Stairs are a dungeon feature which connect floors of the Dungeon and its assorted branches; they are the primary means of moving from one part of the Dungeon to the next. Normally, only the player character will use stairs, but most non-summoned monsters will follow you if they are adjacent to you when you use them. Using the up staircase on D:1 ends your game, whether or not you have collected the Orb of Zot.
Each floor within a branch normally contains three up staircases and three down staircases. These always lead to the next floor above or below, never farther. Traveling between branches is restricted to a single staircase.
In addition, floors may also contain escape hatches, which function as one-way staircases and are a different color than normal staircases. Also of note are shafts, a type of trap which can drop you 1-3 floors.
Some branches' stair systems work differently; they are described below.
Instead of regular stairs, the Abyss has one-way Abyssal Stairs leading deeper into the Abyss. These are generated randomly or after the player has gained a certain amount of experience. There are no up-staircases in the Abyss -- only exits leading back out. These exits are randomly generated, becoming more common in the deeper layers of the Abyss and are much more common once you have collected the Abyssal Rune; exits may also be generated after gaining enough experience (considerably more than it takes to generate a stairway leading deeper).
In the Hell branches (Gehenna, Cocytus, Tartarus, and the Iron City of Dis), stairs down are generated normally, but instead of having one fixed destination, they may take the player to any of three destinations on the floor below each time they are used. Instead of staircases up, there are portals out, which immediately take the player back to the Vestibule of Hell; these portals serve as the destinations for the staircases down from the previous floor.
In Pandemonium, each floor can only be visited once. Each floor has at least three "gates to another region of Pandemonium", which are also sometimes referred to as one-way stairs. These gates do not lead to any particular destination in the next region of Pandemonium -- you may be placed anywhere, including next to that realm's Pandemonium lord. Players may exit Pandemonium by using an exit portal, but these are rare (though each rune you collect in Pandemonium makes finding an exit more likely). More common are "exits through the horrors of the Abyss", which lead to the Abyss and will return players to the Dungeon after they find an exit from the Abyss.
The Tomb of the Ancients has cursed one-way staircases instead of regular stairs, which force players to locate a nearby staircase to return to a previous area. Additionally, there are not always three stairs up and three stairs down on each floor of the Tomb. See The Tomb article for more details.
Tips & Tricks
- If you don't think you've fully explored a floor, but can't see anywhere else to explore, use the minimap (or press X then > or < to cycle through up/down stairs respectively) to count the number of normal up and down staircases you've found (not escape hatches or branch entrances). If you see less than three of each, some hidden area of the floor is walled off from the area you're in. The best way to reach it is to exit the floor and then reenter through an unexplored staircase on the floor above or below. Such unexplored stairs are indicated with a * in the top left of the stair tile in Tiles, or the stair glyph being in white in Console.
- Be aware that going up or down staircases takes time (normally 2.5 turns). Nearby monsters may still hit you or cast spells before you escape your current floor.
- Climbing while confused might make you trip and fall, taking damage and landing at the bottom of that particular staircase (if you were trying to climb up, you stay on the current floor; if you were climbing down, you land on the next floor).
- Most monsters will follow you if they are adjacent to you when you use a staircase. While this can make it difficult to escape a monster on your heels, it can also be used to separate hordes of monsters by "stair dancing" (luring them upstairs and slaying them a few at a time). This is especially useful for stairs placed against walls or corners, limiting the number of monsters that can follow you. Some monsters (summons, derived undead, silent spectres, Geryon, and the Royal Jelly) cannot use stairs, trapping them on the floor they spawned on unless they step in a shaft. However, they can still attack you while you're leaving, and they may wait by the stairs for your return.
- By luring monsters upstairs, you can make it safer to fight them, as you are very unlikely to encounter a new monster when fighting on a cleared floor and do not risk dying from having to climb upstairs when on low health. Additionally, you can pillar dance as much as you like on a cleared floor without being interrupted by other monsters.
- Prior to 0.22, player ghosts couldn't use stairs.
- Prior to 0.21, monsters spawned over time on floors in the main dungeon as well as on level generation. Sometimes, these monsters could be spawned from stairs, and if the staircase was to a different branch, this could lead to monsters from other branches spawning in your current branch. (This had the potential to generate some fairly scary encounters, such as finding an azure jelly in the Lair.)
- Prior to 0.20, The Tomb had normal staircases instead of one-way stairs.
- Prior to 0.16, stair mimics could be found, which would then fight the player when discovered.
- Prior to 0.13, each branch connected to the Dungeon and the Lair had three exit staircases, in spite of the fact that they only had one entrance.