Halfling Warper - Character Guide

by Ultraviolent4

Difficulty: Simple
Full HaWr Playlist

Posted: April 29, 2018
Crawl Version: 0.21 + Trunk

Why play Halfling Warper?

Do you have an undying love for hunting slings? Or an overwhelming hatred of being mutated? Maybe you have unnaturally hairy feet and feel comfort in playing a character you can identify with? Or perhaps you just want to roleplay with one of the last-remaining, Tolkien-inspired elements of Crawl before the devs purge them all forever?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, this might be the perfect combination for you!

Halflings should be played much more often than they are. They make for sturdy and very survivable little characters. As a small species, Halfling gets an innate bonus to evasion. They have some pretty solid defensive skill aptitudes with +1 Shields, +1 Dodging, +1 Armour and +2 Stealth. Halflings also have good offensive opportunities with +4 Slings, +2 short blades and 0 for Long Blades (which has the added bonus of crosstraining with Short Blades). They come with innate mutation resistance (rMut) which is not to be sniffed at with the current state of the mutation system where potions of mutation are rare and not guaranteed, in any case, to remove the negative mutation you want (let alone not add more, even worse mutations). The price for these perks is a measly -10% HP which really isn't too much, all told.

The Halfling Warper is a very straightforward way to try a ranged character while being a little more interesting than a Hunter would be.

Challenges to Consider

Finding a sling

If you're playing Warper, you're not starting with a sling. Fortunately, slings are very common in the early Dungeon. I want to say that you'll always find one before Lair but then I know some of you are freakishly unlucky. The point is not to worry because you'll usually find a hunting sling without too much drama. She'll be right, mate.

A fustibalus (the bigger and upgraded sling) is a bit of a different story because they are kind of rare and you will want one going into the late game. No regular enemies naturally spawn with them Only satyrs spawn with them (someone fact check that for me please on the fly). So how do you go about finding a fustibalus?

If you're particularly lucky, the floor god might bless you with a fustibalus. Another strategy is to worship Okawaru or Trog in the hopes that their weapon gifts won't endlessly troll you (note that Trog won't allow you to use your translocation spells if you pick him). If you can find scroll of acquirement and acquire a weapon, there's a decent chance you'll get a fustibalus (but no promises).

Finding enough ammunition

Every time you fire something ranged in Crawl, there's a chance the missile will "mulch" and be destroyed. Ranged weapons are useless without ammunition, though, so you don't want to run out completely.

Slings have two different types of ammo that work with them: stones and sling bullets. Funnily enough, sling bullets can often be the most difficult ammunition to find because not too many enemies spawn with slings. You're "lucky" if you roll the Shoals branch instead of Swamp because the Fauns there will have slings.

The following things should help:

  • Only fire sling bullets at harder enemies
    Stones have a base damage of 2 and sling bullets have a base damage of 4. Sling bullets are thus more valuable and can be saved for when they are needed. Use Q (Shift + q) to change which item you're quivering at any time - quivering doesn't count as an in-game action. You can also quickly switch between available ammo types with ( and ). While this can be annoying, it is optimal.
  • Use a melee weapon on trivial enemies
    A Halfling Warper starts with a short sword which is a handy tool for taking down rats and bats. If a monster poses no real threat to your character, you may as well swing a sword at it.
  • Don't fire your ammo into deep water (or lava)
    Any ammunition that falls into deep water will be lost. This means you should be careful when firing at a monster who's standing in front of some in case you miss. Rather than using Tab or f + enter to shoot, f. fires at the specific tile you aim at. Even if you miss the enemy, the projectile won't fly any further.
    When a monster is standing in or flying over deep water, it's a good idea to back up and wait for it to leave the water before you start firing.

If you're especially worried about ammo you could worship Okawaru or Trog. Sensing a theme here? These two gods gift ammunition and that should cover your slinging needs.

Ignoring those who say slings fall off after the midgame

This "challenge" might sound like a joke but it's not. Ignoring the conventional wisdom about slings can be difficult because you'll hear the argument that they lack damage everywhere.

