User:Neil/DDNE of Kikubaaqudgha

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This page is a Diary of a Crawler, the journal of an individual character. This page probably contains spoilers.

This DDNe of Kikubaaqudgha was my first win.

Early game

I thought I was done for when I got the mutation "You cover ground slowly" at XP level 8, but came across a Rod of Demonology shortly thereafter. I skipped the Orcish Mines (D:9) after finding that the only accessible downstairs from Orc:1 led to an upstairs surrounded by a couple of orc knights (one right next to me), some orc warriors, and a number of orc priests. I wasn't ready for that, so retreated (fortunately no one woke up) and kept going down in the main dungeon.

The Hive was on D:11, and the Lair on D:12. I found a staff of energy on D:11, which made it much easier to spam Vampiric Draining. Then on D:12 I found the Young Poisoner's Handbook, learned Mephitic Cloud, and went back to the Hive to take care of the bee problem there (the "problem" being that they, and not I, had all those honeycombs, royal jellies, and XP). I learned Twisted Resurrection shortly thereafter, and headed to the Lair. A potion of cure mutation on Lair:3 rid me of my slowness (but, alas, also my rough black scales), and Gastronok was kind enough to give me a wizard hat of intelligence and not the hat of Pondering. There were stairs to the Swamp on Lair:4, and to the Snake Pit on Lair:5.

First rune ever

I got the decaying rune at XP level 15, and managed to do it without poison resistance or clarity. I let my large abominations take care of what they could, and spammed vampiric draining at everything else. I lost some abominations to hydras, but there were enough corpses to replace a fair number, and Kiku helped with corpses for a few more. One swamp dragon corpse was chopped up for its hide, though I hadn't seen any enchant armour for a while. At this point, my Spellcasting is high enough that L4 spells don't cause hungering, so the staff of energy goes into the stash. After the MiFi's experiences, I'm slightly worried about the Snake Pit, but the Deep Dwarf damage shaving has really helped against poison so far.


The mines were uneventful until the fourth level, where I encountered Nessos and later Urug. Both were abominated out of existence. There were also a number of orc high priests, so I was glad I had the rod of demonology for Abjuration. In the shops at the centre of Orc:4 I bought a +2,+2 long sword of holy wrath, some healing potions, and the ratskin cloak. It's nice to have rPois. On the way back up, a previously unexplored disconnected section of Orc:3 had the portal to the bailey, where I encounted and killed an MDAr player ghost. After clearing the bailey I went down to D:16, finding a randart +0,+5 falchion of holy wrath on the way; now I feel a bit silly about buying that long sword. On D:16 I encountered Sonja and Norris; I killed the kobold, while the abominations took care of Mr Suntan. I went back to the Lair to drop off loot. Now I'm training up Charms/Air (for Deflect Missiles) and Fire (for Sticky Flame, mainly), and then I'll try Snake. I should probably be training up Summonings, too, for Haunt.

Cleared Snake:1-3

On Snake:1, I found the amulet of the Four Winds, giving me clarity and "incredibly resistant to hostile enchantments". Snake:2–3 were uneventful; Frederick was on Snake:3 but died to my abominations while I stayed far away.

Mennas showed up on Snake:4 and killed all my abominations. My MiFi (or, to be more precise, his summoned demons) didn't have much problem with the angel (he was on Snake:4 in that game, too), but I don't have an AC of 37 this time. I had to use a few charges from a wand of teleportation, and more than a few from the wand of healing, to get away; the latter required me to lose some max MP. While fleeing, I encountered the ghost of the Minotaur Fighter (he had retreated from Snake:5 to Snake:4 hoping in vain to overcome the poison). I bid him adieu, cast a few Dispel Undeads, and claimed his place as the most powerful of the Neils. I left the level with six stars of piety, so went to the Temple to claim my Necronomicon.

I have no free spell levels for Haunt (which is at Fair until I can train up), but I do have three scrolls of amnesia. Deflect Missiles is still at Useless, so it might be worth dropping until I can get Charms and Air trained up, but I'm going to need it soon. Mephitic Cloud is becoming less useful, and I've more or less switched from Pain to Throw Flame as my primary low-mana ranged attack. It might also be time to switch from Twisted Resurrection to Animate Dead, though the abominations are still good against things that don't wield Holy Wrath. Available books are:

There's also a lajatang of pain (dropped by Agnes) in my Lair stash. However, I've already dedicated a decent amount of XP to Long Blades; and if something susceptible to pain is in melee range, I'm usually using Vampiric Draining instead. So for now I'm hanging on to the flaming scimitar, with the falchion of holy wrath for backup.

Second rune

I decided to sneak past Mennas, using a different set of stairs. In this part of Snake:4 I found a few shops (buying some scrolls and an unidentified artefact axe that turned out to be not very good), but not much else. Snake:5 was the original layout. Before hitting the vault, I found a randart +1 animal skin with Dex+5 Int+4, but kept on the robe of fire resistance. Once I reached the vault, I took the fight back out to a corridor, draining HP from everything that bleeds and occasionally retreating further to chop up some corpses for quick MP. The greater nagas were fairly tough, wiping out all my remaining abominations and taking me down to about 30 HP more than once. I also had a crystal ball of energy I picked up on the level. Since my Evocations was relatively high (level 9), I decided to use it when I ran out of chunks and didn't want to retreat to chop up more corpses. It worked well for a while, until I let my MP get too low and it paralyzed me while I was standing next to a naga warrior. That was almost YASD, and cost me 1 max MP to recharge the wand of healing yet again.

