Naga Mythological Biology: Kali's Cobras
So why make Nagas matriarchal?
The cold-blooded venomous hunting style of the serpent is associated with the female passive-aggressive method of conflict. Today women still favor poison for both suicide and homicide, despite the equalizing advent of firearms.
When the villainess hisses and turns into a serpent, that's mythic resonance.
"Hinduism, states Bryant, has the strongest presence of the divine feminine among major world religions, from ancient times to the present." - Wikipedia
Nagas are obviously Hindu in origin, and belong to a corrupt demonic matriarchal religion.
Granted, Hindu society today is extremely misogynistic. In significant respects, the West is matriarchal and the East patriarchal.
However, consider the original point of contact between the West and India. The West was in a strongly patriarchal phase, a mixture of Protestant and Darwinian imperialism. It encountered the indolent and pagan East, pornographically decadent with temple prostitutes, and penetrated her. Hinduism contains both matriarchal and patriarchal traditions, yet relative to the expansionary British Empire at the time, it was starkly matriarchal and corrupt.
Since that time, the age of magic has died, replaced by technology and science. So this snapshot is what we draw from. Naga are a compressed summary of India from the Anglo perspective. The startling Kali figures largely, and blends with the Medusa legend.
Naga society need not be absolutely patriarchal to achieve mythic resonance. Naga kings should rule as rarely as queens ruled in the medieval West.
The politically correct impulse is to revise the depiction of the Other in order to more accurately reflect the native culture, and to remove its offensive aspects. This is nonsense. Hindu culture is far too vast to be compressed into a single avatar like the Naga. Hindus create their own mythology in modern art such as video games, and it is alien and non-resonant to Westerners. The only thing the PC impulse can accomplish is to destroy the image of the Hindu Other in Western imagination. It cannot create.
Imagine applying the same PC impulse to Sun Wukong, the Chinese imagination of the Caucasian other. Is "foreign monkey" an insult? Absolutely. It is in many ways accurate, and a resonant depiction for Chinese? Yes, and therefore it should be preserved and celebrated. Caucasians can learn about both themselves and the Chinese through this distorted reflection.
Art is good when it reflects this kind of truth. The great races compete with each other, and their depictions of the enemy should be shaded by both enmity and respect, like warring island clans.
To deny the truth of racial competition, so fundamental to biology and history, is a lie of mind-boggling proportions, which practically erases the human race, halfway through its bloody rise from ape to god.
Naga mythological biology is cryptid, a blend of snake and human. Relevant snakes are the spitting cobra and the anaconda, the latter for size and constriction.
In many animals, males are larger than females, but for most snakes the opposite is true. In anacondas, females are on average 4.7 times larger than males. That is the biggest size difference between sexes in any land-living vertebrate.
Male snakes have relatively greater muscle mass, whereas female ones have greater capacity for processing and storing energy. Mythologically, this makes male snakes melee-oriented and females magically oriented. Hunger cost is a major constraint on spellcasting.
Muscle-energy dimorphism is a general trait of the animal kingdom, not specific to snakes. However, female mammals are typically worse at combat due to their suckling and child-rearing duties. The long helplessness of humanoid children, and their large heads at birth, further reduce humanoid female combat effectiveness. Nurture and murder are diametrically opposed mindsets. Even lionesses rely on lions to defend the territory.
Humanoid serpents, nagas, do not suffer the same constraints as mammals. They are partially endothermic, oviparous, and spend less time nursing their quickly-independent young. Female pelvic shape does not impact combat mobility. Thus one expects much less gender inequality. In fact, in a world of magic, females may easily be the stronger.
Naga are poikilotherms, and their sex is determined by incubation temperature. Cold temperature causes males with bestial upper-bodies, whereas warm temperature causes females with human-like upper bodies. Females are more intelligent and magically capable, but are weaker and mature more slowly, and their partial endothermy results in a higher metabolism, requiring more food.
Thus Naga society usually has a sex ratio of many more men than women. Men are lower-status than women. Women typically have multiple consorts. Only aristocracy are permitted to incubate daughters.
Naga are long-lived. To relieve population pressure, they raid surrounding lands during the warm months.
Not all Naga females are gracile and humanoid in their upper half. Such bestial Naga queens avoid mating with Naga males when planning to incubate daughters, out of fear that the offspring will be magically incapable. Instead they send Guardian Serpent Mana Viper squads to capture powerful magical humanoids of other species. As facultative parthenogenic cryptids, Nagas are capable of crossbreeding with nearby species, including Elves, Humans, Merfolk, etc.
