Difference between revisions of "Majang's Caster Walk-Through"

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Wherever you are in a Crawl game, you always have a few goals to pursue. Your first real quest in the game is to become religious. For the character you want to develop, it is important that you become a worshiper of [[Vehumet]], the [[god]] who provides you with tremendous benefits for your intended play style. Worshiping Vehumet means that casting destructive spells becomes a lot easier, which is just what you want. He also increases the range of your spells, and, more importantly, may increase your mana pool when you kill any opponent. His most visible blessing, however, is his gift of spells. Every once in a while he will grant you access to increasingly powerful destructive spells. Many of those won’t fit your skill set, and you will ignore them, but his final gift of three high-end spells is usually (unfortunately not always) geared towards your skills, so that you should have a deadly arsenal by the time Vehumet is done with his gifts. In spite of all these benefits, Vehumet is incredibly easy to please – just kill monsters (you are going to do this anyway), and your [[piety]] will go all the way up and stay there. There is no training of [[invocations]] with Vehumet, which means that you can invest your [[experience]] into more important skills.
Wherever you are in a Crawl game, you always have a few goals to pursue. Your first real quest in the game is to become religious. For the character you want to develop, it is important that you become a worshiper of [[Vehumet]], the [[god]] who provides you with tremendous benefits for your intended play style. Worshiping Vehumet means that casting destructive spells becomes a lot easier, which is just what you want. He also increases the range of your spells, and, more importantly, may increase your mana pool when you kill any opponent. His most visible blessing, however, is his gift of spells. Every once in a while he will grant you access to increasingly powerful destructive spells. Many of those won’t fit your skill set, and you will ignore them, but his final gift of three high-end spells is usually (unfortunately not always) geared towards your skills, so that you should have a deadly arsenal by the time Vehumet is done with his gifts. In spite of all these benefits, Vehumet is incredibly easy to please – just kill monsters (you are going to do this anyway), and your [[piety]] will go all the way up and stay there. There is no training of [[invocations]] with Vehumet, which means that you can invest your [[experience]] into more important skills.
So, you’ll want to find an [[altar]] of Vehumet as soon as possible, and your task is set. Well, in fact, you also want to find a weapon, any weapon, so you have something to kill an enemy with when your mana runs out, and to conserve stones. This is one of the peculiarities about sandblast: each time you cast it, you use up a stone from your inventory. When you run out of stones, you cannot cast the spell! Crawl will automatically pick up any stone you find and add it to your inventory. This will only change if you tell the software not do that (in the known-items screen, accessed by the \-key).  
So, you’ll want to find an [[altar]] of Vehumet as soon as possible, and your task is set. Well, in fact, you also want to find a weapon, any weapon, so you have something to kill an enemy with when your mana runs out, and to conserve stones. This is one of the peculiarities about sandblast: each time you cast it, you use up a stone from your inventory. When you run out of stones, you cannot cast the spell! Crawl will automatically pick up any stone you find and add it to your inventory. This will only change if you tell the software not to do that (in the known-items screen, accessed by the \-key).  
If you start exploring, you will soon meet your first opponent. Try to get him alone, and make him follow you into explored area. Currently, you will probably not survive more than three pursuing opponents at once. When an opponent is in range, typing z followed by a, your sandblast key, should automatically select him as a target. If there is more than one opponent, the spell will target the nearest opponent, but you can always adjust your targeting. One shot could suffice to kill a [[goblin]], but you may have a [[miscast]], or your shot misses, or is not quite damaging enough. You may need two or three shots, and sometimes even some help of your weapon to do the job; that’s why you try to avoid the attention of too many monsters at once. In the beginning you only have a mana pool of three [[MP]], and each casting reduces that by the number of levels of the spell that you cast. So with three MP you can cast three sandblasts, and then you are left with your weapon, or even your bare fists if you have not found a weapon yet. Over time, your MP will recharge on its own, but this takes a while.
If you start exploring, you will soon meet your first opponent. Try to get him alone, and make him follow you into explored area. Currently, you will probably not survive more than three pursuing opponents at once. When an opponent is in range, typing z followed by a, your sandblast key, should automatically select him as a target. If there is more than one opponent, the spell will target the nearest opponent, but you can always adjust your targeting. One shot could suffice to kill a [[goblin]], but you may have a [[miscast]], or your shot misses, or is not quite damaging enough. You may need two or three shots, and sometimes even some help of your weapon to do the job; that’s why you try to avoid the attention of too many monsters at once. In the beginning you only have a mana pool of three [[MP]], and each casting reduces that by the number of levels of the spell that you cast. So with three MP you can cast three sandblasts, and then you are left with your weapon, or even your bare fists if you have not found a weapon yet. Over time, your MP will recharge on its own, but this takes a while.

Latest revision as of 16:09, 23 May 2020

This article contains advice from other players, which may be subjective, outdated, inaccurate or ill-advised. Read at your own risk and alter to fit your play style as necessary!
Version 0.20: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

This walk-through assumes that you have downloaded and installed your first version of Crawl just a few weeks ago, have played a few games, and usually ended up dead after a few levels. Being frustrated and still fascinated by the game, you somehow found this Wiki and are now looking for advice on how to win this game. Let us begin this guide with the bold statement that indeed the game can be won, with the qualifying remark that that does not happen very often, no matter how smart you play. But there are some things that you can learn, and some choices you can make, which will make it much more likely that you take the Orb of Zot into your hands and ascend with it to the surface alive. This walk-through attempts to give you much of the information you need, and it follows one particular strategy which is assumed to be an easy way of winning. “Easy” in the sense that you will have a good chance of surviving many situations which are a lot more difficult to master if you follow a different strategy. “Easy” does not mean that you will not die when following this advice, or that you should feel bad if you loose. A lot in this game just depends on luck, and even a small mistake or a wrong key pressed at the wrong time may get you snuffed. Sometimes the game gives you a bad deal, either by throwing you into a situation from which you cannot escape, or by providing you with suboptimal equipment or stats over a long period of time. When that happens, you will die, and, hopefully, just begin another game.

Another reason to read this walk-through is when so far you have only played melee characters and now for the first time want to see how it is to kill monsters with something else than a physical weapon, playing a caster. This walk-through will not only talk about strategy and tactics, but it will also explain some of the basic game mechanics, particularly those related to casting spells. This makes this page quite wordy, and experienced players won’t need any of this. Beginners, however, will hopefully find much useful information for which they would have to dig deeply into this Wiki for many hours.

Some players object to the idea of a walk-through or character guide, as it sets out with a specific plan, which is somewhat contrary to the philosophy of the game: develop your character as the situation arises and changes. This walk-through, instead, will tell you to be rather inflexible. This is in order to allow you to celebrate your first win as a caster. For a real Crawl experience you should afterwards try to look for different approaches; this will be a while, though. Even if you follow this guide, you should expect to die a few times before being ultimately successful. But once you reach the end of the game, you will have learned so many things about it that the next game will be much easier to you.

Basic Choices

The two first choices of the game determine your strategy, even before you make your first move: You need to pick a species and a background. These two choices together make up your character. In your games so far you will most likely have played some kind of melee-based character, that is, a heavily armored, weapon-swinging brute who slashes/bludgeons its bloody and gory path through all enemies. Well played, such a character can win a game for you, but beginners will have great difficulties keeping a melee-character alive for long. Following this walk-through, you will make different choices: Gargoyle will be your species, and earth elementalist will be your background. This means that instead of using weapons, most of the time you will kill enemies by casting earth-related spells.

The Gargoyle

The gargoyle comes with such a unique list of welcome abilities that it is probably the most survivable species in the whole game. It is therefore well suited for beginners. Among its features are immunity to poison, and resistance to electricity – both frequent causes of untimely death in the early game that you don’t have to worry about much as a gargoyle. Its one level of resistance to negative energy also becomes useful early on, as sources of draining may be encountered already on the first levels. Gargoyles develop permanent flight before it really matters, they don’t breathe and don’t rot, which removes other dangers entirely that kill many characters in the mid-game. Furthermore, a gargoyle is immune to petrification and resistant to torment, which are both very desirable characteristics. And finally, it comes with a huge boost to your armor, which makes it a lot more durable than most other caster characters.

All this comes along with quite impressive aptitudes. A gargoyle is very good at developing defensive skills, which increase its durability. On top of that it does not have difficulties with any weapons or with most kinds of magic. The spellcasting aptitude of -1 does not appear to be that awe-inspiring, but in fact very few species do better in that respect. This comes along with an excellent conjurations and an even better earth Magic aptitude, which is important for the character that we want to develop. On top of that, a gargoyle is reasonably intelligent and can learn to cast even the most difficult spells at a high power.

Crawl gives you nothing for free – if a species has some wonderful traits, it usually pays for this in some handicaps. The gargoyle has some of those, but they are totally out of proportion to its huge advantages. The biggest drawback is probably its low resilience; having 20% less HP means that in theory you die a lot earlier than others. In practice, however, your high armor and your many resistances make it significantly more difficult for your enemies to bite off a big chunk of your HP. This is particularly true in the early and mid-game, where you can shrug off most attacks. But there is absolutely nothing you can do in the late game against the damnation that some enemies hurl against you, and low HP is then a very serious problem. Another handicap is a special vulnerability towards some earth magic spells, which only becomes relevant in the late game. A final species-related drawback is that your stony nature prevents you from using the spell sublimation of blood, which some characters like to cast to restore their mana-pool. You also can't cast Statue Form, but that is because you already are a statue, and enjoy all the benefits of this spell, without doing anything about it, and without the speed penalty.

Earth Elementalist

You begin this game as an Earth elementalist, which is a pure casting background. This means that instead of relying on physical weapons, you will destroy your enemies by the use of powerful spells. This is a very different game-style to what you may have been used to so far; you will have to develop some new habits and have to watch some more stats to be successful. But if you do everything right, this is a very satisfying way of playing Crawl. Earth Magic spells are quite versatile, providing you with powerful offensive options, which throughout the game should give you what you need to survive most situations without breaking a sweat. Earth magic is a big strength of gargoyles, who can achieve high skill levels with very little investment of experience. Finally, the offensive spells of this school are very physical in nature, and cannot be resisted any better than the most powerful physical weapons can. No matter what resistances your opponents bring along (and some late-game bosses are frighteningly resistant to almost anything), none can withstand your destructive power.

Getting Started with Skills and Spells

You find yourself thrown into the same world as usual. All you have is a bread ration, 30 stones, a robe and your starting Book of Geomancy. Note that you have no weapon as of now. The stones are not meant for throwing, but you need them for the only spell you currently know. Before you do anything, however, you need to tweak your skills a little bit, so that you grow the most important of them, while ignoring all the others. To do that, type the m-key, and the skills menu will show up. You may not have looked at this menu before – if you don’t fiddle with this, the game will manage your skills automatically, but not necessarily in a way that is always best for you. Skills are trained whenever you kill an enemy and gain experience. This experience is then invested into your skills according to the settings of your skill screen. So you need to switch over to the manual mode, by hitting the /-key (slash). Your are now in full control of your skills training, and you should deactivate all training for all skills except spellcasting and earth magic, so that both skills receive 50% of all experience. Manual mode means that all selected skills receive the same amount of experience at all times. Highlighted skills receive the double amount (but for now you are not highlighting anything).

This is necessary because your early survival depends on having powerful spells to kill your enemies. What you have right now is just enough to kill one or two goblins, but soon you will encounter monsters that are not impressed by you blowing some grit into their faces. You need to develop some fire-power, and that fast. Right now you only know the Sandblast spell. You can have a look at it by typing z and then *, which opens up the spell menu. You see a (currently very short) list of your available spells. It shows you that Sandblast is assigned to your a-key, that it is a level-1 spell only using the earth school, and that it currently has a failure rate of 6%. All this requires some explanation. Spells in Crawl come in nine different levels. Level 1 is for beginners just as you are right now, and level 9 is the deep end of the pool which you will only get to towards the late game. Those level-9 spells have an obscene damage output, allowing you to kill many monsters with just one cast, and clearing the whole screen with just three or four casts, if things go well. But for now you are stuck with the bread-and-butter of your measly level-1 spell.

Each particular spell is tied to at least one, at most three different spell schools, which means that training the skills of these schools will improve your success rate and your spell power. Your current failure rate of 6% means that in six out of 100 attempts your spell will not work – it is your goal to get this number as low as possible, as a spell miscast not only depletes your mana pool for no return, but also may have dangerous side effects. 6% is not bad for beginners by any means – that you start out so low is the immediate benefit of your gargoyle’s great aptitude with earth magic, which made your earth skill jump right to above 3 to begin with.

You see the spell power when you type the !-key in the spell list view – the list then displays some additional stats about your spells that you did not see before. The spell power for your sandblast shows currently as ##...., with each # showing a step of available spell power, and each dot as a step of spell power so far not available for that spell. For sandblast, the maximal spell power would be ######, which would turn your currently modest source of enemy injuries into a veritable killer for most monsters. You are not there quite yet, but again your ##-power is more than what most characters get for their starting spells, giving you a huge advantage. The most potent spells have a maximal spell power of 10#, which even for very powerful casters is almost impossible to accomplish, and usually only for short time periods. Most likely, the gargoyle will not get that far with its earth spells. The spell power of your spells depends on your skills with the spell-schools involved, on your spellcasting skill, and on your intelligence. The same is true with your success-rate. Your level-1 spells should soon have a failure-rate of 1%, if you train the right skills and invest your stat upgrades into intelligence.

