha), a polished ring mail (yoink), a gnarled smoking staff (double-yoink!) and a lantern of shadows (already got one). The staff turns out to be... a staff of fire! Oh boy, now we've got some choices to make. I memorize Flight from the Book of the Sky to start training Charms right away then exit.


Back to Lair 7. The power of my fire spells is nearly maxed for now, and it's not I like need them to be maxed anyway, so I'll keep the halberd for now. When I learn Fire Storm, however, I'll need all the enhancers I can get to make its area of effect and damage as high as possible. I take a break to drop off my spoils at my stash. Still only one scroll of identify, but let's see what that amulet I'm wearing is. Resist corrosion! Not bad at all. Okay, time for more killing. Vehumet sees fit to grant me the Book of Summonings after I incinerate a hound: I learn Abjuration just in case, and so I can train Summonings eventually. The rest of the level poses no problems. Time to tackle the final level...

A water mocassin and a couple of agate snails are my first enemies on Lair 8. I find a manual of Throwing, which is about useful as... something... that is not... very useful at all. I quickly find the vault: it's the catoblepas one, with assorted yaks and death yaks to accompany it. I'll clear the rest of the level first. Poisonous Cloud once again works wonders against a pack of blink frogs, then yaks, a boring beetle, and many, many agate snails. There is another small stone vault on the level, but it's probably the rare portal to Hell found here, and although I'm good, I'm not that strong yet. Not that I could even dig it out if I wanted to! So, big vault time. I toss Poisonous Cloud after Poisonous Cloud whenever I spot an enemy. While the vault has little loot, and I'm forced to burn a scroll of blinking when I turn a corner and am face to face with a pack of death yaks, I do earn a massive XP boost: enough to get me to XP level 15, level all my offensive skills, and boost Charms from level 0 to level 4 since I'd focused it.


I return to my stash victorious! Not that I expected anything else, since the Lair isn't particularly difficult, but I tend to save the last level for later. I memorize Deflect Missiles with a Fair success chance (woot), drop my loot, and take stock of everything. I should grab my Temple loot and move it down here soon; after that, finish the Orcish Mines and see if its shops have anything worthwhile.


I return to the Temple to pick up the valuables I'd left there on my way down. It actually takes me two trips to move everything: I'd forgotten how many wands and potions I had up there! It's still not time for potion roulette, however. Nope, it's time to finish the Orcish Mines!


I enter Orc 4 and am faced almost right away with a large stone structure. This is undoubtedly the vault with the shops and tons of enemies. Considering my favorable placement (so close to a staircase) it's time to have Poisonous Cloud work its magic once more. Eep, orc high priest! I pull back and use the same strategy I used for the Minotaur, tossing a series of Poisonous Clouds that'll hit him as I retreat. He has the time to summon a couple of minor demons so I get rid of them with Abjuration. This does lead to more orcs coming out, me poisoning them, and Vehumet being so delighted he grants me his final book gift, the Grand Grimoire. It doesn't take long to clear the entire vault, and thankfully, the rest of the level doesn't come running over. Let's see about those shops! One of them is a food shop with a large assortment of rations; I may have to buy some food eventually, but for now not needed. The assorted antiques shop has a couple of potions and a hardcover book; definitely tempting, but let's keep going. The armour shop has nothing of value for me; the +4 leather armour of the Shining One {Dam+4} is the only noteworthy item. Finally, a general store features mostly ammo, a couple of scrolls (including one of amnesia), and a crystal ball of energy. So, let's see about that book... It turns out to be a Book of Transfigurations. Not really what I needed. Oh well. Let's soldier on and clear the level. I don't find much besides plain orcs, but am missing a staircase, so I return to Orc 3 and take the third one down. Nothing but an orc, a goblin, and a troll. At least this is taken care of.


I drop my books off at my stash before returning to the Dungeon. Just for the hell of it, how's my Fire Storm success rate? Fair? Ooooh, that sounds like fun. I just need a couple more spell levels, but thankfully, own a few scrolls of amnesia to get rid of spells I don't use anymore, so I unlearn Sticky Flame. Bye bye, friend. But say hello to Fire Storm! It's got a Honeycomb hunger cost too, but at least I have the possibility of using to get myself out of bind (though trying to rely on it is asking for painful Fire Magic miscasts at this time).

I return to D13, the level on which I'd found the Lair, and resume its exploration. I spot a distillery displaying a few potions I haven't identified yet, so I purchase one of each: agility, brilliance, and restore abilities. Now, there was that tree vault with the oklob plant. How about setting it on fire with Fireball? Sounds like fun! Some wandering mushrooms are caught in the inferno for even more fun. The oklob plant takes a single Fireball to destroy once I catch sight of it, and my reward is... fruit! That's it for this level.

On my arrival to D14, I am placed next to a manticore, a somewhat dangerous enemy, which I take care of quickly. A step or two does bring Snorg into sight, however! Two orbs turn him into exploded meat to my great pleasure. Oh hey, ugly things! The red ones are annoying due to their fire resistance, but packs of them can net significant XP for little effort, and this pack is a brown one -- dangerous for melee characters, since they have an acid attack, but no sweat for a spellcaster. My reward: two books and a fine ring mail. One is a Book of Power, which I already have, and the second one is a random spellbook without very interesting spells, except for Tukima's Dance. Further skirmishes with slime creatures, a cyclops, and random assorted baddies lets me discover an ancient dagger and a shiny silver ring. Of course, as I'm about to finish exploring the level, I fall into a shaft and end up on D15. I hate shafts.

Fortunately I land on D15 in an empty corridor with two doors at each end. I open one and blast the jelly, the room's sole occupant, before moving on. I quickly find a staircase up, so let's go back up before continuing. Well, the tiny bit I hadn't explored on D14 was empty, so... I guess back to D15. It's a fairly empty level until I run into Nessos. I slam the door in his face, toss up Deflect Missiles, then take a few steps back. He opens the door with a centaur warrior buddy in tow. Two Fireballs and a Mystic Blast later, I'm feasting on centaur flesh, happy that Charms is now level 7. I find another distillery soon after, but I don't feel like spending 119 gold to identify a potion of resistance just yet. With this level cleared, I move on.

I am greeted by a few enemies on D16 but nothing I can't handle: a shadow, a giant frog, and a pack of jackals. Egads, the entrance to the Vaults, complete with vault guards hungry for my Deep Elf flesh! Poisonous Cloud does work well enough, at least until skeletal warriors show up and raise all of the dead vault guards as zombies. Woops. Time for a tactical retreat. Having just picked up some cyclops flesh, however, Fire Storm's hunger cost isn't an immediate concern, so I try to cast it, only to fail three times in a row. Damnit. Fair my ass! Fourth time's the charm, though! And fifth. The racket does wake up an efreet, so I retreat to the staircase before killing it with Bolt of Cold and the last skeletal warrior with Fireball. This little skirmish gets me another level in Conjurations, boosting Fire Storm's success rate to Good. Whew! Some of these enemies are starting to hit hard and I feel vulnerable without a buckler. Hmmm... sounds like time for the Elven Halls.


I drop by my stash and decide to use a scroll of identify to check out those artefact rings I've found earlier. I get a triple identify, yippee! The shiny silver ring is a ring of sustain abilities (great), the non-cursed artefact ring is the ring "Douq" {rF+ rN+ Acc+6}, and the cursed artefact ring is the ring of Huisycah {Str+4 Dex+2 Acc-2 Dam-4 Curse}. That last one isn't great, but it's not as bad as I thought. I'll wear the other artefact ring and keep carrying my ring of see invisible, along with my newfound ring of sustain abilities, in case I need them. To the Elven Halls!

No entrance vault on Elf 1, which is good since entrance vaults tend to be a little difficult. I know I can take pretty much anything the first four levels will throw with few problems thanks to Deflect Missiles, Poisonous Cloud, and Fire Storm, so I'm not overly worried anyway. On the other hand, Louise is kind of annoying as the first enemy to encounter in here. She's in a similar position to that death yak pack in the Lair: if I head off in another direction, she might come up from behind, and I doubt I'd enjoy it. Let's see what magic I can muster. I start with a Poisonous Cloud from max range just to piss her off, then toss a second one in her way and nuke with Bolt of Cold. Dead Louise, no sweat! I stick around the edges of the level and finally pick up an elven buckler off a soldier. Elven means it fits me better and doesn't interfere with spellcasting too much: Fire Storm only goes down to Fair, though I now can't use my awesome halberd. I make a quick trip to my stash to pick up my staff of fire. Moving on... Oh shoot, Nikola two squares away, and he's seen me. I have no source of rElec on hand, so I start backtracking to put some distance between us, which works thanks to the layout and his tendency to try to keep you in view instead of following. Oh he blinked away on his own! Thank you! Let me repay you with Poisonous Cloud pillar dancing. OUCH. A single Lightning Bolt hits me in the face for a total of 55 damage, out of 88 HP, as I'm about to turn the corner. I move out of view, chug a potion of speed, and continue putting distance between us, mindful of walls behind me. I chug a potion of heal wounds and snack on an apple to make sure I have enough nutrition to cast Fire Storm. Two turns later Nikola turns the corner; three turns later I'm gloating over his charred remains, my Spellcasting now at level 22. I don't encounter anything else remotely as challenging as I continue, but before long spot a jewellery shop, which is sure to have cool items. How about this? The Ring of the Forgotten Mice {rPois rN+ Int+3 Acc+3 Dam+5 SInv Stealth--}? Yes, I do think I'll be using that! The stealth malus is a shame, but I've somewhat moved beyond my stealthy phase anyway. I also purchase an amulet of the gourmand and a cursed amulet of innacuracy, just so it's identified. As I have no scrolls of remove curse on me, and my amulet of resist corrosion being cursed from identifying a scroll of curse jewellery earlier, I return again to my stash, trying on all unidentified artefacts and other items first in case I find something cool but cursed. None of the weapons are great, the first ring mail I tried is cursed but not good, yet I identify a ring of invisibility and a ring of evasion. I read my scroll, gear up again, and return for the third time to Elf 1 with a newfound craving for the dungeon's cuisine. With my other plain ring of intelligence, Fire Storm's success rate is now Very Good, climbing every so steadily. The rest of the level features little, so onwards!

My entrance into Elf 2 does not go unnoticed. I am next to a deep elf summoner and with a deep elf mage, another summoner, and a deep elf knight in view. I retreat upstairs, kill the summoner who follows, then try a different staircase. Very close to my last spot, but with only a knight in range this time; looks doable. Poisonous Cloud and Fireball slay the knight and all his friends who decide to show up to the party, rewarding me with Shields level 1. I have a heavy snack of delicious deep elf meats while killing wanderers now and then until I'm Engorged and ready to rock. The plentiful flesh lets me use Fire Storm to take out a pack of deep elves without worry. Not only that, but one of the deep elves was wearing a +2 elven buckler of reflection! Hurray!

At the start of Elf 3 I come across a stone and metal structure. Curious, I circle it to see exactly what it entails. Oh wait, it's the level's walls that are like that. I sure would have appreciated one of these metal walls against Nikola. The level is sinuous with few enemies save for isolated groups of deep elves. I only miscast Fire Storm once, but it tears me apart for 30ish damage, before I am done exploring the entire level... save for one vault-like structure with a large door. Dare I? Let's, but with Deflect Missiles up. Oh, just an altar of Xom, inhabited by a group of kobolds. There is a gate to the Abyss too, but ha, no thanks! I'm not in a hurry.

Elf 4 is one of my favorite types of level: a series of small rooms connected by short corridors with doors usually at both ends. It separates enemies into small groups and makes dealing with them piecemal so easy! In fact the only challenge in the entire level is Agnes, who I poison before blasting back to wherever tiny, annoying assassins with branded lajatangs come from. Book shop! Ooooh. A Book of Spatial Translocations would be great for Blink and Apportation, but I'm 32 gold short. There's also a Book of Wizardry (Haste ahoy), and again a stupid manual of Throwing. My bone-thin, weak Deep Elf arms couldn't toss a dart three squares away, damnit! I'll stick to fire, thanks. I must definitely come back after I get a bit more gold. Well, that's it for the Elven Halls, anyway: I'm not going to try Elf 5 quite yet, but I've made a good bit of headway into the midgame.


While I should save my gold for those books, I've used a few potions of heal wounds and didn't have that many to start with, so buy four of them for a little under 200 gold. That sets me back a bit from having Blink and Controlled Blink, but not horribly so, and I've always got my scrolls. I also realize I've identified all scroll types except for holy word and recharging, neither of which is urgent at the moment -- I used my one scroll of acquirement to get a +3 rod of destruction in case I needed a backup weapon, instead of carrying damage wands. I have quite a few pieces of unidentified armor, so I pick 'em up, read one of my scrolls of detect curse, and try them all. The +4 ring mail of Wizardry {rF+ rN+} isn't terrible, but it'd require a lot of training in Armor, so no thanks. Guess I'll return to the Dungeon to continue clearing until level 20 or so.


Okay so I lied. Snake Pit should be incredibly easy at this point, thanks to my two sources of rPois and my amulet of the gourmand, so I'll go do that instead.

Snake 1 begins with snakes charging me, including an anaconda, but they fall easily and, once a group of nagas shows up, I incinerate them all with Fire Storm and Fireballs for the survivors. An antique weapon shop carries a brightly glowing triple sword! If I were a melee character, I'd be wetting my pants right about now, but I ain't so I'm dry and keep exploring. The level is tiny and I'm quickly done with it.

Snake 2 has a lot of snakes and small water ponds here and there. Once I'm done with it, it's still got water but a lot fewer snakes. I pick up a Book of Burglary, a great find because of Swiftness, Apportation, and Control Teleport, three very useful spells. I memorize the first two right away just in case.

