| The Tomb of the Ancients is a place of damnation, of horrors animated by the vilest necromancy. The list of those who have returned from this place of pure death is exceedingly short.
This branch is unnaturally silent: sounds travel farther here.
The entrance to this branch can be found on level 3 of the Crypt.
This branch is 3 levels deep.
This branch contains the golden rune of Zot.
|A way to the Tomb of Ancients, a place of damnation, of horrors animated by the vilest necromancy.|
The Tomb of the Ancients (usually referred to only as the Tomb) is a branch located under the Crypt, inhabited by desiccated mummies of all kinds. Although mostly bare of valuables, it holds the golden rune of Zot and two massive treasure heaps for those who manage to survive all the way to the end.
Stairs to the Tomb are found on the last floor of the Crypt. It's only 3 levels deep, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security: it's one of the most dangerous branches in the game, even for powerful characters. You'll meet a wide variety of mummies, which if not carefully dealt with can destroy you with torment and crippling death curses. There is also a greater density of traps here than you'll find anywhere else.
While it's not as deathly quiet as the Crypt, the Tomb has very little in the way of ambient noise. As a result, every sound (be it from casting a spell, hitting something with a weapon, or attracting the attention of a flying skull) will carry farther than you're used to. Be extra careful if you wish to avoid attracting attention.
Unlike other areas of the game, the layout of the Tomb is mostly fixed, with only a few variations possible.
|M Mummy (monster)||M Guardian mummy||M Mummy priest||M Royal mummy|
|z Flying skull||z Zombie||z Skeleton||z Simulacrum|
|B Death scarab||9 Ushabti||b Bennu|
|z Skeletal warrior||z Revenant|
|L Lich||L Ancient lich||L Dread lich|
Placed by Vault Syntax on Tomb:1 (Never Generated Randomly)
|L Boris||A Mennas||M Khufu|
Monster composition and placement is also extremely predictable, with a few very rare exceptions. You'll encounter the following, in order of difficulty:
- Flying skulls: Although not dangerous themselves, these will alert nearby sleeping mummies of your presence.
- Random inhabitants of the Crypt may show up on Tomb:1, but they aren't very threatening.
- Mummies: Very weak enemies with no death curses.
- Ushabtiu have a miasma breath which can slow you, and Dispel Undead which can do significant damage to characters avoiding torment by virtue of being undead.
- Guardian mummies: They hit harder and faster than normal mummies, and their death curses can be quite nasty.
- Death scarabs: Extremely fast, hit hard and annoyingly back away from you sometimes. They have attacks which can slow you, so when they come in packs or around other enemies these are scary.
- Revenants: Blinking foes which flood you with spectral things and heal any undead units that get caught in their crossfire.
- Bennu have a holy attack which is also dangerous to undead characters, must be killed twice, and unleash a burst of damaging negative energy when killed.
- Mummy priests: Slightly slower than guardian mummies, but tougher. They can cast Torment, Smite, Summon Undead, and Summon Demon, and their death curses are more likely to be unpleasant than those of the guardians.
- Sphinxes: Found only in the entrance to the main structure on Tomb:1 - they are likely the only living things one will find in Tomb, these can paralyze, confuse, smite, or simply beat you to death if you are not careful. They have moderate durability, but no resistances to speak of and no death curses.
- Liches / Ancient liches: Capable of massive direct damage output, liches always merit caution.
- Royal mummies: The biggest threat in Tomb, they are an upgraded version of mummy priests. They have a similar set of spells, but over three times the health, 50% more HD, faster movement, and the highest chance of delivering devastating death curses. These will kill you if you are not prepared. Try not to take on more than one at a time!
- Random uniques: Although not guaranteed to show up, there are many dangerous uniques one can encounter in the Tomb at any time. If encountered alone, handle them as you normally would. If encountered along with several high level mummies, be extremely careful; even weak uniques become significantly deadlier when you've been repeatedly smitten or tormented. The most likely unique to find here is Khufu, an even more deadly royal mummy who comes with his own pack of scary mummies.
1. Upon entering Tomb:1, you'll find yourself in an open hallway that boxes in the Tomb proper. This will contain a handful of mummies, guardian mummies, and assorted skeletons, but nothing particularly dangerous until you've gone halfway around the level. There you'll find a massive statue-lined hallway leading inwards, guarded by a large pack of sphinxes. Use enough willpower to keep from getting paralyzed, and try to lure them away a few at a time until you've cleared them out. Do not underestimate the strength of their smites - although individually weak, several turns of multiple smites will kill any character. If at all possible, avoid using a teleport to escape them if things start going badly; outrunning them with a potion of haste or scroll of blinking is a much safer option here. Read scrolls of fog as needed to break line of sight and get yourself back to the Crypt ASAP. Also note that using a wand of digging to dig a killhole in the outer wall of Tomb:1 can be helpful for fighting the sphinxes.
2. Past the hallway you'll find one of several possible interiors, of which each will have several royal mummies and other nasty enemies, and somewhere you will find a one-way staircase leading down.
