Stairs are a dungeon feature which connect Dungeon floors and branches. They are the primary means of moving from one part of the Dungeon to the next. Normally only the player character uses stairs, but most non-summoned monsters will follow you if they are adjacent to you when you use them. Using an up staircase on D:1 ends your game, whether or not you have 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). These 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.
The Abyss has one-way Abyssal Stairs leading deeper into the Abyss, instead of regular stairs, which are generated randomly or after the player has gained a certain amount of experience. There are no up-staircases in the Abyss, rather only exits leading out of the Abyss, which are also randomly generated with increasing frequency the deeper one goes in the Abyss and with the abyssal rune.
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, may take the player to any of three destination locations 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 "portals to another region of Pandemonium", which are also sometimes referred to as one-way stairs. Floors often also have a portal to the Abyss, which takes the player out of Pandemonium when they leave the Abyss, and rarely there is a portal leading straight out of Pandemonium.
The Tomb of the Ancients has one-way staircases instead of regular staircases, which stops you from immediately returning once you have taken a stair. There is also not always three stairs up and three stairs down on each floor here. 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 staying on the current 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 (player ghosts, 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 before you fight them, you can make it safer to fight them, as you are very unlikely to encounter another monster during the fight when on a cleared floor, and you 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, because you will not be interrupted by other monsters.
- 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.)