Snake 3 is another walk in the park. I'm so Engorged from all the delicious snake meat that casting Fire Storm doesn't even take me down to Very Full. Short of an army of anacondas jumping my bones I'm as invincible as invincible can be around here. Oh, a curved glowing staff! A staff of poison, how appropriate. Shortly thereafter I find another staff, this one a staff of summonings, which might come in handy late-game. Not much else of note happens, except that I'm burdened from all my loots, so I drop 'em off at my stash before continuing on.

Snake 4 is a repeat of the whole branch so far. I come across another weapon shop (non-antique this time), and needless to say, it's got nothing of interest for me. I actually wonder if I could take the Snake 5 vault right now... No, that'd be just dumb, Fire Storm is still only at Very Good and I shouldn't risk it. It's not like that rune is going anywhere. I'll just take my easy XP and gold and be on my way out for now.


Back to the Dungeon for now, armed with an ever growing magical arsenal! I had a little bit of D16 left to explore but it's empty except for a blue potion. That Vault staircase is tempting me, but I decide to hit Dungeon level 20 first.

Yaks greet me as I step into D17. I kill them, a cyclops, and a few orcs and wights before I spot my first yaktaur. Ugh, so it's that time, isn't it. Thankfully I have Deflect Missiles and am not afraid to use it. One thing I hadn't thought of, however, is that using Bolt of Cold while wielding a staff of fire is less than optimal. I wish I could find Bolt of Fire or a staff of conjurations. Some vampire mosquitoes jump me a bit later and make me sick; I lose a point of Strength, but of course it's only temporary so I'm not too worried. A jewelled battleaxe makes a fine trophy for slaughtering a roving band of orcs. Will I ever use it? Eh. I just can't help myself.

A few steps into D18 and Frances shouts as she hides from view. What, me worry? Mmm, delicious Frances flesh. Oh, a scroll of acquirement! I'm quite tempted to use it for a book right this moment, but I think I'll keep playing the packrat role and stash it for now. I don't have a conservation intrinsic so let's not take chances. I resume exploring only to run into a big bad fire dragon! See? Good thing I put that scroll of acquirement away! I cast Swiftness, then Deflect Missiles, and finally nuke with three Bolts of Cold before a rock troll shows up. I retreat and regen some MP, go back in, and explode the troll with a well-placed Orb. I nab a nearby Book of Cantrips with Apportation before stumbling on a lake with an island and a stone structure, guarded by an ice beast. Ice statue vault maybe? Woah, hang on, that place is huge! It's literally as long as the entire goddamn level. I cast Flight then slowly cross one end of the expanse of water to investigate. Yep, it's a series of ice vault statues guarding loot. I explore the two small ones first before making my towards the sprawling central structure. I'm not really gonna open that huge door, am I? Well, yes. I buff up with Swiftness and Deflect Missiles first just in case. Oh, and Flight too while we're at it. But after all it's only two ice statues at each end of a room guarding a bit of loot. Not too much work for great rewards!

D19 starts out with a bang, as I spot slime creatures, ugly things, and assorted orcs, ogres, cyclops, harpies, and centaurs. I sling Fire Storms all around and reach XP level 18 for my troubles! Another point of Int brings Fire Storm's success rate to Great. That initial skirmish seems to have exhausted the level's surprises, sadly, as the rest is definitely boring save for the Book of Death I find. I memorize Sublimation of Blood for emergency MP -- after all, if no one can survive Fire Storm, why not use those HPs to get more Fire Storms out? A second book is a Book of Beasts, not an amazing find but a book I nonetheless didn't have yet. Can't hurt. I am missing a staircase so let's keep our eyes open.

D20 is another room-corridor complex. My first pack of enemies? Half a dozen deep elves! Fire Storm comes to the rescue, but once again I am Burdened. Why must I always find artefact splint mails? I make the hike back to my stash for yet anothe drop-off before returning to D20. In a narrow corridor I am engulfed by a miasma trap. Damnit! I take 2 HP worth of rot before opening a door... right in front of a pack of red ugly things. Grrrr! Poisonous Cloud and Bolt of Cold get me out of this bind without further damage. Oh, and here's that staircase I'd missed, it takes me back to a minuscule room with a secret door to the rest of D19. Great... D20 exploration continues with a vengeance. Slime creatures? Fire Storm! Cyan ugly things? Fire Storm! Vampire mosquitoes? Fire Storm! Sphinx? Well... you get the idea.


I am feeling a bit vulnerable without Blink, so I return to that shop in the Elven Halls and purchase the Book of Spatial Translocations. It's too bad I got a Book of Burglary earlier because I already have access to Apportation and Control Teleport, but better safe than sorry. Plus I'm up to 1281 gold anyway, I can spend some. The loss of 2 HP rotting isn't lethal either, but I've got such a huge stash of potions of curing I might as well get all the health I can get, being a frail Deep Elf and all. Next: the Vaults!

Spring Cleaning

My stash is beginning to grow so it's time I went through what I've accumulated. Let's go type by type.

  • Permafood stocks are always rising thanks to my amulet of the gourmand. I'm sitting at ~10 rations of each type, a royal jelly, and multiple fruits of each type (4-6 on average for normal fruits like apples). Plus I've got access to that food store in the Orcish Mines. No action needed here.
  • I've accumulated quite a few wands but am still missing the big ones: heal wounds, hasting, and fireball. Also teleportation, random effects, and polymorph other. Those last three are not difficult to identify but can backfire so I've gotta be careful when identifying wands. In a pinch, I'm probably better off targeting myself with an unknown wand than an enemy.
  • I have a lot of unidentified potions. Potion roulette has three strikes against it, though. One: I don't want to chug a potion of mutation and get a bad mutation. Two: I'm trying to save my potions of cure mutation for that treasure trove. Three: if I can save another ~600 gold, I can buy a Book of Alchemy from a general store, letting me learn Fulsome Distillation... which in turn will identify most of the remaining bad potions for me. The only potion type I'd love to have identified is magic, but that'll have to wait, alas.
  • I don't know scroll of holy word or recharging. I'm sitting on three unknown scrolls of the same type: there's a 99.9% chance those are recharging. I'll inscribe them just in case.
  • My staff pile is annoying. Death, enchantment, poison, summoning... all types I don't need right now! And lying next to them: a rod of smiting. Guh.
  • I have one unidentified ring and one unidentified amulet. Since I'm sitting on 14 scrolls of identify, it's worth a shot, though I'll grab some unidentified potions too in case I get multiple identifies from a single scroll. The amulet is guardian spirit (bye) and the ring is a cursed ring of teleportation (blech). I also identify a potion of slowing and a potion of strong poison from a multiple.
  • The only unidentified artefacts I have are two-handed weapons and heavy armor. No need to use a scroll of detect curse yet. I doubt one of those heavily runed splint mails will be godly.
  • I need to memorize a few spells: Control Teleport, Mass Abjuration, and maybe Conjure Ball Lightning... but I'm down to only one spell level. Got five scrolls of amnesia though! I actually start by unlearning Conjure Flame with my Book of Flames -- it's not like I'll need to re-learn anything from it, so I feel no guilt as I shred its pages. I also get rid of Flame Tongue for the hell of it. I could get rid of Poisonous Cloud, since I'm using Fire Storm more and more, but I'll keep it for now. I memorize Control Teleport and immediately start to feel safer.
  • Lastly, that scroll of acquirement. I can see three choices: a book, a staff, or gold. The first is a crapshoot of epic proportions; I could get a Book of Fire... or end up with some random spellbook with nothing but Hexes and crap in it. The staff is a somewhat safer bet. Since Spellcasting is my highest skill, there's a good chance I'll receive a staff of wizardry, a staff of energy, a staff of power or a staff of channeling, none of which I've seen yet and all of which would be useful to a certain degree. The gold is, well, gold. I can buy stuff with it or get into a Ziggurat, which will give me a ton more awesome items, although I haven't discovered a portal yet. The agony of choice! I could also wait it out and go clear an easy branch, like the Swamp. Yeah, that actually sounds good, maybe I'll receive a sign of what I should do.


Not a big fan of the Swamp these days. It's not difficult or hard, just annoying to explore, with all that water and the mist that looks exactly like steam. Which I'll be creating lots of with my fire spells. Anyway, here we go.

Oh Wiglaf, why did you have to be on Swamp 1? His blood alcohol level's so high Throw Flame should spontaneously combust him. Two Fire Storms do the trick, although I have to spent lots of time dealing with the monsters that show up, their curiosity piqued by my pyrotechnics display. The rest of the level consists of killing snakes, worms, and leeches, eating their meat, and picking up loots, the most interesting of which is dazzling plate armour. Le sigh. I also identify a cursed ring of hunger.

Swamp 2 offers me a Book of Power almost as soon as I set foot on it -- not bad for when I'll want to unlearn Poisonous Cloud! Ah-ha! And a Book of Stalking! Most excellent, I won't have to buy that Book of Alchemy now. Otherwise, a repeat of the above, save for an annoying alligator who keeps playing peek-a-boo using deep water and hurts me quite a bit. Grrr. Eat close-range Orb, damnit.

I am faced with a group of insubstantial wisps and some swamp worms as I enter Swamp 3. I toss out a Fire Storm, finish off survivors with Mystic Blast, then let the steam and resulting forest fire take care of the rest as I return upstairs to regen some MP. When I go back down... it's Aizul! First I put up Control Teleport so I can move out of the way should something bad happen. I then cast a close-range Orb at him and retreat upstairs with Aizul in tow. Two more Orbs guarantee my victory! I take a different staircase to return since our skirmish attracted attention. Oooh, curved jewelled staff! A staff of channeling it is. Never a bad item to have on hand for emergencies, though my knowledge of Evocations is paltry at best. I continue exploring and use Fulsome Distillation to identify the potion of decay, one of the worst potions I hadn't identified yet. The only truly bad ones remaining are degeneration and mutation. Using Fulsome Distillation also grants me Necromancy level 1 but I don't really need to train the skill for now so I'll turn it off. The rest of the level goes without a hitch but I make a trip back to the stash to drop off my (very heavy) loots. Dazzling plate amour. Tsh.

Swamp 4 is the boringest level so far. I perform some heavy-duty deforestation via Fire Storm when I spot a pack of slime creatures. Oh, and I finally get a giant leech corpse, so I distillate its essences to identify the potion of degeneration. I'm mighty tempted to go straight to Swamp 5, but the Vaults and their ugly things (whose corpses will let me identify the potion of mutation) call to me. Plus when I'll be done with them it'll be okay to unlearn Poisonous Cloud for good, freeing up 6 spells levels. Let's go!


Bog mummies cursed a few of my items so I decide to try on as many items as possible at my stash before using a scroll of remove curse. Nothing amazing stands out, so I put on a cursed ring of teleportation too and read the scroll to clear myself of the curses.

As I set foot on Vaults 1 I receive a message about a bazaar! Ack! I've only got 818 gold, but I don't know if I've got time to grab my scroll of acquirement and a scroll of magic mapping. Well, let's try it anyway... Okay, made it! The bazaar isn't far but between us stands an army of skeletal warriors that I have to cremate with extreme haste and prejudice before I can reach the portal, earning XP level 19 in the process. Time for a shopping spree!


The first shop is a food shop. No thanks... An antique armour store doesn't have anything great for spellslingers so I move on. A jewellery boutique! Awesome. Potential buys are a ring of wizardry, an amulet of conservation, and a ring of magical power. Let's keep going for now. The last shop is a weapon store with odds and ends, including a warped staff. Meh, probably not magical in nature. So... There are no impulsive, "must have buys", but jewellery could be useful later. I purchase a +1 ring of dexterity for 17 gold (just to identify it) and the other three items I'd noted. Book shop, where art thou?


My exploration of the Vaults continues unabated after I return to Vaults 1. Fire Storm is cheating at this point: it's got a Great success rate, a Choko hunger cost, and it one-shots everything. Many everythings at once, as a matter of fact, including some ugly things that are kind enough to leave corpses behind! I make a quick trek to my stash to drop off a few things, including my scroll of acquirement, which I didn't even get to use. I even quaff a couple of potions, identifying berserk rage and resistance, though I have many singles and doubles left. One of these could be cure mutation and I need two for my treasure trove... Must be patient. Down the rabbit hole we go.

Eep. Vaults 2 has me staring at two harpies, two mottled dragons, and a big kobold. The mottled dragons are annoying because of their sticky flame breath attack. Fire rages and takes down everything with little difficulty. I pick up a steaming ivory ring, blow up a hill giant skeleton and a rock troll, then catch sight of a vault with ever-spawning clouds of flame. My kingdom for Ring of Flames! I'll take a raincheck for now. Oh hey, Saint Roka and his merry band of orcs! Smite all you want, buddy. Whew, bit of a carnage, that was. A brain worm is able to drain a single point of Int because I miscast Fire Storm. Bah... there's 36 more where that came from. I'll make a note about that fire vault and return later.

I spot some trees after arriving in Vaults 3 and make my way over carefully. No matter, it's just decoration, but the large horde of ogres and ugly things aren't! All this noise attracts yaks, a cyclops, and an ice dragon, but it also gets me Shields level 7 (completely removing my buckler's spellcasting penalty) and Fire Magic level 18, improving Fire Storm's success chance to Excellent. I'll now be focusing Spellcasting and Fighting to get more HP and get rid of Fire Storm's hunger cost. Lots of good XP on this level.

