Lord Dimwit's Advanced Strategy Guide

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Hello everyone,

If you're getting this, you should have requested a copy of my ToME strategy guide. If you haven't, then, well, here's an unsolicited ToME strategy guide for you.

Currently, the guide is a 240k (or so) text file, which means it's about 60 pages long. Since .txt isn't the most web-friendly format, I hope that someone will HTMLize it in future or something (hyperlinks to different parts of the Guide would be really cool).

Despite its length, it still isn't comprehensive, so changes and alterations to it are welcome. Since I'm probably not going to be involved with the process beyond this point, I'll give Maylith and Neil and company control over what needs to be added and what doesn't.

I hope that somebody finds it helpful.

Lord Dimwit \7-11-04

1 Disclaimer and Greeeting

1.1 Welcome

Hello, good evening, and welcome to the ToME Advanced Strategy Guide. You probably didn't come here for idle chit-chat, so I'll get right to business.

1.2 About this Guide

This Guide is being provided to satisfy the needs of people who simply want to become the best ToME players possible. Some of the strategies provided herein might apply to other roguelike games as well, but it's designed especially for ToME. Here you'll find strategies for managing your character, surviving at mid to late levels, killing nasty monsters, the whole shebang.

Since this is probably the final word I'll have on the game, I would like to encourage others to add to or change this guide as needed, ESPECIALLY if new versions of ToME come out that contradict what I say here. Just adjust the credits list at the end accordingly.

{ I checked the total length of the guide, including formatting like line and paragraph breaks, and it's about 60 pages long right now. That's quite a bit of stuff, but there's still room for improvement. ToME is a big game, and covering all of the ground that needs to be covered is a monumental task, one that's certainly too big for just one person. }

I should also note here that this guide is intensely opinionated. Specifically, parts of it may very well seem shortsighted, obtuse, misguided, or outright wrong in the head. No part of it should be taken as doctrine, or really as anything other than how I feel about any one issue (and at any one particular time, for that matter).

This guide is current as of 1 August 2006.

1.3 Read this First

This isn't a guide for beginners. It's designed to provide people who are relatively good at the game to become good enough to win. If you can't get to level 25 or so on a fairly regular basis, this is not for you. I'm not going to explain to you why three hits with a Dagger are better than one hit with a Two-Handed Sword or which stats to choose for a Ranger or whatever. You should know this already. If you don't, then go out and familiarize yourself with the game for a while before coming back.

By the same token, this guide contains some spoilers, especially for the late game. Specifically, it mentions a lot of artifacts and what they do by name, goes through ToME's basic plot with some detail, and clues you in on a lot of dungeons, monsters, items, and other things that would take a considerable amount of time to find on your own. I'll warn you about some of these things before you see them, but be aware. If you think you've got a good handle on these things, then you're good to go, if not, come back later.

Got all that?

Now, if you're still reading, you either ignored my warnings or you're a fairly proficient player. Congratulations! Read on for advice, abuse, and other amazing things.

2 Character

2.1 Races and Subraces

The primary thing that I ALWAYS look for in a character of ANY class is hit points. You need hit points. Hit points prevent you from dying. It doesn't matter if you can deal 1000 damage per hit with your Slaughter Axe of Insane Annihilation--if you've got only 300 HP and that Great Wyrm of Chaos decides that you would look better stuffed and mounted on its wall, there's not much, besides dumb luck, that will prevent it. So I tend to play races with better hit die and more HP.

{ Hit die are listed in the ingame help and represent the amount of HP you will gain per level at average constitution. Hit die can be modified by subrace and class; a Human Mage has 10, for instance, while a Human Hermit Mage has 7 and a Half-Ogre Axemaster has 21. This means, with a little quick calculation, that the Human Mage will have an average of 250 HP at level 50, the Human Hermit Mage will have an average of 175, and the Half-Ogre Axemaster will have an average of 525. This is BEFORE the CON bonuses kick in, mind you, so the actual figures in the endgame will (ideally) be much higher }

Then I tend to look at intangibles. Does a race get any bonus resistances? How useful will the race's skills be in the early and late games? Will I be able to survive at early levels with this race? I consider all of these points to be second to hit points.

Finally, I look at stats. Bad stats can be rectified completely (if you have maximize off, which I always do) later in the game, so I try not to sweat over lousy stats during character creation. I just want my stats good enough to carry me through those first difficult levels. I especially like a good CON because, you know, hit points.

In my opinion, the most playable races are the following, in no particular order:

  • Dark Elf
  • Ent
  • Half-Ogre
  • Petty-Dwarf
  • RohanKnight

Other races are still pretty easy to win with, such as High-Elf, Dunadan, and Thunderlord, but the disadvantages of these races (usually high XP penalties, though I'm hardly impressed by the Thunderlords' stealth) aren't great enough to win me over to their side.

Three of these races have excellent (10+) hit die, and the other two (Dark Elf and RohanKnight) have great innate abilities (a modifier to the Magic skill for Dark-Elves, an insane speed boost and Weaponmastery modifier for the RohanKnight). Ents have great hit points, strength, and constitution, making them an attractive choice for almost any class, despite the speed penalty. Petty-Dwarves and Half-Ogres strike a good balance between toughness and passable stats, with good constitutions and hit die. The Dark-Elf is the lightweight of the group, but the innate benefits the race affords more than offsets the lousy hit points.

Basically, if you're going for a fighter type, I would try a RohanKnight, an Ent, or a Half-Ogre. For mages, a Dark-Elf, a Petty-Dwarf, or a Half-Ogre.

Comments on other races: The Human and the Half-Elf are pretty underplayed, probably because they lack the impressive stats, resistances, and bonuses of some of the other races. However, they compensate for this by having very low EXP penalties... and you can beef them up a little by selecting subraces. If you're playing a Vampire RohanKnight, you've got a 200% EXP penalty right off the bat... this can seriously hamper you, especially in the early levels. If you have trouble leveling up to the point where you can handle the baddies at your depth, you might try one of these.

The Yeek has an even lower EXP penalty, but Yeeks have some other problems (low stats and HP being perhaps the main ones). Still, not all races rely that heavily on these two attributes (the Monk and Possessor come to mind), so if you want to get to level 50 by the time you reach Mordor, the Yeek might be viable.

Gnomes and Hobbits are also often overlooked for many of the same reasons. They're best suited for the Mage and Rogue professions, but this doesn't necessarily have to be the case. A Gnome Warrior, for instance, doesn't have as many HP problems as you might expect (due to the large class bonus), and having innate teleportation is a great benefit for someone who doesn't use magic.

While we're on the subject of innate teleportation, the Dwarf's "find secret passages" ability is perhaps even better for these puposes; it works like Probability Travel minus the "instant up and down stairs" ability, and can be used to get yourself out of a sticky situation in a hurry. You can even use it on a group of monsters lurking between yourself and a wall to teleport yourself past the monsters and onto the other side of the wall (something that Probability Travel won't give you). Innate blindness resist is also very nice.

Subraces. The default is Classical, and I usually choose this when I don't want or think I need any other advantages. However, if I'm playing a weaker character, I often bolster myself with a subrace. For races that could use some extra hit points (a Wood-Elf Archer, for example), I often choose Zombie, which gives you 3 extra hit die and some valuable abilities. I choose Skeleton if I don't need hit points, but am worried about resistances later in the game. Having Shards resistance as an innate is very helpful. I run the occasional Spectre if I want the fun and excitement of being able to walk through walls, though I tend not to get very far with these because of the huge HP cut. I consider Vampire to be the strongest subrace, however, and if I'm running a character that's so weak that I'm not sure if it's feasible, I'll choose this. The mild weakness of being unable to travel by day is easily offset with the fairly common Light resistance, and the innates that Vampires get are great.

Barbarians and Lost-Souls I don't play that much. Lost-Souls are good for a larf sometimes, but they're really a different kind of character that I never really appreciated. I won with a couple of Lost-Souls, but didn't really like it; all of the fun is taken out of the early game.

And then there's the wretched Hermit, the weak, puny, pencil-neck geek that everyone chooses when they want to torture themselves. I wouldn't really recommend the Hermit as anything but a handicap, though it might be feasible when running a magic-using character with good hit die and poor INT/WIS (such as an Ent Mage). Fact is, the -3 to hit die generally don't compensate for the extra stats and mana boost you receive. This applies especially to Mages, who have HP troubles anyway...

I hope this gives you a good idea of how to build a strong character from the sometimes intimidating ToME race/subrace pool.

2.2 Stats

Now let's be realistic for a second. To win the game you've got to kill stuff. And there's really two ways of doing that: with magic and other distance attacks, or with good old-fashioned elbow grease. Therefore, when picking stats at the beginning, I go for characters that are either very strong and dextrous OR very intelligent and wise--fighting types versus spellcasting types.

STR and DEX for fighters. These are your most important stats. You should have tons of HP even with a relatively low CON, so this stat can be relegated to third priority. What you need is killing power. Go for the multiple blows; boost your stats so that you can get multiple blows even with heavy weapons. Don't worry about INT, WIS, and CHR--they're of minimal use to you for most of the game, and you'll be dumb as a rock at the start anyway.

INT or WIS and CON for spellcasters. Listen. The two most important stats for a Mage are not INT and WIS but INT and CON. I would place CON even above INT in this case. Your hit points are lousy and you NEED TO STAY ALIVE. So long as your INT is decent (18+), you should have enough offense to suit you, but you can never have too much HP. I've won with mages who wore Hammerhand several times, just for the +3 CON. Boosting your Magic skill will increase your mana, but more CON is the only 100% reliable way to get more HP.

Basically, you just need to ensure that you're healthy enough not to get breathed on and killed by a Red Dragon Bat before you start indulging in the offensive arts. I'll no doubt say this many more times over the course of this guide: hit points keep you alive. If you don't have them, you don't really have anything.

Gaining stats over the course of the game is one of the most important--and tedious--tasks of a good ToME player. Search for those potions and stat-boosting eq, kill a million Novice Mindcrafters, yaaaaawn. I would say in this case that you don't need to make sure that your stats are perfect, just good enough. Enough stat increasers will fall through your fingers in the later game for you to be a little easygoing in the middle. If you've got enough HP and feel confident in your attacking abilities, feel free to head down deeper in the dungeon and take on tougher monsters. Just because your INT is at 18/118 and not 18/120 is no reason to spend another two hours scumming the Sandworm Lair for stat-gain potions.

2.3 Skills

Skills are, of course, different for each character, so when starting out you should take note of which skills your character could invest in that are particularly desirable, and, more pointedly, what sort of multiplier each of those skills has. An Assassin, for example, has a whopping .5 multiplier to Disarming, meaning that you'll have to pour a million skill points into it to get anywhere. However, an Assassin also has a 2.0 multiplier in Stealth, meaning that only a few points in this category will help a lot.

{ Under older versions of ToME, a level of about 10 in Disarming with an Assassin was as effective as level 35 or so with a Warrior, since an Assassin, as a rogue-type class, got much more benefit from the skill. This is not anymore true. Since ToME 2.3, a level 10 in Disarming is equally effective for all classes. }

Note that now powers like Stealth and Searching are largely controlled by skill points. Races with a lower Stealth (like RohanKnights and Thunderlords) get a penalty to the relevant skill to begin with, but they still get the same multiplier. This means that a Thunderlord Necromancer is still going to wake the neighbors whilst moseying across the room to pick up that intriguing Phosphorescent Potion, but a RohanKnight Assassin is much more feasible.

No matter what race and class I am, I always try to put skill points into Magic-Device. All of my winners have at least a level of 30 in this skill except for those devoted to Antimagic, which forbids use of devices. The reason for this is that its benefits are just too great not to take advantage of. Not only will Magic-Device make using wands, staves, rods, and artifacts much, much easier, it'll also increase the power level of the spells contained in some of these devices. Having an extra 10 points in Magic-Device could mean a level 15 rather than level 5 Manathrust contained in your wands, or let you rely on your Rod of Healing in the heat of battle rather than reaching for a potion. Magic-Device is great.

If the option is open to you and you're a fighter or archer type, I would maximize one of the weaponmasteries (sword/hafted/bow/crossbow etc.), and ignore all the others. These skills will give you huge combat bonuses with the appropriate weapons. You should also plan on putting at least some skill points into Weaponmastery or Combat--it might seem useless, but later in the game when you become accustomed to missing 27 times in a row while fighting a level 110 Great Bile Wyrm, every point will count. Weaponmastery and/or Combat are essential for non-warrior fighting types (like Possessors) as well.

Mages of all kinds will need to max out Magic and devote points to either Sorcery or school magic; from there they can go with other auxillary skills like Prayer or Necromancy, or just dump more skills into Spell-Power, which is always helpful.

If you're a Mage, I would suggest maxing out Fire and/or Mana; you need attack spells. I usually go for around level 6 in Water for Ent's Potion as well, and a respectable level in Nature for the recovery spells. Conveyance and Divination are also essential.

Priests, if they play their cards right and do all the God quests, should only have to devote a few points to Prayer. From there, they can pump up Spirituality, go for Weaponmastery, or take a more mage-like route with points put into magical skills. I tend to run fighting priests, and put my points into Combat and Weaponmastery so I can boost my extra blows and other combat skills.

It really helps to have a plan for where all your points are going to go; if you run a character in debug mode beforehand just to see how many skill points it'll take to max out certain categories, you can plan more effectively for when you actually spend those points. Get the important stuff maxxed out first, and then go for the extras.

{ Note that boosting Spirituality is one of the ONLY ways to increase your character's saving throw; it won't get better as you gain levels or stats. However, since it takes a LOT of points in Spirituality to even notice a difference, I would only recommend this category for Priests. }

As for abilities (like Extra Max Blow or Tree Walking), you can go with them if they're part of your grand plan for your character, but some of them (like Touch of Death) can only be gained through lots and lots of skill points put in the right places. For fighting Loremasters and Priests, at least, I like to have some extra blows under my belt, and I try to invest in Necromancy and get Undead Form for Sorcerers without many HP. I also get Spread-Blows if I have over 8 blows or so and enough Weaponmastery. The other abilities I don't consider too useful.

2.4 Gods

Well, I'll lay my cards on the table with respect to Gods right away: I think the best God for warriors and hand-to-hand combat types is Melkor. I think the best God for Mages and magic types is Melkor or Eru. I think the best God for archers and pseudo-fighting types (like Possessors) is Manwe. I'll tell you why as we break these down God by God, but first a note on piety and prayer.

A common point of obsession among semi-experienced players is lack of piety. People worshipping Yavanna or Manwe bite their nails as their piety descends below zero, and relentlessly try to keep it high while still devoting time to the quest. My advice to these people is not to sweat it. Since most gods who have severe piety-reducing restrictions reduce piety per round and according to your WIS, you won't get high piety until you get a higher speed and WIS, or, in other words, until later in the game. So, unless Manwe starts hating you so much that your speed starts going down, don't worry about it.

Now, prayer. There are two kinds of God worshippers: those who go all the way and bring Prayer up to a high level, and those who just don't really care and worship a God just because. Eru, Yavanna, Melkor, and to a lesser extent Manwe are good for the former type, while Tulkas and perhaps Manwe are good for the latter. The benefits of many Gods only come out with Prayer, and unless you're willing to devote skill points to it, you should reconsider worshipping them. On a related note, if you decide to do the high Prayer thing and get those benefits, you NEED to do the God quests. Completing all of them is the equivalent of dumping 30 skill points into Prayer--that'll almost max out the Prayer level of a priest, and put even a casual believer halfway to some real advantages. If you hate the god temples (I do), then just hold off on doing them until you can find some Potions of Enlightment or learn Vision or whatever--wizard light makes the temples really easy.

The Gods (Much more info on gods is available in the Priest section of hints by class type)


Eru offers impressive benefits and great drawbacks. He's of VERY limited use to fighters (except Haftedmasters) due to his rules concerning blunt weapons, and anyone who prefers fighting to magic might be better off looking elsewhere. However, those willing to devote enough prayer points to his worship are very well off; Eru has probably the best God Spells (See the Music, Listen to the Music, Know the Music, Lay of Protection) of any God, and the traditional magic he gives you (Mana and Divination) is very good too.

Mages can do pretty well by forsaking the Mana and Divination schools entirely and just pouring points into Prayer and Spell-power; if you do all the god quests as well, this is a very cost-effective way to go. Lay of Protection is great once you get it up to radius 2, whereupon it becomes one of the most powerful anti-summoning techniques possible. Cast the spell and all of your liberties vanish, just like that. { See the part about liberties in the "tome2 " part. } The mana bonus and possible resurrection are very nice as well.


I think Manwe is a better god for fighters than Tulkas. Part of the reasoning for this is Manwe's Blessing, which, if you've got enough Prayer skill, can raise your hitroll by as many as *50* points. You also get Wind Shield, which helps with AC and protection from evil If your Prayer is high enough, you also get Avatar, which turns you into an insane fighting machine. And the +7 speed is nothing to sneeze at either.

Regardless of feelings as far as fighters are concerned, though, I think that Manwe is far and away the best Archer god, with the great +hit bonus giving you a much better chance of nailing that distant Lich with an arrow. Combining multiple shots with the speed bonus is also very cool. And his Conveyance boost gives you the ability to phase around and use hit-and-run tactics as well. Good stuff.


I've only won a couple of characters worshipping Yavanna, and it's not just because she's really touchy as far as piety is concerned. You need to dump a LOT of skill points into Prayer for Yavanna to be effective; she provides very few benefits to those with a low Prayer level, and almost none of her abilities are offensive, meaning that you're pretty much on your own as far as killing is concerned.

The good news is that Yavanna can provide a powerful magical boost to those willing to invest in her prayers. Mages might have little use for them, but Warriors appreciate the Stone Skin ability provided by the Earth school and the Healing spell given by the Nature school. Water can also give some interesting abilities. A Warrior who can cast Tidal Wave? Now that I like!

{ Note that it IS possible, through manipulating Yavanna and Melkor worship and maxxing Prayer, to learn Genocide with a Warrior. This consumes most of the character's available skill points, however, and results in a very bizarre winning character (I've done it with a Demonologist). This is somewhat more feasible with a Ranger. }


I'm very skeptical of the value of Tulkas worship. He's effective as a God if you're unwilling to put any skill points into Prayer at all just because of his STR and CON boost, but his God spells are weak, even at high levels, and his benefits pale in comparison to some of the other Gods' abilities.

Tulkas's main virtue, I think, is Stone Prison, gained when you get your Prayer level above level 30 or so. This is an immensely useful spell, especially for Warriors. For the most part, however, I regard Tulkas as a "better than nothing" God, one to worship when you don't want to worry about Gods.

After using Tulkas a few more times, I've become a little more favorably disposed toward him; he's very undemanding (piety is really easy to get) and low maintenance. The damage bonus is nice, as are the stat boosts, and Wave of Power can be an effective substitute for long-range attacks if you pour enough skill into Prayer. All the same, it doesn't quite stack up to a high-level Avatar spell (and doesn't come anywhere close to a high-level Curse spell). So I guess my feelings on Tulkas have changed a little, from mild disgust to cautious optimism. Still, I'd prefer Manwe.


Ahhh... Melkor. Perhaps the most misunderstood and underappreciated God out there, the big evil guy is tough to get used to, but his benefits are amazing. You don't really start noticing them until your Prayer level starts getting high, though, so don't go for Melkor worship unless you're willing to pump up Prayer. Mind Steal and Corpse Explosion are just parlor tricks, and he only grants you access to the useless Mind school, but these shortcomings are overshadowed by his advantages.

Melkor provides Udun for Mages (with the irritating condition that he reduces your INT and WIS). Why should you care about Udun? Well, it'll allow you to cast a couple of crappy spells and a couple of really, really good ones, namely, Drain and Genocide. Genocide really requires no explanation: get in trouble, cast the spell, no more trouble. One of the most useful spells out there. Drain will, if you've got some good Rods in your inventory, almost act as a bottomless Potion of Restore Mana if you use it correctly. Get down to 100 SP, cast drain on that Mithril Rod of Capacity, now you're at 420. Rest after the battle to let the rod recharge, and you're good to go again. However, since only Drain and Genocide are really worth learning, I would put a max of one or two points into Udun and let your high skill in Mana and Nature magic take care of the rest.

It's in the sphere of hand-to-hand combat, however, that Melkor really shines. Not only does he boost your STR and CON like Tulkas (the INT/WIS penalty is less important for Warriors), he allows you to take a minor HP hit by sacrificing at his altar to increase your damroll up to around +4 per hit (an amount depending on your WIS; you get +4 or maybe +5 dam at maxxed WIS, I think). Got 100 extra HP? Give 'em to Melkor and you've got 40 extra damage per hit. Not bad at all. It's Curse, however, that really makes Melkor worthwhile. You can autocast it after you get Prayer above about 5 and piety above about 5000, but it's not too effective at first. Once you get your Prayer level really high, though (level 35+, I would say), it becomes absolutely devastating. It reduces the AC and attack power of the cursed monster, and also reduces speed, an effect that currently works EVEN ON UNIQUES. If you curse something 3 or 4 times a round (very possible with the autocast), you'll soon be moving about 10 times as fast as your foe, allowing you to defeat even extremely difficult uniques without breaking a sweat. I've killed Sauron with a Melkor worshipper who suffered only TWO rounds of attacks from him. You really have to see a high-level fighter using Curse to believe it. It's insane.

Some people have, in fact, brought up the notion that Curse is too powerful for high-leveled Warriors. This is true in a lot of cases, though not all, I think; if you're already powerful enough to kill most monsters in a couple of turns, Curse will just seal the deal, while for others (a Mimic, for example), it might make killing those high-level creatures with melee feasible for the first time. I guess you have to rely on your player ethics; if Curse is going to take all the fun out of the game for you, well, don't use it.

Melkor also gives you fire immunity and invisibility. Not bad, huh?

2.5 Knowing Thyself

I think that, more than anything, the indicator of my success when playing a character is whether or not I know exactly what that character can handle. This allows me to gauge which enemies I can defeat and which I need to watch out for, what I'm comfortable doing in any given situation, which items I still need before I can start taking on certain monsters, etc. If you have a better "feel" for your character, you can better control your character.

For example, Jenna the High-Elf Polearm-master is trudging through the Sandworm Lair when she gets hit by a Disenchantment Ball trap. Ouch! Suddenly she's got 14 hit points left. Now, I've been sure to keep Jenna's CON nice and high during the early game, and this is the closest she's come to death so far. So I heal up, shoulder my pack, and head out again.

The next level holds a vault, which has lots of tasty items and some nonthreatening monsters interspersed. However, Jenna's not too good at disarming, and that trap that almost killed me gives me pause. In this case, I would skip the vault until I got some more Magic-Device skill and a Rod of Disarming.

Later on, a much more prosperous Jenna is fighting a bunch of Vrocks and taking quite a drubbing. A quick Phase Door saves her hide, but I don't head back into the battle right away. Instead, I take a more conservative course, luring the Vrocks one by one out of the room they're in and killing them as they appear.

In Moria, Jenna fights a hair-raising battle against a group of Vibration Hounds. Though she manages to kill them without much incident, not having sound resistance is making her nervous. She decides to leave Moria alone for a while and head off to Mirkwood to gain some experience.

Still later, Jenna's hit a bit of misfortune: the Great Wyrm of Law she's fighting has summoned a Great Wyrm of Thunder. However, she's been fighting Ancient Dragons for a while now, and can dispatch them without too much trouble. So instead of pursuing an escape route, she just knuckles down and keeps hacking away at the dragons.

These are simplistic examples, but they serve to illustrate the same point: get to know your character, know what you're capable of and what's still outside of your scope. It'll increase your chances of survival.

3 Combat

3.1 How Not to Stab Yourself in the Eye

The thing in your hands with one sharp end and one blunt end is a sword; if you're a fighter-type, you're going to have to learn to use it or something like it with some degree of skill. The easiest way to conduct yourself is just to charge screaming into battle, but a little subtlety--even if you're a Troll--is always helpful.

The rule for fighters is One At A Time. Fight one monster at a time if at all possible, and don't leave yourself exposed to nasties by charging out onto open ground if you can help it. This can spell the difference between this


and this


In the first situation, you're surrounded by trolls and are taking a lot of damage. In the second, trolls are coming at you one at a time, and you can kill them much more easily. The only disadvantage of the second situation is that you've boxed yourself in; you can't really run away. This is one of the reasons why you should a) always be sure you can handle the monsters before you decide to fight them, and b) always have a means of teleportation handy.

However, it's important not to panic just because you're surrounded by monsters. OK, so you've goofed somehow and now you're surrounded by Dreads. But you've got an armor class of 211 and 1300 HP and those Dreads are doing 30 points of damage per round to you. Do you teleport away or just keep hacking away at them? Once you start losing a significant percentage of your HP per round, though, or if you know that one of your enemies has the potential to take your HP down quickly, don't hesitate to get out of there. The motley association of molds populating the dungeon won't be impressed if you fight those creatures rather than run, so just swallow your pride and teleport out. Better to be a coward than a corpse.

A large part of success as a fighter is manipulating the surrounding terrain to give you the advantage against your foes. If you can do that, all that you need otherwise is plenty of killing power and some magical backup. If the monsters you're fighting are weak and you're sure you can even kill them all at once, you can be a little less discreet, but remember that if you're deep in the dungeon, it's easy to leave yourself exposed. While you're fighting those Trolls, an Archlich could come ambling through the walls, and if that happens, the player in the second situation will be in much better shape to handle it.

If you've got long-range attacks (whether with wands, arrows, etc), I would encourage you to avoid the "grassy knoll" setup:


So you've got your bolts and heavy crossbow and are ready to take out these trolls. So you start shooting, and before long, you get this:


Great work, genius. Now you've killed a few trolls, but the others are swamping you, and all your bolts are scattered around the room. Try this instead:


Now you can nail the trolls with bolts to your heart's content, and if you don't kill them all off with your ammo stockpile, you can fall back into the corridor and fight them hand-to-hand. So the One At A Time rule applies to archers to an extent as well.

