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I'm a little bit confused about desktop dungeons. Are there any permanent upgrades, or do I have to somehow get through all the game types using the base characters? Especially the snake pit seems completely impossible with weakened effect.

Maybe I'm totally missing something trivial but it took me huge amount of tries beat the normal mode with a fighter and since other classes can't see the positions of same or lower level enemies I have no idea how to beat the boss (while searching for suitable enemies I uncover the entire map and have no health recovery for the high level enemies).

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I'd suggest checking out the wiki, I think you need to learn how to level up more effectively without revealing the entire map. –  bwarner Apr 4 '11 at 1:16

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The only permanent "upgrades" that affect all of your games are not to actual stats, but to the dungeons you enter. All of the positive upgrades are related to gold and spending, so they're all ultimately centered on improving your ability to get better items.

There are 4 such upgrades, each acquired progressively as you clear each of the 4 special dungeons with every class. The upgrades are as follows:

  • Snake Pit creates an additional pile of gold in the dungeon for every 2 classes that clear it.
  • Library increases the rank of items that are available in shops for each class that clears it.
  • Crypt increases the maximum gold you can carry at once by 5 gold for each class that clears it.
  • Factory creates an additional shop in the dungeon for every 3 classes that clear it.

Also keep in mind that gold is carried over between saves. So especially after getting improvement from the Crypt, you can always save up your gold from doomed runs to start off on a better foot for the next one. Once you unlock the Goblin race and the Tinker class, doing a single "gold farming" run is not an uncommon tactic for resetting your gold to max.

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This is the purpose of the game, to make you start from scratch every time, otherwise it would be too easy and not well balanced as it is. The only permanent rewards you get is the unlocking of new character classes and game modes.

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This answer is really misleading, you made no mention of permanent changes to the dungeons that result from beating special maps. There are in fact permanent gains outside of classes and races, which is part of why you cannot advance far in the Gauntlet without playing through the rest of the game. –  Sadly Not Apr 4 '11 at 14:32

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