POWDER Gameplay

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This page is to discuss frequent POWDER gameplay questions. Feel free to add new categories or improve the answers within categories. We might want to separate spoiler/non-spoiler issues at some point - for now assume everything to be possible spoiler.


There are many gods that will be the main audience during the adventure. Each has its own likes and dislikes and will likely smite you if you anger them. Likes may include a "dress code", specific to each deity and reflective of the class they represent. Sometimes you may be given a gift by a god. These gifts come with a +3 enchantment, so even when they are otherwise ordinary, they can be worth using.

God Points

Picking "Pray" on the verb list (or pressing "_" using keyboard commands) shows a list of the gods, set up like this: God: n???? (n????) Like this: "No one God: 0 (0)" What are these numbers? Described in a newsgroup post. These numbers change depending on your actions. In a nutshell, the number on the right states the "quantity" of any action the god might do (e.g., heal you a little or a lot) and the number on the left states the chances of that god of taking action. If it is positive, the higher the more often he will intervene in your favor. If it is negative, the opposite is true. For more detailed information about these gods, see POWDER/Deities

Feared Monsters

Specific monsters that cause the most grief and ideas about what to do about them.


How do you avoid being turned into an object d'art?

  • Kill it from range - For this, you will need either to be fast, or preferably, to be able to jump, so you can keep your distance, and either spells, wands or a stack of thrown weapons large enough to kill it. You can also slow the cockatrice as an alternative to making yourself fast.
  • Amulet of Unchanging - This stops you from being petrified, but may be difficult to find. Note that you must be wearing it when you would be petrified. Wearing the amulet when hit by the cockatrice, but taking it off before the stoning process attempts to complete the transformation will lead to a tragically unnecessary demise.
  • Acid Potion - Drink the potion while hardening to remove the effect. You cannot drink potions if you are full--if you are next to a wall, throw the potion at it and the splash damage will stop the stoning. Casting Acid Splash on yourself also works in the same manner.
  • Polymorph - Polymorphing yourself cures you, and you won't keep on hardening after changing back into yourself. Polymorphing into something with unchanging can prevent hardening. Polymorphing the cockatrice may, at least temporarily, turn it to something easier to deal with (or it may not - I don't recommend using this, except as a last resort). Also, killing a polymorphed creature returns it to its original state, so you have to deal with it without killing it, or you are back to where you started.
  • Stone to flesh spell - Obvious, but effective.
  • Retreat - Leaving non-aggressive creatures alive on later levels where cockatrices appear can help you to escape a cockatrice. Travel down a narrow corridor, and switch places with a friendly mouse, shitomi (which generally appear on levels that cockatrices do), or another non-aggressive creature.
  • Get something else to fight it - While difficult to orchestrate, getting a cockatrice between you and a red/blue/white dragon is a nice distraction for it. Just make sure you kill it before it kills the dragon!
  • Preserve - Casting the spell Preserve upon yourself will temporarily confer the unchanging intrinsic, which will save you from turning into stone.
  • Haste Dance - If you have Boots of Speed, you can carefully use your haste to safely melee attack normal-speed monsters. You will receive 4 actions for their 3, so simply evade the cockatrice three times and strike on the fourth. Lather, rinse, repeat. Failed timing, however, could result in a slight case of granite poisoning.

Green Dragons

How do you avoid a quick death by poison?

  • Kill it from range - Green dragons are the only dragons without a breath weapon. See the entry on cockatrices. Also, Green Dragons cannot poison you diagonally, so an easy way to take them out quickly and safely is to approach diagonally and cast Petrify or a similarly disabling spell.
  • Poison Resistance - Even with poison resistance, the dragon's poison will deal about 30 points of damage, but that is not enough to kill most characters.
  • Spells - Cure Poison will solve the problem, and Slow Poison can give you time so you can find a solution.
  • Polymorph - If you polymorph yourself, you will not suffer from the poison in your new form, but will have to deal with it once you change back to your original form. Also consider polymorphing the green dragon if you are about to be poisoned, and have no way to deal with it.

Water Elementals

Sure, you have slain the dreaded water elemental, Hero. But you still can't breathe!

  • Breathless - There are some artifacts that grant you this intrinsic. If you don't need oxygen, choking isn't a problem, is it?
  • Macho Priest - At least one player reports having survived by having a lot of hit points and the Heal spell.
  • Polymorph - With a Ring of Polymorph Control and another source of polymorph (e.g. wand), you can poly into a water elemental after killing it. Once returning to your normal form you will breathe freely once again.


