These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternate Character Interpretation: The three Gods Of Good get a bit of this, due primarily to the Everything Trying to Kill You nature of the game. A game played as a follower of one of the good gods (even Elyvilon, the supposedly pacifist god of healing) will see the player committing wholesale slaughter just as they would as a follower of a neutral or even evil god. This has led some players to question whether the good gods are really so good after all.
The Lair, depending on your build. While it contains some powerful threats of its own, a character that hasn't been too fond of Dungeon Bypass typically has no problem clearing the branch as soon as they find it. The Lair's sub-branches are far from being easy, though.
The dungeon levels between The Lair and The Vaults typically don't progress in difficulty as fast as the character gains power, making them fairly easy to clear. Further emphasized as many players clear The Lair and Orcish Mines before going that deep.
The Ecumenical Temple, an early area which contains nothing but a bunch of altars, so your character can choose a god. No enemies will ever spawn here (though some enemies can follow you in) which is why many players use the temple for resting and for keeping their stash. (Similarly some players keep a stash in The Lair, since none of the creatures that spawn there can use items.)
Worst of all was The Hive, a Breather Level deemed so bad that it was removed entirely from later versions of the game. It consisted entirely of killer bees and killer bee larvae, which are deadly early in the game but can be dealt with trivially if you put it off for later (at least until you found some way of reliably resisting poison), and contained an unbalancingly-high quantity of not just free permafood that all characters could eat but also the best food item in the game (which doubles as a potion of restore abilities).
Orc priests. They are the extremely painful introduction to smiting. Smiting is instant, undodgeable, unblockable, and usually shaves off 10-15 health with every cast. They can show up as early as the second level of the dungeon, where having 50 HP is a huge luxury. Also, they tend to come with packs of simple orcs and orc wizards, which are themselves not to be underestimated.
Hydras. Decent speed especially in water, good HP and it's the most damaging monster in the midgame. It becomes so bad that if you can't kill them reliably, you've better avoid the deeper Lair and Swamp entirely before you can.
Centaurs. Combine their powerful bows with their high speed and you have an enemy that deals high damage from a distance and is almost impossible to escape from. You can hide behind a corner to lure them into melee, but get caught in the open (without the Repel Missiles spell) and you're toast.
Unseen horrors. They're fast enough to move in, hit you, and back away all in a single turn, and when they hit they can hit hard. Oh yeah, and they're invisible. Their invisibility is particularly nasty for lightly armored characters who tend to focus on evasion, as the evasion stat is ignored by invisible foes. And their random movement makes them the only invisible enemy in the game where you can't usually guess what tile they're standing on even right after they hit you.
Spiny frogs are the bane of many casters, with poison resistance to nullify Mephitic Cloud, surprisingly potent melee attacks, and fast movement speed.
Any sort of higher demon, but there are a few specifics:
Executioners are tier 1 demons (marked in the ASCII version of the game by the number "1") with super speed, which they like to boost even further with the haste spell. Once that's done they'll zip into melee combat and proceed to hit you like a freight train, often multiple times in a single turn.
Brimstone Fiends, Ice Fiends, and Shadow Fiends are all tier 1 demons most reviled for knowing (and loving to abuse) the spell Torment, which cuts your current HP in half with every use and is unresistable for most characters. While all monsters who know Torment are bad, Fiends up the ante by adding other nasty attack spells plus summoning hordes of minions. Shadow Fiends are perhaps the worst since they have the spell Dispel Undead, which deals massive damage to undead characters, who incidentally are the only ones able to reliably resist Torment.
The tier 3 demon Neqoxec also qualifies. Though somewhat weak, neqoxecs know (and love to spam) the spell Polymorph Other which, when used against the player always gives negative mutations. It's possible to resist this effect with certain equipment, but the neqoxec's status as a mid-level summon means players may end up facing them before they're ready.
Many Enemy Summoner foes are considered demonic spiders as well, including deep elf summoners and orc sorcerers, both of which rarely do battle without first calling in a dozen or so various demons. Vampires fit in this category as well (until version 0.12 when this ability will be removed) thanks to their tendency to flood the room with rats and bats the second they spot you.