Now, there are some monsters (such as Zephyr Hounds) that won't charge down a corridor to meet you like the aforementioned trolls. Instead, they'll lurk in a nearby chamber, waiting for YOU to come out and attack THEM. Whereupon they'll gleefully all breathe at you and then do the old dogpile thing.


Edgar the Hobbit Assassin knows that there are hounds in the room to the north, but whenever he steps on the square marked "3," they all mob him at once. If he stays where he is, the hounds steadfastly refuse to come out and play. So what's he to do?

Here, Edgar has several options. If he's got a reliable ball attack, like a Wand of Noxious Cloud, he should just aim it at the squares surrounding 3 and watch gleefully as the hounds choke to death. If he doesn't have a ball spell, but does have arrows or other bolt attacks, he can do this:


Tunnel out one or both of the walls to the left and right, then move back and forth between the spots. This should throw the hounds, which move somewhat erratically, off target and allow him to pick off some of them. Once they're gone, he can go in and clean up.

If, however, Edgar only has his trusty Main Gauche, he has to go into the room and take some hits until he's lost some percentage of his hit points, then lure the hounds back into the corridor. The hounds will follow him if he's wounded; it's just a question of leaving just the right amount of blood on the floor.

For most of the game, damroll is the important thing to have with fighting-types. Rings of Damage and Slaying can help to increase this, as can certain gloves and amulets, good strength, a good weapon, and skill in one of the weapon masteries. How much damage is enough? Well, a general rule is that you can never have enough. Some winning warriors of mine could do over 2000 damage a round in damroll alone, before considering weapon die. However, only about a total of 1000 damage a round is desirable for winning. This shouldn't be too tough; maxxing out a weapon mastery will give you +25 per hit, a good weapon will give you another +20 or so, strength will kick in for 10-20 more, and that's already about 60 damage a round. Multiply that by around 9 blows a round or so, and you've got over 500. Equipment will boost that ability more.

In the late game, however, a good high hitroll will become almost as important, if not more important, than damroll. Monsters in the late game (in Angband, where they're levelled) get some pretty insane armor class boosts, and if you don't have a high enough hitroll and skill in combat, you're going to have to become accustomed to missing your enemies almost 100% of the time. You can fix this by boosting hitroll sufficiently (over 110 or so will allow you to hit most things in Angband) or by pumping more points into the Weaponmastery and Combat skills. If you can get your Combat skill (on the character subscreen) up to around "Legendary [50]," you should be good (hitroll raises this skill, as does skill points in the areas mentioned above). Some winners I've run have hitroll about 200, but that's excessive unless you're headed for the Void.

On a related note, there are a number of items and abilities that can increase your fighting ability temporarily. Most of these deal with hitroll (berserk, for example, will boost your +hit by 20), though others (stone skin, Wind Shield) increase armor class. Usually warriors who have specific weapon masteries are powerful enough hand-to-hand not to need these enhances for the bulk of the game (once you start fighting leveled monsters in Angband, though, extra hitroll really helps), but other pseudo-fighters like loremasters and priests might need the extra help.

So here's a few ways to boost your fighting ability without placing skill points in the appropriate categories:

  • Speed up. This is the old standby, and all of my warriors have a stockpile of Potions of Speed for this purpose. If you're fighting something stronger or faster than you, or fighting a bunch of monsters at once, this is a necessity. There are also Wands of Essence of Speed and Rods of Speed. I usually don't use the former (charges can be drained pretty easily), but the latter is very useful for characters with good Magic-Device skill.
  • Boost your hitroll. You can tote around potions of Berserk Strength or find the artifact that gives you the ability (this artifact is fairly easy to find, and is quite desirable for a warrior). Since berserk only increases your hitroll, though, I usually rely on it only when I find myself missing my opponent pretty often. Heroism will also give you a +10 to hit, and blessing a +5, but I don't find these good enough to devote a whole slot to. You can also get Divine Aim, which is pretty nice and will raise your hitroll by 20, or Manwe's Blessing, which should boost it by anywhere from 5 to 50 points. In any case, these tactics should be relied upon once you start happening on monsters that you keep missing with your physical attacks. Bards can boost themselves using Heroic Ballad, and they definitely should, considering their weakness at close range.
  • Shield yourself. If you know Stone Skin, you should be using it during every battle against a monster with a good physical attack. If you know Wind Shield, you should use it when fighting low-level evil creatures. There's also Protection From Evil, which is unfortunately also only good against low-level evil creatures. If you're a Bard, you've got Hobbit Melodies, which can also be nice.
  • Other enhancements. Abilities like Balrog Form, Avatar, and Tree Roots can turn you into a crazy fighting machine for a while. Most of these have high failure rates and other drawbacks, though, so be sure to start casting them well ahead of time. They usually also don't last long, so use your other enhancement abilities first...

Mindcraft is a very nice ability for a warrior to have, since it'll provide you with almost all of the above: a speed boost, a hitroll boost, and an armor class boost. It'll also give you temporary resistances to some of the elements, which can be a huge help (see the part on breath attacks).

Usually, when fighting a monster that's tough enough to concern me, I'll use a speed enhancement, a hitroll enhancement, and an armor enhancement if I have one. Other, more excessive measures I save for really, really, really tough uniques.

One more comment on warrior equipment: I've noticed a high percentage of fighters on the ladder and elsewhere using the Ring of Flare. Now, Flare is nice if you lack fire immunity or have really lousy stats, but in my book it takes a back seat to other rings that offer you +slaying ability or extra attacks. Here's why: virtually all of Flare's abilities can be duplicated by other equipment. The coat of Trone, for example, will give you better stat boots, fire immunity, and a bunch of other nice things (reflection!) without consuming a ring slot. However, there are *no* body armors that will give you +hit, +dam, or extra blows. That means that you must rely on your ring slots to provide these things for you. A character who uses a good Ring of Slaying and Trone will be better off than a character who uses Flare and, say, Hithlomir. If you're a warrior and really need fire immunity in the late levels, use Narya--at least that gives you a small boost to hit and damage.

The one unique ability of Flare is its "switch positions" ability; I haven't used this too often, but other people swear by it. Still, if you really like this ability, I would advise you to keep Flare in your inventory and wear it only when you need to swap positions with a monster--in other situations you should be wearing something that helps you kill stuff. 'Nuff said, I suppose.

This largely applies only to warriors, I should note, and other melee-based characters. Spellcasters who don't give two rips about +hit and +dam or extra blows might appreciate Flare's stat bonuses and abilities; for them, it's probably a much better bet.

3.2 Fighting Effectively with Magic

It might seem silly to talk about strategy when you cast a Manathrust on anything that moves, but the fact is that you can get much more out of your spells by combining them than just holding down your macro key and hoping that your mana holds out.

Let me give you an example.


Here, Elspeth the Elven Mage, adventuring in Erebor, is fighting a Nightcrawler advancing down the corridor toward her from the north. On the other side of the east wall are a bunch of Chaos Hounds that would be happy to kill her given the chance. Because of the chance of phasing into the room full of Hounds, Elspeth doesn't want to blink once the Nightcrawler gets next to her. So she has two options: either nail the Nightcrawler with Manathrusts or Fireflashes until it's right next to her, or else cast a Tidal Wave followed by repeated Manathrusts. If she plays her cards right, the Nightcrawler will be pushed backward by the wave several times before finally fighting through it, and by that time Elspeth will have had several more Manathrusts--and maybe another Tidal Wave--already cast.

Likewise, it's far more effective, when stuck in a room with a group of Vibration Hounds and an Ancient Red Dragon, to cast a Noxious Cloud on the Hounds and start Manathrusting the dragon than trying to kill all the Hounds with Manathrust. If you've been cornered by a Pit Fiend and you don't want to fight it, you could try teleporting it away... or you could also try a Strike spell to distance it from you followed by a Stone Prison spell to protect yourself.

In any case, don't just think of what spells can do on their own. Think of what they can do if you pair them with other spells. If you know twenty spells and only use two of them, you could stand to gain some flexibility.

This is not to say that every spell is useful; on the contrary, many are useless (such as, in my opinion, those in the Mind school), and won't be of much interest to anyone. But if you're not using a spell and feel that it could be useful, try using your imagination.

Some of my favorite things to do with spells:

  • Find a room full of monsters without distance attacks, cast Phase Door to get some jumpgates situated around the room, and jump around casting Tidal Wave (this is a STELLAR tactic to use on the Nirnaeth troll quest in Gondolin--I use Wands of Tidal Wave for characters who don't know the spell)
  • Cast Firewall down a long corridor full of nasties and Manthrust them as they come at you. Ouch.
  • Another way of dealing with angry monsters coming at you down a corridor is to target Stone Prison on the first one, then cast Dig to free it, then alternate Strike and Manathrust to kill it. This should at least buy you some time to deal with the others. (not too effective unless the first monster is separated from the others by at least one space)
  • Find a room full of demons. Cast Stone Prison, cast Dig to open up a little bit of sight for yourself, then cast Fireflash on the area outside of the prison until the demons are all dead. Just because something's out of your LOS doesn't mean that splash damage can't hurt it.
  • Cast Lay of Protection to get a radius-2 sea of runes. Cast Phase Door to get some jumpgates, then cast Lay of Protection again. You wind up with two seas of runes with jumpgates in their centers. Now just stand on top of the jumpgates and fire off Manathrusts at your enemies. When they get too close, use the jumpgate to teleport to the other sea of runes. This is a protective anti-summoning measure. Also works with Stone Prison, though not as well.

{ I originally developed this strategy to deal with Melkor in the Void, and it worked amazingly well. Runes around you prevent summoning, while the jumpgates keep your opponents from getting too close. Don't use Fireflash in conjunction with this or you'll nuke your runes. This tactic works so well against summoners that it almost feels like cheating. }

3.3 Fighting Monsters that Summon Stuff

OK, so one of the HUGE advantages that most monsters have over most characters is the ability to summon immense numbers of foul monsters to do their bidding an unlimited number of times. Try hanging around Bone Golems, Gelugons, or Great Wyrms of Chaos and you'll see what I mean. Someone summons Greater Demons, you panic and either try to kill them all or teleport them all away, and just when you think that you might have things under control, they summon MORE Greater Demons. Or, more commonly, something summons Greater Demons which have the capability to summon more Greater Demons, and pretty soon you're buried. You need a technique to handle this.

First, a few words about LOS and liberties. LOS stands for Line Of Sight, and indicates everything that you (or monsters) can see. If you're in the monsters' LOS, they can cast spells (including summons) at you. If they can't see you, they can't cast spells at you.


Boromir is out of the Giant Salamander's LOS.


The Giant Salamander is now in Boromir's LOS. He could hit it with an arrow now, if he were so inclined. However, it can't see him yet, so it can't retaliate.


Boromir fears the Salamander and decides to run from it. However, he is now in its LOS, so it could cast a spell or breathe on him.

A very important tactic is learning how to disrupt your enemies' LOS to protect yourself from their spells.


Galstaff the Human Sorceror has discovered an unpleasant surprise upon entering this room: a Rotting Quylthulg! It's summoned a Zombified Kobold next to him.


Galstaff disrupts the Quylthulg's LOS by targetting it with a Stone Prison spell. The Quylthulg can no longer see him, so it can't summon (since Galstaff has spent a round casting this spell, one would hope that he's robust enough to survive at least one round of the kobold's attacks).


After dispatching the kobold, he can destroy the Q easily by tunneling away one of the corners of the prison and Manathrusting it; it can't see him even though he can see it.


Galstaff could accomplish much the same result with Shake. The Q can no longer see him, so he can sneak up on it.

{ In the above situation, where you're dealing with a weak, immobile summoner like a rotting Q, it might be better just to Manathrust it without bothering with LOS tactics, but you've got to walk before you can run. }

Another thing about summoners: they can only summon creatures into an area of 20 squares surrounding you, that is, a two-square radius surrounding your character:


Monsters can ONLY summon into this space if you can see it and it's clear of obstruction.


The spaces marked "1," "2," and "3" are within the bounds, but you can't see them, so no monster summons there. The category of "obstructions" includes but is not limited to other monsters, walls, chasms, trees, spiderwebs, mountains, and runes of protection.

These summoning spaces are called your liberties, and it's your job to make sure that they're all full of something, usually walls, whenever you're fighting a big summoner.

Now, time-honored practices dating all the way back to before ToME was even PernBand call for the creation of an anti-summoning corridor. This practice is still effective today and should be used whenever convenient.
Here's the situation:


Thor the Dwarven Haftedmaster has detected a Pit Fiend (capital U) lurking on the other side of this wall. Now, Thor, being a wise, well-traveled Dwarf, recognizes the Pit Fiend to be a powerful summoner. If he charged along the corridor and met it head-on, he would be here:


Now, Thor might be able to kill this Pit Fiend at close range, but note that now four of his liberties are now open and visible. So there's a good chance that next round the scene will look like this:


In addition to the Pit Fiend, poor Thor now has to contend with four additional greater demons, one or more of which might ALSO be Pit Fiends! And if one of those happens to be a Balrog or a Nycadaemon, it'll chew up the walls around him, freeing up even MORE room for summons.

Now let's say that instead, clever Thor decides to take his Orcish Pick of Digging and tunnel out the northern wall like so:


Now all he has to do is lure the Pit Fiend north (maybe by digging out another block to the northeast and moving there), and he's in this position:


Note that NONE of the squares in a two-square radius surrounding Thor are open and visible; there's one square two squares to the west that's empty, but Thor can't see that square, so the Pit Fiend can't summon. Neat, huh?

There are also ways to create makeshift anti-summoning corridors. Try surrounding yourself with runes using Eru's Lay of Protection, casting Stone Prison on yourself, using Grow Trees repeatedly, quaffing a Morphic Oil of Spider and spinning webs, or using Geomancy's Grow Barrier spell. None of these are perfect, but they work.

Anti-summoning corridors aren't strictly necessary, but they work very well. The important thing to remember when fighting summoners, though, is to KEEP YOUR LIBERTIES FROM BEING EMPTY AND VISIBLE! Never fight a summoner out in the middle of an empty room; you're just asking for trouble there. At least fight them in a corridor--then you'll have only about four (rather than twenty or so) liberties open and visible. Keep those squares occupied at all cost, that's the important thing.

Note that, if you're fighting a big summoner and are also surrounded by weak monsters, it might be to your advantage to ignore the weak ones and shoot straight for the summoner. Example: you're fighting a Greater Titan and it summons a pack of Cave Orcs. It'll take you only one Fireflash spell to nuke the orcs, but as long as they're next to you the Titan can't summon anything else. In this case, it might be more effective to simply let the orcs be and focus on the real threat. You can also surround yourself with otherwise useless pets just to take up space; someone who's got a Summoning skill of 1 (likely from Fumblefingers) can still conjure up a couple of rats to fill in the holes in his or her liberties.

Let's talk about ways to deal with big summoners who don't move and therefore can't be lured into anti-summoning situations. We've all been in this situation.


That stupid Princess somehow manages to get herself trapped by five Greater Draconic Quylthulgs (or worse) and it's your unenviable task to rescue the whiny little tart.

{ The scenario pictured above is actually the *easiest* one; sometimes it's sixteen Master Quylthulgs or something. }

In any case, you step onto one of the entry squares to the chamber, two or three monsters see you, squeal with delight, and surround you with Great Wyrms of Law before you can even reach for your Long Bow of Lothlorien. So how do you deal with summoners who summon at you before you can even get a shot at them?

The only real way to do this is to keep them from seeing you. No, I don't mean invisibility, I mean LOS disruption. In this situation, a Morphic Oil of Spider will win the battle quickly. Quaff it while outside the chamber, spin webs that cover the whole area, then walk right through the webs and attack the Qs. Since they can't attack you over the web, they essentially can't retaliate until you're right next to them--and by that point all of your liberties are full of web. A staff of Shake or a Wand of Stone Prison will also work in this situation, though not quite as well--fill the inside of the room with rock, then tunnel through it to reach the enemies. At all cost, don't just blindly charge at the summoners hoping that they won't summon--they will.


Those + signs are webs, and the Qs can't see through them. So by using them for cover, you can approach the Qs with little danger. They can still escape with their blink spells, however, so be sure to kill them quickly or else use the Anchor of Space-Time or other anti-teleportation measures to freeze them in place.

There's another way to do this, though it's more time-consuming and a little less fun. You can use ball attacks (Fireflash, Pulverize, Noxious Cloud, etc.) to cause splash damage to things outside of your LOS. In this situation, for example...


Fladnag the Maia Geomancer has detected a druj in the chamber to the south (good for him for using detection spells!). He doesn't have any means of LOS disruption, but he does have a radius-4 Fireflash spell.


By targeting the space marked "1," Fladnag can nuke the druj with Fireflashes to his heart's content, and rest up safely when and if he runs out of mana.

Note that this is a fairly time-consuming (and more disingenuous) means of killing monsters, kind of in line with killing them on the other sides of walls using Thaumaturgy Area spells, or across glass walls using splash damage from ball spells. Since it's somewhat scummy, I prefer other methods--if you can kill every enemy without *any* risk, the game becomes pretty boring. Still, and again, you should let your own ethics guide you (see the final section of this guide for more).

Don't expect your own summoned monsters, if you're the type that likes pets, to automatically prevail. Your pets, despite their many virtues, don't know anti-summoning techniques, and they'll probably just get you in trouble.

If something does get off a summon on you, don't panic. In fact, don't do anything right off. Examine the monsters. What are they? What level are they? Are they monsters that you kill routinely or are they new and exotic? Are you wary of any of them? It's easy to get intimidated when eight Ancient Dragons surround you, but if they're all Ancient Blacks and Blues and you have double resistances, it might be worth it just to ignore them. If they're harmless and you can shoot over their heads, you can just put them on hold while you attack whatever summoned them. If they're dangerous, phase door out of there and lure them onto more advantageous ground.

3.4 Fighting Monsters that Breathe Stuff

Breathers are never very fun. There are lots of elements out there, and even if you have resistance to all of them, there are some irresistible attacks, and some that do enough damage to make resistances not even matter that much.

But, in any case, resistance is key. Most important are the cardinal resists (acid, elec, fire, cold), and you should definitely have these by the time you start encountering mature dragons. They're fairly easy to get.

Poison is the only high resist (i.e. a resist that's not cardinal) that's absolutely necessary. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to find (Amulets of Trickery and The Serpents will afford it, among other pieces of eq), and can also be gotten from many of the undead subraces. But you need it. Once you start encountering Ancient Green Dragons without poison resistance, you should stop diving and start searching elsewhere for it.

From here on, we have to prioritize resists as far as what monsters breathe each element, how common they are, and how much maximum damage the element does. Here's my valuation of the high resists:

Most Important

  • Poison (absolutely necessary; get it or die)
  • Chaos (Chaos breath hurts, and this resist will not only reduce damage from it, but prevent confusion and all of the other nasty things that go along with it)
  • Nether (A VERY common breath, and one that does a ton of damage. Side effects aren't as bad as Chaos, though)
  • Sound (Doesn't do a lot of damage, but Sound resistance will prevent the stunning side effect of not only this, but some other monster spells)
  • Shards (Will prevent cuts and reduce damage from rockets, which really really hurt [Joke/Z monsters only])
  • Disenchantment (Does a lot of damage, and nobody likes getting their stuff knocked down a notch)

Less Important

  • Nexus (Only a few things breathe it, and if your stats are maxed, the side effects aren't deadly)
  • Dark (Nothing really to worry about, but some high-level monsters have Darkness Storm, which hurts)
  • Light (Not much damage here, unless you're a Vampire)
  • Confusion (If I've got Chaos resistance, I can usually forego this--all it does is reduce damage from the element and prevent confusion)

There's also Fear and Blindness resistances, which don't really prevent damage. Fear is essential for fighting-types, but Blindness I usually don't fret about too much.

The best way to handle big breathers is to have plenty of practice battling similar monsters; this will give you a good idea of how much damage they can do to you. If you're not sure, though, or if you're fighting something that you think could cause a lot of damage to you but you're not sure how much, I would observe the 600-hit point rule. This rule states that no monster can do more than 600 damage to you in a single round, owing to caps placed on breath damage by the game. So just heal yourself up every time you dip below 600, and you should be golden.

There are, however, a lot of caveats to the 600-hit point rule:

  • This rule assumes that you have all the cardinal resists and poison resistance
  • This rule assumes that you are only fighting one monster at a time
  • This rule assumes that you are moving at least as fast as the monster
  • This rule assumes that you're not fighting something that can fire rockets without shards resistance
  • This rule does not take into account the Hand of Doom spell, which can never kill you, but will reduce your HP fractionally
  • This rule applies to breath attacks and spells, not physical attacks, traps, or other sources of damage

{ A few more words on traps might be appropriate here. In the early game, if you've got fairly good hit points, traps should be more an annoyance than anything else. However, in the mid to late game, traps are a huge concern. Traps can curse your armor and weapons, drain your piety and speed, even kill you outright. This is why you need a reliable means of detecting and disarming them. Pumping up Magic-Device and toting a rod of Detection is a good means of finding them if you haven't got the spells to do so, and if your Disarming skill is no good or if you don't know the spell, a rod of Disarming is also in order. If your HP is good enough, you can be somewhat lax about traps until you hit the Sacred Land of Mountains and afterward, but for Erebor, Mount Doom, and Angband, you really need a reliable means of detection and disarmament. Since trap power is based on dungeon level, this statement goes double for the Nether Realm. Accustomed to getting hit by six Seeker Arrows or Broken Daggers when you hit missile traps? Well, how'd you like to get hit by forty-eight of them at once? Or maybe blunder across a Mana Ball trap that does 1700 damage in one hit? This is what traps will do to you in the Nether Realm. So detect reliably and often, and find some way to disarm those traps, sucker. }

These techniques are how I deal with creatures like Great Wyrms of Law and Nightcrawlers, monsters that breathe unusual elements. You also have to watch out for monsters that breathe the cardinal elements, but have so many hit points that their breath is dangerous even with resistance. I'm talking about monsters like Greater Balrogs, Dracoliches, Shamblers (in Z monster set), and Great Bile Wyrms. Even if you have all the cardinal resists, these creatures can deal almost 600 damage to you by breathing acid, elec, fire, or cold at you. Immunities (granted by artifacts and some other things) will reduce damage from these attacks to 0, allowing you to fight them without fear. However, if you don't have immunity, the best you can do is go with temporary resistance from a Potion of Resistance or some other such source. Temporary resistance, unlike other types, is cumulative with permanent resistance, so if you drink a Potion of Resist Heat while wearing a Shield of Resist Fire, damage done to you by fire attacks will be reduced to not 1/3 (the resistance provided by either the potion or the shield), but 1/9 of its original total. So if you're fighting a Great Bile Wyrm and don't have acid immunity, gulp down that Potion of Resistance just to be safe.

{ This rule especially applies to Great Ice Wyrms and a few other cold-crazy monsters, which will absolutely eradicate your potions if you're not immune to cold. Before you decide to fight them with only single cold resistance, consider whether you'd rather lose one Potion of Resistance or eight potions of *Healing*. Brrr.... }

Also bear in mind that there are some elements that cannot be resisted; there are only a few of them, and they don't do nearly as much damage as the more ordinary elements, but you should nonetheless be aware of them. The only time when they're really dangerous, in my experience, is when you run into a big huge group of monsters that can all breathe an irresistible element and they all decide that they don't like your hairdo. { Read: Gravity Hounds. } So watch out for those gangs.

3.5 Fighting on Special Levels

Special levels require extra care because you can't teleport yourself or monsters around, you can't genocide monsters, and you can't pass through walls or use any other fancy escape methods. For this reason, you must make sure that the battlefield is prepared to your liking before you get there. Unless you're sure you can win the battle before you arrive, you're likely to get surprised and killed.

A combination of three things should get you through special levels: good detection, careful progress, and a reliable means of LOS disruption from a distance. Cast detect all the time to figure out what's on the horizon, and approach it with caution. If it looks like something you can't beat and you don't want to walk right into a room with it, then hoist high your Staff of Shake or gulp down your Morphic Oil of Spider. Using these items, just turn the room ahead into a big soup of granite or spiderwebs, imprisoning the monsters, then walk through or proceed slowly along, watching for the monsters and killing them as they come.

The big thing with special levels is that you want to keep the area around you filled with stuff that can disrupt your enemies' summons, or they're going to dredge up a bunch of Ancient Dragons that you can't teleport away from. So be prepared to deal with them without using many of the methods that should be familiar to you.

3.6 Monsters that can Make Your Life Miserable

A partial list of monsters that I hate and how I usually deal with them. This doesn't include any Z or Cth creatures, though I play with them on, because I know that almost nobody uses them anymore.

Note that just reading this list is in no way a substitute for getting out there and fighting monsters on your own. Perhaps the most effective way to keep a monster from killing you is to know what to expect from it. Build up your monster memory, get an idea of which monsters are dangerous, then worry about how to kill them.

The more of a monster you kill, the more you'll know about it and the better you can handle them. As a general rule, though, monsters that are most dangerous have the following attributes, in order:

  • Summoning spells, especially advanced summons like Greater Demons
  • Big breath attacks, especially exotic big breath attacks, and high hit points (this doesn't apply to, for example, vortices, which have exotic breaths but weak HP).
  • High speed, especially if they move faster than you
  • Dangerous spells. These include mana bolt, mana storm, darkness storm, brain smash, water ball, rockets, Hand of Doom, and chaos ball.
  • Strong physical attacks (think Hrus and Greater Titans).