I've comfortably won games using only slings (example morgue). If you don't believe me, there are other highly-cultured sling aficionados who will vouch for its potency (example morgue).

In this day and age we're more aware of the harmful effects of negative stereotypes than any other time in history. Don't listen to those who say all slings lack damage in the lategame; give each sling a fair go and judge it on its merits. If you're able to find or create a highly-enchanted fustibalus, I put it to you that, more often than not, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find a hard-working weapon who puts out adequate damage.

If you do happen upon some really sweet melee weapon then by all means train for it to complement your ranged attacks. But don't think you have to find a lategame melee weapon for damage reasons.

Early Skilling

At the beginning of the game you want to focus Short Blades as a short sword should be your starting melee weapon. The short sword will be your main source of damage until you manage to find a branded dagger or a hunting sling. I also like to train dodging on a Halfling at XL 1.

On reaching XL 2, Translocations becomes a priority to get both Blink and Shroud of Golubria online. Some Charms will help with SoG (and a +1 aptitude on Halfling is pretty good) but you shouldn't need more than 2-3 skill.

If you find a hunting sling, switch your weapon training from Short Blades to Slings. You'll reach the mindelay for a hunting sling of 12 skill extremely quickly with a +4 aptitude and a fustibalus is only 2 more skill at 14.

10 Short Blades skill to reach mindelay on a dagger really isn't much investment if you find a good one such as venom or electricity.

Once your offence is under control, you're going to want as much Fighting as you can get. This is also a good time to train more Translocations to work towards Passage of Golubria. Halfling Warpers can wear relatively heavy armour while still getting value from utility spells so it's possible you'll want some early Armour skill too.

If you ever find a buckler it's worth training for but a shield is a much bigger investment (21 Skill required to remove the penalty) due to the small size of the Halfling.

Appropriate Gods

God choice for a Halfling Warper is fairly flexible with a few exceptions. As a ranged character, you probably want to shy away from most gods who provide summons or followers (Hep, Yred, Kiku, Nemelex) because they will continually block the line of fire between you and enemies. I'd also suggest you ignore the caster-focused gods (Sif Muna and Vehumet) because conjuration spells tend to overlap with ranged weapons.

Okawaru is the most straightforward god for a character like this and is the one I'd recommend if you're unsure.

Oka gifts amunition which should keep you relatively topped-up on sling bullets. He also gives weapons and armour which means, sooner or later, you're bound to receive a fustibalus.

Herosim (+5 points to all combat-related skills) is a solid ability in general but it's particularly good at allowing you to cast low-level utility spells while wearing heavy armour or a shield. Heroism also allows you to train for a secondary melee weapon with less skill investment. Use it for every non-trivial fight.

Finesse, Okawaru's other ability, is great at helping you punch through tough enemies.

Like Okawaru, Trog gifts weapons and ammunition.

Unfortunately, Trog doesn't take kindly to magic use so you'll have to say goodbye to translocation utility spells to worship him. For this reason, I'd recommend Oka over Trog for a Halfling Warper.

Berserk won't allow you to fire with a sling but its bonus damage will allow you to kill even heavily-armoured enemies with just a short sword.

A Brother in Arms (or 2 or 3) will help you to take down almost anything that manages to get on top of you.

At * of piety, Fedhas allows you to make mushroom followers who are extremely strong all the way through the early and midgame. You want to keep 4-6 with you at all times. But Ultra, didn't you just tell me not to worship follower gods?! I did indeed but Fedhas is special because you can fire through plants!

Slinging enemies to death when you're behind a team of mushrooms is extremely safe because few things can hit you back. If an enemy does make it to the mushrooms, it will likely be confused by the mushroom spores.

Oklob plants become extremely powerful with some Invocations training. Farms of Oklobs in Zot allow you to sidestep your lack of damage (if you're still not ready to accept the sling as your lord and saviour).

Gozag is a strong god who gives you an excellent panic button in the form of Potion Petition.

