Character Creation[]

Early-game survival typically starts at the character creation screen. The difficulty can vary wildly depending on the choices made here.

Star sign Choice[]

The three best Star signs are Raven, Candle, and Tree. None of the other star signs offer comparable advantages, regardless of character type.

Raven significantly increases speed. This allows the PC to run away from most monsters and act more often in general.

Candle increases HP regeneration, giving a decent amount of HP recovery even for characters that don't start with the Healing skill. An additional starting talent is also very helpful.

Tree increases PV by 1, Toughness by 2, and Willpower by 5. With enough PV, the PC can avoid taking damage from most early-game monsters. Toughness is the most important attribute for early-game survival, and the bonus Willpower is especially useful with point buy, since not as many points will need to be allocated to get a reasonable Willpower score.

Class and Race[]

Some classes are much easier to play or more powerful than others. To some extent, the same can be said for the races.

In terms power and utility full casters (Wizard, Necromancer, Druid, and Priest) are the best, with Wizards being the most straightforward to play. Elementalists have comparable strength in the early-game, but are worse later on. Archers are on a similar power level to casters, but lack the eventual utility that spells provide.

Although not as powerful, other classes that tend to start with reasonable armor such as Fighter and Paladin have a fairly easy time in the early-game.

New players should probably avoid the Bard, Chaos Knight, Farmer, Merchant, Mindcrafter, and Thief classes.

Tougher races like Drakeling, Dwarf, Gnome, Human, Orc, Ratling, and Troll tend to be easier to play, although this depends on the class chosen. Orcs and trolls are somewhat less suited to casting classes, and certain race/class combinations have unusually good starting equipment. High Elf, Gray Elf, and Dark Elf players often start with good elven chain mail or spider shell armor, although they tend towards lower Strength and Toughness for early-game survival.

New players should probably avoid the Mist elf race.

Point Buy[]

The deluxe versions allow choosing initial attributes. Dumping the nearly-useless Appearance and Charisma attributes, and avoiding over-investment in somewhat less important attributes like Willpower, Perception, and Learning (for non-casters), allows for the creation of more survivable characters.


There are two main talent lines that are very helpful for early survival. The PV line (Hardy, Tough Skin, Iron Skin, Steel Skin, and Mithril Skin [Dwarves only]), which reduces damage taken, and the speed line (Quick, Very Quick, Greased Lightning) which makes it easier to walk away from dangerous situations. As for one-off talents, Healthy makes natural regeneration much better, and Long Stride is helpful for running away from monsters.

Low Toughness races might want to consider the Tough talent, and mist elves get additional value from the higher end HP talents (Very Hardy, Extremely Hardy), though they may have some difficulty qualifying for them.

Choosing all three talents of the Heir line (Charming, Boon to the Family, Heir) makes some classes much more survivable to start. Monks, Healers, and Beastfighters, for example, normally gain many points of PV and/or DV over their typically weak starting armor. Some difficult classes, such as Bard and Thief, become even harder without their excellent Heir gifts.

Picking talents which either don't offer an immediate benefit (Treasure Hunter) or have cumbersome requirements (Melee Weapon Master) make surviving the early-game more difficult, although they may have some long term benefits. Players seeking Treasure Hunter can pick Alert, which is only accessible at the start, and get the other two talents in the line later. This doesn't compromise early-game survival as much as immediately picking all three.

General Strategies[]

Visiting the Goblin Camp[]

The Goblin Camp can be found as a forest wilderness encounter when the PC is level 1 or 2. It has various useful items including rocks, weapons, shields, and gold. Although some of the items require dealing with somewhat dangerous monsters, the rocks are free and having a ranged attack can be very useful.

The Healing Skill[]

PCs who do not start with the Healing skill should pursue the Save Yrrigs/Kill Jharod quest line. Of these, Kill Jharod is probably safer, although it does come with some downsides.


The player can adjust how aggressively the PC fights, which modifies to-hit, damage, and DV. There are two special tactics interactions that are of particular interest in the early-game: True berserk and the coward energy bonus. If the PC fights in berserk tactics with a weapon and no armor, they get a large to-hit and damage bonus. This is most useful in the absence of good armor, usually killing monsters before they have a chance to do any damage. If the PC is below 33% max HP and using coward tactics, the energy cost of movement is decreased, potentially allowing the PC to run away from faster monsters.

Becoming Armored[]

PV is extremely important in surviving the early game. Players should usually take any opportunity to raise their PV. Equipping potentially cursed items is reasonable, so long as the average item of that type will increase PV. DV is less important in the early game, so it is generally worthwhile to sacrifice DV for increased PV.

Found Weapons and Shields[]

PCs generally start with very middling weapons and no shield. Any found melee weapon could be useful early-game with a good prefix or suffix; even weaker combat modifiers like nasty and barbed could make a generic weapon optimal early on, and others like poisonous, of penetration, and of slaughtering can almost guarantee lasting utility. However, equipping wepaons to check for modifiers can leave you stuck with a cursed generic weapon, or even one with particularly bad stats or modifiers like fragile, of weakness, or of corruption. This is bad before the Dwarftown altar and potions of water ease uncursing and appraising, though prayer is a viable emergency measure. Hoarding weapons and using shops (commonly in Lawenilothehl, Dwarftown, or the riskier High Mountain Village) to see which weapons have the highest sell prices–and likely utility–can work around this. Holding multiple weapons also helps burden you and train your Strength, but remember that being too burdened lowers your speed. Collecting magic staves is also advisable, but equip-identifying them brings similar risk.