The kidnaped grooms typically do not survive mating, which involves ritual biting, normally nonlethal to fellow Naga. If the queen doesn't devour him herself to prevent him from mating with rivals and to avoid future incest, then he is likely to be killed by jealous male courtiers. It takes an exceptional humanoid mage to survive in a Naga court, although the sensual luxury makes doing so a tempting prospect.
Naga society is caste-based, of course.
- Nagas, ruled by nagaraja queens
- Salamanders dwell in geothermal zones and serve as house guards in basement barracks
- Guardian Serpents oversee the peasantry
- Greater serpents obey the Guardian Serpents
- Kobolds – untouchables and peasant laborers
Kobolds are the peasantry. They engage in all demeaning and agricultural labor. Normally kobolds are driven underground or to the fringes of fertile civilized lands, but in Naga territory they greatly outnumber the other castes. Naga landowners direct them in large scale settled agriculture, which Kobolds do not otherwise undertake.
Most Kobolds are non-magical and unintelligent, and all are physically weak, making them easily dominated. Peasant kobolds are raised on a diet of milk and grain. The lack of meat prevents them from becoming aggressive and rebellious, as it does for lower-status kobolds in independent kobold societies. The occasional Kobold Fire Elementalist who manages to develop from stolen scraps of offal is easily dealt with by Salamander guards, who are likely to capture him and force him to heat their barracks until he expires from mana exhaustion.
The Kobold plantations, both above and below ground, produce whatever is agriculturally appropriate to the terrain. This means everything from grain-fed rats and chickens to pasture-grazed cows. Nagaraja tables are sumptuous.
Guardian Serpents enforce Kobold obedience. If the Guardian Serpent himself cannot fit into a Kobold hole, his serpent servants certainly can. Fear of their incredibly painful bites keeps the normally unmanageable Kobolds in line. As fellow reptiles, Guardian Serpents have the ability to distinguish one Kobold from another, the insight to discern Kobold emotions and motivations, and the cold-blooded cruelty to impose their will.
Lacking hands, Guardian Serpents are dependent on Nagas. With innate rPois and command over magic and weaponry, Nagas are easily able to dominate Guardian Serpents, who willingly serve as their retainers.
Naga live in a symbiotic relationship with Salamanders. Salamanders prefer to dwell in high-temperature geothermal areas. Such zones near the surface are small, which limits Salamander population size, and leaves communities isolated. Deeper down, room is plentiful but food is scarcer. Nagas trade Salamanders food for guards, which provide both heat and protection. They are medium infantry, between Nagas and serpents in speed.
Salamanders are housed in barracks beneath the nesting chambers of elite Naga women, incubating her eggs to permit them to develop into daughters.
The Naga middle class are employed in commerce, religion and war. Children are raised by Kobold nurses and apprenticed early, usually not to their own parents.
Naga queens are much more magically powerful than their consorts. They are not monogamous, preferring to have broods by different consorts to keep their court divided.
Cold weather is the best way to halt a Naga army's advance, which limits them to subtropical climates. Their large size and slow speed renders Naga easy prey for other humanoids, unless they're protected by the other species of their caste system. This means that Naga are limited to fertile areas which can support a Kobold peasantry, Guardian Serpents and their carnivorous swarms, and a Naga and Salamander elite.
In tropical jungles, Nagas do not require a caste system of supporting species. Temperatures are high enough to incubate an even sex ratio, and dense forest permits Naga to move aboveground through the trees, where they have a mobility advantage. Naga dominate the jungle, with only Formicid and to a lesser extent Barachi able to challenge them in their home terrain. Jungle Naga still live in symbiosis with Guardian Serpents and their serpentkin, united against Formicid encroachment from below.
Lore: Frontier Parthenogenesis
You are the daughter of a middle-class Naga who wished for a daughter of her own. Her insolent crime was discovered, and you were both sentenced to frontier raiding duty with the surplus males. Not in the same unit, of course.
Life was hard, discipline was lax, and as a juvenile female you lacked the magic to defend yourself. Things quickly went from bad to worse, and you resolved to flee at the first opportunity.