The screen now also shows your hunger-cost for your spell, which currently is #...... – it is possible that a spell causes no hunger whatsoever, when you have a sufficient spellcasting skill and/or sufficient intelligence. All spells of the same level cause the same hunger to you. One # means that for the sandblast you have a very small, even negligible hunger expense. When a spell has a full-blown ####### hunger cost, a successful cast will reduce your satiation status considerably, so that you may find yourself with the need to eat something after casting a spell a few times.

The final spell stat is its range. Your sandblast shows as @-->, which means that you can hit an opponent three tiles away, but not beyond that range. Spells come with very different ranges, and sometimes the range may increase with your spell power. The range of the sandblast spell does not depend on your spell power.

All this being said, it is now clear that your main priority is to train your spell skills, currently earth magic and spellcasting. The higher your skills here, the more powerful, easier to cast and less costly your spells become. All other skills need to wait for now.

A short look at your other stats: Your strength is at 11, your intelligence at 15, and your dexterity at 10. Strength and dexterity are at satisfactory levels for our purposes. Getting more would always be nice, but what you need more than anything else is intelligence, as this has a direct impact on your ability to cast spells with high power and low hunger cost. Every three experience levels you will be asked which stat to increase, and it needs to be intelligence every time. This in itself will get you to 24 INT at experience level 27, plus a few extras, because every fourth level you will get either a STR or INT increase, decided randomly. But really, a high-end caster can only feel comfortable if INT is at least in the low 30s, and a lot of that will have to come from enchanted equipment.

Your AC starts out with 4, which is two more than for most characters, another benefit of being a gargoyle. And it will grow.

Now get going!

Finding Vehumet

Wherever you are in a Crawl game, you always have a few goals to pursue. Your first real quest in the game is to become religious. For the character you want to develop, it is important that you become a worshiper of Vehumet, the god who provides you with tremendous benefits for your intended play style. Worshiping Vehumet means that casting destructive spells becomes a lot easier, which is just what you want. He also increases the range of your spells, and, more importantly, may increase your mana pool when you kill any opponent. His most visible blessing, however, is his gift of spells. Every once in a while he will grant you access to increasingly powerful destructive spells. Many of those won’t fit your skill set, and you will ignore them, but his final gift of three high-end spells is usually (unfortunately not always) geared towards your skills, so that you should have a deadly arsenal by the time Vehumet is done with his gifts. In spite of all these benefits, Vehumet is incredibly easy to please – just kill monsters (you are going to do this anyway), and your piety will go all the way up and stay there. There is no training of invocations with Vehumet, which means that you can invest your experience into more important skills.

So, you’ll want to find an altar of Vehumet as soon as possible, and your task is set. Well, in fact, you also want to find a weapon, any weapon, so you have something to kill an enemy with when your mana runs out, and to conserve stones. This is one of the peculiarities about sandblast: each time you cast it, you use up a stone from your inventory. When you run out of stones, you cannot cast the spell! Crawl will automatically pick up any stone you find and add it to your inventory. This will only change if you tell the software not to do that (in the known-items screen, accessed by the \-key).

If you start exploring, you will soon meet your first opponent. Try to get him alone, and make him follow you into explored area. Currently, you will probably not survive more than three pursuing opponents at once. When an opponent is in range, typing z followed by a, your sandblast key, should automatically select him as a target. If there is more than one opponent, the spell will target the nearest opponent, but you can always adjust your targeting. One shot could suffice to kill a goblin, but you may have a miscast, or your shot misses, or is not quite damaging enough. You may need two or three shots, and sometimes even some help of your weapon to do the job; that’s why you try to avoid the attention of too many monsters at once. In the beginning you only have a mana pool of three MP, and each casting reduces that by the number of levels of the spell that you cast. So with three MP you can cast three sandblasts, and then you are left with your weapon, or even your bare fists if you have not found a weapon yet. Over time, your MP will recharge on its own, but this takes a while.

Whenever you cast sandblast, a stone from your inventory gets destroyed. Fortunately, stones are lying around in abundance, but not quite enough to use sandblasts for every action against every monster you meet. A good rule of thumb in the early game is to use sandblast on tough enemies, or for the first shot, until it is badly hurt. Whenever you encounter a weak enemy instead, or when a strong enemy is already close to death, you should try to bring it down with your weapon. But whenever the situation gets out of hand, and things become dangerous for you, you should not be stingy with your stones. Use them up to get you out of a tight spot. Sandblast is currently your strongest weapon!

All this being said, in this very early phase of the game you are most vulnerable. Whenever you have killed an opponent, restore all your HP and MP, and only then continue your exploration. If you get killed, however, it is not as frustrating as getting killed much later in the game. Just start over again, and you should be able to overcome this early-game crisis soon. And gargoyle’s many perks will help you to survive stuff that are killers for anybody else, like these mean adders that poison most budding characters to death. You just give them a mean smile before you smash their heads.

You will pick up potions and scrolls. Don’t try them yet! If you see rings, only try them if you have lots of scrolls, as some jewelery may get you killed if you can’t get it off your fingers. If you have picked up a cursed and badly enchanted weapon, try your scrolls (most numerous scrolls first) until you read a scroll of remove curse, then stop reading. If you don’t have such a scroll, then good luck. Many characters die early because they have bad equipment in their hands or on their fingers, and they don’t have the means to get rid of them. Be wary of shining and glowing items lying around – they can be the very stuff that makes you lose this game!

If you have played a melee character before, you will always have grabbed up the heaviest armor you could find, and even a shield. But leave any body armor where it is, because you can’t wear it as a caster, at least not yet. Body armor will dramatically increase your failure rate, easily up to 100%, and the same for shields. So stick to your robe for now (but have an eye open for enchanted robes, which are very desirable for casters). Gloves, helmets, boots and cloaks, however, do not affect your spellcasting, so you want to grab and wear any you can find. If you see a shield, put it into your inventory, but don’t wear it. Eventually you will want to have a shield, and they are often quite difficult to find.

Right at the beginning you should grab any weapon, as soon as you see one. Even without weapon skills, using a dagger or whip or spear will give you an edge when you have run out of MP. In the long run, you will want to use a weapon of the maces & flails category, so keep your eyes open for a good whip, mace or flail. One-handed weapons will do, but as long as you don’t use a shield, a dire flail is a great find. Enchanted weapons, of course, can be of great benefit, but do not pick up and try out any enchanted dagger or glaive you can find, as there are some dangers involved. A simply enchanted weapon (it is called “glowing” or “runed”, and comes with blue writing) may have the distortion brand, and this early in the game this means you are dead. Enchanted weapons may also be cursed and negatively enchanted, and you don’t want to be stuck for long with one of those. On the other hand, if you see a randart weapon (it comes with white writing, and more elaborate descriptions, such as “heavily runed”, “encrusted” or “steaming”), you should at least collect them and try them when you have enough scrolls of remove curse. They usually don’t have the distortion brand (that would be really bad luck), but they may come with great traits such as resistances or see invisible, which may make your game much easier in some situations. As long as you have not converted to Vehumet, and you have scrolls of remove curse available, you can try out each amulet you find. There are some bad ones out there, but as long as you can remove them, they should not do real harm.

Ok, after exploring some parts of level 1, you will have killed a few enemies, and you’ll have jumped to experience level 2. This will trigger some welcome changes. Your MP is now at 5, giving you two more shots with Sandblast. In the same way your HP counter has increased to 15, making you more resilient. Being on level 2 means that you can now learn a level 2 spell, Passwall. This is an escape spell, allowing you to disappear through a thin rock-wall. Although this spell has its uses, I usually don’t learn it, and I rarely find myself using it if I learn it, except at the very end of the game.

While exploring, you will see sets of down-stairs to the next level of the dungeon. There should be three of them on your level, and you must not go down any of those until you have explored the whole level 1. There are many good reasons for taking the levels one at a time, and for not even peeking down before you are done. But once you are done with level 1, there is nothing else you can do but go down.

Most likely you are still on experience level (XL) 2 before you make it to dungeon level 2, but if you are really lucky, you will have jumped to XL 3. This allows you to learn Stone Arrow. This is a great attack spell with a fixed range of @--->, and a max spell power of ######. Unfortunately you currently only have just one #, because it is a two-school spell, depending on the conjurations skill. But you will start learning this skill now (unfocused), so that you give 33% experience to spellcasting, earth magic and conjurations. Gargoyles have a good aptitude for conjurations, and almost all the attack spells you hope to learn later will make use of conjurations, so this is a very good investment of experience.

Casting Stone Arrow in your next fight is not advisable, though. It takes three MP to cast it, out of the six you currently have, and with a failure rate of 28% it is quite likely that you just waste these three MP. Just wait a little, and Stone Arrow will become your best friend. Right now, Sandblast is more powerful anyway.

Once down on dungeon level 2, you are likely to encounter much more dangerous opponents. The worst possible for you gargoyle is the orc priest, an orc with a green robe. He has a weapon against which you are not prepared, smiting. If you spend more than a few turns in his line of sight (LOS), you will probably die. If you see one, immediately retreat out of sight. If he has spotted you, he will follow you; position yourself so that he is within range of your sandblast when you see him again. If you are already low on HP, retreat to the next upstairs and heal up. You have to be very careful with these guys. Then again, they are not very durable; two good shots, at most three, and they are down, and they give you lots of experience. Unfortunately, they rarely show up alone. They may be supported by regular orcs, or by orc wizards, purple-robed orcs who can confuse you, turn themselves invisible, and hit you from afar with fire. As much as possible, you need to separate these groups and fight them one by one. Upstairs are a good way of doing this. Sometimes you see two or even more orc priests at once. This is very bad news, and you need to act extremely cautious. Don’t take any risks here. Maybe you avoid the area for a short while to return when you are stronger.

Other fearsome enemies showing up much too early are Sigmund, Pikel, Grinder or, if you manage to stumble into his quite recognizable cove, Crazy Yiuf. These are so-called uniques, dangerous enemies that can only show up once per game. If you can, avoid them for now (maybe you are lucky and they don’t wake up when you see them). Give their area a wide berth, and come back for them when you are slightly stronger. When you are at XL 7 or 8, they won’t stand a chance against you (but then there are other uniques waiting for you on deeper levels).

Once you hit XL 4, you will be ready to learn Petrify, but don’t bother. You would not find yourself using this spell very often. Killing an enemy fast always beats incapacitating him for a while. But at this point, a look at your spell list shows that your spells are improving nicely. Sandblast is now at ###, and hunger-free. And with your 9 MP you can now risk to cast Stone Arrow at least once per fight, as it comes with a more manageable failure rate.

From level 2 downwards, you will encounter upstairs to already explored levels. Those which lead to an area on the upper floor that you have not seen yet are marked by a star, so you should check them out, just to make sure that you really have explored that area already. Occasionally the dungeon has disconnected areas, or areas that you can only access from a lower level. Particularly altars or even the entrance to the Temple may be hidden in this way. So, before moving on to the next level, always make sure that you have seen all three upstairs on the current level. If you can only see two on the map, this means that there must be another area of this level that you can only access through an unused downstairs from the previous level. Go back and find these stairs.

Whenever you go down a set of stairs to the next level for a first time, you may be greeted with an announcement for a timed portal, usually to the Sewer or to the Ossuary. These are extra levels on which you may gain more experience and find some treasure. You’ll want to find these portals before they time out, and now would be a good time to start reading your scrolls. One of them may be a scroll of magic mapping, and that would show you exactly where the portal can be found. So, stay on the stairs and start reading. Quite likely one of the scrolls you read will be a scroll of teleportation. If so, then go up the stairs immediately, so that you don’t teleport into an unexplored area. Most other scrolls should be harmless or even beneficial. If you happen to read a scroll of torment (that is about the worst that can happen), just retreat upstairs again to heal up. If you also happen to find the entrance to the Temple this way, first go there to become a follower of Vehumet, and then go to the portal. You’ll want the kills you make there already count towards your piety with Vehumet. If you really read a scroll of magic mapping at the beginning of a level, you will have plenty of time to find a timed portal.

Those early portals (Sewer and Ossuary) are usually no problem, with the single exception of one Ossuary layout where you find yourself immediately surrounded by a large circle of zombies and mummies. If you see that, get out of there at once! There doesn’t seem to be a way to safely beat this level and harvest its treasures.

If reading through the scrolls gets you a scroll of identify, use it on the potions of which you have the biggest stack. If you’re lucky, it will be a potion of heal wounds, which you want to identify as soon as possible.

Blindly quaffing potions is an entirely different matter – it is a lot more risky than reading unidentified scrolls. You may get mutated badly, or receive some pretty bad status changes. In the best case you may waste an awesome potion, such as a potion of haste for nothing, and you won’t find many more of those later on when you need them. Therefore, try not to drink unidentified potions unless in the most dire circumstances. As said above, you’ll want to identify potions of heal wounds soon, so that they can get you out of trouble, and it is perfectly fine to spend a few scrolls of identification on that. If you are lucky, you may witness a monster healing itself by using a potion, which will identify it for you. Once you have identified potions of heal wounds, you don’t need to identify any others for quite some time, so you can just ignore them.

