Rune of Zot

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A talisman which allows entry into Zot's domain.

Runes of Zot are required to enter the Realm of Zot, which contains the Orb of Zot, the goal of your quest, housed in a vault on its fifth level. They are thus necessary to win the game. Unlocking the portals to the Realm requires three runes, but advanced players may choose to collect more to earn a higher final score. In any given game, there will be a total of 15 possible runes to obtain. Runes do not occupy inventory slots, are weightless, and cannot be dropped. You can see what runes you have by typing } or by checking the % screen (your Player Character resistances).

Rune locations

Runes can be found on the bottom floors of several dungeon branches.

  • The Lair has no rune itself, but in any game, it has two of the following four branches (it always has the Slime Pits for a third):
    • Decaying rune.png The Swamp:5 contains the decaying rune of Zot.
    • Barnacled rune.png The Shoals:5 contains the barnacled rune of Zot. Will not occur in the same game as The Swamp.
    • Serpentine rune.png The Snake Pit:5 contains the serpentine rune of Zot.
    • Gossamer rune.png The Spider's Nest:5 contains the gossamer rune of Zot. Will not occur in the same game as The Snake Pit.
  • Slimy rune.png The Slime Pits:6 contains the slimy rune of Zot.
  • Silver rune.png The Vaults:8 contains the silver rune of Zot.
  • The Crypt has no rune itself, but contains a branch to The Tomb.
    • Gold rune.png The Tomb:3 contains the golden rune of Zot.

You will also come across special runes in the following bonus levels.

  • Abyssal rune.png The Abyss contains the abyssal rune of Zot. This rune has a very low chance of being generated, increasing with time you spend wandering around in the Abyss - but if you happen to be a follower of Lugonu, this rate is greatly accelerated. If you see the rune but cannot get it, e.g. if the Abyss shifts before you can reach it, do not despair: the game will keep generating abyssal runes until you pick one up.
  • Pandemonium contains five runes.
    • The four unique Pandemonium lords each guard a unique rune that is generated once. Leaving the level without the rune means it is lost forever:
    • The fifth is the demonic rune of Zot. This may be found either guarded by random Pandemonium lords, or found in any of several vaults ('hellion island', 'smiting', and 'eyes of draining' vaults guaranteed; others have 1/9 chance). Like the abyssal rune, it will be regenerated until picked up.
Demonic rune 1.png Demonic rune 2.png Demonic rune 3.png
Demonic rune 4.png Demonic rune 5.png Demonic rune 6.png

Strategy and Difficulty

All runes are not equal in difficulty of obtaining them. Below they are in rough order of difficulty, with some basic strategy notes. See the articles on the specific branches for more details. Depending on your character build, some of the branches may be different in difficulty from what is given here.


These are the runes which are most commonly used for three or four rune ascensions. None is particularly hard to get, although they may require some basic preparation.

  • Serpentine (Snake Pit): Less straightforward since the introduction of constriction, and poison resistance is a necessity. Still, among the easier branches. Make sure you can take a beating or have the ability to avoid melee combat.
  • Decaying (Swamp): Swamp can be annoying, and be prepared to deal with a ton of hydras and swamp drakes, but the branch is generally pretty tame.
  • Barnacled (Shoals): This area is easier if you have good EV or Repel/Deflect Missiles. Invisibility is very useful here.
  • Abyssal (Abyss): Mostly just tedious, since it requires wandering for several thousand turns. Have enough food, and be prepared to avoid the occasional lich or draconian if you can't take them.
  • Silver (Vault): The hardest of the basic runes, since Vault:8 is filled with stone giants, shadow dragons, and other nasties. Be very careful not to face too many monsters at once.


For those looking to expand beyond a basic ascension, these are the runes to start with. They all require some type of special resistance: if you don't have it, you will likely die.