Opportunity came in the form of a sergeant stupid enough to buy your grateful damsel in distress act. What started as a way to make life bearable, turned into more when that great muscle-bound fool decided he wanted massages after the other thing. You were happy to oblige, memorizing the spot between his atlas and occipital while you kneaded his scalp. By the time you finally slipped a meat skewer into his brain stem, you'd rehearsed the move a thousand times. It was small enough to insert fully; they'd have to do an autopsy to determine cause of death. By then you'd be long gone.
To throw off pursuit, you headed upwards into the mountains, where Naga seldom go. The laziness and cowardice of the two corporals in your current squad was a key element of this plan. You'd never escape with the sergeant on your tail. However, these two buffoons would take any inconvenience as an excuse to report you lost to the Formicids.
You were seeking shelter from the elements among the rocks when you chanced upon an illusion-veiled mine entrance. Few illusionists are capable of deceiving Naga thermal vision. Whatever is hidden here must be of great value! Luck comes to the patient hunter, as mother always said.
Doubtless this place has guardians. But it is a refuge from the better-organized hunt that will surely follow the corporals' report. You chuckle as wonder what their punishment might be for letting you slither away while their CO lay cooling.
Just imagine if you succeeded in establishing a nest here! Then mother's foolish dreams of aristocracy might actually come true. A court of males to dance to your tune, eager to bring you the head and hands of those who've offended you. And massages… with guards present. You certainly aren't shy anymore.
Narrowing your eyes, you observe a faint heat trail. A rat, perhaps. Your poison glands flex involuntarily. It's been too long since you last fed.
You'll reabsorb this clutch, so as not to give those brutish losers the honor of fatherhood. Your next, however, will be all you. Hail to the Queen.
Background: Venom Mage
For an experienced player, it NaVM might seem counterintuitive. Naga has innate Spit Poison, a major advantage versus monsters in Dungeon, most of which lack rPois. NaVM increases this advantage, but what will NaVM do against rPois+ and rPois+++ monsters?
This would be a stronger argument if Naga were a 10-speed species. However, the utility of Spit Poison is greatly reduced by Slow 2, which frustrates poison kiting. So Naga innately has only the beginning of a poison tactic, not a complete one. In difficult fights he still mostly relies on melee.
Most elements do damage linearly. For example, hitting a foe twice with Flame Tongue is exactly twice as good as hitting it once. But Poison is different; it has direct damage but is also a stacking enchantment with four tiers. Poison damage over time increases with tier. Tier one is very weak, but tier four is OP in the early game.
Naga's Spit Poison can't reach high tiers by itself. Thus the Venom Mage background multiplies Spit Poison's effectiveness. +3 Poison aptitude, Naga's second highest aptitude, makes VM an easy choice. +5 Stealth synergizes with Mephitic confusion. Chei solves the Slow 2 conflict with venom kiting. For example, Chei's Int boost causes Mephitic to produce large, long-lasting Mephitic clouds that help NaVM survive in melee.
Finally, a monotheist! NaVM stays Chei the whole game. In case she lacks adequate defenses against Torment, she avoids those branches. 15-rune is an arbitrary goal that should be dangerously anti-strategic to blindly select at high difficulty setting.
The synergy between a time-space god of slowness, the slowest moving species in the game, and Venom Mage should be obvious. However, a significant portion of the DCSS community is actually anti- NaVM Chei, despite it being perhaps the most obvious essential combo, after MiBe. They argue that Na Chei's movement delay is too great, resulting in unavoidable deaths between player movements. (This is merely an artifact of the artificially low DCSS difficulty, which causes elites to obsess over identifiable sources of streak-ending unavoidable death, despite the fact that most such deaths occur due to emergent factors beyond reasonable anticipation.)
At max piety, Chei increases Na move time from 1.4 dauts/tile to 2.8 dauts/tile. However, there is no obligation to store max Chei piety. The player can easily increase his speed by Stepping from Time and Slouching.
If NaVM hasn't found Chei yet, she may worship Zin or Ely first. She prefers Ely, since she is too slow to Recite kite with Zin, and needs to heal herself if cornered. Ely counters rPois beasts such as Hydras. However, Zin does counter rPois demonic and undead. NaVM relies on Stealth to avoid such disadvantageous fights. TSO is a bad fit, as the halo counters stealth. However, NaVM will leave TSO anyway before the halo becomes big enough to be a problem, and TSO does provide Protection from Harm at starting piety.
