That's what's so great about Crawl: every time, you don't even have rage at the chance of the heavens to sustain you; you know, with a cold certainty something like that of a priest who has lost his faith in God, that your death was caused by none other than yourself, and that a better man could have avoided it.
— <nrook>, as quoted by the Dungeon Crawl knowledge bots under "fair."
Dungeon Crawl, or Crawl for short, is a roguelike game. (Or, more precisely, two games - one an open-source fork of the other.)The original was Linley's Dungeon Crawl, made by Linley Henzell in the late 1990s. It was updated a few times but development stopped in the early 2000s.Not wanting to waste the game's potential, a group of people made an open source fork called Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (look up Stone soup on Wikipedia if you feel that's an odd title), and their version is now dominant (similar to the way Hack became NetHack). It is still updated as of 2013, with new versions released every few months.Picture a NetHack game in which the most powerful healing potion in the game recovers about 25 HP, you can't trust your god to save you from anything, there is no Elbereth, all of your spells can backfire and hurt you, only certain species and rare mutations can provide permanent resistances, and, most importantly, there's no amulet of life saving or wand of wishing to save you anymore!Despite all this, there are two areas where it's actually much more merciful than most roguelikes: very few hazards can even weaken your equipment, and none can destroy outright anything other than scrolls and potions. Also, (with the sole exception of statdeath from artifacts) identifying items by using them very rarely causes any life-threatening consequences, and nothing other than weapons, armor, and jewelery can be cursed. The dev team has made avoiding cheap shots one of their highest priorities, and instant kills or unavoidable deaths are nearly (but not entirely) unheard of. The game is also extremely newbie friendly. The built-in manual is very good for a roguelike. Every monster and most hazards can be examined for a short description, and there is a basic threat-level system. Not that any of this will stop you from splatting horribly.The game has a similar fantasy setting to most roguelikes, having been inspired by most of the roguelikes of the time: elves, dwarves, and orcs all make an appearance, weapons are medieval, and magic is magic. The plot is minimal: the player's task is to go to the bottom of the dungeon, get the Orb of Zot, and escape.Where Crawl differs from most roguelikes is in its philosophy, which is explained in the manual. The main goal of the makers is to discourage grinding, which they feel bores the player. For this reason, limits are always in place. Monster generation slows down once the player has cleared a level, and so there's no point in hanging around for more experience; since the player has to eat, they have a reason not to. Shops only sell items; they don't buy, no matter how many lovely items you've picked up from dead monsters. The game is balanced as much as possible: armour protects but makes attacks less accurate and evasion more difficult, powerful spells cause magic contamination which results in mutations, and items are often mixed blessings (for example, a ring which powers up your ice spells, but reduces your resistance to fire).Crawl is also unique in that class is nothing more than a starting package and has no effect on further advancement, which is all determined by race - a reversal of the usual state of affairs.The emphasis is on strategy and building skills. Crawl has a skill system which is a mix between a Point Build System and a Class and Level System: players select skills to which their gained experience is assigned. This can be manually controlled or automatically adjusted by the game.You can download it here or play it online. Crawl even has its own wiki and forum.
This game provides examples of:
Action Bomb: The "Inner Flame" spell turns monsters into walking bombs, though it won't go off until they die normally. It can even be cast on your own undead minions to play the trope very straight indeed.
Also applies to spores. They're produced occasionally by active ballistomycetes (giant mushrooms) and can sometimes be found floating around the dungeon on their own. When they contact the player (or are hit by anything) they explode, dealing damage and confusing anything in their blast radius, as well as creating an instant fungal colony.
Agony Beam: Necromancy school offers two - the relatively mild Pain and the Percent Damage Attack Agony. There is also Torment, which is a multiple-target variant of Agony and is not available as a spell, though players can use it through a variety of items and as a power granted by the god Kikubaaqudgha.
Animate Inanimate Object: Under certain circumstances weapons can come to life and fight either for or against the player.
There's a whole level, The Hall of Blades, which has nothing but animate weapons.
Xom can do this to any weapon bestowed upon you at any time.
There are also animated statues and a special type of mimic called the feature mimic, which pretends to be a door, staircase, or some other major dungeon feature before attacking.
Animorphism: Transmuters have a few spells for self-transformation into animals, Spider Form being the most easily attainable. Vampires can also transform into bats at will if their blood level isn't too high.
Annoying Arrows: Arrow traps are like this; you can normally shrug them off. The first time you meet a centaur, however, you'll find that arrows are not merely annoying, since centaurs really know how to use them. Add to this the fact that they are fast enough to pursue you while still firing an arrow every turn, and you’ll soon respect their ability to kill you.
Anti-Frustration Features: The game will stop you from doing certain things that would otherwise outright kill you (walking into deep water, auto-moving while starving), and will ask for confirmation on potentially risky actions (moving adjacent to deep water while confused, stepping into dangerous traps while badly injured). You're still likely to die for a thousand other reasons, but at least the game is rooting for you.
The limited amount of food forces the player to continue deeper and deeper instead of remaining on the same level for extended periods of time. There are a few ways to get off the food clock - mummies and people in lichform do not eat at all and vampires can survive indefinitely without blood, although this stops their regeneration.
If the player stays on the same level for too long, the game will detect it and start spawning disproportionately tough monsters there. If the player kills them as well, the game may stop monster generation on that level completely.
Grinding is possible in two areas that allow infinite supplies of items to loot and monsters to slay: Abyss and Pandemonium. However, both are fairly dangerous and characters that can survive long enough to grind there are likely to be ready for the endgame anyway.
If you stay on a level long enough (and we do mean absurdly long an amount of time, far longer than it takes to complete the game), the game will tell you that the universe ended while you were standing around.
Asteroids Monster: Inverted and then played straight with slime creatures, living wads of goo that tend to travel in packs. When they see a tasty adventurer such as yourself, they merge to form bigger and stronger slime creatures unless you can kill them quickly enough. If you let them merge all the way into a titanic slime creature, they can start doing upwards of 100 damage in a single hit, so generally running away is the best strategy if they get that far. If you can manage to get away, they'll split up again after a while. You could also try polymorphing a large slime creature... but that tends to just generate several nasty monsters like storm dragons or giant orange brains.
The Abyss features starcursed masses who play the trope much straighter. Unlike slime creatures, you actually want them to combine, as the more starcursed masses there are onscreen, the more damage their otherworldly screeching will do to you (even paralyzing you if there's enough of them).
Attack Animal: Summoners can summon monsters to fight for them, and a wand of enslavement (or the spell Enslavement) can temporarily get you a really good one, if you pick the right monster...
Awesome, but Impractical: Lehudib's Crystal Spear is the most powerful conjuration in the game. What's the problem? It has a short range (bad for Squishy Wizards), it's inaccurate, and it requires a player to train a somewhat mediocre spell school to very high levels in order to cast it. Oh, and it's overkill against anything other than a few unique demon lords. Iron Shot, Crystal Spear's little brother, is cheaper, has better range, is easier to cast, and most enemies will die after a few hits.
Subverted with the Storm spells, as they appear to be impractical due to their high level and hunger cost. Smart players can lower/bypass the costs for casting them and it's well worth the effort to acquire one.
Random artifacts quite often wind up in this territory. While they're mostly more powerful than their mundane variants, they can still be useless for the player by having ruinous negative effects in addition to the good ones or simply being of a type the player's character can't use effectively.
Awesome yet Practical: In general, a high level conjuration or summoning spell will have a vastly greater impact in battle than several weaker spells costing the same MP and more turns. This is to balance the fact that they're harder to cast and cost more nutrition.
Back Stab: Stabbing is a skill available to all players, even those not using blades - you can 'stab' with a mace for example, which just means you're making an attack on a sleeping or distracted enemy. Stabbing attacks do more damage, in some cases getting up to For Massive Damage levels - we're talking one-hit kills on a sleeping hydra - but it depends on your Stabbing skill and the weapon used; daggers are the best for this, followed by the rest of the short blades.
Badass Bookworm: If one begins as a spellcaster but learns lots of fighting skills, then they've become one.
This can also happen unexpectedly if monsters find a wand of polymorph. One moment, you're fighting a random goblin, then it zaps you with a wand it found and you're suddenly stuck as a porcupine for a while. Of course, this can backfire rather spectacularly if an enemy manages to turn you into a dragon instead (Hilarity often ensues).
Bare-Fisted Monk: Monk is a playable class, and as you'd expect, monks have no weapon but are skilled in unarmed combat.
Benevolent Boss: With the exception of Xom, all of the gods are fairly forgiving. They'll let you off the hook for accidental transgressions (at least the first time) and even when you press their Berserk Button the worst you can generally expect is to lose any divine powers until they're happy with you again. The Three Good Gods are even okay with you abandoning your religion entirely, only punishing you for doing so if you switch to worshipping an evil god.
The Berserker: Berserker is a playable class. Like the real Viking berserkers, berserkers in Crawl wear only animal skins to begin with.
Beware My Stinger Tail: Present on various enemies, like scorpions or manticores. Green Draconian player characters gain one naturally at level 14, and certain other characters (the rest of the draconians and Nagas) can get it through rare mutations.
Big Eater: Some species have high metabolisms and need lots of food. Ghouls also have seemingly bottomless stomachs, able to gorge themselves even (especially) on rotten meat without ever becoming full.
Most races can’t eat chunks of freshly butchered meat while not hungry, but Trolls, Kobolds, Felids, and Ghouls can. Other races can obtain this ability by wearing an Amulet of the Gourmand.
Black Magic: Necromancy and demon summoning are considered to be this by the three Good Gods: Zin, The Shining One and Elyvilon.
Blade on a Stick: Crawl doesn't have as many as NetHack, but it does have a few, all classed under the Polearms school. The spear is the simplest and most common one (and handily doubles as a throw-able projectile), but there are also halberds, tridents (some of demonic origin), scythes, glaives, and bardiches. The heavier polearms tend to be big on damage and short on accuracy, but all of them can reach an extra tile to attack like whips of reaching.
Blob Monster: Lots of them, especially in The Slime Pits side area. They even have their own god: Jiyva, who grants worshippers slime-related mutations and abilities.
Blood Knight: While many gods like the killing of certain enemies, a few are only happy if the player is killing everything they come across and then offering up the bodies as sacrifices. For fighters Trog will bestow berserker strength and protect his followers from its harmful effects as long as they keep a steady stream of death and corpses coming his way. Casters have Vehumet, who doesn't even care about the corpses part, probably because his preferredmethodsdon't leave any.
The demonspawn race with its random mutation trait can sometimes result in this for the player character. For example, having hooves, slimy green scales, and spines covering your body is an entirely possible combination.
Worshipping the Slime God Jiyva can also result in your gaining mutations that eventually culminate in you becoming a slime monster in all but name.
Xom will also sometimes grant mutations. Whether these mutations are beneficial or not depends entirely on how entertaining the player is being at the moment.
