Naughty's Demonspawn Conjurer of Vehumet guide

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This article contains advice from other players, which may be subjective, outdated, inaccurate or ill-advised. Read at your own risk and alter to fit your play style as necessary!
Version 0.11: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.


Overview

This guide centres around playing a Demonspawn Conjurer of Vehumet in the simplest and most direct way.

While Deep Elves and High Elves have better aptitudes for this style of play they are more frail than Demonspawn and also, in the author's opinion, less interesting due to the lack of mutations.

Rationale

There's a few synergies for a Demonspawn Conjurer of Vehumet that require explanation:

  • The Conjurer's starting book leans toward Ice Magic for it's midgame damage dealing with the excellent Freezing Cloud and Bolt of Cold spells.
  • Vehumet's passive conjuration bonusses help a lot to mitigate a Demonspawn's -1 aptitude for Ice Magic. So Freezing Cloud, Bolt of Cold and later Ice Storm are easier to cast.
  • If your Conjurations skill is higher than your Summoning skill (which this guide pressumes) and you either start as a Conjurer or manage to find the book of Conjurations early enough the first gift you get from Vehumet is the book of Power. This contains Iskenderun's Mystic Blast and Orb of Destruction as well as other midgame nukes which will greatly increase your survivability.
  • With Vehumet's gifts you get guanranteed access to Ice Storm, one of the most powerful spells in the game. You would eventually get this with Sif Muna as well but it can take a long time to arrive.
  • There's a Demonspawn mutation (Icy Envelope) that gives extra AC but is removed by casting or being hit by Fire Magic. While the chance to get this mutation in any particular game is very small, sticking with Ice Magic means you don't lose the AC advantage as often. There's no corresponding mutation that is undone by casting Ice Magic either.
  • Conjurer's and Demonspawn have a common trait, they have harder early games but get a lot better from midgame onwards.

Mutations

The raison d'etre of Demonspawn is mutations. As you level up you get random, positive mutations that change your character. They are too many to go into detail here and the rules are a little complex so look up either Demonspawn Mutations on this wiki (a little out of date as of this writing) or ds mutation rules on Henzell for more detail.

Instead of an exhaustive list here's some notes about the mutations that interact with a Conjurer.

  • Powered by Pain. This is an excellent but passive panic button for Demonspawn that rely on MP.
  • Powered by Death. The healing from this mutation can be very powerful once the mutation levels up. It does increase hunger though which can be a problem for spellcasters.
  • Foul stench. The main bonus for this mutation is that contaminated (brown) chunks don't cause Nausea quite as often which helps alleviate spell hunger. The rot immunity and miasma clouds are nice but you can't rely on them.
  • Ignite Blood. In 0.10 this is almost commically over powered and tactically interesting for Conjurers:
    • It turns blood spilled in your line of sight into flame clouds like those you create with Conjure Flame.
    • It makes you totally immune to damage from flame clouds.
    • It makes slightly more blood get spilled.
    • Any pure Conjuration like Magic Dart, Iskenderun's Mystic Blast or Orb of Destruction can frequently cause bleeding on 'bloody' monsters (undead and demons don't have blood).
    • Butchering the fresh corpses of monsters often causes blood to be spilled nearby.
  • Nightstalker. You might think the decrease in line of sight distance would hurt a Conjurer but on the whole it helps.
  • Thin skeletal structure. You'll need to bump Str to counteract this mutation as Demonspawn Conjurer's start with only 8 which is the safe minimum for Str to be.
  • Demonic Guardian. This does help, especially if it maxes early on, but the demons will start to get in the way when Freezing Cloud and Ice Storm are your major damage dealing spells. Be careful not to accidentally attack your guardian and turn them hostile.
  • Monstrous. There's a 1 in 10 chance of being monstrous and you'll be informed about this when you get your first mutation. This is the main mutation that can ruin a run as a Demonspawn because it deprives you of three body slots. I wouldn't blame you if you quit when you got this but there is a plus side worth considering, if you train Unarmed Combat and play as a kind of Monk, Conjurer hybrid it can be a lot of fun although very tricky.
  • Yellow Scales. This is probably the most useless scales mutation, even in the Slime Pits it only helps a little becuase it doesn't protect your gear.
  • Icy Envelope. A welcome boost in AC for a magic user but it dissaptes every time Fire Magic is used by you or hits you. Also available in spell form as Ozocubu's Armour. Do these stack?

