first of all, thanks Sirrocco and Anonymous Hero for your insights. Made things a lot clearer to me!
Btw, if you're typing a lot of key combos, you should really make macros for commonly cast spells. It speeds up gameplay tremendously to just type, say, Ctrl-D for detection, Ctrl-A for Manathrust, Ctrl-G for detect monsters.
True, but for thaumaturgists I’d have to redo the mapping with every new character. With respect to the frequency of their deaths I guess it‘s more efficient without macros. (Also, playing with the Rogue key bindings I have trouble locating unused parts of my keyboard.
Spellcasters should always be focused on a specific goal. We descending a dungeon, always find the nearest/safest exit as soon as possible using detection.
Good advice. Sometimes I just can’t resist going after that giant vault or clearing that “superb” level until my inventory is full.
If possible, stay in walls/mountains. That increases your survivability tremendously since you can then only be breathed at at point-blank range.
Hmm, I ask myself: is there anywhere a guaranteed item that grants the mountain climbing intrinsic? I recall it was extremely useful at the Lonely Mountain.
Oddly, it is the fact that getting to 30 is so easy for you that makes it impossible to get beyond. You can crank almost any non-weapon-dependent character up to level 30 in very short order with the house quest->shallow water->mountains route. The problem is that once you've done that, your levels are all that you have. Your gear is pathetic (everything you get is off of dungeon level 0), you haven't hit any stat-boosting potions, and you haven't completed any particularly helpful quests. All of this is fixable, mostly by picking dungeons and quests that have the gear that you need and executing on them, and possibly grinding through all of the available fumblefingers and princess quests in order. What's less fixable, though, is that you've basically fast-forwarded the character through the first 30 levels of his life, using strategies that will never be particularly effective again.
So basically, it’s all about psychology: the higher the clvl, the cockier you get – I did experience this myself and I’m still trying to figure out a remedy. What puzzles me is how this kind of asymmetric character development emerged in the first place. It just doesn’t feel right going dragon hunting with a physically pathetic spellcaster-ling right from the start. The wilderness mechanics provide huge tactical advantages for even the weakest yeek: as long as you manage to avoid being instakilled the refuge is only one move away behind the edge of the map. Monsters gone->rest->try again. (Btw. as a long-time Nethack player, the non-persistance of about everything in *bands still confuses the hell out of me even after a year or so of TOME2. But I concede that in *bands scumming is a lot more interesting than farming black puddings for hours …)
For a thaumatugist, it's even worse, because you won't actually have that bone-deep understanding of what your specific character's individual spells are for, and what situations you can use each of them most effectively in. There's no real way to get that kind of understanding of a character without leveling them the slow way.
I do take some time to figure out the values of every thaumaturgy spell I get with every character – that’s essential, as is decent knowledge of divination spells. This doesn’t appear to be an issue to me. “Know your character”, however, is as imperative a motto as it could be, particularly when it comes to resistances.
TOME’s two-grade system (resistance-immunity) is actually one of its best parts. Until you obtain a source of immunity all encounters are a more or less a wager: there’s always a chance the bronze dragon or nightmare or whatever will confuse your character and in a dungeon this means certain death. After reviewing my last thaumaturgists‘s death causes I know that statistically confusion is their nemesis.
Also, and this is common among many *bands, once you hit 50, leveling slows way down anyway. You're in statgain mode at that point, which means that you really should be hanging around the statgain floors and not going deeper until you've maxxed at least your most important stats. The monsters that you run into after statgain are a *lot* harsher than the ones beforehand.
I guess I’m going to have to get used to the different stages in gameplay. Am I right that they losely have this order: (1) gaining experience; (2) gaining equipment (=intrinsics); (3) gaining stats? Or are (2) and (3) to be swapped? What are the canonical locations for phase (3)? (Those monsters you referred to are still in my vivid memory: I once managed to get a kobold warrior to clvl 43 with all stats maxed out, with all the easy dungeons cleared, yet he still fell prey to a bunch of eye druj during a Mordor princess quest …)
Well; the day is still young. I’m going to take all your advice seriously and give birth to another thaumaturgist.