Before they got nerfed, electric eels were this. They would appear in large schools in every body of water, fire painful bolts of lightning at you from across the room, and then dive underwater as soon as you got close. Fortunately they got a nerf at some point (the Crawl Wiki doesn't have the version number); they still fire bolts of lightning, but those bolts are much less damaging, the eels themselves are much less common, and they now only dive underwater if at critical health.
Jellies. They've got decent HP and hit fairly hard for early game threats, but what really puts them into Demonic Spider territory is their acid. They will corrode your armor every time they hit you, weakening your defenses permanently, and they'll corrode away the enchantment levels on your weapons every time you hit them. If you switch to bare fists they'll corrode away your fists, damaging you almost as much as you're damaging them. Switch to ranged weapons and they absorb your ammunition, often gaining more health back from feeding than you can deal. You can't even run behind a door to escape because they'll just devour that too! The only safe way to deal with them is spells, since they can't eat magic. Worse, unlike many others on this list, jellies don't get any less annoying in the late game thanks to their tendency to devour and destroy items laying on the ground. Fortunately they can't devour artefacts anymore, but there are still lots of other magic items that you might want which they can take from you.
"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 them "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.
Game Breaker: The various level 9 spells. While these might seem impractical, if you can find a way to eliminate the hunger cost (staff of energy, Necromutation) and offset the hefty MP cost (Vehumet, channeling, Sublimation of Blood), you can sling them around like they're going out of style:
Fire Storm hits like a freight train, punching through even complete fire immunity, has a humongous area of effect, and leaves behind fire vortices to distract enemies.
Glaciate has a similarly huge area of effect, does even more irresistible damage than Fire Storm, and slows anything that survives it.
Shatter hits everything in your line of sight for immense, non-elemental damage (although it doesn't work against flying or insubstantial monsters) and can destroy walls as well.
Tornado doesn't hit quite as hard as the previous spells, but it swirls everything that gets caught in its area of effect around and has a long duration.
Dragon's Call summons dragons. Lots of them.
Nemelex Xobeh also qualifies if you know what you are doing. The legendary versions of their decks, along with high piety, a decent evocation skill, and liberal use of their gifted abilities essentially turn any PC (even purely melee focused characters) into an epic level mage. Capable of summoning dozens of creatures, in combat, with a zero chance of being hostile for a paltry 2 mana or blasting several of the strongest spells in the game better than an equal level wizard could. Plus powers possessed no where else in the game, such as the ability to create food out of nothing. On top of all this old Nemelex has a grand total of one real rule (using combat oriented cards when there's no one hostile around), meaning the only real way to get excommunicated is to stand around for tens of thousands of turns with out sacrificing anything to them or using cards in combat. Something a player is never going to do.
Qazlal Stormbringer also applies. At high piety, he surrounds you with a swirling elemental storm that hits anything that walks into it for huge damage. It also grants you a boost to your SH stat and permanent Repel Missiles (one of the most useful buffs in the game). At high Invocations, their abilities also provide a powerful substitute for elemental magic. Upheaval basically becomes a cheaper, random element Fire Storm, and can be spammed to destroy most anything within your line of sight. Disaster Area, while not as spammable as Upheaval, is even more devastating, dropping well over a dozen random Upheavals throughout your line of sight. The only downside is that the storm generates a tremendous amount of noise, although since you don't have to worry so much about the effects of heavy armor, feel free to kit yourself out in the heaviest stuff you can find.
True of Crawl's bats. They barely even hurt you, but can hit multiple times in a turn, and have so much evasion they're hard to kill. Most annoying is that they're so fast they can move toward you, hit you, and move out of reach in one turn, meaning that you can't melee them unless you make some odd moves. Potentially deadly in the early game if you're unlucky, mildly irritating afterwards. Humourously, the game will sometimes generate vaults full of various unique types of bats, which is referred to in the source code as a "goddamned_bats" vault.
Later on you'll also run into Unseen Horrors, which are just like bats except they actually have decent attack and HP. Oh yeah, and they're invisible. (See Demonic Spiders, above.)
