Rune of Zot

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Version 0.28: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.
A talisman which allows entry into Zot's domain.

Runes of Zot are required to enter The Realm of Zot; there lies the Orb of Zot, the goal of your quest, in its fifth floor. Unlocking the portal to the Realm requires three runes, but advanced players may choose to collect more to earn a higher final score. A single rune is also required to gain entry to The Vaults, and some Treasure troves will ask to see a specific rune in order to enter them. In all cases, you do not expend runes when opening rune locks; once you have collected a rune, it stays collected for the rest of the game.

In any given game, there are 15 possible runes to obtain. Runes do not occupy inventory slots, are weightless, and cannot be dropped. You can see what runes you have by typing }' (which also shows you what runes you can get) or by checking the % '/ character overview screen, below the lines for your abilities and traits.

Rune locations

Runes can be found on the bottom floors of several dungeon branches.

  • The Lair has no rune itself but contains 3 branches which do. It always contains:
plus one of the two watery branches:
  • Decaying rune.png The Swamp:4 contains the decaying rune of Zot.
  • Barnacled rune.png The Shoals:4 contains the barnacled rune of Zot.
and one of the two poisonous branches:
  • Silver rune.png The Vaults:5 contains the silver rune of Zot. An entrance to The Crypt can be found earlier in the branch.
    • The Crypt has no rune itself, but contains an entrance to The Tomb.
      • Gold rune.png The Tomb:3 contains the golden rune of Zot.

You will also come across runes in the following bonus levels:

  • Abyssal rune.png The Abyss contains the abyssal rune of Zot.
    • This rune has a very low chance of being generated on floors 3, 4 and 5, with deeper floors having higher rune generation rates (but also more monsters). If you happen to be a follower of Lugonu, this rate is greatly accelerated. Collecting the rune will provide 2 XL's worth of experience and some skill points. If you see the rune but cannot get it (e.g. if the Abyss shifts before you can reach it), do not despair: the game will keep generating abyssal runes until you pick one up.
  • Pandemonium contains five runes.
    • The four unique Pandemonium lords each guard a unique rune that is generated once. Leaving the level without the rune means it is lost forever:
    • The fifth is the demonic rune of Zot.
      • This may be found either guarded by random Pandemonium lords, or found in any of several vaults ('hellion island', 'smiting', and 'eyes of draining' vaults guaranteed; others have 1/9 chance). Like the abyssal rune, it will be regenerated until picked up.
Demonic rune 1.png Demonic rune 2.png Demonic rune 3.png
Demonic rune 4.png Demonic rune 5.png Demonic rune 6.png

Strategy and Difficulty

All runes are not equal in difficulty of obtaining them. Below is a list of runes in rough order of difficulty, with some basic strategy notes. See the articles on the specific branches for more details. Depending on your character build, some of the branches may be different in difficulty from what is given here.


These are the runes which are most commonly used for three- or four-rune ascensions. None are particularly hard to get, although they may require some basic preparation.

  • Serpentine (Snake Pit): Home to the venomous, constricting snakemen, their salamander brethren, and countless snakes. Poison resistance is a necessity, and fire resistance is also recommended. Still, among the easier branches. Make sure you can take a beating or have the ability to avoid melee combat.
  • Decaying (Swamp): A waterlogged forest guarded by hydras, dangerous plant monsters, amphibious undead, spriggans, and even more esoteric foes. Poison resistance helps here, as does a source of flight, but you'll probably want to have a good range of resistances just to be safe.
  • Barnacled (Shoals): An archipelago patrolled by merfolk and other creatures of myth and legend. This area is easier if you have good EV or Repel Missiles. Invisibility and flight are also very useful here.
  • Gossamer (Spider's Nest): Most of the monsters in this branch are faster than you and can easily swarm you. Very few of them have ranged attacks, though. Like Snake, poison resistance is a must.
  • Abyssal (Abyss): The abyss contains many sources of mutation and some deadly monsters. It is also somewhat tedious; requiring wandering for several thousand turns. Try not to get bogged down in fights with dangerous monsters.
  • Silver (The Vaults): The hardest of the basic runes, since Vaults:5 has over a dozen vault guards waiting for you around the stairs, plus several other dangerous opponents such as titans, storm dragons, quicksilver dragons, shadow dragons, and liches.


For those looking to expand beyond a basic ascension, these are the runes to start with. They all require some type of special resistance: if you don't have it, you will likely die.