A good rule is to treat everything that you haven't fought before with care. If it looks powerful, be sure that your HP is high during every round you're fighting it (powerful-looking things often have the words "greater" or "arch" in front of their names, and their description usually sounds intimidating too. Once you've killed it once, you'll have less trouble killing it again.

If you see something that looks really tough and don't want to fight it, then don't. Head back to the town and look up the monster in the bestiary shop, get an idea of what you can expect from it.

Some monsters that I really, really hate:

  • Quylthulgs: They summon and summon, but they're wimpy. If they look dangerous, I disrupt their LOS and get in close, but if I've got a straight shot, I might just nail them on the spot. About two Manathrusts can take out even tough ones. Just hope that they don't get off a spell first...
  • Nazgul: Absolute horrors at close range. I usually pepper them with arrows or spells from a distance, but if I need to go hand-to-hand, I usually tote around a throwaway artifact that I can attack them with and then get rid of once it's all disenchanted, something like Firestar.

Any Nazgul can present a threat, but those that can summon are much more powerful. Watch out for the Witch-King, Khamul, Dwar, and Akhorahil--I've had the most trouble with these.

  • Beholder Hive-mothers: Possibly my most hated enemies. I'm not sure why; maybe it's their sanity drain attack, their habit of summoning lots more beholders, or their darkness storm attack. I try to lure them into a corridor and hit them from a distance.
  • Gelugons: Yeah, I dislike the Horned Reapers, Pit Fiends, and Greater Balrogs, but Gelugons are the ones that really make my hate list. Their tendency to summon Greater Demons is infuriating, but it's the combination of their attacks, which always seem to hurt way more than they should, their horrible breath, and their tendency to destroy every one of my potions that really drives me nuts. I try to bring these guys in close and then hit and run, but that rarely works.
  • Hrus: Hrus are big and mean, but they're also monstrously stupid. They can't cross lava, I THINK they can't cross water, and they can be easily confused. I never fight them at close range if at all possible; a wand of Confuse and another of Tidal Wave can utterly destroy them from a distance anyway (the latter item, in sufficient quantities, can make Nirnaeth a breeze). Your ability to deal with Hrus is largely a function of how good you are at manipulating the terrain and using effective distance attacks--get good at it.
  • Aranea: Their wound-causing spell is devastating if you've got a bad saving throw and run into a pack of them. Never fight them out in the open. A quick retreat into a corridor and a few well-placed Fireflashes (spell or wand) in their direction usually does the trick. I just need to get the ball somewhere in their vicinity; they have few enough HP that the splash damage usually does them in.
  • Dark Elven Warlocks: Irritating little quislings, not any trouble with Reflection on my side, but their mana bolts hurt a lot. If I've got good stealth, I just sneak up on the group of them and kill them one at a time. If not, I shoot a Firewall (wand or spell) down a nearby corridor and wait for them to come to me and burn.
  • Water Hounds: Joy of joys, the water hounds. Their whirlpools will confuse, stun, and REALLY hurt you, and they're not shy about using them. Fighting a group of them is suicide, even for a high-level character. Warriors can handle them by finding a good stakeout point and waiting for them to walk right up to him, but Mages have to use more caution. Find a spot at a good distance from the hounds and either flood their area with Fireflashes or Manathrust them as soon as they come into view.
  • Archliches: In the same generic family as Nightcrawlers, Nightwalkers, and Black Reavers, but somewhat more hated by me. They've got a charge drain attack at close range, which is very irritating, and they can summon Greater Undead. Kill them quick--they don't have TOO many hit points, so a preemptive Fireflash will serve you well.
  • Great Wyrms of Power: There's no easy way to deal with them, unless you've got Touch of Death on your side and they just keel over once you scratch them. Fighting them out in the open is a sure-fire recipe for disaster; their summoning abilities are almost as devastating as their breath. I've found a fairly effective strategy is to fight them at close range in an anti-summoning corridor, letting them claw and bite at me rather than risk their summons at a distance. Still, they're happy to breathe exotic elements at you, and those elements can *hurt*, so a lot of healing is a requirement too. I've found that, for Warriors who get Necromancy from Fumblefingers, Vampirism works great for this purpose. { An interesting side note: GWoP have more hit points than Gothmog }

3.7 Battlefield Control

I guess as far as combat is concerned, the biggest piece of advice I can offer you is to always meet the enemy on your own terms. If you can see what's coming, identify it, and think of a good way to deal with it, then you can usually handle it. It's just when things surprise you, or when you don't have enough time to prepare, that you start losing battles.

So, when you're ready to fight, make the monsters come to you. Don't let them dictate how the battle's going to go. Find the best spot, dig yourself in, and hit them hard when they come. Just don't be afraid to make tracks if things start going their way. You can always plan another fight if you run away, but if you keep fighting and die, you'll just get regrets.

4 Equipment

4.1 What Not to Wear

OK. Unless you've got lots of crazy innate abilities, you're going to rely on your equipment to provide a lot of things. These things include, but are not limited to, resistances, immunities, speed, stats, HP and mana bonuses, attack speed, reflection, armor class, searching, stealth, luck, light, hand-to-hand and missile killing power, and other stuff.

You should, once you've got the gold to do so, *Identify* all of the artifacts and ego-items that you're considering using. As you learn more about individual items, you should get more of a feel for which ones are useful and which can be recycled for scrap iron.

At the mid-upper levels, you can discard or destroy the vast majority of what you find. You don't need to drag everything back to the town, identify it, and sell it; gold becomes immaterial after a while. In addition, the large amount of random artifacts and normal artifacts out there should provide you with all the money you need to win the game. This means that, once ego-items start becoming common, you only need to pay attention to a small amount of them. I always look for the following in the mid-game:

  • Mage Staves of Mana
  • Mage Staves of Wizardry
  • Robes of Permanence
  • Shields of Resistance
  • Shields of Reflection
  • Crowns of the Magi (can increase spell power)
  • Crowns of Seeing (can grant ESP)
  • Cloaks of Aman
  • Gloves of Power
  • Boots of Dwarvish Endurance
  • Weapons of Extra Attacks
  • Instruments of Power
  • Boomerangs (Defender)
  • Boomerangs of Aman (these can sometimes provide extra attacks)
  • Rings of Slaying, Damage, and Extra Attacks
  • Amulets of Weaponmastery
  • Amulets of the Serpents
  • Amulets of Trickery

The following are very rare, but very useful, and I keep an eye out for them in the late midgame / endgame:

  • *Defenders*
  • Dragon Scale Mails of Immunity
  • Boots of Speed
  • Heavy Crossbows of Siegecraft
  • Crossbows of the Haradrim
  • Slings of Buckland
  • Bows of Lothlorien
  • Cloaks of the Magi
  • Cloaks of the Bat
  • Cloaks of Air
  • Gloves of Thievery
  • Gauntlets of Combat (these insanely rare gloves aggravate and drain life... but they can grant extra blows!)

The latter category are probably the only ego-items that I would consider wearing instead of artifacts... And there are no hand-to-hand weapons, shields, body armors (exluding DSM), helmets or crowns and such on the list. Some of these are only useful for characters of the appropriate class (what good are Gloves of Combat to a Mage?), but all of them warrant attention.

4.2 Prioritizing

What it all boils down to is what you want your equipment to provide. Resistances? Certainly. Speed? Well, yes, who doesn't like speed? Extra blows? Extra mana? Extra pluses to hit and dam? Extra stats? If you know what you're looking for, it's much easier to make decisions.

Now, what I look for with fighting types is ALWAYS more blows/round and more damage per round. Unless my Warriors have a really glaring weakness (like lack of resistance to both Confusion and Chaos, or a speed of +8 at level 40), my rings will always be ones that increase blows or +hit and +dam, and my amulet will always be Elessar or an Amulet of Weaponmastery if I haven't found that yet. Warrior-types, who have few options beyond hacking something to death, have to rely on their close-range killing ability more than anything. If you don't have that, you really don't have anything. At very high levels, I'll usually use Rings of Power, since they give those combat benefits as well as all sorts of other nice stuff, but you'll never catch me wearing something like the Ring of Flare or a Ring of Protection with a warrior otherwise. Rings are almost the only equipment besides weapons that will increase your extra blows / +hit and dam, so why should I sacrifice that opportunity to get something that I could get from body armor, helmets, shields and such instead?

{ Note that randart rings that give lots of extra attacks are a big deal with me. See the ethics section for more. }

My other "semi-warriors" follow much the same scheme; a Rogue might sacrifice some +hit and +dam equipment for some that increases speed or stealth, while an Archer might eschew a Ring of Slaying for one of Accuracy (+dam doesn't affect missile shots, except for pluses on your shooter or missiles). But that's sort of a blanket rule.

That's my ultimate objective with the fighting class: get as many hits and as much damage as possible. However, if my equipment kit hasn't reached the point yet where my defense is up to snuff, I'll sometimes put off the extra blows and damage for more protective gear.

If my winning warriors don't have the following:

  • Constant speed of about +20 (+16 or +17 is probably the lower limit)
  • Resistance to all four cardinal elements and poison
  • Immunity to fire (necessary for certain levels and Mount Doom)
  • Resist either chaos or confusion
  • A constitution of at least 18/150 or so (or just enough to give me around 800 HP to play around with)

Then I'll often shuffle my eq to compensate, even if it means reducing killing power. Combat skill is great, but all the damage-dealing capability in the world won't help you if you're dead.

Mages and other spellcasters have a little more flexibility; they don't have to devote those ring and weapon slots to big damage-dealers, so they can indulge in Rings of Speed and other equipment that raises stats. I might use the Ring of Flare with a Mage, but I generally prefer something like a good Nazgul ring that gives not only extra stats, but some exotic resistances and perhaps extra speed. You can dig up some Mage Staves of Wizardry (or better still, randart Mage Staves) to wield to boost your spell power and mana, as well. Amulet is usually one of the Magi, Trickery, a randart, or Toris Mejistos when I find it. Just remember that constitution is of huge importance, and you'll probably want to max it out as soon as possible, in addition to getting more mana.

Every so often you'll find a randart armor that looks like this:

The Hard Studded Leather of Deliondi (-61,-39) [7,+10](40%)

Now, the two numbers before the brackets are negatives to hit and damage; this means that this armor is quite useless for a Warrior or other fighting-type. However, the percentage points after the brackets are the pluses it gives to your hit points. Remember all of my constant yammering about how important hit points are? Armor such as this is invaluable for a Mage, and should be used whenever possible.

4.3 Weapons

I'm almost always using an artifact weapon past level 25. Ego-items generally don't stack up to good artifacts. I tend to prefer, for my fighters, a one-handed weapon accompanied by a shield; this doesn't seriously limit Swordmasters, but Haftedmasters are reduced to whips, morning stars, three-piece rods, and maybe some others I'm forgetting, and Polearmmasters are even worse off.

A really good weapon for me will have a combination of extra blows, good hit and damrolls, and vampirism. These are the three most important things. Extra blows and hit/damroll allow you to kill things, which is important, and vampirism allows you to stay alive, which is also important. There's no regular artifact that will provide all three of these things, so I often have to resort to randarts. The only thing that can tempt me away from this artifact regime would be a very strong weapon of Life with great hit and damroll, or maybe a *Defender* with all sorts of crazy resists. I usually don't look for these, though, and destroy every non-artifact weapon above level 35.

Mid-level fighters of mine, unless they're worshipping Eru or specializing in Haftedmastery or something, usually find themselves using the Main Gauche of Maedhros, since it's got some nice fringe benefits and does a decent amount of damage. Once I get a randart that gives extra attacks, though, I usually ditch Maedhros and go for the heavier hitter. I tend to be a little more reckless with my warriors and value killing power over unusual resists and other abilities, though, so if a big nasty weapon happens my way, I'll be willing to pitch, for example, Haradekket for something that does 100 more damage a round, even if this means losing Resist Nexus. There are some exceptions; for example, even if Anduril does more damage than Ringil, I'm usually willing to swap out the former for the latter owing to the speed boost. { Actually, Ringil almost always does more damage, but this is just for the sake of argument. } And I might use one of the 'thanc daggers instead of Maedhros if my speed is good enough.

A few notables:

1. Sentient weapons are generally extremely rare and extremely powerful. The daggers I just mentioned can be powerful, but are usually useful only in the middle levels. Watch out for these instead:

  • The small sword 'Sting'
  • The dark sword 'Mormegil'
  • The long sword of the Dawn
  • The Glaive of Pain
  • The mighty hammer 'Grond'

All of these can be devastating once they start gaining levels. Every level means a possible +1 to hit, I think, and every other level means a possible +1 to dam. I'm not sure about those numbers, but they average out to mean that a sentient weapon that's +0 +0 at level 1 will be about +50 +25 at level 50. A sentient weapon that's +10 +15 at level 1 will be +60 +40 at level 50. Nice, huh?

The Long Sword of the Dawn's use is severely limited owing to the fact that it clones monsters, so I would only use it on uniques, which it can't affect. Otherwise it would be an insanely great weapon. The Glaive hits really hard (it's got +30 to damage at level 1), but it should be used two-handed. Mormegil is really, really powerful, getting extra blows at level 1 and increasing them as it goes, but it aggravates and has a foul curse. Though it's one of the most powerful weapons in the game, I usually carry another weapon with me and swap it out with Mormegil during battles. Sting has no clear disadvantages and is perhaps the most desirable weapon around for a Swordmaster, but it's extremely rare. And then there's Grond. Only winners will find it, and even fewer will find it useful. However, if you work it out right, I think that Grond can be the best weapon in the game, bar none. Try wielding it with a Haftedmaster. Pow.

The real drawback of sentient weapons is that they can get bad flags when gaining levels, such as an experience drain or random teleportation. The worst, though, is the earthquake brand; it's fairly common, and getting it renders a weapon almost useless. Earthquakes turn the dungeon into a soup of granite and quartz, and you've got to tunnel through it to get anywhere. Bleh. If one of my weapons gets the earthquake brand, I usually discard it.

{ A number of people have asked what realms contain what abilities for sentient weapons, and the likelihood of getting those abilities. You can find that information here: }

  • Ringil: +10 to speed is awfully tempting, but use it with care. If I've got a weapon that does more damage, gives more attacks, or has vampirism, I'll often use it instead of Ringil. Unless your permanent speed is less than +20 or so, I think it's OK to leave it alone.
  • Doomcaller: If you've got an outrageous armor class, this can actually do a heck of a lot of damage, but its chaotic brand (which I don't like at all) and its aggravation mean that I usually leave it be.
  • Vorpal Blade: INSANE pluses on this one often tempt Loremasters and Priests with good Combat skills but not a very good hitroll to wield it. This is sort of like the harder-hitting, less fringe beneficial brother of Ringil.
  • [[tome2 http|aeglos]]: This is actually a really good weapon, might be the one of choice for Polearmmasters (Ulmo or the Glaive of Pain are also contenders). Great pluses, great slays, nothing's not to like.
  • Deathwreaker: A sort of cousin to Grond, this massive, rare thing needs two-handed wielding, but does a heck of a lot of damage. A Haftedmaster could do a lot of good with it, or a lot of evil for that matter.
  • Lasher: Then again, there's this, which is light on the hit and damroll, not to mention the damage die, but provides a peerless 3 extra attacks per round. My Haftedmasters love it.
  • Cubragol: A great weapon for those who don't want to shoot anything with it. How can you argue with a free +10 to speed?
  • Dragonbane: Well, I think it's supposed to be wielded two-handed, but in my version it can be one-handed. Has a +2 to attacks and good damage otherwise.
  • Hatchet of the Night//: Seldom discussed, but actually a great weapon; one of the few normal artifacts with vampirism and a great hitroll to boot. Often used by unspecialized fighters.

There are two rare scrolls, that of Craftsmanship and that of Artifact Creation, that can be used to create and enhance your own artifacts. If you've got a good grasp on what randarts are good and what aren't, you should have a good idea of the candidates for a scroll of Artifact Creation (which must be read at an average or good quality piece of eq, not an excellent piece or one that's already an artifact). Diggers work very well, since randart diggers can boost a lot of stats, speed, and blows/round. Cloaks are good, since many randart cloaks can provide immunity. Mage Staves are good for mages. Shields can also be nice, and certain rings that already give nice benefits. Suits of Dragon Scale Mail can also produce some fairly strong armor, especially Power Dragon Scale Mail.

Craftsmanship scrolls only work on weapons, but they can boost the amount of increases those weapons give you. Since they work on artifacts, I would read one at a Mage Staff that increases mana and/or spell power for mages or at a weapon that gives extra attacks for warriors. Be aware, though, that this scroll won't increase the pval of these weapons beyond 5 (I think).

4.4 Equipment and Magic

So weapons are less important to Mages. Does this mean that they're not important at all? Well, no, but you have a lot more leeway with them and with your other equipment.

Once I get my resistances filled out with a Mage and have enough hit points to feel secure palling around with Dracoliches, I start to go for more speed and armor class. Speed is nice because it lets you fire off more spells more quickly; you can't take your lumps as well as a Warrior can, so you need to focus on killing your foes quickly. A Mage Staff of Wizardry (or at least Mana) is probably the best weapon for a non-fighting Mage, and can be used by an Eru worshipper (Eru's very good for Mages).

Now, armor class is kind of a luxury, but I find that it is indeed extremely important for Mages. If you don't have it, you're going to suffer from close-range attacks much more. Your job as a Mage, of course, is to make sure that things die before they get close enough to hurt you, but you inevitably take some close-range heat, either through a lucky summon or through an unlucky Phase Door that lands you in the middle of a group of Vrocks.

Intangibles like ESP or stealth are also nice to focus on as a Mage; these are luxuries that I too often have to ignore with Warriors and other fighters, but if you've got the equipment space for them, by all means go for it.

4.5 Sample Equipment lists of winners

OK, I'm providing these just to give an idea of what I look for in ideal situations for some character types. I'm not going to give the abilities of each of the things I'm wearing; you can get this from a spoiler sheet, an edit file, or from the full character dump at

Cejanus, the Yeek Hermit Sorcerer (Void Diver)
a) The Mage Staff of Eternity (1d4) (-19,-17)(240%) (+12 to infravision)
d) The Sling of the Thain (x6) (+15,+15) (+4)
e) The Ring of Power 'Nenya' (+9,+9) (+2)
f) The Ring of Phasing (+15 to speed)
k) The Blue Stone 'Toris Mejistos'(40%) (+2) {cursed}
m) The Arkenstone of Thrain (+3)
n) The Double Ring Mail of Vargir (-56,-16) [15,+19](40%)
o) The Shadow Cloak of Luthien [6,+20] (+2)
p) The Small Metal Shield of Thorin [3,+25] (+4)
s) The Metal Cap of Celebrimbor [3,+18] (+3 to searching)
u) The Set of Gauntlets of Eol [3,+15](60%) (+3)
x) The Pair of Soft Leather Boots of Wormtongue (-10,-10) [2,+10] (+3)
z) an Eye druj named Fluffy (2500 hp)
{) The Bolt 'Athelim' (1d5) (+14,+16) (+3)
|) The Gnomish Shovel 'Anwetir' (+21,+10) (+3 to speed)

Note the extra HP and mana granted by the staff, amulet, armor, and gloves. The rest of the EQ is designed to maximize stats (see Thorin), increase speed, and boost spell power.

Alberich the Vampire Petty-Dwarf Mage (Void-diver)
a) The Mage Staff of Eternity [Recharge] (1d4) (-19,-19)(240%) (+12 to infravision)
d) The Light Crossbow 'Cubragol' (x3) (+10,+14) (+10)
e) The Ring of Phasing (+15 to speed)
f) The Ring of Power 'Vilya' (+12,+12) (+3)
k) The Blue Stone 'Toris Mejistos' [Ent's Potion](40%) (+2) {cursed}
m) The Phial of Galadriel (+4)
n) The Padded Armour of Himorwe (-24,-29) [4,+17](40%)
o) The Shadow Cloak of Luthien [Globe of Light] [6,+20] (+2)
p) The Small Metal Shield of Thorin [3,+25] (+4)
s) The Massive Iron Crown of Morgoth [0,+8] (+125) {cursed}
u) The Set of Gauntlets of Eol [Ent's Potion] [3,+15](60%) (+3)
x) a Pair of Metal Shod Boots of Speed [6,+10] (+10) {!k}
z) (nothing)
{) The Seeker Bolt of Daegol (4d5) (+17,+18) (+3)
|) The Mattock of Nain (3d8) (+12,+18) (+6 to searching)

Again, note the HP and mana-increasing equipment. Stats and speed aren't a concern with this character (he's using the Crown for the stats, and has plenty of speed-increasing items), so he can afford to wear some equipment that's just there for intangibles or cosmetic effect.

Argolith the Yeek Hermit Bard (winner)
a) The Spear 'Aeglos' (3d6) (+14,+24) [+4] (+4)
d) a Harp of Power (+2)
e) The Ring of Power of Adunaphel the Quiet (+2 to speed)
f) a Ring of Slaying (+14,+15)
k) The Elfstone 'Elessar' (+7,+7) [+10] (+4)
m) The Arkenstone of Thrain (+3)
n) The Thunderlord Coat of Trone [9,+20] (+4 to speed)
o) The Shadow Cloak of Luthien [6,+20] (+2)
p) The Small Metal Shield of Erilth [3,+11]
s) The Golden Crown of Gondor [0,+15] (+3)
u) The Set of Cesti of Fingolfin (+10,+10) [5,+20] (+4)
x) a Pair of Metal Shod Boots of Dwarvish Endurance [6,+12] (+3 to infravision)
{) The Seeker Bolt 'Andorn' (4d5) (+20,+14) (+1 to speed)
|) The Mattock of Nain (+12,+18) (+6 to searching)

A good example of a medium-powered fighting type. That Nazgul ring gives him two extra attacks, with an additional 1 provided by his randart missile. His other equipment is designed to make up for his kind of low speed and very low stats (yeeks aren't too good in that department).

Eolytha the RohanKnight Haftedmaster (Void-diver)
a) The Mighty Hammer 'Grond' (E:27072699, L:50) (9d9) (+71,+46) [+10] (+3 attacks)
b) The Whip 'Lasher' (1d6) (+12,+15) (+3)
d) The Light Crossbow 'Cubragol' (x3) (+10,+14) (+10)
e) The Ring of Phasing (+15 to speed)
f) The Ring of Power 'Vilya' (+12,+12) (+3)
k) The Elfstone 'Elessar' (+7,+7) [+10] (+4)
m) a Feanorian Lamp of the Magi (+2) {!k}
n) The Power Dragon Scale Mail called 'Dimwit's Aegis' (-3) [40,+23] {!k}
o) The Cloak of Thingol [1,+18] (+3)
q) The Dragon Shield of Ercalin [8,+29]
s) The Steel Helm 'Lebohaum' [20,+80]
u) The Set of Cesti of Fingolfin (+10,+10) [5,+20] (+4)
v) The Set of Leather Gloves 'Cambeleg' (+8,+8) [1,+15] (+2)
x) The Pair of Metal Shod Boots of Gimli (+5,+5) [4,+11] (+4)
{) The Bolt of Gondoron (1d5) (+23,+20) (+3 attacks)
|) The Dwarven Pick of Erebor (3d4) (+5,+20) (+5)

A rather special case, but still probably the strongest Warrior I've ever produced. This one got 35 points in Mimicry, so she cloned herself an extra pair of arms. This is how I can manage to wield Grond and wear a shield at the same time (note the emptiness of slot p, which could otherwise hold a second shield). With two sets of gloves that grant slaying ability, Elessar, Vilya, and three extra attacks from my randart bolt and Lasher, this character can kill almost anything in the game in one devastating round of attacks with Grond. 162d9 + 2502 damage per round, not counting the huge number of critical hits I inevitably get and the huge multipliers that Grond gets against pretty much everything (slay everything, kill dragon, kill demon, kill undead).

That should give you a general idea of what I'm looking for when I look for equipment.

5 Inventory

5.1 23 little slots

In a way, what items you carry with you in ToME is the most important question of all. Think: if you had access to an unlimited supply of every item in the game, you could escape from pretty much any situation, right? Well, there are a few exceptions to this rule, but I don't think that anyone would argue that having the right items with you vastly increases your chances of survival. So the question is how to manipulate those 23 little slots to your best advantage, because they fill up really quick.

A related topic to item management is the automatizer, which will help you to destroy unwanted items and eq quickly, without having to sort through your items list when you find something new. Although skillful automatizer usage is very important for getting good at the game, I'm not going to go into it here. There's lots of other good automatizer help on the ToME forums and elsewhere, so go check it out.

{ If someone wants to add something to this guide about automatizer settings and maybe a quick macro guide, that might be a good idea... }

See the [[tome2 http //|documentation]] for help on automatizer settings and macros.

5.2 Stuff you want

I try to tailor my inventory to take care of the weaknesses of my character. If I'm playing a warrior-type, I try to include magical items and other things that give me some magelike abilities. If I'm a spellcaster, I rely on my spells and tote around things that compensate for my frailty like Potions of Healing and means of protecting myself from rampaging monsters (Wands of Stone Prison, Staves of Genocide, and Morphic Oils of Spider, for example). I also realize that a warrior is no good without combat ability, and a mage is no good without mana, so I try to put combat-enhancing potions and staves of mana in there as appropriate.

In addition, every character without resistance to both blindness and confusion (or blindness and chaos) should carry around a good supply of Potions of Cure Serious or Cure Critical Wounds. I prefer Cure Critical because they heal a little more if you're in a really dire circumstance and need to drink them all at once.

Mages and Sorcerers generally have to tote around a huge number of books to fill the requirements I'm going to go into a little later on, but this doesn't mean they shouldn't carry around potions and such as well. For example, if you've got a Vision spell at level 15, you should still carry around Potions of Enlightenment until you boost the spell up to level 25.