After hacking through five or six greater nagas and what seemed like interminable numbers of naga magi and naga warriors, the rune was in sight. I picked it up, walked calmly to the stairs, and went nowhere near Mennas on my way back up. Back on Lair:2 I dropped it in the stash and considered the next step.

I never did actually clear Swamp:5 and Snake:5; once I grabbed the runes, I left immediately. So that's one possibility. There's also the Elven Halls; with the Amulet of the Four Winds and a ring of see invisible, I might actually stand a chance. Or I could clear out the last few levels of the Lair (staying away from the Slime Pits for now). Or there's the Dungeon, which I haven't spent much time in recently. The Vaults aren't too much further down, either.


I decided to take on the Elven Halls next (or at least the first four floors), what with having very high MR. It was remarkably easy. Abjuration from the Rod of Demonology dealt with the summoners, and a combination of vampiric draining, scimitar of flame, and abominations took care of the rest.

Elf:1 had a few shops, which yielded a ring of teleport control (awesome) and a "runed triple sword" which turned out to be holy wrath (maybe useful later). A scroll of recharging on the ground went into my wand of healing (the Rod of Demonology didn't feel like it needed any more improvement just yet).

Ran into Donald, Aizul, and Roxanne on Elf:2. The first two were easy enough: I didn't even get to hear Donald complain as my abominations slaughtered him out of sight; he was kind enough to leave me a scimitar of pain that would, later, become my primary melee weapon for a while. Roxanne, however, killed most of my abominations before they could even get near her. I closed in and meleed her to death, taking about 70 damage in the process. Her book contained Evaporate, Sticks to Snakes, Stoneskin, Alistair's Intoxication, and Statue Form.

Saint Roka and Rupert were both on level 4, in the same room. That was tough, and I had to teleport Rupert away to keep from dying to the melee/smiting tag team. With the two separated, the remaining four abominations took care of them easily enough. After clearing the level I decided to head back to my stash and regroup before even considering Elf:5.

I used up three of my four scrolls of amnesia to swap out some spells:

  • Twisted Resurrection out, Animate Dead in. Though the abominations still work well, it's getting to the point where they don't help much in the fights that actually need them. And actually assembling one is annoying. Animate Dead should be somewhat better for spamming meatshields, since you get three times as many. And I hear that, with powerful enough corpses, the zombies can actually be stronger than the abominations anyway.
  • Mephitic Cloud out, Alistair's Intoxication in. I haven't used meph much in a long time, and have Clarity from the amulet. The success rate is much lower (Fair only), but I'd like to give it a try.
  • Pain out, Sticky Flame in. Anything that's susceptible to pain is probably going to be my healing potion instead, and having a way to deal with teleporters etc. would be nice.

This fills up my spell slots for the moment. Transmutations and Poison Magic will need a lot of training for Alistair's Instant Frat Party, and Charms and Air Magic still do (Deflect Missiles is up to terrible from useless, but still not something I'm about to try casting). To this end, most of my primary magic skills (spellcasting, necromancy, fire magic, conjurations) are turned off, though Summonings is still on for eventually learning Haunt.

I think the next steps will be clearing out the Lair, Snake:5, and Swamp:5; then The Vaults:1-7. I have rN+++ and Kiku's torment protection, so the Crypt and maybe the Tomb should be doable.


I changed my mind, and decided to head straight for the Vaults, despite not really knowing what to expect. The first level was easy enough; some ugly things turned brown and damaged some armor, and the boggarts made me kind of wish I hadn't switched out Mephitic Cloud (since my success rate for Alistair's Intoxication was just fair). At one point I was stairscumming and somehow managed to take the wrong stairs down, and ended up clearing Dungeon:17 (including Wiglaf) before realising my mistake and going back to Vault:1.

Vault:2 had a number of shops, where I bought a cloak of preservation, a helmet of see invisible, and some potions and scrolls. It also had a number of demons, which ended up hurting a lot: the fire-resistant ones, in particular, are tough for me to damage from a distance; and I can't spam vampiric draining at them to keep my HP up. I have now three long blades of holy wrath available to me, and they help, but I'm wary of getting that close to things I can't drain.

At one point a shadow wraith followed me back up the stairs as I was retreating from some demons and centaurs; I didn't actually have on the see invisible so I didn't notice until it took me down to 30. I put on a ring of see invisible, dispelled it, and when the coast was clear took the intelligence hit to switch to the helmet and free up the ring slot again.

I went back to Vault:2 via some different stairs, and ran into a chaos spawn. It paralyzed me and beat me down to 2 (!) hit points. After a few castings of Blink I found myself between it and the stairs, and made my retreat.

On the plus side, I did find a randart +2 shield with Str+1 Stlth++; and since I've been wearing a buckler most of the game, my Shields is high enough that a full-sized shield doesn't hurt my casting. Also a Book of Power, which gives me some irresistible damage potential.

After the misadventure, I headed to the Hive to pick up some replacement boots I left behind long ago, and with my now-improved Sense Surroundings noticed a room behind a wax wall. I tried melting it with throw flame, and digging with a wand of digging, but nothing happened. I decided to use the wand of fireball, and the squares next to the one I targeted melted... I had been zapping at a hidden door, which my Traps & Doors of 3 hadn't spotted. The room had four oklob plants, which managed to damage my helmet and my new boots before I could switch to the cloak of preservation. The room yielded mostly junk, with the exception of a rod of smiting.

