Venom Mage

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Version 0.28: 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 Races

Merfolk, Demonspawn, Djinni, Spriggan, Tengu, Deep Elf, and Naga are the recommended races 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.

Strategy

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 incredibly strong against vulnerable targets.

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 full 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, leaving monsters a 1/3 chance to even start getting close to you. However, this spell is quite loud, discouraging use of stealth. The clouds will affect you if used too close; either have poison resistance, or aim behind an enemy. 2-3 points into both Air Magic and Conjurations are helpful; its a little tough to cast by training Poison alone.

Once reliably castable, Olgreb's Toxic Radiance is a powerful crowd controlling tool. It's pretty much Poisonous Vapours, but for every vulnerable monster on the screen. Poison Vapours is generally more efficient against single targets. However, with multiple casts, OTR can obliterate the mid-dungeon, Orcish Mines, and the Spider's Nest. The spell is strong enough that Venom Mages can easily consider going into Orc before Lair -- though watch out for wargs, paralysis, stone giants, as well as the many scary melee foes.

Tips & Tricks

  • Poison resistant monsters exist throughout the Dungeon, so venom mages need a plan. Early threats include undead such as wights and necrophages, demons such as imps, and several enemies in Lair, like hydras, black mambas and cane toads.
    • Combining Mephitic Cloud and Ignite Poison (if you find it early enough) will create flaming clouds, giving Venom Mages a powerful tool against poison-resistant threats. However, they should still look to branch out into melee or other forms of magic, as poison becomes less and less effective in the later parts of the game.
  • 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 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.

History

Backgrounds
Warriors FighterGladiatorMonkHunterBrigand
Zealots BerserkerAbyssal KnightChaos KnightCinder Acolyte
Warrior-mages EnchanterTransmuterArcane MarksmanWarper
Mages Hedge WizardConjurerSummonerNecromancerFire ElementalistIce ElementalistAir ElementalistEarth ElementalistVenom Mage
Adventurers ArtificerWandererDelver