Ugly things and slime creatures later on in the Dungeon. Both always appear in packs, absorb a good chunk of damage before dying and flee when wounded. Ugly things also are slightly faster than most PCs and have randomly branded attacks (including all three brands that are capable of damage equipment and one that stops you from healing for a while) and resistances which randomly shift while in a group. Slime creatures, meanwhile have an incredibly annoying habit of fleeing and coming back within seconds, having completely regenerated in the process, and will merge into much more powerful brutes if you try to fight them one at a time in a corridor.
Crimson Imps (or just "Imps" in earlier versions) have three really nasty abilities: high evasion which makes them difficult to hit, the tendency to blink (short range teleport) a lot, and lightning-fast regeneration. Add to that they resist damage just like other demons while appearing at a point in the game before the player is likely to have strong enough weapons to overcome said resistance. Fortunately they deal very little damage, meaning they're generally a minor annoyance to distract you from more dangerous enemies. Unfortunately, they can pick up and use weapons on the ground just like you can. If they pick up something dangerous enough (like a good enchanted sword or a wand, or the bow left behind by a centaur) they can become Demonic Spiders with ease.
Another common killer of early characters is the not-so-humble adder. They're much faster than you, poisonous, have more health than most monsters during the first few levels and can appear on the second level of the dungeon. By that point you're unlikely to have a potion of curing identified, or any items that can help you escape, and usually have so little health that you'll be forced to start trying out random potions to survive if bitten more than once.
Memetic Badass: From the "Foolproof Plan for Winning Crawl" flowchart:
"Did you find something to kill? -> Is it Sigmund? -> You poor bastard."
Nightmare Fuel: If you have a good imagination, there could be plenty. Using Animate skeleton on a fresh corpse is one such case ("Before your eyes, flesh is ripped from the corpse!"). Another one is when you make an enemy bleed with your sharp claws and they proceed to run around the dungeon painting it red.
Half in-universe example, ghosts can say some pretty darn creepy things ("They lied to you. The dungeon just goes down forever and ever....") that really hammer home how spiteful these phantoms are.
Scrappy Weapon: Scythes. In spite of how lethal Sigmund is with his, they have dreadful damage for a two-handed weapon, terribly slow attack speed, and are completely outclassed by nearly every other weapon in the Polearm class.
That One Boss: Crawl has enough for all stages of gameplay. Lucky characters may even live to encounter them all!
Sigmund is a human wizard-warrior notorious for killing off a lot of early level characters; he wields a scythe, which at this point in the game is a powerful weapon, can become invisible, casts confuse on the player and throws fire. Most players will want to avoid or escape him if they meet him, unless they have an edge, like a wand or potion. Or Mephitic Cloud.
Grinder is another early game That One Boss. He's a shadow imp who can paralyze the player and cast a nasty pain attack. And he's fast, and he flies. Grinder typically appears just a bit later than Sigmund, and a popular joke among fans is that the two have a rivalry going on to see who can claim the lives of more newbies.
Coming after Grinder is Gastronok, a giant slug who became a mage after eating a wizard. Unlike most mage characters, Gastronok is surprisingly tough having more HP than even equal-level melee threats like orc knights. He also has the Airstike spell which deals a ton of damage and hits with 100% accuracy, plus it's smite-targeted, meaning it can hit you even if he doesn't have a clear line of fire to you. Add to that his ability to summon swarms of rats on you. His one disadvantage is an inherently slow movement speed thanks to being a giant slug, but he can even overcome that by casting slow spells on the player and haste on himself.
Nessos the centaur. Even normal centaurs are fairly bad because of their speed and ranged attack, but Nessos is even worse thanks to his unique ability. Ordinarily if an arrow has an enchantment it overrides that of the bow that fires it. Nessos ignores this rule, gaining the ability to fire flaming toxic arrows. Couple that with his liberal use of the spell Blink (which makes luring him into melee all but impossible) and he's easily one of the most dangerous mid-game uniques.
Mennas the Religious Bruiser is a late-game boss, and it will KILL your spellcaster (or even hybrid build) very dead if you don't escape in time. The worst part about him is his ability to silence his surroundings, making spellcasting impossible, and preventing the most common means of teleporting away (by reading Teleportation scrolls). He's also very fast and very strong in melee.
Maurice. A thief that'll haste himself, turn invisible, then sneak up to you and yoink your stuff. Losing your stuff is bad enough (though you will get it back if you can kill him) but depending on what he manages to get from you he can become extremely powerful. If he grabs a potion of healing he can be back to full health in a second. If he grabs a powerful enough wand then bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.
