During character creation a total of 230 attribute points can be distributed over the four primary attributes of Strength, Intelligence, Constitution and Dexterity. A minimum of 20 points must be allocated to each attribute, with a maximum of 72. For more about attributes, see character attributes.
There are significant bonuses and penalties to the derived attributes for raising or lowering the primary attributes to near their maximum respectively minimum. Attributes anywhere near average make no difference until very high levels. Strength is somewhat of an exception, as each attribute point spent, directly affects the character's carrying capacity and thus indirectly movement speed.
A character that is merely above average in all attributes will fare no better than a character that is below average in all attributes. An advised strategy is to maximize two and balance the other two. Completely minimizing an attribute is not advised, as this will likely result in a severe penalty to a derived attribute without any counterbalancing gain elsewhere.
A decent build for a melee-oriented character would be:
- Strength: 57 (sufficient to wear heavy armor, increase further with one or two enchanted items)
- Intelligence: 29 (lowering this further would cause a penalty to MP)
- Constitution: 72 (for the maximum number of HP)
- Dexterity: 72 (for a bonus to Armor Value, hitting enemies sufficiently often, and to make sure we can disarm traps despite our low Intelligence)
A magic-oriented character would need an Intelligence of 70 for the maximum number of Mana Points:
- Strength: 54 (so we can move quickly while carrying stuff, sufficient to wear most armor)
- Intelligence: 70 (for the maximum number of MP)
- Constitution: 72 (for the maximum number of HP)
- Dexterity: 32 (to avoid a penalty to AV)
- As the player is initially very weak in hand-to-hand combat, the first spell learned should be Magic Arrow.
- If Heal Minor Wounds is not the second spell, the player is very likely to die in the mine before running out of mana.
- Detect Objects: ensures that no treasure-laden secret areas have been missed.
- Phase Door: delays hand-to-hand combat, but leaves the monster within spell range. Often better than the unpredictable Teleport.
- Detect Monsters: Allows a player to prepare for what is ahead, and often attack from a greater distance.
- Detect Traps: Greatly reduces the danger of stumbling into a trap, and provides an opportunity to disarm some one-time traps.
- Healing: Important to be able to heal quickly and completely. Other spells may be counterproductive during battle because they give monsters time to attack.
- Clairvoyance: Reveals secret areas that might otherwise go unnoticed. Also guaranteed to find traps.
- Cold Bolt, Firebolt, Lightning Bolt: Magic Arrow quickly becomes inadequate.
- Cold Ball, Fireball, Ball Lightning: Efficient crowd control.
- Neutralize Poison: Once Green Dragons appear, this spell nearly eliminates their threat, and the mana cost becomes very reasonable.
- Identify: Only way to discover a cursed item without wearing it or paying the sage.
- Rune of Return: Saves time at later levels, when frequent trips to town may be necessary. Can sometimes be used to escape a battle.
- Slow Monster: Delays hand-to-hand combat.
- Transmogrify Monster: Avoids attribute-draining undead monsters.
- Teleport: Useful for escaping fast monsters in nearly-clear levels.
- The value of Shield is subject to disagreement.
- Light is seen by some as nearly useless, given that Clairvoyance and Detect Monsters are available later, plus the fact that it enables other monsters to see you. However, others see it as a decent alternative at lower levels.
- Heal Medium Wounds, Heal Major Wounds: may be obsoleted by the next stronger spell by the time they are needed.
- Remove Curse: Can be rendered unnecessary by Identify and saves.
- Levitation: Boots of Levitation and Detect Traps make this of little importance.
- Sleep Monster: Escapes are usually possible with other spells, such as Slow Monster and Teleport.
- Resist Cold, Resist Fire, Resist Lightning: Only decrease damage by half, so generally only worthwhile against Surtur.
Growing a character
Money should be kept on hand to purchase spellbooks and Draughts of Gain Level. (More about these may be learned in items and the inventory system). Each new level requires more than twice as much experience as the previous (see experience and levels), so levels become very sparse beyond about 12. Using these items is the only way to learn all 30 spells in a reasonable amount of time. Attribute-increasing potions should also be purchased at every opportunity, as they are the only way to permanently gain an attribute. Note that they may push an attribute to 100 and make enchanted items redundant.
Consider buying and storing Draughts of Gain Level until you manually get your experience to Level 11 or 12 (or are tired of waiting). Otherwise you are basically making it harder for you to raise your level via experience. These Draughts are best used when you no longer intend to use experience to gain levels. Other Draughts of Gain Strength/Intelligence/Constitution/Dexterity are also available. Buy them if you have enough money (hopefully you'll always have at least 21,000 CP available for purchasing at least one).
Items casting Clone Monster should be used up on bosses, if the player is sufficiently over-leveled to handle the clones. This multiplies their tremendous value in experience and loot (although it does not clone unique items), and ball spells provide an economy of scale in killing them.
Trap doors can be useful in getting to the bottom of the mine quickly as well as for bypassing levels on the way down.
It is not necessary to defeat the intermediate bosses before you defeat Surtur. Their speeches remain the same e.g. 'Surtur will avenge my death!', but things still work fine.
You can put your weapon in a pack or chest, and put a heavy bulky item (like armor) into the weapon slot. This is yet another way to carry extra stuff back to town to sell. Even if you come across enemies, a 'non-weapon' weapon still seems to work okay, and if you are Detecting Monsters, you can avoid them to begin with.
Sneak thieves appear to target items in your belt and purse but not your pack. Put valuable but not immediately needed items in your pack(s).
It is possible to nest packs and chests. This is useful if you want to group some of your items together for easier inventory management. Medium packs are the best used for the inside packs because they have a small base bulk value.
If you want to maximize the amount of items you carry without running into weight limits (good for clearing out everything from the dungeons, rusty, cursed, and all), consider this: You can carry many Packs of Holding by nesting them inside a Large Chest. One Large Chest can hold 3 Small Packs of Holding or 2 Medium Packs of Holding, in addition to a few other small items. You can carry 1 Large Chest in each of your Pack, Belt, Free Hand, or Weapon slots. Each Large Chest is 250,000 bulk, so you can only carry 3 Large Chests before you'll reach your 1,000,000 bulk limit. 3 Large Chests * 3 Small Packs of Holding = 9 Small Packs of Holding. 9 Small Packs of Holding * 150,000 bulk capacity each + 3 * 25,000 bulk spare in Large Chests + 250,000 bulk capacity for a Large Pack of Holding = 1,675,000 total bulk capacity from the Packs of Holding and spare space in the Large Chests. Total weight for this configuration = 3 * 25000 weight in Large Chests + 9 * 1000 weight in Small Packs of Holding + 4000 weight in Large Pack of Holding = 87000 weight (not including the weight of other items you put in the chests or armor you are wearing or coins you are carrying).
Keep an eye on your second Speed attribute which is affected by how much weight you are carrying. This number only affects how fast you move, but can give you a significant tactical advantage during combat. This will allow you to take on monsters you normally might avoid since you will be able to break away effectively without committing yourself. If you are encumbered with treasure, consider dropping your pack before (or during) combat.