Chei immediately provides a crucial ability available: Bend Time. This gives NaVM a chance in melee. It assists repositioning, poison kiting, or simply winning the melee.
Chei's piety gain is fastest with Na because Na is slowest. Slouch scales with movement speed difference.
The loss of haste-like effects is felt least by Na, which benefits little from them anyway, relative to the Chei's benefits. For example, Na's ability to outrun foes while Hasted or Swifted is less than that of any other species. It is difficult for NaVM to position for a safe Berserk.
Chei reduces the satiety cost of actions by 75%. This is major for Na. Na already has Slow Metabolism 1, which compensates for Slow 2. However, it doesn't compensate for the hunger cost of regular Spit Poison, which has a quick cooldown. Slow 2 means that chunks decay over a smaller amount of map explored. Together, this creates hunger pressure, particularly combined with heavy casting at -1 Spellcasting. Reduced satiety cost helps, and Chei's Int boost further reduces spell hunger. However, Chei's satiety reduction doesn't apply to the cost of Spit Poison, and it doesn't slow chunk decay.
Step from Time is Na's substitute for retreat, leveraging her +5 Stealth, the highest in the game, tied with Vampire.
Bend Time hits allies, but doesn't aggro them.
Attributes: pick Int
NaVM starts Str 10 Int 15 Dex 11.
Always level Int. It's the only stat with decent scaling. You'll get enough Str and Dex from Chei's attribute support: +15 at max piety. No need to buy more with precious free attribute points.
Strength scales poorly due to -2 Armor apt, even if one assumes that Deformed Body and barding cancel out. Large Shield and constriction help somewhat.
Dodging scales poorly due to -2 Dodging and large size. +5 Stealth is nominally huge, but stealth is always a secondary role.
Unable to reposition and discouraged from wearing heavy armor, NaVM Chei relies on spells to prevent overwhelm. -1 Spellcasting merely forces her into the specialized VM role with +3 Poison to compensate.
VM Spells: Sting considered helpful
- Sting is only partially resistable by rPois, but is ineffective against rPois+++, as is Spit Poison.
- Poison Vapor is for when EV is too high for Sting, and a better deal when the foe is stationary for the lingering cloud
- Mephitic Cloud can be used on self thanks to Na rPois, and confusion stabs synergize with +5 Stealth
- Olgreb's Toxic Radiance is for poisoning multiple enemies, or blitzing a single target
- Venom Bolt is for poisoning multiple enemies who are lined up.
The foundation of the book is Sting, which is often dismissed as useless past XL1 by those who don't understand poison kiting. Sting's inaccuracy merely balances the huge damage over time possible from properly-timed poison kiting.
The goal of poison kiting is to keep the poison enchantment stacked to tier 3 or 4. It's at 4 when you receive the message "[monster] is as sick as possible". Tier decay occurs regularly, and the fastest decay is from 4 to 3, so keep refreshing the poison at intervals. Use wizmode to examine this behavior via selecting a monster and reading its info with "D". A good rule of thumb is to take (n +1) steps between each application of poison:
- "[monster] is poisoned"
- Take 1 step
- "[monster] is even sicker"
- Take 2 steps
- "[monster] is even sicker"
- Take 3 steps
- "[monster] is as sick as possible"
- Take 4 steps
- "[monster] is even sicker"
In this example, poison hits tier 4 at #7, then declines to tier 3 at #9. This is fine, because the monster is probably nearly dead. Keeping it at tier 4 until its death would be a large waste of excess poison. The more HP the monster has, the longer it's worthwhile to keep it at tier 4. Adjust intervening steps accordingly.
Poisonous Vapors makes monsters willing to walk into harmful clouds, even if no visible cloud forms. This knowledge is rarely useful with Mephitic, which monsters will usually walk into anyway. However sometimes it is crucial that a foe step into a short-lived Mephitic cloud before it expires, in which case use Poisonous Vapors to guarantee it.
Ratio of spell school values in VM starting book:
- Poison: 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1 + 1/2 = 1.5 + 1/3 = 1.8333
- Conjuration: 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/2 = 1.333
- Air: 1/2 + 1/3 = .8333
Poison = 1, then Conjuration = 73%, Air = 45%
So Air is secondary, and Conjuration is midway between primary and secondary.
Which is awkward. I suspect I should revise my nomenclature to properly name the 75% mark.