I slaughter the first inhabitants of Vaults 4, some centaurs, with Fire Storm and Deflect Missiles, before moving on. Some statues and a cross-shaped vault tell me I may have just found the entrance to the Crypt, so let's get ready for some undead action, probably a lich at least. Let's go clear the rest of the level for now. An unseen horror nets me XP level 20 and Dodging level 8, all right! I also kill my first yaktaur captain and discover a second vault -- this one made of green crystal. Let's peek in... a wizard lab portal! Oh I'm all over that.

Wizard Lab

Surrounded by stone... well that won't do, let's dig a little. Oh, looks like Doroklohe's Tomb, I've never been here before. Should be dangerous. Fortunately there are two exit portals I can take if it all goes pear-shaped. Just to be on the safe side, I slip on my ring of sustain abilities, expecting mummies. The place is empty save for 3x3 squares of rock; lemme try to dig one out... Yep, brain worm zombie, well this won't be too hard. Oh never mind, a greater mummy. I have to Abjure several summoned demons before a guardian mummy shows up, and then, the real threat, an ancient lich. I have enough for three Fire Storms before I'll need to draw from my HP so let's make them count... Third one's the charm! Wheeeeeeew. Jeez, they won't stop, another greater mummy! I can't seem to get any rest around here. After destroying my enemies in scorching fire and suffering pretty minor death curses (one torment, one negative energy blast, some demons and a couple of flavour ones) I have Spellcasting level 25 and can regen all my HP and MP. Oh, scroll of acquirement, don't mind if I do! I even get lucky and one of my vortices kills a greater mummy for me. Ha! Another scroll of acquirement? Why not!


After such an interesting escapade I return to my stash so I can discard my spoils of war. I read some scrolls to identify rings and amulets I've found; that steaming ivory ring turns out to be the ring of Khiem {Str+3 Int+3 MUT+). Hot damn. This is the second great item I've found with mutagenic glow. Do I look like a Jiyva worshipper? A ring turns out to be a +2 ring of protection and an amulet an amulet of rage. Blah... Fortunately I get a double identify from that last one and try it on a stack of three potions. Potions of cure mutation! Sweet tapdancing bear on a unicycle! That treasure trove's mine. Well, not before I chug my remaining potions to identify them, since the only bad one left is paralysis. I identify magic (yay), gain dexterity (woot), gain intellience (hell yes) and invisibility. Damnit, I was on a streak there! Yet another benefit: that Int gain has taken Fire Storm's hunger cost down to Sultana, which is almost negligible. As if the good news couldn't stop coming, I've gotten quite a few extra spell levels, so I forget plain old Abjuration and learn Mass Abjuration instead, with a Great success rate -- high enough for my purposes.

I drop off all my unnecessary gear and make a beeline for the treasure trove, potions of mutation in hand and amulet of conservation worn. Let's see here... bah, not nearly as much loot as I'd hoped. A few magical weapons, which I leave there to rot, but one ring, three amulets, and a handful of rations, scrolls, potions, and gold. Not terrible stuff, all things considered. The amulets end up being warding (neat -- two of them) and resist mutation (sweet), while the ring is poison resistance (meh). I'm a little disappointed. Let's get a book with one of those scrolls of acquirement, that'll pick me up. The Compendium of Buffs: includes Haste and Ring of Flames! Top drawer. Now's the time to forget Poisonous Cloud and learn me Ring of Flames. Three more spell levels and I'll have Haste too.


Armed with Ring of Flames, I return to Vaults 2 and its clouds of fire. The vault consists of a long, narrow room with a large door at the end. Pushing it open reveals a small hoard of treasure! I pick up some gold, a legendary deck of cards, a crystal ball of energy (I was just thinking about buying one of the things), and... another scroll of acquirement. Ho ho ho! I'm a very happy camper who's going to continue exploring the Vaults.

I still had a sizeable part of Vaults 4 left to explore, including the probable entrance to the Crypt, so I've got to keep my guard up. I do find a jewellery store, which carries a ring of fire and an amulet of clarity -- both of them great finds. I'll wear the amulet of clarity for now, alternating with gourmand for when I need to eat, and keep the ring of fire in mind once I max Spellcasting and get a couple more Int points. And yep, sure enough, that vault contains the entrance to the Crypt. No rush, I'll just finish the Vaults for now.

Woah, Vaults 5 is... wide open. I feel exposed so I explore in a spiral around my staircase, killing a group of yaktaurs chatting with a group of ugly things. Then, after exploding a centaur warrior with an Orb, Xtahua shows up! I toss up Ring of Flames and begin long-range nuking with Orb. Two of them later and I collect Fighting level 8. I soon come across an assorted antiques shop that features a potion of cure mutation, a runed ivory wand, and a thin leatherbound book. You know me, I can't resist books... The Book of Clouds. A little too late for that, sadly. The remainder of the level is cake and I move on.

Oof. Stone giant on Vaults 6... brings back memories. I kill it along with a couple of enemies before finding a distillery next to the entrance to the Hall of Blades. The distillery has nothing of value, and I'll continue exploring the level for now, maybe return for the Hall after Vaults 7. Several groups of monsters later I explode a rock troll with Orb for XP level 21! I'm now sitting at 40 Int and Fire Storm no longer has a hunger cost. Yippee! Not that I wasn't already spamming it like it's going out of style.

Woah, uhm... the third staircase to Vaults 7 (I didn't like the first two) has me surrounded by over a dozen monsters such as ugly things, yaktaurs, zombies, skeletons, and the like. Such a beautiful opportunity... I toss up Ring of Flames then get to work! Four Fire Storms later I've slaughtered everything and brought Frederick's attention upon myself. And still they come! But I don't even have to retreat to win. That was kinda fun. A great orb of eyes: nuke with Fire Storm on sight, no matter the circumstances. Nothing in the rest of the level makes me break a sweat, not even a lich, who I nuke with a single Fire Storm after enhancing myself with Ring of Flames. Level complete! Let's go check out the Hall of Blades.

Hall of Blades

The animated weapons in here are quite dangerous, but also worth considerable XP, so well worth the risk, and Orb of Destruction works soooo well for killing them. But if it fails... a little Fire Storm works well too! In fact, after half a dozen dead weapons, I get enough XP to finally master Spellcasting, along with Fighting level 9 and Conjurations level 21! I should sink a bit more XP into Summonings to make Mass Abjuration's success rate Excellent, which takes two minutes and Summonings level 3. I also hit XP level 22 before finishing to clear the Hall. Yep, that was time well invested.

I return to my stash with a couple of things in mind. First, I exchange my ring of +3 Int for the ring of fire, bringing me to a total of three fire enhancers once Ring of Flames is up. Second, I unlearn Throw Flame and Bolt of Cold with scrolls of amnesia, then learn Haste and Summon Hydra -- the latter a spell whose potential I've long wanted to gauge. Its success rate is only Fair, for the moment, but I'll work on Summonings some more.

The choice now is: keep exploring the Dungeon, or clear a branch end? I'm pretty sure I can clear Snake 5 or Swamp 5 any time, and they might hold some nice loot... Okay, let's go for Snake.


Some snakes and nagas on Snake 5, no big deal... until I turn a corner and Boris fires an orb at me! Gah! I duck behind the wall, cast Haste, then put some distance between us while buffing myself with Ring of Flames. Eat hot death, you decrepit lich! I love the message I get when casting Fire Storm now:

You feel a huge surge of power!

It only took two Fire Storms to turn him to ash. I bet he wishes he'd stayed in bed this morning. That's okay, I get the feeling I'll meet him again... Of course, Boris was guarding the entrance to the rune vault, so nagas of all stripes come out and rush me, but I'm cozy in a one-tile corridor and spam Fire Storm away. Then go in and cast Fire Storm every time anything serpentine shows its face. For five minutes straight. Until I'm standing in the final vault and pick up the rune. Woot! One down, a bunch more to go. The experience was excellent too. I'm still going to continue exploring the level, though. Oh hi Donald! It takes a single Fire Storm to kill him, which is a bit underwhelming. Oh well. No scrolls of acquirement this time. Let's try Swamp 5 real quick...

Swamp 5

Ugh, I land right next to the damn Swamp 5 vault. Time to work my magic! Bah, it's the poison-themed vault with swamp dragons and the like. Anyone order some steamed hydras? A nifty trick: since I'm chain-casting Fire Storm and don't want to overextend, I use Apportation to bring corpses over, chop them up between casts, then consume them with Sublimation of Blood for more MP. After stuff stops coming out, I venture in, using Flight to make travel over water easier. Hmmm, this vault reminds me of the time I fought the Lernaean hydra, but thank Vehumet, it's not around. Rune number two! The rest of the level is unexciting save for a teleport trap. Let's see, what else could I clear while I'm on a hot streak? Looking at my list of branches I realize I haven't found the entrance to the Slime Pits. That's a bit of an oversight! Let's go explore...

Hunting for Slime

The Slime Pits are located on Lair 6 to Lair 8, but they're definitely not on 6 and 7 -- I used a scroll of magic mapping on the latter, and there are no vault-like structures on the former. So it means that small Lair 8 stone vault I found before is probably it. Secret door! Of course. I back up, cast Deflect Missiles and Ring of Flames, then fire an Orb of Destruction to remove the door and toss a Fire Storm inside. Just, you know, to be on the safe side. It's indeed the entrance to the Slime Pits, complete with altar to Jiyva! I am not interested in going down there yet, though, thank you very much. I've had horrible experiences in the Slime Pits and will put it off for as long as there's easier places to go. Places I'll explore... later.


I'd rather soak up a bit more XP before venturing into Elf 5 or Vaults 8, both of which are somewhat difficult -- I'm wary of being banished to the Abyss by the deep elves, in particular, never a fun trip when it's unintentional. So I'm going to keep clearing the Dungeon and hope for a Ziggurat portal. Before I set off, however, I had my amulet of clarity cursed by a bog mummy, so I pick up a scroll of remove curse and start trying on various robes and artefacts I've picked up in my adventures to identify them all -- at worst, if they're cursed, I'll just read the scroll and get them off that way. I find a couple of robes with resistances, but not a robe of resistance, sadly. I'm still sitting on three scrolls of acquirement, however, so I'll ask for a piece of armour since I'm still using some pretty bad gear: I get the -4 cloak of the Forest {+Inv +Lev Str+4 Stlth++}. Gah! Why does it have to be -4? Well, it's not like I'm getting hit in the first place, so whatever, I'll wear it for now. So long cloak of poison resistance, you served me well. But I still would have traded you for a cloak of preservation in a heartbeat.

I am surrounded by ogres when I enter D21 so I retreat upstairs, kill the two that follow, then try a second staircase. I kill off a stone giant skeleton and a hill giant zombie, then more ogres. And more. Wow, talk about an ogre-themed level. Nearly all my skills level up as I roast pack after pack of enemies, and I hit XP level 23 too! I clear the whole level before returning to a diagonal corridor that looks like it might take me to a vault of some kind. Yup, deep trolls, fire dragons, and orcs pour out, all intent on redecorating the walls with my insides, but I'm the one doing the redecorating here, trust me. No great loot to be had, only a staff of death (which I've already got) and some magical stuff I don't need, like a stone of earth elementals. Oh yeah, here's a gateway to Hell, let's drop in and say hi to Geryon. I put up Ring of Flames, go through, and spot Geryon... along with an Ice Fiend and Murray! Wow, this is the first time I actually meet the little guy. Damn, who do I Fire Storm first? Let's go for Murray. Ack, I misclick and end up moving away from the gateway instead of moving my cursor, and the Ice Fiend has the time to reach me and melees me as I scramble out, shattering a potion of agility and hitting me for 70ish damage due to Ring of Flames! He does melt into a puddle a turn later, as luck would have it, but I guess I'll pass on the Vestibule for the moment, now that I've woken up all the baddies inside. Sigh.

Centaurs and orcs die first as I set foot into D22. I keep exploring until I bump into Margery and her hell knights. It's fire time! They are no match for me and I pick up my prize, a scimitar for distortion, which will end up being quite useful if I ever want to banish myself out of Pandemonium or a Ziggurat. I pick up yet another Book of Power and a Book of Ice, neither of which is of much use to me at the moment. Finally, I blow up a shapeshifter passing itself off as an eye of destruction before moving on.

D23 starts with some orcs, then a lich, who "touches your fire vortex". Uhm... Timmy, show us on the doll where the bad lich touched you... Anyway. I stumble upon a wand shop that carries wands of fireball and a wand of heal wounds, yay! It's 900 gold for a 6-charge one, which I can't afford for now, but I'll definitely keep it in mind. Yet another distillery has uninteresting wares. And another distillerry, sheesh! This one is selling a potion of paralysis for a whole 19 gold, though, which lets me identify it. The remaining potions I must identify are blood, coagulated blood, gain strength, experience, and porridge -- none of which are bad, so I can chug freely. I have to return to D22 since I am missing a staircase, which takes me to a separate part of D23 that features some ogres, another Book of Burglary (I'll take it), and a flood of undead that slowly pour out of a one-tile corridor, conveniently lining themselves up for Fire Storm. Just a small room crawling with undead, nothing too important.

D24 has a shrine to Okawaru, which probably shelters many baddies, so I'll put up Deflect Missiles before beginning my nuking routine. Well that wasn't bad at all, just a couple of yaktaurs. I push on, taking care of multiple big baddies (frost giant, tentacled monstrosity, etc...) before being rewarded with XP level 24, Fighting level 11, and Fire Magic level 20! I kinda hope I can make Fire Storm's success rate Perfect eventually. For now I'll unfocus Fighting (11 levels is very good for this point) and focus Dodging instead, which is lagging behind, and for which Deep Elves have a +2 aptitude. I do find a hidden door in a half-circle vault that was full of pretty strong enemies, so I toss up Ring of Flames and prepare for the worst. Woah, room of gold! With a freaking Book of the Warp, score! All in all there's approximately 1500 gold in there. Being able to learn Controlled Blink, though, is the real reward, and access to Phase Shift isn't terrible either. I return to my stash to drop my belongings, forget Controlled Teleport by shredding one of my two Books of Burglary, then learn Controlled Blink with a Fair success rate -- time to focus Translocations for a bit.