Stats

Always bump Int unless you get the thin skeletal structure mutation, in which case keep Str around 8.

Strategy: Overview

The long term plan is to get Ice Storm and some utility spells like Haste and Repel/Deflect Missiles.

Armour

Robes of resistance or the rare robe of the archmagi are my preferred choices. You sometime get a nice artefact robe but always make sure you have a remove curse before you try it. The worst fixed artefact in the game is the robe of Misfortune and easilly a death sentence for an unlucky magic user. A decent leather armour artefact might be worth wearing but it'll make Ice Storm slightly harder to get. Anything heavier I would disregard.

Weapons and Shields

As a Conjurer you'll mostly want to be nuking monsters from a distance so you have flexibility when it comes to weapon choice.

Shields are strictly optional but branded bucklers aren't uncommon to so I normally run with one and train Shields skill to 5 to counteract the spellcasting inteference they cause. I'll only start training Shields once I get Freezing Cloud at a low failure rate though because it's such a vital spell to a Conjurer.

The best weapon is an enhancer staff like a staff of conjurations or a staff of cold. They are reasonably common but I tend to choose Staff from scroll of acquirement until I get one. A staff of energy, wizardry or power is not to be sniffed at either but your focus should be on damage dealing.

Demonspawn have an intrinsic bonus with the three demonic weapons: demon whip, demon blade and demon trident. These don't appear until later on in the game though so you take a gamble training any weapons skill in anticipation.

It's worth having a standby weapon for emegencies either due to some nice resistances on an artefact or a nice brand like poison early on.

Monstrous Demonspawn are great for Unarmed Combat but you have a -1 aptitude and need the experience for other skills. Unarmed Combat also needs quite a bit of training to get really effective.

Jewellry

Normal rules apply here with only a few conjurer specifics.

A ring of wizardy is great early on for a Conjurer, a ring of magical power is also good. It also might be worth wearing an amulet of faith early on to get Vehumet's gifts earlier but when you take it off it'll take a third of your piety so be careful.

An amulet of the gourmand can be very useful for spellcasters due to spell hunger.

Books

Be on the lookout for books containg the following spells:

  • Throw Icicle. It makes a great replacement of Iskenderun's Mystic Blast for an Ice Magic user because it also hurts ice resistant ro immune monsters.
  • Repel Missiles or Deflect Missiles. One of these is vital or at least very, very, highly recommended.
  • Haste. Even after it got nerfed from a 2x bonus to a 1.5x bonus it's a very useful spell to have.
  • Apportation. Really cheap spell and you only ever need to use it when you've not learnt it :)
  • Regeneration. Not as useful if you have the powered by death mutation but cheap and a good starting point if you want Dispel Undead.
  • Dispel Undead. Not vital for a conjurer due to having other nukey options but Demonspawn have a +1 Necromany aptitude and it's not too hard to train.
  • Phase Shift. I personally find this quite useful.
  • Abjuration. Vehumet will eventually gift you this as well as Mass Abjuration but maybe not before Orc:4 where it's quite useful.
  • Shadow Creatures. You can save learning this until you attack Zot you also don't need much Summoning skill because Vehumet helps you and you should have very high Spellcasting by the time it's useful.
  • Summon Butterflies. Useful meat shields and cheap to learn.
  • Swiftness. Cowards win crawl, and this imporves your cowardly potential.
  • Ozocubu's Armour. You'll be training Ice Magic and Charms and this can get quite powerful.

Strategy: Early Game

Demonspawn can have a very variable early game due to mutations. If you max a good mutation early on it can be a lot easier but it safer to assume this hasn't happened for a guide.

Due to the early game difficulty I'm going to write a fairly detailed sequence of suggestions but don't take this as the absolutely optimal path. It's mainly for those witout a lot of crawl or Conjurer experience.