5.3 Stuff you really want

I pick up these three things and carry them no matter what character I'm running, no matter what class / race.

  • Potions of *Healing*. I have never regretted having these things around. If you get reduced to a tiny fraction of your HP, quaffing one of these is the safest thing to do. You can't use genocide in such a situation because it'll kill you, and if you teleport away you run the risk of showing up in a room full of Vibration Hounds or worse.
  • Scrolls of Mass Genocide. These will also deliver you from a tight spot in a hurry. They'll allow you to waltz through a greater vault without encountering anything but uniques. They'll also eradicate the collection of Greater Balrogs surrounding Lungorthin (or whoever) and allow you to attack him. Junkarts of Mass Genocide are even more useful, provided you have skill in Magic-Device.
  • Scrolls of Teleportation. Yes, I carry them even with mages who have a 0% failure rate in the spell. The reasoning for this is that if you run out of mana, you're basically up the creek even if you know the spell. I try to carry about 20 around on each dungeon trip.

I pick up the following things without fail if I'm a warrior-type:

  • Potions of Speed. Speed is really, really important when fighting at close range, and you need the edge.
  • Potions of Resistance. You don't have the luxury of casting the spell like those lousy mages do. But you're still going to need a way to protect yourself from big elemental attacks.
  • Potions of Enlightenment. Unlike mages, you can't detect those big vaults with ease, and if you have a superb feeling on a level, it really helps to use one of these to check it out.

Mages always pick up the following:

  • Potions of Restore Mana. They're to mana what potions of *Healing* are to hit points. Lovely.
  • Staves of Genocide. Warriors usually don't have the knowhow to use these correctly, but you do. If you know Recharge, they're twice as nice.
  • Athelas. I can substitute Elessar for this in a pinch, but mages--unlike warriors--have to carry either the artifact or the sprigs around with them, rather than wearing the amulet. Though you should be fighting your foes at a distance, you have to prepare for the worst--I've got Black Breath in a single round from Ghouls suddenly summoned by Greater Rotting Qs in Angband a surprising number of times.

5.4 Stuff you need

Every character should have the following:

  • A reliable form of teleportation. Absolutely essential. When your luck runs out, you teleport away. It's as simple as that. Even an Unbeliever can read a Scroll of Teleportation without fail, unless blinded, confused, or corrupted.
  • A means of healing. Usually I just lug around potions of Healing and *Healing*, but if I've got a lot of Magic-Device skill and a couple of Adamantite Rods of the Istari of Healing or a zero-fail Heal spell and resistance to blindness and confusion, those will do too.
  • A means of recall. Unless you're planning on slogging through every single level of every single dungeon up and down, you'll need this. Tote around the scroll until you find a rod or learn the spell.
  • A distance attack. OK, I sometimes break this rule with fighting characters, but if you're not a hand-to-hander, you'll need to devote slots to books with attack spells in them or bolts or arrows or wands or something.
  • A means of detection. You really need this. Even if your Searching and Perception are legendary and you've got full ESP, you need this. You need to be able to detect traps, stairs, walls, and sneaky monsters without fail.
  • A means of identification. Maybe you can cast the spell, maybe you've got a rod to zap, maybe you've just got a ton of the scrolls. Whatever the case, you need identification throughout the game.
  • Food or a means of Satisfy Hunger. Everybody needs to eat, even you.

In addition, I like to have the following:

  • A means of phasing. Either the ability to cast Phase Door or a bunch of scrolls. It's a great spell for hit and run tactics, or just a little jump from a disadvantageous position.
  • A means of magic mapping. A rod of Enlightenment will do the trick, or the spell Vision.
  • A means of enlightenment. High-level Vision will work, but I usually just carry around a few potions.
  • A means of illuminating rooms. I find this more useful at mid levels than late levels, but still a few of my winners have toted around Rods of Illumination.
  • A means of genocide. Genocide will get you out of MANY sticky situations, be it a gang of suddenly summoned Greater Demons or a group of Black Reavers eating through the walls around you. Mass Genocide is even better.
  • A means of curing insanity. This is more convenience than anything for me; insanity is rarely life-threatening unless your WIS is low and you get surprised by a group of things that cast Brain Smash.
  • The Anchor of Space-Time or the spell Tracker. I *hate* it when something that I've got down to one star teleports away. { I probably wouldn't carry it around if I didn't play with Z monsters on; I use it to deal mainly with things like Lords of Change, Keepers of Secrets, and Star-Spawns of Cthulhu. It would be of some use against non-Z creatures like Sauron, but I don't know if I would devote a slot to it. }
  • A means of hasting yourself. Via the spell, a Rod of Speed, or potions of the same.
  • A means of restoring mana (for mages) or a means of increasing hitroll (for warriors). These are mostly for later levels, when your mana just doesn't seem sufficient to kill off The Tarrasque, or your hitroll of 114 suddenly makes you miss sixteen times in a row when fighting that Great Bile Wyrm.
  • A means of doubling resistances. Unless I have immunity to most of the cardinal elements, I want double resistance via a Potion of Resistance or Elemental Shield.

That's 16 slots already. Mages have something of an advantage here, since a single one of their books can satisfy one or more of the requirements, but it's complicated by the fact that you can get bogged down with several variations of the same thing. For example, "a means of healing" could be Potions of Healing, Potions of *Healing*, Potions of Life, Rods of Healing, or all four! Although it's generally better to have more items than less, you just have to make a judgment call in these cases. If you've got 2000 HP and take an average of 200 damage per round, potions of Healing aren't going to be much use. Ditch them and go for *Healing* and Life. If you've got a reliable Rod of Speed or if you learn Adrenaline Channeling, ditch the Potions of Speed. You get the picture. Of course, it's always nice to have, say, multiple Rods of Healing or multiple junkarts of Mass Genocide, so again just use your judgment.

The rest of the slots can be used for loot! Scoop it up, bring it home, stick it in the Mathom-House, whatever.

5.5 What to do when Your Backpack Explodes

This happens pretty often. You've cleaned out a nice vault in a dungeon somewhere, or maybe you've just finished fighting a hundred ancient dragons and the ground is carpeted in treasure. You want all of this stuff, but you just can't take it home. What to do?

First of all, you need to ditch whatever's in your backpack and is easily repurchasable. Potions of Cure Critical? Toss them. Scrolls of Teleportation? Toss them. As long as there's no monsters around and you know that you're going to recall after getting the treasure, there's no need to hang onto them. You can just buy them back on the surface.

Now read all your scrolls of identify, if you have them, at the stuff on the ground. How much of it looks tempting? I mean, really, really tempting? Throw out anything that's cursed or clearly not useful. Throw out anything that you're just planning to sell for money on the surface, unless you're planning to sell it all for money on the surface. Only keep the things that you think you might want to use.

Have you got any unidentified junkarts in your pack? It might be good to let some of them go. The chance of getting a good junkart is considerably less than the chance of getting a good randart shield, for example.

If you've got a whole bunch of randarts, I would place the shields, rings, diggers, and cloaks above the body armors, helms, gloves, and such. The first category is more likely to grant immunities, extra stats, extra blows etc. Of course, if you're a mage looking for +life armor, the body armor category might take precedence, but only if you've got a suit there that definitely provides a life bonus.

Finally, destroy your scrolls of Recall, if you're carrying them, right after you read one of them. You'll show up in the town without recall, but you can always buy more.

{ If you're a mage and have lots of extra books, you can pitch them in your house at home and destroy all of the books (with the exception of Translocation!) you're carrying before you recall, but I don't think such drastic measures are really necessary. }

6 The World

6.1 Another warning

This is where I send out a plea to all of you not familiar with the ToME dungeons not to read any further. Yes, you can get some of this information by just tooling around the first levels of the dungeons, but a lot of stuff I'm going to say in this section is stuff that you should rightly learn on your own, by getting repeatedly annoyed or killed by the places in question. I'll also discuss some spoily things in regards to dungeon guardians and artifacts. So consider yourself warned.

6.2 On the Surface

Well, you start out in the village of Bree, which isn't tremendously exciting, but it IS a town, and knowing what to do in the towns and surface world is a crucial part of the game. For one thing, you'll be buying many of the items you'll need to survive the dungeon here, and perhaps gaining some of the experience that you'll want to survive down there.

The obstacle to this aim is your almost total lack of funds. Yup, 100 gold doesn't go as far as it used to. So you've got to find some way to drum up money so you can buy all the fancy stuff you want.

The easiest way to do this, if you've got a lot of random quests, is to head off to the Barrow-Downs, do a couple of princess quests, scoop up the excellent items, id them, and sell them back in Bree. Of course, if you want to use one or more of those items, this is also all right.

Bear in mind that, as a general rule, weapons will sell for much more than armor, so hoard weapons of slay and *slay* monster and excellent arrows, bolts, and pebbles to sell in the town. These aren't of tremendous use to most characters (a weapon that only slays one monster isn't too impressive by anyone's standards, and archer-types can make their own excellent ammo by the barrelfull). So ask the Princess for daggers, whips, and arrows, then pawn them off for easy money.

If you don't have random quests, though, you're just going to have to find those items yourself. And they probably won't show up until later. So scrape together funds by killing lots of weak treasure-carrying monsters, and keep an eye out for something more valuable.

At later levels, you can make a killing selling not only excellent missiles, but also Dragon Scale Mail and special magic books. Books are particularly good for easy money because they're extremely common and can stack in your inventory. But money becomes more and more immaterial as the game progresses and you discover that you want less and less of the items offered in the shops. Once I get around 800,000 to 1 million gold, I generally quit lugging things back to the town to sell.

Then again, you could try stealing for a living. Characters with high dexterity can sometimes filch items from stores free of charge. Since theft chance is based on the weight of the thing being stolen, you should confine yourself to rings, amulets, potions, and scrolls during the early game, though once you get a DEX of greater than 18/150 or so, you can try for lighter weapons and armor. Stealing in the mid to late game is kind of ridiculous though; you should be able to buy most of those items yourself.

Also in the town you can receive quests, restore stats, store stuff in your home, enchant equipment, research items and monsters, divine fates, teleport to dungeon levels, and the like. So it's a very useful place to know your way around.

The surface offers some attractive prospects as well. If you're afraid of diving right down into the dungeon, you can gain a few levels by roaming around grass squares and seeking giant white and black ants to kill. Ants are pretty easy and give good XP. The more adventuresome can find some shallow water areas (such as the one south of Bree) or forests and kill some Forest Trolls, Crebain, Hydras, Nagas, and Lizard Men. Since these monsters generally don't have distance attacks, someone with some fairly powerful spells can kill them with little risk. This can boost you up to around level 15.

Those who just plain don't like the dungeon, though, can get up as high as level 30 hunting dragons in the mountains. The way this works is you find a mountain chain that has a break in the side (when viewed on the lower screen, not on the world map). Then you enter that gap from the lower map and search for dragons and such to kill in the little open space in the mountains (you can also hunt them over the entrance to Moria and Angband, and maybe Mordor too--I'm not sure). Since dragons are pretty easy once you get resistance to what they breathe, there are an awful lot of people out there who just buy an Amulet of Lightning Resistance and a bunch of Wands of Manathrust from the Magic Shop, then go out and scum for Mature Blue Dragons. Blues, Blacks, and Whites are the easiest to kill.

{ I don't approve of the practice of scumming mountains for dragons because I think it's ridiculous to play the Barrow-Downs after attaining level 30. I will occasionally roam around the mountains searching for Cyclopses, though, since they're good to possess and turn into totems. }

And then there's deep water, which will kill you good if you decide to walk around it or hunt there. It's got Greater Krakens, Fastilocalons, and other aquatic nasties that don't offer attractive prospects for anyone lower than level 40 or so. Avoid.

6.3 Places that are Important

The only dungeons that you *must* complete to finish the game are Dol Guldur and Angband. If you destroy the Ring, you must also do Mt. Doom and at least part of Mordor (even if it's just the level that the Thunderlords teleport you to). But some of the other dungeons that I do with *every* character are:

  • Orc Caves: relatively easy monsters, mostly orcs, scattered around a cave with few vaults and traps. On level 21 is Deathwatch, which is easy to complete and holds three artifacts. A great boost in the early game.
  • Maze: Well, I usually just teleport down to the bottom of this, kill the Minotaur, and get his treasure. But the treasure is good enough for me to seek with every character I run.
  • Moria: Much of Moria is annoying and full of Trolls, and the Orc Town level is just boring, but Durin's Bane at the bottom gives lots of experience and treasure, and opens the way to Khazad-dum, where I buy Wands of Tidal Wave.
  • Sacred Land of Mountains: The dungeon itself is nothing special, but Trone is at the bottom, and his treasure is too lucrative to ignore.
  • Erebor: The Lonely Mountain is the best source of artifacts and high-level potions in the game.

The following dungeons can have dungeon markets, and I usually try to visit every level of them:

  • Old Forest
  • Orc Caves
  • Moria
  • Land of Rhun
  • Sacred Land of Mountains

{ There can also be markets in the Illusory Castle and Nether Realm, but both of these places are rather hostile. }

Those are most of the important dungeons in the game. Note that I've left three of the four primary "quest" dungeons (Barrow-Downs, Mirkwood, Mordor) out of this list, but that's because they're mostly just garden-variety dungeons without special levels or guardians to speak of. They're good for gaining XP and items, and are the only places where you'll find random quests, but other than that I don't worry about them. I've run characters with 0 random quests before who never even entered Mirkwood, for example.

6.4 Places that can Help You

Some dungeons are better places to level up and collect items than others. Knowing what these dungeons are and how to deal with them is crucial. First, though, let's have a breakdown of the dungeons and how useful they are:

  • Barrow-Downs: good for basic leveling in the early game, crappy items, easy mosnters, almost no vaults.
  • Orc Caves: a little tougher to maneuver through than the Downs, but the monsters are dumber and give better XP. Excellent items and artifacts can be found here every so often.
  • Old Forest: terrible treasure, annoying enemies, lots of water-based baddies, lots of hounds and other canines. Not much fun. Old Man Willow at the bottom is worth killing for his randart.
  • Sandworm Lair: owing to the ridiculously easy enemies here, you can just turn autoscum on here and reap huge rewards in artifacts, stat gain potions, and other niceties (do NOT try this with Z and Cth monsters on; Chthonians will kill the hell out of you). Vaults abound, though most are just full of worms and junkarts. In any case, I find this a good place to search when I'm running a weak mage who needs magic items and books, but with warriors I just ignore it.
  • Land of Rhun: erratic design, lots of hounds and other irritating enemies. Lower levels can be good for stat gain potions; Ulfang at the bottom is a tough fight, but yields a randart.
  • Maze: trying to explore it is like beating yourself on the head with a brick. Traps everywhere, twisty little passages, nasty monsters that surprise you unexpectedly. Treasure is average. Killing the Minotaur at the bottom is highly desirable, but getting down that far is a pain.
  • Mirkwood: another average dungeon; lots of animals. Lower levels can be good for stat gain potions.
  • Heart of Earth: always avoid this one unless you're hurting for randarts and want to kill the guardian. It's not tough at all, usually, but moving across the dungeon levels quickly is almost impossible without controlled teleport or wraithform.
  • Moria: good meat-and-potatoes dungeon; some pretty rough nasties in the lower levels, but treasure down there can be good too. I always do it for the artifacts it inevitably yields, as well as the easy XP (groups of Ologs and War Trolls).
  • Illusory Castle: no fun at all. It's a nightmare without Chaos resistance, and even with it it's a grim chore. Glass walls everywhere, annoying treasureless enemies, the nasty Glass Golem with his awful helm at the end. I would skip it.
  • Helcaraxe: another dungeon that can make your life miserable. The Grinding Ice is guaranteed to destroy all of your potions if you don't have immunity to cold, and drive you nuts from slipping all over the place if you lack flight. Monsters are all over and give bad treasure. The White Balrog is at the bottom, but I rarely bother to get that far.
  • Small Water Cave: I usually don't visit here until I've got acid immunity, because the salt water will kill your armor and scrolls. It's a nice short little venture, though, and the Watcher isn't very difficult.
  • Cirith Ungol: the least fun dungeon of all. Without poison resistance, it'll keep contaminating you, and there are WEBS WEBS WEBS everywhere that take forever to tunnel through. Yes, you could waste a Morphic Oil of Spider trying to get through it, but why would you bother? Shelob is at the bottom, providing perhaps the only incentive for battling your way through.
  • Mordor: good for leveling up and killing some nice generic monsters. Fire immunity really helps. Treasure is average.
  • Sacred Land of Mountains: nice dungeon with fairly good treasure; some nasty monsters, but some Great Wyrms toward the bottom that are always fun. Trone is worth killing no matter who you are.
  • Dol Guldur: a good place to cross swords with some greater undead, demons, and dragons; the small levels make treasure easily accessible. Can be dangerous, though; be sure not to get in over your head.
  • Paths of the Dead: nice place to gather potions and kill Nazgul, but the weird dead rising thing and the occasional Bone Golem make it too dangerous to spend very much time on. Feagwath is at the bottom, and he rarely presents a problem.
  • Erebor: GREAT place to kill dragons and get treasure, relatively low-risk, Glaurung is a pushover, big fountains provide plenty of opportunity to stock up on nice potions. A must-see.
  • Numenor: you'll need water breathing and acid immunity, and even so it's no fun. Monsters are tough and difficult to detect, plenty of Krakens and Aquatic Hounds, not too much treasure. Ar-Pharazon at the bottom has something you might want, though.
  • Mount Doom: nasty nasty dungeon; you can't tunnel through the walls and all of the monsters are crazy tough. I usually try to get through it as quickly as possible.
  • Angband: have fun with leveled monsters here (a leveled monster is one of a higher level than other monsters--they have more HP, better attacks, better speed, etc. They're basically like "super" versions of the ordinary monsters, and shouldn't be underestimated. A leveled orc can sometimes cause as much trouble as an unleveled Olog. Leveled monsters show up most prominently in Angband and in god temples). The fights are tough, but the treasure is great. I do much of my late-game treasure hunting here.

Basically, if I'm looking for artifacts and other useful equipment, I hang out in Erebor killing ancient dragons. I often do this if there's a single artifact (like Thorin or Elessar) that I'm lacking as well. I also use the quadruple fountains in Erebor to search for potions of *Healing* and Augmentation and Restore Mana and such--you can get over 20 potions from one of these quadruple fountains with ease.

If I'm looking for really hard to find artifacts or ego-items like Rings of Power or Boots of Speed, I usually take on Angband. Vaults are much more lucrative (and common) there than in Erebor, and it's better for finding Cloaks of Air and the like.

For magical items like Staves of Genocide or Wishing, I also try Angband, though Paths of the Dead are good for things like Wands of Stone Prison and such.

6.5 Places that can Kill You

{ The Void and Nether Realm certainly qualify as Places that can Kill You, but I deal with them a little later on. }

I have lost the most characters in these places:

  • Angband: leveled monsters are awful. They move quicker, hit harder, take more pepper to kill, and just seem to generally hate you more. If you're looking to spend a lot of time in this dungeon, BE PREPARED. Angband doesn't mess around.
  • Maze: Rrrr, I hate the Maze. Not only are the monsters often too tough for me to handle at mid-levels (Gravity Hounds, for example), they're also tough to keep track of, what with the forgetting where you've been and all. And there are traps everywhere! Detection is an absolute must in this place.
  • Sacred Land of Mountains: I usually dive through this place pretty quickly, and oftentimes get surprised by tough monsters that I'm not ready for. It's better to go kind of slowly through the Land, get a good feel for what the monsters at assorted depths are like.
  • God Temples: Again, leveled monsters can make your life miserable. Find a good way to dispatch them from a distance and carry around potions of enlightenment to find the relic easily.

7 The Quest

7.1 Yet another Warning

All right, so anyone with an attention span longer than seven minutes who has read the books or even seen the movies knows what's going to happen over the course of the game, and you know from the frickin' opening screen that you're supposed to kill the Necromancer to start off, but still it's pertinent to offer a warning to the clueless.

This section tells quite a lot about the plot of the game, especially the late game. Do not read this section if you don't want to spoil your knowledge of what happens then.


You still around? Oh well, at least I tried.

7.2 Bree to Orc Caves

The early-game becomes formulaic after a while; either you die quickly and spawn a new character of the same type to replace the dead one, or you survive and go on to bigger and better things. With really weak characters that I know I'm going to have trouble with, I like to gain the first few levels in the wilderness killing Giant White Ants or something. Ants are pretty easy to kill with even the weakest character (you can set tactics to Berserker/Running if you really have trouble), and they'll gain you those first few levels no problem. Then you have some skill points to play around with.

For the weakest of the weak (mostly Yeeks), I dump the first 10 or so skill points into Magic-Device and try to buy a Wand of Manathrust from the store. Armed with this, I can take out Lizard Kings in the shallow water area south of Bree, Forest Trolls in the forest, or Young Black Dragons in the mountains. These are kind of scummy tactics, though, and I would only employ them if the character is just pathetic.

Once I've got a few levels under my belt, I do the Bree thieves quest (little risk, but can be annoying if you're low level--stupid thieves stealing your gold), get that dagger, maybe sell it. With that money, I can buy a Scroll of Word of Recall, maybe a scroll or two of Phase Door, maybe a few of Identify. If I have any left, a potion or two of Cure Serious Wounds are good investments.

Then it's off to the Barrow-Downs. If I've taken on some random quests, this takes longer, but in any case I do it pretty quickly. Once I get an excellent item or two to sell, I usually recall, sell it, round out my inventory with more scrolls of Phase Door, Teleportation, Word of Recall, Identify, and Satisfy Hunger, as well as Potions of Cure Serious.

Weak characters will still use Magic-Device as a crutch in the early levels, zapping monsters they can't kill with Wands of Manathrust to take them down. This is a pretty effective way to handle the Downs.

If I get a god quest at this point, I usually just put it off. I find that I can delay the first god quest until level 25 or later, when I've got some detection abilities and the relic is easier to find, and I still get most of the god quests anyway.

One note for this stage: I wouldn't quaff any unidentified potions here (except for Clear, Light Brown, and Icky Green potions, which are always the same thing). One of them is bound to be a Potion of Corruption, and the effects of that will stay with you for the whole game. A better way to go is to tote the potions around the dungeon with you and sell them--unidentified--to the Alchemist in town. Most of the potions at these levels are worthless anyway, and if you sell the Alchemist a Potion of Speed, you can always buy it back.

I would guess that I'm around level 15 at least right now.

7.3 Orc Caves to Mirkwood

Orc Caves are usually the second dungeon I take on. To tackle them, I first make sure that I have enough killing power. The Barrow-Downs have usually given me a pretty good indication of this; if my fighting abilities and magic are up to the task of taking on groups of Manes and Hill Orcs, I'm golden.

As far as magic is concerned, Noxious Cloud is far preferable to Manathrust in the Caves; only Uruks and a few other common monsters there are resistant to poison, and it only takes a turn or two to choke a group of Black Orcs or even Forest Trolls to death with one of those spells. A good strategy, even if you've got a weak Noxious Cloud, is to get about 7 squares away from a group of orcs, cast a Cloud on the middle orc, then, once they advance a few spaces to the edge of the cloud, cast another. The orcs will thus spend longer in the cloud and, though it may be weak, take fatal damage anyway. This technique even works with Uruks to a certain extent. If you haven't got good magic or fighting ability, but do have good Magic-Device skill, take along a few wands of Noxious Cloud from the magic shop. You won't regret it.

Be sure to explore every level of the Caves, since they may hold market levels, but if you're confident in your abilities, feel free to explore them quickly. If I don't hear the sound of a market on a level, I'll usually just take the quickest route to the stairs.

Also useful in the Caves are Potions of Cure Serious or Critical Wounds, and a means of identify. If you're a spellcaster, having the Identify spell on the books is extremely useful; if you're a fighter, having a Combat skill of over 10 is helpful so you can pseudo-id equipment. There's a lot of equipment to identify in those caves, and carrying scrolls of Identify sometimes won't quite cut it.

On level 21 of the Caves is Deathwatch, a special level. Probably the easiest of the special levels in the game, it's just populated by orcs and ogres. The orcs are pretty easy to kill if you fight them one at a time and keep a constant eye on your mana if you're a mage. Up to three unique orcs here, none of them extremely difficult, no traps, and three artifacts for you to find. This level is primarily important for those artifacts; once you get them, you'll be considerably more formidable.

I usually skip the last level of the Caves unless I really want the Wand of Thrain.

Now, armed with my new acquisitions, I have several choices before me. I can go to the Old Forest and look for more market levels, killing Old Man Willow at the bottom and getting a randart, I can pop on over to the Sandworm Lair and look for good items there, I can take care of some of the house quests in Lothlorien or (if I'm feeling really bold) Gondolin, or I can handle a god quest that I've put off for a while. The Sandworm Lair is particularly useful for mages who need better books, while the Old Forest often yields some good potions, wands, and jewelry.

If my character is looking pretty robust, though (300 HP or so, good killing power, decent speed), and is at least fairly wealthy, I often just teleport right to the bottom of the Maze and kill the Minotaur for his helm, which is always useful. The Minotaur can hit hard, though, so I try to have at least one Potion of Speed and one of Healing for insurance.

I also usually blaze through the Land of Rhun right now; Ulfang is easy if you've got some good Magic-Device skill and a Wand of Confuse, and the dungeon often yields some market levels as well.

Once I'm done with this stage, I usually have over 6 blows/round with a Warrior-class, some good reliable spells and resistances for a Mage-class, and good all-around abilities with any others. I would estimate that I'm at least level 25 by this point.