  • Slimy (Slime Pits): Resist corrosion and mutation resistance are absolutely necessary, and be prepared to switch between them if you don't have a cloak of preservation. Be very careful with the royal jelly: stair dance it or take it in the corridors. And bring a wand of digging if you don't have the spell. Make sure you can kill things very quickly or take a fair bit of damage, as everything down here hits very hard in melee.
  • Pandemonium: Be prepared for a journey: like the Abyss, the only way out is via a rare return portal. Stairways just conduct you to another of Pan's infinite levels. You will need some protection from torment. rN+++ or Kiku protection is generally enough. You need mutation resistance: the place is littered with neqoxecs and cacodemons. In fact, you may want to bring a potion of cure mutation as well if you have conservation, just in case you get hit with something nasty. Keep in mind that when you reach a level with a Pan lord and his rune, you're only going to get one chance at acquiring this rune: leaving the level means that rune never generates again (unless it was the demonic rune). The unique Pan lords each need a different set of resistances to get their rune:
    • Dark: Gloorx Vloq is the most difficult Pan lord, owing to his speed and spell set. rN+++ is vital, as is some form of Haste. Unlike the rest of Pan, you also need poison resistance, since otherwise his Poison Arrows will be very painful. Allies, if you can get them, are helpful in ensuring that all of his many attacks and spells aren't directed against you.
    • Glowing: Mutation resistance is even more vital here. Try to lure the neqoxecs around corners, so they don't get tons of free shots at you with Polymorph Other. Mnoleg himself isn't that difficult, although be prepared to abjure if he starts summoning giant eyeballs. And try to take him in a corridor, so you won't get mobbed by the large abominations and tentacled monstrosities he summons.
    • Fiery: As the name suggests, you really need fire resistance here. rF++ is a bare minimum, and rF+++ is really what you need, since Cerebov's sword hits you for one less level of fire resistance than you have. Cerebov has a lot of hit points, so be prepared to teleport away and reengage him several times: he won't have fully healed before you do. Abjuration is quite helpful since he enjoys summoning greater demons on you. Cerebov has poor evasion, so spells such as Lehudib's Crystal Spear can be useful against him. Chain Lightning is also very effective.
    • Magical: Have at least two levels of cold resistance and some source of electricity resistance. Lom Lobon is fairly weak if you can engage him in melee, although his blinking can make that somewhat difficult. Have high magic resistance so that the wizards around his tower don't banish you.
    • Demonic: Three specific vaults always have this rune. The hellion island vault requires the use of ranged attacks: 10+ hellions all dropping 3d15 hellfire bursts on you up to twice a turn is a quick death. The smiting vault is generally doable: Shatter or teleport control can greatly assist in getting past it, but even without them sufficient speed will generally let you survive. The eyes vault is not difficult, but requires a wand of digging or disintegration to get the rune at all. As for random vaults which might contain the rune, they vary hugely in difficulty. Be prepared to run away.
  • Golden (Tomb): Like the Hells and Pan, you will have to endure a fair amount of torment. Unlike the Hells and Pan, you will also endure mummy death curses. This includes stat drain, rotting, pain, slowing, and even more torment. Kikubaaqudgha provides a good protection against it. Necromutation protects you from the worst of the curses as well as torment, and nothing in Tomb has Dispel Undead. Zin can protect you from the rotting effects and stat drain, but The Shining One is more useful here: You can always do a quick conversion to Elyvilon, and use purification to cure all the rotting. See the Tomb article for more specific strategies, but know that it is very difficult to simply force your way through Tomb. You need something to deal with its nasty effects or you will die.


These runes are the riskiest to get, or require some very specific character builds. Only go for them if you know what you're doing.

  • Hell: This area is one of the hardest in the game. It is filled with fiends, both found naturally and summoned by the Hell forces. Zin gives a piety-dependent chance of blocking Hell effects: at full piety it is complete, making the area a lot easier. Others have to be prepared for a fiend and a hellion to appear next to them at any moment, making regeneration and some means of torment protection absolutely vital. As with Pan, specific strategies and resistances are needed for each rune:
    • Iron (Dis): Dis is often perceived as the "easiest" Hell, but this is not entirely true. It requires no specific resistances but a little of everything. Or sometimes a lot of everything, as the last level contains both Brimstone fiends and Ice fiends. Dispater himself is no pushover, casting powerful earth spells and bringing lots of greater demons to the party. Have Abjuration ready.
    • Icy (Cocytus): Have rC+++ for Cocytus. This place is filled with Ice fiends, who have, in addition torment and Bolt of Cold, a horribly damaging cold-branded melee attack. Be aware that even with conservation, this place will trash your potions, since one of its specific Hell effects is to drop freezing clouds right on top of you. Antaeus himself hits like a truck but luckily doesn't summon any friends. Unluckily he tends to be escorted by four Ice fiends. Separate them first.
    • Obsidian (Gehenna): While Cocytus will trash your potions, Gehenna will trash your scrolls. Have rF+++, but be aware that this doesn't help against the numerous Brimstone fiends and hellions who will gladly spam hellfire at you until you die. Make sure to kill them quickly. Asmodeus himself is not horribly difficult, but be aware that he is surrounded by a ring of flames and loves summoning fiends and Balrugs.
    • Bone (Tartarus): If you're not undead, Tartarus can be easier than the other branches. This occurs because rN+++ completely protects you against the draining attacks so frequent there. Be aware that Ereshkigal is a little meaner than she looks: she may be somewhat low on HP, but she is fast, has absurdly high evasion, and can torment and summon greater demons to torment. If you are undead, be very, very careful. Shadow fiends can make short work of you with Dispel Undead.


Formerly, there were many, indistinguishable demonic runes of Pandemonium, which could be collected ad infinitum (the record was 250-odd). In version 0.9, the demonic rune is treated like the abyssal rune: once you've picked one up, no more demonic runes will be generated.

Before 0.9, runes were carried in main inventory, which led to silliness like piling extras on D:1 before going for the Orb, or characters locking themselves out of Zot by forgetting their runes.