Deep Dwarf

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This page is about the player species. For the monster, see Deep Dwarf (monster).

Deep Dwarves are related to the now-extinct Mountain Dwarves, but unlike their cousins, they never left their underground homelands. Living there for countless generations turned them pale and made them lose all ability to heal naturally. On the other hand, they are tougher than most living species, and their empathy with the earth allows them to sense much of their surroundings, including the layout of Dungeon passages. They are highly spiritual beings, often mistaken for actual spirits by outsiders.

Given their lack of natural healing, few Deep Dwarves venture out for adventures or even combat. Those who do have learned to always bring a wand of healing with them, and many also turn to divine assistance.

Naturally, Deep Dwarves are quite adept at all arts of avoiding attacks, but not particularly gifted in the other arts of war. Those who have to defend their ground most often go with ranged weapons (preferring slings or crossbows over bows, which are too unwieldy for them), or rely on magic. They are most at home with Earth Magic and Necromancy.

Like all Dwarves, Deep Dwarves are gifted smiths and artificers, and gain bonuses from dwarven equipment. In addition, Deep Dwarves can recharge wands, rods, and other gadgets by infusing them with a bit of their magical essence. This essence is permanently lost, however, so recharging is never done lightly.

Innate Abilities

  • Slow Healing 3: Deep Dwarves cannot heal lost HP or attributes naturally, nor benefit from any form of regeneration (including the Regeneration spell).
  • Deep Dwarves will not passively regain MP if wearing an amulet of guardian spirit.
  • Passive Mapping 1. This is upgraded to rank 2 at level 9 and rank 3 at level 18.
  • Damage Reduction (also known as "damage shaving"): Deep Dwarves suffer less damage from every source. Among other things, this generally negates the effects of being poisoned.
  • Deep Dwarves receive bonuses from dwarven weapons and armor, in addition to the bonuses this equipment already provides from its superior construction.
  • Device Recharging: Deep Dwarves can recharge wands and rods at the cost of 1 permanent MP.

Device recharge.png

At the permanent loss of one magic point recharge a wand or rod.

Level Bonuses

  • Deep Dwarves gain a Strength or Intelligence (equal chance) increase every 4 levels starting at level 4.
  • Deep Dwarves have 20% more HP than average.
  • Deep Dwarves have average MP.
  • Deep Dwarves gain 6 magic resistance per level.
  • At level 14, Deep Dwarves gain Life Protection 1.

Damage Reduction

The formula for Deep Dwarves' damage reduction is 1d(2 + (1d(1 + experience level / 3) - 1)). This is applied against all damage they receive, even against attacks that are normally irresistible like smiting or hellfire. The table below only lists selected levels; unlisted levels also see small increments in damage reduction. It is not applied to damage from spell activation sources, such as Makhleb's abilities.

Level Damage reduced
1 & 2 1-2 (avg. 1.5)
5 1-3 (avg. 1.75)
8 1-4 (avg. 2)
11 1-5 (avg. 2.25)
14 1-6 (avg. 2.5)
17 1-7 (avg. 2.75)
20 1-8 (avg. 3)
23 1-9 (avg. 3.25)
26 1-10 (avg. 3.5)

Starting Skills and Equipment

Deep Dwarves start with the skills and equipment listed for their background, with these exceptions:

  • Deep Dwarves start with a wand of healing (5 charges).
  • All weapons and armor are of dwarven quality, where such variants exist.

Difficulty of Play


Deep Dwarves are an easy species to play so long as you quickly find a renewable source of healing. They have powerful damage shaving, which makes them immune to most damage-over-time attacks (such as poison). Starting the game with healing wands identified is also nice. They have decent aptitudes for a fighter-mage hybrid. Due to their lack of healing, they must choose their god and background with great care. Despite avoiding the loss of HP healing from sickness (since they have nothing to lose), their inability to naturally recover from ability score loss actually makes sickness a much bigger deal than for most races.

Towards the late game, the lack of natural healing becomes much more significant. Vaults:8 and Zot:5, among other locations, can severely strain your supply of potions or piety (for divine healing). However, full-HP Deep Dwarves are also much more capable of surviving battles in these places, because they take much less damage from things such as orbs of fire. The extended endgame is a different matter: while torment poses less of a direct danger to deep dwarves, damage from it can be very difficult to repair. Places such as Hell and Pandemonium will see you being tormented with considerable regularity, and this will rapidly deplete your supply of healing if you're not careful.

Skill aptitudes

The higher the value, the better the aptitude.

Skill Aptitude Skill Aptitude Skill Aptitude
Attack Miscellaneous Magic
Fighting -1 Armour 1 Spellcasting -2
Short Blades -1 Dodging 1 Conjurations -1
Long Blades 0 Stealth 3 Hexes -2
Axes 1 Stabbing -1 Charms -1
Maces & Flails 0 Shields 1 Summonings -1
Polearms -1 Traps 1 Necromancy 1
Staves -1 Translocations 1
Unarmed Combat -1 Transmutation -1
Fire Magic -1
Throwing -1 Ice Magic -1 Invocations 3
Slings 1 Air Magic -3 Evocations 4
Bows -3 Earth Magic 3
Crossbows 1 Poison Magic -2 Experience -1


Initially, you start with a wand of healing, and the ability to recharge at the cost of one max MP. Use it. You're not going to regain that lost health naturally, so whenever your HP is at least 20 points or so below maximum, heal. Don't be afraid to use the recharging ability - it is better to end with 45 max MP instead of 50 than it is to die. Once you've identified potions of heal wounds, you should use them before the wand, as they can break, and using them means you won't have to sacrifice as many MP to charge your wand. Save potions of curing for situations where you have a negative status effect, such as rot or confusion - using them to simply heal HP is wasteful. Use the wand instead, charging it if necessary.