There are numerous ways to become mutated yourself aside from being a demon or worshiping a crazy god, such as drinking a potion of mutation or eating the flesh of certain monsters (such as shapeshifters). Since some of these mutations are actually beneficial, some players make a habit of playing "mutation roulette", usually becoming deformed freaks with a handful of cool abilities.
There are also ways the player character can be mutated by monsters, such as by the neqoxec demon's Malmutate spell. These hostile mutations are almost always bad and often physically deforming.
The side area "Cigotuvi's Fleshworks" is pretty much built entirely on this trope. Not only is it a Womb Level full of horrible, twisted mockeries of life, there are several areas filled with mutagenic fog that will swiftly devolve you unless you take proper precautions. Then there are the in-progress experiments: deformed humans, febrile elves, and sickly orcs that are locked in various organic cells. They invariably beg for death... if they are still capable of speaking, that is.
Bonus Dungeon: The ziggurat, a side area only accessible by finding a portal and paying an insane amount of cash to enter. Inside you'll find room after room full of hordes of enemies and also awesome loot. If you can make it through all 27 floors of the ziggurat then congratulations, you probably don't exist!
Bonus Level Of Hell: (As if the main game isn't one of these already.) Literally. In fact, there are four of them, so you can pick which one your character would like to survive 10 seconds in, or, for the truly insane, try to retrieve the extra runes on the last levels of all four branches.
Boom Stick: Many magic wands are Boom Sticks, since they fire out bolts, beams and enchantments. The rods are also boomsticks, but slightly more complex; most carry their own set of spells which can be evoked by the wielder.
Okawaru, the god of war, offers only equipment gifts and two fairly non-flashy (but incredibly useful) powers. Despite lacking in flavor, Okawaru is often considered to be the best god for melee characters as suggested by the god's Fan Nickname: "Default."
This also applies to several spells:
Summon Butterflies (which summons butterflies) is a low-level spell that is immensely useful for blocking most enemies from getting to you, allowing you to either beat a hasty retreat or reposition yourself.
Conjure Flame. It deals no damage directly, but is immensely useful in early game because it can block weak enemies, and stronger enemies can be lured into the flames, where they will burn constantly.
Mephitic cloud is very low on direct damage output, but it has a chance of confusing its target, making it tremendously useful until the late game, when things start getting too tough for it to work.
The most basic of basic spells, Magic Dart. It doesn't scale up damage a lot with your level, but it also has a paltry 1MP cost and no spell hunger at all. It can be used to pick off fleeing enemies or to take out the ever-annoying spores from a safe distance.
Breath Weapon: Most adult draconians have these, as do most dragons and some drakes. Nagas can also spit poison.
Other races can get breath weapons of their own if they're lucky with mutations.
Cannibalism Superpower: Mostly averted: in contrast to most other Roguelikes, Dungeon Crawl features very little special effects for eating enemies.
Played straight with Gastronok, a slug who, according to his description, gained superb intelligence and magical powers by eating a powerful wizard. (Although it could also be thanks to the wizard hat of intelligence he always spawns with.)
Eating mutagenic flesh from enemies like Ice/Sky Beasts and Ugly Things does possibly give you a significant power-up in the form of a good mutation. It is just as (if not more) likely to give you a badmutation instead though...
Care Bear Stare: The healing ability granted by Elyvilon, goddess of healing, can pacify monsters and make them uninterested in fighting you.
Cap: Lots and lots of them. The main reason for caps in this game is that spells increase in power as the player becomes more skilled in the appropriate school of magic, so there needs to be a limit or players would be able to cast very cheap low-level spells (eg. the level 1 Magic Dart spell) at a ludicrously high power level.
Cast from Hit Points: Certain rare abilities cost HP to activate instead of MP. Notable examples are a demonspawn's Hellfire ability and every ability granted by the destruction god Makhleb.
The spell Sublimation of Blood allows you to convert blood into MP. While it's normally intended for use on chunks of fresh meat or potions of blood, you can use it on your own blood, allowing you to keep blasting away at the expense of your HP.
This is the djinni race's racial hat. Instead of HP and MP they have a single stat called Essence which is used for both health and casting, making a magic-using djinni a very dangerous character to use.
Chain Lightning: Inserted as a level 8 Air/Conjurations spell in the game. There is also a less powerful version called Static Discharge, which causes an electric shock which jumps to nearby enemies... and sometimes the person who cast it.
A favorite spell of the unique enemy Nikola, who is named after famous inventor Nikola Tesla. In his hands, it can deal buttloads of damage in very short order. Bring something that gives you electricity resistance.
Chest Monster: Although there are no actual chests, there are two different kinds of mimic (item mimics and feature mimics). In older versions of Crawl, mimics stay in mimicked form while attacking you, resulting in funny lines like 'the potion of healing hits you!'
Choice of Two Weapons: Generally in Crawl, you have several weapons that you frequently use and switch between them depending on situation. Usually this will either be a ranged weapon and a melee weapon or two similar melee weapons with different brands (such as a flaming sword and a freezing sword).
Church Militant: The game is practically full of these, as many gods enjoy their followers slaying foes. Of particular note are The Shining One and Zin, who both want their followers to purge the world of evil creatures, and Okawaru, who is the god of war; his followers are Church Militants in a Military Church.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Crazy Yiuf, a unique gnoll who wields a staff of chaos and speaks only in gibberish. Interestingly, if you hit him with the confusion status his dialog becomes normal. Even more interesting, if you worship Xom, the god of chaos, you can understand Yiuf's dialog and all of his lines become shout outs to famous philosophers and scientists.
The Singing Sword is this sometimes too, especially in a pitched battle when it starts screaming gibberish as loud as possible.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Draconians. When you begin playing a draconian it's brown, because it's in its immature form; but once you reach level 7 it grows up and turns one of 9 different colours, each of which gives different abilities.
Unlike the original Crawl, Stone Soup provides various information in forms of colored text, including the types of corpses/mutations, artifact identifiers, prohibition of items (dark grey items cannot be used at all, red items are prohibited by your choice of god, purple items can be used but are quite risky), etc.
Combat Medic: The Healer class is actually pretty effective at fighting to begin with, as they begin with skill in unarmed combat.
Combat Tentacles: The playable octopode race can their tentacles to slap and squeeze enemies to death. Many monsters have these as well; one such example would be the krakens roaming the Shoals.
Combo Platter Powers: The randomly generated artifacts can have any combination of effects. Thus you can have a spear which poisons your enemies, makes you resistant to fire, and lets you teleport. Quite often, one or more of the effects is either situationally or inherently negative, forcing the player to consider if the random artifact is worth using at all.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Inverted. There are lots of things the player is allowed to do that monsters can't, like firing ranged weapons at point blank range; enemies will always swap out to a melee attack even if it's inferior, which it usually is. Additionally, there are some items can't be used by monsters at all, like wands of fireball and enslavement, or have diminished effects, like the wand of disintegration which deals only 2/3 as much damage to players.
There are a handful of times when this is played straight, however. Notable examples include merfolk aquamancers and their water magic, and Nessos the unique centaur who has the exclusive ability to combine the effects of enchanted bows and enchanted arrows (usually the enchantment on ammunition overrides the enchantment on the weapon that fires it).
And of course spellcasting enemies never miscast or run out of MP.
Convection Schmonvection: Played straight. You can stand right next to lava in the game with no ill effects aside from the occasional burst of fire or poisonous smoke.
Averted with the lava orc race, however. When they get angry they turn into liquid magma and their convected heat can do major damage to anything around them.
Averted: It's really more of background radiation induced by Functional Magic and it doesn't affect your alignment, but it can be annoying. Having a high enough level of contamination causes you to glow, can mutate you, and at high enough levels can even cause you to explode.
Played Straight: Demonspawn slowly get more and more demonic as they gain experience levels. It doesn't necessarily turn them evil, but it can result in Body Horror.
Cowardly Boss: Prince Ribbit will use his teleportation powers to try to escape you if he gets seriously injured. So will just about any other boss if it spawns with a wand of teleport.
Cursed with Awesome: Some of the bad mutations have a good effect. For example, horns prevent you from wearing helmets, but give you a headbutt attack.
The god Ashenzari is a literal example of this trope. Ashenzari is happiest with you when you wear and use cursed equipment and gives you super powers based on the cursed items you have.
Damage Discrimination: None, but enemies will try not to hit other enemies if they can avoid it. Sometimes they can't avoid it; a confused enemy can hit other enemies, and even itself. Many an ogre has killed itself with its own club.
Dark Is Not Evil: Ashenzari, the god of divinations and curses who all-but-demands that you wear cursed gear. Ashenzari is one of the very few gods who does not reward killing or sacrificing corpses at all, not even for specific monsters, and grants no directly offensive powers.
Dark Messiah: Hill Orc Priests of Beogh play this trope very straight. Beogh is an evil god who rewards killing, is stated to advocate the extermination or enslavement of non-orcs, and is generally kind of a Jerkass. Worship him yourself and you'll be subjected to gushing praise by most of the orcs you come across who consider you their savior. There's a reason the priest of Beogh is nicknamed "Orc Jesus."
Also worth mentioning is the enemy counterpart to the Hill Orc Priest, Saint Roka - a unique enemy cave orc. He has the same powers as a player priest of Beogh, including the ability to walk on water and a herd of adoring orcish followers who will lay down their lives for him. Worth noting is that, if the player character is a Hill Orc Priest of Beogh and has a high enough piety there's a chance that they can even convert Saint Roka himself into one of their followers.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: Zombies and skeletons are vulnerable to this, since they can't regenerate; you can hit them a bunch of times, escape, heal up, hit them some more until they die. This doesn't work on most other enemies because they heal over time.
Also present with deep dwarves. Even with their innate damage-reducing ability, it can still fall under Blessed with Suck for player characters.
Debug Room: Wizard mode, which gives you pretty much full control over your character and the game world.
Destroyable Items: Scrolls are vulnerable to fire damage, and potions can be shattered by cold. Other equipment can't be destroyed, but acidic attacks can render them basically useless.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Kill the Royal Jelly without being a worshiper of Jiyva? Congratulations, you've committed deicide. Jiyva is removed from the game and all of his altars disappear.
Difficulty Levels: Winning with a Spriggan Enchanter worshiping Nemelex is pretty easy, but playing some races (Mummies, Ogres, Demigods) is, by design, much more difficult than others (Vampires, Trolls, Humans). There also is a "Wanderer" class, which starts you with a pitifully low level in a few skills chosen completely at random. Play a mummy wanderer who worships Xom and... well, at least your quick death might be funny.
Divine Intervention: All the good gods will occasionally protect you from damage that would have killed you. It's not a reliable way to escape death, though - at most it buys you one more turn.
The orc god Beogh will do the same thing for players who follow him, but unlike the good gods, the protection is revoked if you're under penance.
Elyvilon, The god of pacifism and healing, has a more reliable version that will always block fatal damage for a short time but will greatly reduce your piety each time it activates.
Disintegrator Ray: The wand of disintegration, which used to make monsters vaporize, and now makes them explode. It’s especially good against brittle monsters like statues.
Down the Drain: The Sewers, an early side area filled with green water and lots of poisonous enemies.
