The Shoals

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From afar you hear the steady sounds of waves and smell the salty spray. Upon reaching the Shoals, you are impressed by exotic underground beaches, making up a few islands in a vast sea. All of a sudden, a bloodcurdling scream fills the air, followed by a gurgle. Anxiously, you look around and wonder: Who is the predator? And who is the prey?

The Shoals are five levels deep and contain the barnacled rune. A dungeon features only two of the Snake Pit, Swamp, Shoals and Spider Nest branches. If the Shoals are present, the entrance is located between Lair:3 and Lair:6.

Here be the Shoals: exotic underground beaches, salty spray and creatures that bite, stab and maul.

The Shoals branch is an archipelago of islands surrounded by deep waters, and home to many aquatic creatures and merfolk. Although dangerous, their lowest floor contains several treasure vaults and the barnacled rune of Zot.

Useful Info

If you find the Shoals, you will not find the Swamp in your current game. The Shoals entrance is located between Lair:3 and Lair:6.

The Shoals are 5 floors deep and set at sea, in a little archipelago of islands with beaches, tides, mangroves, and monsters. Going up and down a few times and crossing shallow water is needed to explore most of it. Do mind the tide, however: land can turn to shallow water, which can then turn to deep water over time (though this will eventually reverse itself when the tide goes back out).

The Shoals are somewhat more difficult than the Swamp. There are few places to hide and you'll be attacked from all directions by spear-wielding merfolks, javelineers, and the occasional stone giant. There are also merfolk aquamancers who take advantage of the terrain with their water magic, fast-moving harpies that can steal your food, seductive sirens who'll lure you into the water, vicious alligator snapping turtles, and devastating krakens.

The last floor is very difficult. Shoals:5 is often heavily populated with several uniques (the sea witch Ilsuiw almost always makes an appearance) and legions of merfolk. Proceed carefully and fight on staircases so you can retreat if overwhelmed.

Tips & Tricks

  • High EV and magic resistance are recommended for this branch. This means spellcasters and dodgers are generally better suited for this place, while armour-dependent melee characters will struggle to survive. Repel Missiles and Deflect Missiles are almost mandatory for spellcasters to protect against spear-throwing and javelin-throwing merfolk.
  • Flight and Swiftness (or even just Levitation) will make exploration a lot easier. Failing that, have some means of blinking or teleportation in case you wind up trapped on an island waiting for the tide to set you free.
  • Unless you're amphibious or flying, stay out of the water when fighting to avoid combat penalties.
  • You can take cover behind rock walls, but try not to do this unless you are certain that there aren't even worse things behind them.
  • It's easy to wake up entire hordes of merfolk if you aren't careful. Stealth pays off here, as does luring enemies to you instead of charging into combat.
  • Mermaids and sirens have dangerous abilities that can cut off your ability to escape. They should be a high priority when encountered in any group.
  • You will fight several harpy flocks before you're done here, so leave non-perishable food in your stash. Kill the harpies fast if you hope to butcher any corpses on the ground!
  • Most of the enemies in this branch do not see invisible, so invisibility can trivialize even the most difficult of encounters.




The Shoals was added in the Stone Soup version of Crawl.