7.4 Mirkwood to Dol Guldur

This is where the game starts to really heat up and get interesting. Mirkwood is the first hurdle; if I've taken on a bunch of random quests, I usually acquire a lot of good items and skills here. If not, at least I gain a bunch of experience and start to round out my equipment and stats. Flight or tree passing really really helps here, since there aren't any walls except for the ones surrounding vaults. I usually hang around the bottom of this dungeon, or sometimes the bottom of the Land of Rhun, killing weak spellcasters and searching for stat gain potions. Heart of the Earth can be found in Mirkwood; I almost never do this side dungeon.

Once Mirkwood is out of the way (this usually takes several trips with recall) I'll do another god quest if one is available, and then set my sights on Moria. Moria is the first really threatening dungeon I take on, generally speaking, though the monster quests in Mirkwood can often include monsters as tough as ancient dragons. Moria has a greater density of nasty monsters; this is where trolls become common, as well as some of the easier greater demons (Vrocks etc), Water Hounds, and other fun enemies. I find Magic Map to be VERY helpful in Moria, so I try to do the Eol quest in Gondolin first to get the Lantern of the Magi (good HP, killing power, and a temporary speed of around +20 are essentials for this one--Eol can be nasty, and I try to be at least level 30 before killing him). If my saving throw is really good or if I have a good strategy for dealing with the Aranea in the spiders quest, I'll often do that one too. The other Bree quests can be done now as well; I'm sometimes wary of the Downs one, but the Trolls and the Horseman are usually easy.

Early in Moria, you'll find the special level Orc Town; this one is easily skippable, but you can hang out here for a while if you want. It's mostly packed with orcs and ogres, but there can be some other nasty surprises here from time to time. I tend to either not do it or just go through it quickly; I can kill orcs anywhere in Moria, and I'd rather do it somewhere I can teleport away from if things get ugly. Still, you'll find an artifact here if you search thoroughly, albeit not a tremendously powerful one.

The Small Water Cave can be found on level 40 of Moria; I would skip this for now for a variety of reasons. The latter levels of Moria are the ones to really watch out for. This is when my character is really trying to break out of the realm of relative high power and into the realm of true power by gaining levels, collecting useful items, and rounding out his or her kit of equipment. Generally, the characters that take their time, kill monsters singly rather than in groups, and avoid risky situations with uniques (careful around Lorgan!) tend to survive, while those who charge recklessly in will perish.

If my characters do manage to punch through the last levels, kill Durin's Bane, and collect his goodies, they're usually in good shape. Access to Khazad-dum is now freed up, but there are just some interesting shops and a suicidal house quest to be had there.

Now I've got quite an important decision before me: do I head off to the Sacred Land of Mountains or Mordor? If I'm still missing some skills that I'd like to have, or if I've got immunity to fire already, I'll often head off to Mordor to try and get the first few levels out of the way. If my skills are solid but my equipment is lacking, I'll go to the Land. In any case, my Mordor characters usually just do several levels until they get a princess or fumblefingers quest that scares them (skull druj, for example), and then head off to the Land anyway.

The big attractions in the Land are the relatively easy but extremely lucrative great wyrms and thunderlords to kill, as well as the possibility of market levels, and Trone lurking at the bottom with a great artifact. There can be some nasty monsters here, though, like Drolems or Nycadaemons, so in the later levels I detect, detect, detect whenever I can so I can see what's coming.

To take on Trone, I like to have at least 500 hit points and immunity to fire, but I'll usually settle for around 400 hit points and decent speed if I have to fight him at a distance. In any case, I like to have healing, double resistance, and anti-summoning tactics in place for this fight. It really varies; sometimes Trone is a real pain (I love it when he summons Marda), and sometimes he's a pushover.

When and if I triumph over Trone, I'm usually pretty set in the equipment department, so if I feel confident taking on Mordor again, I'll do so (character is usually level 40 or so now). However, I often take a detour here for more god quests or to finish the Nirnaeth quest in Gondolin (I should be more than capable of killing Hrus now).

Mordor can sometimes be a drag; the monsters are tough and often require meticulous tactics to defeat. I spend a LOT of time here, most of it spent in battle, hacking away at those nasties. Once I hit level 45, though, the Maeglin quest comes along, and I'm off to Gondolin to take care of that.

I sometimes do Maeglin right away, and sometimes wait. If I've got a few Genocide scrolls or staves to get rid of the Balrogs and Master Mindcrafters, I use them to take out those baddies, then hack apart the trolls and dragons and set up some anti-summoning measures for when Maeglin finally shows up.

A good strategy against Maeglin, I've found, is to use a chaotic weapon. Though they're annoying when used regularly, they've got a life drain and confusion ability that work wonders against uniques like Maeglin and Trone. If you haven't got one, though, just try surrounding yourself with runes and pounding Maeglin with distance attacks as he crawls toward you--he's not that tough. Just don't let him summon uniques; you can't genocide them, and lack of teleportation on Maeglin's level means that you're going to have a truly nasty time of it if Maeglin gets the spell off.

The reward for the Maeglin quest is well worth the risk, though, and once I've got it, I'm usually on top of the world. Even if Mordor isn't done at this point, I usually take this opportunity to head for Dol Guldur and take on the Necromancer.

I'll also sometimes do the Last Alliance quest now, or sometimes put it off. Fire immunity is a necessity for this one, but if Trone's dead and I've got his coat, it's usually not too tough.

Dol Guldur can be an annoying dungeon; the levels are often small and full of tough enemies. I usually don't stick around to fight, just heading for the stairwells when I see them. Somewhere in here there's a quest to free Thrain from captivity. It's not too hard, but also not too rewarding. You can get two Nazgul rings and a crappy helm out of it. If my rings are lousy, though, I'll often search for the dwarven king.

The Necromancer should be treated with care. Oftentimes, I think my characters are invincible at this point, hacking everything into cat food, killing the strongest demons with just a few spells. Well, the Necromancer's got some fun spells like Summon Greater Undead, Hand of Doom, Mana Storm, and the like. I try to make sure my HP is always above 600 or so (remember the rule), and heal up promptly if he hits me with a big attack. He's not TOO threatening at close-range, so I usually use an anti-summoning corridor and lure him in close. Still, he often takes a few tries to take down--if he summons Greater Undead first thing, I'll often teleport away, recall, then recall again to reset the level and give myself another chance. What's the use of getting chased around the level by Black Reavers if I haven't even done a point of damage to my adversary yet?

Character is usually level 45+ right now.

7.5 Dol Guldur to Angband

First things first; it's off to Galadriel to get an assessment of the situation. Now I start rounding out things that I might not have completed yet; the Last Alliance and Nirnaeth quests, and the last levels of Mordor if I haven't done any of those.

Here I usually head off to Erebor to kill great Wyrms and look for fountains of *Healing* to fill my bottles from. This is a very good place to gather both equipment and potions for the late game, so I always spend some time here rounding out my eq set and stocking up. Monsters in Erebor can be somewhat nasty, but the large-scale dungeons also mean a much lower density of monsters to face. You usually don't get mobbed in Erebor, unless you're fighting big summoners and get stuck in a chain of summons. Although this might not necessarily be a bad thing, considering the quality of treasure those great wyrms drop...

Traps in Erebor can be kind of serious, and they show up in groups of 4. I would tote around a Rod of Detection if you don't know the spell; more than once I've been hit by traps of Curse Armor and Speed Drain while journeying here.

At the bottom of Erebor lurks Glaurung, who can be somewhat troublesome at times, but never causes me a lot of trouble. His main threat is his ability to summon Ancient Dragons, occasionally very nasty Ancient Dragons, but if you can lure him to favorable terrain and take his breath attacks, he's never very difficult. Glaurung, in addition to carrying nice treasure, is a potential carrier of the One Ring.

Once Erebor is all finished, and if I didn't get lucky and scoop up the Ring from Glaurung's corpse, I'm ready to hunt for the nasty artifact that consumes so much of the late game.

Remember how I've skipped certain dungeons and other places? Well, some of them (like Helcaraxe and the Illusory Castle) aren't worth the trouble to me, but others have guardians that could carry the Ring. However, these guardians won't drop the Ring until you've got the "destroy the ring" quest, so I leave them alone until I reach this point in the game.

So, now I spend some time teleporting around to various dungeons via the Thunderlords and taking care of their guardians. First I head off to Cirith Ungol and take out Shelob; she's just a pushover at level 50. Also a pushover is the Watcher in the Water in the Small Water Cave, which can be accessed via level 40 of Moria. Acid immunity is nice in this small but annoying dungeon.

Then it's off to the Paths of the Dead to take out Feagwath, who sometimes presents a problem, but has low enough HP to succumb pretty easily to my attacks on most occasions. He also carries around some nice treasure on occasion.

Still no Ring yet? OK, last resort. Time to teleport to the bottom of the Sunken Ruins and kill Ar-Pharazon The Golden. I do this little side trip with my Mage characters even if I've already got the Ring, since his treasure, Toris Mejistos, is my amulet of choice for spellcasters. Magic breath or water-breathing is kind of a necessity in this dungeon, which is one of the most hostile environments in the game. Acid immunity is also very nice.

If I haven't found the Ring from any of these sources, I curse my evil luck and prepare for a dive into the Pits of Angband. If I have found the Ring, I proceed directly to the endgame. I'll walk through the former of these possibilities right now, and address the latter in the next section.

So, no Ring. Lovely. The only person who could have it now is Sauron, and Sauron is waiting at the bottom of Angband and refuses to come out and play, so I'm going to have to dive down into the Pits.

{ Sauron can also be found on Mount Doom, but I find it much more expedient to find the Ring before I head off there for a variety of reasons. Also, if I'm planning on wearing the Ring, there's no reason to fight my way through Mount Doom when I'm going to have to visit Angband anyway. }

Angband is tough. Really tough. There are three special levels there that can kill you good, it's got the toughest monsters anywhere, everything's leveled so it hits harder, moves faster, and takes more punishment, and it lasts forever. This is the big one, the dungeon that made the game of the same name famous and where Morgoth hangs his crown when it's not gracing his ugly head. Hope you're ready for this.

Now, if I've taken on a lot of quests, this is where I suffer for my decision; Angband's monsters are nasty nasty nasty, and if you get a quest for 20 Master Qs, you can't decide to skip the level via the Thunderlords. I've just got to grit my teeth and punch through.

Fortunately, by the time I enter Angband, I'm usually powerful enough to take on anything, my attack power is through the roof, and I've got plenty of HP. Now it's just a question of which mistakes I choose to make.

Anyway, the first few levels of Angband aren't much worse than the bottom of Mordor, where I've already been, so I just take them on straight. Then, after about five levels or so, you hit the Crypt, by far the worst special level so far. Undead are all over the place here, but it's not the Vampires, Ghouls, or even the Undead Beholders you've got to worry about. It's the Quylthulgs, and, more prominently, the random monsters that happen to show up sometimes here. This is the level where you REALLY need to start worrying about summoners on special levels. A Gelugon on the Crypt can absolutely ruin your life. One minute you're doing fine, next minute you're surrounded by Horned Reapers. You can't teleport away, and since you're in Angband, those Reapers hit *hard*. So take precautions, be careful, choose a route with a minimum of Qs. You don't have to explore all of the Crypt, in fact, you can skip it if you're a little wary (just leave the level via the up staircase or recall), but there's a powerful artifact here that might be helpful.

Okay, so I've eased my way through the Crypt, eesh, that was fun. Now there's a long period of diving through Angband before the next special level. This is where a lot of the nastier uniques make their grand debut. Watch out for the Mouth of Sauron, Ancalagon the Black, Kronos and Atlas, the Tarrasque, and the Witch-King, because they'll be prowling these levels with a vengeance. They're tough, but it's a good idea to kill them if you can, because if you don't they might cause even more problems for you later.

The next special level is probably the worst, and often proves to be the hardest part of the game (perhaps worse even than Mt. Doom) for me; it's the ever-lovin' Dim Gates, packed with Quylthulgs in very inconvenient locations ready to summon all sorts of lovelies to their aid. If I've got a nice powerful long-range attack, I can usually nail them from a distance; their summons are powerful, but they're not very strong in the HP department. If I'm reduced to melee, though, I'll often skip the level entirely or just do the part up to the Rotting Qs in the long room; there's a gate there to a corridor filled with lava and Great Hell Wyrms, a delicious opportunity for gaining treasure and the home of another somewhat useful artifact. If I try to get through the whole level, though, I always catch some heat from the monsters there; there are a LOT of Qs, and one of them always gets off a summon on me at some point or another. And it always seems that their summons are the worst possible monsters, and I've got to kill them all since I can't teleport either myself or them away. It's certainly doable, but it's also dangerous. Be forewarned.

Am I still alive? Wonderful. Now it's time for more diving. The monsters now start getting really tough, and are sometimes over level 100. This makes melee VERY tricky for anyone without a really great hitroll, so my semi-powerful Warriors can take a beating here. Mages don't care, they just blast everything in their way.

The last special level is Nameless, another formidable one, but without the formidable summoners of Dim Gates. Nameless focuses mainly on dragons, which can be killed easily for good treasure, but there are very often other unexpected surprises on this level in the form of big summoners and other very tough monsters. I usually skip it, since the risk usually doesn't seem worth it and the artifact at the end is largely useless, but if I'm feeling bold and reckless I occasionally push on through. This is the most optional dungeon in the game, I think.

Just a few more levels, and I've reached the bottom. Now I need to hunt for Sauron and wrest the Ring from his greedy little paws.

Sauron can be surprisingly rare down here. He's often tough to find, and, despite the fact that he'll chase you all the way across the dungeon, is a rather reclusive character who often hides in vaults. Detection is crucial to finding him in these lower levels.

If you kill Sauron without having destroyed or worn the Ring, he'll just vanish for the time being. And he doesn't always drop the Ring, meaning that you might have to spend quite some time mucking around in the depths of Angband repeatedly searching for and killing him before he coughs it up. This is kind of a shame, since Sauron, though not really a monumental challenge for most of my characters, is rarely an easy kill, and seems particularly fond of following up a Hand of Doom spell with a Mana Storm, earning him a position of particular loathing in my mind.

Basic tactics for Sauron are similar to the Necromancer; cut off his summons, fight him at close range if needed, don't let him escape to heal himself or get to a better position (the Anchor of Space-Time is very helpful for this). Just bear in mind that Sauron's spells are more powerful than the Necromancer's, and you need to be kind of careful with your hit points. I use healing fairly liberally during this battle (usually by this point I have a selection of artifacts and/or rods that can heal me), since this is one of the final hurdles I've got to overcome. I've never actually lost a character to Sauron outside of Mount Doom, but this might just be because I always take special care when fighting him.

It typically takes me one to five kills of Sauron to finally get the Ring (I think there's a 30% chance of getting it from him each time), but it has taken me many more in the past. Anyway, persistence always pays off, and the Ring always becomes mine in some manner or another.

Character now is always level 50 and is fairly hideous in terms of HP, killing power, speed, everything. Looks like a winner, feels like a winner.

7.6 Endgame

So I've finally, by hook or by crook, got the Ring. Now what do I do with it? I'm pretty sure that wearing it is the easier way to go; the thing gives you some pretty awesome abilities (as well as an HP cut, but most of my characters have enough HP to wear it, and yours should too), and you don't have to plow through Mt. Doom if you put it on. However, some of us don't like to be entirely evil, and some of us want to try our hand at the Void as well, which is quite impossible if you wear the Ring. So it's a real decision to make. Sometimes I make the decision as early as the beginning of the game, sometimes I wait until the very last minute. Usually, if I really like the character, I'll go ahead and try to destroy it; I think this route makes the game more rich and full. If I just want to win ASAP, though, I'll wear it and finish up. I would guess that only about one in five of my winners wear the Ring.

Before I start on the endgame, I like to make absolutely sure that I'm ready to take it on. If this means visiting Erebor again to fill up on good potions from its fountains or drudging around in the bottom of the Paths of the Dead to find a nice rod to attach a Rod Tip of Healing to, then so be it. Better to spend time preparing then to wade into battle and wonder.

Skip this next part if the Ring is worn...

So Galadriel's right, it's got to be destroyed. Looks like it's off to Mount Doom for me. The path of access here is on the second-to last level of Mordor, and I don't even think about stepping on that purple staircase unless I've got fire immunity. Mount Doom will toast you to a crisp quick unless you can wade through the lava that covers it without effect, and almost everything there breathes fire anyway, so immunity is important.

Mount Doom is one place that I really don't like to hang around for any extended period of time; resting is complicated, there are monsters everywhere, and you can't tunnel or break through most of the walls. Hmph. There are some uniques that show up in this area pretty often, though, and I sometimes tarry here to kill them. For the most part, however, it's just a matter of finding the down staircases quick quick and following them. Sometimes, if I've got a means of finding those stairs reliably, I'll just teleport around the level searching for them. Seriously, there's very little here to be found but death, if you're looking for it.

The ultimate goal is to get to level 99, where you can find the Great Fire that can destroy the Ring.

Mt. Doom isn't a fancy level. It basically just chucks really tough monsters at you the whole way through. If your combat ability is up to snuff and you don't do anything stupid like wandering out into the open where some big summoners are lurking, you should be fine.

There are basically two ways to do Mt. Doom: the sneaky way and the non-sneaky way. In the sneaky method, you try to get through without any (or many) creatures seeing you. In the non-sneaky method, you just fight your way through.

Sneakiness obviously requires good stealth. It also requires some means of killing monsters quickly and from a distance. A good shooter and a lot of Archery will work well. Magic power will work a little less well, since you should be relying heavily on Fireflash at this point, and Fireflash's splash damage will wake everything up. Manathrust or bolts are probably the way to go. You thrust or shoot all of the things that are always awake (mostly Zephyr Hounds) and just tiptoe around the rest. You'll need to punch through some blocking monsters at times, but you should be able to avoid about half of the other creatures on the level.

If, however, you get past the first couple of corridors and notice, via detection, that you've awakened many of the monsters on the level, you're going to have to fight. The most stressful areas of the level are in the north and north-east quadrants, where some random uniques usually show up, and on the south edge, where a huge room full of nasties makes a last-ditch effort to keep you from the Fire. Be sure you have lots of healing stockpiled and try your best to kill all the enemies one at a time rather than having them swarm you. If you're a Mage, put those anti-summoning techniques I've been blathering about to good use. Blocking off a corridor with a Stone Prison spell can mean the difference between fighting one Nightwalker at a time and fighting six at once.

It's very possible that you'll encounter Sauron on Mt. Doom. The best way to handle this situation is to knock him down to a fraction of his life and then let him teleport away. Don't kill him until after you destroy the Ring! If you get rid of him now, life in the lower levels of Angband will be much less annoying. But if you kill him before you destroy the Ring, you're no better off than you were before. So chuck that bad boy in the Fire and then go find Sauron, either elsewhere on the level or down at the bottom of Angband.

If you killed Sauron on Mount Doom, and if you've already been to Angband, your task is easy as pie. Go to the first level of Angband, zap your Rod of Recall, tell it not to reset recall, then head to the town and recall again. Pow! Last level of Angband. If you've worn the Ring, however, or if you haven't yet been to Angband, you're going to have to make the arduous trek. See the part in the earlier section about Angband for more on this task.

{ Note that, if you've worn or destroyed the Ring, Sauron is MUCH more difficult to find than if you haven't found it yet. This is why it's nice to kill him on Mt. Doom right after you destroy the Ring--no seeking necessary. }

Once all is done with Sauron and the Ring, though, you've still got old Morgy to worry about. You're largely on your own here; he's got no serious weaknesses and can be an absolutely hellish opponent. I will say this, though: you will need anti-summoning measures unless you're prepared to teleport all over the dungeon trying to escape from the creatures he summons, and it's MUCH less feasible to fight him at close range than it is to fight Sauron at close range.

So be strong, be brave, take along a few extra Potions of *Healing*, and you should be good to go.

8 The Void

8.1 What the Void is and how it can Work for You

OK, another warning now. Don't read this section unless you know what the Void is and what it looks like. If you haven't, stop right now. Not only will what I'm saying not make any sense, it'll probably be downright terrifying to anyone not versed in Void-lore.


All right, so if you're still reading, you probably know what the Void is already and therefore require no introduction to it. But I'll refresh your memory anyway.

The Void is where you banish Morgoth's spirit after "killing" him in Angband. It's a big, mostly empty dungeon full of not only lots of ancient dragons, demons, and other fun stuff, but also the Spirits, which can be found nowhere else and are just itching to kill you.

In addition, there's no air, meaning that without proper equipment you're apt to suffocate, there aren't any precious walls to block mass summoning spells, the monsters there can reach level 150 (monsters in Angband only get up to around level 115), and on the second-to-last level is a portal to the Nether Realm, a burning wasteland full of pits of level 150 demons, at the bottom of which lurks Tik'srvzllat ("Tikki" for short), whom you must kill before fighting your way BACK out of the Nether Realm and into the Void for a final showdown with Morgoth. Oh yeah, and you can't recall, so you have to do it all in one shot. Scared yet?

8.2 Potential Races and Classes

First of all, don't assume that just because Morgoth was a pushover you can just waltz into the Void and start killing everything larger than a Tater Tot. I would guess that only about 1/4 to 1/5 of my winners could handle the Void, and usually I don't even try. What I recommend is to build a Void diver from the very beginning, designing your skills according to what will serve you best in the Void.

I've made it through the Void with the following combinations:

  • Vampire Petty-Dwarf Mage: My most powerful spellcaster ever. Eschewed the Mana school, worshipped Eru, and dumped points into Prayer for Manathrust, Fire for Fireflash, and Spell-Power. Boosted spell levels with eq as well. Found a suit of armor that gave +60% life, and finished with over 1600 HP and over 3000 mana. Wham.
  • Classic RohanKnight Haftedmaster: My most powerful fighter ever. Dumped points into Haftedmastery and won Mindcraft powers and Mimicry from Fumblefingers. Used Mimicry to grow extra arms, used Grond, two sets of gloves, and a shield. Grond got so powerful by the end that almost nothing could survive more than one round against me. Had a hitroll of over +200 by the end.
  • Half-Elf Druid: Pathetic. Got a Partial Totem of a Great Wyrm of Power, summoned about ten on each level, then just waited until they and their pets cleared out the whole area. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.
  • Zombie Wood-Elf Archer: This one went with Crossbow-Mastery and Antimagic, though in retrospect Bow-Mastery might have been better. Got myself a Dark Sword of Nothingness to block all my enemies' magic and just pounded everything with artifact bolts and a Heavy Crossbow of the Haradrim. Still wasn't too easy though, especially without magic or magic devices to back me up.
  • Yeek Hermit Sorceror: This one was amusing. I boosted Necromancy enough to give myself Undead Form, then plowed into the Void with under 700 HP (including HP from my +40% HP armor). Got killed about four times while there, but each time Undead Form saved me. Getting through the Void with that many HP is quite an adventure.

Just use your best judgment to decide which race to pick; try to get a balance between the qualities I recommend in the next section. A few recommendations: A Thunderlord has 12 hit die, impressive special abilities, and innate electricity immunity at high levels, but they also have -16 to stealth, twice as bad as the next worse race (RohanKnights at -8). For my money, the Half-Ogre is probably better, with 12 hit die, one high resist, a sustain, the ability to select race modifiers like Vampire or Skeleton, and only a -2 stealth penalty. An Ent has a load of hit points, but lousy stealth and -5 to speed.

I personally think that the Petty-Dwarf is an excellent choice, as is the Half-Ogre, for mages, while sacrificing Stealth for the higher speed and Weaponmastery bonus of the RohanKnight is probably a good gamble, and those with a little more adventuresome blood might try the Dark-Elf. All of these races can be made into Skeletons, Zombies, and Vampires to get extra stat and hit die boosts and high resists; I recommend this as well.

Now, classes. Any of the warrior classes are possible, though some are obviously more difficult than others, and ANY of these classes are going to be MUCH more difficult than the mage classes to win in the Void. I would recommend having a complete plan in mind when you kick off a fighting Void diver. When I ran my Haftedmaster Void diver, I had envisioned using a powered-up Grond and Mimicry in the late-game. It would be helpful if you had a similar plan for your character.

I wouldn't recommend a rogue or a priest; the fringe benefits that these classes give aren't worth the reduced fighting / magic abilities. Loremasters are also kind of sketchy; if you decide to pursue the (exceedingly lame) summoning course, either a straight Loremaster or a Summoner is possible; you could also run (as I did) a Druid using these tactics. It's also possible to get through the Void with a Possessor. In most respects, you should follow the recommendations for the fighting-type characters for this class, but if you're possessing the Watcher or one of the other multiple weapon-wielding monsters, getting magic breath is going to be... interesting.

Archers are possible, especially if you use the antimagic-archer character. I would go with a straight Archer rather than a Ranger, and devote yourself entirely to Bow or Crossbow-Mastery.

A Sorceror will work just fine as far as spellcasters are concerned, and is probably the easiest character to get through the Void with, especially if you worship Melkor and get Genocide. Mages, however, are almost as good if you put your skill points in the right place. For my money, the increased hit points of the Mage is worth the reduced spell repertoire and power (my Void-diving Sorceror had spell levels about 10 higher than my Mage).

Skills. For fighting-types you need an immense amount of +hit to even touch a level 150 monster. Mastery is really the only way to go. I would also strongly suggest, if you're not adverse to using Fumblefingers, getting some Mimicry on your side. A Spider Web will allow you to spin webs, which *really* helps in the Void, and the extra pair of arms will boost your AC and fighting ability, and allow you to wield a two-handed weapon with a shield. Symbiosis and Mindcraft can also help. Also, if you decide to worship a god, I would recommend Manwe. Tulkas gives you more damage, yes, but Manwe can boost your hitroll by up to 50 points--Tulkas can't match that. Melkor might also be feasible if you have the skill points to pour into Prayer--I've never tried the Void with a Melkor-worshipping warrior.