Draconic Humanoid: One of the playable species is Draconians, who start out in an immature brown form, but after reaching a certain level change into a random color and gain a corresponding Breath Weapon. They also lack wings, but can gain some through mutations.
Dual Boss: Dowan and Duvessa, the elf twins! Dowan is a Squishy Wizard and Duvessa is a nimble warrior. If you find one twin, the other is sure to be on the same dungeon level somewhere. They also have Twin Telepathy, so if you kill one of them, the other one gets stronger. (Duvessa goes berserk while Dowan gains several extremely powerful spells and gets auto-hasted as soon as he sees you.)
Dual Wielding: The player can only wield one weapon at a time. However, some monsters, notably two-headed ogres and ettins, are capable of this.
The source code for Linley's Dungeon Crawl shows a mutation that was never implemented: "Your chest, abdomen and neck are covered in intricate, arcane blue/green writing". Supposedly, it would be given by an unknown evil god when a character converted to its religion.
The unique specter Terpsichore was briefly considered for inclusion in 0.8 of Stone Soup; her one gimmick was a spell that caused every weapon within line of sight to animate and attack the player. Ultimately it was decided that she wouldn't work, as her power was too unbalanced. (If there weren't any weapons nearby for her to animate she was defenseless and would be nothing more than easy EXP, but if there were more than one or two weapon nearby she would slaughter the player in seconds.) As a result she was first dummied out and later removed entirely.
Dungeon Bypass: Often necessary. Sometimes the only way to escape a monster is to run for the stairs to the next level. You can generally go back, though.
Dungeon Shop: Played straight: shops seem to appear almost anywhere (except the entirely animal-dominated branches) for pretty much no reason at all.
The infamous Sigmund can show up as early as the second floor. When most players are still using robes and daggers Sigmund can bring invisibility, confusion, flame spells, and a massive stat-boosted scythe to the party. Get used to him being the last thing you see. Or don't see, as the case may be.
Grinder, a minor demon with a reliable paralysing spell and a bunch of elemental and status resistances (most notably to Mephitic Cloud, a popular early-game spell) who can show up as early as the third floor.
Abominations, unsurprisingly, which are so weird that the game can't even attempt to describe some of them. One of them, the aptly named "unseen horror" is naturally invisible to most beings; it's only if you have supernatural sight that you find out it's an abomination at all.
There is also a spell, Malign Gateway, that opens a portal to a dimension supposedly populated by these. Luckily, whatever abomination lurks on the other side can only reach its massive tentacle through the portal.
Lugonu, God of the Abyss, as well. Not only does Lugonu grant followers powers to corrupt the fabric of space itself, as of 0.12 both Lugonu and the Abyss lose the generic demonic motif in favor of a chaotic/cosmic horror motif.
Elemental Baggage: Elementalists have this with their summoning and transmutation spells: you cannot summon an elemental without a quantity of the element to form it from, which as the game notes, is not a problem for air or earth, but can be somewhat difficult for water and fire. The same goes for some transmutation spells - the spell Sandblast transmutes a stone into a blast of rock shards, although it also works (but less effectively) with the ambient grit in the dungeon. The exception to Elemental Baggage is conjuration spells, since these explicitly conjure things out of nothing, so they can make fireballs without needing any element to start from.
Elemental Powers: Crawl has three of the classical elements: Air, Earth, and Fire.
In one of the game's few plot points, Water magic has been largely forgotten, replaced by Ice. Water elementals do still exist, and if one travels to the Shoals they'll find a few practitioners of water magic: the merfolk aquamancers and the unique merfolk water witch Ilsuiw.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Played straight. Ice and Fire are opposites, Earth and Air are opposites. Fire hurts ice monsters and vice versa. Players who are skilled in Fire magic find it difficult to learn Ice and vice versa.
Spells and abilities that are supposed to summon friendly allies can potentially do the opposite.
Evil Is Easy: Played straight with the gods. Good gods hold their followers to much higher standards compared to evil gods. All of the good gods have long laundry lists of things that they dislike. Compare this to the evil gods who generally have only one or two specific Berserk Buttons at most. Three of the five evil gods don't even have that: Lugonu and Mahkleb could really care less what you do as long as you kill and sacrifice corpses in their name, and Kikubaaqudgha doesn't even demand corpses.
They say that the Orb of Zot exists deep, deep down but no one ever got to it.
Extreme Omnivore: Jellies. They eat any item they touch, except stones. This also means that they eat anything you throw or fire at them. AND it heals them. You'd better hope those arrows you're wasting are doing more damage than the jelly is gaining from eating them.
The Fair Folk: While the elves in the game are clearly Tolkien-ish, there is a spriggan race (based on the mythological Cornish fairy of the same name) that keeps all its fair-folk features. Most notably the lack of wings.
Fallen Angel: Profane Servitors, ex-Angels/Daevas corrupted by Yredelemnul, are much stronger than regular Angels and come with an aura that shields everything that tries to kill you. They're also immune to holy damage. Worshiping Yredelemnul only protects you from the aura.
"Orc Jesus" for Priests of Beogh. (Alternately called “Orcus Christ” by some of the more irreverent players.)
Some of the names in the game are notoriously difficult to spell properly, effectively forcing nicknames into existence. (Seriously, it takes a while to learn how to spell "Kikubaaqudgha", let alone figure out how to say it. As a result, most call him "Kiku".)
Okawaru's role as a generic melee god is referenced by an occasionally used nickname: "Default".
Lugonu was named "Lucy" during its earliest development stages, and is still sometimes nicknamed that.
Somewhat cryptically for new players, fans often use abbreviated forms of the races and classes. MiBe is a minotaur berserker, MfIE is a merfolk ice elementalist, and so on.
Fans will also use abbreviations for other aspects of the game, such as some of the wordier spells. e.g. LRD is Lee's Rapid Deconstruction, etc). IOOD stands for Iskenderun's Orb of Destruction, which is particularly problematic as the spell's name was eventually shortened to just Orb of Destruction.
Beogh, god of the orcs, does not accept worship from non-orcs, seeing them as inferior.
The "good" gods (The Shining One, Zin, and Elyvilon) do not accept undead or demonspawn, and Fedhas Madash, god of plants, fungi, and decay, does not accept the undead. Similarly, each of these deities will instantly excommunicate a player that uses the Necromutation spell to become undead.
Demigods, due to their divine heritage, are prevented from worshiping any of the gods.
Yredelemnul, the god of undeath, does not accept worship from gargoyles on the grounds that they're not entirely alive and therefore can never die or become undead. Other races face excommunication from Yredelemnul if they use the Statue Form spell.
Faustian Rebellion: It is entirely possible to abandon your god if you no longer find them useful, and/or to choose a new god. This will usually make the god you abandoned angry at you; however, it is also entirely possible to survive their wrath until it runs out. Doing this with one of the Gods of Undeath is an explicit part of one strategy guide for a Mummy Wizard.
Featureless Protagonist: You get to choose your name, race, class, maybe a starting weapon, and that's about it. Crawl never asks the player to supply a gender or any other personalising details. Indeed, for the more average humanoid races, the in-game description of them is "You are rather mundane." The non-ASCII version of Crawl does have the ability to create a Virtual Paper Doll, however, accessed by pressing the "-" key.
Fighter, Mage, Thief: Crawl divides all the character classes in five different groups - but there is great variation within each (except maybe Adventurer):
Fighter - Includes anything with focus on plain combat, from heavily armored warriors to Bare Fisted Monks and stealthy assassins.
Zealot - Includes every class that starts out with a religion: priests, healers, berserkers, death knights, chaos knights, and abyssal knights.
Warrior-mage - Includes combat-oriented magic classes, such as weapon-enchanting skalds, voluntary shapeshifter transmuters, and arcane marksmen.
Mage - Includes the generic spellcaster class wizard as well as several more specialized mages.
Adventurer - Includes only two classes, the device user class artificer and the randomized wanderer.
Fire, Ice, Lightning: Present in Fire, Ice, and Air magic spells, respectively. There's also Earth magic, but that tends to be pure physical or Non-Elemental damage. Weapons can also have flaming, freezing, or electrocution brands (among others).
Fish out of Water: Most obviously applies to merfolk (semi-literally; they can get by just as well on land as in water), but the game makes a small plot point of some of the player species being unsuited for a dungeon (since they enter it from ground level). For example, the only playable orc species is the hill orc, while all the ones in the dungeon are cave orcs.
A more literal example: With Fedhas Madash's sunlight ability, you can dry up the pools of water you find in the dungeon, possibly resulting in literal fish out of water.
Flaming Sword: Flaming is a brand some weapons can have, including swords. These weapons are quite helpful against hydras, since they prevent them from re-growing their heads.
Forged by the Gods: Some of the gods give you gifts, which are normally highly enchanted or artifact weapons. Occasionally subverted, as the gifts aren't always special in any way.
Xom, God of Chaos, particularly enjoys giving you useless items. And the few times they aren't useless, there are other tricks, like giving you items that would be useful under different circumstances (rings when you can't remove your gloves, boots when your feet have been mutated into talons, etc). Sometimes Xom will even give you an item, then immediately animate it and have it try to kill you. Xom is kind of a jerk.
Spriggans can move much faster than any other characters, but they only get about half the already low amount of HP other characters can get. However, they can also gain Evocations skill insanely quickly (ability to use magic items,) and a Spriggan with some legendary decks of summoning gifted by Nemelex Xobeh is one of the most powerful character builds in the late game.
Felids have even fewer hit points than spriggans and wear no armour at all, but also run slightly faster than most enemies.
Kobolds and Halflings don't run faster than standard characters, but they do have slightly reduced hit points and very good dodging aptitudes, and are encouraged to use the weapon school with the smallest attack delay.
Friend to All Living Things: The healer class has the ability to pacify monsters, turning them neutral (which, for some reason, doesn't ACTUALLY turn them friendly, just neutral: they'll still attack if you're in their way. They'll also attack hostile monsters, which you can sometimes exploit.)
Ironically, since Elyvilon dislikes seeing allies die and many summon spells (and all necromancy) are "evil", healers are among the least likely characters to actually have allies.
Frogs and Toads: They make appearances as regular enemies and aren't that easy, either; the spiny frog can be very dangerous for players who aren't expecting it. Blink frogs come in packs and, as the name suggests, can blink (short-range teleport). There's even a blink frog unique, Prince Ribbit (who’s technically a human in frog form, and even leaves a human corpse when you squish him, but he still counts.)
Funny Animal: Averted with Felids, a playable race of sentient cats, who lack both humanoid body structure and hands, making them unique among playable characters as being unable to use wands, weapons, thrown items, or even items like robes and hats which otherwise fit everyone.
The Gambler: Followers of Nemelex Xobeh gain several powerful card-related abilities.
Gameplay Automation: As a part of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup's design philosophy, the game features several examples of automating tedious actions:
Fast travel to dungeon branches, shops, altars or player-set waypoints
Automated travel exclusions and level annotations to remind the player of possibly dangerous or important things
Automated equipment shuffling - in contrast to NetHack where changing one's armor requires several commands to remove the old armor pieces first, Crawl automatically removes any armor that needs to be taken off for the change and re-equips cloaks and such afterwards.