Whew, that trek back from my stash to D25 takes a long time, I really want to clear the Vestibule soon and move my stash there. Anyway, the level doesn't take too long and is without redeeming features, save a pitted marble ring, so onwards to the next one.

I see a gold dragon armour as I enter D26. There's a pretty good chance that's a mimic so I yoink it with Apportation... Nope, it's the genuine thing! You don't see those laying around on the floor very often. Wait, why is this level full of rats and bats? There's something weird going on. Yup, it's a mini-vault all right, full of vampires and critters. Its treasures are meager: a couple of scrolls and some rations, all watched over by an altar to Kikubaaqudgha. I move on to the rest of the level, which is uninteresting and features the usual quota of yaktaurs and deep trolls. I do use Controlled Blink to get out of a miasma cloud, though, which makes me grin. Good XP too: Dodging, Charms, Necromancy, and Conjurations all level up.


D27 tends to feature some badass vaults so I'll take this opportunity to return to my faraway Lair stash and drop off my spoils. Next is probably Elf 5 and Vaults 8, neither of which should be too challenging since I can incinerate everything from shadow dragons to deep elf annihilators without breaking a sweat. I take the chance to read a scroll of identify on that artefact ring I picked up and it ends up being the ring of Nisuijya {MR Str+4 Int+3}. Not too shabby, and Fire Storm seems to have reached max power with only two enhancers, so I'm free to swap out that ring of fire for something else. The only other option is my ring of Douq {rF+ rN+ Acc+6}, but I guess I'll carry it around for when I need life protection. Oh, if I could get a cloak that isn't -4 and has some better intrinsics... That extra MR will serve me well soon!


Before making the trip I return to D23 and purchase that wand of heal wounds thanks to the gold vault I found on D24. I also use a scroll of recharging on it so it's up to 9 charges now, which should be plenty. This gives me an idea for clearing the Vestibule but we'll get back to that later...

It doesn't take me long to pinpoint the Elf 5 vault but I'll stay clear of it for now, instead ducking into an antique armour emporium. A pair of polished boots? Don't mind if I do! I read a scroll of detect curse (I have no identify on me) and, sure enough, the boots are cursed. Damnit. It's not like I won't be able to clear this place without them, though, so let's soldier on. The rest of the level features very little so I'm soon back staring at the stone entrance of the rune vault. Well, here goes nothing! Egads, crystal golems! One spots me so I backpedal from the vault and use a couple of summoned hydras to take it out, doing the same after luring out the second one. But two more are waiting inside the antechamber... Rinse and repeat. Well, Summon Hydra does have its uses, after all, but the hydras are so short-lived I'm not sure it'd be reliable when fighting larger groups of foes like mummies. I'll have to give Summon Dragon a try if I find it. I tiptoe into the vault but wake up two annihilators. Okay, enough subtlety for now, it's time for the fireworks. I hope your life insurance covers spontaneous combustion! I have to Fire Storm many, many times and send in a few hydras to take care of additional crystal golems -- not to mention draw from my own HP with Sublimation of Blood near the end -- but eventually, I have conquered the Elven Halls and its rich treasures. I don't even know where to start! I leave all the stuff I've already got (lamp of fire, staff of death, staff of fire, etc...) but pick up multiple artefacts, three books, a twisted smoking staff, a bunch of permafood, some scrolls (including one of acquirement!), and a few hundred gold. The books are Summonings, Sophisticated Spellcraft (a random spellbook with various nukes and buffs that I already know), and a manual of Shields. That last one ain't bad. The staff is a staff of earth, which is... underwhelming. I return to my stash, drop off my loot, detect curses on the artefacts and jewellery, then try them on. Those boots I bought turn out to be the -1 pair of boots of Resourcefulness {rPois Stlth++}. Blech. An artefact amulet is the amulet "Peoteon" {Clar -TELE rPois rF+}. Not really great. A normal amulet is an amulet of controlled flight. And the rest is all pointless for me -- no, I won't be swinging around that artefact great mace, even if it's vorpal.


So, remember when I said I had an idea for the Vestibule? Recharging my wand of heal wounds has left me with only one type of unidentified scroll: holy word. And I've got three scrolls labeled ELO SKAFOOJETICS. You can see where this is going. I Haste myself before going through the portal, enter the gateway, and read one of the scrolls. I then chain Fire Storm upon Fire Storm on Murray... and it still won't die! Damnit. I retreat through the gateway, having attracted a lot of attention again. Guess I'll have to memorize Dispel Undead just for this. But... later. For now I've got a date with another rune.


Same deal on Vaults 8 than with the Vestibule: Haste, go through, then Fire Storm away! I kill roughly half the welcoming party before retreating upstairs with a few vault guards and a fire crab hot on my heels (literally). Once they are dead, I regen, buff again with Haste and Ring of Flames, then dip my toes back in and repeat. Unfortunately, the combination of Haste and a Controlled Blink contaminates me too much, and my body is slowly rotting away. Ruh roh! I toss on my ring of sustain abilities and make for my stash to chug a potion of cure mutation. This'll teach me to be more careful, I probably hadn't let all the contamination from the first Haste dissipate before I went in. Stupid. Okay, so take three. The stairs are more or less open, so this time, we're off to the races! Whew, after slaughtering countless yaktaurs, shadow dragons, stone giants, iron trolls, and a tentacled monstrosity, I have to retreat upstairs to rest, only to return and repeat the process, this time killing a fire giant, deep trolls, a queen ant, and many, many more. Until... what's this is I hear? Silence? Ah, so pleasant. I still have to clear a couple of monsters that are late to the party but soon enough can move out and explore the rest of the level. I always start with the outside to make sure I won't have nasty surprises when I enter the chambers. A knobbly runed staff is a staff of wizardry -- usually a great find for any spellcaster, but for a worshipper of Vehumet like me at this point in the game, it's not what I need. I clear the entire perimeter, killing an ancient lich and yaktaurs, then return to the middle, where I fight a lich, two yaktaur captains, and a stone giant before I must rest -- both captains were used branded ammo and sandwiched me from different sides so I couldn't Fire Storm them both at once. Still, I push on, and in the first chamber I clear I find a jewelled helmet. Hopefully something good. The second chamber holds an artefact ring and a couple of scrolls of identify, how convenient... The helmet is the -2 helmet of the Accordion {Dex+2 Int+3}. Why must everything I find be negatively enchanted? The ring turns out to be the ring "Cluatz" {rF+ Str-2 Int+4}. Uhm, no thanks. The third chamber has an artefact ring and a second Book of the Warp for me. The fourth and final chamber has a couple of artefact daggers, a pair of embroidered gloves, and after all this work, the silver rune. I am now XP level 26 and got multiple levels in all of my magic skills! I also got a +2 shield (so long buckler), a +0 pair of gloves of strength (which I enchant to +2), and decide to wear that -2 artefact helm. Yes, my total AC is now at a massive 3, but I've got 23 EV and 25 SH, not to mention that I can blink at will should anything ever move within striking distance. I lug all my newfound possessions back to my stash and drop them off after going through as many of them as possible to assess their potential usefulness. Now... might as well clear D27 and hit XP level 27, after all, since I'm still missing a spell level to learn Dispel Undead (curse you Murray!).


On D27 I kill a frost giant and a yaktaur captain before setting off to check out the rest of the level. I kill then butcher a storm dragon for its hide, and roast several draconians to a crisp before finding the vault with the entrance to the Realm of Zot, which is fairly small and easy compared to some other I've seen before. However, there's a laaaarge diamond-shaped vault not far from it, surrounded by a wall of green crystal, and that's got yaktaurs, fire giants, ugly things, and many other pleasant monsters coming out of it. Whew! It's good exercise, but the vault itself only has some gold and an ancient dagger, hardly fitting reward. Before long, I finish exploring the level, dust off my hands, and return to my stash, 95% of the way to XP level 27.

Slime Pits

I know I said I hate the Slime Pits, but I need one more spell level to learn Dispel Undead without forgetting something else, and I'd rather enter the Realm of Zot at XP level 27 to maximize my chances, particularly against orbs of fire. I'm also still missing a couple of crucial resistances I hope the Slime Pits loot can grant me, most notably rElec. For now, I put on an amulet of resist corrosion, learn Dig, grab some extra permafood and head to the wonderful Slime Pits, home to everything icky and abrasive.

It doesn't take too long after entering Slime Pits 1 to finally earn XP level 27, along with Shields level 9 -- thank you manual of Shields! A shining eye catches me in a moment of unattention and gives me the blurry vision mutation -- nothing life-threatening for the moment. I kill many oozes and blobs before moving on, though I've only found one staircase down -- I'll have to double back.

Slime Pits 2 is more of the same. I use Dig to clear passages and search for those extra staircases, but only find one, which leads to a small area of Slime Pits 1. Again, though, I am missing a staircase leading down. Let's continue.

The first staircase I try to Slime Pits 3 leads to a tiny room, so I backtrack and try the second one. I have to quickly retreat upstairs as I am surrounded by baddies right off the bat, Controlled Blink away, and nuke them after taking a bit of damage. The only enemy that should be left down there is an eye of devastation... Nope, two brown oozes too, so I retreat again to kill them. I can finally kill the eye on the third time and can resume my exploration. It's a tiny room again -- not that I care, since the Slime Pits have no loot except in the final vault, if I miss any parts of it I'm just giving up on some XP. Let's try the next level...

Some slime creatures await me on Slime Pits 4. Boom. The only enemy to come over is a pulsating lump of flesh that I Fireball to oblivion. I kill a few more enemies before finding a staircase back up that I haven't tried. Do I care? Not really. I've found two staircases down, which is good enough.

Slime Pits 5 is somewhat empty but a bit bigger. Again I find a staircase back up, but also one down, so it's time to dive and confront the royal jelly. This is good Hell practice: don't spend time dallying around if the rewards aren't worth it.

I enter Slime Pits 6 with slime creatures in view. While making noise is dangerous... there aren't many better alternatives. The royal jelly actually shows up just a few turns after I toss my first Fire Storm, already at half health! This is going to be easy. Three Fire Storms later, and I've comitted deicide! I also earn Conjurations level 25 and Fire Magic 23 for good measure. Clean up takes a bit longer, as I run out of MP because of an eye of draining, so I retreat upstairs to regen. I clear more amorhpous horrors after returning, then finally, the onslaught stops and I am free to explore! I spot the vault right away but decide to make sure the rest of the level is empty before setting myself to the task of picking up all the phat loots, picking up Shields level 11 along the way. Rubbing my hands in glee, I break into the vaults and start to pick up the many, many books that have awaited greedy little hands like mine for who knows how long. I also find a staff of power, a small iron ring, a tubular wooden ring, a lumpy garnet amulet, a multitude of wands (most of which I don't need and leave behind), and obviously, another rune! I hurry back to my stash with my bags full of reading material.

Let's see, which books did I get... The paperback book that's beyond my current level of understanding is easy: that's a Necronomicon! Sweet, no need to convert to Kiku later on. The rest of my haul consists of a Book of Envenomations (meh), a Book of Control (already got one), a Book of Burglary (third one this game), a Book of Changes (eh), a Book of Necromancy (sort of all right I guess), a Book of Frost (bleh), a Book of Enchantments (okay), a Book of Conjurations (not the first by far), a Book of Ice (gah), a Book of Debilitation (already had one), a Book of the Warp (third one, better safe than sorry), a Book of Fire (YAY), and a Book of Party Tricks (psh). Whew! That amulet I found is either stasis or faith, neither of which is pressing at the moment. The rings could be okay: sustenance and teleport control are always good to have on hand, although regeneration, slaying, strength, and protection from fire/cold/magic are not priorities. Still, I'm sitting on twelve scrolls of identify, so let's find out. Gah, the first scroll's writing blurs before my eyes! That's right, stupid mutation. I have one potion of cure mutation and there's one in a shop on Vaults 5 for 1295 gold, so it's not like chugging one right now means I'm out of them. Let's do that and resume the identifying. So, two rings are protection from magic, one is +1 Str, and the third one is sustenance. That last is probably the best considering I'm thinking about scumming in the Abyss or Pandemonium soon enough.

So, how to set up my spell arsenal. I start by unlearning Dig and memorize Dispel Undead. I probably don't need Fulsome Distillation anymore either... Summon Hydra has also outlived its usefulness, in all likelihood, and it's not that great a spell anyway because of the super-short duration of the hydras. Instead I learn Delayed Fireball and am left with two spell levels: nothing's worth it for now, so I'll keep them in mind for later. As I'm sitting on three scrolls of acquirement I decide to read another one for a piece of armour, hopefully better than some of the crap I've got so far. A +0 elven cloak of darkness; no, not really what I was looking for, unfortunately. Well, let's see if I can finally take out Murray for now.

The Revenge of the Vestibule, Part 3

I swear I'm gonna get it this time! Haste myself, go in, and WOAH NELLY there's like a million things in there, including Murray and a reaper standing right next to me. I come out covered in liquid flames because of a hell hog, both enemies in tow, and Controlled Blink away from Murray and his pal. He summons more friends, however, so I Fire Storm twice and get to work with Dispel Undead. But my fire vortices are in the way, goddamnit. I guess more Fire Storms will do the trick. Then the vortices disappear and I get a clear line of sight... Bam, bye-bye skully. I ain't going back in there yet, though. Nuh-huh. Not with that welcoming committee. Maybe the Realm of Zot will be fun.