For summoner-types, just go with summoning and monster-lore, maybe some Magic-Device to back that up. Have I mentioned that you're absolutely pathetic for sitting there like a bucket of clams while your pets do your dirty work?

For mages, I would have a maxxed-out Manathrust or Fireflash spell to handle offense, and Magic pumped up as high as possible to handle those expensive spells. Sorcerors can just go with Sorcery, but if you do so, I HIGHLY suggest also investing in Necromancy. Those 600 HP or so really go down fast in the Void. Mages should look into, in addition to Fire/Mana, some Divination, at least a little Conveyance for Teleport, some Nature for Healing, maybe 5 in Meta for Recharge, and lots of Spell-Power, Magic, and Magic-Device. Necromancy probably isn't necessary for a Mage with these skills. My Mage Void-diver didn't have any. If you choose a god, I would go with Eru or Manwe, though Melkor is also good for Udun (you can actually switch to someone else after destroying the Ring and keep the Udun spells).

For all characters, look for good hit points, good stealth, and good long-term innate resistances. I chose a Vampire Petty-Dwarf as my first Void diver because I had four high resistances and one low resistance right off, good stealth, and as many hit die as a Half-Ogre. I would read the next section on Planning and Preparation as well before you decide which race to choose.

8.3 Planning and Preparation

What you'll need to make a good Void diver:

  • HIT POINTS HIT POINTS HIT POINTS: You're going to take a TON of damage there, no easy way around it. Get tough or get dead. High mana is also essential for mages, of course, but everyone needs good HP.
  • Healing: Likewise, healing is pretty necessary to avoid death. Even if you know the spell, a few potions of Life are immensely helpful.
  • KILL ALL UNIQUES PRIOR TO ENTERING THE VOID: I can't emphasize this enough. You do NOT want seven Ringwraiths adding to your misery when you're surrounded by Greater Undead. You don't want that capital R that someone just summoned to turn out to be the Tarrasque. Uniques can't be genocided and will make your life miserable if you let them. Scour Angband beforehand; get rid of them, or they'll get rid of you. Don't sweat it if Ulwarth, Son of Ulfang or someone avoids you, though; you only need to kill those uniques that are really threatening.
  • Magic breath: The Void has no air. Not even water breathing will prevent you from suffocating. Only two items will grant this coveted ability: the Phial of Undeath, which carries assorted.... disadvantages, and Cloaks of Air. Obviously, the latter are preferable, so scourge the depths of Angband until you find one. Such a Cloak usually comes up at least once over the course of a game though--hold onto it!
  • Means of curing insanity: Just trust me on this one. What with all the brain smashing, the sanity-draining attacks, the lack of recall etc., it's just common sense.
  • Stealth: You're not in the Void to scourge it of all evil; you're there to kill Melkor and get out. Stealth is the best way to do it.
  • Detection: In the same vein, the quicker you can find the next down or up staircase and reach it, the better your odds for survival. It's essential to see the monsters coming as well. Use detection copiously. Learn the spells or get yourself a rod of Detection. A trap in the Nether Realm can do well over 1000 damage. Unless you can detect that trap and avoid it, you're going to be hurting when you blunder across it.
  • Genocide / Mass Genocide: Use it. Get staves, hoard the scrolls, get junkarts, learn the spell, whatever. (The Void is actually not difficult if you kill all the uniques before entering and genocide everything you see, but this is a cheap way of conducting yourself) But you'll need it. When that pack of angry Pit Fiends glares at you wrathfully from atop the nearest down staircase, you'll thank me for this advice.
  • LOS disruption: This is important. If monsters can't see you, they can't kill you. Either have the ability to cast Shake or Stone Prison (or use the applicable magic-devices) reliably, the ability to spin spider webs via mimicry (or tons of Oils of Spider), the ability to create lots of trees quickly, or some other, cleverer form of LOS disruption. If you're doing the Void right, you should see the monsters coming, and when you do, the first thing you should do is either teleport away, teleport them away, or dig in and prepare for a fight. LOS disruption is the only real way to handle this third option. If you can't manage disruption, at least get some way of preventing mass summons by filling up the spaces around you with something or other--you don't want to be caught out in the open with your pants down by a pack of Archliches.

Note: if your Void diver is relying heavily on Antimagic, you might be able to do without this, but LOS will still prevent you from getting surrounded or devastated by big breathers.

8.4 Hacking Your Way Through

OK, so you've got all the stuff I've told you to get, your stealth is Heroic, you've got hit points, mana, healing, genocide, magic breath, insanity curing, detection, and LOS disruption up the wazoo; all the uniques are dead. Everything has been prepared for. So here we go.

I recommend you go into your preferences under "efficiency" and set the last option ("center view on player") on, or else be sure to keep a careful and wary eye on your monster window at all times. DON'T let monsters sneak up on you. Don't get careless.

Now, I'm not going to walk you through the Void; it's at heart your problem. You should've listened to Galadriel when you had the chance. I will say this, though. You're not here to sightsee, or to collect heaps of treasure. I would be looking for the down staircases at all times, and fighting only those monsters you feel secure in your ability to defeat. Genocide really menacing packs of monsters in your way; if you've taken my advice and killed all the uniques, Mass Genocide should be a free ticket out of almost any sticky situation.

You'll need to go to the bottom of the Nether Realm before finishing The Void. Most of the tactics I've given you here apply there as well, though; the monsters are just higher level and more plentiful. Detection, disruption, genocide when needed. Tikki lurks at the bottom with the Flame Imperishable.

I don't think the documentation currently mentions that you need either a Long Sword, a Mage Staff (there are some bugs with the Mage Staff infusion in this version--be careful), a suit of Power Dragon Scale Mail, or a Heavy Crossbow to infuse with the Flame Imperishable and break into the last level of the Void. These items are turned into the weapon or armor of Eternity upon infusion; infusing the staff is good for Mages, the crossbow for Archers, the sword for warriors, and the mail for anyone who's undecided. It sounds more complicated than it is, and once you get to this point, it should be pretty clear.

Once you've got your weapon or armor of Eternity, you need to get all the way back up through the Nether Realm and into the Void. Wear / wield the infused item and take the down staircases. This should put you on the very last level.

Again, how you fight Melkor is up to you; close-range, at a distance, whatever. But I should warn you that one of the tactics I've advised you to use heavily above will not work at ALL on the Void's last level. So be careful.

{ I wonder if DarkGod's got around to adding that Nether Mists level I wrote to the Void yet. That thing would require another section in itself. Yeesh. }

9 Hints by Class Type

9.1 Warrior

So you've decided to relive your childhood memories of torturing cute, furry creatures out in the rustic hills and valleys. Congratulations! You're a Warrior.

First, you'll need to choose a specialty. If you're a Swordmaster, Haftedmaster, Axemaster, Demonologist, or Polearmmaster, this has pretty much been decided for you; one of your mastery skills will have a much greater multiplier than the others. If you're a normal Warrior, or an Unbeliever, you can just choose one (Swordmastery is probably most desirable for Unbelievers, since you can use Dark Swords). In any case, a pure fighter like you needs to pick a mastery and stick with it; you'll be using weapons of that kind for the whole game.

As far as the decision goes, each category has something to offer. The most common and powerful weapons are generally swords, making Swordmaster somewhat easier than the others, but a couple of the most powerful weapons are polearms or hafted weapons. { Glaive of Pain, Trident of Ulmo, Deathwreaker, Grond. }. Axemaster is more difficult; powerful axes are rare, and there aren't any really really powerful ones { OK, well, Durin and Eonwe maybe, but they're two-handed and really don't stack up to the good swords. } Swordmastery also has the advantage of containing a lot of really powerful one-handed weapons, while hafted, polearm, and axe users will often find themselves having to go shieldless or suffer penalties.

You're going to also have to invest points in Weaponmastery, sadly, though its effects will probably go unnoticed for much of the game. See, Weaponmastery increases your combat skill (viewed on the player screen), and without a high level in this skill you'll have difficulty hitting things of high armor class. You can play pretty normally without ANY skill in Weaponmastery until you hit the middle levels of Angband, when you suddenly can't hit anything. The game's still winnable if you dig yourself into this hole, but still investing in Weaponmastery is probably wise.

Which brings us to our next point. If you want to run a powerful warrior, and I mean a really absurdly powerful kill-a-Great-Wyrm-of-Law-in-one-round warrior, you're going to have to invest in supplemental skills. Combat and Weaponmastery are good and all, but they don't afford you much flexibility. And flexibility is your big weakness. You can't cast spells, you can't use fancy lore abilities, you don't know one end of a Staff of Teleportation from the other. Pumping up Magic-Device helps a lot, since then you can use some handy items like Rods of Perception, Recall, and Detection, as well as get more mileage out of Wands of Noxious Cloud and Fireflash and activate junkarts and artifacts with some skill. Seriously, Magic-Device is your best friend. A high-level warrior with no skill in Magic-Device is a pathetic sight.

If you want, you can go for the Prayer route--do enough god quests and pump enough points into the skill and you'll have some more magic abilities, a little more offensive punch, a bit of a fallback in an emergency. If you want to do this, try Manwe or Melkor rather than Tulkas--his prayers are pretty weak. See the section on gods for more.

If you're not adverse to taking on fumblefingers quests and messing with your skill base a little, there's some good stuff to be had as far as fumblefingers is concerned. What you do is accept a high number of quests (66 or more, typically; a lot of people just do 98), plow through the dungeons looking for fumblefingers, and then, when you save his sword from a group of yellow mushroom patches { What the hell a bunch of mushroom patches are going to do with a sword is beyond me }, you tell him not to join you and instead accept a skill. Once he offers you the skill you want three times, your modifier in that skill will be at .5, and you're ready to dump points into it.

An absolutely stellar skill for a warrior is Mimicry at level 35; at this level you get the Arms Mimicry ability. Mimic yourself an extra set of arms and you can use a two-handed weapon with a shield and no penalty, as well as wielding a second one-handed weapon for additional benefits (make sure it's a one-handed weapon, and that it's one you have a mastery in, or bad things happen), and two pairs of gloves { Fingolfin and Cambeleg are a dynamic combination }. The downside is that you have to keep casting it constantly, or else cast it every time and just tote around the eq you switch in during combat. Kind of a pain.

Mindcraft is also quite feasible, and can give you quite a lot of nice utility spells. Detection, hasting, magic armor, hitroll increases, teleportation, that kind of thing. Your spell points are apt to be lousy, since you'll have no skill in magic and probably not too great spellcasting stats, but the increased flexibility that Mindcraft offers is still a quite attractive prospect. Eolytha, my RohanKnight Haftedmaster winner listed above, had level 35 in Mindcraft and Mimicry as well as level 50 in Haftedmastery, Weaponmastery, and Magic-Device, and that pretty much ate up all my skill points.

Don't overlook Necromancy as a possibility either. Vampirism is great for recovering HP when fighting at close range (300 points of healing a pop), and if you get it and Combat REALLY high, you can learn Touch of Death, an ability normally reserved for Dark-Priests.

You can also get stuff like Summoning or Thaumaturgy, but since these require supplemental skills to be really effective (Monster-Lore for Summoning, Magic for Thaumaturgy), I usually disregard them. Still, you're free to experiment.

Now, the big thing you'll want to do as a warrior is to get your close-range killing power to the point where you can take almost anything on hand-to-hand. Even if you pour all your spare skill points into Archery and tote around a Heavy Crossbow of Umbar and a bunch of Silver Bolts of Wounding, you're going to be kind of clumsy and ineffective at long-range combat. You don't have the strength or accuracy of an Archer in this department, and whatever magical abilities you scrape together with supplemental abilities and magic devices can't equal the long-range attack power of a mage. Hand-to-hand is where it's at for you.

So I suppose it goes without saying that you should tune your equipment to maximize your damage per round. Rings of Extra Attacks and Slaying, Gauntlets of Power, Weapons of Extra Attacks, Amulets of Weaponmastery, you get the picture. You need basic resistances in place and enough speed not to be overwhelmed by fast enemies, but other than that it's all about the offensive. Don't worry about armor class; your good combat rating and the prevalence of heavy armor that's suited for combat should make it all right.

Search for Potions of Constitution to keep your HP up and practice fighting enemies one at a time and employing anti-summoning techniques. If you can prevent your foes from mobbing you while maintaining enough killing power to take them out, there's really nothing that can stop you.

Your saving throw is apt to be lousy, so treat enemies like Aranea, mind flayers, and beholders with care and make sure that your sanity doesn't go all quagmire on you. Always keep around means of escaping in an emergency just in case, though. Teleportation, scrolls of Mass Genocide and *Destruction*, whatever makes you feel safe.

There are few things more impressive than a well-tuned, versatile Warrior. They can carve up the dungeon without once worrying about whether their mana's going to run out or if a lucky hit from that Cave Orc will have their low hitpoint warning going nuts.

Special Cases: There's the Demonologist, who works like a Swordmaster in most ways, except the Demonologist has access to Demon school spells, used through demon equipment. I don't like the Demonologist too much, since not all of the Demon spells are useful, you won't be able to cast them very often anyway because your mana sucks, and there are few demon equipment artifacts (it's basically Gothmog's way or the highway). Still, Demon Blade does a lot of damage, and you can summon some pretty crazy creatures at higher levels, so just go with your heart. If you want to spend those skill points, it's your own damn business. However, one of the perks I do appreciate about the Demonologist is that their multipliers in many skills are considerably higher than their straight warrior counterparts.

And then there's the Unbeliever. This is hacking and slashing in the ultimate degree. Antimagic prevents magical abilities and even the use of magic devices, so your only aids are going to be scrolls, potions, and activatable artifacts, which you'll really suck at using. However, as your skill in Antimagic increases (and especially if you decide to use an unenchanted Dark Sword), monsters around you won't be able to use spells. You also get (thank goodness) some antimagic skills that allow you to control teleportation and detect/destroy traps. The latter of these two abilities you should use ALL the time--it's one of your only reliable noncombat abilities. { Dark Sword antimagic benefits are based on the pluses on the sword. If you're using a Dark Sword +15 +25, it's pretty much doing nothing for you. A Dark Sword +0 +0, or even a Dark Sword -10 -10, will help much more. In fact, if you're wielding a really nasty Dark Sword of Nothingness -68 -50, you'll have a pretty much perfect antimagic field even if you've only got one point in the skill. This is actually desirable for some characters--see the Antimagic Archer. }

There's not much that can be said for the Unbeliever. It's a simple life, since you don't need to worry about most magic, and it's certainly satisfying to walk into a room full of dark elven warlocks and cut them to pieces while they repeatedly fail to destroy you with mana bolts, but unless you forsake some of your mastery skills for archery, you'll basically just be walking up to things and trying to kill them. If that's the life for you, then go ahead and do it. But be prepared to be frustrated by being forced to work around common, often trivial obstacles in extremely roundabout manners.

9.2 Archer

So you've decided to spend your life flinging nasty pointy (or perhaps blunt) objects at monsters from a distance. Congratulations! Now shoulder your bow, crossbow, or sling and go out to make a name for yourself.

I only list the three primary weapons above, because they're the only ones that I would seriously consider for specialization. You can also choose boomerang-mastery, but this is much, much, much weaker than the others. A good boomerang will do 1/10, maybe even 1/20, of the damage of a nice combination of shooter and missile. Plus, damage from a boomerang won't increase no matter how many points you dump into the skill, so a randart boomerang that's 4d5 +12 +12 will do an average of 24 damage (I think) whether you're level 1 or level 50. So go with one of the three mentioned above and save yourself the boomerang swindle.

So like the warrior, you have a mastery choice to make. You also have a racial decision to make. If you're going to run a Wood-Elf (a very, very strong Archer; they get a great modifier to ranged weapons), I would go with Bow-mastery, since I believe they get an additional bonus with bows. If you're going for Sling-Mastery, the Hobbit is the natural choice, because of the addition they get to the relevant skill. Everyone's equally good with a crossbow, though some races are naturally better archers than others. All elves are good with missiles, especially Wood-Elves, but Hobbits, Gnomes, and Dunadain also stand out (placed in order of goodness).

Now then, the humble sling is the weakest of the missile weapons. It's got a x2 multiplier and uses pathetic 1d2 missiles. Do the math; that's 4 damage maximum for your mighty rounded pebble. However, don't let this deceive you. Slings of Extra Might and randarts can go up to around x6 or so, and the actual dice of the missile pale in comparison to the enchantment and flags on the pebbles and shots themselves. A x6 Sling of Extra Might +25 +25 shooting some Mithril Shots +20 +20 will still do a heck of a lot of damage. All the same, the Sling is a slightly lighter, less powerful alternative to the bow and crossbow.

Bows and crossbows are very, very similar; however, crossbows have the slight edge as far as damage is concerned and weigh much more. Lugging around a Heavy Crossbow and about a hundred bolts, even with a strength of 18, is no fun. But they and their bolts, which also have the damage edge over arrows, are the most devastating shooters around. The bow, however, only does slightly less damage and weighs much, much less, as well as boasting a far greater quantity of artifacts than the crossbow class. It's really your call. { If you're running a Void diver, the crossbow is probably better.... }

Now you're going to want quite a few hit points, which can be a concern considering the fact that many popular Archer races have lousy hit die. Choosing Zombie or Vampire as a subrace might be a good idea, if only for the extra HP. Though you'll spend most of your time across the room from whatever you're fighting, shooting missiles at it repeatedly, at some point you're going to get breathed on or nailed by a trap or just surprised by a group of monsters that all decide to cast Cause Serious at you at once. Keep your hit points up.

The other thing you're going to need is ammo. You can find or buy it at early levels, but at mid-later levels you're going to be pretty much entirely making your own. This is a pretty easy thing to do; just get enough skill in Archery, round up the raw material, and poof! free ammo. Now there are a couple of ways to do this. If you're on the bow/crossbow wagon, you can roam around the dungeon ceaselessly searching for broken skulls and shards of pottery to make nasty nasty ammo out of, or you can just run through the Lothlorien house quest a million times collecting and hoarding Elf Skeletons to convert later. There's no real answer to this; you just have to let your ethics guide you. Roam or scum.

Slingmasters don't have a choice. They have to roam, searching for rubble and turning it into shots. Fortunately, rubble is pretty common and visible, especially on smaller dungeon levels.

In any case, you're going to want to try and create ammo that has good pluses and good special abilities; these are the big important things. Since elemental and monster slaying brands get a nice big multiplier when you're shooting, you need to pay attention to them. Inscribe your artifact ammo so that you know what ammo to use against what enemies. For example, when you make some artifact ammo that's acid branded and a great bane of undead, inscribe it {acid undead}, and switch it in whenever you meet an Iron Lich. As you create more elaborate and effective ammo, these inscriptions often start reading like {lit fir drag ev} (use against lightning or fire-susceptible monsters, or against dragons and evil creatures). Artifact ammo is particularly nice because it has these multiple abilities and will never break. Once I get a good few sets of artifact ammo, I usually just start getting rid of my normal missiles. In any case, having the right ammo--and enough of it--in any given situation is the key to effective fighting as an Archer.

The best fighting strategy for an Archer is to find a good corner and snipe monsters as they round the bend. As you gain levels and increase your mastery skill, you'll get more and more shots per round until the monsters just seem to be standing still. If you work it out right, they won't even see what hit them.


Elias the Hobbit Archer detects a group of Barbazu nearby. It's killing time.


Elias moves into position and switches his ammo to some demon-slaying iron shots.


Elias now has a wild, rowdy drinking party to wake up the group of Barbazu. { Oh, he could just rest on the spot until they wake up, but where's the fun in that? }


As the demons move into his LOS, Elias, who has four shots a round, nails them with his missiles. Since he's never in their LOS, he's in virtually no danger as long as he's got the power to kill the demons and his ammo holds out.

You're also going to need a contingency plan. Archers kind of go out on a limb whenever they fight enemies; without ammo, they're not too formidable, and if they don't manage to kill whatever they're fighting with that ammo, they get themselves in trouble. It's easy to say, "oh, gee, my Bolts of Frost will make quick work of these Greater Hellhounds," then throw all your bolts at the monsters, then find yourself in a room full of irate monsters with your ammo gone and no real way of retrieving it. This is why you need the contingency plan. You need some other way of killing monsters. The most simple one is also the most popular; just get some skill in combat, find a good weapon, and whip it out when your ammo runs dry. You can also pump skills into Magic-Device and carry around some high-end wands or even go for some magic skill (via Prayer or fumblefingers maybe), and put it to work when your ammo runs dry. However, don't forget that your primary mode of attack is missiles. I've run Rangers before who attempted to mingle close and long range attacks equally, but their fighting ability always dried up in the later levels in favor of shooting.

You should know that increasing your hitroll via gloves/rings of slaying, rings of accuracy, etc. will add to your shooting accuracy, but increasing damroll will not. Wearing a Ring of Damage +17 will let you do 17 more damage per hit with your Long Sword, but your shots will still do exactly the same damage. For this reason, it's extremely important to make sure that both your launchers and missiles are maximally enchanted to damage.

Detection is also something that you need. Since Archers take these risks in fighting, they never want to be surprised. You need to know where monsters are lurking in order to gauge whether you'll have enough ammmo to take them out.

As far as magic goes, you're just as inflexible as warriors (except for the Ranger, who we'll come to in a minute), despite being able to tackle mosnters from a distance. You're going to need a reliable means of teleport, healing, disarming, etc. etc. Again, magic-device skill is very helpful here.

Arching vs. Ranging: Archers come in two flavors: the standard Archer and the Ranger. Though the Ranger's got a little more combat ability and some magical skills, the multipliers on these abilities are pretty low. So in order to get better hand-to-hand and/or spellcasting, you've got to give up a considerable amount of shooting ability (the lower modifiers the Ranger has on mastery skills don't help either). I think that the stronger character is the Archer, but if you want more intangibles the Ranger might be for you.

Special Cases: The Antimagic Archer is just that, an Archer who attempts to get antimagic from fumblefingers and wield a really really terrible Dark Sword to get a perfect antimagic field. Since you can still shoot missiles within the field, you get a character that can kill enemies from a distance without them retaliating with magic. Neat, huh? I've got one Antimagic Archer who made it through the Void, but it made me feel kind of dirty--you've almost got an unfair advantage. Still, all of the handicaps that afflict a normal Unbeliever apply to pretty much everyone who takes on the Antimagic skill, so it can be a pretty frustrating life anyway.

9.3 Rogue

So you've decided to act on your dark fantasies of lying, cheating, and stealing from the blind. Congratulations! You're a rogue.

Sadly, the Rogue classes don't play much different from a Warrior right now; they don't have strong enough magic abilities to make attacking via magic feasible, and their archery skills (Boomerang-mastery nonwithstanding) also leave something to be desired. They do have Swordmastery, though, which is good, because they have to rely on hand-to-hand combat to dispatch pretty much all of their foes.

The one advantage that Rogue-types do have over straight warriors, though, is the ability to sneak up on things and wake them with a dagger to the throat. If your stealth gets good enough (you should invest in the skill), almost nothing will be able to see you. If you invest in Backstab, too, and boost your damroll really high, you can kill quite a few things in one round, no questions asked.

Because of this, in my opinion, the Assassin is hugely preferable to the straight Rogue, since the Assassin has better fighting and stealth multipliers and abilities. Though they still lack the power of a Swordmaster, an Assassin with maxxed stealth and Swordmastery, with some Backstab thrown in, is a very proficient fighter.

And then there's the unique Critical-Hits skill. Now, you can invest in this, but please stop to think whether it's really useful before you do. I mean, even worshipping Tulkas with a Prayer level of 20 will let you score a critical hit on every blow, and it doesn't require you to be wielding a sissy little dagger. If you want my honest opinion on this, I would put the points into Backstab instead, or a different skill.

Strategy for Rogues is pretty similar to that for Warriors, again, there's nothing really complicated about it. Your increased stealth and skill in searching and with devices gives you a little more preparation time prior to battles, but unless you can match these abilities with hand-to-hand skill, you're going to have difficulty killing stuff. Still, max out Swordmastery and maybe Weaponmastery and you should be good to go.

My Rogues usually get as good as they can in fighting, then use Prayer or fumblefingers skills to supplement these abilities. Magic-Device is, again, useful, but Assassins get a lousy multiplier in the skill. You might try eschewing the whole magic thing with an Assassin, though, and hope to get Antimagic from fumblefingers.

Rogues also get Stealing and Dodging as skills; I usually don't go for these. For Dodging, bear in mind that it's useless unless you're wearing no armor or almost no armor. For Stealing, bear in mind that, with a high enough DEX, you can steal most light objects with a minimal chance of failure. Again, they're your skill points, but for my money, I'd rather have a character that's good at fighting than one who can reliably steal Potions of Experience.

Special Cases: there really aren't any, though you could try to run a Rogue who focuses on trapping rather than fighting. If you decide to try this, you're largely on your own, since traps are vastly underpowered right now and a huge hassle to use, especially regularly. To make them effective, though, you've got to snipe monsters from a distance and lure them onto your traps, so a good long-range attack and stealth are probably desirable. Note that "effective" in that last sentence is very relative, though.

{ Look here for lots more information on trapping: }

9.4 Mage

So you've decided to deal with your problems by burning them into dead lumps of carbon. Congratulations! You're a Mage.

No two Mages are really alike, so I'll separate them into the Sorcerer and Non-Sorcerer categories, and give some advice for both.

The Sorcerer is the 800-pound gorilla of the Mage category. He learns every spell and gets very, very good at them if you max out Sorcery, and still has a million skill points to invest in Spell-Power and other skills, making his killing power unmatched. The drawbacks? Well, you're pretty much completely out of the melee business, but Mages aren't really suited to melee anyway. And then there's the hit point cut. That's right, 1% for every point put into Sorcery. Careful calculation will reveal that, once your Sorcery skill hits 50, you're going to have a total -50% to hit points. Considering what I've been saying about hit points this whole time, this is a huge deal.

Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize the effects of the HP cut. Ideally, you'll do all of these, but even a few will help.

  • Play a race with high hit die. If you're running a Gnome Hermit Sorcerer, you're starting out with 5 hit die. Now that's just asking for trouble. A Vampire Half-Ogre Sorcerer, while having worse stats and thus a tougher time in the early game, will have 12 hit die. Even with a 50% HP cut, that's still better hit die than the Gnome. So choose wisely.
  • Wear all the +CON equipment you can. I would favor Rings of Constitution over Rings of Intelligence and Hammerhand over Holhenneth with these characters. Even once your CON is maxxed, your hit points will suck, but at least they'll suck a little less.
  • Invest in Symbiosis (from fumblefingers). You've got a lot of skill points, owing to the fact that you don't have to put any in the spell schools, and you could spend them in Spell-Power to accentuate your strengths... or you could devote some to this skill in order to compensate for your weakness. The higher your skill in Symbiosis, the more damage your symbiote will take for you. "The Drolem breathes gas. Your monster takes the damage instead of you" is music to the ears of a mid-level Sorcerer. And of course there are other nice benefits that Symbiosis affords.
  • Bind some healing spells to yourself with Spellbinder. 'Nuff said.
  • Get the Undead Form skill (requires a lot of Necromancy). Even your best-laid plans are likely to go awry with low enough hit points. Undead Form will give you a second (or third, or fourth) lease on life. It doesn't guarantee success, but it'll often give you enough time to teleport away from whatever just killed you, then recall to the town and slowly kill yourself back to life.
  • Wear +hit point armor. You probably won't find any for a while, but it's still quite essential. Randart armor that gives +60% to hit points will put you right back in business.

If you can control your hit point woes, then life is smooth as butter for the Sorcerer. Blast your foes with Manathrust, Fireflash, Firewall, Tidal Wave, Noxious Cloud, Strike, whatever works for you. Since you have virtually every spell in the game at your disposal, use them all judiciously. Cast Vision on every level, get a macro set up to detect traps, monsters, doors, and stairs, use Elemental Shield when fighting big breathers, haste yourself all the time, just tear the place up. The world is your oyster. Just be sure to keep your hit points up.

Other spellcasters (Mages, Warpers, Geomancers, Necromancers) have an equally complicated time. They have more hit points, though hit points are still a large concern, but they're also forced to pick and choose among the spell schools. They can't learn all the spells, so they should know which spells they want and put points only into those categories.

Now, the schools. Let me break these down in an opinionated manner for you.

Top tier (you need these):

  • Mana
  • Fire
  • Divination
  • Conveyance

Second tier (very nice to have these):

  • Water
  • Earth
  • Meta
  • Nature

Third tier (minor usefulness):

  • Air
  • Temporal
  • Necromancy

Fourth tier (completely pointless):

  • Mind
  • Udun

Essentially, you need some means of attack first and foremost. Manathrust will provide this, as will Fireflash, and these are your two biggest attack spells. The Fire school will also provide Firewall, which can be a pretty handy attack spell, and Globe of Light, which at high levels can eradicate big groups of annoying little monsters (take that, Snaga!). So Mana and Fire for attack.

Detection is also extremely important. Without the Divination school, you'll be reduced to toting around Rods of Detection, Perception, and Enlightenment like a common Warrior. You should be using detection all the time anyway for fear of getting surprised by a trap, what with your utterly lousy HP.

Conveyence is essential for quick escape, but you don't need to go hog wild with the category. Enough to cast Phase Door and Teleportation without fail should do you. Conveyance also gives you Disarm, which is very handy.

Water and Earth spells are good, but the best of them (Stone Prison, Tidal Wave) are inaccessible to the non-Sorcerer. Enough Earth to cast Dig is nice, and enough Water to cast Ent's Potion is essential. Level 6 in Water will also give you Vapor and Geyser, so it's a wise investment.

Meta and Nature have some really great spells (Spellbinder, Tracker, Healing, Recovery), but they also require lots of skill points to acquire. Enough Meta (5 points) to cast Recharge is usually a good idea, and if you've got the points to spare, enough Nature to cast a good Healing spell.

Air is spectacularly useless with the exception of Noxious Cloud, which is the best offensive spell in the early game. As time goes on, though, it becomes less useful, and it'll only annoy demons and undead creatures. Getting Noxious Cloud is nice, therefore, but since Air is so weak otherwise you might be better off beefing up your Vapor spell and using that to exterminate weak creatures.

Temporal magic's biggest offering is Essence of Speed, and this probably isn't worth spending 15 skill points on, so I would skip it.

The really desirable offering of Necromancy is Undead Form, and this takes so many skill points (well over 50) to get that you'd better forget about it for non-Sorcerers.

Mind magic is just crap. 95% of the time it doesn't work, and even when it does work it doesn't do any damage. It's good for a chuckle if you're a Sorcerer, but for anyone else it's an utter waste of skill points.

And then there's Udun, which doesn't actually give you any spells. You need at least one point of it to cast things like Genocide, but it won't do anything unless you've got school magic to pair with it. So just dump a cursory point into Udun and spend the rest of your points getting actual spells to combine with it.

There are a few Mage varieties to bear in mind when dumping skill points into schools:

Geomancers are a little unusual; they're sort of like combinations between Mages and Loremasters. For starters, the Geomancer should put lots of points into Geomancy, since it increases all of the Elemental schools, and putting some extra points into Fire so you can get a killer Fireflash might not be such a bad idea either. From there, you should invest in some utility schools like Divination or Conveyance.

In battle, however, Geomancers can have a tough time. Their geomancy attacks are a little random (only a few will do big damage), and often take a long time to prepare. Once you get the hang of them (and get immunity to fire so you can take advantage of those squares of lava you create), they can be effective, but it's a very, very good idea to have a backup plan just in case. This is what the Fireflash I mentioned earlier can be used for. If you've got time to prepare for a fight, use Geomancy. But if you round a corner and a group of Dreads are staring you in the face, Fireflash 'em.

Unfortunately, Geomancers don't get any Mana magic, which means no Manathrusting. You can, however, worship Eru to get around this restriction. It'll take quite a few skill points to get Manathrust up to a decent level, so choose carefully.

The Necromancer is a little underpowered right now; he takes a hit in most school spell multipliers, and only gets Necromancy to compensate. You'd be better off playing a Mage or Sorcerer dumping points into Necromancy, I think. Still, if you're intent on playing the lord of the dead, be sure to use plenty of Raise Dead spells and get pets to take the heat while you hurl your somewhat weaker magics at the enemy.

The Thaumaturgist is substantially different from every other mage class. Since its spells are all unchanging, random offensive spells, Thaumaturgists need to look to other schools for their utility needs. Warper/Thaumaturgist is a popular combination. Within Thaumaturgy itself, the best spells, generally speaking, are view and area spells. View spells can damage vast numbers of monsters at once (a Thaumaturgy using character who teleports to the middle of the Gondolin Trolls quest screen can probably hit 100+ monsters simultaneously with each View spell) and make life very simple. No more need to target monsters with your attacks. Just cast a view spell and it hits everything.

Area spells are, well, there’s no nice way to say this, but they are the reason people look askance at Thaumaturgy. A high level area spell will drop 50+ ball spells, each doing full damage, into a 3-4 square radius around the caster, including outside the caster’s LOS. Every monster standing next to a mage casting a level 50 Thaumaturgy area spell will take at least 3,000-5,000 damage if it doesn’t resist the damage type.

{ (Since ToME 2.3.3?) Thaumaturgy can no longer hit monsters on the other side of walls. Old tales tell how the Thaumaturge would stand on the other side of a 1-square thick wall from the monster, cast the same spell, and still inflict 500+ damage. The bug is gone, so this is not anymore a very effective way to kill monsters. }

The type of damage inflicted by each spell comes from a lengthy list that includes just about every type of damage that can be inflicted in ToME when C, Z, and Joke monsters are turned off (so no toxic waste or rockets), almost all of wich have additional affects that can at least potentially impact monsters, items on the ground, the ground iteself, or the walls.

The huge breadth of Thaumaturgy spells allow some interesting combinations. Getting mobbed by monsters? Cast a sound view spell, and it will damage and possibly stun everything in your LOS. Having a hard time with a particular monster? Cast wall create to entomb it, then either ignore it or cast a force area attack and every single attack will push the monster into a wall inflicting triple damage. Destruction spells act like a poor man’s version of mass genocide and are effective on quest and special levels. Test out every single spell your character receives, because the possibilities are endless. As an example, I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure why gravity is very disappointing as an area attack, while inertia is almost unfairly devastating.

{ Erm, there's also Runecraft, which I've almost never used. I hear they can be quite effective though. I would encourage someone with more experience in these fields to pen a little bit about the life of a Runecrafter... And there's the Alchemist, who I really don't want to touch. }

All Mages, including Sorcerers, should put skill points into the Magic ability, since this largely determines your amount of mana (Dark-Elves get a bonus to the Magic multiplier... another reason why they make such good Mages), as well as the Magic-Device category. With Recharge and Drain on your side, you can get even more use out of your favorite rods, staves, and wands.

There are some peripherals you should bear in mind with the Mage. Speed is somewhat important; if you're casting one Manathrust for every two of your opponents' attacks, something needs tweaking. Sorcerers and some others will learn Essence of Speed, which can alleviate the problem, but if you have speed issues I would just use a Ring that increases it. Unlike fighting-types, who need rings that increase hit, dam, and blows, you can just focus on rings that boost your stats, resistances, and speed. My Mages often decide to wear Nazgul rings for these purposes.

If you're a Genocide junkie like me, you'll want to worship Melkor. Don't get suckered into putting a lot of points into Udun; though. If your skill in Nature (or Sorcery) is at 50, all you'll need is one point in it to learn Genocide. Same goes for Drain and the Mana school. If, however, you don't care for the spell, Eru is probably your guy. His weapon penalty shouldn't be a big deal because you'll probably be wielding a Mage Staff for most of the game, and his mana boost and possible resurrection are the icing on the cake.

Note that, should you so desire, you can eschew the Mana and Divination categories entirely and simply dump points into Prayer while worshipping Eru with a Mage. This is a little more efficient than building up the schools individually, and you get some nice Eru god spells to boot, but you'll wind up with a weak (level 25 when maxxed) Manathrust, so you'll need to also put points in Spell-Power if you want to use the spell heavily.

Special Cases: There's always the fighting Mage, a strange character indeed. He attempts to get Combat high enough (through skill point investment and Fumblefingers) to make himself a double threat with magic and melee. I'm very skeptical about the value of this scheme. I mean, you can get Combat high enough to deal some good damage with any class, but Mages' low hit points and bad multipliers in the skill make it a costly, risky venture. My characters who have tried this usually have moderate success with melee until the midgame, when it becomes pointless. Eventually, you have to realize that a Mage hacking away at a Hru with a Quarterstaff of Westernesse is pretty stupid. Necromancers are the best fighters in the Mage category, but if you want to play a melee Necromancer, I would go with a Dark-Priest instead.

9.5 Priest

So you've decided to while away your life repeating a series of phrases while kneeling in a monastery. Congratulations! You're a Priest.

Each kind of Priest is distinctly different. However, most of them will play a little like weak warriors with magical abilities. For example, a Priest of Manwe is like a weak warrior that can cast Noxious Cloud and Teleport, while a Priest of Melkor is like a weak warrior with a really good Curse spell. The exception is the Eru Priest, who will learn Manathrust and use only blunt weapons; this character can be played more like a Mage.

If you can't decide on a god, you can always run a Mindcrafter, but in my opinion the Mindcrafter's few extra multiplication points for the Mindcraft skill aren't worth the peripheral benefits that other straight Priests offer. I mean, come on. Mindcrafters have a .9 multiplier in Mindcraft and Prayer. Priests have a 1.5 multiplier in Prayer and a .6 in Mindcraft. If you're going to max out your Prayer level with either character, it just makes sense to play a Priest, especially when you take god quests into account.

Anyway, one of the things you've got to bear in mind with all Priests are the god quests. They're all a pain (some more so than others; Melkor's temple usually has small levels and isn't too unbearable, while Manwe's temple is no fun at all), but doing them will almost maximize your Prayer skill, so you're going to have to bite the bullet and do it. You have to search every level of the temples completely until you find the relic. If you miss it on one level before going on to the next, you can forget about that god quest and any future god quests. So you have to be SURE not to miss it. If you're low level and relatively poor, carry around scrolls of Magic Mapping and Object Detection (both available at the scroll shop), and read them judiciously. If you're higher level, buy, steal, or find five potions of Enlightenment and quaff one on each level (Eru's See the Music can also be used, or a high-level Vision spell, or any other means of clairvoyance). Sometimes, if I really don't feel like doing a god quest, I'll just put it off until I can find these potions and then do it, since the potions make it very easy. In any case, god temples are filled with leveled monsters that can pulp most low-level characters, so you might be advised to wait anyway. Be aware that any of these monsters who can carry items may pick up the relic, and I think that monsters who can destroy items can also destroy it (probably a bug). The drawback to waiting is that if you wait too long, or if you're just plain unlucky, you might not be offered the rest of the god quests before you max out your level.

But anyway, the god quests will bump your prayer up to around 46, and you can easily top it off from there. As far as the rest of your skill points go, you've got some choices. However, you might consider putting some into Spirituality; you're the only class that has a decent modifier in the skill. Now, all that Spirituality does is raise your saving throw, but saving throw is really important. Unfortunately, it takes a hell of a lot of the skill to bump it up to a good level ("Excellent" is pretty good, "Superb" is very good). If you want to play a traditional Priest without many crazy auxiliary skills, though, Spirituality might be a good choice.

{ I've found that the most effective way to handle Saving-Throw is to choose a race with a good Saving-Throw right off and not worry about it over the course of the game (Dark Elves, Ents, and High-Elves have the best initial Saving-Throws, with Hobbit right below). I guess the only class that I would consider dumping points into Spirituality with would be something like a Troll Priest, since Trolls have lousy Saving-Throws and Priests have good Spirituality multipliers. You can also boost your Saving-Throw by selecting one of the undead subraces or the Barbarian subrace. Or you could wear an Amulet of Antimagic, which gives you a perfect Saving-Throw, but also prevents all magic. Or, of course, you could just say fie to the whole Saving-Throw thing and simply take whatever your enemies dish out. That's what most of my warriors do. }

If, however, you're more interested in an eclectic type of Priest, read on. You'll want to scrutinize your list of skill multipliers to see what sort of goodies your divine affiliation grants you. Melkor Priests get Necromancy (and are actually mighty good at it). Yavanna Priests get Summoning. Tulkas Priests get Barehand-Combat. In addition, all standard priests get Mindcraft.

Note that many of your god's special benefits may not kick in unless you're praying at the time. If you're worshipping Manwe, Melkor, Tulkas, or Yavanna, you should probably be praying all the time. If you're worshipping Eru, you should be praying only when you need the blows deflection or are in danger of death and want the resurrection chance, or if you have a ton of piety and aren't worried about it.

OK, one at a time, starting with the Eru worshippers.

Eru can kind of be a pain at times; he prevents you from wielding most of the really juicy weapons (just FYI, wielding those weapons not only gives you a hit/damroll cut, but also makes your spell failure rate skyrocket. Better find yourself a blessed or blunt weapon instead), and he gets mad if you kill good creatures. The only way to really make him happy is to run around like an idiot watching your piety increase, which is easier if you're moving slowly and have a high WIS.

{ A really, really cheap way of getting a lot of Eru piety is to kill something that leaves a really heavy corpse (dragons are good choices), pick up the corpse, and immediately recall to the town (checking to make sure the coast is clear first, since you're moving at -632 speed or whatever). Once there, just run back and forth, stopping occasionally to eat. Infinite piety at no risk. I've done this in the past, but realized the error of my ways a while ago and quit. It really is a questionable tactic. }

However, the benefits granted by good Eru piety are considerable. More WIS, more mana, possible resurrection after you get 100000 { I think it's a 60% chance of resurrection at 100000 or greater... but I'm not sure }, and you're going to need that piety anyway because Eru's god spells are really good. Enlightenment, identification, *identification*, and seas of runes are your reward for packing away the piety and prayer points. He'll also give you some nice school magic: Divination and Mana.

The latter of these is particularly important, since it'll allow you to cast Manathrust.

{ Yes, Eru also gives you Mind spells. But who uses those? }

And herein lies the primary choice of the Eru-worshipper: do you pump points into Spell-power and search for spell level-increasing equipment to get that Manathrust powerful enough to tackle the tougher enemies, or do you just keep it at where the Prayer level puts it and focus on fighting? The first choice is probably wiser in the long term, but the character who pursues it will have a pretty tough midgame, stuck with an only semi-effective Manathrust and no combat ability. On the other hand, the second choice, which involves putting points into Combat and going for the extra blows skills, is seriously hampered by Eru's weapon restriction, and not giving Magic any attention will put a crimp in all your spellcasting abilities. I tend to play a more magelike, Manathrusting Eru worshipper, but often give them a fighting weapon rather than a Mage Staff in the midgame to allow them to kill some weaker monsters manually. Putting some skill in Mindcraft will give you combat-enhancing spells anyway, so your lack of combat skill is compensated in the midgame.

Manwe is a little less restrictive than Eru, but his abilities are a little less powerful. First of all, he's almost certainly going to hate you in the early game for your failure to kill huge quantities of evil creatures, so just grit your teeth and accept the negative piety for the time being. Do a god quest or two (Manwe's temple is, in my opinion, by far the worst--take along some kind of detection), and you'll get a very handy Noxious Cloud spell that'll take care of groups of orcs and other nasties quickly. This ought to take care of your piety woes.

My Manwe worshippers have all tried to balance combat ability and combat enhancing spells to create powerful hand-to-hand combinations. Fortunately, use of mindcraft, Manwe's Blessing, Wind Shield, and Avatar make this a pretty good way to go. Manwe's Blessing gives a great bonus to hit, while Avatar brings in two extra blows per round, and mindcraft can haste you and bring up your armor class. A very good way to go with a Manwe worshipper is to nail something with a Noxious Cloud, follow it up with a couple of Mind Waves maybe, then start hacking at it with your weapon when it gets close. You can even summon some eagles to help you, but they probably won't like the conditions inside your Noxious Cloud, so be careful.

Manwe also gives some nice speed boosts and other miscellaneous abilities. You'll learn Conveyance, Air, and Meta spells, each of which has a few useful incantations.

Investing in the fighting skills (weaponmastery / combat) as well as the extra blows abilities is a wise investment for a Manwe worshipper of this kind. You'll also want Mindcraft, and the rest of your points you can distribute here and there.

Tulkas, well, I'm not quite sure why anyone would want to be a priest of Tulkas. Why not just be a warrior worshipping Tulkas? His god spells aren't too powerful, and his school spells don't have much variety. You end up playing like a handicapped warrior with a lot of spell points.

Well, anyway, since Tulkas gives you Barehand-Combat, you should decide between this and weapon fighting. If you go the weapons route, you'll have to pony up skill points for the extra-blows abilities, but Barehand-Combat is kind of light on the damage, so choose with care.

Tulkas is pretty difficult to displease, so you shouldn't have to worry too much about your piety vanishing. Just kill everything you see. Tulkas's damage boost and Divine Aim should make your task considerably easier. You also get Wave of Power and Whirlwind, which are cute little parlor tricks, but not hugely useful. Whirlwind will only strike a few monsters surrounding you, if it works at all, and Wave of Power takes a long time to be effective.

Your one real advantage, besides the stat bonuses that Tulkas gives, is a high skill in the Earth school, permitting you to cast a nice Stone Skin spell, and learn Strike and Stone Prison at high levels. Stone Prison will give you the ability to hide safely from your enemies inside walls, then tunnel your way out and fight them one at a time, while Strike can buy you time by throwing your enemies back. Other than that, you have little choice but to play the Tulkas Priest like a weak warrior.

Yavanna's Druids are often considered the toughest Priest class to play owing to her fastidiousness concerning piety and lack of useful god spells. However, the Druid can be quite powerful if played right. For one thing, you've got Summoning, which is in my opinion a cheap but extremely effective ability. Get yourself some totems, summon some critters, and let them do your work for you. This is also nice because Yavanna gets angry when you kill animals, but she doesn't seem to mind if your pets go on an animal-slaying rampage.

A few more words about Yavanna piety. You probably won't encounter enough undead and nonliving monsters through casual wanderings to keep your piety up, unless you hang out in the Paths of the Dead. You could roam around Mirkwood looking for Wargs to charm and raise your piety, but even casting the Charm Animal spell costs piety. If you really want to boost your level, I would dump skill into Mindcraft until you get Domination to level 30, when it works on all monsters in sight. Then, just find yourself some groups of animals (Zephyr Hounds work really well), cast Domination, then dismiss all your pets (unless you want twenty Dark Hounds following you around, of course). If you map this process to a macro, you can just hit a key whenever you see these groups of animals and watch them vanish. Very nice.

Yavanna gives some pretty useful spells (Ent's Potion is always nice to have, and Stone Skin, and Healing), but her god spells aren't really the greatest. You can summon some powerful Ents with Uproot and Grow Trees, but Tree Roots is too risky to use regularly and Water Bite isn't too useful. The strongest Druids, it seems, are those who eschew hand-to-hand combat in favor of summoning or charming creatures to do their bidding. So you might want to consider laying off the combat skills with your Druid and just going for Summoning, Monster-Lore (so that your pets' kills give you XP), and Mindcraft.

Melkor has the Dark-Priests. He's another god with weak god spells (Corpse Explosion does decent damage, but it's an unreliable means of attack, and Mind Control never seems to work), with the notable exception of Curse. Curse is of course the ability that I say makes Melkor the best god for fighters, so if you're playing a Priest with a level 50 Curse spell, you'd better be fighting.

He also gives a .8 multiplier in Necromancy, which should be taken advantage of. Necromancy gives Absorb Soul, which is a great way to recover HP when fighting groups of enemies, and Vampirism, which is a great way to recover HP when fighting single enemies. If you decide to go for a very high Necromancy level and also a very high Combat level, you can also get Touch of Death, which seems tailor-made for the Dark Priest. It's also hugely powerful.

Melkor also gives you Udun, but this won't be useful to you unless you're a powerful mage, which you aren't. So don't waste points on it.

The biggest obstacle encountered by the Melkor Priest is lack of flexibility. Melkor doesn't give you any utility spells, and if you're going down the Necromancy/Combat/Touch of Death route, you won't have the skill points to spend on Mindcraft. So you're going to need to devise ways, through good Magic-Device skill or item selection, to provide yourself with teleportation, identification, detection, combat enhancements, and all of the other nice stuff that the other gods give their followers. You're compensated for this weakness by being able to devastate monsters, even high-level uniques, with the Curse/Touch of Death combination. Even Morgoth is an absolute joke for a Dark-Priest with maxxed fighting skills and level 50 Curse.

{ Note that ALL Priests will have a rather complicated decision to make regarding the One Ring in the endgame.... }

9.6 Loremaster

So you've decided to devote your life to understanding and manipulating your friends in the monster kingdom. Congratulations! You're a Loremaster.

Loremaster is actually a catch-all category for those characters who don't quite fall into other classifications. Therefore, it's very difficult to make blanket statements about the lore classes. I'll have to deal with each of them individually.

Bear in mind, however, that the majority of Loremasters deal with their enemies either by fighting them hand-to-hand themselves or summoning hordes of creatures to kill them. Their ranged attacks and damage-dealing magic is generally very weak. So you're going to want to focus on either the Combat/Weaponmastery or special summoning skills categories when planning your offense. Just a word of advice.

Plain Loremaster: the default choice. Not very exciting, since your multipliers in most of the skills are low, but the class is good at combining, say, Mimicry and Symbiosis. Note that Possession might not be the wisest choice for the straight Loremaster, since once you go down the Possession path there's little room for other magic. The most effective way to handle this class would be to focus on a couple of the Loremaster abilities that go well together (like Symbiosis and Summoning, both of which involve pets), and put your skill points into them. Of course, you could also play the class like a weak warrior with some eclectic magic skills.

Possessor: Perhaps the most unequivocally different character around, the Possessor makes a living by shanghaiing the bodies of vanquished foes and using their powers. You can either try to get a monster that uses weapons (mostly humanoids) and use a combination of hand-to-hand and magical abilities garnered from your body, or you could just skip the whole weapon fighting thing and rely mostly on your body's magic (popular choice for dragons and such).

Now, a big concern with Possessors is their lack of effective combinations with other class variants. The reason for this is that, once you possess a body, your mana is readjusted to a new standard based on how often that body habitually casts spells. Suffice it to say that 21 mana is about the best you can do with a possessed body. You can boost that number using eq, but not improved stats, so you're largely just going to have to accept the fact that you won't be able to use any fancy magical abilities not granted by your body. No Mimicry, no Summoning, no Necromancy, you get the picture.

With any magic-using body you possess, you'll get a set of spells to use. These can be pretty useless (minor arrows and such) to vastly useful (controlled teleport, summon ancient dragons). Fortunately, they'll all only cost from 1 to 6 or so mana, so you'll be able to use them. Generally, these spells (with the slight exception of breath attacks) won't do too much damage, so you should be focusing mostly on summoning or combat.

Warning Warning Warning!!! If you try to use one of your body's spells when you don't have the mana to do so, the game won't give you any warning, but will instead just boot you out of the body. The body will then vanish. This means almost certain death for you. Always keep an eye on your mana when using Possessor spells!! { If you're using a cursed item at the time that the aforementioned booting happens, you won't be kicked out, but will suffer a "system shock" that almost kills you, so it's still not all right to do. }

So your strategy should be to find and possess the best body possible, then hang onto it like grim death. I'll typically go through about five or six bodies over the course of the game. What I look for first are weapons / armor slots (some bodies will let you wear and wield more eq than you normally could), speed, hit points, innate resistances, and good spells.