My +3 warhammer isn't doing anything. And now I'm surrounded....

  • Silver - Like liches, ghosts don't like silver. Wield a silver spear or sword or even a silver ring or circlet.
  • Non-physical damage - Magical damage from spells and wands also can damage ghosts. Fire/torches can as well.

Named Monsters

Some monsters are so much more cool than the other members of their species that they have names.

  • Named monsters sometimes decide to return as a lich instead of dying. Is this right? Is this fair? No, now deal with it.
  • Named monsters generally carry a nice stack of items, so killing them has a reward. However, in addition to any abilities they may get from using the items, named monsters can demonstrate other powers at random, since they can get them as intrinsics.

Identifying Items

Many items can be identified relatively safely, without the use of an Identify scroll or spell.


The following potions may be identified by the following experimental dipping.

  • Greek fire - Dipping a long sword will cause it to catch fire. This only works for regular long swords, not silver ones. Dipping will also turn clubs into torches and arrows into flaming arrows.
  • Acid - Will destroy most any item dipped in. One way to remove cursed items that you'd rather destroy than wear.
  • Mana - Dipping wands or books will recharge them.
  • Poison - Will coat your item with slime. If you are going to poison a weapon with the intent to wield it, make sure it is equipped before dipping. Otherwise you will be poisoned upon equipping. You may also poison the meat of anything killed with it. You can also cast the Poison Item spell while wielding an empty bottle to both ID and create a potion of poison.
  • Cure - Dipping a poisoned item will remove the poison. Will auto-ID when drunk only if poisoned. Since other potions will auto-ID when drunk, this identifies Cure.
  • Holy or Cursed Water - Will change status of an item if not already the same as the water. Note that you do not need to identify water; it comes pre-identified.
  • Enlightenment - Will identify an item dipped into it.
  • Smoke, Blindness, Heal - Drink after identify at least the potentially dangerous potions: Greek Fire, Acid, Poison. These will identify when drunk. Test where safe since Blindness and Smoke are bad to drink when dangerous monsters are around.

Drink potions when at full hits and magic points, because Heal and Mana potions give a small permanent boost if you are already at full hits or magic points.


Use wands under under the following circumstances to identify.

Targeting an empty area

  • Fire
  • Ice
  • Digging
  • Create Monster - if you target on a diagonal, it is easier to escape a hostile monster. If the wand is blessed, the monster is much less likely to be hostile.
  • Trapping

Targeting an item

  • Polymorph - Great way to turn throwaway books into useful ones, same for scrolls, wands, etc.
  • Teleport - Item will be relocated elsewhere.

Targeting a creature or self

  • Invisibility
  • Speed - Will not identify if creature is already Quick. Avoid testing on bats.
  • Slow - Interestingly, this does not turn a neutral creature hostile. Will not identify if the creature is slow, so avoid testing on slugs.
  • Polymorph - I'd recommend testing this on an item first.
  • Teleport
  • Fire
  • Ice
  • Digging

If no effect seen on creature or item

  • Wand of Nothing - This will not identify itself.


Just read them. No risk, no ill effects, and it always works.


A magic staff can be wielded in your off hand while you wield a one-handed weapon. This is the way to try them out. See what new spells you can cast while holding the staff. The only possible bad effect from wielding a staff is that if it is cursed, you can't remove it (without curse removal or destroying it with acid). That is the reason to wield it in your off hand. Even if it is cursed, you can still use a weapon.

Head Coverings

Feathered Helms, Silver Circlets, and Gold Crowns are Warning, Telepathy, and Draining. Try one on and see what happens. If you now detect monsters nearby, it is Warning. If your magic points start going down instead of up, it is Draining. Otherwise, it is Telepathy. (If you really want to double check for telepathy, blind yourself and if you then start detecting monsters, you've confirmed what you already knew.) If you are going barbarian, you can start trying hats on right away. If you use spells, you may wish to wait until you can be sure of removing the item, since Draining is a serious problem if you rely on magic.