While Gozag is painful for heavy caster characters to worship (due to hunger issues), a Warper doesn't usually rely on spells too much.

Use of Call Merchant can potentially give you both weapons and ammunition.

Bribe Branch is incredibly powerful in Zot and will allow you to not worry about damage in the lategame.

General Approach to the Run

As a Warper, you start off with a scroll of blinking. This is extremely helpful in the early game because a controlled blink is a very reliable get out of jail free card. If you might need to blink away from an early adder, try to do it before you're lethally poisoned!

You also start off with some tomahawks of dispersal. These have the effect of randomly blinking any enemy you manage to damage but they are super unreliable. If you're trying to get an enemy away from you in the early game by throwing tomahawks of dispersal at them, you're in a lot of trouble.

Of your starting Translocations spells, Blink and Shroud of Globuria are the most important. You want to get both of those up once you hit XL 2. Cast SoG just before enemies get to you so it's active once the fight begins. Blink can help you get out of danger, especially if you have the mana to cast it a few times.

In the early Dungeon, be on the lookout for a branded short blade. Daggers of venom are fairly common and very powerful, especially if you poison enemies and then kite them.

The skill required for mindelay on a sling is relatively low (12 for a hunting sling) and, with a +4 aptitude in Slings, you're going to reach that point extremely quickly. This means you have a lot of freedom to train other things as you feel necessary. You can invest in defensive skills if your offence feels powerful enough. Other options are Evocations, Invocations, magic utility spells or other offensive weapons.

Despite looking like they should require two hands to use (seriously, have a look at these things), a fustibalus is one-handed. This means they can be used with a shield. Note that Halflings are small so they need more skill investment for a shield. A buckler is usually always worth it for a Halfling but a shield might not be, especially when you're trying to cast spells. You can always test how badly affected your spell failure rates are with a shield by putting it on and pressing I (Shift + i).

Note that the Slings skill crosstrains with Throwing. This means you can easily get value out of any blowgun you find - Throwing is the governing skill for blowguns, believe it or not.

Keep an eye out for the Portal Projectile spell because it's a game changer. In addition to increasing the accuracy of all your ranged options, Portal Projectile allows you to "smite-target" your shots by shooting anywhere on screen. This is great at, for instance, killing summoners even if they're standing behind their summons.

How heavy you go in terms of armour should be a factor of what items you come across and personal preference. If you enjoy playing a more hybrid style, a medium armour such as Swamp/Ice/Fire Dragon Scales will allow you to cast higher-level spells. If your preference is to rely more on your ranged and melee combat, a heavy armour would be in order. With sufficient strength and Translocations training, a Halfling is still able to cast Blink while wearing chain mail.

Whether or not you want to train for a melee weapon depends on how comfortably you're killing enemies, your god choice, how much ammo you've managed to accrue and whether or not you've found a fustibalus. A common path for an Okawaru or Trog Halfling is to train 10 Short Blades skill (the mindelay point for a dagger) in the midgame and then switch to Long Blades for the lategame to take advantage of the crosstraining bonus.

Other Notes, Tips and Tricks

  • You can easily switch between a ranged and melee weapon by first assigning them to the a and b item slots. Press = then i to reassign an item's slot. Once your weapons are on a and b, switch between the two with " (apostrophe).
  • Make a macro with Apportation to pick up ammunition by pressing ~ then m. Choose an input key (1 or F1 works well) then zaf (where a is your spell slot for Apportation). While mostly unnecessary, it looks cool as hell :D
  • You can use Passage of Globuria to kite enemies, allowing you additional opportunities to shoot them from range. You can see this in action here.
  • The Blink spell can also make space between you and your foes. While it's less controllable and consistent than PoG, Blink is only a level-2 spell. This means it's more manageable to cast if you've upgraded to heavy armour.

About the Author:
Ultraviolent4 loves Beogh, round numbers and helping noobs. In case you haven't noticed, he runs this site. You can find Ultraviolent4's DCSS Let's Plays on YouTube.