Undoubtedly one of the hardest achievements in Dungeons of Dredmor is Left for Dread, which is the achievement you earn from beating the game on Going Rogue (hard) with Permadeath on. Luckily, it's not really that hard if you plan properly and keep your wits about you. I just finished this achievement, so I'm going to share my tips and tricks in this guide for Dungeons of Dredmor - Left for Dread.
I'm going to assume you have the expansion packs, although you can probably get by without them. They do add some interesting elements, so if you don't have them they're certainly worth dropping a dollar or two on the next time they go on sale.
Obviously, you need to set the difficulty to Going Rogue and turn Permadeath on. You also have the option of smaller floors, and if you have the Diggle expansion, to turn the extra floors on. The best options here are to leave the dungeon levels larger, and to skip the extra Diggle levels. Smaller dungeon floors have fewer rooms and I ended up with less shop selection and less random loot. The extra five floors in the Diggle expansion give you more room for level ups, but they also give you more room for random bad luck and bosses who might wipe the floor with you. Playing on this level of difficulty is also a slow process, so by the 10th floor you're likely to want the game to be over.
Skills are next, and there are a ton to choose from. There are a million builds out there that purport to get you to the bottom safely, but this is what I went with:
Master of Arms - My build is all about being a tank when you need to be. Master of Arms has a bunch of defensive bonuses plus skills that trigger when you're under attack. The skills in this tree can quickly build up your health regen to the point where you're maxed out and healing 1 HP per turn. This is your top priority to max out early!
Perception - Perception gives you a few important benefits. One, increased sight radius, which is going to be important in some of the strategies I detail later. Two, it gives you several chances to find useful items when you make a kill, which makes the crafting I recommend later easier. Three, Eye Lasers. I don't have to justify shooting lasers from your eyes, right?
Burglary - Burglary is full of super useful skills that don't require mana. This build doesn't have any magic requirements whatsoever, so having these available is really handy. Lucky Pick will unlock all locked doors for you, so you can get some free XP and avoid bashing your way into a zoo you can't close. It also lets you save picks for unlocking chests, which again is good for XP and loot. You get Lockup, which has a pretty good chance to freeze an enemy in place for quite a while. Also also, you get invisibility and teleportation on a cooldown. Also also also you can steal stuff, so bonus.
Unarmed Combat - Unarmed Combat is great for your survivability, since you can dual wield shields and get the added defensive bonuses from having two slots worth of armor where you'd normally have one or none. This tree has a lot of damaging attacks and counters that make you a total badass in close quarters. Investing more points in this tree is not really the first priority, but as you start to descend, all of this extra damage and special moves will come in handy.
Battle Geologist - Battle Geologist combines some decent defensive moves with some decent offensive moves. It's not a standout tree by any stretch of the imagination, but it works well in a high-defense build like this. I don't really recommend taking skills past Seismic Uppercut, though.
Alchemy - Alchemy is a solid skill to take, even if you're not going to invest any points in it. At the most basic level, you can craft both healing potions and invisibility potions. This is going to increase your survivability like crazy.
Smithing - Smithing is probably the weakest skill in this particular build. I took it thinking I'd invest in it to build better armor, but I managed to find much better pieces in the dungeon, so it sat alone and unloved. Taking it does double your yield from the ingot press, which is somewhat useful for other crafting uses.
Skill Runner Ups:
- Archery or Thrown Weapons - You can use these types of weapons OK without any relevant skills, but taking a skill tree for them might be useful at times.
- Magic (of any type) - I have very few magical abilities in this build, which means that magic is going to be underpowered for this character. However, without any mana-using abilities, mana and related skills/items are going to waste. You might consider some spellcasting as an alternative to throwing/shooting for your ranged damage.
- Archaeology - A lot of people take this so that they can turn useless artifacts into free XP. This is probably a solid strategy, but I prefer to sell them for gold. To each his own, I suppose!