You may find an altar of Vehumet anywhere beginning from dungeon level 2. As soon as you see it, convert to him – there is no reason whatsoever to hold back. Your best chance to find an altar is the Temple, which is always located between dungeons 4-7. But quite often the temple does not contain the altar you are looking for. At the latest, Vehumet’s altar should show up on level 9. In any case, as soon as you can, start worshiping Vehumet.

Clearing the Upper Dungeons

No matter at what point you become a follower of Vehumet, one task assigned to you is to clear the dungeon all the way down to the place where you find the staircase to the Lair of Beasts. This can happen as early as on dungeon level 8, and as late as on dungeon level 11. But while you are looking for it, here is some more advice on things going on during that early phase of the game.

Once you follow Vehumet, you need to change your behavior with amulets. An unidentified specimen could be an amulet of faith, and you don’t want to have those. In theory, they are rather nice, of course, getting you to a high piety quite soon, but the moment you remove them (and you’ll want to soon enough), you lose a good chunk of your piety, and therefore it is just better if you never wear it. Piety with Vehumet rises pretty fast even unaided by said amulet. If he starts his spell gifts while you are not ready for them, this amulet may actually be contra-productive. From now on you need to identify each amulet before you wear it.

Around XL 6 it is about time to learn the two most difficult spells of the starting spell book: The first is Lee's Rapid Deconstruction, in short LRD. As a level-5 spell, this comes quite expensive, as you have only about 16 MP to play with. The failure rate is still high, and the hunger cost almost prohibitive, but over time you are going to love this spell, and use it all the time. It makes you look at your environment with different eyes, always studying the positioning and the material of the dungeon walls. Basically, it allows you to use any dungeon feature or even enemy made of rock, stone, metal, ice, bone or crystal to significantly weaken or even destroy it, and create a blast area around it. With increasing spell power, this spell has an amazing destructive potential, but you need to learn how to apply it for its best benefit. Obviously, it works best if you have a group of enemies inside the blast area of an appropriate dungeon feature. Of course you should not be inside that blast radius yourself. To make things complicated, some materials, like rock walls, have a variable blast area, so you don’t always know for sure what gets hit and what doesn’t. But LRD is your first area of effect spell, capable of hurting or even killing a good number of enemies at the same time, if you use it wisely. Unfortunately, some times you will find yourself in a situation where you cannot apply it at all, and then you need to fall back to your other attack spells. LRD can also be used to punch holes into rock walls (it takes some attempts, usually), and with higher spell power even into stone and metal walls. No need to carry around a wand of digging just for this purpose.

The second spell is Borgnjor's Vile Clutch (BVC), which is a two-school spell, also benefiting from training necromancy. For this reason its success rate will be much lower than LRD, but eventually you will get it down even without training necromancy. It is quite a powerful spell, dealing direct damage to all monsters within a 3x3 grid, while fixing them in place.

While you are on XL 7, you should constantly check your spell list. When Sandblast shows up with a spell power of ####, this is a good time to branch out with your skill training. Up till now, you have only trained three skills: spellcasting, earth magic and conjurations. Now that your spell power for your attack spells has reached decent levels, it is time to do something about your defensive skills, and other critical skills you need. Go to your skills menu (m-key), and select the fighting, maces & flails, armor, dodging and evocations skills. Now all selected skills should get 12% experience. If you have a shield or a buckler in your inventory, you may also decide to start training the shields skill, without actually wearing the shield yet. This would reduce the experience for each skill to 11%. Why these skills?

  • The fighting skill is a critical skill for you. It increases the damage output of your melee weapon, but since you don’t want to use it a lot, you probably don’t care too much. But higher skills in fighting also increase your hit points, and since you are a rather frail character, this matters a lot to you. As already said, later on in the game you encounter damnation, against which there is absolutely no resistance or protection. Therefore, the higher your HP, the more likely you are to kill the damnation-dealing enemy before he kills you. Consequentially, you will never switch this skill off again, until you finish the game or master the skill at level 27.
  • Maces & Flails are your weapon of choice. Of course you will kill most of your enemies through magic, but this may not be the best solution at all times, and therefore you still need to become proficient with a real weapon. You have an average aptitude for maces & flails, and there are some very good one-handed weapons of this category, including the eveningstar and the demon whip – both of which are rather difficult to find, so you will mostly work with a flail or a morningstar until you find something better. Training this skill does not increase much the damage output for each hit, but it dramatically increases the frequency of hits you can land in any given time. The eveningstar has a base damage output of 15, and without any skill you can land a hit each 1.5 rounds. Each two points in weapons skill, however, give you a tenth of a round off that delay before the next hit, so that with a skill of two you can hit each 1.4 rounds and so on. With a skill of 16 you have gotten this delay down to 0.7 rounds, and that is as far as it gets for the eveningstar, meaning that in the original 1.5 rounds you can apply more than double damage than without skills training. Maces & Flails has a crosstraining effect with staves, for which you also have an average aptitude; later in the game you may want to decide to make a staff your main weapon. If so, you will already have some significant starting skill from your maces & flails training.
  • Armor skill you could probably do without, if you are confident that you will always only have a robe as body armor. But since, as a gargoyle, you have this amazing aptitude with the armor skill, it would be a waste not to use it somewhat. Just training this up to 5 or 6 allows you to wear light dragon armor, such as a troll leather armour or the faerie dragon armour, which will give you excellent protection and maybe some welcome resistances. Without armor skill, wearing this kind of armor would make spellcasting significantly more difficult.
  • The dodging skill, in conjunction with your rather mediocre dexterity, determines how much you can avoid damage by getting out of the way of a blow or of a projectile. As a moving rock, your aptitude for dodging is terrible, unfortunately, but it is still wise to train this skill up as high as possible. It just takes you much longer to reap its benefits.
  • Many players would dispute the need for training the shields skill, as it is quite costly in experience, and there is value to having two free hands for being able to wield more powerful weapons. But shields have more benefits than just blocking projectiles and hits. Some shields come enchanted with valuable resistances, sometimes giving even stat bonuses, and if you want to wear these as a caster, you need to invest at least enough experience to get you to a shields skill of four (which you will reach very fast). This allows you to cast with a buckler without penalties to your failure rate. For a normal shield you need a skill of 15, and for a large shield it takes 25 to cast penalty-free. Quite a heavy investment, but once you have it, you have an amazing protection against all physical attacks and most projectiles. A shield won’t help you a bit against damnation, though. A normal shield and even a large shield are probably out of reach for you in this 3-rune victory.
  • The evocations skill is also very important to you. The higher your skill here, the more effective you are using wands and other evocable items. These may give you more ranged options to apply damage when your MP runs out. The evocations skill also helps you when you use a staff of energy when channeling to replenish your MP, and makes the use of a crystal ball of energy much safer. Finally, as already hinted above, you may later decide to use a magical staff as your main weapon. The staff that comes to mind is the staff of earth, which has an obscene damage output dwarfing most other weapons if it is used with high earth and evocations skills. And you will want to wield that staff anyway, as it increases the spell power of your earth spells. So keep training evocations!

Many players object to the skill-training style advocated here, claiming that increasing eight or nine skills simultaneously spreads the experience too thin. But these skills (except maybe for armor and shields) you will need to develop anyway, and over the total course of the game it makes no difference whatsoever whether you train these skills sequentially or simultaneously. Psychologically it feels good to observe a single active skill gaining in large strides, but it comes at the price that your other skills don’t increase at all. The skill strategy proposed here will grow your needed skills slowly but steadily, with the result that you have all you need as the game progresses, without having to fiddle with your skills screen too much.

Other skills are deliberately not on the training list. For you there is no point training any ranged weapons, including throwing. Stealth also is almost pointless for you. The moment you unleash your first LRD on a level, all its inhabitants will have a pretty good idea of where you are, no matter how stealthy you are. Earth magic is mostly noisy and does not go well together with a sneaky approach. Unarmed combat is also something you don’t need to worry about. Of course you could study other spell schools, such as the transmutations school, to unlock the Statue Form spell. But in spite of what was said in the previous paragraph, you want to keep the number of trained skills as low as possible, so that what you train receives as much experience as possible. Once a skill receives less than 10% of the experience, it will grow very slow. Your power and your survival depend on having the right skills trained as high as possible.

Once the failure rate of your Stone Arrow goes below 5%, and your MP pool is above 20, you should make this spell your main attack option. Only when you get low on MP should you resort to Sandblasts, which will then never run out of stones.

A very short time after converting to Vehumet, after killing a bunch of enemies, your new deity will be happy enough with you to shower his blessings on you. You will get a message that Vehumet grants you access to a spell that is not part of any book you have found so far, and a star will show up in your piety counter. At maximum piety you will have six stars, but even this single star begins something that arguably is Vehumet’s greatest gift: MP restoration on killing enemies. Right now it does not look like much, because at low piety it happens only rarely. But when your piety goes up, this god-given ability will overcome the bane of all casters in Crawl: Once you have cast a number of spells, your MP goes to 0, and there may still be some enemies that need killing. Your MP of course regenerates itself over time, but quite often you can’t spare that time. At highest piety Vehumet will grant you some extra MP on killing almost all enemies. By that time you will have spells that can kill many enemies at once (such as LRD which we have already learned), so that it may be a long time before you run out of MP.

Vehumet’s gift of spells is also nothing to sneeze at. But you need to decide carefully whether you really want to learn them or not. You are basically required to decide on a spell strategy early on, and act on that. For this walk-through we assume that you will want to learn attack spells not only from the earth magic school, but also from the fire magic school. So if Vehumet offers you a spell belonging to any of these schools, grab it up. If it is a spell from a different school, ignore it, because you cannot learn an unlimited amount of spells. Your status screen (right-click your mouse on the character) and also the spell memorization menu (M-key) will tell you how many spell levels you have currently left to learn new spells. If you want to learn a level-3 spell, but you have only two levels left, you need to wait until the new levels get unlocked (through increases in XL or the spellcasting skill). Alternatively, you need to forget an already learned spell with a scroll of amnesia. It is therefore a good idea to keep training your spellcasting skill at least until Vehumet has given you his final batch of three spell gifts - that should always give you sufficient spell slots for Vehumet's more interesting gifts.

Of course you may find spells in spell books, not only from Vehumet. Here are a few spells that you should consider learning when you find them:

  • Conjure Flame – a level 3 fire and conjurations spell which creates a stationary column of fire on a single tile, affectionately called “Gargoyle’s barbecue” by your enemies. Most of them will not walk into it, which makes it a nice way of keeping melee fighters out of their range in a one-tile corridor. Some animals and undead monsters happily walk into the flame to get at you, and you can watch with glee while they get burned to a crisp.
  • Sticky Flame is a wonderful level 4 fire and conjurations spell that places a very damaging source of fire on an adjacent enemy. This will keep burning for a few rounds, killing the monster over time, while you are running away from it, or apply further damage by different means. If you manage to place this on an invisible enemy, it will make it visible for the time of its effect.
  • Bolt of Magma – this level 5 fire, earth and conjurations spell shoots a projectile with irresistible force through whole rows of enemies. Line your opponents up in a corridor, and this spell makes short shrift of them. Much more powerful than Stone Arrow. You should be able to cast this very soon.
  • Iron Shot is a level 6 earth and conjurations spell that works similar to Stone Arrow. It only hits one enemy at a time, but with deadly force. One shot is often enough to kill the worst enemies you encounter at any given time. If you get access to it, learn it at all costs. If you can’t find Magma Bolt or Iron Shot by the time you complete the Lair, it will be very difficult to survive much longer.
  • Fireball is a level 5 fire and conjurations area-of-effect spell, frying a 3x3 square and all that stands on it. Not helpful against fire resistant monsters, but otherwise very potent.
  • Bolt of Fire – this level 6 fire and conjurations spell shoots a powerful heat projectile through rows of enemies, with a better range than Magma Bolt, but not useful against fire-resistant monsters.
  • Ring of Flames is not a weapon as such, but a level 7 fire and charms spell that creates the effect of Conjure flame on all eight tiles around you. Not only that, it greatly increases your resistance to heat and fire, and also boosts the spell power of subsequent fire spells, at the price that it dramatically reduces your resistance to cold effects. But this doesn’t matter that much, as the RoF actually keeps most cold actions away from you.
  • Ignition is an extremely costly (level 8), but effective upgrade to Fireball, applying its effect on all enemies in sight. When you have the power to cast it, a target-rich environment turns into a furnace, killing anything that is not fire resistant.

Most of Vehumet’s spell gifts are only available to learn until he offers you his next gift. This time window can be rather small. Therefore, if Vehumet offers you other spells than the ones mentioned above, ignore them. They will not add significantly to what you have in this arsenal, and you don’t want to get into the situation that Vehumet offers you Iron Shot, but you don’t have enough spell levels, because you wanted to try what Force Lance or Bolt of Cold do. You want to be ready for the amazing stuff. Generally, ignore all spells dealing with ice, air or poison. Not that they are bad, but they don’t fit your build right now.

Once you have learned a fire-spell, start training fire magic right away. For some of the spells you want to use later you need to have very high levels here, so there is no time to lose.

