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The hallway to the four hells is guarded by Geryon. Heroes who prove their worth in the vestibule and blow Geryon's horn may explore the different regions of Hell: Dis, Gehenna, Cocytus and Tartarus.

Portals to the Vestibule of Hell are found abundantly in the deeper parts of the main dungeon.

This gateway leads to the Vestibule of Hell. Few would go there voluntarily.

"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate." -Dante Alighieri, Divina Commedia, "L'Inferno", Canto III. Circa 1315

Welcome to the Vestibule of Hell! Welcome to Hell! Please enjoy your stay.

The forbidding domain of Hell is made up of the Vestibule of Hell and its four subbranches. From the main dungeon, all Hell portals actually lead to the Vestibule. It is from the Vestibule that one then ventures into Hell's branches.

The Vestibule of Hell

You'll find multiple portals to the Vestibule starting at level 20 (there's also one commonly found in a Lair:8 ending). The Vestibule's most famous denizen is Geryon, a rugged three-headed demon, with whom you'll also find flocks of demons and hell knights. The unique curse skull Murray is also guaranteed to be there 25% of the time.

The Vestibule is safe to clear if you've finished exploring the Dungeon and are hardy enough to have cleared the Elven Halls and the Vaults. You need high AC and EV along with whatever fire and cold resistance you can muster. Geryon himself is not that difficult to kill, as he is not immune to poison! Geryon cannot use stairs: while you cannot lure him to the Dungeon to fight him on safe territory, you can lure away his minions.

Be aware if you plan to fight him using stairdancing, his summoned Tier-2 demon hell beasts may trample you away from the stairs. If you have no means of controlled blinking (back to the stairs), this may result in a quick death.

Once the Vestibule has been cleared, it can serve as a stash location since no monsters respawn here. Just remember that all portals close when you pick up the Orb!

Hell's branches

When Geryon is killed and his horn is blown (by evoking it), portals to the four branches of Hell become passable:

  • Gehenna, the fire branch, contains the obsidian rune of Zot.
  • Cocytus, the cold branch, contains the icy rune of Zot.
  • Tartarus, the undead branch, contains the bone rune of Zot.
  • The Iron City of Dis, the iron branch, contains the iron rune of Zot.

Each branch of Hell is 7 levels deep. The final level of each houses a unique, named demon protecting an artifact, various treasure vaults, and a rune of Zot. When venturing in a branch, there are no up stairs: only down stairs or portals back to the Vestibule. Thus, stair dancing isn't possible: when you descend a level, you descend onto a (random!) portal tile, not an upstairs tile. If you use a portal, you have to begin again from the Vestibule, enduring the Mystical Force all the way back down. On the positive side, a portal to the Vestibule can be a welcome escape method, in a fix.

Besides the vaults on the final level, items and food in Hell are far and few between, and generally only acquired if dropped by a slain monster (e.g. a potion of blood by a vampire) or the occasional pack of hell hounds.

Teleport control is disabled on the last level until the rune is acquired.

Hell's Mystical Force

In Hell's branches (but not the Vestibule), resting is hard to do, since there is a chance every 20 turns that a "mystical force" may lash out at you, with any of these effects:

  • Random miscast effects:
    • Slowing you for a few turns
    • Confusing you for a few turns
    • Making you berserk for a few turns
    • 1-7 stat drain
    • Rotting
    • Cursing one or more of your items[1]
    • And assorted other nasty things
  • Spawning demons or other monsters around you, up to and including fiends. These are not summons: they cannot be abjured and are worth experience.
  • Opening a Malign Gateway to summon an eldritch tentacle.
  • Blasting you with a branch-specific attack (e.g. clouds of freezing vapour in Cocytus, sticky flame in Gehenna)
  • Blasting you with magical energy -- irresistible damage

Arguably, the first two miscast effects are the most dangerous; being slowed or confused while surrounded by freshly summoned demons (or when fighting one of the demon lords on the last level) can be deadly. However, over a period of time, stat drain can become quite onerous, particularly if the same stat is drained repeatedly.


The safest strategy of acquiring Hell's runes is to ignore as many monsters as possible and dive to the next level. Every upward staircase in Hell's branches returns you straight to the Vestibule anyway, so you don't even have to face the monsters twice. Fighting with monsters to get experience may be tempting, but in Hell these seeming benefits are often negated by the actions of the mystical force. It's all fun and games until you're helplessly paralyzed or suffer two successive -7 hits on one of your stats.

If you do plan on fighting in Hell - a pasttime for powerful characters only! - make sure you have high resistances to counteract each branch's element: rF+++ for Gehenna, rC+++ for Cocytus, rN+++ for Tartarus, and a little bit of everything for Dis. In addition, you'll want a way to sustain or restore abilities, a means of levitation, warding/Abjuration or a means of blinking if you get surrounded by summoned demons, and plenty of food (unless you're necromutating or are a mummy/bloodless vampire). Weapons with the holy wrath brand are effective against all manners of demons and undead too. Also, at high piety, Zin will almost always block the effects of Hell's mystical force, making his worshippers particularly well-suited to plumbing Hell's depths.