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What I've learned so far...


  • Don't eat poisonous corpses (kobolds)
  • Try and "train" your stats
    • 'E'ngrave - Elbereth (note case) regularly to train wisdom
    • Push boulders (strength)
    • Lock and unlock doors (dexterity)
    • Open and close doors when they "resist" (strength)
    • Search! (wis? int?)
  • Let your pet do most of the fighting (it's bigger, smarter and tougher than you!)
  • Descend slowly. Yes, you're starving, but you can #pray to cure this. Your prayer timeout will be roughly 800 turns as lawful, 1000 turns as neutral, 1200 turns as chaotic.


Finding an altar should be your top priority initially, . Once you've found an altar, find an empty chest or ice box and bring it to the altar to store stuff in. You could even drag several chests there so you can sort your items into various categories. There is an altar in minetown, but there will be a priest there so sacrificing will not be an option initially. An altar with no priest in the main dungeon branch is ideal, so you can lure monsters to the altar and sacrifice their corpses to gain favour with your god.

If you're lucky enough to get a wand of fire at this early stage, engrave ELBERETH with the wand beneath the chest. This should stop most nasties approaching it.

In the process of killing stuff, you'll gain various items. Don't use them until you know whether they are cursed, uncursed or blessed, by testing them on an altar. Once you know that they're not cursed you can try the following:

  • If it's armour, wear it, this will show you its enchantment, and occasionally will reveal whether it has special enchantments (such as boots of speed)
  • If it's a potion, don't use it (yet)
  • Scrolls: You can use shops to have a guess at what scroll is what. If you find a scroll that is worth about 30 coins or less, it's a scroll of identify, name it and don't use it (yet). Before starting to test scrolls, you should have an uncursed pickaxe, or the effects may be hard to recover from!
    • Take off all your good armour, and place in a chest any armour that can be burnt, all potions, and drop your other scrolls on the floor nearby. You should also wear a piece of semi-useless armour. Pick up each scroll separately, read it, move one square away and read it. Damnit, it's...
      • Punishment: There's actually a very simple way to get rid of that ball and chain. Find a boulder (bound to be one somewhere around), dig a pit down a square away from it, pick up the iron ball, drop it in the new pit and push the boulder in.
      • Earth: Get rid of the boulders using a pickaxe.
      • Fire: Luckily you put all your flammable items in a chest on the floor. Didn't you?
      • Destroy armour: If you followed the instructions as above, you've only lost a piece of armour you didn't need anyway.
  • Rings: Try it on, take it off. Some rings will identify themselves, such as levitation and invisibility. If it doesn't say anything, hold on to it anyway, it may be useful!

Yes, you can use pets to find out whether an item is cursed. But don't rely on this, your pet is fragile, and can be easily killed or go wild!


Armour class is extremely important, at later stages you will be battered by hordes of monsters, so having a good armour class is essential to survival. Spend some time in the gnomish mines, keep dragging all the armour you find to the altar, checking it to see if it's cursed, and wearing it if it's blessed or uncursed. It is helpful to get two sets of "good" armour, so you have a backup when, inevitably, it becomes burnt, corroded, rotted, or rusty. After finishing the gnomish mines, you should have an armour class of -6 or lower.


Assuming you either found an altar in the main dungeon or are using one in minetown, you should have the following before attempting to descend much further. You should have

  • an uncursed pickaxe
  • armour class of -6 or lower.
  • stuff to throw (such as darts). The main reason here is that if you run into a potentially nasty monster (floating eye, cockatrice, nymph or foocubi) you can deal with them by running away, throwing stuff at them, or bashing them.


  • gloves - will help versus cockatrice and chickatrice.


A unicorn horn is astoundingly useful, once you get one, you can then check all your potions. Dip the unicorn horn into the potion, if the potion clears, it becomes water, if the potion changes colour, it has become fruit juice. Then, quaff any "Interesting..." potions to identify them! Even if the potions are cursed, as long as you've tested them with a unicorn horn, it's generally safe to quaff them and find out what they are. Your unicorn horn can also cure blindness, hallucination, food poisoning, confusion, sickness, stun, and lost attribute points. Having a unicorn horn means that you can eat most corpses that can give intrinsics without fear.


Assuming you've finished the gnomish mines branch, carry on down the main dungeon levels, exploring as much as possible as you descend. Once you find the Oracle level, the level below will have an extra upstairs, go up it and complete sokoban. You'll either get a bag of holding, or an amulet of reflection.


Keep going down, exploring all levels thoroughly. Keep dragging stuff back to the first altar you found (whether or not it's minetown) until you find a new one. Once you find a new altar, you should have identified some of the most common scrolls, have a few potions of water, have several unidentified rings and a few scrolls of identify. Get to the new altar, kill the priest if there is one there, yes it'll anger your god, but you can appease him pretty fast. Use any scrolls and wands of create monster to create monsters, kill them as they're standing on the altar and #offer the corpses as a sacrifice. This should convert that altar to your god (may take a couple of tries), and will put you in your god's good books. Do the chest(s) thing as before in step 1, and grab everything that might be helpful from the first altar chest and put it in the second. Drop all your potions of water on the altar and #pray. Your potions of water should become blessed as long as you're in your god's good books (sacrificing means that you will be). If you have 5 or more scrolls of identify, #dip them in one of the potions of holy water. You now have some blessed scrolls of identify. If you have lots of stuff (particularly rings) that needs identifying, get everything you want identified out of the chest and read the identity scrolls. There is a 1 in 5 chance of them identifying everything in your inventory. Store the rest of your holy water away - it comes in very useful later! Generally, I identify amulets first, then rings, then cursed scrolls, then anything else I have. Identifying a luckstone is not a bad idea either so you know when you find another.


