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A portal leading to a ziggurat.

A ziggurat is a strange tower constructed of incrementally larger combat arenas, each containing greater wealth and even greater danger than the last. Beware, for a ziggurat is not a place for the faint of heart: even the bravest and most skilled adventurers have met their ends in one. While a portal to safety will be present on every level, once left, a ziggurat cannot be re-entered.

One ziggurat is guaranteed in the Depths. Tales tell of an magical item found at the bottom of each ziggurat, granting access to a new ziggurat in turn. Such an item is also said to be found at the bottom of the Tomb of the Ancients. Each time a ziggurat is conquered by exiting it from the final floor, subsequent ziggurats will become increasingly dangerous and lucrative.

“Captain: Take off every ‘zig’!!
Captain: For great justice.”
-Zero Wing

Ziggurats are the most dangerous, unpredictable, and lucrative branches in the game. Each Ziggurat has 27 oval- or cross-shaped floors, with each floor growing in size as you go down, containing increasingly more monsters of higher difficulty. The entrance to each floor closes as soon you walk through it; the only way out is at the opposite end of the floor. There, you will find large amounts of treasure, including armour, jewellery, valuable potions (many of which are potions of experience), manuals, and many other wonderful things, as well as one set of stairs going further down and two portals leading out of the Ziggurat.

Each floor of a Ziggurat contains a number of monsters of a particular theme. On early floors, you'll face two or three, but the number of opponents rises dramatically as you descend, pitting you against massive hordes by the time you reach the deepest levels. Most are sets of monsters that would be generated in a particular branch, but some are ad-hoc. The deeper you go, the more dangerous it becomes; deeper floors will have a greater ratio of powerful monsters to weak ones, may generate all monsters awake and wandering (0% chance for Zig:1-4, 100% chance for Zig 25-27).

Each floor may also contain a central clump of dungeon features. These are often purely cosmetic, but occasionally ramp up the difficulty of the floor significantly; an orange crystal statue or oklob plant cluster is no laughing matter.

One Ziggurat portal is guaranteed to generate somewhere in the Depths. Entry is denied until the player has at least two runes of Zot in her possession. Summoned creatures cannot follow the player through a Ziggurat portal or stairway.

Once one has left a Ziggurat, the portal turns into an empty arch and may not be reentered. Any new portal encountered or created leads to the first floor of a fresh Ziggurat. Ziggurat portals have no timers.

If the player should clear a Ziggurat successfully (i.e. completing all 27 floors), all subsequent Ziggurats will become significantly more difficult.

Monster Themes

Unless mentioned otherwise, the chance for any given set is 5.89% for Zig:1-7, 5.56% for Zig:8-13, and 5.54% for Zig:14-27.


Lair, Shoals, and the Hells all have 50% chance of the normal chance to spawn.

Theme Sets

Giants, dragons, archers, and conjurers have 20% of the normal chance to place, while Lair rune branches has 50% of the normal chance.


Elemental floors all have 20% of the normal chance to place, aside from Chaos.

Fighting Strategies

You should enter a Ziggurat as the last thing in the game if you are planning to finish it, as Zig:27 can potentially be the hardest place in the game. Preparation is somewhat similar to Pandemonium, but you need even more care since the enemies are much harder.

You will need the following:

  • High experience level and skills.
  • For spellcasters, the ability to cast Fire Storm and/or Ice Storm and/or Tornado at Great, ideally Excellent.
  • Blink or Controlled Blink at Excellent, to avoid getting surrounded, create some distances from powerful enemies, or just escape.
  • A ring of sustain attributes and an amulet of stasis for absorbing death curses on mummy-themed floors.
  • An amulet of resist corrosion for acid blobs on Slime Pit-themed floors.
  • As many resistances as possible; at least something like rElec, rPois, rC+, and rF++. You should strive for rN+++, especially if you're susceptible to torment.

The following are recommended, though not essential depending on the character:

  • An amulet of resist mutation for mutagenic glow, shining eyes and neqoxecs. If you're a caster, these tend to die before they can even peek at your genome.
  • Scrolls of identify to identify loot, scrolls of remove curse to remove cursed loot, scrolls of fog to block enemy sight, and scrolls of blinking as a backup to Blink/Controlled Blink.
  • Wands of healing, hasting, and anything else you might need.
  • Potions of curing to cure confusion (especially if you use a ball of energy), potions of heal wounds to recover lost HP, potions of might/agility/brilliance to enhance your battle prowess, and potions of magic to recover MP in a pinch.
  • Some permafood depending on your metabolism and the spell hunger costs of your spells; coupled with the ample corpses you produce should keep you fed.

