The Shoals

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Version 0.30: 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 3 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.

The Shoals entrance is located between Lair:2 and Lair:3. If you find the Shoals, you will not find the Swamp in your current game.

Useful Info

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. It will never cause deep water to rise or fall, so all areas will remain accessible. Rarely, an island may generate out at sea - you may need to have flight, or enter from a different staircase, to reach it.

Exploring deep water in the Shoals does not count towards for exploration piety. (It does count for Meteoran exploration, though.)

The Shoals provides more Throwing implements than the Swamp; many residents carry boomerangs and throwing nets, and merfolk javelineers bring a few javelins.


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.


The Shoals is an open branch which features crowds of fast and/or ranged threats. Whether it's merfolk with reaching weapons, packs of satyrs and fauns shooting from a distance, or higher-tier threats like javelineers and aquamancers, it's easy to get swarmed by fast-swimming enemies.

There's also many monsters that mess with your positioning: wind drakes can blow you away, merfolk avatars and sirens can mesmerise you (forcing you closer if you don't resist with willpower), and water nymphs can prevent use of stairs with their watery aura. With these monsters nearby, the upstairs isn't always a safe bet. When you combine the 'lack of escape' with a swarm of merfolk, things can get hairy in no time.

Having willpower (to resist mesmerise / sleep) and flight (to move normally over water) is recommended. Repulsion, if you have it, can be very helpful too.

Tips & Tricks

  • Unless you're amphibious, flying, or larger than average, staying in water has severe penalties. You'll move slower, fumble melee attacks (but not ranged attacks / spells), and your stealth is reduced.
    • Note that Swiftness and invisibility won't work in water, even if you're amphibious. Only flight lets you keep these effects.
  • 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.
  • Most of the enemies in this branch do not see invisible, so invisibility can trivialize even the most difficult of encounters. Keep in mind that if you're in water and not flying, enemies will ignore your invisibility.


m Merfolk.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 0.6.
Dungeon branches
Dungeon exit.png The DungeonTemple entry.png The TempleDepths entry.png The DepthsZot entry.png Realm of Zot
Lair entry.png The Lair ( Spider entry.png Spider's NestSnake entry.png Snake PitSwamp entry.png The SwampShoals entry.png The ShoalsSlime entry.png Slime Pits)
Orc entry.png Orcish Mines ( Elf entry.png Elven Halls) • Vaults entry.png The Vaults ( Crypt entry.png The CryptTomb entry.png The Tomb)
Abyss entry.png The AbyssPandemonium entry.png PandemoniumHell entry.png Hell ( Cocytus entry.png CocytusDis entry.pngDisGehenna entry.png GehennaTartarus entry.png Tartarus)
See also: Portal