Later on, you will need a source of renewable healing, in addition to the usual means of non-renewable (consumable) healing. Consumable healing will quickly be exhausted if you don't find another way to heal. There are only a few ways to go about this:

Healing Through Necromancy

Deep Dwarves cannot use the Regeneration spell, but they can use Vampiric Draining. This spell requires a living target in melee range to be effective; luckily, the game provides plenty of these. It is only found in the Book of Necromancy, which can be obtained in three ways:

  • By starting as a Necromancer
  • By finding it randomly, often in a shop (one might also find a randart spellbook containing the same spell)
  • While Kikubaaqudgha worshipers normally only have a 50% shot at getting Vampiric Draining, the fact that they can't cast Regeneration means that Deep Dwarves will always receive it at * piety.

Gifted necromancers can also use Borgnjor's Revivification to heal, but this is as much of an emergency spell for Deep Dwarves as it is for any other character, given its cost in max HP.

Passive Divine Healing

Two gods passively give HP for kills:

  • Makhleb gives HP for killing most enemies. He is by far the more common choice, since his healing is useful everywhere, and his other abilities are useful to just about any character build.
  • The Shining One gives HP on killing "evil" enemies (namely demons, undead, and many spellcasters). A Deep Dwarf doing the extended end game may well find TSO to be a better option than Makhleb, since virtually all of the enemies in Hell and Pandemonium are evil, and TSO gives a variety of useful abilities in fighting them.

Active Divine Healing

Three gods have Invocations which can heal Deep Dwarves. All of these abilities cost piety, although to varying degrees.

  • Elyvilon gives two healing abilities, Lesser and Greater Self-Healing. Both cost piety, but they are gained fairly early on (at * and *** piety, respectively), so most players will be unlikely to lose them. It is fairly easy to gain piety with Elyvilon by pacifying monsters, and to a lesser extent, sacrificing weapons. However, Ely's pacification abilities require Invocations skill to be most effective, and they both have steep food costs.
  • Trog gives a regeneration ability at ** piety, Trog's Hand. Unlike all other forms of regeneration, this works on Deep Dwarves. The ability does not require Invocations to be effective - rather, it becomes more effective with increasing piety. One must be careful about using this as one's only means of healing - it can rapidly consume piety, making it and Trog's other abilities considerably less effective.
  • Yredelemnul gives worshipers the ability to drain ambient lifeforce at **** piety. This ability is quite expensive, requires considerable Invocations investment (the max it can heal you is Invocation*2), and only works on living monsters. Taking Yred explicitly for this ability is inadvisable.

Vampiric Weapons

Vampiric weapons will heal Deep Dwarves when they hit a living target. Unfortunately, they are quite rare, and there is no way to guarantee that they will be on a useful weapon. An early vampiric weapon may give a Deep Dwarf more flexibility in god choice, however.

Non-Renewable Healing

Deep Dwarves can also heal themselves through the following consumable means:

  • Quaffing a potion of curing or potion of heal wounds
  • Zapping a wand of healing
  • The Elixir card, found in the Decks of War, Defense, and Changes. Unfortunately, none of these are gifted by Nemelex Xobeh. At low power, this card may only induce the Regeneration spell, which is a waste on Deep Dwarves.
  • The Potion card, found in Decks of Wonders. At low power, this has a 54% chance of some form of HP healing (27% each of duplicating Potion of Heal Wounds or Potion of Curing). At higher power this chance drops off, as other non-healing effects also show up and dilute your odds. It hits a 21.6% chance of healing (10.8% of each potion type) at maximum power.
  • The Alchemist card (Deck of Wonders) is the only card guaranteed at all power levels to give a healing effect that works on Deep Dwarves. It also robs you blind, but what use is money if you're dead?
  • Xom will occasionally heal worshipers
  • Drinking from a sparkling fountain gives a random potion effect, possibly including healing. This is generally a Bad Idea, given that other effects include rotting and mutations.

So What Does All This Mean?

All of this essentially means that Deep Dwarves are fairly limited in their choice of god. Necromancers have the most flexibility; since they start with Vampiric Draining, they can do reasonably well with any god they desire, although it is still advisable to pick one who gives renewable healing. All others, with the exception of those who get lucky and find a Book of Necromancy early on, are pretty much forced to choose between Makhleb, Elyvilon, Trog, and Kikubaaqudgha. Yredelemnul is a very iffy option, while The Shining One is only effective in the late game.

At first glance, this might seem to make most of the religious classes off-limits for Deep Dwarves. However, this is not actually so:

  • Berserkers already start with Trog
  • Priests can safely switch from Zin to Elyvilon. Even if they choose to go for Makhleb, Zin's wrath is quite survivable, even for a low-level character.
  • Healers already start with Elyvilon
  • Chaos Knights start with Xom. Xom is not incredibly hard to ditch, given that his wrath is simply the typical nasty things he already does to you when you're in "good" standing with him.
  • Death Knights start with Yredelemnul. They will probably want to change gods, but Yred's wrath is fairly tame. He causes necro miscasts and summons servants on you - but you outrun can all of them except for death cobs, which are extremely rare, and flying skulls, which are pathetic.
  • Abyssal Knights are the only religious class with significant trouble switching to another god. Lugonu does not give healing, and her wrath is extremely dangerous for low-level character: you will likely be Abyssed repeatedly. With the removal of wrath dilution in 0.11, early DDAK will either have to get lucky and find sources of healing (ideally a vampiric weapon or a book of Necromancy) that let them stay with Lugonu, or simply survive her wrath. Delaying the changeover as long you can reasonably keep charging the wand is a good idea: an XL12-13 character has a much greater chance of surviving Lugonu's wrath than an XL5 one. It is better to be down 10 max MP in the endgame than to be dead.