- Fungal Arts - I've seen people recommend this, but I think the Perception bonuses give you the good mushrooms pretty frequently anyhow. The stat boosts from mushrooms are quite small and short-lived, as well.
- Shield Bearer - This one seems like a slam dunk, but it is kind of redundant with Master of Arms, Battle Geologist, and Unarmed Combat. How many pushback moves and defensive buffs do you really need? If your answer is "at least one more" then perhaps this is one to consider.
- Vampirism - In return for no stats-based health regen and no health regen from food, you gain additional damage and the ability to drain some life. I really like food, personally, and I feel like it's easy to get stuck in a situation where the only way to heal is to fight, but you're so hurt that fighting is not an option.
- Clockwork Knight - This tree has a lot of interesting buffs, but honestly it needs Tinkering to really live up to its full potential. Most of the damage and recipes you unlock are locked to your tinkering level.
Stats and Gear
What you're looking for in terms of gear is dictated by what stats you're trying for. This build relies on, in order of importance:
- Block - the max that means anything is 100. 100% chance of block doesn't mean you'll take no damage, but it will reduce your damage taken
- Elemental Damage Resist - There are a whole set of these, one for each damage type. You're going to want as much of this as you can get, at least around 3-5 per damage type
- Armor Absorption - This will absorb points of standard damage types (crushing, piercing, slashing) that pierce your block
- Visual Sight Radius - This controls how far you can see in the dungeon, and the power of your Eye Lasers
- Health Regen Bonus - A couple of points in this will let you max out your regen even when your Master of Arms abilities aren't active
- Melee Power - This is your primary damage stat, for both melee attacks and thrown weapons
- Counter - Even better than block, you will get a chance to get a free attack instead of being attacked. It's a bit harder to max out, though
- Magic Reflection - This will cause magic attacks to bounce back and hit their caster, which is really useful
- Magic Resistance - This is like block, but for magic!
Okay, so now we're setting out into the dungeon. The key in most combat engagements is to only fight a single monster at a time. You want to find some place to stand where it's hard to be flanked. Then, find some monsters, anger them, and drag them back to this spot.
The best spots have a number of attributes:
- There's only one square the monsters can get to (from the direction they are approaching) where they can engage you in melee combat. There are many objects that can't be walked through, keep that in mind.
- The monsters can't see you very far away. This keeps casters from firing on you while you're fighting
- There's an escape route - don't get stuck in a corner where you can't run! Have a fallback position if the monsters are starting to swarm
When you are exploring, you always want to know where the closest spot that meets these requirements is. Whenever you open a door, plan on there being 9 or 10 monsters behind it that are going to immediately charge you. Where are you retreating to so that they can't all hit you at once?
This strategy should carry you through most fights. If you're in trouble, remember:
- Seismic Uppercut stuns for a single turn, on average. You can use it to get away from a small group of monsters that are stuck in a chokepoint.
- Lockup will hold a monster in place for quite a while, if it lands.
- Go invisible! Potions of Invisibility, Inky Hoglanterns, and Ninja Vanish will all turn you invisible. Once invisible, you can eat food and drink Healing potions to get back on your feet, or run like heck and hope the monsters stop following.
At range, this build doesn't have a lot of pertinent skills. Seismic Uppercut and Eye Lasers are the primary ones. However, it's a good idea to pack a crossbow and some bolts, as well as keeping any thrown weapons you've found. Even though you lack the skill trees to get the most out of these, they can still damage or kill enemies at range.
Keep any area-of-effect ranged weapons (ie, grenades, bombs, brimstone flasks, explosive bolts, wands with an area effect) for clearing large groups of casters. These guys will tend to hide in a corner but if you charge into melee range they can take you down pretty easily. Area of effect ranged weapons are super effective, though.