When you reach XL 10 or 11, LRD has become an affordable spell for you, and you can look for opportunities to use it. It has a much further range than your other earth spells, and it can take care of those orc priests which otherwise snipe at you from positions out of range. Get them!

Vehumet’s second star does not give you any new abilities, but his third star reduces the failure rate of all your destructive spells dramatically. LRD should end up below 5% failure rate now, and you have turned into a killing machine! When Vehumet decides to grant you his fourth star, all your spells have their range increased by one more tile, allowing you to hit approaching enemies a turn earlier.

If you can’t find the Lair before hitting dungeon level 10 or 11, you may encounter a very dangerous enemy, the Unseen horror. If you don’t have a source of see invisible, the first notion you’ll have of this feller is a message that you take damage from something. If you are moving around using your arrow keys, you may not even see this for quite a while until you have already taken significant damage. This enemy is extremely fast and may start and end its turn away from you, while hitting you in between. The unseen horror can whittle you down in a few turns, but you can survive and kill it if you don’t panic. Obviously, if you have a source of see invisible, maybe on an enchanted weapon or a ring, put it on, and the crisis is over. Unseen horrors quickly lose their horror once they are no longer unseen. If you can’t see invisible, move into a corridor, so that you have a better idea from which side your enemy is attacking, and then hit it blindly. LRD is a great tool to hit a larger area where it may be. If you have Sticky Flame, you can try to attach it to the Unseen Horror, and all is well. If possible, have some up-stairs within reach, so that you can heal up in a safe area. If things go badly, teleport away.

Also, before you find the Lair, your inventory may fill up, so that you cannot pick up any new items. If that happens, go to the Temple to drop some items that you won’t need anytime soon, like unidentified potions, or potions of mutation, or wands that you have twice, etc. In the Lair there will be a place where you can establish a secure cache, but maybe you need to do this earlier, and the Temple is always safe.

The Lair

Once you have found the access stairs to the Lair, clear the level around it. You may find the entrance to the Orcish Mines on the same level, or even on an earlier level, but don’t go in there right now – for various reasons it is better to tackle the Lair first. Going down the stairs into the Lair, you will be in an environment that looks significantly different to what you have seen in the dungeon.

Don’t continue exploring the Dungeon before you have tackled the Lair – you’ll need the experience you get here to be strong enough for what faces you further down. Also the Lair provides access to some of the places you need to visit to win this game.

You will also encounter a very different set of monsters. Except for a few uniques (some of them very dangerous), all monsters in the Lair are animals. Most of them are very strong, and they can kill you easily if you don’t handle them well. The following list contains monsters you need to be particularly careful with.

  • Komodo dragons are solitary animals with a very damaging bite that easily chews through your AC. Finish them off as soon as possible, because you can’t take much of their abuse.
  • Yaks – these creatures are strong and have a dangerous bite. One on its own is not dangerous, but they come in large packs, and when they manage to surround you, they get your HP down in no time at all. Try to get them into a corridor, or take them upstairs in smaller numbers. High AC helps.
  • Hydras – even a single hydra may be bad news, when encountered in a bad moment. They are fast and hit with many heads at once. Bladed weapons remove heads, but for each head lost they develop two more. As a caster with earth magic you won’t have that problem. Try to isolate them, and hit them with all you have from as far away as possible. High AC helps. Sandblast at full power is surprisingly strong against hydras.
  • Blink frogs – they hit much harder than the bullfrogs you have seen earlier, they are more difficult to hit, and they come in large packs. When you see one, make him follow you and retreat. You don’t want to face all of them at once. If you have Sticky Flame, use it, as it kills the hopper even a few turns after it bounced away.
  • Elephants are like yaks, but even more dangerous, and with more HP. Try to isolate individuals, and never take on the whole pack. Stairs are your friend. Unfortunately, an elephant standing right next to you may trample you, which pushes you off the ground you are standing on, and it will also push you off the stairs you had just decided to use. If you have a wall at your back, this will not happen.
  • Death yaks – probably the most dangerous animal that you are guaranteed to encounter (in large groups!) somewhere in the Lair, but usually only on the lower levels. They are very hard to kill, and hit extremely hard. Don’t let them surround you, and separate individuals. Even a single death yak is a formidable opponent and should not be taken lightly.
  • Torpor snails are huge and slow snails, not very difficult to kill. But while you are in LOS, they will slow you down considerably, and that may be very bad news when you are pursued by a pack of death yaks or a hydra. Therefore prioritize torpor snails before killing any other animals. Once the snail is dead, your speed is normal again.

There are lots of other monsters that most players find very dangerous, but for a gargoyle with already well developed AC most of them are rather harmless: basilisks and catoblepas’ can’t petrify you like they do with others, spiny frogs and black mambas can’t poison you, and the electric eel won’t shock you too much. It’s great to be a gargoyle, and the Lair is generally a good place for you.

Fighting all these pests, don’t forget that you have Sandblast, probably at ##### or even ###### power. By now you may also have collected hundreds of stones, and against unarmored enemies, like most of what you find in the Lair, this is a very effective single target spell. Not much later after the Lair, it won’t do you much good any more, so use the spell here a lot. You won’t be able to kill enemies with level 1 spells much longer.

For a long time, Crawl players have used the second level of the Lair as a place to create a cache of items that you don't want to carry around with you all the time. The reasons for this have now disappeared, but tradition might suggest this as a good place to do so anyway. If you choose to do it here, don’t drop all items on the same spot, but lay them out according to category, like all food items in one corner, scrolls in another, etc. Good organization will help you to find stuff when you need it. Drop all but one kind of food in the cache, including all bread and meat rations. Most likely you have a big stack of fruit, and this you should carry around with you, as an emergency snack when you haven’t found a body to butcher in a while. Drop almost all wands here. Just carry with you the strong wands mentioned above. All other wands are either obsolete by now, or even if they still have a potential use, you won’t find yourself using them a lot. Drop all your books here. You’ll come here if you want to learn spells. Drop every scroll of amnesia, scroll of enchant weapon, scroll of enchant armor. Again, you will come here when you want to enchant your equipment. Drop all unknown potions, just carry potions of heal wounds and potions of curing with you. Later on you will identify more potions, and some of them are worth carrying around all the time, but for now they just clutter up your inventory. And you can drop some jewelry and armor and weapons that you think you won’t need in a while. From now on, whenever you are short on inventory slots, come here to lighten your load.

Talking about all your equipment, here are a few tips on what is worth wearing. In terms of amulets, your best find for now would be the amulet of the gourmand, as it allows you to stuff yourself with lots of chunks from defeated enemies, which really helps when you need to cast some expensive spells. Your best ring find would be a ring of see invisible; you don’t need to wear it all the time, but it comes in handy when you are under attack by invisible monsters. You can get the same effect through some head-gear, where it would be more permanent. Otherwise you should look out for (and wear) at least one ring of protection from magic, as your inherent magic protection is very low. The higher your magic protection, the better you can shrug off attempts to confuse or smite you, aside from many other hexes that monsters throw at you. Beyond that, rings of resistance against cold or fire are always good to have around, and they are quickly swapped when your circumstances change. If you happen to find a robe of the Archmagi, stop all training of armor at once. You have then just found the body armor you’ll want to wear for the rest of the game. Not much physical protection, but it boosts the spell-power of your spells considerably, making you much more dangerous early on. When you can kill anything on your first shot, you can afford going easy on your defenses.

In the Lair you may find timed portals to the Volcano, the Ice Cave or the Labyrinth. These places can be quite tricky, and if you don’t have some resistances against cold or fire, you probably should let them pass if you don’t know them very well. But they also come with good loot. You don’t need any resistances for the Labyrinth, and your earth magic should be enough for the opposition in there (usually just a strong minotaur), but you should bring enough food for quite a long time.

Further down the Lair you will find entrances to either the Swamp or the Shoals, then again for either the Snake Pit or the Spider's Nest. You should ignore each of these for now – the opposition in any of them is quite strong. You will come back for these places somewhat later. Near the bottom of the Lair you also find the entrance to the Slime Pits, which is a truly horrible place, best left alone. You won’t need to go there at all for your first victory.

Battling through the Lair, you will gain lots of experience, and before you finish the last, sixth, level of the Lair, you should reach XL 14. This is a milestone level for you gargoyle, as you now have strong enough wings to fly permanently. Start flying with the abilities key (a), and never stop unless you meet one of the following monsters: Gastronok, wind drakes, titans and spriggan air mages have airstrike, a spell which is more damaging to you when you fly. Otherwise flight gives you a huge advantage throughout the game.

While going through the Lair, have a look at your skills constantly. When your armor skill reaches 6, switch it off. You won’t need more, as long as you stick to leather armors or very light dragon armors. And you shouldn’t take anything heavier. If you have found a buckler already and trained the shields skill, switch it off at 4. As much of your experience as possible needs to be invested in your magical skills.

Also have a look at your spells once in a while. Usually, while battling the Lair, you will reach the point where your Sandblast spell power, and even the Stone Arrow spell power show up as ######. This is good news and bad news at the same time. It is good news that now these spells hit your opponents with their full potential, and that makes them quite deadly. Not so good is that there is now nothing you can do to improve these spells, and you will find that it still takes quite a lot of shots to bring down an elephant or a death yak. Not very long after this you will find much more dangerous opponents, and you’ll need something more potent to make them keel over. If you have found Magma Bolt or Iron Shot by now, add them to your inventory. If you have seen a shop with a book containing one of these spells, go and buy this book.

The final level of the Lair is significantly more difficult than the other five levels. It always contains an area with a frightening concentration of high-end monsters, such as death yaks, or dire elephants, particularly robust species of elephants, or dragons, or similarly challenging opponents. If you tread carefully, you should be okay. Again the secret to success is to proceed slowly and to isolate individual opponents.

Subjugating the Orcs

Once you are done in the Lair, proceed to your stash on Lair 2, clean up your inventory and make it to the entrance of the Orcish Mines. You may not have found it yet, which means that you will first have to clear another Dungeon level or two.

If you have never made it to the Mines so far, just like the Lair this place has its own distinctive look, very different from the dungeon. You will see an awful lot of enemies, but most of them die like flies around you. All you need to do is let a horde of orcs come to you, take them upstairs and smash them to pulp with your weapon. No need to waste any MP on these low-level orcs. Orc wizards (purple) are also no problem for you any more, except that they still like to turn invisible. But orc priests (green) continue to demand a lot of respect, and you should hit them as soon as possible. Maybe they stand near rock walls, and then LRD easily takes care of them. Orc warriors are usually well armored, and even more so orc knights. Hit them hard with your best magic, and you’ll be fine.

Up till now you will have marveled about how fast your experience grows in this game. All those Lair-monsters made you jump from one XL to another, so that you probably left the Lair with XL 14 or even 15. Here with the orcs now everything seems to slow down to a crawl. No matter how many monsters you kill, you just don’t seem to make any progress on your experience counter. This tells you that by now you have completely outclassed orcs and play in a different league. But this impression is deceptive, as these two levels contain foes which make dying in the Orcish Mines as easy as anywhere else.

  • Orc warlord – there should be at least one of these orc bosses in the mines, usually on the second level. They are heavily armored and hit hard. If you still have nothing beyond your Stone Arrow, you will find it very difficult to make him roll over. He also has powerful ranged options.
  • Orc high priests with their blue robes are found in small numbers on the lower floor, but you may encounter them occasionally upstairs. They are a lot more dangerous than regular priests, particularly because they tend to call demons who can harass you to death. Whenever you see them, they need to be your very first priority. LRD kills them fast, if they position themselves favorably. Killing the orc high priest also makes all of his demons disappear in a puff of smoke.
  • Orc sorcerers can ruin your day as any orc high priest can. They also call demons, and they may resurrect all those slain enemies around you, so that you have to fight them again. On top of that, they may send bolts of fire or draining your way, and both may hurt you a lot. Killing the sorcerer will not make his undead minions disappear, so be prepared for a prolonged fight afterwards.
  • Various elfs. The entrance to the Elven Halls is found on Orc 2, and in case you’d miss it, the game places some inhabitants around this entrance. Some of them may be quite dangerous casters. Elfs are usually easy to kill, but if they get their chance, they can damage you badly.
  • Sonja is a unique which poisons and incapacitates non-poison-resistant players with a blowgun. No problem for you, but once she gets close, she may hit you with a dagger of distortion. Don’t let that happen, as it may get you thrown into the Abyss, and you are not ready for this.
  • Ogre mages also have the ability to banish you into the Abyss, so here is another monster that you need to prioritize. They should not show up on level 1.
  • Saint Roka is very bad news if you encounter him already now. Best to turn around and go fight in some other places for a long time. Most likely you are not quite ready yet to kill him, and if you won’t kill him, he will kill you. Don’t even try to fight him if you don’t have at least Iron Shot at your disposal, and at least 30 MP, hopefully more. Saint Roka comes along with a large band of minor, but still rather strong, orcs. There is no hope to defeat the boss as long as all those are still hopping around. If you are lucky, you can isolate them from Roka one by one, so that in the end you only have to face him alone. No need to expect Roka before level 2.

