In order to enter the Gnomish Mines, the player must find its entrance in the previous floor of the dungeon, hidden behind a lever puzzle involving two lever gates that block off the entrance from the rest of the dungeon floor.
The layout of the mines is a fixed maze pattern, with many hallways and dead-ends that requires the player to traverse carefully in order to not come in contact with dangerous enemies. The player starts in the center of the maze, with one doorway at each of the four walls of the room, as well as a fountain. Inside the maze, there are several key locations the player needs to find:
- The exit is located at the lower left corner of the mine.
- There is a shop located at the top right corner, which also holds a lever inside the shop itself.
- The lower right corner contains a room rife with Magic Pillar Traps, locked up behind several gates. Switching on the lever in the shop opens these doors. Inside this room is the artifact Sphinx's Veil.
Enemies and Hazards
Inside the mines are many Gnomes and Trolls, both of which serve as the primary threats of the area. When entering gnomes and trolls with often enter the room in the center of the maze, then attacking the player on sight. There are two types of Gnomes, Digger Gnomes wield a pickaxe and cloak and are typical melee attackers, while Caster Gnomes attack with magic bolts that deal significant damage and often kill players early in the game with one or two shots.
Around two dozen gnomes and a half dozen trolls wander the map at a time, so the player is often going to encounter a handful of enemies when they traverse the mine. Enemies also appear to have an AI that makes them home in on the player for a short distance from a gnome death.
The most common item found throughout the mine are gold piles, which are found at almost every dead end of the maze, each with varying gold yield. With some piles generously containing an upwards of 100 gold each, it is not uncommon to walk away with 3000+ gold from the mines when explored completely.
Due to the large quantity of Gnomes, Caster Gnomes when killed leave behind their Lightning Staff, being a very powerful ranged attack early into the adventure.
The most notable item found inside the mine is protected in the heavily guarded room at the lower right corner, that being the artifact Sphinx's Veil.
- When you enter a floor with the portal to the Gnomish Mines, the player will be notified immediately about "the sounds of pics striking rocks".
- Only the center room, shop area and trap room are lit, so having a torch can help traverse the dim corridors of the mine. The gnomes sometimes drop excellent lanterns to provide additional lighting as well.
- Inversely, using the darkness can help in avoiding detection, so keeping an eye out for the lantern lights of Gnomes can help keep one's distance from high-damaging Casters.
- There is no risk of the Minotaur here, so taking one's time to explore the map and slowly dealing with the gnomes or trolls can be accomplished.
- Very rarely, a Scarlet Caster Gnome will spawn, carrying an excellent staff of magic missile, an extremely powerful ring, and a well enchanted cloak. Without any magic resistance or reflection, he will most certainly kill any player in a single hit.