Early Game Character Building

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This guide gives general character building advice for the early game. Early game ends when you've reached the latest Ecumenical Temple spawn level, Dungeon level 7.

Build a Basic Plan

For early game building purposes, players should determine their character's primary method of killing enemies, and the character's primary method of defense.

Of course, if a hugely powerful piece of equipment drops, be prepared to take advantage of good fortune and adjust the plan accordingly. For example, if that unknown artefact staff from a store turns out to be the Staff of Olgreb, start pushing Evocations skill, and consider pushing Staves and Poison Magic, regardless of initial plan.

Offense types

  • Melee characters kill by hitting enemies with weapons from one or two squares away.
  • Ranged characters kill by throwing or shooting projectiles at an enemy from longer distances.
  • Mages or spellcasters kill using magic.
  • Hybrids do a combination, but for the purposes of early game character building, pick just one to focus on.

Defense types

  • Evasion (EV) builds defend themselves by dodging.
  • Armour (AC) builds do not evade hits, but concentrate on reducing the damage caused.
  • Either build may also choose to wear a shield, but usually only heavy armor builds will concentrate on shields in the early game.


How to allocate stats generally follows the same pattern throughout the game, and should always support your plan for the character.

Spellcasters must choose light armor and a primarily EV defense, or they will likely make their spellcasting unreliable. Focus on INT, but certain races get very low strength to start the game. Build STR up to 8 or 9 to increase carrying capacity, and then put the remaining stat points into INT. Ignore DEX.

Warriors: Both EV and AC builds should put enough into STR to carry their armor of choice, and the rest into DEX or INT. The returns on DEX surpass those from STR once the penalty from having insufficient STR for the armor of choice is mitigated. INT can be an interesting choice if you are planning to cast spells later.


Some backgrounds begin worshiping a god, but characters without gods should consider which god to initially worship. Read the section on Choosing a god, and consider Temple diving to start gaining piety (and god-given abilities and gifts) as quickly as possible.

Skills by background

In the early game, preferred skills are directly based on the character's background, with a few variations due to race.

Review the Skills page if you are not sure how to turn skills on or off. Life gets much easier for characters who focus on just a few skills while getting started.


Whether ranged or hand to hand, Warriors kill by using weapons. (In the case of Monks, that weapon is their bare hands and feet, but for game purposes, those are weapons governed by the Unarmed Combat skill.)

All warriors should turn off all skills other than their primary weapon. Improve the weapon skill to at least twice it's starting level. After that, begin to branch out into fighting, throwing, armour, or shields depending on class and character design, but always leave weapon skill turned on during the early game.

Unless throwing is the character's desired method of killing, turn throwing off and keep it off. Early game warriors often are throwing dungeon debris to soften up enemies, which will waste early experience on a skill that is generally not useful in the middle to late games.


Like the warrior classes, by far the main focus is to improve weapon skill. When the character begins branching out to other skills, invocations should be turned on as well.


Transmuters should get Sticks to Snakes and Spider Form castable and pour the rest into Unarmed Combat, eventually picking up the rest of their forms if they choose to go that route.

Enchanters should train Hexes to increase the effectivity of Ensorcelled Hibernation and Confuse and pour the rest into Stabbing. In 0.13, stabbing is no more, so enchanters should focus on Stealth to both get stabs and do more damage.

Warpers should get Shroud of Golubria to Very Good, and then pour everything into their weapon skill. At the tail end of early game, they should switch to charms and translocations to make Control Teleport effective.

Skalds should focus on getting Shroud of Golubria and Regeneration to good levels, then focus on their weapon skill. Depending on the route you take them, stealth or ranged weapons are both good choices.


For almost all mages, spellcasting is not particularly important in the early game. It is much more important to get killing and/or escape spells to Very Good, so casters should turn off all skills other than the necessary magic schools. Use 'I' often to check how easily you can cast your important spells. After failure rates for your critical combat spells are less than 10%, branching out into spellcasting and other magic schools becomes appropriate.

The important exception to this is spriggan spell casters. Spriggans can use their considerable speed to escape almost anything in the early dungeon, so mere survival is not the first objective. Spriggans should begin preparing for the middle game, when their onerous dietary restrictions can actually make spell hunger a life-threatening problem. To reduce this likelihood, spriggans should consider leaving spellcasting on at all times.

Wizards, and Venom mages should focus on getting their low level attack spells and Mephitic Cloud to Very Good or better. These classes, particularly venom mages, may wish to branch into a weapon so they can kill confused low-level enemies effectively without wasting MP.

Conjurers should focus entirely on their spells.

Elementalists and Summoners can focus entirely on their spells or train a weapon after they have some spells that can help in melee combat like Conjure Flame, Sticky Flame, Ozocubu's Armour, Summon Ice Beast, etc

Necromancers should focus on their spells. If the character wants to dabble in melee, branch out to a weapon skill to make use of Lethal Infusion. Polearms (for swinging over a line of meatshield skeletons) or staves (preparing for an eventual staff of death) are recommended.


Artificers should focus on a weapon, being essentially a gimped fighter unless and until good evocable items drop. Temple diving for Nemelex enables early access to decks, the most easily obtained evocable items.

Wanderers should wing it. Take a look at your early possessions and try to make a plan.


Because of how Attack speed works, one handed weapons or polearms are the best in the early game.

The first goal is to find a usable weapon with a decent brand. Consider weapons where the character has good aptitudes, especially if it cross trains with the current weapon of choice. Always pick up every blue or randart weapon that fits this criteria until a good brand appears.


Mages should never wear anything other than a robe in the early game. Getting spells to Great is the top priority. Even leather armor or a buckler will greatly slow gaining sufficient spell proficiency for the early game.

Hybrid builds that need supplemental spells should not wear anything heavier than leather armor or bucklers in the early game, or their spells will be too unreliable for use.

AC builds are typically spell-less, and should equip the heaviest armour and shield they can wear without affecting their damage output.

Similar to weapons, players should pick up and ID all blue or randart armors that might be useful until they find armor with decent brands or resistances.