There are a few 'phases' in the early game for a Conjurer that correspond to when various spells become usable. The playstyle in the phases can change quite a bit.

Phase 1: Getting Mephitic Cloud

  • Switch on manual training in the Skills menu.
  • Focus Spellcasting, leave Conjurations on, turn on Traps & Doors and turn off everything else.
  • Now kill things with Magic Dart and try and find a first weapon, any weapon really but be careful with the branded (blue) weapons as they may be cursed or even worse distortion branded (although this isv ery rare).
  • Once Traps & Doors passing level 1 switch it off.
  • Once you reach level 3 learn Mephitic Cloud and switch on Air Magic and Poison Magic.
  • Once Poison Magic gets to level 1 switch it off.

Mephitic Cloud is one of the reasons magic users have an easier early game than melee users. A lot of early threats are suseptable to it including ogres, centaurs, orc bands and uniques like Sigmund, Jessica, Ijyb and most of the time Crazy Yiuf (although he sometimes has a cloak of poison resistance, in which case run away and come back when your stronger to steal his lovely cloak). You might also find Purgy in one of the sewer portal variants.

Mephitic Cloud is also the first noisy spell you've learnt thus far. This can cause nearby enemies off-screen to come looking for you and wake up sleeping enemies.

This still leaves icebeasts, wights, player ghosts and the uniques Menkaure and Grinder being danagerous.

I suggest getting 1 level of Poison Magic because it helps avoid Mephitic miscasts (which can be deadly early on) and Demonspawn have a better aptitude for it than Air Magic.

Also watch out for Orc Priests (they're the green orcs in tiles) as their smiting ability hurts Demonspawn more than usual and they only need line of sight to use it.

Phase 2: The Journey to Lightning Bolt

Be on the lookout for the Ecumenical Temple or any altars to Vehumet outside the temple. There's two Vehumet altars worthy of note.

  • One is blocked by trees. Use Lightning Bolt to burn the trees, stand back though as the trees explode and can set off other trees.
  • One has flame clouds bursting over it. This is a tricky one without fire resistance or very good timing only attempt at full health and if you've got some form of healing. If you find this altar very early on carry on until you've levelled up a few times and come back later.

If you haven't already learnt about multizap (on this wiki or Henzell) as it makes Lightning Bolt far more potent. Also Lightning Bolt is very, very loud and can cause enemies to come looking from quite a way accross the map so be careful.

Lightning Bolt now covers a reasonably large hole in your offences. Ice beasts, wights, player ghosts and others can now be killed without too much issues. Well apart from player ghosts which for Conjurers know Mephtic Cloud and it's unlikely you have rPois yet.

Phase 3: Towards Freezing Cloud and The Lair

If you aren't worshipping Vehumet by now and you're past D:9 you've missed the altar somehow. Go back and find it.

It'll take quite a bit of experience to get Freezing Cloud and Bolt of Cold castable. Vehumet's passive ability at ** or above piety makes it easier to cast all Conjurations and some other nukey spells.

If you find a random spellbook with Throw Icicle in it, learn it. It's not that likely but for Ice Magic users it makes a great replaceent for Iskenderun's Mystic Blast.

You may have found the entrace to the Orcish mines by now, don't go there yet.

I wouldn't recommend entering the Lair without Freezing Cloud and Bolt of Cold.

Once you get Freezing Cloud and Bolt of Cold to about 10-15% failure rate you should just have enough spell slots to memorise them both. If not prioritise Bolt of Cold because you'll it'll be easier to cast and is powerful enough to drop the spiny toads and hydras you may meet in Lair.

