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Ok, normally when I hit level 5 I start searching around for a fountain to dip for Excalibur.

One common issue I have been noticing is that sometimes I will either unleash a water demon or an endless supply of water moccasins...both of which make short work of me.

I try reading all my scrolls, zapping any wands I haven't identified in the hopes one is a teleportation, and quaffing potions if I have time.

Is there a good way of surviving this sort of event? It seems like the odds are stacked against me once this happens, and can quickly turn a promising character into a dead one.

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Yeah, I'd rather have means of escape ready before messing with fountains :) –  badp Mar 2 '11 at 19:29
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Don't dip in minetown either, the guards will come after you if you dry up a fountain. No warning either! –  authenticgeek Mar 2 '11 at 19:46
    
@Nick: only if you dry up their fountain ;) –  espais Mar 2 '11 at 20:19
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@espais - Yes, but getting Excaliber always dries up the fountain, so if that's your goal, don't do it in Minetown. –  sjohnston Mar 2 '11 at 21:40
    
Do the guards have to see you do it (like when lockpicking doors) or do they magically know? –  Jonathan Hartley Mar 3 '11 at 14:06
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

One of the strongest defenses a low level character has is Elbereth. Before dipping, you can engrave one or more, just in case. If you're writing in the dust, you'll want to engrave it several times per square to counteract the quick erosion.

The other option is to run away. Note any doors you could close behind you. Be aware of all your escape options (Knights can jump away, for example). Also be aware of the stair locations. Running away won't do any good if you cut off your path to the rest of the dungeon.

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I didn't even think about engraving...that's a good suggestion! –  espais Mar 2 '11 at 20:06
    
A ring of conflict might help against the snakes too, if you happen to get one that early. –  sjohnston Mar 2 '11 at 21:44
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Against water demons, the best success I've had is to run away.

As for water moccasins, there is a reason why its one of the most common cause of death, not much you can do if you are surrounded at a low level.

These events are there most likely to help hinder fountain wish farming early on.

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When I drink from fountains, it's either very very early when I don't care if I die, or I have appropriate gear (possibly an artifact and good AC) to survive anything that's summoned. Otherwise early in the game there just isn't a good way to guarantee survival.

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