Tips and tricks

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Version 0.21: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

This is a collection of random tips and tricks for those who are starting to play Dungeon Crawl.

General

  • Don't forget that Dungeon Crawl is a turn-based game: monsters won't act until after you do. If the situation grows dire, stop and think about every aspect before picking a solution and making your move. Indeed, you can even save your game and leave the computer to do something else, then come back later -- some time to calm down and think can often let you salvage a situation that originally looked hopeless. You may have a brilliant idea that you wouldn't have had in the heat of the moment!
    • Note that "remembering stuff" costs no game time; this includes looking through your inventory ('i' command), your spells ('z' command followed by '?'), your abilities ('a' command), your maps of the dungeon ('X' command), and using 'ctrl+f' to search for (but not travel to) known items in the dungeon. Note that within the 'X' command, you can use '[' and ']' to switch levels -- to descend into a branch, put the cursor on its entry stair before using ']'.
  • You do not have to fight and kill all monsters now (or ever). In roguelike games such as Dungeon Crawl, there is no guarantee that you'll be able to overcome all the challenges you meet, and escaping or ignoring some monsters or branches for the moment is a perfectly valid strategy. Remember, your goal is to survive.
  • While it's best to specialize early on and invest all your XP into a couple of skills to ensure you've got some reliable means of surviving, as the game progresses you should diversify your skills to ensure you can meet any challenge. Melee fighters will want to learn Spellcasting and dabble in magic, and conversely, spellcasters will want to invest some XP into Fighting, Weapon Skill, Dodging, and perhaps Armour and/or Shields. Don't forget about Invocations and/or Evocations either, depending on your god choice or equipment.
  • Early game potion and scroll identification is straightforward for a couple of common items; potions of curing can be found in large quantities and are almost always the biggest stack of potions you'll have. This is also quite frequently the case with the scroll of identify, although scrolls of teleportation or remove curse can also show up in large quantities.
  • Knowing which dungeon branches you should tackle, and in what order, will make your game smooth and your progress quick. See the walkthrough for more information.
  • If you haven't won yet, stick with the basic 3 rune plan. As you gain skill, start exploring the optional endgame branches.

Monsters

  • Do your best to learn every monster's strengths and weaknesses, behaviour, and pattern of attack. All such information can be found right here on this wiki! Another resource are the Knowledge Bots in IRC or the official Crawl website.
  • Whenever possible, fight in corridors that are one tile wide to avoid being surrounded by monsters. If there isn't a convenient corridor, you can use a wand of digging to create one. If you use ranged abilities or spells and miss your first target, you even have a chance of hitting the monsters lined up behind it! Doorways are another option, although intelligent monsters will move past you to give their companions a shot at mauling you.
  • If neither are available, you can fight on a staircase leading to the previous level. When a monster moves next to you, it will follow you if you go upstairs: you can break up groups of monsters and kill them one by one this way.
  • To "pull" single monsters without waking their neighbours, shoot them with missiles (such as stones) or with a spell (other than an area effect spell) such as Magic Dart. Yelling (tt) should only be used when you want to wake all nearby creatures, including nearby ones out of sight. Keep in mind that many monsters may make noise if they spot you, possibly waking up other monsters nearby.
  • Some monsters avoid known traps; you can therefore take shelter behind a trap and kill these creatures with missiles or spells. Likewise, most monsters avoid damaging areas such as poison or flame clouds created by spells like Conjure Flame and Mephitic Cloud. On the other hand, many mindless monsters will walk into traps and clouds to get to you; you can exploit this advantage by standing next to a blade trap, for example, and letting a zombie turn itself into minced meat trying to get to you.
  • Known teleport traps and shafts can become an emergency means of escape. Step on them to escape a horde of enemies, or trick a tough monster into stepping on them to get rid of them for a while.

Items

  • Many items can be identified by trying them out. You can read tips about identifying items this way here. Also, when looking at inventory or stack lists, notice the color items are displayed in, as this can tell you things your character knows but the player might not:
Dark Grey
Item is currently unusable
Light Grey
Item is unidentified or is a standard identified item
Blue
Item is unidentified and magical
Green
Item is uncursed, though it may or may not be identified
Bright Green
Item is uncursed and equipped
White
Item is a unique artefact
Bright Red
Item is cursed or harmful to use
Red
Item is hated by your god
Purple
Item is potentially dangerous to use (will warn you if you try to use it)
Yellow
Item is beneficial
Light Blue
Item is highly beneficial
  • You won't be able to carry every worthwhile item you come across, since you're limited to 52 types of items in your inventory. Once you start running out of room in your inventory, find someplace to stash your items. Keep in mind that you can use (ctrl+f) to look for items if you're not sure exactly where you left them.
  • A scroll of blinking is the most reliable means of escape for characters early on. Use them wisely to avoid death. Keep in mind that carrying the Orb of Zot will prevent you from controlling your blink location.
  • A scroll of teleportation can also be used to escape, but is riskier, especially if you're on a level you haven't fully explored. Still, it beats dying.