The first level of the mines usually consist of two or three disconnected areas; the other areas you can only reach by first going to the lower level, or by some foolhardy teleporting. If you have plenty of wands of digging, you can also shoot wastefully in all directions and see if it does not open a way to another unexplored area. This becomes a lot less wasteful by reading a scroll of magic mapping, but this is wasteful in itself. When you enter the lower level, move very carefully, exploring in circles around the upstairs. Don’t use other up-stairs before you are sure that the area you leave behind downstairs is clear; it does not do to escape a fight on level 1 to find yourself surrounded by some bullies of the level-2 crowd of the mines.

Just like in the Lair, you may have announcements about the presence of a Volcano or Ice Cave when entering a new area here. Find it and clear it – by now you should be ready. Otherwise, there might also be a timed entrance to the Bailey, a level with lots of armed monsters, usually goblins, kobolds, orcs or gnolls. Most of them you can defeat easily, but there will always be some high-end bosses to kill, so you might find yourself forced to retreat from the area before you have reaped the loot. This loot can be quite desirable, such as a potion of experience, which is about the best shake you can quaff in this game.

Except for what your slain enemies let fall to the floor in their death rattle, there is absolutely no loot to be found in the Mines. The appeal of this place lies in the abundance of gold lying around everywhere. If you have not squandered away a good part of it already in some shop, by the end of fighting in the Mines you should have at least 2000 gold pieces, if not more. And then you’ll have four guaranteed shops on level 2 where you can spend it all, and quite often more shops on the other level. But you should also have a look at what your enemies leave behind for you. Enchanted robes or leather armors, and maybe a well-enchanted morningstar can definitely improve your equipment.

The shops on level 2 are well defended, though. Quite often all four shops are found in a vault area. High concentrations of the strongest enemies you can find in the Mines make it necessary to advance slowly, and to always retreat when you have attracted the attention of more than two or three enemies. Always know where the next stairs are, and make sure that you know what to expect up those stairs.

Once you have conquered level 2, have your eyes open for a bookshop. If you are lucky, you can buy a Book of Annihilations here, which would give you access to two of the three spells you want to learn later on: Lehudib's Crystal Spear and Fire Storm. The third spell, Shatter, can be found in the Book of Earth and the Book of the Tempests. Don’t buy any of these books yet, when you see them, as you won’t be ready for these spells for quite a while. Hopefully Vehumet will grant you what you need anyway, or you may find these books lying around somewhere. But it is always good to know that you can buy the spell you need, if it eludes you otherwise.

If you find a potions shop, go in there and see what potions they sell that you don’t know. Particularly bad potions, like a potion of degeneration, will be on offer for very little money – a good way of identifying these without wasting a scroll of identification.

First Visit to the Elven Halls

As already mentioned, the entrance to the Elven Halls is conveniently located on level 2 of the Mines. It is recommended that you visit this place somewhat later, but if you feel brave and still have a few inventory slots free, you might pop in for a visit right away. If you don't have three stars of magic resistance, it is indeed better to wait a bit longer to come here. In fact, you don't have to come here at all to win the game. The Elven Halls are a lot more challenging than the Orcish Mines, and for now you will only visit the first two of the three levels. Here there is lots of loot to be found, hopefully some books, or good jewelry. But you need to fight for almost every step of the way. Do it slowly and systematically, so that you always have a clear path to the way out of here.

Elves come in lots of varieties. Almost all use some kind of spell, at least to boost themselves. Some are very proficient with a bow, others are melee fighters, but quite a few are pure casters (blue-grey robes). And a few bosses already start slinging damnation at you (red or blue robes). Kill them quickly! That is the good news about all these elves: They can’t take a lot, and since most of the layout here consists of narrow corridors and small rooms, LRD will take care of most situations for you. Killing an elf gives considerable experience, and also Vehumet restores a lot of MP for killing them.

There is a reason not to enter the Elven Halls right after clearing the Mines: Occasionally you’ll find a timed portal in the Halls, which goes down to a Wizard Laboratory. These are very challenging places, where you may find very exciting treasures after surviving insane dangers. Generally, you have a significantly better chance making it through them if you take them on with much more experience under your belt. For this walk-through, since your main goal is to win your first game, let’s assume that you are not going to try the lab, if you find it. You may have a peek, but don’t stroll too far away from the exit – or you may find your way out blocked.

Another feature that is always a part of the second level of the Halls is the Hall of Blades. You know that you are near when you see sealed doors defended by self-propelled weapons. By all means, clear the rest of the level first. Even then, only walk in if you have a better spell than your Stone Arrow, such as Magma Bolt or Iron Shot. If you do, however, you are better prepared than most, because these floating weapons are resistant against most elemental damage. Still, you need to be very careful. All these weapons are somehow branded, they are extremely fast, hard to hit, and tend to surround you. An executioner's axe of flaming will chop you to smoking pieces if you don’t kill it first. Some of the weapons may also drain all your skills out of you. On top of that, there are countless elves running around in that place, adding to the weapons’ damage. Again your tactics is to go in until you see an enemy, and then lure him back towards safer places to finish him off. The rewards of this place are the weapons you defeat – they are all yours to grab, and that may be a nice place to find an eveningstar, probably the best weapon you can find in this game for your build.

Other things to look out for in the Elven Halls are bucklers. You should find at least a few, and hopefully a nicely enchanted specimen among them.

Some of the elves have the ability to banish you into the Abyss. Of course, this could happen sooner to you, but going through the Halls, there is quite some likelihood that you involuntarily find yourself in that dreadful place. The later this happens, the better your chances to come out alive. For an early-game character the Abyss usually means that the game is over, if you don’t happen to be thrown right next to a very rare exit. But by now you should be strong enough to survive for quite a while, maybe even long enough to fight your way to an exit. For this it is important not to panic. The Abyss consists of five levels, each level increasingly more horrible than the previous. So you’ll want to stay on the lowest level. If you kill enough monsters, an exit will eventually spawn. Sometimes you may need to heal up in an unseen corner, and that is okay. Most monsters will see you, and that means that you will have to fight them. LRD may be your best bet, but it has the bad side effect of attracting more monsters. Soon you will find yourself hopelessly surrounded and low on health, so it is time to teleport away. This takes longer than elsewhere in the game, so plan for that delay. Hopefully you have lots of potions of heal wounds. A potion of ambrosia would be a boon, but you are not likely to have one yet. These things can keep you alive long enough until you find an exit. If you see one, go there without delay, no matter what treasures are around you – the Abyss may teleport you away without warning. Once you have made it out, kill the monster that banished you. For a while you are immune against banishing; that should be long enough to eliminate that danger. BTW, there is a rune to be found in the Abyss, from level 3 on downwards, but right now you would not survive looking for it, and by no means you need to have it to win this game. For the rest of this walk-through we will pretend that the Abyss just does not exist. That’s better.

For now ignore level 3 of the Elven Halls. You’ll come back later for that.

The Side-Branches of the Lair

Having cleared the Lair, the Orcs and most of the Elves, you will not proceed any further down the dungeon for now, but return to the Lair. Clean up your inventory at your stash in level 2, and then proceed to one of the side-branches. You will have found an entry to either the Swamp or the Shoals, and another entry to either the Spider's Nest or the Snake Pit. This gives two side branches for you to explore (plus the Slime Pits, but you will leave those alone for the purposes of your first victory). Each of these side branches consists of four levels. On the lowest level you will find a Rune of Zot, which you need to obtain to win this game. But for now you will only clear out the first three levels of each branch. The fourth level is somewhat more difficult, and you will want to come back for it slightly more experienced.

For a Gargoyle, none of these branches is particularly challenging, as you are both immune to poison, and you can fly. But if you need to tackle the Spiders in your game, you should delay that if you have not found a source of see invisible yet. In the end you’ll have to go there anyway, but it will be rather problematic.

While clearing out these branches, Vehumet will soon give you his final gift – three high-end spells, two of which are probably level-9 spells. As mentioned earlier, you really hope for Lehudib's Crystal Spear (LCS), for Shatter and for Fire Storm. If Vehumet gives you access to all three of those, that would be awesome. In theory, this final gift should be influenced by your skills, but there is no guarantee that you’ll end up with more than one of these spells.

Currently you won’t be able to learn any of these three spells. You’ll need really high skills in earth, fire and conjurations (depending on the spell), plus some spellcasting, and you don’t have those yet. But that does not matter – Vehumet will keep these spells available as long as you worship him, so there is no rush. For Firestorm or Shatter your skills need to be in the range of 18 before you can cast them confidently, and also you need much more intelligence than you currently have. LCS is somewhat easier to cast, but it is still out of reach for you for quite some time.

Anyway, since these are Vehumet's final gifts, you can ease up on your training of the spellcasting skill a bit, to use your experience for the other skills. Train spellcasting whenever you run out of spell slots from now on, or if you are not happy with your MP pool.

Here are some details about each side branch:


In the Swamp you’ll find yourself in some kind of mangrove area with few dry spots, lots of shallow water and some deep water. All this does not bother you, as you fly permanently. The most dangerous enemies here are hydras, which you already know from the Lair, and Swamp dragons, except that these are not really dangerous to you, as you are immune to their poison. But giant leeches, alligators and swamp worms bite hard, and bog bodies hit you from far with bolts of cold. Insubstantial wisps are hard to hit and tend to surround you. You may also get surrounded by slime creatures, but that would be a good thing to happen – because if they don’t surround you, they would combine into large or even titanic slime creatures, whose incredible whack would bring you to your knees in two or three turns. When you are pursued by a titanic slime creature, run away until you are surrounded by open ground or water. When the slime arrives, it will split and surround you, and they are a lot less dangerous that way, with the AC you have acquired by now. The biggest danger comes from various uniques which like to roam the Swamp, such as Saint Roka with his cool gang, Urug, Donald or Jorgrun, who all need to be killed as fast as possible, if you don’t even wisely avoid them for some more time.


The Shoals have even more water than the Swamp, and the change of the tides shows the same spot sometimes as shallow water and sometimes as dry ground. Again, with your permanent flight you couldn’t care less. There are many dangerous enemies in the Shoals, though. All kind of merfolk hurl projectiles against you, so it may be a good idea to wear an item with the Repel Missiles brand, which might add some protection for you. Snapping turtles, and their big brothers, the alligator snapping turtles, have a dangerous bite, even from two tiles distance. Manticores shoot barbs which reduce your health until you find the peace and quiet to remove them from your flesh. Kraken are out in the open water, and their many tentacles hit you senseless. Fortunately they react well to Magma Bolt or Bolt of Fire – any tentacle segment you hurt, hurts the whole Kraken, and a few shots should send it to the bottom of the ocean. If you meet a wind drake, remember to immediatly switch off your permanent flight, as its Airstrike will hurt you a lot more if you're in the air. Polyphemus and Kirke are both frequently found in the Shoals, and both come supported: Polyphemus by death yaks and a catoblepas, Kirke by a herd of hogs which should turn into friendly humans once you kill her, or into tasty snacks if you kill them before. Trouble is, Kirke may easily turn you into a hog and then into a snack yourself. Magic resistance is one of your growth areas, and gargoyles are usually easy prey for Kirke’s transmutations. Then again, it has a somewhat entertaining effect when you find yourself to be the first flying pig ever.

Snake Pit

The Snake Pit is a usually dry and very orderly place full of snakes of all kind, nagas, salamanders, and anacondas. Anacondas and nagas will start to constrict you when you are in melee range, but your good AC gives you a lot more time to deal with it than other casters. The most dangerous regular enemies are naga warriors (blue) and nagarajas (red), who have lots of HP and are often well armored. Nagas are normally slow, but the guys can hasten themselves and still catch you. Salamanders use ranged weapons very competently, and again Repel Missiles would be a good thing to have. Mana vipers are not dangerous as such, but they come to melee range fast with a bite that reduces your MP, so you need to prioritize them. Aizul is a unique frequently found in the Pit, and he may put you to sleep for a while. Because he is so boring. A remnant dwarf found down here is Jorgrun. He casts LRD and Shatter himself, and you are highly vulnerable to both. Kill him quick – don’t give him the few turns he needs to smash you. Azrael is a fiery efreet swinging a sword of flaming, and he comes supported by fire elementals and a pack of hell hounds. Obviously, you will want some resistance to fire when you meet this group. A wand of iceblast is about the most efficient thing you can find to take care of this situation.

Spider's Nest

The Spider's Nest is also mostly dry, but a lot more chaotic in layout than the Snake Pit. Most of your enemies here are all kinds of arachnoids, which means that they are very poisonous. Although you are immune against venom, their bite still hurts badly, and some of them are very fast, surrounding you quickly. Demonic crawlers are not spiders, but very tough and very resistant creepers that would scare you to death if you did not have your powerful earth magic to subdue them. Orb spiders lob very damaging orbs of destruction at you, and a few of those may kill you. Emperor scorpions are a lot more hardy and destructive than their small cousins you squished earlier in the game. It takes a lot of MP to bring one down. Probably the most dangerous inhabitant of the Nest is the ghost moth. If you are lucky, you won’t see it until level 4, which you will visit later. But in fact, not seeing it has nothing to do with luck, as it is permanently invisible. The moment it sees you (it really needs to see you, so if you are invisible, it helps) it starts reducing your MP in huge chunks, leaving you without mana in at most three turns. It can also reduce some of your other stats, so you really want to kill these moths as soon as possible. Asterion has been seen in the Nest, and, even more dangerously, Mara. This unique splits itself into up to four apparitions, only one of which being real enough to be killed. It will also create a double of yourself, very really killing you. For now you are probably not in a shape to defeat Mara. Come back with Shatter, and that will be the swift end of him.