The Abyss should actually be unchallenging at this point, and who knows, maybe I'll find some decent random loot. Don't worry about the Crypt: I haven't forgotten about it, I'm saving it if I need to regain some lost Vehumet piety from scumming too long. For now I head to my stash, drop my unwanted equipment, put on my ring of sustenance, grab extra permafood, and off we go!

The Abyss isn't difficult in 0.10, but the way it now works is that it's a single level that's constantly changing: tiles morph into other types of tiles before your eyes, so that an open area can turn into a stream of lava and block your passage. The loot is good, though, as far as random scrolls, potions, permafood and gold are concerned, and I pick all of those up with Apportation to speed up exploration -- though I have to be careful not to be flying over lava or deep water when I use Apportation. Thanks to Flight there's not much that can stop me. I pick up a crystal long sword, then move on, keeping Flight on at all times, nuking only when groups of attractive enemies show up (such as skeleton warriors), and use Sublimation of Blood instead of resting to keep my MP topped up. I also melee tier 5 demons and other weak enemies to death to regen MP or save it up; it's not like they pose any threat anyway.

Hmmm, gate... It's only been ten minutes or so, I'm hardly ready to go back! But I'll do it anyway to return to my stash and make a few tweaks. First, I learn Regeneration, which together with Sublimation of Blood will help to keep me exploring with little downtime. Second, I'll bring a couple of scrolls of recharging with me just in case I need to zap myself a few times with my wand of heal wounds. I'm also going to leave my amulet of the gourmand behind, freeing up one slot, since I'm depending on permafood in the Abyss anyway. All righty, back to the grind!

Ack, tormentor! Those guys can torment but aren't too big of a threat otherwise. Still, this one torments me once before I can Fire Storm it to death. Regeneration sure was a great idea. After five minutes, I find a vault! Haha, it's a mini-Temple full of altars! That's awesome. Of course, a while later, I meet a cacodemon, and the second it sees me it mutates me through my amulet of resist mutation for -10% HP. Eat Fire Storm, fatty. Further encounters include a group of nagas, a golden dragon zombie, a death drake skeleton (not nearly as intimidating as the live version), and another cacodemon, who this time doesn't live long enough to touch my genome. But before long...

The dungeon shakes, a horrible noise fills the air, and a portal to some otherwordly place is opened!

That's uhm, what the heck? The Abyssal Stair maybe? I've never seen that message before. Oh, never mind, that's the Malign Gateway message, but there's no tentacle in sight, so I should be safe. And after killing a lich, an ettin skeleton, and other assorted demons... the abyssal rune! Now to find a way out. It takes me a few hundred turns, during which I slaughter a myriad more demons and undead, but eventually I make it out, carrying some nifty loot but nothing world-shattering. Time to drop off my haul, then the Realm of Zot. I'm a little annoyed at that -10% HP, but it's not worth 1295 gold, at least not yet.


This can be a hard place without resistances, but I'll just have to compensate my lack of defense with an overpowering offense, though having all types of amulets on me makes me a lot less worried about some of the worst this branch has to offer -- such as orbs of fire. Let's dive in.

Multiple draconians and two moths of wrath await me as I step into Zot 1. I take a turn to put on an amulet of clarity, Controlled Blink away from the pack, then incinerate the whole pack with two well-placed Fire Storms. Gawd, the XP in here is nice, Conjurations levels to 26 and Fire Magic to level 24 from just a few draconians and a ghost moth, followed by Necromancy (level 11), Fighting (level 12), and Shields (level 13). Plus it's nice to be able to rest between battles! Aww, my manual of Shields has run out. Oh well. Next level.

I grab a metal-bound book at the start of Zot 2: a Book of War Chants. Nothing too useful for me. I then have what is possibly the closest call ever: an electric golem pinches me between a storm dragon and a ghost moth. All the enemy types I'm weak against: they use electricity and can drain my MP! I rush for the nearest staircase and am able to duck upstairs with 23 HP and 0 MP. Whew! I use some flesh to regain MP from Sublimation of Blood and Regeneration to heal quickly, then try another staircase down. After a couple of tough battles I find the previous offenders and terminate them easily. Moving on...

I am tucked into a comfy corridor upon arrival on Zot 3 and use it to my advantage to kill a couple of moths of wrath, a storm dragon, and a golden dragon. Mmmm, golden dragon flesh... I find quite a few Zot traps on the level but manage to avoid them all. As for the multiple bone dragons I also find, that's what Dispel Undead is for! I'm quickly done with this level and move on.

Zot 4 is deceptively empty at first. Until I stumble on a red draconian knight and what must undoubtedly be his merry band of followers just out of line of sight. I back up, toss on Ring of Flames, then unleash a fiery torrent on the poor draconians, and sure enough it was a group backed by a tentacle monstrosity and a storm dragon. No sweat. I slay many more draconians, then realize my backpack is full since I've been picking up magical cloak after magical cloak from all the cloak-wearing draconians. As luck would have it I just found a scroll of detect curse too! I read it then try out the cloaks to see if they'll beat my shitty artefact one. Nope, they're all bland, unbranded ones, and that runed shield I found is a +2 shield, a step down from my +3 shield. Blah. Fighting level 13, all right! I take a quick peek at Zot 5 and map it, just so it's done for later, but for now I'll return to my stash to take stock and plan my next move.

Abyss again... and again

Wanting to finish off a couple of skills I take several uneventful trips to the Abyss. I don't get any mutations or find anything extraordinary, but my rewards are nevertheless tangible.

  • I find a ton of extra potions, scrolls, and permafood of all kinds -- undoubtedly the best being a potion of cure mutation.
  • I stumble upon an unidentified wand: just a wand of fireball, but still. This leaves haste, heal wounds, and polymorph other as unidentified, all wands I should zap myself with.
  • I come away with an extra thousand gold, for a total of 5319 gold pieces at the moment.
  • I master Conjurations! This will let me divert XP to other much-needed skills.
  • I also gain a couple of levels in most of my skills: Fighting, Dodging, Shields, Necromancy, and Fire Magic all benefit.
  • I find an artefact ring with rC+ and rN+ (the only ring with rC+ I've found in the game so far) and a +1 buckler with rElec and rN+. I've been wearing the buckler to avoid my earlier electricity-induced near-death, taking my Shields value down to 18. It's still a trade-off I'll make.

All in all not a bad haul for a lot of easy (but mind-numbing) work. Now, there's an old pal I've been wanting to say hi to...

Vestibule of Hell, part 4: The Reckoning

Yes, it's that time again. Hopefully the last one! I'm gonna go all out and won't be holding anything back. I make my way to the gate to Hell, chug a potion of agility followed by a potion of speed, toss on Ring of Flames, then head through, wearing my amulet of conservation to protect against any hell hogs and their sticky flame. Obviously, the welcoming committee isn't happy with my intrusion, but enough of this. I read a scroll of blinking to escape their grasp then get to work with Fire Storm. Three Fire Storms kill off Geryon, the majority of the hell knights, and a few other baddies, while Ring of Flames is doing a good job of keeping Geryon's summoned beasts away from me. I decide to use a second scroll of blinking to put some distance between myself and the rest of the demons, who are by now catching up and trying to maul me with all manners of claws and fangs. I finish off most of the pack, but just then, a freaking balrug comes a-knocking! I don't fancy having a taste of its hellfire so I immediately nuke it with Fire Storm to try to get some vortices between us, which works just fine, and I kill it quickly. I then draw some MP from my own body, cast Regeneration to gain it back ASAP, and Controlled Blink away from the horde of zombies and hell knights in hot pursuit. A few more Fire Storms, one more Sublimation of Blood, and after my extra speed has run out, the tide of demons recedes. I am alive, and I've finally cleared the Vestibule -- picking up a level in Fighting and one in Necromancy in the process.

But just to be sure I take a look around and check out the gear that's dropped while chowing on a chunk of hell hog meat -- mmm, infernal bacon. Woah, this place has large vaults for each Hell branch entrance, that's why it felt as if there were a lot more demons then usual. But at last, the Vestibule is mine! Now comes the task of ferrying over stuff I'm still going to use. This'll keep me occupied for a while...


Mkay, enough dallying around, I need major XP to get some of skills in working order and that means Zot 5! Before doing that, though, I unlearn Delayed Fireball and Fireball in favor of Death's Door. Might come in handy if I bite off more than I can chew. Not only that, but I'm still charged with a Fireball, so it's the best of both worlds for now -- though I'm down to a single scroll of amnesia. Fortunately there's four more in shops. I pick up extra potions, scrolls, and food, just to be on the safe side, and head down to one of the few remaining challenges in the game.

Zot 5 is already mapped so I begin clearing everything outside of the Orb vault. After a few ice dragons and assorted baddies, only the vault remains, so I steady myself and peek in with Swiftness enabled -- that way I'll be able to outrun whatever shows its ugly face and get the stealth malus from it, making it more likely that monsters will detect me and follow me in the ideal, one-tile wide corridor right outside! I do so with the first monster, an orb guardian, then kill a guardian mummy with Fire Storm to attract some more baddies -- just a few, which I kill with a couple of Fire Storms, netting me Fire Magic level 26. Almost there! First room cleared, I tiptoe in, catch an orb guardian in another Fire Storm, then back up, anticipating the flood of monsters to come... And come they do, though in fewer numbers than I expected: an ancient lich, a killer klown, and a couple of other not-so bad enemies, like necrophages and vampires. Meh. I chop up what corpses I find to get chunks for Sublimation of Blood and keep venturing in a little deeper. Ack, orb of fire! Quick, must nuke! It takes me four or five Fire Storms to do it but thankfully, it doesn't manage to hurt me in any way whatsoever. Taking out a second orb of fire finally lets me master Fire Magic! Woohoo! Oh, and electric golem? I'm not scared of you anymore, sir. I try the other side, and am faced with an ancient lich, a balrug, and a few more orb guardians. Okay, that's a little tougher. I bathe everything in raging fire and am only hit by a single hellfire, so all in all, that's a decent exchange, especially thanks to my super-powered Regeneration giving me back multiple HP per turn.

An orb of fire does catch me relatively close as I turn a corner, however, so I toss up Ring of Flames to resist its attacks and nuke with Fire Storm, taking my MP somewhat low. I retreat a bit and rest before continuing. Getting close... A cursed toe falls to three Fire Storms as orb guardians pour out of the central chamber. Yeah, they're fast -- but not fast enough. On the other side, I cremate a small army of draconians without ever being in danger, then sift through their gear, chopping corpses as I go, just in case. Better safe than sorry around here. Aaaand... it's clear! My Fighting and Dodging skills each got something like three levels off the entire place, not to mention Traps & Doors, Transmutations (I'm thinking ahead to Necromutation), and of course Fire Magic, which I now master. Still need an enhancer for Fire Storm to reach max power; my kingdom for a robe of the Archmagi! Alas.

I could take the orb and head home right now. But what's the fun in that? Instead, I'll see what else I can clear for fun and giggles. I've got a couple of spell-related ideas I want to try. So for now, I return to my stash in Hell's cozy vestibule to recuperate.


Since it seems piety isn't a problem in the Abyss, I might as well go clear the Crypt now, hopefully earning good gear in the vault at the bottom. I won't be setting foot in the Tomb quite yet though.

There's a large welcoming committee of every type of skeleton, zombie, and undead on Crypt 1, but nothing that even nicks me, thanks to Fire Storm, Deflect Missile, and the Regeneration + Sublimation of Blood combo to fuel my onslaught. The level is tiny, though, and the racket I made brought over every monster on it save for a couple of skeleton warriors that I dispatch with haste. I grab a few potions and scrolls before moving on.

Crypt 2 is a lot more open. I use Dispel Undead to take out single or weak enemies; while it's nowhere near as efficient as Fire Storm, it doesn't make much noise, because I just remembered an enemy that could make my life a lot worse: silent spectres. I do have a wand of fire on me just in case. There's not much on this level, sadly.

Uhm, starting Crypt 3 standing right next to a curse skull is not good. Fortunately it hasn't seen me so I duck upstairs and try another staircase. Ah, next to skeletal warriors, much better. I grab a pitted morningstar with Apportation while waiting for the fire clouds to recede then begin exploration. What do you know, a silence area... looks like I'll be avoiding that bit of the level for now. I destroy a large group of undead to draw a guardian mummy into the fray: its death curse is just a bit of good old pain, nothing too bad even if I'm only sporting rN+. Another potion of cure mutation, sweet! Oh, there's the entrance to the Tomb, that explains the mummy. So, having avoided the silence area, I return to the curse skull's room with the optimal angle: I can open the door and nuke it with Fire Storm but I'm not in its line of sight! Three Fire Storms later and I'm trucking on to the next level. Screw that silent spectre. Oh, and I have to be careful: I've only found two staircases down so that means that the third one is near that spectre.

I'm not liking all the narrow corridors on Crypt 4. It feels like it'd be easy to get surrounded and silenced. I must be careful. Having said that, the level is nearly devoid of inhabitants, so I find a staircase to the next level, gulp down a bread ration, and crack my knuckles. Time to get to work!

