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Version 0.21: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

Skills represent your character's effectiveness in offensive, defensive, and magical disciplines. Starting skill levels depend on character species and background. As characters earn experience, XP is spread across different skills according to the distribution specified on the Skill Screen (m), multiplied by species' aptitudes. Skill levels are capped at 27.

Skill management is central to strategic play. Allocating your XP to align with your aptitudes, available equipment, and playstyle will make or break your character.

Every species (excepting Gnoll) is rated from -5 to +5 in each skill, with higher scores yielding faster skill progress. Training skills with poor aptitudes is possible, but will be notably slower and may leave characters underprepared for later content.

Skill Types

Skills can be divided into three categories:



  • Armour: Improves the AC bonus armour gives (more effective with heavier armour). Reduces the impact of armour EV and spell success penalties.
  • Dodging: Improves EV. More effective with lighter armour and higher dexterity.
  • Shields: Improves the SH bonus shields gives you. Reduces and eliminates the impact of shield EV and spell success penalties.
  • Stealth: Reduces the likelihood of unaware monsters detecting you. Increases the chance of out of sight monsters losing track of you.


The highest of your Spellcasting, Invocations and Evocations skills will determine your MP bonus. For this purpose each level of Spellcasting skill counts as two.

The Skill Screen

Pressing m will bring up the Skill Screen, allowing you to select which skills you'd like to train and how you'd like the game to invest your XP. It also shows your character's current skill levels and aptitude for each skill, complete with adjustments made for cross-training and opposed magic schools. You can switch between displaying only those skills you can train/have trained and all skills with the * button.

You can select which skills to train by either clicking on its name in the list or pressing the key associated to it. Any skill that you haven't selected will have its name displayed in dark gray, and it will not improve. You can also choose to focus certain skills, causing them to gain twice the amount of experience they'd normally receive. Focused skill names are displayed in white, and their tiles icon will display with a blue glow.

The skill screen also allows you to choose whether to divide your XP in auto or manual mode by pressing the / key. Auto mode adjusts the XP division so that skills you use more will receive the greatest share of new XP, while those you rarely use receive less. In manual mode, each active skill receives a perfectly equal share of gained XP, while focused skills receive double that. Most veteran players advise always using manual mode, as it is far easier to control where your XP goes using it. Furthermore, you can ensure your XP is split between fewer skills, which is generally good strategy.

You can set skill targets by pressing = in the skill menu, then the letter of the skill you want to set a target for, then entering the value to set a target at. Once that skill reaches the skill target, it will automatically turn off. This can also be done for weapons' min-delay and shields skill-to-remove-penalty by entering the item description and pressing s. Skill targets let you much more easily control exactly how many points you want in a particular skill, and stop you from forgetting to turn off skills. Additionally, should all of your skill targets be reached and you're no longer training anything, you are prompted to turn on a skill.

Pressing ! will switch between 3 views: training, where you can see how much of your experience is going towards each skill; cost, which compares the experience requirement of raising that skill by 1 level with a level 0 skill at 0 aptitude; and targets, which shows your current skill targets.

Skill Requirements

In any case, you'll notice that you do not have access to all skills from the very beginning of the game. This is because many skills require associated equipment to become available:

  • You must have an appropriate weapon in order to train its weapon skill.
  • You must be carrying a shield to train Shields.
  • You must have a spell of a particular school memorized to train that school's skill.
  • You must worship a god who grants invocable powers to train Invocations.
  • You must be carrying an evocable item or have abilities provided by Nemelex to train Evocations.

Additionally carrying a manual will always allow training the associated skill. Skill points gained from drinking a potion of experience are not subject to these restrictions.

Removing these items, forgetting these spells, or abandoning these gods will cause you to no longer be able to train their skills, but you will not lose the progress you've made thus far.

Experience Required

The chart below shows how many total skill points must be allocated to a skill for it to reach each skill level:

Level Total skill points Level Total skill points Level Total skill points
1 50 10 2,800 19 12,300
2 150 11 3,450 20 13,950
3 300 12 4,200 21 15,750
4 500 13 5,050 22 17,700
5 750 14 6,000 23 19,800
6 1,050 15 7,050 24 22,050
7 1,400 16 8,200 25 24,450
8 1,800 17 9,450 26 27,000
9 2,250 18 10,800 27 29,750

These amounts are then adjusted based on your character's aptitudes. An aptitude of n means you'll need 2^(-n/4) times as much XP to advance as a character with an aptitude of zero for that skill would.

Aptitude +5 +4 +3 +2 +1 +0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5
XP Multiplier 2.38 2.0 1.68 1.41 1.19 1.0 0.84 0.71 0.59 0.5 0.42


  • 0.21 - Added skill targets.
  • 0.18 - Added the ability to see the relative cost of training different skills.
  • 0.15 - Removed aptitude penalty for training opposed magic schools. Changed cross-training to give a direct bonus to cross-trained skills, rather than decreasing the XP cost of learning them.
  • 0.13 - Removed Stabbing and Traps skills.
  • 0.12 - Equalized all skill costs. Formerly, Spellcasting cost 130%; Invocations, Evocations, and Stealth 80%.
  • 0.10 - Stealth cost changed from 50% to 80%.
  • 0.10 - Equipment impact on skill training standardized from skill level 0-27.
  • 0.9 - Change to current skill system. Formerly, XP was saved when earned, then applied to skills as they were used, resulting in repetitive and annoying victory dancing designed to funnel the XP appropriately.

See Also

Melee Short BladesLong BladesAxesMaces & FlailsPolearmsStavesUnarmed Combat
Ranged BowsCrossbowsThrowingSlings
Physical FightingArmourDodgingStealthShields
Magical SpellcastingInvocationsEvocations
Spell Schools AirCharmsConjurationsEarthFireHexesIceNecromancyPoisonSummoningTranslocationsTransmutations