Lava Orc

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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 It is retained for historical reference only.

These strange humanoids are made of living stone, with a unique heat-based metabolism. Ordinarily slow and hardy, when anything puts some stress on them, they literally fire up, turning into fast-moving lava. Outwardly, their shape mostly resembles that of Orcs, thus the name.

They are unique in their ability to swim in lava: even the Djinn, while immune to fire, can't swim through a treacle of molten rock. In order to be able to use regular equipment, Lava Orcs have invented special fire-proof backpacks; vulnerable items like scrolls or books are not accessible when their owner is too hot.

Many things can fire up their metabolism: facing multiple and/or dangerous enemies, being badly hurt, suffering fire damage, berserking, and obviously being submerged in lava. As their heat grows, Lava Orcs gain normal speed, become more accustomed to fire, have their stony skin soften, gain extra power when casting fire magic, become vulnerable to cold, speed up even more, and finally cause fire damage to all creatures in their presence.

Lava Orcs make good melee fighters, preferring axes. They're pretty bad spellcasters, except for transmutations, fire and earth magic.

Innate Abilities

  • Conserve scrolls: The chance of losing your scrolls to fire attacks was reduced by 90%.
  • Saprovore 1: Lava Orcs could tolerate rotten meat if they were hungry or worse.
  • Lava Orcs could not memorize Ozocubu's Armour.
  • Lava Orcs gain a bonus when using orcish weapons and armour. For Lava Orcs, orcish armour impedes spellcasting less than other armours and improves their effective Armour skill. They deal slightly more damage with orcish weapons.
  • Lava Orcs can worship Beogh, but their Heat Aura will be suppressed.

The following innate abilities depend on your character's temperature:

  • Up to 4:
    • Fire resistance 1: rF+
    • Stoneskin: AC bonus of 2+0.2×XL
  • 5 - 8:
    • Fire resistance 1: rF+
    • Stoneskin: AC bonus of 2+0.2×XL
  • 11 - 12:
    • Fire resistance 3: rF+++
    • Cold vulnerability 1: rC-
    • Fire boost: Fire Magic enhanced, Ice Magic penalized
  • 13 - 14:
    • Fire resistance 3: rF+++
    • Cold vulnerability 1: rC-
    • Fire boost: Fire Magic enhanced, Ice Magic penalized
    • Passive heat: Any adjacent monster that attacks you in melee will suffer 0-4 points of fire damage (Ignores AC and EV)
  • 15+:
    • Fire resistance 3: rF+++
    • Cold vulnerability 1: rC-
    • Fire boost: Fire Magic enhanced, Ice Magic penalized
    • Passive heat: Any adjacent monster that attacks you in melee will suffer 0-4 points of fire damage (Ignores AC and EV)
    • Heat aura: You are surrounded by a fiery aura that burns any creature, friendly or not (0-10 fire damage, time-scaled)
    • No scrolls: You can't read scrolls (but books are allowed)

Preferred Backgrounds

Lava Orcs are recommended for the following backgrounds:

Level Bonuses

Starting Skills and Equipment

Lava Orcs receive the skills and equipment listed for their background, with these exceptions:

Difficulty of Play

Lava Orcs were an easy species to play.

Skill aptitudes

The higher the value, the better the aptitude.

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


A fired-up Lava Orc's fiery aura can make several types of enemies much easier to deal with (powerful undead, player ghosts, etc.), especially in the early game, when 0-10 damage is much more significant. The downside is that you have to wait while you warm up. Some tips include:

  • Back up from (or even better, kite) powerful enemies while you're waiting for your temperature to rise.
  • You can instantly superheat yourself by taking a dip in lava (though doing so takes about a turn and a half, giving fast enemies a free shot or two). You can also flee through the lava if you have trouble.
  • Going berserk also instantaneously maxes out your heat.
  • Strangely enough, fire and cold damage have no impact on your internal temperature. Don't assume that being covered in sticky flame will get you fired up faster!

The ability to deal passive damage in melee combined with a Lava Orc's natural aptitude for axes makes them well-suited for a riskier combat style. While many characters will retreat into corridors to avoid getting swarmed, an axe-wielding Lava Orc can fling himself into a pack of enemies and cleave/burn his way to victory. Just be aware that getting surrounded by dangerous enemies can still be quite fatal for the careless.

One disadvantage of your fiery metabolism is your relative inability to prevent yourself from heating up when facing powerful foes. This can be a disadvantage when you are facing something with powerful cold attacks (though many of those foes will have equal trouble with your fiery nature) or if you really need your natural AC boost. If you do need to cool off quickly, try walking through shallow water, though this depends on having water nearby. Another downside is that your metabolism won't heat up for an enemy you can't sense, meaning you'll have just as much trouble dealing with invisible orc wizards, unseen horrors, and Sigmund as anyone else.

When facing lava orc player ghosts, be aware that they do not have a temperature system, and that their resistances were permanently determined by what they had in life when they died. As such, don't worry about them suddenly blasting fire at everything adjacent to them, speeding up, or gaining more fire resistance over the course of the fight.


Lava Orcs were considered for inclusion in 0.13, 0.14, and 0.15, but were ultimately removed before being included in any stable version. Prior to 0.13, they had existed in Erocrawl, an experimental version of Crawl, for a long time (since around the 0.9-era). This was the same branch of Crawl that gave rise to octopodes.

For a good portion of their development period, lava orcs had movement speed effects based on their temperature: although sluggish at low temperatures, the hotter they became, the faster they could move. This was removed while the species was still only available in trunk.