Liberating the Dungeon

So, now you have explored three levels of each of the side branches. Return to your stash and drop what you don’t need next. This is also a good opportunity to re-evaluate your situation. You should now have enough scrolls of identification to reveal all your potions. If you feel daring, you could experiment a bit with a potion of mutation – if you are lucky, you might get two really good mutations at the price of a bad mutation that does not bother you too much. But even so-called good mutations can ruin your day. A pair of horns won’t do you much good, but prevents you from wearing a helmet. Probably it is best, though, to leave these potions alone and keep them for emergencies, when you need to get rid of some really nasty malmutations, such as permanent reductions to your HP, MP, or spell power.

Reading through all your unknown scrolls you will hopefully also discover a scroll of acquirement. This is one of the biggest sources of joy and frustration in the game. If you are lucky, it may give you genuinely awesome stuff – just what you need. Sometimes, however, it gives you incredible junk. If you have identified the scroll already, you should collect all subsequent finds for about this time in the game. Now you know what spells Vehumet has given you, and you know the books you have found. Are you still lacking one or two of the big spells? Well, read the scroll for a book, and hopefully it will supply you with the missing Book of Earth or Book of Annihilations. If you already have all the books you need, use it for jewelry, armor or weapons. No need to ask for money or food in this game. Well, it might also give you a good staff, to enhance your spellcasting.

By now you should be in your late teens regarding your XL, and your INT without any boosters should be in the low twenties. Looking at your skills, you have made significant progress, and you may appear well-rounded except that you are still miles away from casting these high-level spells that Vehumet and hopefully some books have put into your reach. You need to address this problem now. For a while all your skills training needs to focus on your spells. Only train earth magic, fire magic and conjurations, plus, if it is much lower than these skills, some spellcasting. The only non-magic skill you train should be fighting. You can also leave fighting out for a while, if you promise yourself to not take too many risks when going into fights. This should give you 25 or 33% experience for each skill. This measure will help you to get closer to the high-level spells, about which you still need to learn a few things:

  • Lehudib's Crystal Spear is the most powerful single target spell in the game. Level 8 and two spell schools (earth and conjurations) make it quite difficult to learn, but once you can cast it confidently, you need to fear nothing and no-one in this game. It is a bit low in range, but Vehumet is committed to help you with that. If you know Iron Shot, it may be possible to do without LCS, but the extra power this gives you may be the edge you need in some tough fights.
  • Shatter is a level-9 spell of just the earth school (conjurations don’t help you here), with a devastating effect on almost anything in line of sight. It seems to create the effect of a brutal earthquake, and dungeon features also get badly affected by this. The only drawback is that it does not affect flying monsters very well, and of those you encounter a lot the deeper you get.
  • Fire Storm is seen by many as the crown of conjurations in the game. It is a level-9 spell, and because it needs both fire and conjurations, it is somewhat harder to learn than Shatter. When you cast it, you can select any tile in LOS, and around it you create a killing field three or four tiles in radius, on which anything is fried to a crisp – even highly fire-resistant monsters can’t escape that effect fully. Because this killing field may well extend beyond your line of sight, even monsters you have never seen get roasted that way.

You’ll want those spells, and getting them online is now your most pressing need. To get there, our secondary goal at present is to clear out the Dungeon down to its lowest level 15. Most likely you won’t have to do more than four or five levels for that. You are now a lot more powerful than at the time that you first entered the Lair, and initially you will find very few worthy opponents. But on the last two or three levels of the Dungeon things will begin to become tougher again. Ugly things and very ugly things are very dangerous opponents, as they swarm you in big numbers. Find a corridor to grind them down. All kinds of giants show up now, and their damage output is fearsome. And you will have to fight your first tengus, who are both good at spells and melee fighting.

Two notable dungeon features you will encounter on your way down. On level 13 or down from there you will find the entrance to the Vaults, a place you will visit very soon. It is guarded by some monsters you’ll have to fight there, so have a good look, and be careful around them. And finally, on level 15, there is the entrance to the Depths, also well guarded. You may admire the entrance structure, but don’t go in there yet!

Your First Two Runes

Now that you have completed the dungeon, every next step is somewhat risky. The Depths are a brutal place, and you have a much better chance in there if you try it with a lot more experience. The Vaults are also rough, but not quite as badly as the Depths, so this should be your next quest. Trouble is, you don’t get in there without at least one Rune of Zot under your belt, and right now you don’t have one. But at the bottom of each of the two side branches of the Lair you can find a rune, and it is now time to grab them. We have delayed going into these two places, because they are considerably harder than the rest of these branches, but now there is nothing else you can do to delay it. Off you go! When you enter the final level, this is a good time to read a scroll of magic mapping, of which you should have enough by now. This reveals where you’ll find the final rune vault, and therefore the stiffest resistance.

Swamp 4

This level looks very much like the rest of the Swamp, except for the rune vault, which is usually an enclosure surrounded by stone walls, with only one entrance. Don’t approach this entrance before you have cleared the whole level outside the enclosure. Once you have attracted the attention of some enemies within, you will have to fight off an onslaught of countless hydras, spiny frogs, alligators and swamp dragons. It will be necessary to retreat at least a couple of times and then come back. Having a stone structure to play with at least should give you a few good opportunities for casting LRD on the bad guys. The layout inside the vault can vary – sometimes you may even find some stretches of lava in there which is great for keeping hydras at bay. You can fly, they don’t. The rune is just lying around somewhere. Pick it up and feel its power! But you may have to fight the terrible Lernaean hydra first, which, having 27 heads, you shouldn’t let come within melee range. Shoot it from far with your most powerful shots.

Shoals 4

This is a bit different than the other branch ends. It does not come with one big vault, but at least five or six smaller vaults. All of them contain an assortment of dangerous enemies and some treasure. One of them also has the rune. Outside the vaults you will almost certainly get attacked by Ilsiuw and her gang of aquatic ruffians. She is extremely dangerous, and you need to use alternating sets of stairs to separate her from her support team, killing the minions off one by one on level 3. Only when they are gone (and they are dangerous enough), you can start taking shots at the boss. Be fast! Once Ilsiuw is down, you may encounter the odd kraken, but for the most part, the level and the rune are yours.

Snake Pit 4

The map will reveal a somewhat differently shaped area which clearly sticks out from the rest of the level. But careful here – some stairs to level 4 may take you right into the vault area. If so, go back up quickly and take a different set of stairs. Stay away from the vault until you have seen and cleared everything else. Once done with that, get a set of stairs behind you and then slowly approach the vault area. There are dozens of nagas and salamanders in there, and you need to avoid facing all of them at once. Lure them away from their friends and finish them off where they die as lone and unsung heroes. All this takes a while, but slowly you should conquer the vault, always taking four steps forward and three steps back. Some vaults feature a large lake of lava, which should give you an advantage, as nothing flies down here. The rune lies around somewhere in the back area of the vault.

Spider's Nest 4

Here again the map will identify a differently shaped area, often circular or elliptical, as the rune vault, and again it is important to clear everything around it first. Inside the vault you will find many spiders, demonic crawlers, emperor scorpions, and, worst of all, ghost moths. If you don’t see invisible, those moths may be a good reason to delay clearing this level for some more time, as you will be almost helpless against them. You already have a rune from Swamp or Shoals, and that is all you need for now to enter the Vaults branch. But if you see invisible, do it now. Whenever a ghost moth shows up, forget everything else and hit it as hard as you can. LRD should work fine, as there should be plenty of walls here. If your MP does get drained, escape up the next stairs to recharge, and try again. Inside the vault you may find the rune in a somewhat hidden corner, plus some potions of ambrosia, some weird stuff which restores your MP and HP really quickly, but at the price of you being confused. That sounds pretty bad, but you may still consider carrying it with you always. In case you are thrown into the Abyss, this stuff may come in handy.

The Vaults

Now that you are done with everything you can find in the Lair (at least for the purposes of this game), and the Dungeon cleared all the way down, you have reached another milestone. You have finished what is called the mid-game, which has become manifest in the fact that you are now carrying two runes of Zot. Your character is pretty well developed by now, so that you can attack the late game branches. Unfortunately, if you look at your late-game spells, they are most likely still very difficult to cast. Don’t even consider casting Shatter or Fire Storm when the failure rate is still above 30%. If it is below 30%, but above 15%, you can consider casting it if no-one is around, just to see how it looks. The trouble with these high-end spells is that they have some terrible miscast effects. Most likely you get damaged in some pretty bad way, but in any case you will collect contamination. The contamination of one miscast is usually not dangerous, but if you have two miscasts in a row, level-9 spells will quickly give you yellow contamination, which means that you are about to catch a very bad malmutation, if you don’t have something to prevent it. If you have it with you, a potion of cancellation will reduce your contamination to harmless levels.

If you have learned a high-end spell, and find yourself in a situation where it would be really good to use it, you can reduce your failure rate in the following ways:

  • A ring of wizardry or the staff of wizardry will significantly reduce your failure rate, possibly to a point where you feel more confident. Unfortunately, these devices don’t stack well, so there is not much point to have two rings, or a staff and a ring.
  • Drinking a potion of brilliance will increase your INT a lot, and that has a very beneficial effect on spell success. It also increases the spell power.
  • A ring of intelligence, depending on its enchantment value, will also increase your success rate. Some enchanted armor may also give you extra intelligence, particularly some head gear.
  • Check if you are wearing heavy armor or a shield without the necessary skills to compensate for spell penalties. Taking off the shield and replacing the armor with something lighter might reduce the failure rate.

Therefore, if your failure rate for a spell is somewhere around 50%, drinking a potion of brilliance and using an item with the wizardry effect will usually get your failure rate far enough down that you can cast that spell at least once or twice before you have to stop because of your contamination.

Your next stop is the entrance to the Vaults. Going down there will show you how one of your runes is put to good use. You’ll find yourself once more in a very different environment. Everything here is very angular, with lots of closed rooms, corridors, mazes and plenty of open space. It may be a bit difficult to find your way in here, as the connections from one part of a level to the other are not always very obvious. No worries, you will find all places by just looking around.

This looking around, however, is made quite dangerous by the monsters you encounter here. Sometimes it is just another band of harmless orcs or ogres (still watch out for these ogre mages, who have not lost any zeal for banishing you to the Abyss). But many of your new opponents are humans with some terrible abilities. Vault guards are just heavily armored grunts, and you can deal with them easily by now. But be careful when you see a vault warden, who may block all doors and staircases in LOS, thereby blocking your escape to safer areas or levels. The probably most dangerous inhabitant is the vault sentinel, easily recognizable by his blue armor. When he sees you, he may attach a mark to you, which means that you will find yourself surrounded by almost every monster on that level, which may easily include a couple of wardens blocking your escape. When that happens, teleport away as soon as possible, and pray that you find an upstairs anywhere nearby. Or this may be the great opportunity for a potion of brilliance and your first attempt at Shatter.

You will also meet more giants, particularly frost giants and fire giants. Try to have some resistance against their element when you approach them. The good old trusty yak now gets upgraded to a yaktaur, a warrior who excels with a crossbow, and never comes alone. Try not to take on a whole pack of them in the open. Lure them around corners and see what LRD can do to unarmored enemies! The Vaults may also be the place where you find your first deep troll earth mages, which hit you hard with LRD and Shatter. Kill them quickly, before they get you. Fire crabs hurl something like a Fire Storm at you, hurting you badly if you have no resistance.

Whenever you enter a new level of the Vaults, you may get an announcement for a timed bazaar. These are safe areas where you can shop in a number of different outlets, and usually find stuff you really want to have, if you have the money. If you don’t have much money, then don’t bother, because racing to the bazaar in a hurry can easily get you killed in the Vaults. But if you have some coin, then read a scroll of magic mapping and see if you can’t make it to the place, possibly by using a different set of stairs. Again, being able to shop somewhere is not worth getting killed for, so be cautious, and take a rest after a fight, even if the entrance to the bazaar is just round the next corner. If you find yourself surrounded in sight of the entrance, use a scroll of blinking – no monsters will follow you inside, and you will come out rested.

Even without finding a bazaar, you should find plenty of good loot in the Vaults. You may have to return to your stash on Lair 2 a couple of times to clear your inventory. The Vaults are also a place where you may find a Wizard Laboratory. If you find one now, you may courageously have a look. You should be powerful enough to survive by now, but be prepared to die anyway – Wizard Labs are full of surprises, and few of them are good for you.

The first two levels of the Vaults are made up of stone walls. The next two levels often have metal or crystal walls, which is just fine with you, as they give you the best material for LRD. On level 2 or 3 you will find the entrance to the Crypt, usually guarded by some undead monsters. You will visit this place later, but for now you just leave it alone. Level 5 is very different, and you must not go down there for now, for whatever reason – not even to take a peek!