Back at my stash, I finally bit the bullet and amnesia'd away Deflect Missiles to make room for Iskenderun's Mystic Blast. There's no point having six levels of unusable spell limiting my flexibility right now, and I really need the irresistible ranged damage. I still have Levitation for charms training. Targets for future scrolls of amnesia are Throw Flame, Animate Skeleton, and maybe maybe Agony. The last of those has been useful to me, but is getting to be less so as resistant monsters show up.

Now I have three spell levels left. Apportation is one possibility, but I haven't needed it yet. Spider Form is tempting as an escape spell, since I haven't found Swiftness; and would be a safer way to train up Intoxication. Tukima's Dance would be fun maybe, but I don't want to branch into yet another school of magic to get the spell power up. I think for the moment I will keep the slots free; after all, I do want to be casting Haunt at some point.

It's tempting to switch to Sif Muna for the amnesia ability, but Receive Corpses is too good for me right now. I think I'll stay with Kiku.


After swapping out spells, I headed back to the vaults to see how I would fare. This time things went much better. For one thing, there weren't as many demons (turns out the ones on Vault:2 came from a minivault, pandoras_box_mu); for another, I remembered to actually use Animate Dead this time. Xtahua was the only unique this time; I put on the ring of fire for a total of rF++, but he didn't even get a chance to breathe on me before I closed in and drained him to death. His zombie served me well for a while before dying to (I think) a toenail golem.

I cleared the branch down to Vault:5 before I headed back up to stash some of the plunder. I came out with two spellbooks (even if they were Book of Chemistry and Book of Cantrips; I suppose spammals is now an option), two scrolls of acquirement (I tried "weapon" both times hoping for a good randart, and got an egoless katana and a falchion of freezing), a crossbow of flame (but now that I've got some irresistible conjurations there's no point to training up crossbows), and a scroll of amnesia (goodbye, Animate Skeleton; I'm not quite ready to get rid of Agony just yet, and Throw Flame still has a distance advantage). There is also a bookstore on Vault:4 with the Book of Air (swiftness) and Book of Summonings (I've gotten to level 8 with Recall alone), but I've been very liberal with my money so I can't afford either.

I turned Long Blades back on, since it's still my primary offense against demons and such, and reducing my delay would be nice. Likewise Spellcasting and Summonings: the former to reduce my spell level shortage, and the latter for Haunt (which would be up to Good now; it's getting time to memorize it). Intoxication is up to Very Good, which is enough for now, so I've stopped victory dancing with it (I turned Poison off; Transmutations will train as I use it). I have five spell levels free now, and am close to levelling Spellcasting and getting two more, at which point it's Halloween.

The Crypt stairs are on Vault:4, and with rN+++, torment protection, holy wrath, and Dispel Undead that might be a good choice. Or there's still Vault:6-7 and the ends of Lair, Swamp, and Snake. Or Elf:5 even.

Crypt:1 Vault:6-7, Lair:7-8

I tried the Crypt, but found that the big problem was that I lacked a way to heal. I backed down after losing half my HP to some skeletal warriors (there's only so much you can spam Dispel Undead at one time). I considering taking a box of beasts just to pull out draining victims, but testing showed that summoned creatures do not give HP when drained. Instead, I headed to Vault:6, which was easy enough (and had the Hall of Blades portal, which I'm not sure I need). Another scroll of acquirement yielded a staff of death, which maxes out my Dispel Undead and Agony, and gets Vampiric Draining closer. In Vault:7 I ran into some stone giants who pounded me down from range, so I headed back upstairs. I noticed my spellcasting had leveled, so headed back to the stash.

Once there, I used my seven spell levels and memorized Haunt, which is now at Very Good. I picked up the ring of sustain abilities, so being sick doesn't eat through my royal jellies too fast. I also swapped out my scimitar of flaming for a scimitar of pain, though I'm using holy wrath as my main weapon for now; I figure Necromancy 17 ought to give some good bonus damage against most of the things that holy wrath doesn't help against. The staff of death is another option for melee against living creatures, but my Staves and Evocations aren't all that high.

I still haven't had an opportunity to try out the rod of smiting (which will do less damage since I wear a shield), but I'm hanging on to that and demonology for now. I've switched out of my ratskin cloak for the cloak of preservation, but am still carrying the former around in case I need rPois or the third level of rN.

At this point it might be safe to drop Agony, but I want to try it out a bit first; and I don't have any scrolls of amnesia anyway. Five spell slots would let me memorize Apportation and Swiftness and still have two left over; or could put me a good deal of the way towards Borgnjor's Revivification

To test my new toy, I cleared out the rest of the Lair, which posed no problem at all, even the dire elephants. I suppose it's back to clear out Vault:7 now, or maybe Elf:5.

Vault:7, Elf:5, D:19–23

Vault:7 wasn't so bad at all now that I knew where the toughest ranged opponents would be, and could prepare some zombies to take the blows for me. I found a Trove portal there which is demanding a +3 ice dragon armour. Also Margery and her hell knights, who provided a good chance to test out Haunt in a moderately dangerous situation; the summons dealt with the hell knights well, while I and rF++ drained Margery to death.