Once you've got Freezing Cloud working you've hit a major milestone:

  • You've memorised your entire starting book so you can discard it.
  • The Lair is now a lot less intimidating, especially if you haven't got rPois yet.
  • Freezing Cloud is one of the best spells in the midgame and you will be using it heavily for quite a while, make sure to learn its many uses.
    • It tries to fill the area around where it's cast so you can use it to fill corridors but be careful not to get yourself.
    • A few casts can cover quite a large area. Found a vault full of bees and you don't have rPois? No problem simply cast at the area near the door and then fill in the rest of the room behind it.
    • Cast it at a group then walk away or hide round a corner, covering your tracks with more clouds. Cowards, especially Freezing Cloud equipped cowards, win crawl.
  • However it isn't great against fast enemies unless they're in a corridor. For hydras, black mambas and maybe spiny frogs use Bolt of Cold.

Use either Lair:1 or Lair:2 as a stash and store your excess baggage, with Str around 8 you can't really carry that much.

Strategy: Midgame

Normally you'll get your first Vehumet gift somewhere in Lair. As a Conjurer it'll be the book of Power. This has some great midgame nukes in it as well as Mass Confusion for some reason.

I would suggest you learn Iskenderun's Mystic Blast (if you haven't got Throw Icicle) and Orb of Destruction as soon as possible. These now sure up the last hole in your midgame offensive capabilities (undead and Ice resistant enemies).

Once you've cleared Lair, clear Orc. Be careful on Orc:4 there's several potential killers there. I won't write down all the potential threats, there's other guides and places for that. Don't be afraid of running away and comming back later.

By now you Traps & Doors skill should be around 8-10. Stop training it once it's 10 that should be good enough for the rest of the game.

It's worth getting a bit of Stealth training in, up to about 6-8 should do.

Charms

You also want to be training Charms to around 10 for Haste and Repel/Deflect Missiles. To get Deflect Missiles working you'll need to either train Charms higher than 10 or train Air Magic a bit higher than you already have. This will take a while even with a ring of wizardry but it a high priority.

Branch Order

As a rule of thumb you need Conjurations and Ice Magic near 20 even with Vehumet's help to get Ice Storm reliably castable. You also need Spellcasting quite a bit above 20 to mitigate the very high food cost.

It takes a while before that happens so in the mean time here's my suggested post-Orc branch order:

  • Main Dungeon until you find the entrance to Vaults (D:14-19) or it starts feeling too dangerous.
  • Now try levels 1 to 4 of the easier Lair subbranches Swamp, Snake Pit or Shoals (you only get two of the three).
    • Do 'not try Slime Pits yet if at all. You don't need this for a 3-rune win.
    • rPois is pretty much required for Snake Pit and Swamp.
    • Shoals without Repel/Deflect Missiles is a bad idea.
  • Now try Vaults:1-4, you really need Deflect Missiles by this point or the yaktaurs will kill you.
    • Be careful of Vaults:4 the entrace to the Hall of Blades can be there, and it can be guarded by hovering weapons. They're fast and hit hard and you can easilly mistake them for floor trash if playing Tiles mode.
  • Now try the Main Dungeon again until it gets tricky or until about level 20-ish. D:27 can have some very hard areas in it so resist going there just now.
    • It's worth noting that the Vaults and the Main Dungeon have the same monster set so should be about the same diffculty.
    • Also it's around this point that Ice Storm starts becoming castable. Once Ice Magic and Conjurations are at 20 you can switch them off and focus on Spellcasting until it's at 27.
  • Now Vaults:5-7.
  • Now the Main Dungeon to D:27.
  • If you have high MR you could try the Elven Halls but be very careful on Elf:5 while there's a lot of treasure it's often of questionable usefulness and also very dangerous.
  • The Hall of Blades is another tricky place you may want to try but be very careful.
  • If you're feeling lucky clear the Vestibule of Hell.
    • You can 'stair dance' the Vestibule. That is, you can get back out and in by using the gate, don't let yourself get swamped.
    • Makes a great stash place once you've cleared it out.
  • Now level 5 of the Lair subbranches you did earlier to get 2 runes.
  • Now Vaults:8, this can be very tricky so be careful.

Before the end of that list you should have Ice Storm castable, Ice Magic and Conjurations at 20 and Spellcasting at 27. So what other skills?

  • Fighting improves your max HP and can be trained quite a bit with the enemies later on in the game.


Endgame and Beyond

Well done if you've got this far.

TODO: finish this off