3. As soon as you enter Tomb:2 via the one-way staircase, you'll find yourself in a large open chamber with no really scary enemies initially in sight, but it won't take long for mummies to close in from all around. There is an up-one-way-stair about 10 tiles diagonally to one corner of the square chamber (chosen randomly). As such, it is advisable to get out of the central chamber rapidly, doing one of several things:
- Reading a scroll of magic mapping to identify where the up-stair is, then using a combination of blink scrolls, haste potions and the Passage of Golubria spell to get there. Once you are on the upstair, you can spam your high-level area-of-effect spells or fight in melee, and go upstairs if it gets too dangerous.
- Reading a scroll of teleportation until you end up in the outside rim of small rooms. From here you can fight a small number of enemies at once. If you're really lucky, you'll notice that you ended up in the section of Tomb:2 with the one-way stairs down to Tomb:3. In this case you can skip to point 6.
- Using haste potions, Swiftness or blink material to get to the outer rim of small rooms where you can fight a small number of enemies at once.
At this point, if you have the Shatter spell, you can try to break open the wall where it is obvious there should be a continuation of the small outside rooms. Alternatively, you can try to read teleport scrolls until you end up in that section. In both of these cases, you can skip to point 6.
4. You'll find several doors off to the side of this open chamber, leading to a series of small rooms that envelops half of the map. These will contain mummies, guardians, and priests, as well as many traps. Eventually you'll find a staircase back up to Tomb:1. Go up it to continue exploring normally. Alternatively, at this point, if you have the Shatter spell, you can try to break open the wall where it is obvious there should be a continuation of the small outside rooms. Alternatively, you can try to read teleport scrolls until you end up in that section. In both of these cases, you can skip to point 6. If you do not want to do this, you will have to fight extra mummies in a long corridor on Tomb:1, as described below in point 5.
5. Heading up that unexplored one-way staircase to Tomb:1, you'll find yourself in the only unexplored portion of Tomb:1 left, the large horseshoe surrounding the inner courtyard. You will encounter a few guardian mummies and mummy priests here, as well as an unpredictable scattering of traps, but the majority of its inhabitants are royal mummies encountered in the long open hallways. Handled carefully, you should only encounter one or two royal mummies at a time; make too much noise and you may wind up with a lot more on your hands. Consider luring them back to the nearest corner before engaging them, and remember that a teleport to safety is almost guaranteed to send you back to the now-clear first area of Tomb:1. At the end of the horseshoe, you'll find another one-way staircase to Tomb:2.
6. Remember the small chambers you found on Tomb:2 earlier? Now you get to clear a mirror image of those on the other side. Expect more of the same, with an even greater concentration of traps, and eventually you'll find two one-way staircases leading to Tomb:3.
7. Both staircases leading to Tomb:3 place you in the same area, the start of a short, wide hallway with one door on each side, leading to the treasure chambers and up-staircases back to safety, and the rune chamber is straight ahead. You will almost immediately encounter a large number of guardian mummies and death scarabs, followed by plenty of reinforcements in the form of flying skulls, mummy priests, and royal mummies (over a dozen of each is not unusual). It is usually beneficial to focus on making a path to the up-stair before fighting, because more and more mummies will turn up if you fight. If you can, grab the figurine of a ziggurat, found in one of the large loot piles, on your way, to act as a 2-turn escape tool in the case of disaster. It is likely you will have to go upstairs, reset and make your way back to the upstairs several times before the entire floor is clear. Once the flood of mummies stops, you are free to check out the loot and grab the rune, but be careful of dangerous stragglers.
If not done correctly, Tomb is one of the deadliest places in the game. A character facing Tomb must tackle these problems:
- Royal mummies and mummy priests can torment you, instantly cutting your HP by up to half. They can then smite you to finish the job.
- Royal mummies and mummy priests can summon a ton of undead and demons which attack you and make it difficult to attack the summoners with melee or non-smite-targeted attacks, but also means they will frequently abjure your own summons.
- All non-regular mummies cast death curses when killed, potentially slowing, tormenting or draining you or your stats, and dealing pain damage which is not resisted by rN. Since there are so many mummies in the Tomb, these effects can quickly reach debilitating levels.
- Inability to stairdance. You cannot simply bring one stairload of enemies upstairs at a time and polish them off.
Some strategies, with their specific strengths and weaknesses, are outlined below. One should mix and match them to fit your character: it is unlikely that one can do Tomb simply by being a Zin or a Kiku worshipper, or simply by having Dispel Undead, but a lichform necromancer of Kiku, or Zinnite with a holy weapon and silence, stands a very good chance of making it. The best general advice is to know your limits. If one encounter with a royal mummy nearly killed you, then the next one may very well finish you off. Just remember that completing the Tomb is by no means required to win the game.