The Depths

If you’d thought that the Vaults were bad, now brace yourself for the real thing: your next destination will be the Depths. At first glance they don’t look much different to the dungeon, and for the most part, you won’t find many new monsters down here. But the onslaught you have to face is truly brutal. Every step you move forward you have to fight wave after wave of the toughest opponents you have met so far. The noteworthy new monsters down here are the gold dragon, which has various breath attacks and a very tough skin, the iron dragon, which seems to be almost indestructible, and the tentacled monstrosity, which approaches you swiftly to constrict you. Your earth magic should have little difficulty in bringing these buddies down, but you almost always have to face quite a lot of them! Particularly unpleasant are caustic shrikes, which are fast and very hard to hit. They hurt you with acid while surrounding you, and because many of your earth-shots miss them, you may find yourself out of MP with still a lot of them to fight. In terms of uniques, pay particular attention to Sojobo, who looks like a cute little tengu, but he is merciless with his conjurations, and he comes with a strong gang of dedicated supporters. The same is true for the Enchantress, a very powerful spriggan boss. Once you have killed her, check her armor – the faerie dragon armour is potentially one of the best body armors you can wear as a caster, depending on its rather random enchantment. An armor skill of five or six should be enough to wear it without bad effect on your spellcasting.

The good news about all this stiff opposition is that there is so much experience to be found down here that by the end of the five levels you will have Shatter at a reasonable success rate, and maybe even Fire Storm. Always have an eye on your spell stats and decide when it is a good time for a first blast.

If you have acquired at least two levels of resistance against fire, it may be a good idea to look for all scrolls of immolation that you have ignored so far in the dungeon. For a fire-resistant character they are a very useful weapon in a target-rich environment. They enchant all enemies in LOS so that they explode on being killed, leaving some columns of flame behind for a few turns on all nine squares around them.

From all being said so far, it becomes clear that you need to approach the Depths with extreme caution. Quite often the access stairs are all in the same location, which means that the road to safety may become very long. Don’t use auto-explore, but explore in circles around the stairs, so that you always have a clear path of retreat. Hit-and-run is the way to play this, with a great emphasis on ‘run’.

Quite often you will see huge vault-like structures in the Depths. They are full of loot, but also full of monsters, so you’ll have to be extra careful around them. Make sure that you don’t get surrounded, so it is good to have the area outside these vaults cleared before you start going in.

Other noteworthy places are entrance areas to the Abyss, the Pandemonium, the Vestibule of Hell and one guaranteed entrance to a Ziggurat. All these entrances you should better leave untouched. Pandemonium and Abyss don’t have any exit back to safety for some time to come, and there is a high likelihood of getting yourself killed. From the Ziggurat you can only return after fighting through a whole level, and you won’t survive the first few. You don’t want to have this happen so close to your first victory! The Vestibule of Hell, however, has a staircase that you can take back to safety right away. If you dare to go down, you will first see a friendly looking gentleman called Geryon, who has been appointed to be the warden for this place. In spite of his appearance, he is mean and very tough, and calls on countless demons and undead to protect him. If you actually manage to bring him down, and all the other opposition in this place, you have conquered yourself another safe area for your stash, and you can bring all your valuables from the Lair down to this place, which is a lot closer to the end-game action. But really, there is absolutely no need to even look into this place for your first victory, and having to do a trip up to Lair 2 once in a while won’t kill you. The folks in the Vestibule easily can, particularly if you have to face Murray, an infamous bone-headed unique you may encounter in the Vestibule, and only there. Inside the Vestibule, you’ll find entry-portals to the four different hells, Tartarus, Gehenna, Dis and Cocytus. You really don’t want to see these places right now, and you don’t need to for this game.

Finally, on the lowest level of the Depths, you’ll find the entrance area to the Realm of Zot, well defended by a number of draconians, which will be your main opponents once you get down there. Right now you can’t, as you need three Runes of Zot to access the Realm, and you only have two yet. The third rune you need is in Vaults 5. But before you go there, it is now time to deal with some unfinished business.

Finishing off the Elves

That’s right, there is still a level left over from the Elven Halls that you have not cleared out yet. You didn’t because it is a lot more dangerous than the other two levels. But now you have the necessary fire-power to get the job done. Go to your stash to empty your inventory as far as possible, because you’ll want some slots for the amazing loot you hope to find there. Artifact rings and amulets, new spell-books, nicely enchanted armor, magical staffs – there is nothing that these thieving elves have not accumulated over the millennia in their secret treasuries. All this will be yours, soon.

When you enter the level, first read another scroll of magic mapping, and once more the treasure vault area should stick out from the rest you can see on the map. As usual, that’s where you are going to find the most dangerous opposition, and therefore you first need to clear everything else, which is not more difficult than the previous levels of the Halls.

Approach the narrow entrance corridor to the vault with caution – on the other side you will have an incredible concentration of high-end elves all taking pot shots at you as soon as they can see you. Remember that some of them have damnation and know how to use it! So stick to your trusted hit-and-run routine. If you already have good access to Fire Storm (let’s say with less than 15% failure rate), this is a great place to use it. Just place it at the other end of the corridor, and you will be sure to roast countless elves that you have not even seen yet. Shatter also works very nicely with elves, who usually don’t fly, but it will attract every single one of them to home in on you, and it may open up new paths and new lines of sight for them to hit you. Always know the way back to the next stairs, and start going there as soon as you see your HP going down. It may go down much further before you reach there.

The big vault usually has several side vaults and various structures blocking your sight. Always assume that there are more elves in areas that you can’t see yet, and that they are ready to pounce on you from several directions once you show your nose. But after you’ve dealt with the last of them, enjoy rummaging through all these heaps of treasure!

Now, look at yourself – you are probably now at XL 25 or 26, almost done with your growing! You have pretty high skills in your spell-casting schools, and can now cast the most difficult spells the game has on offer, allowing you to kill a great number of enemies at just one toss of the dice. Shatter should be well below 10% failure rate now, even without using a source of wizardry, and you may also have reliable access to Lehudib's Crystal Spear and even Fire Storm. Hopefully by now you have found some items that help you to get your INT above 30. Whatever armor you wear, your AC is not likely to be below 30, which is an excellent value even for some melee fighters. Enchanted and artifact armor, and hopefully some artifact jewelry will have rounded out your set of resistances, so that you won’t have to fear anything hitting you while you are unprepared. Let’s face it, you have become a reasonably powerful guy!

There are still some growth-areas, though. Your fighting skill is probably somewhat trailing behind, as you don’t have much of an aptitude for it. This means that your max HP is still far away from 200 (and you won’t ever make it beyond during this game). If it were not for your AC and many resistances, you would be quite frail. Probably some recent exposure to earth magic or damnation will have driven that point home to you. When you focused your skill training on your magical skills, that probably left some important skills rather underdeveloped. Now that you can cast those level-9 spells, it is a good time to start retraining those skills:

  • Your weapon skill needs to come up to the point that you have minimum delay for your favorite weapon. If this is a demon whip, then a maces & flails skill of 12 is all you need. Train the skill that high, and then switch it off. If you are using an eveningstar instead, you’ll need to go up to 16, which takes much longer. You may have decided to make the staff of earth that you are carrying anyway your standard melee weapon, which is a pretty good idea. Your staves skill will then have to reach level 12, but the maces & flails that you have trained earlier will have given you a good head-start on that. Since you are also good at fire magic, a staff of fire will be just as effective against at least some enemies.
  • From now on continue training evocations, and don’t ever switch it off. If you are using a staff as melee weapon, the evocations skill will have a direct impact on your damage output. But even if you are not using a staff, a high evocations skill makes using wands and other evocables a worthwhile option, even against late game monsters. But most importantly, this skill will help you with using the staff of energy, that you have hopefully found by now, for recharging your MP. If your skill is above 20, recharging even in the middle of a fight becomes an option, so that you have enough to unleash another Shatter or Fire Storm. It is better for you to not rely on the crystal ball of energy. Even with an evocations skill of 27 the risk is still too high that you find yourself without any MP when you need it most.
  • By now you will hopefully have found some enchanted bucklers. Forget about large shields for this game, but there may be that amazing artifact shield in your stash that you’d really like to wear. If so, you need a shields skill of 15, so that it won’t impact your casting. That is probably still a long way to go for you at this stage. If you want to just stick to your buckler, a skill of 4 is all you need.
  • Dodging is still a useful skill to have, even if you are very bad at it. Higher dodging gives you a better EV value, which stands for your ability to avoid hits, both melee and ranged. Even some spells can be avoided that way. Switch it on again for the rest of the game.
  • There may be some spells that right now don’t work very well for you because you have not trained a spell school needed for it. For example, if you have learned Ring of Flames, it will still have a high failure rate, as you have not trained any charms skill yet. Just learning a few levels of the missing skill will have a great effect on that. Don’t forget to switch it off as soon as you are happy with the failure rate.

Your Final Rune

You’ve almost made it to the Realm of Zot, but first you need to retrieve the third Rune of Zot, which is hidden somewhere on the fifth and final level of the Vaults. This is a very tricky place, with always the same basic layout. When you descend any of the three stairs (don’t do it now, you need to prepare yourself for that!), you will find yourself in the middle of a crossroads of two broad corridors, surrounded by a reception committee of 20 vault guards. But as soon as you start fighting these, the adjoining vaults will disgorge wave after wave of the worst monsters you have seen so far. You will be overwhelmed in no time at all if you don’t start it off right. Teleporting would almost certainly get you into areas that are just as bad.

So, to give it a good start, you should proceed to one of the downstairs on Vaults 4 and do the following:

  • Make sure that you are engorged, by eating as much as you can. In a minute you will fire off a volley of high-end spells, which probably still have a significant hunger cost for you. It won’t do if you have to have a snack in the middle of the action. If you have an amulet of the gourmand, that should not be a problem, but even then you may have to top it off with some from your permanent food stores.
  • It is better that you don’t fly for this. It does not give you any advantage down there, and some monsters like to cast airstrike against you.
  • Hasten yourself by drinking a potion of haste. You need to act quickly down there.
  • Since haste gives you some contamination, you can’t afford any miscasts. This is best prevented by quaffing a potion of brilliance. Your spells should now all have a significantly lower failure rate (and they will be more powerful).
  • Get your resistances up as high as possible, particularly against negative energy and fire. If you can, cast Ring of Flames. If you have at least two levels of fire resistance now, you should take a few scrolls of immolation down there. They will be used with the greatest effect.
  • Depending on how your resistances look now, take a sip from a potion of resistance. Every bit helps.

Now, descend. The reception committee may look somewhat surprised to see you. They should all stand at least two tiles away from you, and since you are hasted, reading a scroll of immolation won’t change that. Now all these guys are quite on fire, and it is your intention to get them started – by casting Shatter on them. Do it, and see what happens. You will spend quite a lot of time just reading through the messages of vault guards popping apart. Enjoy the fireworks!

If you could play that immolation trick, then all the vault guards will be gone before you can do anything else. Your MP should now be at max, thanks to Vehumet, and hopefully you have not taken much damage yet. If you look around, you’ll see some walls, made either of metal or of crystal. Metal walls will still be mostly standing, but your Shatter will have decimated crystal walls considerably. And you will already see some of the other monsters who have been attracted by the noise. This is just the beginning, and this onslaught will go on for quite a while.

Still, take your time to read a scroll of magic mapping. Now you can see the basic outline of Vaults 5. You see that you are very much in the center of the map, between the four vaults that make up this level. The only thing that ever varies here are the walls inside those vaults. They are currently bristling with numerous enemies, guarding enormous treasures. Well, you have just announced your presence, and they will all do their best to remove the clear and present danger that you represent to them and their cause.

You need to play this very wisely now. Don’t waste a level-9 spell on just one or two enemies. Wait until enough are in range for your next shot, and hopefully Vehumet will keep your MP at high levels. But your HP will go down steadily, and you must not let it go down too far before retreating upstairs again. The trouble is that somewhere in these vaults there are some vault wardens, and they tend to block the stairs just in the very moment you need to use them. So, if you see one, hit him as hard as possible, so that you always have a clear retreat. And retreat before it is too late.

Back to Vaults 4, restore your MP and HP as fast as possible, so that you return while the baddies are still licking their wounds. Again, buff yourself up (but be mindful of contamination), and go down to kill more enemies. Go up and down as often as it takes to see the onslaught diminish. You are piling up incredible amounts of experience doing this, so that each time you go down your failure rates should be visibly reduced. Usually, during this fight, you will also reach the final XL of 27. You are now a fully grown gargoyle. That does not mean that your skill experience cannot increase – there is still a lot of room for improvement here, but you won’t have any more increases to your INT from now on, which is quite a pity, because you could certainly use some more.

After a while you will survey the killing ground around you and find that the onslaught has stopped. If the walls were made of crystal, you probably won’t see a single wall standing in your LOS, and all around you lies the debris of the battle. You have won, but you still need to be very careful, as some monsters have refused to be drawn out by the racket you have created. Start exploring carefully. For now, don’t enter any of the vaults, but begin with the corridors – take one to the edge of the level, and explore around the four vaults, always returning back to the center when you reach a new corridor leading to the crossroads. On your way you will meet groups of stragglers, and some of them will be quite dangerous.

Done with the corridors you will then approach the first vault, ideally from one of the entrances at the corners of the level, so that you won’t be surrounded by enemies coming from a neighboring vault. Explore carefully towards the crossroads. In hidden corners and behind walls you still need to expect some powerful enemies. But you also have to sift through this incredible loot. Most likely, after two or three vaults your inventory will be full, and you need to go to your stash to offload some of all these goodies. One piece of treasure is the Silver Rune of Zot, of course, and that was your main reason for coming here. Now you are entitled to enter the Realm of Zot.