Elf:5 was a real pain; I had to retreat multiple times for healing, mostly because of deep elf annihilators, but also because of an deep elf master archer who really brought on the pain. Without Alistair's Intoxication there's no way I would have survived. At one point a sorceror followed me off the level and caused problems with his demons, but Intoxication followed by multiple abjurations (from the rod) dealt with him. At some point I ended up with Frail 1. There was a Bazaar on the level, but I was not at all prepared to make it there in time without getting over my head in elves.

Because of my limited healing, I found myself running off to the main dungeon to find creatures to drain (since Elf:1–4 and Orc had been cleared). This was great until I hit a level (D:20) full of lava with efreet, hell hounds, and various other drain-proof creatures. I took an escape hatch down to skip the level in hopes of more drainable creatures; D21 had portals to Hell and Pandemonium. As I was looking for stairs back up, I fell through a shaft and landed on D:23, where I was greated (almost immediately) by Mara. This was not good at all. I put on the amulet of the Four Winds, drank a potion of speed, and ran away, teleporting when my double's Haunt surrounded me. I managed to make it off the level and back up to D:21, finding a ziggurat and a gate to the abyss, when I fell though another shaft. This time I was able to stay further away from Mara, and made it back to the Lair without event. I picked up an artefact ring mail, but it turned out to be a rather vanilla +3 rF+ armour. During this excursion I killed two ice dragons, but neither left a corpse, so the trove is sadly no closer.

Back on Elf:5, the elves had started to get into the loot, but I was able to draw them out and kill them one or two at a time, confusing the really dangerous ones. Finally I cleared it, picking up some loot that I probably wouldn't use much, and a precious scroll of amnesia. A manual turned out to be Staves, which I didn't really need; I probably should have used up most of my XP pool before reading it. Spellbooks included Book of Morphology, Book of Control, a randart air book with three spells (Silence, Deflect Missiles, and Tornado), and a randart summoning book that looked like a mix of Callings and Summoning (no new spells for me). There was also a staff of air I believe, and a randart rElec dagger (as my first source of rElec, it may be necessary for Vault:8).

After that I went to finish up Snake:5, though there wasn't much left. I ran into Mennas on the way, but got away using a potion of speed, and was able to explore a bit more of Snake:4 on the way up. I found a shop with a robe of the Archmagi. I'm still wearing the rF+ robe, but it's an option now. I also picked up a Brooch of Shielding, figuring it might be useful at some point.

Finally, back at the stash, I did some spell management. A level gain and a Spellcasting gain meant I had four free slots. I forgot Agony (still a nice closing-in spell, but increasingly less useful) and memorized Borgnjor's Revivification and Apportation. While I don't like the idea of giving up permanent max HP to heal myself, that's better than the permanent max MP that I have been giving up for the same purpose. This leaves one free slot, which I suppose will go to Swiftness (since it's not looking likely that I'll ever get Charms high enough to cast Haste). That involves saving more money to buy a book, but I can live with that.

I think, since I don't have any previous wins, this is going to be a three-rune game, unless getting more turns out to be safer than going to Zot right away. My choices now are: Vault, Tomb, Slime, Abyss, Pandemonium, or Hell. I can arrange to have rF+++ or rN+++, so Gehenna and Tartarus might just be possible, but that sounds far too dangerous at the moment (and I'd have to survive the Vestibule of Hell first). The Abyss is supposed to be easy-if-boring for characters of my level, but the healing issue worries me. Slime might not be so bad, since I have both a cloak of preservation and an amulet of resist mutation (and some randart robes and animal skins). Crypt and Tomb sound like they shouldn't be hard, but the lack of healing was a problem last time. Decisions, decisions. . .

Crypt:1–3, D:20–22 redux

I decided to do a few levels of Crypt, this time being careful to use Kiku's delivery service when I needed chunks for MP. I still had to burn through a few potions of mana, but I was able to clear the first two levels easily, meleeing the weaker monsters to save MP, and dispelling anything that looked like it would hurt. On Crypt:3 some ghouls and skeletal warriors beat me up a bit, so I headed back to the stash. At least my troubles had yielded a few books: Geomancy, Ice, and the Sky; and a scroll of amnesia. My piety took a bit of a hit, though.

I gained level 21, so have two spell levels left, plus whatever I might free up with amnesia. At this point, though, there's little I'd be willing to give up—maybe Throw Flame. I still need a source of speed; and if I memorized Abjuration I could possibly drop the rod of demonology (the rod is eminently spammable, but having to swap weapons is annoying). I could swap out Animate Dead for Shadow Creatures, I suppose, since the former is in direct competition with my mana regeneration and my Summonings isn't terribly shabby.

There's a staff of channeling in my stash which could probably mostly replace sublimation, if I could deal with the hunger. I don't actually find myself wielding the staff of death too often, so perhaps I should swap it out. On the other hand, the staff of death would let me change either amulet or cloak and keep rN+++. It might also be worthwhile to carry Wyrmbane for the potential for quick rPois, rF++ or even rF+++, and breath protection. Finally, there's a randart -1 leather armor for sale with rElec rF+ Str+1 Dex-3. Probably too much of a hit to my EV, and definitely too much of a hit to my spellcasting (Haunt goes down to "Good" in leather right now), but otherwise that would be nice.

