This session will be light on lecture and heavy on demonstration. The ttyrecs will eventually be posted alongside these notes... which will be updated... because I kinda didn't finish. Oops.
The Gnomish Mines are one of the two optional branches of the game. However, between Minetown, a guaranteed tool per level, and the luckstone at the end of the branch, they're well worth completing for most characters. They're also full of dwarves, who might leave behind early mithril if “asked nicely...” Mines levels are wide open, though, so it may be difficult to avoid being swarmed by monsters. Even gnomes add up when there are six of them next to you. Also, while the random tools can include bags of holding or magic markers, the random h can include master mind flayers, even on the early levels. So watch your step.
Sokoban is a boulder puzzle. You can play it for the puzzle (or you can use a spoiler like the rest of the world) but most of us play it for the guaranteed ring and wand per level, not to mention the plentiful food and two scrolls of earth. Sokoban is the other optional dungeon branch — I've skipped it on an ascension but the loot is usually worth it. I will sometimes skip the fourth level if I already have the prize at the end: amulets of reflection and bags of holding are both not useful if you already have one.
The Quest is not optional. But... you can always skip most of it with a cursed scroll of level teleport. Each quest is different, but to get into any Quest, you need at least 20 alignment (not having this is actually kind of hard, so don't worry) and to be XL 14 or higher. Most of them you should do as soon as you can, but there are a few where you might want to wait — most notably Monk and Samurai.
We'll look at the Castle when we DfV.
A joke. Laugh.
Use telepathy before you go inside — if there's a cockatrice in the zoo, stop and pick it up, otherwise go in the portal, level teleport up to the Wizard's chamber, grab the book, and level teleport to the Vibrating Square. Make sure to have wand of death charges for the Wizard, and if you're feeling lazy, just dig a hole to him and let him cross the water for you!
The Protection Racket is the subject of horribly repetitive flame wars on RGRN all the time, but it's actually pretty interesting. Since you can get AC from priests for 400 gold per XL, showing up in Minetown at XL 1 with 8000 gold is going to turn you into a tank. This may sound impossible, and indeed I recommend getting to XL 3 or so, but it's actually quite doable. Here are a few skills that are generally handy but demonstrated very nicely by the racket:
Pets will kill things for you if you let them. In fact, if you let them, they will kill more or less everything, otherwise pacifist games would be very problematic. You can and should use them to test if weapons, armor, and other items are cursed. Any uncursed armor is worth trying on when you aren't surrounded by monsters.
I'll do a live demo, but basically credit cloning is the art of making your pet bring items out of a shop and then selling the items back until the shopkeeper has no money left. Do this a few times and you can have 8000 gold no problem.
Use Elbereth to avoid killing things.
The Minetown altar might not be coaligned. Sokoban's scrolls of earth or a pick-axe can keep the priest locked safely away while you convert the altar to the alignment of your choice. I'll demonstrate.