Garden of Evil: Oklob plants form these. They are large plants that spit acid at the player with stunning accuracy. Staying in one's range for too long is going to hurt both the player character and their precious equipment.
Worshipers of Fehdas Madash can plant said Oklob plants, turning the game into a turn based strategy game.
Gender Neutral Writing: The gods in the game are supposed to be beyond gender, and thus it's wrong to refer to them as male or female. Therefore, on the god description screens, there are no mentions of gender, even though fanon tends to refer to Lugonu, Elyvilon, and Sif Muna as female, and the rest as male. Also applies to monsters, although there it’s more due to convenience than any in-game reason.
The randomly-found Genie card in some of the magical decks of cards is a somewhat straighter example. Half the time, drawing said card will grant you a special item from a choice of several categories. The rest of the time, it'll reduce your stats.
Genius Bruiser: The ogre-mage is an ogre which, unlike most ogres which only know how to hit people with heavy weapons, is intelligent enough to use magic. Player ogres are something between standard ogres and ogre-mages - they are moderate at both hitting and casting. A second example of this would be fighting characters who have learned magical skill.
Green Thumb: Worshippers of Fedhas, god of plants, can move past plants, cause corpses to decompose into mushrooms, and cause plants to grow.
Glass Cannon: Many player characters are these, but the specifics vary:
Tengu are a bird-people race that has excellent aptitudes for combat skills but very low hit points.
Spellcasters are typically these - many spells are extremely powerful but spellcasters themselves tend to have lower hit points than melee characters and (due to spell failure chance) rarely wear much armor.
Ogres, both NPCs and player characters. They hit hard and have some natural protection, but can't wear most armor and aren't very good dodgers due to their size, rendering them very vulnerable against stronger enemies.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: The gods in Crawl only exist as long as people believe in them. Most gods don't have a problem - they have plenty of followers. However, Jiyva is special in that most of its followers are slimes, which are unintelligent and thus their belief isn't worth much. Its only major intelligent follower is the royal jelly, which is an enemy in the game and which can be killed. If the royal jelly is killed and the player is not a follower of Jiyva, then nobody is left to believe in Jiyva and the god stops existing.
God of Evil: Some of the gods are described by the game as evil. Whether the gods themselves agree is unknown.
There is a gameplay factor to this. The good gods are very lenient about punishment; even if you upset them (through deprecated acts or abandonment), they still only place you into "penance", which just means you need to perform appreciated acts to get back in their good graces. They will only seek retribution if you start following an evil god later.
The god Yredelemnul in particular seems to enjoy being casted as an inverse to the Gods of Good. Like the three good gods, Yredelemnul has a long list of deprecated acts; in fact, Yredelemnul is the only non-good god who has a condition for instant excommunication. Yredelemnul also creates Fallen Angels and will even grant you some of them as servants.
Good Hurts Evil: Reciting Zin's scripts in front of certain evil creatures often results in this. Also applies to weapons of Holy Wrath, which are blessed by The Shining One to cause more damage to demons and the undead.
Gradual Regeneration: Mostly played straight - as in most Roguelikes, characters in Dungeon Crawl regenerate their hit points and magic points over time. Different races also regenerate at different rates: trolls, for example, heal very fast while mummies heal very slowly. Deep dwarves won't heal on their own at all. Vampires change rate based on their thirst and also won't regenerate at all at the "bloodless" thirst level.
The Sickness status condition also knocks out your natural regeneration for a while. It's generally a good idea to wait for it to wear off before you start exploring again.
Hammerspace: Crawl has the typical Roguelike variety: the player can carry anything they find up until their load becomes too heavy for them or they fill all 52 item slots. Because each stack of items takes only one item slot, 20 javelins take just as much room as a single dart (though they weigh far more).
Healing Factor: Trolls and satiated vampires heal extremely fast, as does anyone with troll leather armor, ring of regeneration or the regeneration spell. Each of these has the drawback of speeding up one's metabolism significantly.
Healing Potion: Crawl uses two kinds of healing potion; potions of curing heal only a small amount of HP, but will cure you of any negative status effects. The other type, potions of heal wounds, offer a much larger chunk of pure hit-point healing.
The latter is also available in the form of a wand of heal wounds. More favored than potions because they cannot be destroyed, but exceedingly rare and difficult to recharge.
Hellfire: Available to some demons and demonspawn. Even nastier than regular fire, as it's not subject to fire resistance (or just about any other kind of resistance, for that matter).
Holy Halo: The Shining One's followers eventually receive one. It serves several purposes: monsters inside the halo are easier to hit, invisible creatures turn visible and your stealth is crippled (which isn't that bad, given that The Shining One dislikes stealth attacks anyway). Holy NPCs such as angels have similar halos.
Inverted with Profane Servitors. Their dark aura hides other monsters from you, though you can cancel it out with your own halo.
Holy Hand Grenade: The Holy Word spell can be granted by scroll, or by some of the powers of Zin and The Shining One, two of the good gods. It causes huge damage to all unholy monsters, and slows and scares them.
Pre 0.6 Cleansing Flame was essentially this, allowing devout TSO worshipers to hurl balls of positive energy over a long distance. Averted that Cleansing Flame does little damage to beast type monsters, including the original HHG's intended target.
Human Sacrifice: Several temple designs of evil gods feature these. And of course, the gods who like corpse sacrifices aren't averse to human corpses either.
Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Abyss is a plane of chaos, with no recognizable structure, and full of demons and Eldritch Abominations . It's a VERY dangerous place to be. It's not established whether it is Crawl's 'hyperspace' dimension, but it is associated with translocation as miscasted teleportation spells and distortion weapons can send you there. It's also the place where the evil god Lugonu the Unformed lives; altars to Lugonu are scattered about and are the easiest way to escape if you don't mind the wrath of your former deity (if applicable). Followers of Lugonu can get the ability to jump in and out of the abyss at will. Banished monsters also end up here.
Hypno Ray: The wand of enslavement, or the spell Enslavement, tries to turn any susceptible monster into your willing slave, who you can then give a small set of commands. One useful command is 'Wait here', since if the monster happens to be a dangerous one, you probably don't want to be around when the enchantment wears off...
I Am A Humanitarian: If you manage to find and kill a human enemy (for example, many of the uniques) there's nothing stopping you from chopping them up and chowing down except the minor threat of disease. Non-human races can often find their own species to cannibalize wandering around the dungeon as well. Incidentally, cannibalism is a really good way to piss off all three of the good gods as well as the Orc God, Beogh.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Axe of Woe, which is only available in the Dungeon Sprint map "Arena of Blood" (aka Meatsprint), is a literal infinity-powered weapon. It gives you +∞ to accuracy and +∞ to damage, which combined with the cleaving ability of axes means that one swing kills every adjacent enemy (except those directly behind you) instantly. Somehow the map still manages to be a challenge in spite of this - it is stillCrawlafter all.
Largely averted in the main game, thanks to randomly generated artifact weapons. Even among the non-random artifacts, weapons tend to be very well balanced with the "best" weapons being largely a matter of your own play style, the current situation, and the type of character you're playing.
What's more, there are scrolls of enchant weapon which allow you to permanently increase the abilities of your currently wielded (non-artifact) weapon. The only downside is that the player can't get some of the more exotic abilities that artifacts can get, like the ability to turn invisible, raise enemies slain by the weapon as zombies, etc. As a result any player-enchanted weapon is more likely to end up as an Infinity–1 Sword.
Informed Attribute: A few of the unique enemies have little bits in their descriptions which are interesting but don't come up in dialogue or combat. The fact that it's only informed is often justified as there's not much opportunity to witness these traits while in combat.
Edmund is a human unique stated to have a canny head for money. This is supposedly reflected in the fact that he always spawns with a highly enchanted flail, but there are no other signs of it. (He doesn't drop much money, for example.)
Edmund's brother Sigmund is stated to have "delusions of greatness" which never come up in his dialogue.
Grinder the shadow imp is described as having the Informed Flaw of being inefficient. There's little inefficient about him, however - his battle strategy of "paralyze enemy, then spam pain spells until they die" is very efficient and effective indeed.
Jessica is described as being an apprentice sorceress, which (by the real-world definition of the term "apprentice") means she should be studying under a master sorcerer. Instead she is found wandering the dungeon alone, with the existence of a teacher never even so much as hinted at in her dialogue.
Maud's description states: "Countless have been the admirers who, thinking about Maud, forgot everything else." This is a reference to NetHack, as well as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, but this characteristic has no gameplay effect at all.
Urug the orc mercenary has a supposed hatred of harpies as a harpy took out one of his eyes, and according to his description he attacks the player after mistaking the player for a harpy. This is not reflected in his dialogue at all.
An odd example: Ilsuiw the mermaid water witch is described as using her beauty to lure enemies to a watery grave. Normal mermaids do have this as an ability, they can entrance the player making it impossible to move away and having a chance of making the player walk toward them, possibly into deep water. Ilsuiw, however, does not have this ability, making this a case of Informed Ability.
Invisible Monsters: Unseen horrors are naturally invisible. And horrible. Several spellcasters can turn invisible temporarily, but you could walk right into an unseen horror while it is asleep without seeing it.
Fortunately, there are ways to see invisible creatures — certain races can see invisible on their own (Felids, Nagas, Spriggans, and Vampires), and others can use a ring, enchanted hat, or random artifact (though such equipment is often quite rare). Alternatively, you can use a divine halo, force them to move into something that would be displaced (like fog or water), or just set them on fire.
It Amused Me: The modus operandi of Xom, God of Chaos, sees worshipers as toys. Indeed, Toy is the official title of a Xom worshiper. One moment Xom might give you super strength, and the next moment Xom will summon a bunch of monsters to kill you.
Xom is usually randomly doing good and bad things. Once Xom gets bored, forget about the good part. Unfortunately, Xom's interests range from "watching player use random and potentially dangerous item in difficult combat" to "watching player's flesh rot off". Xom is almost always amused with followers dying.
Really, Xom could be seen as a subversion. Xom is a Mad God who does whatever, but it's not because Xom hates you. Even if Xom becomes bored beyond belief, Xom will still happily accept you back as a favorite toy if you start to be entertaining again.
Averted by most other gods. No matter how much a god may dislike you doing something (drinking blood for the good gods, destroying plant life for Fedhas Madash, etc), they'll usually give you a pass if it was an accident. This is rarer in Roguelikes than you'd think.
Fedhas, the god of plants, will always be pleased by your contribution to the ecosystem...when you die.
Most of the gods have little things like this. For example, dying while worshipping the god of death Yredelemnul results in you becoming a zombie.
Contrary to what the term "evil" might imply, the dark gods generally avert this - so long as you make regular sacrifices to them and don't go apostate, they'll shower you with gifts.
Joke Character: A literal example: for the week following 2013's April Fool's Day, the developers introduced a new class into the playable beta version of the next release. Jesters spawn in with a jester cap, quarterstaff of chaos, and a stack of cream pies that can either be eaten or be thrown at foes to blind them.