To recoup the piety, I headed down to clear out what I could of D:20–D:22 (leaving D:23 to Mara for the time being). I didn't manage all of D:20, as the lava blocked passage and I didn't want to take the risk with levitate. Otherwise, the trip was a success, bringing me back to five stars and yielding a couple more scrolls of amnesia. A shop on D:22 has an artefact ring with rF++ Dex+5 SInv, which would be nice as it would allow me to comfortably wear the robe of the Archmagi and the wizard hat of intelligence, or to get rF+++ without having to wield a useless weapon or use both ring slots. I can't afford it now, of course, but I have the feeling Vault:8 contains enough gold to buy it.

I've spent as many turns since getting the serpentine rune as it took to get to that point, and have no more runes to show for it. I've cleared out quite a bit, though (Elf, Vault:1–7, D:17–22), trained Conjurations up from 5 to almost 12, and picked up a lot of useful loot, so I don't feel too bad about it. However, thanks to recharging the wands of healing I have even fewer max MP than I did then, despite having gained five levels.

Vault:8 part 1

Back at my base in the Lair I swapped out Animate Dead for Shadow Creatures and went to try my hand at Vault:8. I lured four to eight guards at a time up the stairs, blinked to a corridor, and drained them. After they were clear, I chose to search the southeast quadrant first. Some stone giants and ettins smacked me around a bit, but there were enough weaker creatures to lure upstairs for the healing dance. A lich fell easily to Dispel Undead, and a deep elf demonologist to intoxication, abjuration, and draining. Shadow dragons were not all that threatening with rN+++ and Haunt, though I still lured them upstairs to be careful. I saw a single titan, switched to the rElec dagger I was carrying, and used Haunt plus Vampiric Draining for the kill.

The vault yielded a lot of gold, so I bought that ring I had been looking at, and put on the robe of the Archmagi and wizard's hat of intelligence. I also took the time to heal the three or four points of rot I had accumulated. Some scrolls and potions had been lost to the fire and frost giants (I had on the ratskin cloak for the last point of rN, rather than the cloak of preservation), but nothing too important. I took one point of int drain from not switching to sustain ability quickly enough, but I'm not spending a royal jelly (I'm down to three) to fix it.

I have four spell levels left, but don't want to spend them just yet. I guess I could swap Levitation for Flying, but what I'm really hoping for is Orb of Destruction, for some higher-power ranged damage than Blast can do.

Now I guess it's on to the northeast quadrant.

Vault:8 part 2

The northeast quadrant was a big open room with treasure in the corners. Most of the monsters weren't too bad, and the openness let Haunt work very effectively, but I still took enough damage from stone giants and a quicksilver dragon that I had to Borgnjor a couple of times. The dragon followed me up to Vault:7, where I lost it somehow. It could be bad if it shows up again at an inopportune moment. There were a couple of spellbooks I already had, an artefact ring (power with Acc+3), and a few other things that were not of much note (weapons, armour, a deck of war, a few scrolls).

The northwest quadrant had a cruciform center corridor with four "rooms" in the corners holding stashes. I picked up a scroll of acquirement, a few artefact weapons that I left behind, a ring of intelligence +6, an amulet I've not yet identified (possibly faith, which is why I haven't tried putting it on), and some gold. Acquirement went towards a book, which contained Magic Dart, Bolt of Magma, Delayed Fireball, and other fire spells I already had. The only tough monsters in this quadrant were a stone giant and a tentacled monstrosity or two. All perished.

I headed back to base to free up some pack space and shuffle spells. There was only one bit of shuffling to do: Throw Flame out, Orb of Destruction in. This ought to be even more fun than Haunt, if I can avoid blowing myself up. Back for the silver rune next.

Third (silver) rune

On the way back to Vault:8, I sought out the quicksilver dragon on Vault:7, who was sleeping near the downstairs. It only had a chance to take a few steps before meeting its demise. The final quadrant of Vault:8 had lots of titans, shapeshifters, and shadow dragons, and the occasional tentacled monstrosity. I had to use Borgnjor a few times to recover from ranged attacks, but IOOD did its job, turning my enemies into meaty chunks that didn't even need to be chopped up for mana. A Receive Corpses invocation gave me an ice dragon corpse, but sadly it left no hide.

Other than the silver rune, the vaults gave me another rElec dagger, a randart spellbook that I didn't need, and some evocables—including a legendary deck of changes. Back at the stash I spammed the deck and got a mutation (Clumsy), lost some gold to Alchemist, and vitrified all of Lair:2 before finding what I was looking for: Experience. This brought my pool up to about 34000 XP, which I spent training conjurations, charms, and a bit of summonings. IOOD, Intoxication, and Haunt are now at Great, with everything else at Excellent or Perfect. Deflect Missiles would be at Fair; we're getting closer. I spent some of my remaining gold to buy the Book of Air I had been eyeing for some time. Swiftness is now within reach if I can find the spell slots for it; though maybe I should skip it and go straight for Haste.

With the three requisite runes, I now have some choices. I could do the Slime Pits, Crypt/Tomb, or Abyss for some XP, or head straight for the Realm of Zot. I have to get by Mara on D23, but that's probably feasible at this point. I'm wary of waiting too much longer, since Borgnjor is hell on the max HP, so maybe I should at least clear Zot:1–4. Either way, I'm quite excited.