Bodies I like to possess:

  • Lizard King / Cyclops in early game--gives good speed and HP
  • Young dragons in early game--you can snag these from the mountains and kill more powerful creatures with their breath attacks
  • Minotaur of the Labyrinth / Durin's Bane in middle game--nice resistances, great speed, Durin's Bane has some cool spells
  • The Watcher in the Water / Marilith in middle game--see below
  • Eol the Dark Elf in middle game--great speed, great innates, great magic, one of the best bodies around
  • Marda the Thunderlord / Gold Thunderlord in late game--awesome hit points and speed, can summon some Thunderlords
  • The Necromancer of Dol Guldur in late game--the best spells, summons, hit points, speed
  • Great Wyrm of Power in late game--Ancient Dragon summons, great breath attacks, hit points, speed

{ DarkGod, Mighty Coder of Hell also gives a pretty interesting body.... :P }

Note that when you possess a body, your new hit points are based to a certain extent on the hit points of your "player" body, but you also lose all of the innates associated with that player body. For example, an Elf who possesses a new body will no longer resist light. A Maia who possesses a new body will no longer aggravate or gain extra stats with levels.

Far as bodies go, the Watcher in the Water is generally agreed to be the top of the heap. Why is everyone so enamored of this critter? Not because of its controlled teleport ability or +10 speed or even its good hit points. No, we love the Watcher so because it's got a grand total of three weapon, shield, and glove slots, as well as six ring slots. Not only that, but each of those weapon slots is treated like a primary weapon. So, if you get five attacks a round with a dagger, and you wield three of those daggers at once with the Watcher, you get... fifteen attacks a round. And if you wear or wield something that increases your blows, then its effect is multiplied by three. So wear a Ring of Extra Attacks +2 on one of those six ring slots of yours, and your attacks/round go up to... 21. So, needless to say, the Watcher has unparalleled killing power, greater even than a powerful Warrior. Add to this the impressive innates that the Watcher body also receives, and, well... it's very, very nice.

Oh, there are disadvantages, of course--you can't use body armor, boots, a cloak, or a light source with the Watcher, but all the same, the body is so powerful that it's valued above all others. You can take care of the lack of light source with equipment that provides light (Elessar works very well), and with all of your extra slots, you should be able to cobble together the resistances that lack of body armor and such inflicts.

{ You also can't open or bash doors with the Watcher. This is kind of irritating. You can destroy them with a Staff of Disarm or just turn them to mud with a magic digger, though. }

So you have a couple of choices with the Possessor. You can go for the magic-heavy, summoning course, in which case you largely rely on your pets to kill all that opposes you, or you could go for the Watcher and play like an insanely powerful hand-to-hand fighter.

{ Sometimes the Watcher just refuses to drop a corpse. It's advisable to try and get some Corpse-Preservation skill to reduce the chance of this, but if this fails, you can also possess a Marilith or a Greater Kraken, but both of those aren't quite as powerful as the Watcher. }

Mimic: I kind of have a tough time with Mimics, since I've only found two of their abilities (Mimicry and Arms Mimicry) to be useful. Wearing those cloaks everywhere just so you can turn into a Wolf every so often just seems a little ridiculous, but there is an exception: the Spider form, I've found, has quite a few uses. It sort of messes up your stats and innates, but it also gives you more speed and, more importantly, the ability to weave webs. Now, you can weave webs in a six-square radius from you, and they basically function like walls that you can walk through as a spider. Flying creatures can't penetrate them like they can with trees and chasms, but monsters that can pass or destroy walls can. They're still an excellent anti-summoning device, a great means to separate your opponents and take them on one by one, and excellent also for imprisoning monsters you would rather not fight.

{ Since you can see through spiderwebs, there are a number of cheap techniques you can use in conjunction with them. For example, if you ensnare a group of Ogres with spiderwebs, then stand where you can see them but they can't get at you and repeatedly cast Mind Wave or one of the LOS Thaumaturgy spells, you basically just kill them with no risk whatsoever. This applies to any creature, unique or not, that can't pass or destroy walls. }

There's also Arms Mimicry, which gives you an extra weapon slot, an extra shield slot, and an extra glove slot. Though your second weapon slot, unlike that afforded by some Possessor bodies, can't attack, it can hold weapons that give you benefits like extra blows or stats (I've found that Lasher is a good choice for this). And you can use the glove and shield slots to augment your existing equipment.

This spell makes the Mimic somewhat better at fighting (two sets of Gloves of Slaying!) than your average Loremaster, and combining this above average fighting ability with some extraneous magical support (Mindcraft from fumblefingers works really well) can result in a pretty strong character.

Symbiant: A fighter with a bit of a strange twist, the Symbiant relies pretty equally on hand-to-hand combat and employment of some strange, strange magical abilities. Symbiotic creatures can help you attack, take damage for you, even heal you through use of Share Life and Heal Symbiote in combination. What you're really going for, though, is the ability "Use Major Powers," which you get at Symbiosis level 25. This allows you to cast some pretty powerful spells (like Fire Rocket and Summon Ancient Dragons) through your symbiote at a pretty low mana cost. Once you get this ability and a powerful magical symbiote like a Skull Druj or a greater Quylthulg, you're pretty good to go.

The temptation with a mid-high level Symbiant is just to play like a Summoner, that is, to just call up about twenty Ancient Dragons via your symbiote and let them kill everything in sight. Though this is a pretty easy way to go, you might find that Symbiosis is a little more satisfying when combined with other abilities and such. For example, getting a high level in Mimicry and cloning yourself some extra arms to accompany your symbiote is kind of amusing and effective.

In any case, you should get a symbiote early on and avoid going solo from then on. Strong molds are good choices until you can get a Silent Watcher or a Death Mold, and the best ones are greater Quylthulgs or druj. If you're impatient, you can grab a bunch of scrolls of Summon Never-Moving and use the Thunderlords to teleport to the bottom of the Sacred Land and read them. This'll give you good symbiotes early on, since the symbiotes summoned by the scroll are dependent on your depth when you read it. However, don't be surprised if a Nycadaemon down at the bottom of the Land decides to snack on your head.

{ Note: the very best symbiotes are uniques, but there's only one nonmoving unique that isn't a Z/Cth creature. If you turn on Z/Cth creatures, though, you get some pretty nice options. Yibb-Tstll, Chaugnar Faugn, Cyaegha, Abhoth, and Shuma-Gorath are all difficult to get, but quite desirable. It's also possible (though only barely) to get Improv, the mightly MoLD if you've got joke monsters on. What a trip. }

Try not to let your symbiote die. Most creatures can be completely healed with a single Heal Symbiote spell, and getting another creature is kind of a pain. You usually have plenty of warning when it's near death, so just be sure to throw a spell in its direction when necessary.

You can name your symbiant by inscribing it with "#named Fluffy" (or whatever its name is).

Bard: One of the weakest characters out there, the Bard has some skill with music to ward off death, but not much besides that. Unless you supplement your Music skill with one of the other, more traditional Loremaster abilities (Mimicry, Symbiosis, Summoning), you're just going to be a pathetically weak Warrior. Your instrument magic comes in three varieties, basically: area effect spells (horns), LOS effect spells (drums), and self-alteration spells (harps). To cast the most powerful spells in each category, you'll need an instrument with a plus of about 4 or 5, which are almost impossible to find. So, in short, you're reduced to just a couple of available spells at a time. Neat, huh?

Now, the spells themselves aren't great, but at least they're something. You start out with the scintillatingly useless Song of the Sun, and a better Harp and more skill will only afford you the very expensive (and thus short-lived) Flow of Life, Heroic Ballad, and Hobbit Melodies spells. Though these can be useful later on, right now you'd be better off finding yourself a Drum and learning Holding Pattern, which works on most low-level monsters and will give you a huge speed advantage when fighting them. Illusion Pattern is also useful against things that ignore Holding Pattern, but eventually both of these spells become obsolete, and you've got to either rely on your fighting skill, your magic-device skill, or one of your other abilities to gain the edge over monsters.

{ Yeah, you can also learn Stun Pattern and Clairaudience, and some pretty useless Horn magic, but I've never found instruments good enough to actually handle these spells. }

I really don't know what to tell you with the Bard. It's certainly an extremely difficult class, and your best bet is not to rely too heavily on the Music ability that makes them famous, but try to work it into a position where it'll help you use other means to find and defeat your foes.

Summoner: Urgh, when I think "Summoner," the word "cheap" immediately springs to mind. The Summoner specializes in sitting back with a smug look on his face while his minions go out and do his dirty work. There's not a lot of strategy involved; just summon a million creatures and order them to attack. If they get killed, summon more. Once you get a totem of a monster that summons other monsters, you can just summon one and then go hide behind a tree or something until your forces triumph.

I guess this isn't entirely fair; there are a number of things to bear in mind with a Summoner, and if you use summoning abilities haphazardly, you'll get in over your head. But for the most part, summoning to me is just passing the buck.

You're going to want to start out small, creating totems of monsters that just fight and don't use magic. Something like a Novice Warrior is good to start. Get a Lizard King totem from the water patch south of Bree by overwhelming one of the Kings with weaker creatures (you might have to upgrade your Novice Warrior totem to something more robust, like a Two-Headed Hydra, also available on shallow water spaces, before trying this). Then you can get a Cyclops totem from the mountains, and you're set for most of the midgame (through Moria at least). You should be using only partial totems, not true totems, and you should have some skill in Corpse-Preservation to ensure that you can get those totems, and a lot of skill in Monster-Lore so you can get XP from your pet kills.

Until you can summon really powerful monsters, creatures that use primarily hand-to-hand attacks make preferable totems. If you get dragons, for example, you always run the risk of them hitting you with breath splash damage, while a Cyclops will never nail you by mistake. You should probably switch to an ancient dragon, or maybe a lesser titan, totem before long, though. Look for monsters that summon other monsters; these will allow you to amass an army of creatures without spending too much mana.

Killing uniques and quest monsters is a little tricky, since your pets can't drive home the final blow on these creatures. They can reduce them to one hit point, though, so you've at least got that going for you. So, keep an eye on the uniques or quest monsters you're fighting. Once they're almost dead, dismiss them all, then just prick the monster with an arrow or a shot from a Wand of Manathrust to do them in.

{ Damage via poison or bleeding can kill uniques and quest monsters, so if you're using totems of Great Crystal Wyrms or something, you should be good against most creatures. }

Be careful around your pets! If one of the monsters you're fighting has the aggravate (shriek for help) ability, it's possible that they'll all suddenly turn against you. This is a very bad thing. If you cast a Noxious Cloud spell and some of your pets blunder into it, they'll turn against you. If you're blind or confused and try to walk around where your pets are, you'll hit one of them by mistake and they'll turn against you.

Basically, your goal is to summon a bunch of pets before every big battle, order them to "seek and destroy," and then just herd them around until your enemies get into their LOS. The rest is history.

Monk: Well, the Monk is kind of odd. The class's claim to fame is that it spurns weapons and armor in favor of barehand combat and dodging. It can be effective, but only if you go all the way with it. High skill in both barehand combat and dodging will allow you to dodge EVERY physical attack aimed at you, but it only works if you're wearing absolutely no armor. And without armor, how do you get resistances, speed boosts, and such? Well, you could run a RohanKnight Monk worshipping Manwe; that would take care of the speed, and you could wear an Amulet of Resistance; that would give you basic resists. But there's a fine line you need to walk here.

I tend to play a more conservative Monk, not putting points into Dodging but maxxing out Barehand-Combat. This lets me wear light armor and still have a good armor class, as well as giving me leave to use eq that increases hit and damroll.

Monks also get some magic, but they're among the worst schools (Meta, Temporal, Mind), so I tend to leave them alone. I would invest in Prayer, if anything, with a Monk.

In comparison to a good artifact weapon, barehand combat seems a little weak to me, and it's hard to hit enemies at higher levels. Therefore, I tend to often dismiss the Monk as a bit of lightweight, but there are some interesting special cases you can pursue with the class (see below).

Special Cases: well, there are actually quite a few. There's the Possessing Monk, who dumps tons and tons of skill points into Barehand-Combat and a few points into Possession, then snags the body of a monster that doesn't use weapons (like a dragon) and kicks and punches his or her way to victory. This is a rather strange but effective way of doing things; dragon bodies usually have enough HP to compensate for the drawback of not having many carryover HP due to low Possession skill, they have lots of slots for Rings of Extra Attacks and such, the lack of armor slots isn't important since Monks don't use armor, and you get extra speed and other innates. As far as multipliers are concerned, though, the straight Loremaster might be a better choice than the Monk. The Loremaster has a .5 multiplier in Possession and a .7 multiplier in Barehand-combat, while the Monk values are .1 and .9, respectively. Of course, the Possessor himself could always try this; he's got a .8 in Possession and can get Barehand-combat up to .5 with fumblefingers' help.

There's the Summoning Symbiant, who eschews all combat abilities in favor of pumping up Symbiosis and Monster-Lore, then gets a Master Quylthulg for a symbiote and just summons repeatedly with it. This is an effective but cheap way of comporting yourself, since you're basically getting insanely powerful pets for almost no mana cost whatsoever. However, it does take a long time to get that Master Q on your side, so you're forced to go for much of the game settling for a normal Q or something. Oh well. Cry me a river.

One of the odder cases is the Possessor who snags a Marilith or the Watcher in the Water for a body, then starts investing in Antimagic from fumblefingers. Since Antimagic prevents possession abilities, you're pretty much stuck in that body for good. However, you don't mind this, because with one of your arms wielding an unenchanted Dark Sword and the other two wielding great artifact weapons and Rings of Slaying adorning your fingers, you're an unstoppable killing machine that's completely immune to magic. Still, this requires a LOT of orchestration, since you're trying to get your body before doing any fumblefingers quests (which you then go back and complete), and you of course lose all magical ability as you go along.

There are lots more special cases. The Loremaster category is very conducive to experimentation, so get out there and try new things.

10. Miscellenary

10.1 If the Game Starts Driving You Nuts

ToME is not an easy game by anyone's standards. In fact, it's rather hard and horrible most of the time, and all the advice in the world can't change that. It's easy to go absolutely out of your mind after your latest level 38 character gets blasted by Water Hounds. You could just give up or start cheating, of course, but if you're a good player, a really good player and not just someone whose TV is broken and is looking for other cheap electronic entertainment, you'll be back.

Now bend your ear this way, son, because Daddy's going to tell you something that might just win you a shiny half-dollar someday.

"Rethink, rebuild, return stronger than before."

That's my ToME motto. If you keep trying the same thing and keep failing, your immediate impulse is, paradoxically, to keep trying it again. You shouldn't do this. Learn from each of your mistakes and make sure that they won't happen again. Wee Willie Winkie the Hobbit Hermit Sorceror keeps getting killed by Dark Elven Warlocks, you say? Don't just keep bumbling around Moria with 150 HP then--find yourself some extra life gear or some reflection first. F'nurk Claptrap the Troll Rogue gets ripped apart by greater demons after taking three steps off of the stairs? You might want to switch your tactics from "running" to "normal" then. +4 speed might not be worth the lousy stealth.

In any case, don't lose heart, and don't keep bashing your characters' heads against the same walls. Find a way around them. And don't spend every waking hour behind your keyboard. Get outside, throw a frisbee around, drink something that doesn't have !NutraSweet in it, watch the Golden Girls, hell, I don't care what you do. But stepping back for a breather can sometimes help your game more than all the sweat and toil in the world.

It's easy to let ToME (and any addictive entity, I suppose) sort of encroach upon the borders of your real life. If this starts happening, I would say that you should try to get them to work constructively together, rather than becoming some sort of pale hermit who locks him/herself in a room with a laptop and no contact with the outside world while running the game. Just playing in a room with a few other people can not only place a cap on your playing time ("What the hell are you doing over there on that computer? C'mere and have a cold one."), but can give you a different outlook on the game (it can also really confuse your friends. If you let out a joyous yelp when you find some boots of Elvenkind, you're apt to get some pretty weird looks). So don't take it so seriously. Live a little.

It's also possible to get bored by the game as it becomes formulaic in the middle; you enter a new level, find a quest for twenty Silent Watchers, and start with the same old regimen: Vision, Detect Monsters, Essence of Speed... multiply by 100 and you have the world of the random quaestor.

My experience has been that characters only get boring if they're designed to be boring. I mean, a RohanKnight Swordmaster basically has one way to deal with his problems: walk up next to them and start swinging. Getting a full array of useful magical items and Magic-Device can help add a little variety to the mix, but a better option might be to try a slightly different Warrior, one who uses a combination of fighting and magic, or fighting and prayer, or something. Battles are much more interesting if you have to decide strategically how to handle them beforehand.

10.2 If You Just Want to Win

There's no magic formula for winning the game. I can't just say "Put 50 skill points into Magic-Device and buy a Wand of Fireflash and you'll win, guaranteed," because that's not true. The only real way to get good at the game is through practice, through getting a good feel for the monsters that you'll face and the items and skills you'll use to defeat them. I would estimate that it took me the better part of a year playing Angband and other roguelikes before I ran my first winner (I think this was a Dwarven Priest in a version of Angband now long since forgotten), and someone who just bursts onto the ToME scene expecting their skills in other games to transfer over and thus make them an expert may be sadly mistaken.

In addition, ToME isn't really about the winning so much as it is about the plotting. You'll get a lot more respect for running a carefully crafted Dunadan Mage than you will for churning out another RohanKnight Swordmaster. Just because you can do a million damage per round doesn't mean that you've got a good grasp of how the game works. It's much more satisfying to dream up a character that uses some combination of skills or abilities, run it, and then experience the satisfaction you get when everything clicks and works together than just trying to get as powerful as you can as quickly as you can.

With that said, ToME is not only difficult, it's also frustrating. There are people out there who have been playing for months, for years maybe, and still haven't won. The fact that they still keep running more characters despite the fact that they've just been killed for the thirty-second time is a testament to the game's enduring value. So it's kind of a natural reaction to think that after a certain time, you really kind of *deserve* to win. So, here are the quickest and dirtiest ways I know to run a winning character:

Vampire RohanKnight Sorcerer worshipping Eru: 50 points in Sorcery, 30 points in Necromancy, 50 points in Magic, 30 points in Magic-Device, 35 points in Symbiosis (from fumblefingers) at end of game. Get the Undead Form ability from Necromancy, get a tough Symbiant to boost your HP, wear some +CON equipment, and burn everything you meet to a crisp with Fireflash and Manathrust. Symbiosis at level 35 will also allow you to get a Greater Draconic Q and summon scads of Ancient Dragons to burninate everything in your path. If you don't like Symbiosis, you can just dump the skill points into Spell-Power; you'll get maybe level 40 in that skill if you do so. The speed bonus will let you not have to worry about rings of speed or other things; you'll just have to compensate for your lousy stealth by setting tactics to Coward and wearing some appropriate equipment. This character is so powerful it's almost sick.

Deathmold Possessor worshipping Melkor: 49 points in Weaponmastery, 25 in Combat (should get this level from the Weaponmastery increase), 40 in Magic-Device, 40 in Prayer (counting god quests), 50 in Possession. Might want to shift out some of these skills for some Corpse-Preservation to ensure that you get the corpses you want. This is possibly THE easiest character in the game. The Deathmold's insane hit points and stealth make it an ideal Possessor race, while a high skill in Melkor's Prayer will make you unstoppable at late levels. Possess some sort of weak creature at first so you can actually move around, then boost your Magic-Device skill, take out a Lizard King with Wands of Manathrust from the Magic Shop, upgrade to a Cyclops, then Eol, then the Watcher in the Water, and you're good to go. Not only will the Watcher's body allow you to get an obscene amount of hits per round at crazy bonus levels, you can sacrifice some HP (of which you'll have a LOT) to gain even more damage per round. Work around some of the minor problems with the Watcher's body and you'll be able to do THOUSANDS of damage points a turn in combat, while all the time reducing your opponents to lumps of jelly with Curse.

Zombie RohanKnight Swordmaster: 50 skill points in Swordmastery, 50 in Weaponmastery, 40 in Magic-Device, the rest in either Prayer (with Melkor worship) and Combat, or Mimicry (from fumblefingers) and Combat. One of the dullest but most effective characters out there, this is an unparalleled Warrior-type. Speed and Weaponmastery boosts make the mid and late game relatively easy, and the multipliers allow you to invest skill points in lots of other things. I would either go the Melkor route and get a killer Curse to cut your enemies down to size, or try the more circuitous but very effective tactic of getting Mimicry from fumblefingers, wearing an extra shield and pair of gloves, and wielding another weapon to catapult your combat ability into the stellar range. Being able to weave spider webs to ensnare your enemies is also priceless. { You could also try to get some Mindcraft from fumblefingers here for the character enhancements and such; it's your funeral. }

If you can't win with any of those characters after several tries, you might need more practice.

10.3 Player Ethics

This isn't strictly strategy, but it affects how everyone plays, and it's kind of a biggish deal for me, so I'm going to put in a section on it. Ethics are, of course, the limits of what a player can do before people start considering it cheesy, scummy, cheaty, or just plain ridiculous.

The Commandments are rules to live by. I consider these practices to be dishonest and frown on people who use them to succeed.

I wouldn't consider anyone less of a player or not really a winner if they didn't adhere to these practices, but I would taunt them for needing to rely on such slanted techniques. Since none of these are prohibited by any part of the game's code, they're all strictly legal. But I don't use them, and I encourage other people not to as well.


  1. Thou shalt not exploit bugs.
  2. Thou shalt never use backup savefiles, forced quits, or debug mode and claim thy characters to be genuine. If thou wishest to cheat, thou shalt use the cheat menu.
  3. Thou shalt not use items that grant more than 3 extra attacks per item, unless these items be sentient and accumulated those attacks on their own.
  4. Thou shalt not lurk like a wart on the fair face of a town forever, waiting for the Black Market to change its inventory to include a pair of Boots of Speed that thou mayest steal. Thou shalt go out and do stuff.
  5. Thou shalt not maximize they Dexterity, then steal every item in a store's inventory to force said inventory to refresh.
  6. Thou shalt not summon pets and then kill them for experience and items.
  7. Thou shalt not clone monsters that thou canst kill extremely easily with the Long Sword of the Dawn and repeatedly slay them for treasure and experience.
  8. Thou shalt not farm Greater Wall Monsters and other easily killable creatures.
  9. Thou shalt not, for heaven's sake, steal items from thy pets by allowing and then disallowing them to carry items.

Suggestions are techniques that I don't necessarily have any objection to, but don't feel entirely good about using. I sometimes use them to help weaker characters or slow developers to get where they're going, or to shortcut some of the dull parts of the game. Still, they're kind of scummy, so they're listed as "shoulds."


  1. Thou shouldst rely on thy own strength, not thy enemies' weaknesses.
  2. Thou shouldst not summon pets that summon other pets.
  3. Thou shouldst not gain thy first thirty levels by seeking out Mature Blue Dragons in the mountains outside Bree.
  4. Thou shouldst not teleport to the bottom of every dungeon via the Thunderlords simply to kill their guardians.
  5. Thou shouldst not decide whether to fight an enemy or not based on which items they are carrying.
  6. Thou shouldst not tease Melkor Bauglir by destroying the One Ring and then promptly returning to his worship.
  7. Thou shouldst not abuse Fumblefingers by letting his reward skills preempt the skills granted to thy character class.
  8. Thou shouldst not attack monsters outside of thy line of sight. Thou shouldst fight fair.
  9. Thou shouldst not scum the Sandworm Lair for greater vaults, especially if thou knowest Vision or worship Eru.
  10. Thou shouldst not scum the Lothlorien Wolves quest for Elf Skeletons and make horribly powerful ammunition out of them.
  11. Thou shouldst not steal what thou canst buy.

10.4 Where to go for More Help

Well, the official website is, and you can find news and some information there. The ToME forums at are a good resource and a good place to ask questions if you're stuck, and the people there are pretty friendly. There's also the old warhorse of roguelike gaming,, and the massive Angband site for not only ToME, but also most Angband-related issues. This site is also the home of the famous Angband ladder, where you can dump your characters for others to marvel at.

The ToME website has what I think is a clone of the oook ladder at as well.

You can also find some good *band resources, though not much ToME-specific stuff, at

There's also the ToME wiki, which is kind of in its infancy now, but should be a great resource when finished. It's at

If you're looking for spoilers, you can find some really good ones in Zizzo's spoiler pages at They're astoundingly complete and pay great attention to detail.

For some good but somewhat scattered spoilers, try the forums at

For monster spoilers, try

For a list of debug (cheating) commands, check this thread on the ToME forums:

You can find artifact information at

10.5 Credits

Lord Dimwit wrote this. He used to be considered a pretty good ToME player; now he's just some guy.

At year 2004, Lord Dimwit gave the original guide to the old ToME wiki. The users of the old wiki formatted the guide with MoinMoin markup, and also made other revisions and additions. Many users left comments. ElIot added some paragraphs about Thaumaturgists. MayLith cleaned the language.

  • At year 2006, Lord Dimwit updated the guide for newer versions of ToME 2.
  • At year 2010, tome2 user kernigh copied the guide to the new ToME wiki, and reformatted the guide with Doku markup, and also attempted to make correct some obsolete information.

10.6 Note by DarkGod

The God of Utter Darkness just wishes to say thank you very much, this is a most excellent guide. As for pretty good player, you are in my book the best there is/was! Farewell Lord.


tome2 user kernigh: I copied this guide to this new ToME wiki, and changed the formatting from MoinMoin markup to Doku markup. I removed section '11 Changes' (which held the chatter from the old wiki), but added a brief paragraph about the old wiki to section '10.5 Credits'.