Keep in mind you're limited to 52 items; only bring what you know will be useful, else you might not be able to take all the loot you want with you. Artefacts with multiple resistances and intrinsics are your friend!

Conjurer Strategy

Sample Runs

  • hyperbolic's uber Naga, who fully cleared several Ziggurats: [[1]]
  • sh's Fire Storm run: [2] with ttyrec at [3]
  • Luca's Extension + Ice Storm run: [4] with ttyrec at [5]

The basic strategy is to use Necromutation, along with all relevant buff spells, and alternate between casting a Storm/Tornado and channeling MP. Depending on your god choice, you can also use Sif Muna's channel (more reliable) or Vehumet's MP gain on killing (somewhat more random, but passive). Keep in mind that you can't escape to rest for MP, so make sure to have backup in the form of a crystal ball of energy, potions of magic, Sublimation of Blood, etc...

Note: Don't bother using Shatter. This, at Earth Magic 25 or higher, does damage to everything in LOS, and while the damage is comparable to Ice/Fire Storm for non-flying/levitating monsters (3d55 at power 150 and more for skeletons and simulacra), it is only about a third for flying/levitating ones (such as a lot of Pandemonium lords). It would take an average of 8-9 hits to kill a flying Pan lord.

Specific Floors

On Pandemonium lord floors, be prepared to be on the receiving of the occasional Lehudib's Crystal Spear and Dispel Undead. If you use Fire Storm, try to position yourself so that non-lord monsters, Pan lord summons and your own summons create a buffer that prevent the lords from coming close to you. Then blast with Fire Storm without destroying your monster shield. If you use Ice Storm, try to get the direct path blocked by a non-lord monster, while still having an opening to shoot Ice Storm near the lords.

On mummy floors, wear an amulet of stasis and a ring of sustain abilities. Try not to kill too many greater/guardian mummies at once since you may get 3 points of random stat drain for each kill. If one of your stats dips low, try to swap in weapons or jewellery boosting it. If a stat gets dangerously low, semi-controlled blink to a corner, surround yourself with summons, end Necromutation, eat a royal jelly or quaff a potion of restore abilities, and recast Necromutation right away. Flooding the level with powerful summons to soak as many curses as possible can also work.

On angel/daeva floors, get out of lich form, cast Regeneration, and try to overpower them. If things go badly, consider casting Borgnjor's Revivification. If you decide to escape, go as near to the exit as possible, possibly using a lantern of shadows, cast Death's Door, and then alternate Storm/Tornado to scrolls of blinking/Controlled Blink and mana channeling to get to the downstairs as soon as possible. Once you are at the downstairs, apport any useful object until Death's Door runs out. Alternatively, you can escape the Ziggurat, but note that nearby angels/daevas will follow you out, so make sure you come out on a clear level and teleport away.

On crypt floors, mages casting Fire Storm should be very wary of death knights, both in and out of LOS. You will take severe self-inflicted damage if you flame even one of these while their Injury Mirror ability is active. The mirrored damage ignores both your resistances and AC, unless you've cast Death's Door. If it's in your LOS, you'll have seen it "kneel in prayer and [be] bathed in unholy energy." Thereafter, for approximately 20 turns, its glyph's colors will be alternating. You can also see if Mirror Damage is active by examining it to see if it is "reflecting injuries".

On slime floors, the treasure will always be somewhat protected, in a centered chamber rather than on the open floor.


In addition to the general equipment:

  • Enhancers (e.g. rings of fire/ice, staff of conjuration/fire/cold/air, etc...) to enhance the power of Fire/Ice Storm and/or Tornado as needed. A robe of the Archmagi is amazing for this purpose.
  • Staff/rings of wizardry to improve the success rates of Fire/Ice Storm and/or Tornado, if necessary. Also, try downgrading your shield type (large shield to a normal shield, normal shield to a buckler) if your Shields skill isn't high enough to get rid of the spellcasting penalty. Your offense is your best defense.
  • A crystal ball of energy if you have high Evocations (you will probably find one soon in the Ziggurat) or a staff of energy.
  • Identify scrolls, as many as you have. You're going to be going through a lot of stashes.