I decided to start clearing out the lowest levels of the dungeon. Mara may be scary, but Orb of Destruction is scarier, and he didn't even get to summon his illusions or my ghost this time before he gave me XP level 25. There was also a vault full of jelly-type monsters, but they all died to IMB (OOD for the acid blob). D:24 yielded a rod of destruction (lightning, iron, fireball), but with a -3 recharge rate. It also had Boris, whom I avoided at the expense of leaving the level uncleared. D:25 had a randart +1,+9 long sword of slicing with rPois, rF+, and *TELE, which is going in the stash because I really don't need teleportitis.

I went back to dump my loot, then decided to clear the corridors of Vault:8 (previously I had cleared just the vaults). A red wasp slowed then paralyzed me while a titan was chasing. Borngjor and semicontrolled blinking got me to safety, then I switched to the ratskin cloak for rPois and killed them separately. Yet another too-close call. Some yaktaurs showed me the meaning of pain with silver bolts (apparently my four mutations are enough to count as chaotic), but died after some liberal application of Alistair's Intoxication and Iskenderun's Mystic Blast.

While the robe of the Archmagi is nice, I'm taking far too much damage from cold, so I switched to a robe of cold resistance; this, sadly, dropped all my spells by one dot of power, but survival is more important right now. I also picked up Wyrmbane so I can quickly get rPois and the last point of rF+ if necessary; the ratskin cloak served me well, but preservation is almost necessary at this point if I want my few remaining potions of healing and speed (and the scroll of holy word) to last.

Finally, I went back to do D:26 and D:27. The former level had nothing really notable. I took the stairs down, putting me on some upstairs at the end of a corridor. Upon my stepping away, an iron grate closed behind me, and I had to fight through a bunch of deep trolls. I found a better rod of destruction, this one of the fire variety and at +1 recharge rate. Also a wand of hasting, and at last an ice dragon who was kind enough to leave a corpse. Chopping up the corpse yielded a hide, so I found some stairs back up and headed back to the stash. Unfortunately, I had only three scrolls of enchant armour, so I currently have a +2 ice dragon armour; the trove in Vault:7 is requesting a +3 version, so I need one more scroll. Ctrl-F says I have seen none, so I'll have to keep an eye out. It may be worthwhile trying the Crypt again in the hope of finding the last scroll. Honestly, though, I'm not sure what I'm hoping for from the trove—an awesome randart, I guess, and maybe utility scrolls, potions, and wands. Cure mutation would be nice, to get rid of Frail but also to make myself less susceptible to silver.

I have four free spell levels now, and one scroll of amnesia. I haven't used Sticky Flame in a while, and the eight total spell levels would let me memorize Deflect Missiles and Swiftness, though the former is still at Poor when I'm not wearing a ring of wizardry. Haste is at Fair, which is a little better. With the ring, they're at Good and Very Good, respectively. I've switched off all my skills to build up some XP for training Charms and perhaps Air, since I don't want to enter Zot without Deflect Missiles. I could probably stick to the wand for emergency hasting, but I really should be hasted at all times now.

Crypt:3, Slime:1–4, Zot:1

After forgetting Sticky Flame and memorizing Deflect Missiles in its place, I decided to explore a bit more of the Crypt in search of scrolls. I didn't find anything useful, but I did run into and kill Khufu on Crypt:3. His entourage, however, was tormenting me and abjuring my haunts as fast as I could throw them, so I left the level.

I decided to do a bit of the Slime Pits next, hoping for some XP to train up Charms. Despite having conservation, I lost three points of AC to the acid blobs (including one on the cloak of preservation itself). I got a nice chunk of XP, though, and having turned off Necromancy, Conjurations, and the like meant I could use it all for training Charms (with a bit of Air and Spellcasting despite those being turned off). I trained Charms up to 8 before, on the fourth floor, landing in a section with only narrow passages out. Wanting to neither touch the walls nor use my wand of digging, I backed out.

Next stop was unlocking the Realm of Zot. I took my runes down to D:27 and poked my head through the portal just long enough to see that the entrance was monster-free. I took the runes back to the Lair, and decided to swing by Swamp:5 to see what I missed. I found none of the consumables I was looking for, but did come across my third kind of rod of destruction, this one inacc, magma, and cold. It was +5, but had only 9 max charges. If only I could swap the enchantment with one of the other two...

At the advice of Mental Mouse, I proceeded on to Zot. A golden dragon poisoned me once when I forgot to keep Wyrmbane wielded, and an electric golem gave me a bit of a tough time: since my only rElec is from a weapon, Sublimation of Blood left me vulnerable and I ended up having to Borgnjor. Otherwise the only problem I encountered was a red draconian caller who repeatedly summoned death drakes and conjured flame on me. Every time I switched to the rod of demonology to abjure them, I was poisoned or worse by one breath weapon or another. Finally, semicontrolled Blink got me to the portal and back to D:27; I received corpses and recharged my mana, then headed back intending to lure the caller through the portal. It worked, except I also managed to bring a couple more draconians with me. Intoxication and Blink got me away, then this time I was able to lure the caller up to D:26 alone, where intoxication and draining ensured he wouldn't be summoning again. I managed to take seven points of rot, though, giving me a max of 127 HP right now. I headed back to the stash for more planning.

Deflect Missiles is at Good now, and everything else at Excellent or Perfect. I'm one spell level shy of learning Haste, which would be at Great. It's going to be a while before Spellcasting levels again, though. I haven't used Shadow Creatures as much as I thought I would, and getting rid of that would let me learn both Haste and Flight, if I could just find another scroll of amnesia.

