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Version 0.17: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.


Skills represent your character's ability to perform several different offensive, defensive and magical activities. Starting skill levels depend on character species and background. As characters earn experience, XP is spread across different skills according to the distribution specified on the Skill Screen (m), with bonuses based on species aptitudes. Skill levels are capped at 27.

Skill management is central to strategic play. Focusing your skill points to align with your aptitudes, available equipment, and play style will make or break a character.

Every species is rated from -5 to +5 in each skill, with higher scores giving faster skill progress. Training low-aptitude skills is possible, but may leave characters under-prepared for later content.

Skill Types

Skills are divided into three categories:



  • Armour: Improves the AC bonus armour gives (more effective with heavier armour). Reduces the impact of armour EV and spell success penalties.
  • Dodging: Improves EV. More effective with lighter armour.
  • Shields: Improves the SH bonus shields gives you. Reduces or even eliminates the impact of shield EV and spell success penalties.
  • Stealth: Reduces the likelihood of unaware monsters detecting you. Increases the changes of out of sight monsters losing track of you.


The highest of your Spellcasting, Invocations and Evocations skills will determine your MP bonus. For this purpose each level of Spellcasting skill counts as two.

The Skill Screen

Pressing m will bring up the Skill Screen, allowing you to select which skills you'd like to train and how you'd like the game to invest your XP. It also shows your character's current skill levels and aptitude for each skill, complete with adjustments made for cross-training and opposed magic schools. You can switch between displaying only those skills you can train/have trained and all skills with the * button.

You can select which skills to train by either clicking on its name in the list or pressing the key associated to it. Any skill that you haven't selected will have its name displayed in dark gray, and it will not improve. You can also choose to focus certain skills, causing them to gain twice the amount of experience they'd normally receive. Focused skill names are displayed in white, and their tiles icon will display with a blue glow.

The skill screen also allows you to choose whether to divide your XP in auto or manual mode by pressing the / key. Auto mode adjusts the XP division so that skills you use more will receive the greatest share of new XP, while those you rarely use receive less. In manual mode, each active skill receives a perfectly equal share of gained XP, while focused skills receive double that. Most veteran players advise always using manual mode, as it is far easier to control where your XP goes using it. Furthermore, you can ensure your XP is split between fewer skills, which is generally good strategy.

Skill Requirements

In any case, you'll notice that you do not have access to all skills from the very beginning of the game. This is because many skills require associated equipment to become available:

  • You must have an appropriate weapon in order to train its weapon skill.
  • You must be carrying a shield to train Shields.
  • You must have a spell of a particular school memorized to train that school's skill.
  • You must worship a god who grants invocable powers to train Invocations.
  • You must be carrying an evocable item or have abilities provided by Nemelex to train Evocations.

Additionally carrying a manual will always allow training the associated skill. Skill points gained from drinking a potion of experience are not subject to these restrictions.

Removing these items, forgetting these spells, or abandoning these gods will cause you to no longer be able to train their skills, but you will not lose the progress you've made thus far.

Experience Required

The chart below shows how many total skill points must be allocated to a skill for it to reach each skill level:

Level Total skill points Level Total skill points Level Total skill points
1 50 10 2,800 19 12,300
2 150 11 3,450 20 13,950
3 300 12 4,200 21 15,750
4 500 13 5,050 22 17,700
5 750 14 6,000 23 19,800
6 1,050 15 7,050 24 22,050
7 1,400 16 8,200 25 24,450
8 1,800 17 9,450 26 27,000
9 2,250 18 10,800 27 29,750

These amounts are then adjusted based on your character's aptitudes. An aptitude of n means you'll need 2^(-n/4) times as much XP to advance as a character with an aptitude of zero for that skill would.

Aptitude +5 +4 +3 +2 +1 +0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5
XP Multiplier 2.38 2.0 1.68 1.41 1.19 1.0 0.84 0.71 0.59 0.5 0.42

These amounts are also themselves significantly increased as your character gains more and more skill experience. At higher levels, the amount of actual experience required to produce the same increase in skill levels reaches as high as 265 times the amount of experience a character with no skill experience would require. However, mobs in the late game give drastically more experience, so this effect is not too difficult to overcome.


  • 0.15 - Removed aptitude penalty for training opposed magic schools. Changed cross-training to give a direct bonus to cross-trained skills, rather than decreasing the XP cost of learning them.
  • 0.13 - Removed Stabbing and Traps skills.
  • 0.12 - Equalized all skill costs. Formerly, Spellcasting cost 130%; Invocations, Evocations, and Stealth 80%.
  • 0.10 - Stealth cost changed from 50% to 80%.
  • 0.10 - Equipment impact on skill training standardized from skill level 0-27.
  • 0.9 - Change to current skill system. Formerly, XP was saved when earned, then applied to skills as they were used, resulting in repetitive and annoying victory dancing designed to funnel the XP appropriately.

See Also

Melee Short BladesLong BladesAxesMaces & FlailsPolearmsStavesUnarmed Combat
Ranged BowsCrossbowsThrowingSlings
Physical FightingArmourDodgingStealthShields
Magical SpellcastingInvocationsEvocations
Spell Schools AirCharmsConjurationsEarthFireHexesIceNecromancyPoisonSummoningTranslocationsTransmutations