Crypt 5 begins with me in the middle of a long, one-tile corridor. Huh. This one's new. I go down, kill a few skeleton warriors, then am faced with another silence area. Damnit. Let's backtrack and try the other side. There are some additional corridors branching off so I explore them carefully, not wanting to draw another silent spectre to myself, which could spell instant doom for me. Oh hey, a metal vault with a huge door! Can only hold good stuffs. I'll finish off the rest of the level first, though. An unidentified wand? Hurrah! I'd rather not teleport myself in the middle of a vault, though, and since I have six scrolls of identify on me I read one. Sure enough, it's a wand of teleportation. Woah, the back of that metal vault has a stone glass wall: this will either lead to awesomeness or doom, so I'll be careful for now. I grab an elven quick blade (why not?), then stumble upon Boris at the edge of that silence area! Ha! Eat hot death, you mute pile of bones! Best of all the silent spectre nearby still hasn't noticed my presence despite the inferno I threw Boris's way so, for the moment, it's me and that vault. Let's check out that glass wall.

Okay, so lava, lava, floor, loot, more loot... and no enemies in sight. Hmmm. This sounds too easy. I expect curse skulls or worse if I go in the front. Eh, how bad can it be? Can I blow open the large gate with an orb of destruction? I sure can! Result: two curse toes and a flying skull. Yikes! Haste, Fire Storm, Fire Storm, Fire Storm. Bam. I kill off a pack of skeletal warriors that have been attracted by the sound, then walk into the vault... Oh crap, it's that "eye of the devil" one described on the Crypt page. Too bad for that lich and ancient lich that I'm packing smite-targeted doom in a can. Loot time! Two books: a Book of Party Tricks (already have one) and a random spellbook with lots of earth-based spells that I don't need (blah). The only other item of interest is a glowing cloak. Awwww... This was truly a pitiful haul. Wait, that cloak turned out to be a cloak of preservation! That's kinda sweet if a bit too late. I lose the +4 Str and stealth bonus from my artefact cloak but gain a bunch of AC, corrosion resistance, conservation, and one pip of acid resistance. Man, too bad I'm done with the Slime Pits, I would have loved to have that puppy on me back then.


I return to my Vestibule stash pondering spells. I'd really, really like to have Necromutation for the next part of my journey, but don't have the spell levels for it without forgetting something else. Let's break it down:

Spells I am not giving up, no matter what:

  • Fire Storm
  • Ring of Flames
  • Regeneration
  • Sublimation of Blood
  • Mass Abjuration
  • Deflect Missiles
  • Controlled Blink
  • Haste (no wand yet, else this would definitely go)
  • Flight

Spells I could be talked into dumping:

  • Apportation
  • Blink
  • Death's Door
  • Iskenderun's Mystic Blast (a likely candidate)
  • Dispel Undead (done with the Crypt, another likely candidate)
  • Orb of Destruction
  • Swiftness

I'm leaning towards dumping Mystic Blast, Dispel Undead, and Orb of Destruction and learning Necromutation and Lehudib's Crystal Spear, though my reserve of scrolls of amnesia is dipping low, despite buying out all the ones in stores during a quick shopping spree earlier. That's where all those Books of Power I picked up come in handy! As luck would have it I have three total in my book pile, so I tear two to pieces to unlearn Mystic Blast and Orb, then read a scroll to forget Dispel Undead too. Hello Necromutation and Crystal Spear! The latter has an Excellent success rate and is one pip short of max power, while the former's success rate is only Very Good but has the same power rating. Need to work on Transmutations and Necromancy some more. Nevertheless, I can now get rid of many items I don't need anymore (most of my jewellery, such as the amulet of conservation, ring of sustenance, etc...) and by shuffling some gear around, I manage 16 Str, 43 Int and 20 Dex with all the intrinsics I need, including rF++, rC+, and rN+++ when in lich form. Huzzah! It does mean I have to leave my staff of fire behind for now, sadly, but it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make. I also pick up that crystal ball of energy I'd been saving for about this time. Ultimate power is nearly mine! Mwahahaha!

Yes, I'm tempting fate and hubris-related death. Character dump!

And again... and again...

I test drive my new spells in several more uneventful Abyss trips, where I have very few close calls (two balrugs, one deep elf?) but end up getting quite a few nice perks.

  • Massive gold, permafood, scrolls, potions, etc... I'm up to over 40 scrolls of remove curse and 20ish potions of restore abilities, among others, which is a comforting thought.
  • I don't find much in terms of gear upgrades: the only one worth mentioning are a pair of +2 dwarven boots that replace my shitty -1 artefact ones (I don't need rPois or stealth anyway). I do so wish they were of running.
  • While I haven't mastered any other skills, I've focused on Evocations to make my crystal ball of energy more reliable, taking the skill from a paltry 3.5 to 20.4 over a few trips. It kinda helps when 100% of the XP you earn is funneled into one skill.
  • I also found not one but two Books of the Dragon, giving me access to Summon Dragon, one of the last spells that had eluded me thus far. I won't be using it quite yet but I may try it in the Tomb. I have no idea where I'll get the spell levels from, but oh well.

For now, it's time to try a Hell branch! As a fireslinger I'll take Cocytus first. I put on my ring of sustain abilities, grab a few potions and two wands of fire (can never be too careful), then head down to the frigid wastes.


Lots of monsters await me on Cocytus 1 but it's nothing massive amounts of Fire Storm can't handle. When out of MP I simply retreat to the Vesitbule rest, then try again. What I don't like, on the other hand, is repeatedly having Ice Fiends summoned around me. Grrr. Thankfully, Blink is there to save me! And the bastards are good XP at any rate.

Cocytus 2 is a lot more open than the previous level with large lakes and tiny walkways. With Flight it's no sweat to navigate. Jeez, enough with the surprise Ice Fiends! That's my sixth one since I got in Hell and my third one this level already. How about some flying skulls once in a while? It'd help if I had more than just rC+ but I just haven't found any good jewellery or artefacts for that purpose. Ice Fiend number seven... Blergh. Damn, I forgot to bring some scrolls of remove curse, and Hell's mystical force has just cursed the long sword I'm wielding (among many other pieces of gear I'm carrying). I return to my stash, grab a few of those, then push on.

Cocytus 3 begins with a large, open room and a few minor undead staring in my direction. I kill them, but a large of stream of other demons follow, including two tormentors, skeleton warriors, ice dragon zombies, the whole shebang. I retreat to Vestibule once I'm low on MP since I don't want to risk using the crystal ball when surrounded, despite wearing an amulet of clarity, then return and clear more of the usual Cocytus fare. Time to go down.

Cocytus 4's layout is a series of small rooms connected by corridors: again, my favorite type of level! Hobgoblin skeleton? Giant new skeleton? Ha! Eldtritch tentacle? Okay, now we're talking. I lose a point of Int from using my crystal ball of energy but gain it back just a few dozen turns later. Before long I'm ready for what's next.

Woot, Cocytus 5 has the same layout! This makes exploration easy. The whole level is rather boring (no eldritch tentacles this time) so I move on. Getting close!

There's a bit of water on Cocytus 6 so I take this chance to practice my jellyfish-stabbing technique. Oh noes, Hell's mystical force strikes at me by... summoning a bunch of colorful butterflies? Guess this isn't such a bad place after all. Ack, kraken zombies! This is the first time I've seen those I believe. Good XP, though they're followed by a malign gateway, so I tip my hat and take my leave from that general area. And after a few more demons getting their butts incinerated, it is time to move on to the final challenge in this cold, forsaken place: Antaeus.

Cocytus 7 consists of a large body of water snaking its way through the level. I am repeatedly bothered by Ice Fiends, blizzard demons (dangerous due to Airstrike), ice dragons and their zombies, and flying skulls. I kinda wish I'd brought a scroll of magic mapping with me. One of the best parts of this level is that the ice dragons sometimes leave corpses behind, which means chunks for Sublimation of Blood (and easy XP too).

Naturally, just as I get to what I think is the end of the level... I'm blasted with ice and my single potion of speed shatters. Guh. I backtrack a little to go explore other areas instead. Weee, vault with loot! Artefact ring, artefact lajatang, two books (Alchemy and a random book with Necromancy buffs), and an unidentified staff. A staff of conjurations! This is a great find but I can't use it quite yet without getting another source of SInv and rElec -- especially for Antaeus, who uses Lightning Bolt. Still, not bad. Loot vault number two: a manual of Armour (meh), an unidentified ring, and a bunch of gold. Sweet! Vault number three: a deck of cards and gold. Vault number four: a ton of gold. Damnit! I get blasted with ice again, and this time it's my potion of resistance that breaks. Cmon cloak of preservation, what am I paying you for?

Ack, Antaeus has come out to play! Fortunately I am at full MP and should be able to get him steamed nicely -- especially since he's distracted by the vortices. Whew! I took a couple of Bolts of Cold to the face but kill him while still in great shape. I chop up his corpse for good measure (that'll teach him) and trod giddily towards his lair, which is guarded by a bunch of ice statues that can't stand up to Fire Storm. However, I find next to nothing: the rune (duh), some gold, a dazzling sling, and a Book of Maledictions. Bah! Cheapskate.

Back to my stash, let's check out the spoils. That artefact ring is... {Hunger- rPois}. Blech! The other ring is a ring of protection from cold -- a bit late. Nothing else of worth. Ah well. At least Necromancy's chugging along nicely: it's now level 25, so I should be able to master it in the next Hell branch I choose to explore. Which probably won't be Gehenna, heh. Tartarus, I'm looking your way...


I'll take Dis first, actually, since I want to make sure my Necromutation lasts as long as possible for Tartarus. Plus this place shouldn't be too difficult, since Lehudib's Crystal Spear should take care of whatever resists my spells, but Shatter would be best. Sadly it's one of the few spells that still eludes me. Oh well. I'm not too worried. I'll grab a couple of wands of disintegration just in case. Time to stand the test of iron.

Dis 1 starts with me surrounded by demons, obviously. I can take most of them fine but one too many stares into my crystal ball of energy takes all my MP... sigh. And this is with 30/50 MP and Evocations level 23.3! Must master it. Anyway, I briefly retreat to the Vestibule, return to finish off the denizens, then start exploring the level. Woah! Hell's mystical force decides to surround me with a hellion, a shadow, a flying skull, a hellwing, and four skeleton warriors. Controlled Blink, save me! Whew. Meleeing tormentors is fun. As is getting repeateadly surrounded by summoned demons. But it's not too difficult to escape their clutches, and the mystical force seems content with mostly blasting me with shrapnel every now and then for minor damage. Onwards!

Dis 2 is more of the same, but with more hell hounds, which means more flesh to feed my MP via Sublimation of Blood. Argh, Shadow Fiend summoned next to me... must Controlled Blink away and nuke for great justice. Apart from an efreet blasting me with hellfire and turning one of my two scrolls of blinking into cinders, not much of interest happens.

Dis 3 is quite fun: I run into a pack of hell knights as I'm surrounded by reapers and hell hounds, followed by a group of skeleton warriors that raise the hell knights and hell hounds, followed by various zombies and skeletons summoned around me. I have to revert to my living form to draw MP form my own body but end up on top. Crystal Spear and Fire Storm take care of most problems, I find.

Dis 4 has me fighting a huge pack of hell hounds led by a hellion rather quickly. I take one hellfire burst to the face but that's it. I use the hell hounds's meat to fuel my killing spree... Then there's a power outage and I have to redo the level, except this time I'm being surrounded by Pit Fiends and hellions. Grrr! Then I get surrounded by skeleton warriors and paralyzed. Grrrrrrrrrrr! Then I get surrounded by a balrug and seven hell hounds. RAWR! Then I kill a bunch of crimson imps with Crystal Spear, because goddamnit, I'm angry.

Dis 5 isn't too bad, except for the part where I get contaminated with magical energies twice in a row: I take minor damage and lose a couple of points of Dex. Evocations is now at level 25, all right!

Dis 6 is pretty easy. One my two lost Dex points returns as I prepare for the last level. Dispater, I come for you...

I start Dis 7 right next to Dispater's iron church thingie, and surrounded by iron trolls, metal gargoyles, and various other demons. Egads! Must not move off that gateway. Obviously, when I channel MP from my ball with 28/50, it drains me. Of course. I bring an iron golem back with me to the Vestibule, kill it, then rest and make the entire trip back to Dis 7. I do manage to pick up Evocations level 26 during that time. Whew! Entrance cleared after several more Fire Storms. Though I couldn't get any flesh off the iron troll corpses. I clear the rest of the level first, obviously, then come back to the entrance where I kill several metal gargoyles pouring out of the structure, followed by a summoned hellion. Hohoho, loot vaults... Lots of gold and an artefact flail. At the end of the corridor of vaults, however, I am swamped by a series of metal gargoyles, iron golems, and assorted fiends, but master Evocations while dealing with them. Huzzah! Let's move on to Necromancy now, and the rest of the vaults... Several piles of gold, a few books (nothing with Shatter in it), and a few artefact weapons. Okay, on to the big boss of this place.

I clear both corridors around Dispater's chamber using a little Fire Storm and a lot of Crystal Spear. I get surrounded by summoned demons a couple of times, however, and after blinking + Fire Storming a bunch of them, the lord Dispater himself comes out to play. Time to cremate myself a demon lord! We trade Crystal Spears and Iron Shots before he summons a bunch of friends, and as a testament to my great luck, I blink the wrong way, into a lot of very nasty stuff that I'd rather not have blinked into! Argh! Fortunately I had canceled Necromutation before blinking so I chug a potion of magic, cast Death's Door, then begin my final stand. I quaff my potion of speed, another potion of magic, then nuke Dispater with Crystal Spears until he keels over and dies. I chug my last potion of magic to finish off the worst offenders before escaping from the iron golems as Death's Door runs out. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. I offer a prayer of thanks to Vehumet for that iron dragon that left a corpse just before I entered the place as I cast Regeneration then get my MP back with the aforementioned flesh and Sublimation of Blood. So, what's the lesson today, kids? Don't try to fight Dispater one on one with Crystal Spears. Well, one on a dozen with assorted fiends and all that jazz. You know what I mean.