On to Zot:2 . . .


On Zot:2 I took care of a number of draconians, dragons of various sorts, six moths of wrath, and a curse toe. Then I rounded a corner and saw the red asterisk of an orb of fire. I put on my amulet of resist mutation and launched an orb of my own. Doing so before zapping myself with haste turned out to be a mistake. Despite rF+++ it was doing quite a bit of damage with its fire. Worse, its Polymorph Other got through the amulet twice, removing my scales and giving me teleportitis and a deformed body. I tried to teleport away, but apparently only managed to cancel a random teleport. Finally I was able to position myself in a hallway with a moth of wrath between me and the orb. I ran to the stairs and got out of there.

Teleportitis simply would not do, but there were no potions of cure mutation to be found anywhere. I went around collecting the potions of mutation lying around the dungeon, and took my chances. I lost two points of strength and gained two points of dex, some stealth, and fingernails. Unfortunately I also gained Low Magic (-10% MP). I did, however, lose the teleportitis. I bought two more potions, hoping to lose either Frail or Low Magic. I did not, but I got slow metabolism and clarity, which I suppose aren't too bad; though my usual amulet also provides clarity, having a backup for situations like this is nice. I also levelled Charms, putting Deflect Missiles up to Great.

I am now deathly afraid of those orbs, as I should have been all along. I think my biggest mistakes were not hasting myself, and not casting Haunt. That would have blocked line of effect for both fireball and polymorph other, so I would have had just the bolts of fire to dodge. I'm lucky I made it out alive.

Definitely taking a different stair down next time. . .


I managed to explore the rest of Zot:2 without running into the orb of fire, so I went on to Zot:3 and Zot:4. I started running into draconian zealots, using Alistair's Intoxication to keep them from summoning, the rod of demonology to abjure the demons they managed to get through, and Vampiric Draining and Iskenderun's Mystic Blast to kill them. Moths of wrath provided extra HP, and one of the draconians left me a robe of resistance, putting me into rF+++ without wielding Wyrmbane. Shadow Creatures was handy for covering escapes from large groups, as the dragons it produces can take quite a few more hits than my haunts. On Zot:4, I used Haunt to take care of a large draconian pack, and ran into a ghost moth while fleeing. It followed me to the upstairs, but I made it up without being followed—but with no MP left. All the upstairs on Zot:4 are bunched together, so there's probably no avoiding it on the way back down.

Receive corpses has taken my Kiku piety down to three stars, meaning I no longer have torment protection. I have to be slightly more careful about how often I ask for MP, so I've been fighting with weapons slightly more. I'm eating mostly permafood, since there are still plenty of honeycombs from the Hive, and I feel safer wearing Four Winds or Shielding than Gourmand.

Cymrean reminded me that I could forget a spell by sacrificing a spellbook. None of my previous games had progressed far enough for that to be an option, but now I have so many duplicate spellbooks that I wouldn't mind giving one up. Unfortunately, now I can't decide what to forget. Shadow Creatures has turned out to be really useful in Zot, so I am loathe to give that up now. I could forget IMB and replace it with a weaker spell, using OOD more often. Apportation is another possibility, since at its low power it's only likely to save me a few steps towards the orb. Intoxication is way too useful against casters to forget; and dispel undead against undead. Levitation is only moderately useful, but I have no other source of the effect (there are some +Lev cloaks and robes in shops, but not good enough to replace my current items), and at times it can be a lifesaver. I'll have to give it more thought before heading back, rod of destruction in hand, to deal with that ghost moth and descend to the final level. In preparation for the orb run, I dropped the runes and a few emergency items on the entry stairs of Lair:1.

As for grabbing the orb... I could clear out the chamber and hope my Kiku piety holds out long enough to keep recharging my MP. Or I can try the repeated teleport trick, using Intoxication on the Orb Guardians once I'm in the main chamber. I have four wands of teleportation (with 1, 3, 4, and an unknown number of charges) and about 14 scrolls, so I should be able to make it near the orb and still have enough left to avoid things on the way up.

Zot:5 part 1

I took my staff of channeling with me on my way back to Zot, so I have a way to recharge without eating further into my now quite low piety. It's much slower than Sublimation, though, so I'm still chopping up the corpses as I get them. The ghost moth died to an orb followed by mystic blast; I didn't even need the rod. I finished clearing Zot:4 and went down the stairs.

On Zot:5, I first explored and cleared the random portion of the level, drawing monsters up the stairs by ones and twos. After that, I walked quietly into the antechamber, zapped one of the orb guardians with IMB, cast intoxication, and ran. This let me fight the guardians (mostly) one at a time, alternating confusing and draining, and running upstairs when I needed a recharge of mana. One of those times I ran upstairs, a tentacled monstrosity was waiting for me. They're not normally too bad if you can keep your distance, but I was low on health and even lower on mana. I got away, but had to use a number of charges of healing. With the central orb guardians taken care of, I summoned up some shadow creatures and headed for the left passage. As soon as monsters came into sight (an ancient lich and an orb of fire) I used my last charge from the wand of hasting, read a scroll of fog, and ran, summoning up creatures to cover my path. They managed to kill the ancient lich without my having to deal with it. A killer klown apparently also followed, so I confused and drained it, but not before taking a few more points of rot as one of its random effects. I repeated the process with the orb chamber, and this time the shadow monsters killed the orb of fire (or maybe a different one; I see two "Noticed an orb of fire" notes on Zot:5) and another ancient lich.