The Crypt

But it may still be wise to delay that visit just a little bit longer. In the Vault we have so far ignored the entrance to the Crypt, a place full of undead enemies. It is not really necessary to go there for winning this game, but as a gargoyle, there is not much down there that you need to fear, and it is a good idea to accumulate a little bit more experience before braving Zot.

In terms of preparation you want to trade fire resistance for negative energy resistance, as some enemies may try to drain you. Good that you already have one level as a gargoyle! Otherwise, bring a good melee weapon, because the silent specter may prevent you from spell-casting until you bring it down with brute force.

Now, explore the three levels carefully. As usual, the final level is significantly more difficult than the two upper floors, and you need to make sure that you don’t take on too many bad guys at once. Hit-and-run is once more your tactics.

In terms of new dangerous enemies, you may have encountered most of them by now. Liches and ancient liches are powerful casters, and need to be destroyed fast. Curse skulls are theoretically quite threatening, but with LRD you have just what it takes to bring them down. At least at one point you will encounter some new types of mummy, and these are very dangerous. A greater mummy can definitely ruin your day if encountered at the wrong moment. Khufu is a greater mummy unique which likes to haunt you in the Crypt. In any case, just a few generous applications of earth magic will help you a lot.

The Crypt is a good place for changing your diet. Up to this point, hopefully with the help of the amulet of the gourmand, you will not have had much use for bread or meat rations, or other permanent food found lying around somewhere. Now, the Crypt does not have many corpses for you to butcher, and it may be time to leave your amulet of the gourmand behind for other, more useful amulets, like maybe for now an amulet of regeneration. You should have plenty of permafood now, and for the rest of this game this will easily keep you satiated, as the hunger costs of your high-level spells should be going down.

On the bottom level you will find the entrance to the Tomb. Don’t. Go. In. There. The Tomb is one of the most challenging places in the game, which rewards you with rich treasures and another Rune of Zot, if you survive it, but let’s be frank about it, you won’t. Go win this game without it! In terms of treasures, the last level of the Crypt should be enough for you in this regard. And the three runes that you have already are all you need to break into Zot right now.

Braving Zot

Before going into the Realm of Zot, make sure that you have all you need there. It would be good to have a source of resist corrosion at hand, as many draconians in Zot are in the habit of spitting acid at you. Otherwise, have your fire resistance as high as you can get it, and ideally also at least one level of cold resistance. You will take lots of elemental abuse. Take all kinds of potions that buff you up, and your hopefully big stash of potions of mutation. Enchant all your equipment as high up as possible. Learn the spells you always wanted to learn. And have a source of see invisible, or things will become very difficult for you.

Now, proceed to the entrance of Zot and move down. Apart from the colors (each level has a different color set) the first four levels look very much like regular dungeon levels, maybe a bit more elaborate. If you still have a good stack of maps of magic mapping, use one on each level, but make sure that you still have one left for level 5. On the first four levels you will also manage without maps.

Your main opposition down here will be dragons and draconians. Of the dragons you have already seen a lot, but the draconians need a bit of introduction. They come in various colors, and each different color means that they are resistant to a different element, and at the same time they may hit you with this particular element. Well, you respond with earth magic, and no-one in the game is particularly resistant against that. Some of the draconians can fly and are therefore less vulnerable against Shatter. Apart from their colors, they also come with different specialties, and some of them will pester you with damnation. Kill those first. Draconians always come in fairly big groups, which makes them very dangerous. Don’t feel ashamed to run for your life when in a given moment you don’t feel like fighting. And you don’t have to risk your life to butcher up a draconian – you have changed your diet to permafood, remember? Hit and run!

But there are others, and they can make your life miserable, too. An orb of fire is very bad news, but mercifully they show up alone, at least usually. You will have to kill a few of them before you reach the Orb of Zot, so when you see one, remember all this: bring up your fire resistance as high as possible, or the orb will scorch you. Lure the orb inside the range of your Iron Shot or LCS, without exposing yourself to it while it approaches you – hide behind a corner! LCS is better, obviously, if you have it. A few shots should bring it down. Don’t try to use anything but earth magic, or, if you have, a wand of iceblast in an emergency. The orb is almost completely resistant to anything else. It flies, so Shatter is also not terribly useful. If you happen to be low on MP or HP when you see an orb, try to escape to the next stairs to rest up, if necessary wasting a scroll of blinking or two. You need to be in your best shape to take on an orb. The curse toe looks somewhat droll, but is quite dangerous with its ability of tormenting you. You are somewhat resistant, but don’t take this floating body part lightly. It responds well to Fire Storm, if you have it. You can also lure it around a corner to have it within range of Iron Shot or LCS.

If you have fought through the Spider's Nest, you will already know ghost moths. They are invisible, and could appear at any moment to reduce your MP to zilch. They should be on the very top of your priority list. They may also reduce your stats. The moth of wrath you have also encountered before, but here it could make a whole bunch of draconians go berserk on you, and that can be quite dangerous.

You have already learned to deal with a tentacled monstrosity. There are lots of them in Zot. Death cobs are just there to drain your speed, but Killer Klowns are very hard to kill, because they jump around and somehow always heal up in the process.

In summary, take it easy, go slow, always have a set of up-stairs behind you, and methodically work yourself through the first four levels. Then return to your stash for the final preparation for your last push.

The Final

So this is it – one more level, and you will have accomplished the objective of the game: grabbing the legendary Orb of Zot. But, truth be told, many players have made it as far as you now to still die an even more infuriating death this close to the end. Don’t let that happen to you, and preparation is a good part of what it takes!

  • Engorge yourself and grab a whole stack of bread rations or meat rations, even both. You won’t find much treasure in Orb 5, so filling up a few extra inventory slots won’t matter.
  • If you have any debilitating mutations, now would be a good time to quaff a potion of mutation or two, to bring you back into an acceptable genetic state. Take the rest of these potions with you. If you only have one left, and you think you can live with your current mutations for now, it is better to keep it in case an orb of fire adds something really bad to you. You definitely should not enter Zot 5 with teleportitis, as it would certainly get you into a place where you get killed within seconds. Also you should not have deductions to your INT, if possible, and not to your MP or HP. You’ll need all you can get in these areas.
  • Again, make sure that your equipment is maximally enchanted. Take your best melee-weapon with you.
  • Take all potions of heal wounds, curing, magic, brilliance, haste, and cancellation with you.
  • Take all scrolls of blinking, teleportation, and recharging with you. And at least one scroll of magic mapping. If you have, a scroll of holy word may also come in handy.
  • Bring along your staff of earth or fire, to boost your spells, and also as melee weapons. Bring along a staff of energy, for rapid recharging.
  • Take a well-charged wand of digging. This is not for the fight in Zot 5, but for the ascension with the Orb.
  • For the same reason, learn Passwall, which may now become a very useful spell on your way up. If necessary, forget Stone Arrow to get the spell levels. You won’t need that spell anymore.

Prepared? If you have all your best equipment, and all you need for the ascension, then proceed to Zot 5. First read your map. You should find yourself in a roughly rectangular area with lots of rooms and connecting corridors, made of rock walls. Somewhere to the North or South there should be a long firewall made of stone (on some stretches it is an unnaturally hard wall), going in an east-west direction. Only a little hole in that wall should lead you into an area made up of mostly elliptical rooms, arranged symmetrically. For now, don’t go through that hole in the wall, but explore everything on your side of that wall – this is the safe area on this level.

Don’t ever teleport on this level, as this may get you into the unsafe area with the elliptical rooms. You would not survive.

Exploration of the safe part should get you into contact with draconians and the other regular inhabitants of Zot. But sometimes inhabitants of the unsafe area may trigger a teleportation trap, and then find you when you don’t quite expect them. Also, when you make too much noise they will venture out to see what is going on. If you see an ancient lich or an orb of fire – these would definitely come from the other side of the wall, and require urgent attention. A creature only found on this level is the orb guardian, which is fast and hard-hitting, but restricted to melee. If you keep them at bay, you should be able to handle them.

Again, first deal with the folks in the safe area on your side of the stone wall. That can take quite a while. Don’t use Shatter near the stone wall, as it will not only attract opposition from the other side, but it would also create gaps for monsters to come at you from two sides. Generally, it is best to use your level-9 spells only when you face large concentrations of enemies here. Iron Shot or LCS should be your preferred options as long as you are close to stairs.

Now, all sets of upstairs are on the safe side of the wall, but eventually you will have to venture away from them to approach the hole in the wall. Behind it you find the chambers of the Orb. The first chamber is not elliptical, but looks more like a misshapen hourglass. In here you will mostly find orb guardians. Lure them out through the hole and eliminate them on the safe side, one by one. Whatever you do, you will make enough noise eventually to attract more monsters into that hourglass chamber, which is a good thing. It allows you to fight more of them closer to the stairs to safety. In doubt, retreat upstairs, to heal and recharge.

When the hourglass chamber is finally empty, walk in and shout a bit (type t twice). That should attract more enemies from the chambers to the east and west. When shouting does not work anymore, it is time to cast Shatter. That should create another manageable rush of the opposition towards you. Again, your goal is to lure out as many monsters as possible from the side chambers before you dare to show your fragile water-spout nose in there.

Once nothing comes out, pick one of the side-chambers and walk so far that you can cast a fire storm into the chamber (if available). That may fry some unseen opposition, and again attract more individual monsters for you to fight. After each fight, retreat a bit to heal and recharge. You’ll want to be at your very best for each individual skirmish. Clear this chamber methodically and then return to the hourglass chamber. From there repeat the operation with the side-chamber on the other side. Having cleared that, again just make some noise near the entrance to the next, an inner chamber, to lure out what is skulking there. Once you go in there, explore step for step. This chamber is much bigger than the previous chamber, and you need to make sure that you check all the corners before proceeding inwards. After a while you will be able to see the small opening to the innermost Chamber of the Orb. The Orb rests in there, but you may still want to play it safe and return through the outer chamber and the hourglass chamber to the other side, to clear that inner chamber first.

The innermost chamber is mostly defended by orb guardians. Now you know how to deal with them – let them come to you and then shoot them with Iron Shot or LCS. Eventually you will find that you are all alone, and you can walk into the chamber to admire the Orb. Don’t just snatch it up, but take a minute to consider your accomplishment! By no means are you forced to take the Orb right now – you could decide to go on and win this game with a few more runes, even all 15. By now you have seen and liberated 45 game levels, give or take one or two. But just to get the other 12 runes would send you through at least 41 more levels, and it would probably be a few more. Defeating a Ziggurat would add another 27 small levels to that list. You are by no means done with this game. If you really want to see more, please refer to this extended game walk-through, which is based on the same character. But you want your first victory, and here is your chance at it. If you really wanted to move on, you’d have probably done a few things differently by now. In any case, this walk-through is almost at its end. Grab the Orb!

Now a number of things are happening simultaneously: You are surrounded by a strong aura which reduces your stealth (whatever little you have of it) to almost nothing. And you are informed that you have just made new enemies – the mighty Lords of Pandemonium are now after you!

But you won’t let them get you! Lumbered with your new toy, you will now proceed on the fastest way possible to level 1 of the dungeon and the exit. For now, just teleport away from where you are – any place on this level is closer to the stairs! From where you end up, proceed to the stairs. You will see quickly that you are not alone. A number of various demons are now in hot pursuit. Most of them are harmless, and just running away will do the trick. But there are a few that you need to deal with, and fast:

  • The balrug is as bad as its namesake from Tolkien: it will throw lots of painful fire magic at you if you don’t stop it first.
  • A hellion deals damnation against you.
  • A cacodemon and also a neqoxec will malmutate you. Catching teleportitis now would not be a good thing.
  • The hell sentinel also likes to throw damnation, and he can torment you.
  • A Pandemonium lord is a fearsome creature with varying characteristics. They are all named, like uniques. Some of them are very fast, so you may not escape easily. Fight them. Others you might just run away from.

Hopefully you can shake most demons once you reach the stairs. But you never need to wait long to be pursued by a new bunch. First thing on each level is to establish the shortest route to the next set of upstairs. If you are surrounded, teleport away. Just know that it takes much longer, since you are now carrying the Orb. It is a good thing that you have wands of digging and that you have learned Passwall. Both will help you to create shortcuts and to shake pursuers. If you have, use sources of regeneration to get your HP up while you are on your way.

On some levels you may reach the next set of stairs without getting molested. Before going upstairs then, use these few valuable turns you get to heal up and recharge. When the first demon shows up, just tip your hat and move on.

When you have made it out of Zot and the Depths, things should become a little bit easier. Most of the time, there should be a set of upstairs not too far away, and the walls are better suited for Passwall or digging. Remember that undead monsters can’t follow you upstairs, even if they are hot on your heels! In this situation, running is most of the time much better than fighting.

While rushing through, remember that these have been places that you have been struggling in with great difficulty on your way down. You would have thought that getting up would be easier, and it is, as long you don’t have to dodge those high-level demons.

Reaching the Exit, just use it like an upstairs. Congratulations on your first victory!