Ok, I'll call it MCT, for Marginal Cost Target. So Conjuration is 3/4MCT, and Air is 1/2MCT.
OTR hits allies, but not rPois ones, of course. Thus Imps work ok with NaVM. However, Imps are really for kiting. They're good at screening and harassing for mobile characters, but mostly just get in the way of NaVM. MP is too scarce to waste it on them.
Train Fighting to SL1 first. The +3 mHP adds 20% to starting 15 mHP, whereas an SL of Conjurations costs twice as much for only a 10% improvement in Sting spellpower. That's not even all of NaVM's venom firepower, since she also Spits Poison. Better to survive longer while kiting backwards until the next venom attack.
Training Dodging to SL2 or SL3 won't increase EV from 10, so defer it.
The Polearm is NaVM's preferred melee weapon type. Her cost to reposition to adjacent in melee is prohibitive due to Slow 2, so reach is correspondingly more valuable. This is especially relevant vs ranged attackers and foes stumbling confused from Mephitic.
Polearms crosstrains Axes. Cleave is important, because Slow 2 often prevents repositioning to escape encirclement.
NaVM also likes Shortblades for stabbing, of course. Whether Shortblade stabbing is better than other weapon types, depends.
Fighting starts secondary and becomes primary once her meleeist is as significant as her Venom Mage. It needn't be as strong as the VM, because NaVM still must cope with rPois foes. If VM is necessary to survive 99 encounters, and meleeist to survive 1, then both are equally necessary to survive the 100. It doesn't matter that VM crushes the 99 and meleeist barely wins the 1.
Unlike most combos, XL1 NaVM benefits little from Throwing Stones. Instead, she will either kite or poison.
Incredibly, it isn't worth upgrading from Robes to Leather Armor at XL1. EV drops and AC doesn't increase. The GDR doesn't compensate for the increase in spell failure. At -2 Armor apt, upgrading will be a slow process. Then Chei starts supporting attributes, and optimal armor encumbrance quickly jumps towards Chainmail.
Blind-wielding enchanted weapons and risking Disto is somewhat dangerous. NaVM prefers keeping most monsters at range, but sometimes an rPois ranged monster should be kept close. NaVM is certainly happier with Disto than most builds, however. Disto helps prevent overwhelm.
Tactics: Tunnel snake kiting
They're comin' outta the walls! They're comin' outta the goddamn walls! Let's book it!
- Hudson, Aliens
Xenomorphs get shredded by automatic weapons fire if they're caught out in the open. NaVM suffers a similar fate.
NaVM is an agoraphobic tunnel snake. Stick to hallways and the edge of the map. The center is death. Autoexplore wants you dead.
If hallways are unavailable, any chokepoint helps, such as a doorway. Failing that, hug a wall. Play with disgusting cowardice. Reptiles ambush predators have no concept of honor, just infinite patience. Their cold-blooded nature lets them wait without eating where mammals would starve. Na is the slowest species and has one of the slowest hunger clocks; use that. If nothing's coming to the watering hole, shout or Mephitic to lure.
Spit Poison hits harder than Sting, so prefer to fire SP first to start the cooldown. However, Sting has more range.
NaVM doesn't go for stabs, except Mephitic confusion stabs with a polearm. The cost of recovering from a botched melee approach on a sleeping target is prohibitive due to Slow 2. Instead she approaches to Sting range to land a guaranteed hit with the notoriously inaccurate spell. Then the foe steps forward and she Spits Poison. Then she kites backwards. Poison kiting is still effective despite Slow 2 thanks to the addition of Spit Poison to VM. Na's +3 Poison also helps.
Poison Kiting ceases to be useful once Chei starts slowing NaVM further, of course. However, stair ascent and descent is the same as other species, regardless of Chei piety. Thus NaVM Chei is maximally mobile on stairs. This encourages stairdancing and triple visitation.
It's safer for NaVM to triple visit than to explore in the open. NaVM suffers no stair movement penalty, and Mephitic counters surround. However, it's safer to explore a maze from a single stair than to needlessly visit a second blind stair, particularly if NaVM lacks the means to counter a bad stair ambush.
It's amusing to meet an attempted stair ambush such as Robin's pack with Olgreb's Toxic Radiance followed by Mephitic. Who's the ambush predator?
Standard combat sequence:
- Skirmish at fullscreen.