Mara is another late-game threat, appearing around the same time as Mennas. Not only does he have a dangerous spell list and the tendency to spawn with a decent weapon, he can conjure up illusions of himself, which are just as nasty, blink and teleport around, and create an illusion of the player, which is just as dangerous as the player is. Are you powerful enough to casually sling Fire Storms around? Your illusory self will be too!
The Royal Jelly, boss of the Slime Pits and guardian of the Slimy Rune Of Zot. It's got an impressive amount of HP and hits like a mack truck, plus it has the same ability to corrode your equipment as a regular jelly (though if you're in the Slime Pits you should already have a way of protecting against that). Worst of all, it has a unique defense mechanism whereby it spawns additional high-tier slime monsters like Death Oozes and Azure Jellies every time it gets hit, allowing it to easily swarm any enemy player. Also, it is faster than a CENTAUR ! To be fair, it should be expected for this monster to be so powerful considering its existence is literally the only thing keeping the Slime God Jiyva alive.
That One Level: While all of Crawl could qualify for some people, there are specific examples:
Hell, which also qualifies as Bonus Level Of Hell, as befits its name. To even enter you need to kill the archdemon Geryon, who almost qualifies as a That One Boss thanks to his Enemy Summoner nature. Once he's down you have your pick of four equally lethal regions: the iron city of Dis, the fiery Gehenna, the undead-filled Tartarus, and the icy Cocytus. Each region is filled with hordes of demons, including large numbers of tier 1 and tier 2 demons, and is guarded by a powerful unique archdemon down at the very bottom. While that's bad enough, what really qualifies Hell for That One Level status is the Mystical Force, a vaguely explained... well, mystical force that regularly (every twenty turns or so) does some random bad thing to you. If you're lucky it'll only decide to confuse you (probably while you're standing right next to lava and/or in combat). If you're unlucky it'll decide to blast you with massive unresistable damage, stat drain you to death, or summon a tier 1 demon right next to you while you're trying to rest.
Followers of the god of order, Zin, will be granted (not infallible) protection against Hell's mystical force which makes them among the most suited to taking on this level, but even they have to be very careful of the demons and other monsters here.
The last levels of several branches. Elf:3 (Hint: Kill the high level casters first). Vaults:5 (also known as Crawl: Zerg Rush Edition). Even the Swamp can be this.
The Tomb isn't quite as bad as Hell, but it's still considered to be by far one of the most hazardous of the game's many side areas. It's an undead-themed branch with an Egyptian flavor to it, meaning lots of traps and lots of mummies, most of which will spend their time either smiting you, spamming Torment, or summoning demons. What makes it so deadly is the mummy death curse; whenever you kill a mummy, you get hit with some sort of magical backlash. For basic mummies, this just curses a random item in your inventory, but the more powerful ones can torment you, shave off chunks of your health with Pain spells, rot your flesh, drain your stats, or summon shadows or demons. In short, mummies can hurt you no matter what you do, and since there's lots of them, this adds up very quickly. If you try to brute-force the Tomb, you will die.
The endgame, after collecting the Orb of Zot and you're ascending back toward the surface. You'd expect an easy return since you've already cleared all the floors, right? Wrong! First, while holding the Orb of Zot your stealth is decreased drastically which can be very damaging for certain characters. Add to that, teleportation takes a lot longer to take effect, and the duration of magical contamination is greatly extended. What's more, the game will spawn all new enemies to attack you, drawn from the Hell and Pandemonium lists. This includes Pandemonium Lords, which are the strongest non-unique enemies in the game and ordinarily only appear at a rate of one or less per floor in the demon plane of Pandemonium, but during the ascent you can fight multiples per floor, or even 2 or more at once.
In keeping with the apparently masochistic nature of Crawl players, one somewhat popular Self-Imposed Challenge involves waiting until the ascent to clear the Tomb, thereby having to deal with all of the Tomb's normal hazards, as well as the massively powerful demons summoned by the Orb. (The challenge would involve clearing the four regions of Hell, but once the Orb is picked up all of the branches of Hell are sealed.)