A shield is a great good aid, even though they mostly give DV and PV is more valuable to start, since the downsides of two-weapon combat make wielding one fairly cost-free for most PCs. Before appraising and uncursing becomes easier, you will likely find small shields, wooden shields, and medium shields. Iron Small shields are very weak, and shields don't have modifiers, so they can be safely ignored. Small shields of other materials, particularly crystal, could be useful when found. Carrying two shields lets you wield both to flee.

Monsters to Avoid[]

The main threats to weak PCs early on are poison, sickness, paralysis, and instant death. Poisonous monsters such as pit vipers, assassins, and spiders are best dealt with from a distance (or fled from) until poison resistance can be obtained by eating a spider corpse. Otherwise, even a single hit from one of these monsters could spell an agonizing death for the PC. Keep in mind that First Aid can be used to regain HP lost to poison.

Sickness is similarly nasty due to the stat penalties that it causes, as well as the inability to efficiently regenerate hit points (or regenerate at all above 50%), and can cause instant death to unlucky PCs. Its duration is also quite substantial. The threat of sickness in the early game can be minimized with high PV, since most of the creatures that cause early sickness are actually fairly weak. Eating kobold corpses sickens, so that is not a good idea. Waiting in the wilderness is the safest way to recover from sickness, provided that the PC doesn't have the means to remove it immediately.

For both poison and sickness, having Jharod nearby can save the PC's life.

The early-game monsters that have paralysis melee are ghuls, mimics, floating eyes, gelatinous cubes, and carrion crawlers. Floating eyes and gelatinous cubes can cause paralysis if attacked in melee as well. Any monster that paralyzes is best dealt with using ranged attacks until sufficient PV is attained. If it is necessary to fight one of these in melee, Defensive, Very Defensive, or Coward tactics are recommended.

Finally, instant death in the early game typically results from either facing a monster that is much too strong for the PC or a vortex. The first of these can be easily avoided simply by not entering areas that are overly dangerous until the PC is sufficiently leveled, and by avoiding mixed vaults and tension rooms. Early vortexes are unlikely to be found until deep in the Village Dungeon or Druid Dungeon, but can be seen in most of the Unremarkable Dungeon. Players without high HP or elemental resistances may wish to flee the level if they get a "You hear a distant wind" message.


Newer players often have difficulty finding enough food to survive early-on. Possible ways of mitigating this problem are:

  • Don't play a Troll (as they have extra food consumption)
  • Ensure you spend as little time as possible Burdened, Strained, or worse
  • Play a Monk — they have lowered food consumption (though they have particular difficulties surviving against monsters in the early game)
  • If available, train the Food preservation skill
  • Take advantage of Munxip's food shop in Terinyo
  • Visit the Arena and buy cooked lizards


Altars are an important dungeon feature that can show up in all of the starting dungeons. Dropping items on an aligned altar reveals their B/U/C status, making equipping them safer. Sacrificing on an aligned altar increases piety with the PC's god, allowing them to get more prayers. Each sacrificed monster gives a decent amount of piety. At "very pleased" piety, potions of water dropped on an aligned altar will be turned into holy water, which can be used to improve various items and remove cursed items. At extremely high piety levels, the PC may be able to get an Artifact from Crowning or Precrowning.

Interacting with unaligned altars is fairly safe in the early-game, but gets more dangerous and complicated once the PC has built up piety with one of the gods. Sacrificing one gold piece at a time on an unaligned altar draws the PC's alignment towards that of the altar.


Herbs are a dungeon feature that can show up in the Puppy Cave and the Unremarkable Dungeon. A 2x2 patch of herbs is stable and will grow in strength over time, allowing the PC to harvest as many herbs as they want, given enough time. Morgia roots are generally the most helpful for early-game as they train Toughness and are good even when cursed.

Places to Avoid[]

Small Cave and Unremarkable Dungeon[]

The Small Cave and Unremarkable Dungeon are dangerous areas for new players to visit. The former has a fairly high monster generation rate, and the monsters will level rapidly as the PC levels. While it is advisable for players to visit the SMC at level 1 in order to spawn a set of weak monsters, searching for a distant stairs or the waterproof blanket are risky propositions for vulnerable PCs. The Unremarkable Dungeon has a higher danger level than most of the other dungeons surrounding Terinyo, making it more likely that the PC will encounter something they can't deal with.

The Puppy Cave[]

There are several notable dangers to entering the Puppy Cave early in the game. The second level features an ant nest, which can prove troublesome to PCs who have limited damage prospects or PV, since soldier ants can be quite formidable en masse. The fifth level has a dangerous cavernous level, with all the associated dangers of open spaces and high monster generation rate. Finally, the sixth level features a lesser vault, which is especially dangerous if it is a mixed vault, since it could contain leveled vortexes or other dangerous creatures such as mimics and werewolf lords.


Lawenilothehl is often worthwhile to visit somewhat early in the game to acquire the Pick pockets skill, start the Kill Jharod quest, and visit the Black Market in hopes of finding (or at least identifying) a bit of gear; however, the town is home to Outlaw leaders and Assassins that can easily kill most level 1 PCs. Players should consider fleeing the town if they encounter one of these unprepared.