Sandals and Iron Boots are never magical. Pointed Slippers, Clogs, Winged Boots, Hiking Boots, and Riding Boots have special properties, and can be identified in the following ways:

  • Speed Boots: Examine yourself - if you gain Fast after putting them on, then they are Speed Boots. (Don't confuse Quick with Fast, as they are not the same.)
  • Jump Boots: Try to "J"ump. If it works, they are probably Jump Boots, but try again with them off if you might have Jumping from another source, such as eating a Giant Frog carcass.
  • Fur-lined Boots: Fight something with a cold attack. If you ignore the attack, these are Fur-lined Boots, (again assuming no other source for cold resistance)
  • Water-walking Boots: Try to walk on water to test for Water-walking Boots. Health stats should obviously be strong enough to survive a dunking. Water-walking boots will float on liquid, so you can throw a spare pair to see if they float.
  • Squeaky Boots: Examine yourself each turn after moving for the noise level. Equip the pair of boots, then move around to record the new noise level. If it goes up then they might be Squeaky Boots. As the level of noise you make each turn is random, you should try to identify other boots before these. You should swap them for something else unless you need them for a dress code.


You just need to read them, but many players like to wait to test scrolls because Identify scrolls identify everything you have, so they work better with a full inventory. Also, before you build up hit points and/or resist fire, a scroll of fire can ruin your day.


Only try one unknown ring at a time, or you won't know which to blame for an effect.

  • Missing Finger - This is obvious. Examine yourself and the Missing Finger intrinsic is listed.
  • Teleport - You start to teleport at random.
  • Polymorph - You start to polymorph at random.
  • Teleport Control - Teleport starts asking for a destination.
  • Light - Obvious if you are not carrying another light source. Will have a 3 square light radius on the ground.
  • Invisibility - Obvious unless you were already invisible.
  • See Invisible - Most easily tested if you are already invisible. Then you just discover you can see yourself.
  • Regeneration - Watch your hit points. If they increase more quickly, you've got Regeneration.
  • Fire Resistance, Cold Resistance, Acid Resistance, Shock Resistance - You need to be attacked by the appropriate element, so you can notice that it did not hurt.


Because of the risk of Strangulation, testing Amulets should be put off until you can detect or remove curses or if you are feeling lucky on the first or second dungeon level (since a good amulet is very good).

  • Reflection - Beaming attacks bounce right off you.
  • Unchanging - Stoning doesn't do you in (don't test this way). You can't polymorph nor can the amulet be polymorphed.
  • Strangulation - Trust me, you'll know.
  • Life Saving - When you die, you don't.

Usually you are scroll identifying things by the time you have much in the way of amulets. Amulets are about the only thing other than artifacts worth using a potion of Enlightenment to identify.


There are many state changes you can go through. This is an incomplete list, focusing on harmful intrinsics and their respective remedies.

  • Poisoned - Varies from mild to deadly. Cured with Cure potion, deity intervention, or the Cure Poison spell. Will also fade eventually.
  • Aflame - Will fade eventually. Quenched by throwing bottle of water against an adjacent wall or creature, or casting downpour on yourself.
  • Hardening - Cured with Acid potion, polymorphing self, or deity intervention. Prevented from completion by Unchanging.
  • Blind - Fades eventually. Allows telepathy to function. Cannot read scrolls or books while blind. Immune to light-based attacks.
  • Strangled - Equip water breathing item. Will fade eventually.
  • Bleeding - Remove item causing effect, dip in holy water if item is cursed.
  • Amnesic - Will fade in 5 turns once soul sucker is killed.
  • Confused - Fades quickly.
  • Slow - Will fade eventually. Zapping self with wand of speed does not help.
  • Buried - Teleport or dig yourself out.
  • Deaf - Fades eventually.
  • Sensitive to Silver - Achieved by eating liches, daemons, ice daemons, Baezl'bub. Will fade eventually.
  • Sensitive to Gold - Fades quickly. Caused by Gold Beetles.
  • Missing a Finger - A certain ring type will remove your other ring finger. A nasty trick, but you can use it to remove other cursed rings, so once it is uncursed, you may wish to keep it.

Eating Corpses

Some creatures may leave corpses behind once they are killed. Eating keeps hunger away and helps to slowly recharge the character's life points. Being full brings added regeneration, while hunger stops normal healing. Eating these corpses in some cases causes additional special side-effects. Eating more than one corpse may be necessary in some cases to gain the added effect. For more information about what corpses give these effects, see POWDER/Corpses.

Information About Items

Wearable Items

Magic Items

Special Items

Miscellaneous articles