Katanas Are Just Better: Crawl seems to agree. Prior to 0.9 katanas were the second best one-handed long blades in the game, just under demon swords. As of 0.9, however, the only katana left in the game is an artifact weapon called the Autumn Katana. Granted, the Autumn Katana is still a damn good sword...
Kill It with Fire: Recommended if you're going to try to fight a hydra with a bladed weapon. A Flaming Sword will stop the hydra from growing more heads. Also a good way to kill ice- or plant-based monsters.
Certain player characters may gain the ability to breathe fire via mutations, spells or racial abilities (Red Draconians, for example). Demonspawns may obtain a racial mutation that allows them to hurl hellfire.
Almost every spell in the Fire Magic school is designed as an offensive conjuration spell, except for two spells that are used defensively, and even those can still be used to deal heavy amounts of damage. So, basically, if you're using Fire Magic, you don't have many options besides using it to kill stuff.
Kill It with Ice: On the flip side of using fire. Ice tends to be useful against fiery opponents; cold damage has the added advantage of slowing down cold-blooded foes, which includes most reptilian creatures.
Kung-Fu Wizard: Transmuters get levels in unarmed combat, making them surprisingly good brawlers. This is to encourage them to use shape-shifting spells; in most non-human forms, unarmed combat is the only type of combat possible.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: The scroll of amnesia is a precision tool that allows you to forget one arbitrary memorized spell. The same effect is offered by the wizard god Sif Muna.
Leaking Can of Evil: Although not evil, Ashenzari is in a VERY leaky can. Ashenzari was purposely and permanently bound and nailed to the sky by an unknown force in ancient times, yet despite this the god is still capable of receiving followers and granting powers. In fact, this seems to be almost more of a blessing, since it has made Ashenzari practically omniscient; being nailed to the sky means the god can see everything that happens on the entire planet.
Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: The Shining One demands this of any followers. In practice, this means that the character worhipping The Shining One is punished for using poison or stealth. These restrictions are lifted against evil and non-intelligent creatures, though even then dark magic and necromancy are not permitted.
Level Drain: Wights and wraiths can drain the player's experience, as can weapons and wands of draining. But the player can also use those weapons, and learn spells to drain enemies as well.
If you somehow get drained below level 1 (which is very hard to do without getting killed first), the result is instant death.
Version 0.13 changes the draining effect: instead of permanently draining your experience points, it instead drains your skills, making you weaker.
Life Drain: The level 3 spell Vampiric Draining does this - it drains life from enemies and adds it to your health. Weapons can also be vampiric, healing and feeding the wielder when they hit.
Life Meter: Nicely shows just how much damage that last hit did.
Zombies and skeletons don't have life meters. Presumably it's because they're already damaged from their first death, so it's hard to tell how much more damage it'll take to re-kill them.
Rakshasas also lack life meters; this is due to their skill with illusions, allowing them to mask their physical condition. It also makes it harder to tell which one is real when they start spawning copies of themselves, especially once they all start blinking all over the place.
Light Is Not Good: Holy beings such as angels are just as bloodthirsty as demons. Even if you're not actually evil they'll still attack you on sight with intent to kill and, given how powerful they tend to be, they'll probably succeed at that goal. You can't sneak past them either, thanks to their glowing halo which will illuminate you and make you easy to spot. And if you do manage to kill one of them your reward is a blast of holy fire courtesy of their god, The Shining One. That's right. You get smote with holy fire... for defending yourself.
The only characters safe from attacks by angels, daevas, and other holy monsters are followers of the three good gods, and even then it only works if your piety is high enough and the being in question isn't having a bad day. What's more, even on the off chance an angel does decide you deserve to live they'll still only become neutral, not friendly, meaning they'll still attack you if you're in their way.
A Load of Bull: Minotaurs are present in the game, both as monsters and as a playable species. They're good at melee and ranged combat but suck at using magic. In older versions, they were also better at mapping out the Labyrinth side levels than any other race.
The Lost Woods: The Enchanted Forest side-area, which will be added in 0.14, is going to be this - a long and twisting "dark woods" full of spriggans and other fey.
Luck-Based Mission: Contrary to what the page quote says, and while Crawl is admittedly not as bad about it as some roguelikes, it is entirely likely that many of your deaths will be simple bad luck. For example, running into a centaur in the open without either Repel Missiles or a scroll of teleportation, will always result in death for a low-level character unless you're unbelievably lucky. There's no strategy you can use and you can't run away. You're just dead. Period.
Alternately, a more light-hearted version of a luck-based mission: play a character who worships Xom, God of Chaos. It's not an issue of if Xom will get bored and kill you, but when.
Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Unlike a lot of roguelikes, Crawl takes this trope a little more seriously. While in most, a shield is merely considered a boost to one's armour no different from, say, chainmail or a helmet, in Crawl shields are a defensive tool. They provide no armour boost, but give the player a chance of completely blocking a hit, which increases as they increase their Shields skill. Certain magical shields can even reflect attacks back at your foes!
MacGuffin: The Orb of Zot! It's apparently so valuable that it's held deep underground in a realm which you can't even get into without magic runes, guarded by hundreds of monsters, including actual demon lords... but nobody knows what it actually does, or what its powers are.
Macro Game: The player may encounter ghosts of previous characters in the Dungeon. Ghosts have similar strengths and weaknesses as they had while alive, which includes any really nice equipment they were using when they died. This can make for some really nasty surprises for future characters, though player ghosts cannot use stairs and can therefore be skipped.
Mage Killer: Berserkers and other servants of Trog. Trog despises and hates magic, and will not only reward slaying magic users, but will also gift followers with Anti-Magic perks and weapons.
Trog also provides a nifty ability to turn spellbooks on the ground into fiery landmines. Trog "roars with delight" whenever you use this ability.
Magic Knight: Skalds start with skills in the melee weapon of their choice and self-buff spells. Reavers get (well, got; they were de-implemented after 0.8) blasting spells instead. Transmuters frequently shapeshift and beat monsters down with their newfound natural weapons.
Worshipping Makhleb allows throwing around destructive blasts of power and summoning demons without having to worry about spell failure from heavy armor, though the demons may decide to eat your face instead of your enemy's.
Magic Pants: Clothing merges into a shapeshifted player's new form.
Magic Misfire: Of every shape and color. They range from harmless (an ice mage getting a bit frosty, an enchanter making the dirt glow) to Yet Another Stupid Death (a necromancer rotting from the inside out, a translocator getting stuck in the Abyss). Even minor failures can become dangerous as magical contamination builds up in the caster, ending in a violent terminus for those too desperate or stupid to stop casting.
Magic Wand: Crawl does have a number of magic wands, but these in fact more closely fit the Boom Stick trope. Instead it's actually the magical staffs that are Magic Wands; for example, the staff of channeling allows the player to regenerate their magic points, the staff of wizardry makes it easier to cast spells, and there are staffs for most of the schools of magic that boost the power of spells in those schools.
Mana Drain: The eye of draining can drain your mana from a distance, which heals it.
Mana Shield: The amulet of guardian spirit protects you from harm but consumes your magic points in doing so.
Man on Fire: Crawl has a Sticky Flame spell which covers an enemy in sticky, burning liquid. The mottled dragon (and mottled draconian, which you can be if you're lucky with draconian maturation) can also breathe sticky flames.
Flaming Corpses are literal men on fire; more precisely, they're the reanimated remains of people who burned to death. They exist only to set other things ablaze — namely you. And they run faster than you unless you're playing a fast race like a centaur or a spriggan.
Massive Race Selection: The latest version has 24 playable species, most with odd natural abilities/disadvantages (the large races, for example, cannot wear most of the armour in the game).
Master Poisoner: Venom Mages, a playable class that focuses on Poison magic.
Also Olgreb, a legendary mage who is referenced by some spells and artifacts named after him. Said spells and artifacts are potent enough to be able to overcome poison resistance in monsters.
The rotting status will gradually reduce your character's maximum HP while in effect. You can repair small amounts of rot by using healing potions or wands while at full HP. Ghoul characters can also restore rotted HP by eating meat (preferably rotten), which helps offset the innate decay they suffer from. Then there's the spell called Borgnjor's Revivification, which fully heals you at the cost of permanently reducing your maximum HP.
Crawl also has Maximum MP Damage, though only two character races have to worry about it; deep dwarves and mummies both have emergency abilities that require you to sacrifice one point of MP. Deep dwarves can use their ability to recharge magical devices (like a wand of healing), whereas mummies can instantly restore their stats and some rotted HP.
The Maze: One of Dungeon Crawl's occasionally generated optional challenge levels, the Labyrinth features tight corridors that cannot be permanently mapped and that also occasionally shift. There are no enemies save for rare occurrances of hungry ghosts and the minotaur who guards the exit. The real challenge is finding the way out before starving to death, but successful players are rewarded with a bunch of reasonably good items.
A tip for traveling through a Labyrinth: the closer you get to the center, the stronger the walls will become. Ergo, when you start seeing stone and metal walls, you're getting closer.
As a Shout-Out to the Greek myth, Minotaur characters used to be able to map out more of a Labyrinth than any other race.
Mercy Rewarded: Elyvilon likes it when you pacify monsters instead of slaughtering them, although the player isn't punished for fighting. (Unless you kill something while praying for divine protection, which could be justified as it makes you kind of a hypocrite.)
Cheibrados is the god of this. He reduces your movement speed until moving in combat is complete suicide, but greatly enhances your stats and grants extremely powerful active abilities.
Nagas move slower than most enemies, in a game where movement speed is very important, but get bonus hit points, bonus AC as they level, an innate constriction attack and free poison resistance. So they'll probably survive all those fights they should've been running from much better than the same class of human would have.
Among enemies this is the norm for anything slower than you.
Mirror Boss: What makes the unique rakshasa Mara so dangerous. He has the ability to create an exact copy of anything within his line of sight, and most of the time, that'll be you. Fortunately, he can only create one such copy of a given creature at a time; you can make your copy somewhat more managable by wielding something completely unsuitable as a weapon and/or wearing inferior equipment, but it won't do anything to your copy's spellcasting ability. Once your copy is out, you can switch back to your normal gear and commence battling as usual.
Really, though, the best way to deal with Mara is to kill him as quickly as possible, if you decide not to avoid him entirely. You can always run away from your copy once he's dead.
Mook Chivalry: Averted. Smarter monsters will make room for their mates so they can more easily gang up on you. If you enforce this by luring them into a narrow corridor, they will try to round a corner to get at you.
Mother Nature: Fedhas Madash, god of plants and nature. Is a rare example of a plant-based nature god who is NOT overtly feminine, though this is due in large part to the intentional gender-neutral status of Crawl deities.
Multi-Melee Master: Crawl's skill system allows you to train and gain experience with any weapon, so it's possible to master several weapons at once.
