Tips and tricks

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Version 0.17: 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.

Contents

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. 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 '^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 ']'. Don't hesitate to simply save the game and come back later -- some time to calm down and think, can often let you salvage a situation that originally looked hopeless.
  • 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 to dabble into 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. The information in this CrawlWiki helps too! Another resource are the Knowledge Bots in IRC or their 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 or wand of disintegration to create one. If you use ranged abilities or spells, there's even a chance the projectile will continue past its first target, damaging 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.
  • 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 Conjure Flame and Fire Storm. 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 walk up to you. The trap will turn it into minced meat for you.
  • Known teleport traps and shafts can become a means of escape. Step on them to escape a horde of enemies, or trick a tough monster into stepping on them.

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 unusable or inapplicable to character
Light Grey
item is unidentified or is standard identified item
Dark Green
item is unidentified and uncursed and possibly magical
Blue
item is unidentified and possibly branded and magical
Bright Green
item is uncursed and wielded/worn
Red
item is unidentified and cursed or bad to use or is discouraged by god
Bright Red
item is cursed and wielded/worn
White
item is a unique artifact
Purple
item is potentially dangerous to use (emits warning prior to use)
Yellow
item is beneficial
Cyan / 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. Find a safe place to establish a stash as soon as possible.
  • 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.
  • Try to find a weapon of protection as a secondary weapon. +5 AC is handy when you stumble into a pack of enemies that you want to either bypass or run away from.

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.

Miscellaneous

  • Always save your permafood (such as rations) and try to rely on chunks of meat instead. If you're 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. 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 (the bottom floors naturally lack the down stairs). 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 waiting for a status to time out -- do so on a down stairway. The reason for this is so you can flee quickly when the game starts spawning dangerous out-of-depth monsters after a few thousand turns.

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 it is a statue or Roxanne, leave it be and return to kill it once you have cleared the level, assuming you have the tools to do so.
  • If it is a hydra, switch to a flaming or non-edged weapon, then proceed as usual. This does not apply to zombie or summoned hydras. If it is a shapeshifter 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 jewelery, 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, wear an amulet of warding and try to kill the summoners first, then high tier demons (as they will summon lower tier ones). If you get swamped by rats and bats, the cause is a vampire. Use Abjuration if you've got access to it.
  • If it has a ranged attack, either run up to it to force it to 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, butcher their corpses and eat the chunks if hungry/carnivore/gourmand.

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 means of restoring some MP: either a crystal ball of energy, a staff of channeling, or Sif Muna's MP channel.
  • 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 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).