Example Spell Set

Your Spells                       Type                          Failure   Level       
a - Fire Storm                    Conjuration/Fire              1%          9
b - Blink                         Translocation                 0%          2
c - Flight                        Charms/Air                    0%          4
e - Deflect Missiles              Charms/Air                    0%          6
j - Abjuration                    Summoning                     0%          3
s - Summon Butterflies            Summoning                     0%          1
u - Dispel Undead                 Necromancy                    0%          5
x - Sublimation of Blood          Necromancy                    0%          2
B - Controlled Blink              Translocation                 1%          7
Q - Swiftness                     Enchantment                   0%          2
M - Mass Abjuration               Summoning                     0%          6
V - Phase Shift                   Translocation                 0%          5
X - Necromutation                 Transmutation/Necromancy      1%          8
Y - Borgnjor's Revivification     Necromancy                    1%          7

Optional Spells

You may want the following spells:

  • Airstrike: to kill giant eyeballs, which may appear in Pan lord floors, if you lack Fire Storm and its smite-targeting.
  • Dispel Undead: to kill undead anacondas rushing at you, skeletal dragons who survive Fire Storm, or to kill mummies one by one.
  • Discord: this makes floors with many natural monsters with low MR, such as orc or merfolk floors, very easy.
  • Lehudib's Crystal Spear: to kill dangerous monsters (especially Pan lords) who get close to you.
  • Phase Shift to boost your EV.
  • Ring of Flames: to enhance Fire Storm's power and allow you to walk in clouds of flame.
  • Sublimation of Blood: you can use this to restore MP.

Crusader Strategy

See coolrobin's Ogre Chaos Knight of Lugonu: morgue and ttyrec

See 78291's torment immune Demonspawn crusader/reaver of Okawaru, failed run at [6], first ziggurat at [7], and second ziggurat (with death to daevas) at [8] and [9].

  • First, convert to Lugonu (for corruption and self-banishment), The Shining One (for peaceful angel/daevas, divine warriors), Elyvilon (peaceful angel/daevas, healing), or Okawaru (attack speed boost and skills boost).
  • Set up as many spells and enchantments as described for conjurers as you can. You probably won't have Necromutation (and can't use it anyway with the good gods) or Fire/Ice Storm and Tornado, though.
  • The Silence spell, while counter-productive for pure conjurers, works beautifully for a crusader-type character against spellcasters. It even stops mummies from tormenting and smiting! Use a lantern of shadows along with it when needed.
  • Bring a way to channel mana, and a staff of energy for hunger-less casting.
  • Consider being able to cast Aura of Abjuration.

Fight in melee with all buffs (Haste, Might, etc...) except for berserk: it will definitely expire before you've cleared all monsters on the harder floors, and being slowed/exhausted in the middle of a pack of demons or some such is a surefire way to die. Angel/Daeva floors can be handled by proper god choice or by escaping.

Spell-less Strategy

Do not attempt to fully clear a Ziggurat without spells of some sort. It is very likely to be fatal. Having said that, the first few floors are usually safe for many XL27 characters, although this can still be risky.

Strategies For Troublesome Floors

Skip With Death's Door

See "Conjurer strategy" above. Cast Death's Door after getting as close as possible to the stairs. Make a break for it.

Banishment With Lugonu

Banish yourself to the Abyss, so you can recover. You'll return to the same level after leaving the Abyss.

Banishment With Distortion Weapon and Amulet of Stasis

You may also try to banish yourself with a distortion weapon. However, you have about the same chance of going to the Abyss as to be instantly teleported on the level, damaged and confused. An amulet of stasis or -TELE artifact will prevent this, though, and allows you to use distortion with the only downside of confusion and HP damage.

Tips & Tricks

Since a subsequent Ziggurat only get harder if the previous one was fully completed, and the player has two opportunities for entering a Ziggurat, a player desiring a second run with a difficulty identical to the first may simply exit from the first run early, at level 26 or before.

Wizard Mode

Ziggurats can be entered in wizard mode using &L to place a vault called "ziggurat_fallback", &{ to map the level, and XT to teleport to the portal.


In 0.18, Ziggurat portals will no longer generate in Pandemonium. There is a new item called figurine of a ziggurat which creates a ziggurat portal. Figurines always spawn on the 27th floor of a ziggurat and on level 3 of Tomb.

0.16 introduced so-called megazigs. Every time a ziggurat is cleared, subsequent ziggurats become much harder.

Prior to 0.16, entry was denied until the player had at least three runes of Zot in her possession.

Prior to 0.15, a Ziggurat portal could be summoned by the Trowel card of a legendary Deck of dungeons once per game. The Trowel card was removed in 0.15.

Prior to 0.14, Ziggurat portals would generate randomly in the main Dungeon, and required you pay an admission fee of 2,100 to 14,000 gold to enter.

Prior to 0.11, you could use Projected Noise at the bottom of the map, then walk around the top end (or vice-versa).

Prior to 0.10, it was possible to permanently leave a Ziggurat via Banishment.