Keep going down, getting and testing for cursed status on stuff as you descend. You should ideally try and find one or more of each of these:

  • Some form of magic resistance - either gray dragon scale mail or a cloak of magic resistance. Without this, you are very vulnerable to dangerous traps.
  • Some form of magic reflection - either silver dragon scale mail or an amulet of reflection. This will save you from wand and spell attacks.
  • Speed (boots preferably + eat a quantum mechanic corpse)
  • Ring of levitation OR boots of levitation (essential for tackling medusa and lower levels)
  • Ring of slow digestion (This is very helpful for the treks up and down the levels, it's also one of the more common rings)
  • Teleport control (usually from a ring, because teleportitis is ANNOYING.)
  • Ring of polymorph control (if you don't have magic resistance)
  • Some wands of cold OR scrolls of earth, particularly for creating bridges on water-filled levels like medusa or Jubilex's lair.
  • better armour! You should aim for having your best set of armour at AC -25 or lower, and a second set at -15 or lower.
  • wand(s) of polymorph
  • holy water
  • bag of holding (blessed, greased)
  • blessed scrolls of identify, genocide
  • magic marker(s)
  • some means of teleporting to a different level in an emergency - cursed scroll of teleportation+teleport control, Eye of Aethopica, Orb of Fate, cursed potion of gain level.

Eat most corpses - problems can generally be cured by using your unicorn horn, and you may gain useful intrinsics. You may want to avoid getting teleportitis, but if you find a ring of teleport control, teleportitis can be extremely useful! Do not eat "old" corpses, any that have been left around for a while or any zombie, mummy or other undead whose corpses are always considered "old".

Also don't eat: Cockatrices and similar, your own race, pets, werewolves and similar monsters that can polymorph you.

  1. Disintegration ("You feel very firm"): black dragon, chromatic dragon
  2. Poison ("You feel especially healthy"): black unicorn, blue jelly, brown mold,cave spider, centipede, golden naga, golden naga hatchling, quasit, quivering blob, red mold, red naga, red naga hatchling, shrieker,white unicorn, black naga, black naga hatchling, black pudding,brown pudding, gray ooze, tengu, violet fungus
  3. Fire ("You feel a momentary chill"): Gelatinous cube, red mold, gray ooze,fire ant, red naga hatchling, pyrolisk, fire giant, red naga,flesh golem, chromatic dragon, ixoth, lord surtur, red dragon,salamander, hell hound pup, hell hound, wizard of yendor
  4. Cold ("You feel full of hot air"): black puddinng, blue jelly, brown mold,brown pudding, chromatic dragon, flesh golem, frost giant,gelatinous cube, gray ooze, ice troll, white dragon, winter wolf, winter wolf cub, yeti
  5. Sleep ("You feel wide awake"): chromatic dragon, elf, elf-lord, elvenking,flesh golem, gelatinous cube, green elf, grey elf, homunculus,orange dragon, woodland elf
  6. Shock ("Your health currently feels amplified"): black pudding, blue dragon, brown pudding, chromatic dragon, electric eel, flesh golem,gelatinous cube, storm giant
  7. Teleportitis ("You feel very jumpy"): leprechaun, mountain nymph, tengu,water nymph, wizard of yendor
  8. Teleport control ("You feel in control of yourself"): tengu

If you are lucky enough to be granted a wish, get

  • blessed +2 gray dragon scale mail (good armour, gives magic resistance)


Any level below 11 and Medusa may contain the level teleporter to Fort Ludios. If you get a level sound saying "You hear someone counting money", use a potion of object detection, or a scroll of gold detection to find the vault, and dig your way to it. If there is a magic portal there, go into it to get to Fort Ludios if your AC is -10 or better and bash everything you find. Eat any dragon corpses you find to gain useful intrinsics.

When you enter a level and you hear someone pleading for help, this is the quest start. If you haven't reached combat-level 14 yet, continue adventuring down, until you do reach combat level 14, and then return up and search the level for a magic portal to the quest. Take your time descending here, there's oodles of nasty traps to ruin your armour and make sure you eat the corpses to gain any necessary intrinsics. Use your second best set of armour to do the quest area, right up until the point where you have to beat the quest nemesis, then return back up, get your best armour, go back down to kill your quest nemesis.


As you approach the medusa level (level 20 or higher), make sure that you have some means of levitation (boots, ring) and magical reflection (amulet, shield). I've learned this from bitter experience. Having dropped through a pit on level 23 to level 25 (skipping medusa level), I had no means of levitation once I had come back up and beaten medusa. The only way I could get back across the water was to remove all my armour, put on my ring of polymorph control, use a polymorph trap to become a black dragon temporarily (therefore: a one way trip only), fly across the water, land, wait to change back, dress, open the door, and attempt to fight my way to the exit through a horde of nasty monsters with wands of create monster. FUN. After bashing the monsters, fill the moat any way you please, and travel outside. Get a polearm of some description and just hit the things in the water from the central square until they die. Crossing the water is easy with levitation, but there are other ways - use scrolls of earth to create boulders to push into the water, creating land bridges - use wands of cold to freeze the water (dangerous if there's monsters around with wands of fire) - polymorph into a flying monster (dangerous if you change halfway) Medusa is very easy with reflection, it turns her to stone. Do NOT eat her corpse!!


Below medusa will be a maze level then the castle below that. At this stage you may encounter powerful liches, if you can possibly get them genocided, do so, they are a huge pain in the backside. When you reach the drawbridge, play a musical instrument (several times) and eventually find out the combination to open it. Once it it open, prepare for an onslaught. It is advisable to be fully satiated and heavily armoured before getting the drawbridge down as a horde of monsters will pour across the drawbridge after you.