Ho ho ho, looting time! Lots of gold, a couple of books (a second Grand Grimoire!), and a couple of pieces of armor. Time to escape with my spoils of conquest and never, ever set foot in here again. Most of the stuff is bad (cursed weapon artefacts with +Rage and such), until, after all this time, I finally get my hands on a Robe of the Archmagi. I'd only been wearing my artefact robe with +2 Dex and +3 Int since Dungeon level 5! What an awesome find. I should be ready to tackle Tartarus now, where I'll master Necromancy, then work on my Shields skill until I can use a large shield I found earlier without problems. I do so wish I'd get some better boots or gloves. Guess that's what Pandemonium is for.


I need a break from Hell, and I'm not really feeling the remaining branches (Gehenna = fire, Tartarus = silence), so I'll go take a peek at Tomb. Thanks to an earlier Abyss trip I've mastered Necromancy so all that XP's gonna go into Ice Magic. Huh wha? Yes, I said Ice Magic. I'll be learning Ice Storm for Gehenna, and while my success rate right now is Fair, it needs to get a lot higher before I can sling raging blizzards around. Onwards!

I arrive in Tomb 1 and map the level with a scroll before starting exploration. Being undead is so nice for this: the worst curses are all torment and negative energy, so I can just ignore most of them and rack in the XP. Yay sphinxes! Those guys are worth a lot of XP and leave corpses behind. I use their flesh to clear the level's main vault, which has a few mummies but nothing too taxing. I do lose two points of Int to curses; I'll wait a bit before quaffing a potion of restore abilities. Being able to rest once in a while is great too. I'd missed it. Let's try our luck on the floor below.

Oh yeah, Tomb 2 starts with a zillion mummies surrounding you. I don't know whether it's better to kill them one by one with Crystal Spear or try to nuke many with Fire Storm. Let's be stealthy and chuck large crystal chunks at them. Woops, one of the curses slows me. Not good. I retreat, but now they're probably all waiting for me down there, damnit. Time for Death's Door heroics. I turn off Necromutation, cast Death's Door, then go down ready to fight. This works great until my time runs out and I have to race back upstairs: at that point, I'm low on MP and bring one too many friends back with me. Gah, I should have learned Tornado. I'm able to Blink and outlast Death's Door exhaustion before I need to cast it again, but at this point I'm surrounded by baddies (including two greater mummies) and low on MP. I could chug a potion of magic, read a scroll of teleportation (though with -cTele on the level I'm not sure where I'll land), or read a scroll of holy word to try to stun and kill as much as possible while I make a break for it. Since I'm slowed too I'm getting less usage from Death's Door than I wish I did. Okay, let's try the teleport thing. Whew, I am teleported far away, and in a safe place! I heal up and restore my stats before returning to the stairs, killing the mummies along the way. Do I dare try this again? Why not! What could ever go wrong?

This time though I wield my crystal ball of energy first, saving a turn, since I don't need the rElec or the SInv. Oh hey there's a lot less stuff than I remember. I kill the remains, return upstairs to heal and remove my rot, then Necromutate again and go back down. All clear! Woohoo. Let's very carefully explore our surroundings... Potion of gain intelligence, yay! I won't chug it quite yet -- I need to get rid of my -10% HP first. I keep clearing, losing another four points of Int in the progress (ugh), but before long am looking at the stairs back up to the first level. Need to make a trip back to the stash first, though. I drop off some loot I've accumulated, grab more scrolls of remove curse and potions of restore abilities, then get rid of my -10% HP with a potion of cure mutation and chug my gain intelligence. Ice Storm is at Great now! I'll wait for Excellent before turning off Ice Magic.

I make the trip back to Tomb 2 then take the stairs back to another part of Tomb 1, Hasting myself beforehand just in case. Sure enough, the first mummy I see, a guardian mummy, curses me with slow. I kill it and the two other mummies that show up, retreat to Tomb 2, then wait to regen and get rid of my contamination and slow before resuming. Ice Magic reaches level 9.2 after a couple more greater mummies, which makes Ice Storm's success rate Excellent, so I turn it off in favor of Fighting -- I could use more health at this point. Lehudib's Crystal Spear takes out greater mummies easily and without waking up all their friends; perfect for this long, narrow corridor, which I like to call the Mummy Gauntlet of Doom. The Zot traps are just icing on the cake. Of doom! Anyway. I proceed carefully, cremating mummies one at a time whenever possible, resting every few steps to check for traps: this is one of the only areas in the game where a decent Traps & Doors skill comes in useful, might as well use it. Woot, collateral kill from fire vortex on a greater mummy! I love it when that happens. I also love when I get summoned demons death curses: one dose of Mass Abjuration cures them all. Finally, gauntlet cleared! That was a bit of work but not as dangerous as what I've had to deal with so far. I again Haste myself before going down.

The second half of Tomb 2 starts with a whimper: a normal mummy and some potions (including a potion of cure mutation!) greet me. I use Apportation to grab the loot while the mummy slowly shambles in my direction. Mummy face, meet Crystal Spear. There are two exits to the room, each leading ultimately to stairs down; I start by going one way, avoiding roughly a zillion traps and killing a few mummies before reaching the stairs down at the end. I backtrack and try the other side: more mummies and more traps. It is time to try the last floor. Haste, then go.

I am met by multiple guardian mummies and mummy priests on Tomb 3. First things first: scroll of magic mapping for recon. Oh wow this is open. Fire Storm is probably gonna cause a shit storm. Oh well. On the plus side, my second Fire Storm manages to kill something like eight mummies at once, and most of their death curses end up fizzling out -- although one slows me and a few other drop my Dex by six (!) points. Nothing I can't handle for the moment, especially since I'm getting mad MP from kills thanks to Vehumet. More mummies, more fire! Yikes, Dex down to 9. Gotta keep an eye on that. I keep killing, and killing, and killing, but eventually it's all demons and no mummies; just then my crystal ball fails me and drains all my MP so I take that as a good sign that I should be heading back upstairs for a break. On my return, a handful of mummies (including two greater ones) are waiting for me, but at this point they're not enough to stop me. I start making my way towards the central area carefully, ready to run at any moment. Wait, maybe Khufu will be here? I have a wand of disintegration on me, I hope his tomb is rock and not stone. Golden rune, yoink! Hurray for controlled teleports again.

Let's try one of the vaults. Holy crapola that's a truckload of loot. Guarded by an iguana simulacrum, of all things. I hope this bronze shield turns out good. The second vault has even better loot: artefact ring and amulet, books, gold... Since my pack is full and I can't carry everything I decide to identify the ring and the amulet. The amulet is conservation with +2 Dex; the ring is {Ice Str+2 Int+5}. Kinda nifty for when I'll go to Gehenna. The books are nothing new, though I get a second Necronomicon, and really, can you ever have too many of those? I think not. The shield, it turns out, is the +5 Shield of Resistance {rF+ rC+ MR}, which all things considered is balls-out awesome. There's even some loot to be had outside the vaults but nothing noteworthy. And that... was Tomb. Whew. Bit of a close call near the start, but excellent XP (enough to get Fighting to level 22.1) and great loot, all things considered. I shall now head back to my stash to check out the rest of my valuables, uncurse as much of my gear as possible, and gloat to no one that I beat the Tomb.

So, let's see... the weapons are all crap. The glowing boots are boots of running! Yippee! I enchant them right away to +2. Those will serve me very well. The artefact animal skin and ring mail are crap too. Still missing those elusive wands of hasting and amulets of stasis... I guess it's impossible to have the perfect game. Although this is going extremely well; it's actually the first time I've managed to clear the Tomb. Character dump!


Gehenna is actually kind of a big deal for me. It's another one of those branches I've never been able to fully clear: the last time I was there, I got wrecked by serpents of Hell before I could even fart in their general direction, an outcome I'm loathe to repeat this time around. Now, I do want to learn Ice Storm, but I'd rather not unlearn Ring of Flames for it, since it provides excellent protection from fire and clouds of flame. Alas, there's nothing else I want to part with that'll get me enough spells levels, so here goes nothing. At least I'm packing rF+++ from gear.

I'm surrounded by a couple of weaksauce enemies on Gehenna 1 so I blink away then tear through them. Ice Storm's targeting requires a little more finesse than Fire Storm's, but it makes short work of all fire-based enemies in here, including packs of hell hogs and hellions. Plus the clouds linger longer -- but no vortices. Ack, a section of clouds of flame that I can't go through. I miss Ring of Flames already! Despite conservation and rF+++ I lose a scroll of blinking on this level but am otherwise unharmed.

So, uhm, the stairs to Gehenna 2 take me a tiny enclosed area and I can't find any secret doors. Huh. Let's try another staircase then. There we go. A lot of lava, a lot of hell knights (who fall much more easily to Ice Storm than to Fire Storm), and then it's time to bid this level adieu.

Gehenna 3: small rooms, corridors. Yay! Eat fire, lich. Jeez, one Ice Storm can fill a small room all by itself and annihilate everything in it. I'm feeling a bit overpowered. I beat back an eldritch tentacle to its dimension before finishing to explore the level. I've lost a point of Str and three of Int on this level. I must be careful; thankfully, I'm packing several potions of restore attributes and scrolls of remove curse, so I'm extremely well-prepared.

Gehenna 4 is more of the same. Happy times! I use Crystal Spear whenever a Brimstone Fiend is summoned near me and consume enough hell hound meat to feed a family of four for months. Downwards.

Gehenna 5 looks a lot like the second level: plenty of lava and narrow corridors. Those aren't the best for Ice Storm. Oh, it's a lake of lava, smack dab in the middle of the level. With a staircase down inside. Sounds like fun!

On Gehenna 6 I kill a vampire by running him through with a Crystal Spear and pick up his snack, a potion of blood, which is handy for fueling Sublimation of Blood. Rooms + plus corridors again! Quokka zombie? Well this is a nice change of pace from multiple Brimstone Fiends gunning for my intestines. While some hell knights are kind enough to offer their corpses for the war effort, the last in a series of many bursts of sticky flame consumes my last scroll of remove curse, and I'm faced with a quandary: go back now or finish the level? My sword isn't cursed yet but if it is at the wrong moment it could spell doom. I feel lucky... then come up on a stone vault. That's got danger written all over it. And whaddya know: I'm surrounded by a zillion hell knights and hell hogs as I venture forward to investigate. Thank Vehumet for Controlled Blink. I sling Ice, then Fire, then Ice again, and use Apportation to grab the corpses and get more meat. The vault was actually two small vaults: one fire-themed (hence the hell knights), one ice-themed (hence the ice fiends). Neither has great loot save for a crystal hand axe and a book with three spells I don't need (Sting, Olgreb's Toxic Radiance, and Iron Shot). I almost clear the rest of the level, but as I'm about to, I kill a mummy and it curses my sword, so I have to escape back to the Vestibule to take care of that. It's a blessing in disguise: I'd forgotten my scroll of magic mapping anyway. I return, finish checking it out, then prepare myself for Asmodeus and his joyous pack of friends.

A hellion, a molten gargoyle, and pals await me on Gehenna 7. I slay many demons before a wall of them is summoned before me: a balrug, a hellion, three neqoxecs and other assorted baddies, looking me right in the eye from a tile away. Egads! Let's go back up and try some other staircase down. This, of course, entails going through the entire place again, which is annoying. Argh, it takes me back to the same portal, though the demons have wandered a couple of tiles away. I storm the pack with Fire and Ice then am clear. I start exploring around that huge lake of lava, killing large packs of demons from range easily: the ones across the lake can't do much but shake their fists at me while I pelt them. A Brimstone Fiend manages to land two bursts of hellfire on me, so I get out of Necromutation to cast Regeneration, then am immediately tormented by Hell's mystical force. Fine, fine, I get it. Okay, outside perimeter clear, let's check out that island complex.

It's a series of small rooms leading directly into one another: these should be perfect for Storm spells. First, though, I circle the complex, killing a couple of stray enemies, before heading in through the multiple front gates. And yep, sure enough, serpent of Hell says hi. Two Ice Storms take care of it nicely! That was a good investment. I'm getting kinda close... I take a few hellfires to the face from a Brimstone Fiend that simply won't die, so I back up, heal a few times with my wand, then recharge it. I do not like fighting in this narrow corridor, but without a solid fix on Asmodeus's position, I'd rather pull demons back to here than risk stumbling into them. I turn a corner... and there he is, coming out of his throne room. I cast Haste on myself, then make with the Ice Storms. He summons; I Mass Abjure. I lure him around the corner... and three Ice Storms later, he falls to the ground, dead as dead can be. I'll be taking that rune and sceptre, thank you very much! Woah ho ho, that is a lot of gold you'd been keeping in your vaults, sir. Alas there's nothing else of value save for a book (no good spells) and a couple of banal rings. Guess I'll just be on my way. That wasn't too bad after all. I'm a little worried about Tartarus and its silent spectres. Only one way to find out how bad they can be.

Pandemonium #1

I'm really not feeling Tartarus and its silence. Instead, I'll go hunt some demons and see how my Vehumet piety holds up while scumming in Pandemonium. Hopefully I'll come across a Ziggurat or some easy Pandemonium lords. It does mean extra preparation!

