Deep Dwarf

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Obsolete: This article refers to an aspect of the game which has been removed. It is retained for historical reference only.

This article is about the player species. For the monster, see Deep Dwarf (monster). For a list of all monstrous deep dwarves, see List of deep dwarves.

Deep Dwarves are short, hardy people who, unlike their extinct surface relatives, never left the underground homelands. Living there for countless generations made them turn pale and lose all ability to regenerate health over time, or to have their rate of regeneration hastened by any effects. Deep Dwarves can instead draw on their magical essence to heal, but doing so will gradually deplete their maximum reserves of magic. They are passively able to reduce all incoming damage, and their empathy with the earth allows them to sense their surroundings; these abilities increase in power as they gain experience levels.

Naturally, Deep Dwarves are quite adept with all arts of avoiding blows and damage. Offensively, they are skilled users of axes, crossbows, and slings. Deep Dwarves are highly spiritual beings, often portrayed as actual spirits by outsiders; because of this, their skill with invocations is great, and they often rely on divine assistance for healing. They are most at home with the magic of earth and death, eventually gaining some resistance to the dark powers of necromancy.

Innate Abilities

  • No Regeneration: Deep Dwarves cannot heal lost HP naturally, nor benefit from any non-divine form of regeneration.
    • If they obtain spirit shield, Deep Dwarves have their MP set to 0 and do not regenerate MP.
  • Damage Reduction (or "damage shaving"): Deep Dwarves suffer less damage from every source. This applies separately to every source of damage, every time it is dealt; for instance, damage shaving generally negates the effects of all but the worst cases of being poisoned.
  • Heal Wounds: Deep Dwarves have an innate Heal Wounds ability, replicating the effects of the potion. The ability has a 25% chance to permanently reduce maximum MP by 1 when used. Notably, it has a chance to fail, with a decreased chance of failure with higher experience levels.
  • Passive Mapping 1: Deep Dwarves can sense parts of the layout of the dungeon around them.

Deep Dwarves have a base Strength of 11, Intelligence of 8 and Dexterity of 8 (before Background modifiers) and normal base magic points.

Preferred Backgrounds

Level Bonuses

Damage Reduction

The formula for Deep Dwarves' damage reduction is 1d(1 + 1d(1 + floor(XL / 3))). This is applied against all damage they receive, even against attacks that are normally irresistible like smiting or damnation. It is not applied to damage from spell or ability activation sources, such as Makhleb's abilities. The reduction is improved every three experience levels as per table below.

Level Maximum Average
1 2 1.5
3 3 1.75
6 4 2
9 5 2.25
12 6 2.5
15 7 2.75
18 8 3
21 9 3.25
24 10 3.5
27 11 3.75

Minimum reduction is always 1 point of damage.

Poison is treated slightly differently; the effective duration of poison is lowered so that up to 25 points of poison damage are shaved at once [1].

Starting Skills and Equipment

Deep Dwarves start with all the skills and equipment listed for their background.

Difficulty of Play


Deep Dwarves are a moderately difficult species to play. No regeneration can seem brutal, but other sources of healing (such as Makhleb's heal on kill) can get around it - see below for details. In exchange, DD has some powerful abilities. The innate heal wounds ability is a powerful panic button; just don't wait until the last turn to use it. Damage shaving is a strong effect, too.

Deep Dwarf is arguably the best race for streaking. The heal wounds ability can let you survive early game situations that no other species can.

Note that Deep Dwarves were made significantly harder to play in 0.27, as Makhleb, a very popular source of healing, had the healing greatly reduced.

Skill aptitudes

Values are from the most recent version that had both the species and the skill:

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
Maces & Flails 0 Shields 1 Charms -1
Axes 1 Stabbing -1 Summonings -1
Polearms -1 Traps 1 Necromancy 1
Staves -1 Translocations 1
Unarmed Combat -1 Invocations 3 Transmutations -1
Evocations 3
Throwing -1 Shapeshifting N/A Fire Magic -1
Ranged Weapons N/A Ice Magic -1
Slings 1 Experience -1 Air Magic -3
Bows -3 Earth Magic 3
Crossbows 1 Poison Magic -2
Alchemy N/A


You start with a heal wounds ability, with a chance to lose one permanent 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 of running out of healing - you can always train more Spellcasting or Invocations to get more MP, and most characters should never run low on max MP. Save potions of curing for situations where you have a negative status effect (such as poison or confusion), and potions of heal wounds for life-or-death situations where you cannot afford the fail chance on your innate ability—using them to simply heal HP outside combat is wasteful.

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

Healing Through Spells

The Vampiric Draining spell is an excellent choice for a Deep Dwarf. It requires a living or harmful plant target in melee range to be effective; luckily, the game provides plenty of these. Vampiric Draining can be obtained in three ways:

Two other spells may heal Deep Dwarves. Gifted necromancers can 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. Wereblood provides a few points of health when slaying adjacent creatures; 3 at most, too little for any serious healing.

