Venom Mage

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Version 0.30: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.
Venom Mages specialise in poison magic, which is extremely useful in the shallower levels of the Dungeon where few creatures are immune to it.

Venom Mage are spellcasters who specialize in Poison Magic. Their toxic spells are effective against insects and spiders, but they are more than capable of exterminating warm-blooded creatures, too. However, they will probably have to branch out into other schools once they start facing more demonic creatures and undead.

Preferred Species

Merfolk, Demonspawn, Djinni, Spriggan, Tengu, Deep Elf, and Naga are the recommended species if you pick a Venom Mage Background.

Starting Equipment

Some species may receive different items based on their unique restrictions.

Available Spells:

Venom Mages start with the Sting spell already memorised.

Starting Skills and Stats

These are adjusted by your species' aptitudes.

Choosing Venom Mage adds 7 to your starting Intelligence and 5 to your starting Dexterity.


Representative of Poison Magic as a whole, Venom Mages are great early on, weak later. Venom Mages suffer massively from limited ability to deal with enemies which are resistant or immune to poison. However, poison is great against vulnerable targets; it has a low MP cost, and ignores both AC and EV.

Fast species like Spriggans are good with keep-away tactics that make poison effective. Physically gifted species also benefit from this background. Even the dopiest character can manage to scrape enough experience together to get Poisonous Vapours and Mephitic Cloud functioning well, and those two spells can make a huge difference for an otherwise melee-based thug.

Spell Details

Sting is a decent spell. It deals some physical damage on its own, but its guaranteed chance to poison will probably kill any foe on the first 2 floors. Once you reach XL 2, you get a burst of power in Poisonous Vapours, a max range, smite-targeted spell that inflicts poison. A few applications will maximally poison a foe, leaving it to die as you run away.

Learn Mephitic Cloud the instant you hit level 3. Confusion is a very strong status, preventing all spells, and monsters only have a 1/3 chance to successfully move towards you. However, this spell is quite loud, attracting other enemies to you. The clouds will affect you if used too close; either have poison resistance, or aim behind an enemy. Having 2-3 points into both Air Magic and Conjurations is helpful; its a little tough to cast by training Poison alone.

Olgreb's Toxic Radiance is a powerful crowd controlling tool. It's pretty much Poisonous Vapours, but inflicts poison against every vulnerable monster on the screen. Poison Vapours is generally more efficient against single targets. OTR excels against groups, obliterating the mid-dungeon and Orcish Mines. A frisky VM may want to go into Orc before Lair (though watch out for many threats: wargs are rPois, while paralysis, stone giants, and many melee threats are still scary).

If you can find it, Ignite Poison is an extremely valuable spell for Venom Mages. It doubles the poison damage you've done, and turns it into fire damage. Great damage, great MP efficiency, and only takes a few turns to poison -> Ignite Poison. You can also turn Mephitic Cloud into flame clouds, allowing you to damage foes with poison resistance.

Tips & Tricks

  • Poison resistant monsters exist throughout the early Dungeon, so venom mages quickly need another way of killing things. Early threats include undead such as wights and sleepcaps, ice beasts, and water moccasins. Several enemies in Lair have resistance, namely hydras, black mambas and cane toads.
    • Ignite Poison, as mentioned above, can turn poison clouds into flame clouds. However, you are by no means guaranteed to find this spell. Even then, you'll need another way to kill poison-resistant enemies eventually.
    • Early branded or artefact weapons can be a boon to most characters - and even more so for Venom Mages.
  • Later on, poison resistance becomes more and more common. Either Sif Muna or Vehumet will help with your magic -- both your current spells and your future endeavors.
  • For an ordinary, robed caster, OTR only requires around 6-8 skill in Poison Magic to be reliably cast -- even with low Int. You can consider other options as soon as you hit that threshold (or well before).


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