Ogre Transmuter - Character Guide

by hellmonk

Difficulty: Intermediate

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

Editor's Note: When hellmonk submitted this it was exactly 500 words. Unfortunately, I butchered edited it before realising. Please adjust the level of memetic credit you give hellmonk accordingly. - UV4

Warning: This guide is now outdated.
Since this guide was written, Transmutaters have undergone some significant changes. While I'm going to leave the guide up for historical reasons, you probably shouldn't follow it. - UV4

Why Play Ogre Transmuter?

Ogre Transmuter is a “Warrior-Mage,” which means you cast some spells and press tab a lot. Ogre becomes a fairly powerful Transmuter that makes good use of the starting book to bolster a lack of natural defenses.

While this guide is for an Ogre Transmuter, most Transmuters can be played in a similar way.

About Ogres:

Ogre has the best HP in the game (+30% HP and a +3 Fighting aptitude), good starting Strength and Intelligence and alright weapon and magic aptitudes (-1 Unarmed Combat, +1 Spellcasting and -1 Transmutations).

On the other hand, Ogres have poor starting Dexterity and bad defenses due to their large size (-2 EV), limited slots (can't wear helmets, gloves, boots and most body armours), and poor defensive aptitudes (-2 Armour and -1 Dodging).

About Transmuters:

Transmuters get a broken pseudo-summon with Sticks to Snakes. They also get some Transmutations spells that transform them, improving their unarmed damage and giving other bonuses such as resistances, extra HP and EV and branded attacks at the expense of melding equipment slots. This is perfect for an Ogre who is unlikely to have many equipment slots filled.

While Transmuter is bad at XL 1, it quickly becomes pretty good. As a hybrid or "Warrior-Mage", their skill progression is more complicated than either a “Warrior” or “Mage” start.

OgTm Tactics

You are a melee dude with big damage, big HP, and bad defenses. Ideally, you should try to fight enemies one at a time because, while your HP will let you outdamage most single enemies, it will disappear very quickly against large packs. Use good melee tactics like luring ranged enemies around corners, using terrain to fight one enemy at a time, etc. - refer to Patashu's Tactics Guide for more information.

You want to transform before fights start, so cast your spells while the enemy approaches (ideally while out of line of sight).

How To: Sticks to Snakes

Sticks to Snakes is a spell that turns arrows in your inventory into one or more snakes. It functions like a summon but has no summon cap.

Use this spell to get distance from or wear down dangerous early enemies. Once you have more Transmutations skill and MP, you can spam it to dump tons of adders and water moccasins on anything.

Sticks to Snakes is strategically limited by the arrows you find, but it stays useful the whole game.

Skills and Strategy

Start by training Unarmed Combat (your weapon) and Fighting (for more HP and damage) until level 3, then train for Spider Form. This takes ~2 levels of Transmutations and 1 of Poison Magic; a 30% of failure is fine, just reset the fight if you miscast.

Once Spider Form is castable, train Unarmed Combat, Fighting and Dodging. Spider Form changes your size from large to tiny, so you get great returns on Dodging.

Get Ice Form around Lair; 5 Spellcasting/6 Transmutations/6 Ice Magic is efficient. Ice Form is better than Blade Hands defensively for OgTm but worse offensively. Maybe grab ~5 Evocations or some Invocations depending on your god. Get more Fighting, Unarmed Combat and Dodging. Perhaps get Blade Hands before you begin the S-Branches (Swamp, Spider, Snake, Shoals).

Lategame you have several options. My personal preference is Dragon Form. It has the highest damage output and provides +50% HP and all the rF+ you need for Zot, though the defenses (base AC and EV) suck. Blade Hands + medium-heavy armor is fine but Ogres have limited armor choices due to their large size. Statue Form is especially attractive for Ogres since it offers defenses with +30% HP, bonus AC and resistances while still allowing a shield. Try to get some utility spells like Blink, Regeneration, Summon Butterflies, Summon Lightning Spire, Animate Skeleton/Dead and Deflect Missiles. Keep an open mind because your choices should be dictated by what's available in your run.

Hydra Form is like Dragon Form but bad.

When choosing stats to level, pick Int if you need to improve your spell success chances or you're using forms that improve with spellpower (Ice Form and Statue Form) and Dex otherwise.

God Choice

Okawaru is the most straightforward god for this combination. He excels on "Warrior-Mage" characters such as Transmuters because the skill boosts really help.

For an Unarmed Combat character, the damage boost from Heroism is even greater than a weapon-user because Unarmed Combat skill translates directly into base damage (+1 UC skill = +1 base damage) all the way up to 27 skill.

Use Heroism in every important fight and Finesse against scary things.

Other good god options include Fedhas, Gozag, Makhleb and Ru (not an exhaustive list).

Chei Transmuter is a bad meme.


When transforming, spellpower and success chances are calculated before gear melds. Wearing a Robe of Archmagi is optimal if you're using Ice Form or Statue Form. Wielding +Int randarts to boost success rate is a legitimate strategy.

About the Author:
hellmonk is a DCSS vet with a healthy appetite for dank memes and Whataburger. He's the developer of a popular and robust Crawl fork based on Tavern/IRC philosophy called hellcrawl. You can download it locally or play online (CBRO, CPO, CWZ). hellmonk occasionally streams his DCSS runs on Twitch.