- Spit Poison.
- Sting to max poison until reach range.
- Bend Time when adjacent.
- Mephitic on self.
- Poison kite to maneuver foes into clouds.
- Melee, and Spit Poison whenever available.
MP conservation is a problem. Chei and VM compete for mMP limited by -1 Spellcasting, which +1 Invo doesn't mitigate relative to Human. Use +20% mHP to buy time for poison to tick down and Spit Poison to cooldown while conserving MP. This works better in hallways, obviously.
Mephitic and Bend Space both target HD. Beware the adjacent high-HD meleeist. (Or pack thereof, if wearing a shield.)
Standard combat sequence, pre-Chei, starting from adjacent:
- Spit Poison
- Sting or Poison Vape, unless foe recently max poisoned
- If full HP, melee. Else step back, unless fast foe
Usually a 10-speed foe is better at melee than NaVM but loses to the venom kiting HP delta, despite getting 40% of his melee attack free per turn due to Na moving at 1.4 dauts per tile. Venom kiting at max poison is that strong in the early game.
Learndb says max poison does 2.25 HP / turn to monsters. I wizmode experimented with a max-poisoned Orc Knight. Over 15 turns, he lost 50 HP. That's (/ 50 15.0) 3.33 HP per turn. I used Poisonous Vapors, which does no instant damage, to apply the poison. Therefore Learndb underestimates poison damage.
3.33 HP is a huge amount of damage, considering a Jackal does 1.1 AED to an XL1 NaVM. NaVM usually has more mHP than his foes. Thus it's advantageous to "run out the clock" by kiting a meleeist. Even if the foe does 7 AED per turn, and thus about 3 AED while kiting, most foes have less mHP than NaVM. Meanwhile kiting puts NaVM further from danger, regens some MP and HP, and permits more uses of Poison Spit. Whereas if NaVM melees instead, he needs to do 60% of his foe's AED just to break even on AED, not to mention the other kiting advantages.
This is how real snakes fight. They are debilitators who envenom their prey and then disengage to wait for it to weaken.
Early Adders are still moderately dangerous despite Na's rPois. Adders aren't rPois, but their high EV makes projectiles miss. Their fast attacks can add up quickly. Counter with Poison Vapor. Just don't totally dismiss them.
The plan for Menkaure is to spot him while he's sleeping and Stealth away. Come back with Flame Wand. The backup plan is Lig or panic.
Early Spiny Frogs are rough. Lowish AC and low GDR makes NaVM quite vulnerable. Bend Time works since Spiny Frog HD is only 7. Constrict counters at XL13.
Slouch counters Spiny frogs and Ugly Things. Ugly Thing high HD and movement speed mean that HD-based attacks such as Bend Time and Mephitic are less effective. Even while confused, an Ugly Thing is fast enough to stumble into making melee hits.
Hydras are designed to delete Nagas. Lignify counters. Hydras are a good reason to delay Lair, and instead push deeper into Dungeon in search of Erica's fiery scimitar, or into Orc.
Delay Lair. The open maps and swarming monsters, many rPois, render it more dangerous than usual.
Orc is easier than usual, thanks to strong innate MR, SInv, and lack of Orc rPois. OTR counters Orc mixed packs, piercing clothie EV and infantry screen.
Dungeon is favorable for similar reasons. More monsters are rPois than in Orc, but the maze layouts offset this.
Clear Dungeon through D11, then breach Orc. Use stair rotation on D12 to counter camped stairs.
Don't get too deep on Orc:1. There's only one upstair and it's an open layout. Pull them to the upstair with Mephitic noise. If overwhelmed, continue loud-rotating D12 stairs. Fear D12 and stay near the stairs. D12 is just for killing time until Orc is breached. Orc:1-2 are the easy progress. NaVM can safely pull tethered foes from the Orc:2 end vault with Mephitic noise.
Don't enter Lair until NaVM Chei can counter Death Yaks and Hydras. For example, Curare and Draining for the Death Yaks and a flaming cauterizer for the Hydra.
After the Orc shops, NaVM should be ready for Lair.
Slime is bad for NaVM, but Elf is correspondingly favorable, thanks to OTR and Poison Vape ignoring Elf EV and MR to target their low mHP. Constriction is nice too.
Uploading soon to my YouTube channel. She went deep into Orc:2 and cleared the Gauntlet in Lair:1.