The Shoals

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Version 0.25: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.
The exotic underground beaches of the Shoals make up a few small islands in a seemingly endless sea. The merfolk have made it their home, alongside many dreaded sea creatures.

A dungeon features only one of the Shoals and Swamp branches.

This branch is very noisy, and so sound travels much less far.

The entrance to this branch can be found between levels 2 and 4 of the Lair of Beasts.

This branch is 4 levels deep.

This branch contains the barnacled rune of Zot.

Shoals entry.png 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:2 and Lair:4.

The Shoals are 4 floors deep and set at sea, in a little archipelago of islands with beaches, tides, and monsters. Unless you're amphibious or flying, it will take some time to fully explore each floor.

The tides in the Shoals will shift between shallow water and land fairly quickly, but this effect will never create any deep water blockades. As such, each island on a Shoals floor is accessible, although it may be hindered by shallow water. Rarely, an island may generate out at sea and will require flight to reach.

The Shoals are somewhat more difficult than the Swamp. There are few places to hide and you will be attacked from all directions by polearm-wielding merfolk, javelineers, and the occasional cyclops. There are also merfolk aquamancers who take advantage of the terrain with their water magic, fast-moving harpies that can deal rapid amounts of damage, seductive sirens that can mesmerize you, vicious snapping turtles that can use reach attacks, and devastating krakens. In exchange for this added difficulty, shops will occasionally generate here.


The last floor is significantly more difficult than the earlier three. Shoals:4 is often heavily populated with several uniques (the sea witch Ilsuiw often makes an appearance) and legions of merfolk. Expect to face elemental damage in the form of branded polearms, and make sure to have at least rC+ before engaging Ilsuiw, as she can deal tremendous amounts of damage with Throw Icicle. Proceed carefully, explore the various chambers cautiously, try not to engage too large a band of merfolk at once, and fight on staircases when possible so you can retreat if overwhelmed.

Tips & Tricks

  • High EV and willpower 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.
  • Having some form of Repel Missiles will be very helpful for defending against the plethora of ranged attacks you'll face here.
  • Flight and possibly Swiftness will make exploration a lot easier. Keep in mind that Swiftness does not function while you're wading -- try to stay airborne while using it.
  • Unless you're amphibious, flying, or larger than average, stay out of the water when fighting to avoid combat penalties. It is also helpful to lure merfolk onto dry land when possible, so that they lose their innate abilities while in water.
  • 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.
  • Merfolk avatars and sirens have dangerous abilities that can cut off your ability to escape. They should be a high priority when encountered in any group. Clarity can deal with mesmerization, should you have it.
  • Most of the enemies in this branch do not see invisible, so invisibility can trivialize even the most difficult of encounters.


m Merfolk (monster).png Merfolk m Merfolk javelineer.png Merfolk javelineer m Merfolk impaler.png Merfolk impaler m Merfolk aquamancer.png Merfolk aquamancer
m Merfolk siren.png Siren m Merfolk avatar.png Merfolk avatar m Water nymph.png Water nymph E Water elemental.png Water elemental
c Centaur (monster).png Centaur c Faun.png Faun c Satyr.png Satyr C Cyclops.png Cyclops
Y Dream sheep.png Dream sheep Y Death yak.png Death yak Y Catoblepas.png Catoblepas H Manticore.png Manticore
H Harpy.png Harpy k Wind drake.png Wind drake t Snapping turtle.png Snapping turtle t Alligator snapping turtle.png Alligator snapping turtle
S Sea snake.png Sea snake P Oklob plant.png Oklob plant X Kraken.png Kraken C Frost giant.png Frost giant


S Aizul.png Aizul d Bai Suzhen.png Bai Suzhen @ Donald.png Donald @ Frances.png Frances m Ilsuiw.png Ilsuiw
g Jorgrun.png Jorgrun @ Josephine.png Josephine @ Kirke.png Kirke @ Louise.png Louise R Mara.png Mara
@ Nikola.png Nikola C Polyphemus.png Polyphemus 8 Roxanne.png Roxanne


  • Prior to 0.17, Shoals were 5 levels deep.
  • Prior to 0.16, the tides of the Shoals could create and destroy deep water tiles. These would never drown the player, but could trap them temporarily on a stair-free island.
  • The Shoals were added in the Stone Soup version of Crawl.