Technically, a stash is any item which has been left on the Dungeon floor. In more common usage, however, a stash is a location in which a player dumps any items she does not wish to carry around at all times, but which may be useful later. Although there are arguments both for and against creating a massive, centralized stash for all your loot, all players will at some point or other need to drop items. Carrying valuable potions and scrolls around puts them at risk of item destruction, and many of these items serve no purpose in the heat of combat anyway. Also, both strength and inventory space restrict the amount of gear you can lug around with you. Squirreling away items intelligently can help safeguard your hoarded loot.
Since intelligent monsters can pick up items like weapons, wands, potions, or scrolls for their own use, and because jellies will eat anything they come across, stashes are generally established in areas where these monsters are unlikely to generate. After clearing an entire floor, you need only worry about random monster generation creating a monster capable of using your items, and even then it's unlikely that they'll stumble across your stash; unlike players, monsters do not go out of their way to grab items. You can reduce the odds of monsters finding your stash even further by placing your items in the corners of large rooms; wandering monster AI makes it extremely unlikely for them to be discovered.
It's very easy to forget where you left a particular item as you explore. Fortunately, pressing "CTRL+f" brings up a search prompt which allows you to pinpoint where you left your things quickly and easily. This can be used to search for individual items (e.g. bread ration, +1 helmet), item categories (body armour, Maces & Flails, wand), spells (this will bring up all spell books which contain the spell), and even particular resistances or intrinsics.
Some players choose to create a single stash for all of their loot in branches which guarantee their safety. Common stash branches include:
- Not Dungeon:5-15 or the Slime Pits
- These are the floors on which jellies can randomly generate
- The Ecumenical Temple
- No monsters unless you bring them in yourself
- Easily reached by all characters
- No monsters capable of using or eating items can generate here
- Found roughly halfway through the Dungeon, making it a common area to walk past while exploring the various branches
- The Vestibule of Hell
- Multiple entrances found throughout the late game make it quickly accessible, especially if an entrance occurs on Lair:8
- Few monsters generate here, and most of them are incapable of using items
- On stairs
- If you exclude all but one staircase on a floor, you'll always travel to that staircase when auto-travelling to it. As monsters cannot eat items when you're not present on its floor, this guarantees your items' safety.
- Teleport trap
- Teleport traps only affect players and monsters, not items. So long as you have access to the stasis intrinsic, any items you place on a teleport trap will be untouchable.
- Deep water
There are arguments for and against making centralized stash locations, however.
- Tracking Inventory - Keeping all of your consumables in one place allows you to easily take stock of what you have and what you're lacking. Also, poring over your inventory may remind you that you have resources you'd forgotten about, and which would have otherwise gone to waste.
- Spell Decisions - Placing all your books in one pile allows you to see all spells currently available to you. While experienced players will often know exactly which spells they intend to use, others may benefit from seeing all their options at once and determining how best to use their available spell levels.
- Convenience - Rather than manually typing in an item name each time you need to find one, you can simply autotravel to the branch where you left all your stuff.
- Safety - Although stashes placed throughout the Dungeon are generally safe if placed intelligently, putting your items in the Ecumenical Temple, Lair:2, or on top of a teleport trap is slightly safer. It may be paranoia, but no one likes discovering that their last potion of cure mutation is now jelly food.
- Unnecessary - As stated above, it is perfectly reasonable to drop items wherever you want and to expect them to be there when you get back. This is especially true for items which item-using monsters ignore, such as food, scrolls, and most potions.
- Wasteful - If you leave items which are commonly used lying in multiple locations throughout the Dungeon, you'll spend less time reaching them and returning to the area you were exploring than if you haul them all back up a dozen Dungeon floors for deposit. This conserves your food and reduces your turn count.
- Loss in Transit - Although a stashed item is safe, an item in your inventory is susceptible to item destruction, and you'll need to keep things in your inventory while transporting them. Simply leaving potions and scrolls on the floor never generates that window of opportunity.