  • Slimy (Slime Pits): Resist corrosion is absolutely necessary, and mutation resistance is also very helpful if you can find some. Be very careful with the Royal Jelly: stair dance it or fight it in the corridors of the central vault. Make sure you can kill things very quickly or take a fair bit of damage, as everything down here hits very hard in melee.
  • Pandemonium: Be prepared for a journey: like the Abyss, the only way out is via a rare return portal. Stairways just conduct you to another of Pan's infinite levels. You will need some protection from torment (rN+++ or Kiku protection is generally enough). Mutation resistance is also helpful, as the place is littered with neqoxecs and cacodemons. In fact, you may want to bring some potions of mutation, just in case you get hit with something nasty. Keep in mind that when you reach a level with one of the unique Pan lords, you're only going to get one chance at acquiring their rune: leaving the level means that rune never generates again. The unique Pan lords each need a different set of resistances to get their rune:
    • Dark: Gloorx Vloq is the most difficult Pan lord, owing to its speed and spell set. rN+++ is vital, as are potions of haste. Unlike the rest of Pan, you also need poison resistance, since otherwise its Poison Arrows will be very painful. Allies, if you can get them, are helpful in ensuring that all of Gloorx Vloq's many attacks, minions, and spells aren't directed against you.
    • Glowing: Mutation resistance is even more vital here. Try to lure the neqoxecs around corners, so they don't get tons of free shots at you with Malmutate. Mnoleg itself isn't that difficult, although watch out if it starts summoning floating eyes. Try to fight Mnoleg in a corridor so you won't get mobbed by summoned large abominations and tentacled monstrosities.
    • Fiery: As the name suggests, you really need fire resistance here. rF++ is a bare minimum, and rF+++ is really what you want, since Cerebov's sword strips you of one rank of fire resistance. Cerebov has a lot of hit points, so be prepared to teleport away and reengage it several times: it won't have fully healed before you do. Cerebov has poor evasion, so spells such as Lehudib's Crystal Spear can be useful against it; Chain Lightning is also very effective.
    • Magical: Have at least two levels of cold resistance and some source of electricity resistance. Lom Lobon is fairly weak if you can engage it in melee, although its blinking can make that somewhat difficult. Have high willpower so that the wizards around its tower don't banish you.
    • Demonic: Three specific vaults always have this rune. The hellion island vault requires the use of ranged attacks: 10+ hellions all dropping 3d15 damnation bursts on you up to twice a turn leads to a quick death. The smiting vault is generally doable: Shatter can greatly assist in getting past it, but even without it sufficient speed will generally let you survive. The eyes vault is not difficult, but requires a wand of digging to get the rune at all. As for random vaults which might contain the rune, they vary hugely in difficulty. Be prepared to run away.


These runes are the riskiest to get. Only go for them if you know what you're doing.

  • Hell: This area is one of the hardest in the game. It is filled with fiends, both found naturally and summoned by the forces of Hell. Zin gives a piety-dependent chance of blocking Hell effects, making the Hells a lot easier to navigate. Other characters must be prepared for a constant HP and stat drain, making an increased regeneration rate (or TSO's regen on kill) and some form of torment protection absolutely vital. As with Pandemonium, specific strategies and resistances are needed for each rune:
    • Iron (Dis): Dis provides a -8 corrosion effect to all who enter it. Instead of one specific resistance, you will need a little of everything -- or sometimes a lot of everything, as the last level contains both Brimstone fiends and Ice fiends. Dispater himself is no pushover, with powerful earth spells and bringing lots of greater demons to the party.
    • Icy (Cocytus): Potions are unusable here. Have rC+++ for Cocytus. This place is filled with Ice fiends, who have, in addition to torment and Bolt of Cold, a horribly damaging cold-branded melee attack. Antaeus himself hits like a truck but luckily doesn't summon any friends. Unluckily, he tends to be escorted by four Ice fiends. Separate them first.
    • Obsidian (Gehenna): Scrolls are unreadable here. Have rF+++, but be aware that this doesn't help against the numerous Brimstone fiends and hellions who will gladly spam damnation at you until you die. Make sure to kill them quickly. Asmodeus himself is not horribly difficult, but be aware that he is surrounded by a ring of flames and loves summoning fiends and Balrugs.
    • Bone (Tartarus): Willpower is halved here. If you're not undead, Tartarus can be easier than the other branches. This occurs because rN+++ completely protects you against the draining attacks that are so common there. Be aware that Ereshkigal is a little meaner than she looks: she may be somewhat low on HP, but she is fast, has absurdly high evasion, can torment, and can summon greater demons that also torment. If you are undead, be very, very careful, as tzitzimimeh can and will make short work of you with Dispel Undead Range.
  • Golden (Tomb): Like the Hells and Pandemonium, you will have to endure a fair amount of torment. Unlike the Hells and Pan, you will also endure mummy death curses. This includes stat drain, HP drain, negative energy damage, slowing, and even more torment. Kikubaaqudgha provides a good (but not infallible) protection against death curses and torment. Necromutation protects you from the worst of the curses as well as torment, but be careful of Dispel Undead from ushabtiu and the occasional revenant. Zin can protect you from the stat drain, but The Shining One is more useful here for the recovery on kills. Either way, you can always do a quick conversion to Elyvilon and use Purification to cure all the stat damage, then build your piety back up by fighting all the mummies. See the Tomb article for more specific strategies, but know that it is very difficult to simply force your way through Tomb. You need something to deal with its nasty effects or you will die.


  • In 0.28, getting the abyssal rune gets you 2 XL's worth of XP.
  • Formerly, there were many, indistinguishable demonic runes of Pandemonium, which could be collected ad infinitum (the record was 250-odd). As of version 0.9, the demonic rune is treated like the abyssal rune: once you've picked one up, no more demonic runes will be generated.
  • Before 0.9, runes were carried in main inventory, which led to silliness like piling extras on D:1 before going for the Orb, or characters locking themselves out of Zot by leaving their runes inside.