Spells

  • Mephitic Cloud is one of the best tools at your disposal. Any monster not resistant to poison can be confused via this spell. While in their confused state, monsters will move and attack randomly, and may even damage themselves or their friends!
  • In emergencies, you can use the Sublimation of Blood spell to restore MP if you're playing a tough species with lots of HP.
  • Blink can be a lifesaver if you get into a jam and need to run away, especially if you're a slow species. Keep in mind that, unlike with a scroll of blinking, you don't get to pick your destination, so you could blink towards trouble.

Miscellaneous

  • Try to rely on chunks of meat for food instead of your rations. If you're consistently having trouble beating starvation, then consider playing a species with a slow metabolism (such as Spriggans) or ones that are carnivorous and can therefore eat meat at any time (such as Kobolds). Or learn the joys of being a mummy and ignore hunger completely.
    • You can also look for for an amulet of the gourmand, which lets you eat raw meat like a carnivore. This item helps dealing with the "food clock" aspect of the game, allowing you to play more carefully.
  • Each level has 3 staircases down and 3 staircases up (floors at the top or bottom of dungeon branches naturally lack staircases in one of the two directions, though they may have an entrance to another branch). When you see fewer staircases, you know the level is not fully explored yet. The opposite may not be true: just because you see 6 staircases does not mean the level is fully explored. Also, missing stairs might only be reachable by going through an adjacent level -- many levels are split into multiple disconnected sections, and those sections need not be connected.
  • If you're going to stand in one spot for an extremely long period of time -- say, while recovering HP or waiting for a status to time out -- do so on a stairway so you can escape if something dangerous approaches.
  • Escape hatches are special one-way staircases that lead you either up or down a floor. They always go to the same spot, but there's no guarantee that a staircase leading back will be anywhere near a hatch's landing point. There's almost never any risk in taking an escape hatch that leads upwards (and indeed, you should take them whenever you see them -- they may give you shortcuts for your eventual escape with the Orb of Zot), but taking an escape hatch downwards can be risky, especially if it leads to the bottom floor of a branch.

Fighting Strategies

Whether your character is a melee fighter or a spellcaster, you can use the general pattern described by the flowchart at the top of the page in the vast majority of situations. Here are some situations and the proper responses.

If There is a Monster in View

  • If the monster cannot move (like a statue or an oklob plant), leave it be and return to kill it once you have cleared the level, assuming you have the tools to do so. If you're not equipped to fight it, just leave.
  • If it is a hydra, switch to a flaming or non-edged weapon, then proceed as usual (this does not apply to undead hydras -- you may safely used edged weapons on them). If it is a shapeshifter pretending to be a hydra, you may want to wait until it changes form or force it to change form with a wand of polymorph.
  • If it is attacking you with an element you don't currently resist but can with appropriate randart weapons or jewellery, wield/put on that item. Do not switch other equipment (especially body armour), since this will take many turns during which the monster can attack you freely!
  • If there is a highly dangerous monster in view, you may want to kill it as soon as possible, even if it is part of a larger group. If that would be too dangerous, run, teleport or blink away. Dangerous monsters include:
  • If there are several monsters, retreat to a chokepoint.
  • If you get swamped by summoned monsters, use Aura of Abjuration if you've got access to it. Failing that, try to kill the summoner first, since that will get rid of all their summons.
  • If it has a ranged attack, either run up to it to force it into melee or run for cover behind a corner, whichever is faster.
  • If your character's life is at risk, read Escaping from (and avoiding) trouble.
  • Once all monsters are dead, check any equipment they dropped. If you're hungry, a carnivore, or wearing an amulet of the gourmand, butcher any edible corpses.

If There is no Monster in View

  • If you are hurt and you are a regenerating species, rest by holding Shift and pressing '5' on the NumPad until your HP is full. As the game progresses, you'll acquire other means to heal yourself, but the consumable versions should generally be saved for emergencies.
  • If you need MP, rest or use a renewable means of restoring some MP: either a crystal ball of energy or a staff of energy, or Sif Muna's Channel Magic.
  • If your inventory is full, wear an amulet of the gourmand, then go drop off items you don't need at your stash.
  • If you are not on a special level, press 'o' to auto-explore.
  • If you are on a special level, carefully explore manually in circles from the upstairs until fully cleared and explored. Consider using a scroll of magic mapping if you know there's a dangerous vault somewhere (like in the bottom floor of a branch).
  • If you are done exploring the current level, follow the walkthrough for the next steps (which will often be to just continue down, but be careful not to enter branch ends earlier than you should).