Generally, the safest approaches to Tomb:2 and Tomb:3 involve getting to the up-stair back to where you started as the first priority, and killing off all the mummies in Tomb:2 and 3 as the second priority. Read scrolls of fog to limit line of sight to avoid the number of torments and smites you face, and be ready to use up your buff potions, evocables, and scrolls of blinking at any point.
The main issue with staircases (or any place, really), are the bounty of traps. Dispersal traps will move teleport-vulnerable players off the stairs, net traps will disable your movement, and Zot traps inflict a variety of nasty effects. If the staircase happens to not have them, great, you are in luck. Otherwise, use said line of sight manipulation, try checking the other stair, or use a potion of lignification to make you immune to both teleport and torment (but resistant to movement, too).
Another approach is to teleport until you find a defensible spot. It may be worth reading magic mapping to find if the layout has any suitable spots and to know if you are near them. This represents more of a commitment, but it avoids the scenario where the entrance points, the upstairs, and everywhere between are packed full of nasties and on returning to the level you are immediately in serious danger.
- Gear with negative energy resistance - Reduces damage from torment and draining death curses.
- Gear with stat boosts - Improves your general performance and decreases the likelihood of unexpectedly reaching stat zero from death curses.
- Gear with willpower - Weak-willed characters will have a much worse time dealing with the sphinxes than characters with insurmountable will. You don't need it for the entire branch, but it's very useful for that one stretch (and handy when dealing with ancient liches out of the blue).
- Apart from the occasional summoned demon or surprising unique, there are no sources of fire, cold, acid, or electricity damage in this branch, and the only likely source of mutation is if you accidentally step into a Zot trap.
- If you are confident in your offensive capabilities, consider bringing potions of lignification with you. Fighting in Tree form will render you immune to torment, allowing you to focus on the task of reducing the hordes of mummies to dust uninterrupted.
- A scroll of immolation can help greatly in taking out the gigantic horde of enemies on Tomb:3, but the sheer quantity of death curses this will trigger is enough to oneshot any character. Undead characters, or characters with Death's Door, Necromutation or with a stock of potions of lignification can attempt this strategy.
- Necromutation - Provides immunity to draining and torment. However, you become vulnerable to Dispel Undead Range (from ushabtiu) and lose access to potions.
- Death's Door - Gives a long enough period of invulnerability to escape upstairs from almost anything in Tomb.
- Borgnjor's Revivification - For when you unexpectedly end up on 10 HP in the middle of a bunch of mummies (Does a very similar job to Death's Door).
- Statue Form - Provides significant torment resistance without the downsides of Necromutation, including its use with good gods. Slows your actions and cannot be used if you worship Zin, however.
- Silence - Disables the spells of all mummies within its aura. Be careful with this spell, because mummy death curses still take effect, including those that can torment you, and you lose access to scrolls and spells.
- Ignition - Works great in the cramped and fire-vulnerable corridors of the Tomb.
- Dispel Undead - Deals heavy damage to almost everything in the Tomb. Only affects one melee target at a time though.
- Shatter - Deals heavy, unavoidable damage to the entire screen. Noisy, but also tears down walls.
- Most other level 9 spells - Dragon's Call creates a mass of allies, Polar Vortex mops the floor with a widespread tornado, Fire Storm roasts mummies even harder...
- Kikubaaqudgha - Provides significant torment resistance, negates most death curses and provides access to useful Necromancy spells.
- The Shining One - Provides rN+++, a weapon of holy wrath, powerful holy burst attacks, HP and MP recovery on each kill, with summonable angelic warriors.
- Zin - Provides immunity to stat loss, temporary invulnerability (though at a high piety cost).
- Ru - Provides tremendous area-of-effect damage through Apocalypse, but watch out for the draining.
- Makhleb - Provides very significant HP recovery on kill.
- Gozag - Bribe the tomb, easy life. Also provides potions in Lichform.
- Jiyva - Slimifying mummies will completely cancel their death curses. Being tormented will spawn high-end jellies very often, and regeneration helps recover the lost HP.
- In 0.29, most uniques were removed from the Tomb.
- In 0.27, all mechanical (physical) traps were removed.
- In 0.25, death curses were reworked and simplified, now having only 4 total effects.
- In 0.23, the trap rework dramatically effected the Tomb. Most notably, Zot traps became visible, but the new dispersal traps made standing on stairs a lot more difficult.
- In 0.20, the staircases in Tomb were made one-way, similar to hatches but with set destination locations. The up one-way staircases were placed in locations not too far from the down-stairs, but far enough that walking is difficult, and in Tomb:3 some doors were added to make access to the up-stairs easier.
- In 0.19, Anubis guards were replaced with ushabtiu.
- In 0.17, the Unborn were removed.
- In 0.16, even more non-mummy opponents were added: Anubis guards, bennu, death scarabs, and ushabtiu.
- In 0.15, the Tomb received a new layout of the courtyard in Tomb:1, as well as more non-mummy monsters. Also, the entrance to Tomb always appears on the last floor of the Crypt instead of appearing on Crypt:2 or Crypt:3.