Passive Divine Healing

Jiyva is a special case -- the slime god provides (super)natural regeneration, as if you were any other species. But unless you find an altar early or use a faded altar, Jiyva won't be found in any sort of timely manner. An altar often spawns in Lair, so a vampiric spell or weapon can serve as a buffer. Or you can start with Elyvilon, detailed below, who will not incur wrath on abandonment.

Two gods passively give HP after killing:

  • Makhleb gives HP for killing most enemies. Historically, Mak has been by far the most common choice for Deep Dwarves, since Makhleb's healing is useful everywhere. Its other abilities are also helpful to just about any character build.
  • The Shining One gives HP on killing "evil" enemies (namely demons, undead, and many spellcasters). This alone is not sufficient in most areas of the game, however. Only in Pandemonium, Hell, Crypt, and Tomb is it likely to be a reliable, consistent source of healing. Also note that worshiping The Shining One precludes using Necromancy and vampiric weapons as means of healing.

Active Divine Healing

Six gods have abilities which can heal Deep Dwarves.

  • Elyvilon gives a Heal Self ability at ***. While Elyvilon piety is only gained through exploration, accomplishing this is aided by the Passive Mapping ability of Deep Dwarves. Training Invocations skill, which they have a great aptitude for, increases the effectiveness of Heal Self.
  • Trog grants Trog's Hand at ** piety, a regenerative ability that works on Deep Dwarves. Trog's Hand does not require Invocations to be effective—rather, it becomes more effective with increasing piety. Moreover, because worshipers of Trog are forbidden from using magic anyway, Deep Dwarven berserkers can lean more on their innate healing ability, as the loss of max MP is of no concern.
    • Note that excessive use of Trog's Hand will diminish how often one can use the powerful Brothers in Arms ability. Additionally, Trog's Hand itself has a duration that depends heavily on your piety: the less piety you have, the less Trog's Hand will heal you per use, and the more piety you will have to burn to stay alive. An amulet of faith is an extremely valuable find for a Deep Dwarven berserker.
  • Yredelemnul gives worshipers the ability to drain ambient life force at **** piety. However, this ability requires a considerable amount of zombies and Invocations, and it only works on living or plant monsters. Taking Yred for the sole purpose of using this ability is inadvisable.
  • Ru lets you use Draw Out Power at *** piety at the cost of slight (temporary) reduction to your maximum HP. In a similar vein to Yredelemnul, taking Ru solely for this ability may not be wise.
  • Gozag's Potion Petition ability usually offers at least one option that includes a potion of healing or curing. However, it's unreliable, expensive, and is more suited for emergencies.
  • Nemelex's deck of escape can contain the Elixir card which will heal you. However, Nemelex card gifts aren't going to grant sufficient healing outside of emergencies.

Vampiric Weapons

Vampiric weapons heal Deep Dwarves when they hit a living or plant 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 somewhat more flexibility in god choice.

Non-Renewable Healing

Deep Dwarves can heal themselves by quaffing a potions of curing or heal wounds. Unlike most forms of regeneration, potions of ambrosia also function normally and can be used to heal between fights.

So What Does All This Mean?

All of this essentially means that Deep Dwarves who wish to maximise their chances for success are fairly limited in their choice of god. Deep Dwarves, possibly excepting those who have Vampiric Draining early on, are strongly incentivised to choose between Makhleb, Elyvilon, Ru, or Jiyva.


  • Deep Dwarves were removed in 0.29.
  • Prior to 0.20, Deep Dwarves started with a wand of heal wounds and a Device Recharging ability which would recharge any wand or rod for 1 permanent MP, instead of their innate heal wounds ability. Also, they had Slow Regeneration 3 instead of the species-specific No Regeneration.
  • Before 0.17, Deep Dwarves could not regenerate back temporarily reduced stats and had to use the now-removed potion of restore abilities. Deep Dwarven player ghosts also lacked the ability to regenerate.
  • Deep Dwarves were added in 0.5.

Heavily reliant on renewable methods of healing, many god changes are noteworthy:

  • 0.28 Jiyva gives passive regeneration. Removed Elyvilon Lesser Healing ability at 1* piety, moved Greater Healing from 4* to 3*. Increased Trog ability costs.
  • 0.27 Makhleb healing reduced heavily in strength.
  • 0.25 Trog lost the ability to gift vampiric weapons.
  • 0.18 Pakellas introduced, with the ability to charge and supercharge wands (of heal wounds) without max MP loss. Pakellas was removed in 0.19.
  • 0.16 Healer background, which started with Elyvilon, was removed.
  • 0.7 Chaos Knight of Makhleb removed.


  1. (0.28.0)
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