  • I'm bringing my Bread sword for rElec but will be using my staff of conjurations by default (I'll be getting my SInv from my good old Ring of the Forgotten Mice -- yes the rPois is wasted but it's still the best combo).
  • I'm bringing extra wands (digging, teleportation), potions (magic, heal wounds, resistance) and scrolls (recharging, identify, magic mapping).
  • I've found three legendary decks in my quest thus far: I identify them as changes (Potion is next), war (Battlelust is next), and a second war (Elixir is next). That third one's an amazing ace in the hole! With my Evocations level 27 I stand a good chance of getting full HP and MP if I draw from it.
  • I hadn't realized it before, but one of the artefact amulets I'd found before has -TELE as one of its properties, so I'll be bringing a scimitar of distortion too in case I need to make a hasty exit towards the Abyss.

All right, looking good! Let's go cook ourselves some demons.

Oh goodie, first level and it's a mighty Pandemonium lord. Ugh. Judging from the yellow walls and red floor that means it's Mnoleg the trickster. Not resistant to cold, eh? I read a scroll of magic mapping to get a fix on where he is: there's a large, weird room with plenty of angles nearby that looks like a likely candidate, so we'll be staying away from there. Lots of neqoxecs on this level, so I must make sure to stay in lich form or I'm bound to earn some bad mutations. Potion of cure mutation, yoink! And... level clear except for that weird room. Gulp. No ifs or buts about it: this is gonna be interesting. The entrance to the room is at the end of a long, narrow corridor, at a right angle, so I toss some Fire Storms to wake up the neqoxecs, shout for good measure, then back up a few steps, Fire Storming the entrance whenever a demon pokes its head through. Then, after a minute or so, nothing else is coming out. Uhm. Damn I wish I was an Ashenzari worshipper sometimes. Let's peek in. I stay along the edges, killing some bad guys, but suddenly Mnoleg pops out from behind a corner, yelling insults at me. You ruffian! First Haste, which, coupled with Swiftness, will let me zoom around with unparalleled speed. Ice Storm #1: moderately wounded. Ice Storm #2: severely wounded, smites me for minor damage. I back up a bit, letting the clouds of freezing vapour do their work on the bastard, then it's Ice Storm #3.... and a dead Mnoleg. Glowing rune of Zot, you are mine! My only reward is a jewelled scale mail, nothing great, especially considering its weight. Oh well. I've killed a mighty Pan lord with minimal problems. Bring on Cerebov! Kidding.

Next level is... another mighty Pandemonium lord. ARGH. Judging by the wizard next to me this must be Lom Lobon's domain. I map the level, which looks badass: Lom Lobon's vault (which I spawned right next to) is a series of ovals that are very open and probably filled with demons. Must be careful. I kill a lot of demons and wizards (yay wizard corpses) before I'm able to take off and check out the rest of the level -- a few potions of heal wounds and assorted goodies. But soon it's giant eye demon time. I do hope my fire vortices will be able to block his Ice Storm; that reminds me, I have to wield my sword of Bread for the rElec, I'd rather not get electrocuted by his Conjure Ball Lightning. The largest oval chamber is empty save for a couple of smoke demons so I push on. Woops, wizard in the second one, close to the final chamber: surely giant eye is awake now. Time for Fire Storm spam. HOLY CRAP he just Ice Stormed all my fire vortices from offscreen. This means Haste and getting ready to fight. And there he is! Yeah, keep calling me a hedge-pig and meleeing my fire vortices, that sounds just fine to me. I toss Fire Storm after Fire Storm on top of him, surrounding him with a zillion fire vortices and keeping him from moving or casting: this awesome strategy lets me kill him without ever getting hit once after six Fire Storms! Woohoo! Magical rune, you are mine! Barely any loot though, just a bread ration and a scroll of identify. Meh. I kinda wish I could get a normal Pan level, that'd be swell...

Yay normal level! I am surrounded by a pack of hellwings and smoke demons, so I blink away and Ice Storm their faces off. The level has a few demon packs otherwise but nothing really annoying. Oh yeah, what was that book I picked up a bit ago? A Book of Earth! Yay! Finally, access to Shatter. Not that I need it, but one never knows. Okay, I'm Burdened when not in lich form, so those artefact heavy armours, while nifty, just have to go. Hmmmm, vault-like structure... Yep, sure enough demons start pouring out of it, including Psouprum: a powerful demon, with a glassy body and hairy wings. Resistant to fire, eh? Let's try ice. Ouch, one-shot. Sorry Psouprum. The only worthwhile item is a potion of curing, the rest is all weapons and armour. Onwards.

Normal level again. I open a door next to my starting position... and it's a vault with Shrogoum (radiates an aura of extreme power?) and lots of fire-based demons. I toss a Fire Storm to weaken them, blink away just to be safe, and make with the Ice Storms (our friend Shrogoum is resistant to fire). Not much else on the level save for some Executioners, which are always fun and good XP.

Next level: lots of tier-5 demons and a scroll of acquirement. Whee! I'm not sure what I'd wish for, to be honest, at this point. I find the vault and have to dig out an entrance: some demons and Breat, a Pan lord vulnerable to fire, are inside. Bad day to be Breat. A demon whip, a ring of hunger and a plain deck of cards. Uhm, no thanks.

The next level features a pretty strong Pan lord that almost manages to melee me after I drain my MP to 0 with my crystal ball, a Shadow Fiend (pew pew), and a gateway out! There's no reason not to take it, which I do, after clearing the entire level, so I can return to my stash and drop my loots.

Pandemonium #2

Feeling rather good about killing two unique Pan lords, even though they were the "easy" ones (notice the quotation marks). Anyway, in-between Pan trips I took to the Abyss for fun and found an artefact spear with rF++: I'll be bringing it on this trip in case I come across Cerebov. And for Gloorx Vlooq... I have no idea. An Executioner on steroids who can torment and Dispel Undead? I'll just have to overpower him and keep my finger near the Death's Door key.

The first level is pretty empty. I kill a random Pan lord and grab an unidentified rod: a rod of venom. Cursed, though. Good thing I carry some scrolls of remove curse for that very purpose.

The second level has a Vaults-like layout and features quite a few lorocyprocas. I don't know if I should bother picking up permafood anymore: I've got forty bread rations and forty meat rations waiting for me at my stash. Not like one more snozzcumber is going to make a big difference. Although I will pick up that royal jelly, thank you very much. Huh, no Pan lord or vault on this level. There is a gateway out but I've only been here a few minutes. Let's keep going.

The third level does have a Pan lord and a vault with some artefact boots: +3 Int and nothing else. Well, those aren't terribad, I suppose. I'll keep 'em for the moment.

The fourth level has... nothing. Just a very wide open level with a few weak demons and a lot of permafood.

The fifth level has a Pan lord called Stram who uses hellfire once. Sadly, Stram is not resistant to cold, so Stram dies a horrible Ice Stormy death a turn after pelting me with the aforementioned hellfire. A Brimstone Fiend tries the same stunt a moment later with exactly the same result. Not much else of note.

The sixth level again has a layout like the Vaults. Boring as hell (not literally). A Pan lord susceptible to fire does not last long. There's a gateway out and a few scrolls in his vault but I'm going on.

A potion of magic on the seventh level. Yay! Those are rare and near the top of my list. A Pan lord and a couple of badass tier-1 demons die to multiple Ice Storms: nothing in the vault worth picking up. At least there was the potion.

Oh wow. The eight level has a mighty Pan lord and I'm surrounded by four balrugs right off the bat. Care to take a guess as to who lives here? I'll go with Cerebov, the most powerful monster in the entire game. I shall read a scroll to blink out of sight of a couple of them -- hellfire times four doesn't sound very attractive. Well that worked brilliantly. Now to map the level... Holy shit I got spawned right in the middle of Cerebov's vault. I hope I didn't make too much noise with those Ice Storms. Imma back the hell out of here and clear the rest of the level first. Oh wow, and I just realized there's a freaking Ziggurat portal on this level. This is the motherload! There's barely anything on the rest of the level, so... Yeah, it's time. I make my way back to Cerebov's complex and trade my staff of conjurations for my artefact spear with rF++. I think I'll revert to living form so I can quaff pots in case I spot Mr. C. I'll start with the side that has the loot! An artefact ring has nothing but SInv and rElec; no thanks. A random spellbook with spells I don't need and already have access to many times over... same. Dagger of venom with MR? Guh. This side has Pit Fiends too... And neqoxecs. Maybe I should stick to lich form for now. Yeah, sounds good. Now for the other side with loot... A fine bow with rPois and other useless egos: gone. Many books of bad spells? Not needed! And just like that... all that's left is the large central chamber with the huge gate. Oh man.

I put up Swiftness before venturing in; it'll last a long time and I may need it to run away. The gate is open, so I revert to living form, chug a potion of speed, a potion of resistance, and a potion of brilliance, then move into range. It's him! I back up, tossing Ice Storms as I go, and cast Death's Door preventively, quaffing two potions of magic in the process. He... doesn't do anything. Just keeps walking towards me. It takes a total of eight(!) Ice Storms to kill him! I'll be taking that giant flaming sword. And the loot. And the fiery rune! Ho ho ho. Twelve out of fifteen runes and the strongest monster in the game dead at my feet: this ain't a bad game at all. Now if you'll excuse me I'll be hopping into that Ziggurat portal! 4130 gold is nothing, I'm up to 13484 by now.

I check out all the loot I've gotten so far and drop all the useless items, including scrolls of enchant weapon, plain decks of cards, and so on. I'll also put on those boots with +3 Int since I won't be doing much running around in a Ziggurat. Should I drop my artefact spear, now that it's fulfilled its purpose? Eh, sure. Refresh Necromutation, rest for full MP... and in we go.

Ziggurat #1

  • Level 1: A single large abomination. I'm scared. A couple of scrolls of teleportation.
  • Level 2: The ghost of my other level 27 Deep Elf Fire Elementalist, who'd died to a horde of mummies in another Ziggurat! I'd forgotten about, you pal. This floor is tiny so we'll be cozy. Sure enough, I eat a Fire Storm to the face, but the poor bastard was susceptible to cold (thank you rings of fire) so I blink out of the fire, cast Death's Door, Ice Storm him twice, and come out on top. No sweat! Just call me Mr. Exorcist. Again, some scrolls of teleportation.
  • Level 3: Deep dwarves are great. They leave corpses and always carry plenty of potions of curing and heal wounds. I identify a rod of summoning but won't be bringing it along.
  • Level 4: A curse skull and some orcs. Not a challenge. Nothing worth picking up.
  • Level 5: Looks like an archery range: a centaur warrior and a deep elf master archer. The books are boring but I nab yet another potion of cure mutation. Where be the potions of experience at, yo?
  • Level 6: Oh hey draconian level. Finally, a staff of air! I'll be adding that to my collection. A fuming yellow potion can only be something good... And it is experience! We'll be sinking all that into Ice Magic to get it finished ASAP. Level 23 and going strong.
  • Level 7: Orc level again. Oh never mind, stone giants too. And a goblin. Wow, hadn't seen one of those in a while.
  • Level 8: Demons and stuffs, including a not-so menacing anymore balrug. Oh, and a deep dwarf necromancer, who was wielding a rod of destruction [ice]; one more item type identified. I also pick up an artefact ring: the ring of Griciwk {rElec rPois rF+ MR Dex+4 SInv}. Man, if only that +Dex was +Int! I also find and identify the amulet of stasis (finally), a manual of Translocations, and a gluggy white potion. Surely a potion of porridge.
  • Level 9: Ah, mummies. I hadn't missed you one bit. I put on my ring of sustain abilities then get to work. Some of my stuff gets cursed, including my gloves (le sigh), so I have to uncurse them... Down to three scrolls of remove curse. I hope I find more. One third of the way through!
  • Level 10: Hmmm, -cTele on this level. A bunch of orcs with an eye of devastation encased inside translucent rock walls? I use Fire Storm to kill the eye then launch more, safely behind the cover of the translucent walls. Not much of a challenge. A potion of cure mutation is always a nice find.
  • Level 11: Ooooh, now it's getting fun. An ancient lich, a yaktaur captain, and a fire giant greet me warmly. I greet them just as warmly with Fire Storm! Mmm, multiple ancient liches... nice XP. Ice Magic reach level 24 on this level. A manual of Shields: not bad! And another gluggy white potion. I much prefer levels like these: decent opposition and loot.
  • Level 12: More of the same fare. An artefact ring with {Hunger Str+2 Int+4 Acc+5} isn't bad.
  • Level 13: The levels are getting pretty open. Fortunately, this is an insect floor with scorpions and the like. Ghost moths, too, so it's not a complete pushover. Another artefact ring; since the chances that it's an upgrade are slim, I'll save my scrolls of identify for now.
  • Level 14: Draconians again. I pick up an artefact helmet, an artefact amulet, and a potion of XP. All this loot is getting heavy. Do I really need fourteen scrolls of teleporation? Probably not. Let's pare that down to five. Ice Magic is at level 25.2 but I should be able to master it by the end of this.
  • Level 15: Deep dwarves a-plenty. OW. An offscreen unborn deep dwarf prays to Yredelemnul and reflects the damage I deal to him back to me... Which in this case was all 164 points of it. Mother of all that is holy that's overpowered. And... it happens again. Except this time, I'm down to something like 40 HP, and eat 50 HP worth of damage. Wow. Talk about a stupid death.


Morgue is here for those who are interested. Quite frankly this is by far the stupidest kind of monster I've ever encountered, and I hope it's removed from the game. I can kill the strongest Pan lords but a deep dwarf can two-shot me from offscreen and I have no way of knowing this? Right. If the only counter to a monster is preventive Death's Door then that monster might be just a tad unbalanced.

At any rate, I could have won the game or finished the Ziggurat with few problems, which showcases just how powerful a well-played Deep Elf Fire Elementalist (with a little help from Ice Storm!) can be. I hope you enjoyed reading!