The reason why sight radius is critical is that past a certain point, enemies can't see you. Therefore, they can't use their ranged attacks and magic. In fact, I beat Dredmor with this build by trapping him behind a gate almost off the screen from where I was, and throwing Clockwork Sawblades at him. It's easier to do this left-to-right, but you can do it with a monster trapped near the top or bottom of the screen as well.
Other Dungeon Pursuits
Most of the other stuff you want to engage in is primarily concerned with finding artifacts. Thus, you should:
- Do quests for Inconsequentia whenever you can. She gives you an artifact every time.
- Clear zoos. You should be able to deal with a zoo using the battle strategy I gave. Try to get far enough away from the zoo that there isn't a constant stream of monsters. Also, you can't change floors (or jump to your pocket dimension) without losing the "zoo cleared" reward.
- Use the Anvil of Krong, although be sure to use something you don't mind destroying/losing, since there's a 2/7 chance that it will curse your item.
- Open Uberchests - find the levers that open them. These levers will always make the "sound of machinery" and won't move after they've been used. The lever is always on the same floor as the chest.
- Open Chests of Evil - beware, though, as they sometimes contain bosses! Be ready for a really hard fight, and only open one at a time and only when the area is clear of other monsters. "Dwarven Express Post" levers always spawn 3 Chests of Evil.
- Sell stuff, so that you have money to buy artifacts when they're in shops. You can also buy throwing weapons if that suits you.
- Tithe to the Lutefisk God. The ideal thing to do is to stockpile 500 lutefisk and tithe it all at once. That will yield the best artifact possible. Any more than that is wasted, and any less and you might get fewer buffs on the item.
Things you should probably not do are:
- "Mass Pitting" levers - Not worth it, usually drops a whole boatload of tough monsters into wherever you are, leading to your demise.
- Rooms where there's a colored square on the floor. Sometimes these spawn stuff and other times it is a small buff.
- Fountains, although I'm kind of on the fence here because occasionally they give you rings... usually, though, it's a short term buff or curse
From Alchemy, you are mostly focused on:
- Healing Potions, which require Rust and Aqua Vitae. Aqua Vitae can be distilled from many types of alcohol in the Porta-Still. Rust can be generated from rusty items and iron ingots. You can easily make dozens or hundreds of these potions, as you don't really need iron or alcohol for anything in this build, and Perception is going to give you tons of it.
- Invisibility Potions, which require Coal and Aqua Vitae. Coal you'll have to find, and Vitae we've already covered.
From Smithing, we're honestly only concerned with making ingots from raw ores. It's not terribly exciting, I'm afraid. Taking Smithing gives you a single level of the Smithing skill, which doubles the yield from converting ores to ingots.
Even though we didn't take Tinkering, we can still use the skill at level 0, or level 1 if you can find a pair of Tinkering Goggles. With excess materials you find via Perception, you can craft cheap bolts to harass distant enemies and so forth. Plastic, Copper, Iron, and Steel Ingots all make stacks of bolts.
You can grind cheeses and mix them with Diggle Eggs in the ingot press to make omelettes. You'll probably have a ton of cheese and a ton of eggs in the first few levels, and this is an excellent way to take random stacks of food in your inventory and consolidate them into a single stack of high-value food. Similarly, Sliced Bread and Cheese (specifically Cheese, not just any cheese food) can make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Save this stuff when you can and you'll never be low on food.
The Wizardland expansion added Encrusts to the game. The one I used was the Medicoating, which boosts several elemental resists. You can access it at Alchemy level 2, and it's not a secret recipe you have to discover via reading books.
- Inky Hoglanterns cast invisibility on you, albeit for a shorter duration than the potion.
- Cheeses and Steaks can be grated into items which make good Lutefisk cube fodder
- Liberally abuse your Pocket Dimension - keep items for sale here, excess crafting materials, throwing weapons, bolts, etc
- Skip any Wizardland codes or blue portals you may come across. These often lead to very high level dungeons that are full of overleveled enemies, and you can't even retreat to your pocket dimension if you're in trouble.