I wasn’t intending this to a challenge run, but the game threw a crazy amount of good equipment my way. I had started this character with the intention of seeing how a high dex long blade granite form character fares, with the possibility of going death form if it seemed realistic.
The game then gave me the beast and death talismans early on, and Roxanne supplied the granite talisman on D:14. I also got both a shapeshifting and longblade manual, the former fairly early on. Oh, and some superb artifacts, like a +4 cloak of rF++, gauntlets of war, rings that made me nearly omniresistant in Lair (and basically omniresistant with granite form), a speed branded artifact double sword, and the Storm Queen Shield. And three xp potions by the time I had cleared S branches. After doing Crypt and Slime, I had death form active as well.
After butchering the inhabitants of Zot and grabbing the orb, I took a look at this clearly blessed character and thought, let’s see if I can fuck this up by giving the golden-rune-with-the-orb challenge a try.
The first floor of Tomb was easy, somewhat unsurprisingly. Priests are not very threatening without torment hanging over my head, and having *rampage on my armor meant I could close the distance and kill them quickly before they smote me too much or summoned a horde of scorpions. The biggest danger mummies posed was being perpetually slowed due to death curses.
The second floor was scarier. I read ?teleport almost immediately to try to get into the outer ring of rooms, but I forgot about the orb delaying translocations, so I did my damnedest to maneuver so nothing would step on an alarm trap before getting teleported, but that was not to be. No cancellation potions in death form, so I ended up just hacking through things after getting teleported into a side room. I didn’t bother clearing the floor, dropping to the third level, this time with a teleport scroll already active.
The teleport landed me in the western treasure chamber, which was sparsely populated. I grabbed the zig figurine, thinking it would be potentially handy as an escape. The open layout, Zot/alarm/blink traps, and steady trickle of monsters got me nervous, so I teleported again and landed to the east of the rune in a funky little side chamber with entrances on the north and south. Shit got real here, as all the mummies, bennu, okshabi (sp?), and friends started pouring in at me. I may have been marked here, I don’t remember. The constant smiting was wearing down my health, so I popped several fog scrolls, rampaging from the northern end to kill stuff, then back down to the south. I did a couple more teleports as my health was getting in the 50% range and I had no way to bring it back up. I got a bit of health resting in side corridors but the harassment was pretty much constant, especially with the orb teleporting enemies on me (although it should be noted that I never had anything particularly threatening dropped on me which was yet another stroke of luck). Eventually, to my disbelief, it was apparent that I had broken the back of the mummy legion and the floor was mine. I grabbed the rune and finished the ascent, chopping up a few pan lords on the way.
I can’t stress enough how cool death form is. The slowing + weakening + draining is so good, particularly on a fast or cleaving weapon. The resists and willpower bonus, plus maintaining all your equipment slots, give you a ton of freedom to equip whatever you want. Mutation and torment immunity defangs some of what would otherwise be some of the most threatening enemies in the game. Not having access to potions is a pretty gnarly cost, as is the xp required to get 23 shapeshifting skill, but the whole package ends up being greater than the sum of its parts.