In addition to being one of the classic tricks of necromancy, the spell Animate Skeleton is also a neat hands-free way of butchering meat, though this was much more useful back when cursed blunt weapons prevented you from butchering corpses. In fact, Ashenzari's altars typically had a spellbook with Animate Skeleton near them precisely to allow bound servants to butcher corpses.
Transforming oneself into a giant ice beast is very effective against monsters not resistant to cold. However, transmuters can also use the spell to cross ponds of water with ease. Said ice beast was also handy for butchering corpses on its own, so transmuters who'd been stuck with a cursed blunt weapon could do this to get food.
Nerfing: This tends to happen between versions. The most obvious nerf is for Summoners, who can summon monsters to kill for them; the rule is that any monster killed by a player's summon is worth only half the experience it would be otherwise.
In particular, the devs like to nerf anything that's considered obviously better than any other choice and ends up being used regardless of your play style. The halving of extra damage done by vorpal weapons and removal of the "Detect Creatures" spell fall into this category, as did the removal of the "Tomb of Doroklohe" spell in the first Stone Soup versions.
Nemean Skinning: You can do this to various creatures in Dungeon Crawl. Things like yaks and elephants will just give you plain ol' animal skins, but chopping up trolls and dragons gets you better-quality hides. You still have to enchant said hides in order to make worthwhile armor out of them, though (after all, you don't have the time or the equipment to craft armor the old-fashioned way).
Nintendo Hard: This game is going to kill you, and when you make a new character, the ghost of your dead character is going to try to kill him.
Nitro Boost: Potions of speed as well as the Haste spell.
Nominal Importance: The unique enemies have names, and when you see one you know you're in for a more difficult battle than normal.
The randomly generated artifacts are a slight aversion of this, since they have real-looking names, but are not guaranteed to be important, or even worth having at all. It's not uncommon to find artifacts with abysmal stats or negative attributes, and many are cursed.
As a hill orc of Beogh, your orcish followers will gain names if they survive and kill for long enough. They can still die like any other orc, but it is fuel for Video Game Caring Potential.
Non-Elemental: Crawl's normal weapons are less immediately powerful, but more versatile than elemental (branded) ones, since there are several weapon enchantment spells that won't work on already-branded weapons. Similarly, there are several elemental staves which, unlike the regular quarterstaff, have the additional problem of being impossible to enhance (they can only ever have the damage and accuracy stats of a normal staff).
Magic attacks have the same thing, with elemental spells that tend to do more damage but require two spells schools and can be resisted by many monsters (especially later in the game). Earth magic is treated as pure physical damage though, and there are also many spells which are purely Conjurations which are similarly unresistable.
Ashenzari is the God of Divination, but also of being cursed, and is happiest with you when you're covered with ClingyArtifacts of Doom.
Cheibriados is supposed to be the God of Time, but really just wants followers to take it easy and enjoy every single second. Trying to speed up insults him, since you obviously don't appreciate things if you are moving as fast as you can.
Jiyva, the God of Slime doesn't really do a lot as a god. Jiyva just sort of squishes about and eats stuff, and only has one sentient follower (two if the player character converts at an altar).
One Size Fits All: Averted. Some races are so tiny they can't wear armour at all, or wield large weapons. Some races are so huge they need enormous armour.
But played straight in the case of the many varieties of dragon armour, which magically fit on every race.
And robes, though one can amuse himself with mental images of a spriggan whose robe trails three feet behind him or an ogre whose robe doesn't even reach his knees.
One-Handed Zweihänder: Larger races can wield some two-handed weapons as one handed weapons, but they're still more effective when used with two hands. Also inverted with the smaller races - they may need two hands to hold a weapon which the larger species can hold with just one.
Played straight with Formicids, who can wield most two-handed weapons as if they were one-handed, thanks to having four arms and being Strong Ants. They can also wield the oversized clubs exclusive to large races, but that takes all four of their arms.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Intelligence for any characters that desire any magical capabilities. The other two basic stats have little to no point unless you're a transmuter or your character is totally magic-free.
You still want to have enough points in them so they can't easily be dropped to zero or below (generally 8 is enough to survive most stat-draining situations).
1-Up: Felids get an extra life every few levels - very unusual for a roguelike, but then Felids are an unusual race.
Orphaned Game: Linley Henzell, the game's original creator, started out with regular updates but quickly got tired of the game and let it go. In Linley's own words:
Our Angels Are Different: Angels are present as monsters that are typically quite tough to deal with - especially if one is undead and relies on black magic to kill stuff. Angels and their tougher cousins Daevas are very aggressive, unless the player is a very zealous follower of a good god, in which case they'll be indifferent.
And playable! Demonspawn are a Jack-of-All-Stats race not much unlike humans, with special mutations and the inability to worship the three good gods.
In addition to playable demonspawn, there are dozens and dozens of NPC demons ranging from minor imps to huge demon lords with unpronounceable names.
Our Dragons Are Different: But not directly playable, save for the Dragon Form spell. Draconians (human/dragon hybrids) are playable, however, and get breath weapons (of a random type) when they hit level 7 and have "matured."
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Not quite, but still playable. Deep Dwarves are tough and capable necromancers and priests, but they lack natural regeneration. The Mountain Dwarves that were present in earlier versions resembled the traditional Tolkeinian dwarves more.
Our Gargoyles Rock: And are playable! They're decent with melee combat and earth magic and have a host of natural abilities including natural weapons and armor, immunity to poison, as well as a slow metabolism and no need to breathe. They're also immune to petrification, but get larger bonuses with the Statue Form spell. On the flip side, they gain much less hit points per level then other races and are horribly vulnerable to the Lee's Rapid Deconstruction spell, which is possessed by some late-game monsters.
Our Liches Are Different: And playable - not as a race, but as a form. The player can learn the Necromutation spell which will result in a temporary transformation into a lich form. As a result, the player gains improved stats, a fairly potent draining touch and the various resistances and vulnerabilities associated with being undead. In addition, they lose the ability (and the need) to eat. There are downsides, though: you can't drink potions anymore, and if you worship one of the good gods and cast the spell you're instantly excommunicated.
Liches are also present as dangerous spellcasting foes in the lower portions of the dungeon. Even farther down, you'll start running into ancient liches, which are even worse.
Our Trolls Are Different: And playable! Their regeneration is amazingly fast, and they can eat pretty much anything... which is good, considering that their regeneration gives them a hyperactive metabolism that requires them to consume massive amounts of food.
Our Vampires Are Different: And playable! They can survive indefinitely without blood. How much they have in their system determines how "undead" they are and they need at least some blood to regenerate at all.
Oxymoronic Being: Spriggans can choose to be hunters by class, effectively being herbivorous hunters.
The Paladin: Paladin used to be a playable class, but is no longer a class after changes in version 0.8. A martial follower of the Shining One is still very paladin-like, however.
Palette Swap: Stone Soup introduces an odd variation of this: Weaker versions of an enemy are always dark ASCII colors. Stronger, but otherwise similar, enemies are the lighter shade of the same color. Also appears from time to time in the graphical "tiles" version, most notably with the different kinds of snakes.
The tiles version has gradually been attempting to move away from this; there are still examples of Palette Swap enemies (some of the canines, for example), but many previous examples (including the aforementioned snakes) don't fit anymore.
Partial Transformation: The Blade Hands and Beastly Appendage spells; the former turns the caster's hands into scythe-like blades, while the latter gives them a random temporary mutation — horns on their heads or talons on their feet.
Percent Damage Attack: The Agony spell, which knocks off the target's health unless they resist negative energy. There's also Symbol of Torment, which halves the health of everything in sight (including the caster); Torment can be fully resisted by monsters, but most players can only resist part of it (and will lose incrementally smaller fractions of health depending on how much resistance they have).
Poisoned Weapons: Quite a few. Most of the melee weapons can be venom-branded, which gives them a chance to poison enemies that they hit. The spell Poison Weapon temporarily applies this brand to your current weapon. Most of the various types of ammunition may also be poisoned as well.
Poison Is Evil: The Shining One, god of goodness and paladins, includes using poison against enemies in his long list of "thou shalt nots". That said, the Shining One doesn't consider it to be nearly as bad as, say, necromancy and will allow the use of poison against unintelligent creatures like animals and bugs, as well as against evil creatures. (Though, to be fair, the list of evil creatures is mostly undead and demons, almost all of which are immune to poison anyway.)
Poison Mushroom: This being a Roguelike, newly discovered potions are "unidenfitied" and could be anything, including poison. Or blood. Or one that starts rotting your flesh off.
At least the blood potions are always red.
Power Floats: Tengu, a race of bird people, don't have wings, but they get the ability to magically fly at level 5, and get permanent flight at level 15.
Power Nullifier: Some weapons have the antimagic brand, which is able to prevent monsters from casting spells. The scroll of vulnerability cancels all enchantments nearby and reduces the magic resistance of everyone nearby.
The Silence spell prevents sounds from occurring within an area for a limited time, so while it doesn't actually nullify magical power, it nullifies the ability to use some magical powers, since spell words can't be spoken and scrolls can't be read. It's no good for stealth, because the unnatural silence immediately warns enemies that you're there.
There are also moths of suppression, which emit an aura that negates any sort of magical enchantment on your items. That amazing magic Flaming Sword that lets you fly and gives you resistance to electricity is just a sharp piece of metal while within said aura.
Power-Upgrading Deformation: A lot of the mutations you can get in the game are quite useful. A lot of them are also quite squicky. These two groups are not mutually exclusive.
Prongs of Poseidon: One of the weapons some fighting classes may choose to begin with is a spear, but for merfolk, this is replaced with a trident. Gladiators also get to start with the trident, and of course you can find more tridents throughout the game.
Hell Knights and other demon-aligned monsters can carry demon tridents, and followers of The Shining One can transform one into a holy trishula.
Psycho Electric Eel: Electric eels fire very painful bolts of lightning at anyone in their line of sight. Fortunately, they're much less common than they used to be...
Random Number God: Xom is a god of Chaos that grants you rewards and punishments that are largely random. Xom is also possibly the only deity in anything that literally calls himself the Random Number God. (Some of the time, at least. Xom can be referred to by several different titles, one of which is periodically chosen randomly.)
Randomly Generated Levels: Like most Roguelikes, Crawl features these. Levels are created using several different templates and are often spiced up with hand-crafted rooms with special features or monster vaults, making them even more varied than in most Roguelikes.
Rare Candy: Potions of Experience and Gain <Stat>, as well as the treasured Experience card found in some magical decks of cards.
The Potion of Gain <Stat> has been replaced with the Potion of Beneficial Mutation since 0.13, for better or worse.
Real Time Weapon Change: It takes time to switch weapons, but fortunately, it's a pretty fast switch. Changing your equipment, though, takes a lot longer — you can still switch rings or amulets pretty quickly, but taking off or putting on armor can take anywhere from three to upwards of ten turns.
Religion is Magic: There's not much difference between magic and religion (and there are gods of magic)... some religious powers even use up magic points. However, religious powers tend to be more accessible than magic, thanks to not having armor-based spell failure chance. Also, divine abilities use the Invocations skill, rather than Spellcasting.