At this point I was running low on food because of all the channeling, and noticed I had gained a level of Spellcasting (not to mention three levels of Evocations from all the channeling). I went back to the stash for what will probably be the last time, and memorized Haste. One spell level is left; I think I may spend that on Magic Dart so I have a long-range, fairly quiet, monster drawer.

It seems like I've settled on the slow and methodical approach to the Orb chamber. Unless some significant problem presents itself, I'm likely to clear half of it then try to lure the guardians out of the inner chamber. Once the orb is in hand, a ring of teleport control will get me out of there. I just have to be sure not to make any stupid mistakes again, as my margin of error is getting quite thin. The important thing is making sure I always have enough free MP for Borgnjor, even if that's a 1/4 reduction in the number of spells I can cast before having to recharge MP. The wand of healing just isn't fast enough to save me from two orb guardians at once.


I entered Zot:5 at turn 162589. Taking a look back:

  • Half the game ago I was at XP level 19, clearing out Vault:6 and just about to learn Haunt. My max HP was 21 higher then (12 higher if you don't count the rot), and my max MP 7 higher. Ouch. Part of the loss was from gaining both Frail and Low MP, but a large chunk was lost to recharging or Borgnjor.
  • One-third of the way through the game I was level 16, clearing Snake:5.
  • One quarter of the way, I was at level 15 and doing the Bailey (the only portal branch I found in time) as part of clearing Orc:4.

I have 1.34 million XP:

  • Half of my XP ago, I was clearing Vault:8.
  • When I had 1/3 the XP I do now, I was clearing Elf:5.
  • When I had 1/4 the XP, I was on Vault:5 or so.


I memorized Magic Dart and made my way back down, heart thumping the whole time. Once I was in the antechamber, I followed my plan: receive and butcher a few corpses (putting my piety down to one star), summon up some Shadow Creatures, haste myself, recharge mana with a chunk, and head left. Only an ancient lich and a dragon remained in this room; the former was dispelled and the latter drained. Then an orb of fire appeared around the corner. I recalled my allies, haunted the orb, read a scroll of fog, and ran in the other direction. I took a few more mutations (weak, and another level of frail and clumsy).

In the next room (adjoining the inner chamber) there was nothing much left but a storm dragon, who provided some needed HP. Apparently everything else had already fallen in the first room. I crept up slowly (well, quickly, actually, but stealthily at least) until I could see a single orb guardian. I zapped it with magic missile dart, renewed my haste and shadow creatures, and ran. It followed, but was swamped by the dragons and draconians. About this time, my glow discharged twice few times and I received two more mutations: weak and another frail! My body is a wreck, with max HP now 99 before the rot.

I repeated with each successive orb guardian, though they were starting to wake so I would often get two at a time. I assisted my summons from a distance when I could get a clear shot. Then, as I was low on mana and about to run for it, one of my "friendly" moths of wrath did the unthinkable and berserked the orb guardian. I hasted, spending most of my mana, and ran, hoping that I would recharge enough before it caught up with me. It got one hit in on me before I got four mana and cast intoxicate. I managed to get to the stairs before it caught up, recharged, and dealt with it easily once its berserk had worn off.

After a few iterations of guardian-baiting, I walked up to the inner chamber and no creatures greeted me. It was just me, my summons, and a big purple orb. I channeled mana just in case, picked it up, put on my ring of teleport control, read a scroll, and hoped it would kick in before anything nasty showed up to investigate the shriek. It did; I went to the upstairs and escaped Zot:5 with the orb in hand.

The Orb Run

On the way back up to the endgame stash, I didn't encounter much. I usually walked from stair to stair unless that would require crossing the whole level; I used the wand of digging when it would save me some walking. Semicontrolled blink got me away from what creatures I did encounter, including some hell hounds, various demons, and a few large abominations. I did stick around to drain a few living creatures to keep my hit points up, but that wasn't necessary for the most part. I encountered a pan lord on D:14 (a nasty open level), but blinked away before he could do anything but summon a few demons. From D:12 I stopped by the Lair to pick up a lantern of shadows and the runes from my endgame stash; none of the other things there seemed necessary, since I had at least seven teleports left and could recharge a wand if absolutely necessary. I kept the lantern wielded, with the ghosts blocking the way for anything that tried to chase me. On D:3 my shadows killed a player ghost I had run from long, long, ago; it took me a second before I even noticed, since all "p"s look alike with the lantern wielded. I hit level 1 and checked the map; it would be about twenty steps to the nearest hatch, but there would be two blind corners, and who knows what I might run into. I walked around the first corner, saw nothing. Took about five more steps, rounded the last corner. . . and nothing in sight but my phantoms and an escape hatch. I walked over and headed up, glad to leave this accursed place behind forever. Hopefully they have some potions of cure mutation back in town.

 1. 1205846 Neil the Eclecticist (level 27, 82/94 (99) HPs)
            Began as a Deep Dwarf Necromancer on July 7, 2011.
            Was a Follower of Kikubaaqudgha.
            Escaped with the Orb
            ... and 3 runes (of 3 types) on July 13, 2011!
            The game lasted 1day 02:38:42 (170153 turns).

The whole thing took about a week of real time, with what must have been four or five hours a day of play.