Religious powers tend to be more costly and less versatile than magic as well. The most powerful blasting powers are only accessible to spellcasters and followers of Nemelex - god of cards - who doesn't directly grant the powers, just magical decks of cards, which can contain cards of blasting.
Religion of Evil: Since some of the gods are evil, their followers are required to be as well; some gods require you to kill as often as possible.
Required Secondary Power: If PC is invisible, but can't see invisible, they're penalized for not seeing what they're doing. This makes invisibility rather less useful than many players would like.
Retirony: According to his flavor text, the unique mercenary Joseph is planning to retire with his family after pulling one last hit. Unfortunately for him, his target is you, meaning he's probably going to get mowed down with everything else in your path. You monster.
Reviving Enemy: The unique lich Boris. After you kill him the first time, he respawns somewhere else in the dungeon.
Phoenix corpses, if left alone, will spontaneously self-revive in a burst of fire. In order to get rid of it for good, you have to destroy the corpse, either through chopping it up or necromancy.
Felid characters can be this to your enemies; they gain extra lives as they level up, which allow you to come back from death and quite possibly kill whatever got you.
Rewarding Inactivity: Before the version 0.10, the three good gods used to grant piety slowly over time, in contrast to other gods who required activity for increasing and preserving piety.
Road Runner PC: Spriggans, felids, and centaurs are faster than ordinary enemies, but at a price. All three races are limited in their armor (centaurs need centaur barding, spriggans are limited to robes, animal skins, and magic armor, and felids can't wear anything at all). Centaurs need to eat a lot of food due to their large size, and have poor melee skills. Spriggans, while small enough that they rarely need food, are painfully fragile, and worse, herbivores who can't eat slain enemies. Felids are even more fragile than spriggans and have the added difficulty of being unable to use any sort of equipment.
Rodent of Unusual Size: Comes in several varieties: the brown dungeon rat, the tiny grey rat, the poisonous green rat (almost always found in packs), and the negative energy-infused orange rat.
A special vault has several varieties of mutated rats created by a nearby Mad Scientist.
Rolling Attack: Boulder beetles can curl into a ball and roll at you at high speeds. They lose all control of their movement, though, so you can just walk a couple steps to one side and avoid them. Or, you can just block it with your shield. Or even reflect it if you have a shield of reflection!
Scaled Up: The Dragon Form spell, which the player can obtain and use at high levels of transmutation and fire magic.
Only requires transmutation magic if you are playing as a Draconian.
Schizophrenic Difficulty: The AI director vascillates between being a Monty Haul and (much more frequently) Killer Game Master, with the consistency of a manic ten year old on pixi stix. Sometimes you get a dragon hide on the first floor, sometimes you get a dragon on the first floor. (This is thankfully extremely rare, but an out of depth dragon is still possible. More likely and almost as bad, you might run into a slightly out-of-deapth giant ant on floor 2, which can run you down with its high speed and poison you with its bite.) Some days its all rings and randarts, sometimes the AI just decides to spawn fifty jellies. Players learn to laugh about it, or cry.
Self-Imposed Challenge: You only need 3 runes to unlock the endgame, but many players go for the bonus levels, collecting upwards of 10 or more. When this wasn't enough the developers started adding clearly uncompetitive joke builds. Enjoy your FelidWanderer of Xom.
In keeping with the challenge of collecting excess runes, prior to version 0.9 it was possible to obtain an infinite number of "Demonic Runes" from the demon world of Pandemonium. The record was over 250 runes. This was eventually changed so demonic runes would stop generating after you got one; the maximum number of runes one can get in a single game is now 15.
Some players may also go for speed runs (lowest number of turns, fastest real time), or ascend with the lowest level humanly possible.
Another popular challenge is the "only move forward" game. You are not allowed to move back over any space you've already covered (unless you hit a dead end), and you must take the first down stair you see even if you don't think you're ready.
The yearly tournaments award players points for successfully completing these. You get lots of points if you do The Tombafter you grab the Orb of Zot.
Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Vampires can change into bats, giving them increased dexterity. If, however, they have their dexterity drained while in bat form, it's possible to end up such that turning back into a vampire would leave them with zero or less, which would kill them. Therefore they're stuck in bat form until they can regain it.
You can also get Polymorphed into a form, which will Mode Lock you into that form until it wears off, even if you know the spell that lets you assume that form at will.
Shout-Out: There are tons of shout outs scattered throughout the game. In addition to everything taken from mythology and other dungeon-crawling games, the developers threw in plenty of references to pop culture. Various item and enemy descriptions will also have passages from famous works ranging from Shakespeare to The Lord of the Rings. A few noteworthy examples:
The (removed in version 0.10) spell Maxwell's Silver Hammer, which used to make blunt weapons more deadly, is a direct reference to The Beatles' song of the same name about a man who murders people with a hammer.
The Young Poisoner's Handbook, the starting spellbook for venom mages, is also the name of a 1995 film about a real life poisoner.
As stated above, the unique enemy Nikola is named after the famous inventor Nikola Tesla.
Nemelex Xobeh, the trickster god, is a fairly obvious reference to Yu-Gi-Oh!. His followers are given magical decks of cards that allow them to summon monsters, cast powerful spells, and lay traps. They are encouraged to fight with these cards as much as possible and as they advance in the faith they get powers that let them peek at their cards, top-deck the cards they want, etc. (Remember in the original Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh! it was a plot point that Yugi/Atem was in fact actually cheating.) Even his in-game description gets in on the fun, stopping just short of actually including the phrase "heart of the cards." (For reference, the phrase it uses is "trust in the cards.")
Sibling Rivalry: Edmund is jealous of his older brother Sigmund, and for a reason: Sigmund is a notorious killer of junior adventurers while Edmund is more like an average brute with an expensive flail and a good ability with sums.
Sidequest: Crawl has lots of dungeon branches and you're not required to enter all of them. Most have a rune at the bottom, but you only need three to enter the Realm of Zot and get the Orb of Zot. A common Self-Imposed Challenge is to get all the runes and escape.
Simple Staff: Played straight with the quarterstaff, which is just a big stick. Averted with the lajatang, which is a quarterstaff with added blades (unlike some of the more exotic weapons in Crawl, lajatangs exist in real life).
Skippable Boss: All of them. The recommended strategy on almost every unique is "Run away unless you KNOW they can't ruin your day, and come back when you're ten levels higher." The uniques considered most deadly are the ones who are hard to run away from, either by being fast, having ranged attacks or casting debilitating status effects. Or all three.
Squad Controls: Any allies you have can be given simple commands with the Talk button, like 'follow me', 'wait here', 'attack target', etc.
You can also control what kinds of items your intelligent allies will pick up, like whether you want them to pick up anything they find or just the stuff that you drop (mindless allies like the undead still won't pick up anything).
Squishy Wizard: Played mostly straight: wizards tend to be squishy, and so do most of the races which make good wizards. Enemy exceptions include ogres and nagas (whose best casters are at least as strong as their tanks), a few demons, and the unique enemy Louise, a heavily armored human mage with a tendency to banish you to the Abyss.
Status Buff: Zin's Vitalisation skill buffs all three of your stats. You also get various other buffs like Haste, potions of might, potions of agility, Berserk, etc.
Stat Death: If any one of your stats drops to zero and you don’t fix it within a certain number of turns, you're dead. In earlier builds, it was instant death.
Stat Grinding: Almost none - the game deliberately tries to avoid this. You simply select which skills you want to train, then kill stuff and the experience is applied towards those skills.
Strong Ants: The Formicids, a race of ant people recently added to trunk. Their four arms combined with insect-style strength allow them to wield two-handed weapons and a shield simultaneously. They can also use all four arms to use giant-sized weaponry that normally only ogres and trolls can use.
Suicidal Overconfidence: Almost any creature in Crawl will attack the player, regardless of the odds. Why yes, Mr. Level 1 Goblin, it is a good idea for you to recklessly charge the level 27 Demigod Fighter with artifact armor and a +9 flaming demon sword. That's sure to end well for you.
Super Drowning Skills: Unless you're a Merfolk, Octopode, or Gray Draconian (the first two can swim while the third doesn't need to breathe). Crawl's interface stops the player walking into deep water (and warns the player about trying to move near deep water while confused). Levitating players can still drown if their levitation wears off over water.
If a weapon of draining spawns on floor 1 and you get hit with it, you can basically kiss your character goodbye as what few XP you've gained are sucked away.
Many of the unique enemies like to play this trope straight as well. Notably...
Ijyb actually has this as his gimmick. Ijyb is a named goblin who spawns early on in the game with only moderately better stats than any other goblin, except that he is the sole exception to the "weak enemies can't spawn with high-tier wands" rule - he can spawn with any wand in the game, up to and including a Wand of Disintegration. Hilarity Ensues. Also, death.
Crazy Yiuf, a named gnoll. So dangerous that he's not even allowed to wander the dungeon - he lives in a special pre-designed area behind a noticable wall of trees. Why is he so dangerous? He always spawns with a quarterstaff of chaos, an unpredictable weapon that could heal you, turn you invisible, or (far more likely) electrocute you for enough damage to one-shot most low-level characters.
Sonja, the kobold assassin, probably wouldn't be nearly as deadly if not for her blowgun and curare needles.
Edmund, a remarkably average human fighter with no magical abilities at all, but he always spawns with a highly enchanted flail or dire flail.
To a lesser extent, Agnes the spriggan is made significantly more dangerous by her lajatang, which usually has the vampiric enchantment. This is a lesser example of the trope, however, as she still has her sprigganly speed and decent stats.
Another downplayed example: Ignacio the demon executioner. Sure he has the same super speed and dark magic all executioner demons have, but his heavily enchanted executioner's axe takes his power to a whole new level.
Alternately, the practice of "mutation roulette" which some players like to play. It involves gathering up a bunch of potions of mutation (and possibly some cure mutation in case you get something really bad) and then chugging them all to see what happens.
Taken for Granite: There's a Petrify spell which turns enemies to stone for a short time, and also a spell to turn the player into an animate statue (which makes them resistant to lots of kinds of damage). Statues are also pretty formidable enemies in the game, despite being unable to move. One unique enemy called Roxanne is the sapphire statue of a mage whose experiments with earth magic Went Horribly Wrong. She can't move, but that doesn't stop her from casting spells...
The Unpronounceable: Crawl is notorious for featuring gods and monsters with names that are hard to spell correctly and often equally hard to pronounce: Kikubaaqudgha, Yredelemnul, Neqoxec, Ynoxinul, Ilsuiw... some of these names were reportedly created by allowing a cat to walk on the keyboard.
Thinking Up Portals: The Passage of Golubria spell, which creates two temporary portals linked to each other. While blinking is quicker and more efficient, Passages of Golubria can still be used by characters under stasis.
Took a Level in Badass: Draconians are fairly lousy to begin with; they're quite strong, but their bodies are the wrong shape for wearing armour and their dexterity is terrible. Then they advance to experience level 7, mature into their adult form, and suddenly they have a breath weapon that's only limited by their hunger and the few turns it takes to recharge it.
Also sometimes happens to enemies and items between updates. One notable example is the giant mosquito, which appears in the Swamp area. Prior to 0.8, giant mosquitoes were an annoyance at worst, and even then only in groups. Then the 0.8 update came out and they got an undead upgrade to the vampire mosquito, along with a nifty Life Drain effect applied to all their attacks.
The 0.13 update turned the laughably weak joke armor Lear's Chainmail into Lear's Hauberk, a chain mail that has a ridiculously high enchantment, but also covers your head, hands, and feet; this means you get a pretty impressive defense boost, but you miss out on the benefits of any magical headgear, gloves, or boots that you find.
Transformation Ray: The wand of polymorph can transform a monster into another monster. This is actually quite risky, since it's very possible to create a worse threat than the original. The wand is supposed to transform a monster into a monster of similar threat, so a rat will never turn into a dragon, but even so, what the game considers a 'similar threat' is often quite unpredictable. The best use for this wand is to change a monster that you are poorly equipped to fight - for example, an ice beast when you only have ice spells.
The game determines a "similar threat" based on the number of hit dice the monster has. Because of this, enemies with relatively low strength but high hit dice can become vastly more powerful. Accidentally transforming a hydra into a storm dragon is not unheard of. On the other hand, there are a few very dangerous enemies that have very low hit dice; boggarts are a good example, as they're tricky little bastards who go invisible and spam you with summons. They have about the same hit dice as a normal goblin, so polymorphing one into a relatively harmless kobold or goblin is entirely likely.
Trick Arrow: Until 0.8, this was the style of Arcane Marksmen. (They now use hexes to debilitate foes instead.)
Trickster God: Possibly Xom, who uses his powers to amuse himself... in game, however, this title is given to Nemelex Xobeh, a god who appreciates trickery and gambling and gives his followers magical decks of cards to use.
Turn Undead: The undead are vulnerable to weapons of holy wrath (blessed by The Shining One, god of not-liking-unholy-stuff), and the Dispel Undead spell is essentially Crawl's version of Turn Undead - it is, however, a necromancy spell, meaning that any characters who want to be holy are forbidden to use it.
There's also the very rare artifact, Undeadhunter, which is a great mace with a special "disrupt undead" brand. Said brand is, however, inferior to the holy wrath brand because it will not do extra damage to demonic creatures.
Twin Telepathy: Dowan and Duvessa, the elf twins, have a psychic link, and either one of them knows instantly when the other is killed or banished.
Turns Red: Kill one of the elf twins and the other will go berserk upon seeing you.
Bears go berserk when their health gets low or if you try to scare them.
Undignified Death: If the player loses too much of an attribute (strength, intelligence or dexterity) they will eventually die in an unceremonious fashion:
Too low strength will result in the character collapsing under their own weight.
Too low dexterity will cause the character to die in a Banana Peel accident.
Unexplained Recovery: The Felid race can gain "extra lives" which revive them somewhere (theoretically) safe if they die.
Unidentified Items: The game has identifier scrolls which are rather costly to buy from a shop (80 gp if it's identified), but luckily they are one of the most common scrolls in the game. If the save isn't "jinxed" to lack in the SoI department, it's a rather safe bet that if you have 4 or more of the same scroll in the early stages of the game, it's either Scroll of Identify, Scroll of Noise, or Scroll of Random Uselessness.
Universal Poison: Played straight. There is only one poison status, and a potion of curing will cure it. However, there are a few kinds of poison which add more effects on top of being poisoned. Curare-tipped blowgun needles, for example, will also slow you down and start suffocating you.
There's a spell and a weapon (Poison Arrow and the Staff of Olgreb, respectively) with poisons which can't be fully resisted by living creatures.
Unskilled, but Strong: Some races, such as trolls and demigods, have poor skill aptitudes but compensate by having good stats and other attributes to begin with.
Unstoppable Rage: The Berserk status gives significant bonuses (doubled speed, enhanced damage, temporary extra HP) with a period of fatigue and a risk of passing out afterwards. Put it this way: a Felid is a sentient housecat. A Felid Berserker of Trog (whose powers support your rage) can rip apart a herd of elephants with its claws and teeth.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted: you can pick up and use any equipment dropped by an enemy that you're capable of wielding or wearing, and this is a common way to acquire new stuff (especially since the enemy will likely have obligingly demonstrated the equipment's capabilities while attacking you). However it IS kind of true in reverse; there's some equipment which the player can use, but which the enemies can't... often because it's a difficult feature to code for. For example, enemies don't use the wand of enslavement on the player because there's no artificial intelligence or interface to handle being enslaved.
Videogame Cruelty Punishment: Elyvilon, god of healing, has a neat punishment for overly sadistic players; being a god of pacifism, Elyvilon blunts your weapons.
Video Game Lives: Felids get an extra life every few levels, which is rare in modern games and even rarer in roguelikes. It even says 'Extra life!'.
Villain Forgot to Level Grind: The reason why Dungeon Bypass works (sometimes). If you can't kill Sigmund the first time you meet, come back after you've levelled up (or else found something which will make it easier to kill him).
Voluntary Shapeshifting: There's a school of magic which specializes in this, and vampires can change into bats. Merfolk transform their legs into a mermaid-style tail when in water and back into feet when on land.
Wake-Up Call Boss: The first unique you meet. At this point in the game you probably haven't identified potions of healing or scrolls of teleportation. It's teaching you probably the most important lesson of Dungeon Crawl: pick your fights (especially if it's out of depth) and have an escape plan (scrolls of teleportation should not be a first choice for escape). It also teaches the second lesson: don't be afraid to fight. You’ll probably have to face them eventually, and if you just run through levels not fighting anything you’ll eventually meet something faster and stronger than you.
Walk It Off: Most characters and monsters will gradually heal from almost all wounds. Some creatures can't regenerate - deep dwarves will never gain passive healing and vampires need blood to do so.
Wall Crawl: Some monsters (mostly small reptiles and arachnids) have the ability to cling to walls. This allows them to pass over obstacles like deep water.
Cast the Spider Form spell and you can do this, too.
Weak, but Skilled: In a way, this is a Dungeon Crawler's normal mode of operation - there is rarely a point where you're powerful enough to be 'safe' from attack. It's especially true at the very start of the game, where a couple of hits from even the lowest level monsters can finish off a weak character. Wanderers are probably the best example; they begin with a random skill set and random equipment, and are thus in a worse position than any other class upon entering the dungeon, since they are literally not equipped to fight.
Weapon of Choice: Crawl features plenty of different kinds of weaponry with which to bludgeon, bisect, behead, dismember, and otherwise murderize your foes.
An Axe to Grind: Axes are fairly strong weapons that can cleave through to hit multiple targets. Unfortunately, most of the smaller ones are pretty crappy, so basically go for the biggest axe you can find.
Knife Nut: Short Blades, though many of them are rather longer than a knife. They're still considered shorter than the Long Blades. They're very fast and are great for Back Stabbing things, but have trouble with heavily armored opponents.
Simple Staff: Comes in three flavors: plain quarterstaves, lajatangs (staves with blades on the ends), and magical staves, which generally are used to enhance your spellcasting, but can have additional effects in combat (for example, a staff of fire will burn things you hit it with, a staff of poison will poison things, etc.)
Then, in terms of ranged weaponry, you have:
The Archer: Bows have a good balance between speed and power, and are fairly easy to find off of the centaurs you'll be fighting.
Also includes crosssbows, which are more powerful and more accurate but slower. There aren't any Automatic Crossbows, but a high enough skill level lets you reload one pretty darned fast.
Suffer The Slings: Slings are faster than bows or crossbows, but don't do as much damage. On the plus side, they can still be used effectively with shields.
All of the ranged weaponry may be somewhat less useful against foes in close quarters, so players will often carry a spare melee weapon in case they need it.
Whip It Good: Whips are fairly swift weapons that are good in the early game but pack fairly little punch against tougher foes. However, some whips are demonic or heavenly in origin, and are extremely devastating weapons.
Wizard Needs Food Badly: The need to eat (the "food clock") and the lack of dungeon level regeneration constantly pushes the adventurer forward and down in search of sustenance. Though it’s worse for magic users, as casting most forms of magic makes you hungrier to the point where a ring of sustenance is a prized possession.
Mummies, however, don't need to eat, although they have rather terrible skill aptitudes and can’t use potions (including healing potions).
Vampires don't need to consume food, either - though when completely bloodless they do not heal over time, so you will likely still want to drink some blood every now and then.
Spellcasting hunger can be eliminated in various ways, including the staff of energy, being a mummy, vampire or in lich form, or just having sufficient intelligence and Spellcasting skill (though this last solution scales much more slowly than spell hunger).
The ones who get it worst, however, are berserkers, since their signature ability costs a huge amount of nutrition in exchange for a huge but double-edged boost in combat, and can only be used when well-fed enough that it isn't life-threatening. If they rely too much on the ability and aren't from a "carnivorous" race they're almost guaranteed to starve.
Womb Level: Cigotuvi's Wizlab, which is the lair of a master flesh mage. It's a ginormous organic compound with a layout that resembles intestines; the walls are strangely fleshy and have eyes and mouths on them, the doors are actually sphincters, and transparent membranes replace the transparent rock walls you find everywhere else. It's also filled with the horrible results of Cigotuvi's experiments.
Zerg Rush: A fairly good strategy for a player with good summoning spells. Some spells are used almost exclusively for Zerg Rushing - this is how Summon Small Mammals acquired its Fan Nickname "spammals". Note that enemies with summoning abilities will also use this tactic against you.
Necromancy is a more straightforward version, allowing you (or your enemies) to summon a great quantity of undead creatures to sweep the floor.
Unfortunately, version 0.13 will put a limit on how many creatures a particular spell can have out at one time.
Also happens sometimes with the normal enemies in the dungeon; there are enemies that wouldn't be particularly strong on their own but they tend to travel in packs. A few examples...
Gnolls, which are on their own not much more dangerous than the average hobgoblin, but they always spawn in packs (though they may split up later). What's more, their favorite weapons are spears, which they can use to reach over their friends' shoulders to strike you, allowing even more of them to get at you at once. Gnolls have been the death of many a newbie dungeon crawler for this reason.
Shortly after gnolls, the player will run into orcs which use the same strategy while also adding priests and wizards to their warbands, increasing their "deadly to newbies" factor greatly.
Slime Creatures, who increase their deadliness factor thanks to their ability to combine together. Their power increases exponentially when they do this, making a large, very large, or titanic slime creature far more of a threat than its constituent parts.
Killer bees qualify. Even with poison resistance they can still tear a low-level player to shreds with normal attacks, but without poison resistance even mid-level players will have trouble. This is increased further if there is a queen bee in the ranks, thanks to her ability to induce the berserk rage status in members of the swarm.
The orc's tactic can be used by players who worship Beogh (only possible if you're an orc yourself), giving you the ability to recruit and summon a battalion of orcs. The kicker is that two of the kinds of orcs you can recruit are respectively a summoner and a necromancer, squaring the whole zerg rushing potential.