The typical strategy in Larn is to battle your way down to the 10th level of the dungeon to get the Eye of Larn, which will (usually) give you enough money to buy the lance of death from the store for 165,000gp. The Eye of Larn is guarded by an invisible demon of varying degrees of toughness (based on what type he is). After using this typical strategy for years, I started playing around with other ways to win the game. Playing around with some of the following tips/tricks resulted in the strategy that works almost every time for me now. I've been able to beat all the difficulties up to 8. I'll detail that strategy in another post, but now I'll start with the tips and tricks.
Once you're past difficulty 0, you'll start the game with no armor and no weapon. There are a couple schools of thought on what to do. Some people sneak around the dungeon trying to get enough gold to buy the cheapest armor (leather) and the cheapest weapon (dagger). That will allow you to not get hit by bats, but you'll still be hurt by Gnomes, jaculi, and our friends the Hobgoblins. Luckily the Hobgoblins are one of several monsters in the game (along with ice monsters, invisible stalkers, and metamorphs) who move once for every two moves of yours. You can try to hit one, move a step, then hit again. I usually will skulk around the dungeon until I get enough money to buy chain mail armor. (850gp). This will give you an armor class of 6, which is enough to be impervious to anything except the Hobgoblins. There are a couple ways to get the money early in the game. Books from level 1 are worth 653 in the Larn Trading Post, Chests are something like 1745, and Gems will be worth anything from 300 to a couple thousand gp. The spells you get on level one from the books are typically things like dex+2 and magic missile (which you already have) so you're not losing much selling the books in order to get okay armor. That armor will pretty much last you down to level 2, and sorta level 3 (where you get Rust monsters and Quasits who can really hurt you).
Once you have armor, you are free to roam the dungeon. I usually save all my scrolls and drink all the potions. There are much cooler things to be gained from scrolls than potions, so instead of reading them, I save them. Once I have enough money, 3400gp, I buy a scroll of identify from the store and read it. Then I sell scrolls that I don't need on the early levels. (spirit protection, undead protection, and any of the "bad" scrolls such as aggravate monsters or haste monsters). By waiting to identify scrolls, you don't waste the very valuable scrolls (such as gem perfection, annihilation, enchant armor, enchant weapon, etc) by reading them at the wrong time. Gem perfection scrolls are a good way to get a lot of money very quickly. You can stockpile your gems and wait until you get one or two Gem Perfection scrolls (there is also one for sale in the store for 10000gp) and each time you read one, it doubles the value of your gems. If you have 40,000gp worth of gems, and read two Gem Perfection scrolls, you'll be very near the price of the Lance of Death without ever getting the Eye of Larn.
Once you have 2500gp, it's also a good idea to pick up a scroll of expanded awareness. This will really speed up the amount of time that it takes to get through a level of the dungeon, and furthermore, you can see things coming and move away from them, like pits or monsters that are out of place. (sometimes, a monster from a "room" will be placed outside the room instead. I have had white dragons on level 2, or nagas on level 7 before).
As you go to lower levels, Chests and Books increase in value. On level two, books are worth 1000gp and chests 2536gp. The trick is, that the spells you have a chance of getting and the gear from chests are potentially much cooler as well. Spells from level 2 books are things such as enlightenment, web, sleep, which can all be very handy. There is also a chance you'll still get the crummy spells from level one, though. I usually sell all books from the first two levels.
A Belt of Striking is another item that it's nice to get. It's fairly expensive from the store, however if you read your enchant weapon scrolls while wielding the belt instead of your weapon, you get two points of weapon-class for the price of one that stack when you re-wield your main weapon. The added bonus is, that if you get a better weapon, those enchant scrolls aren't wasted and the 2 extra points carries on to your next weapon. By the time you get the lance of death, having a high weapon class is key because you still need to hit the monsters to kill them. Especially on higher difficulties, if you have a WC that isn't high enough, the lance of death doesn't guarantee your success.
Rust Monsters (R) , Disenchantresses (q), and gelatinous cubes (g), are the bane of the Larn player. If you hit them with your weapon, it will get dulled and your WC will go down. If you don't have a spell that can hurt them (sonic spear, fireball, lightning, etc) you'll either have to unwield your weapon (by dropping it) and trying to hit without a weapon (the Rust Monster will still be able to dull your armor, however) or you can try to lead them to fall into a pit. (you might fall in too) or finally, if you have the "web" spell, I discovered that you can hit Rust Monsters and Disenchantresses without dulling your weapon! The "sleep" spell does the same thing. You can cast web on Rust Monsters and Disenchantresses, but not gelatinous cubes (they aren't affected). You can, however, put them to sleep. These low level spells are as good as a death spell later in the game when you have the lance of death since they guarantee a "hit" with the lance.
An alternative option with "enchant weapon" scrolls is to wield your armor while you read the scroll. It will add to your AC. It's important to only do this with the Stainless Steel Plate armor that you'll use for the rest of the game once you buy it, otherwise the plusses are wasted. You *could* wield your shield instead or a ring of protection and add the plusses there if you wanted. The problem with the shield is that it can still be dulled by Rust Monsters and the problem with using a Ring of Protection is that it can be stolen by Nymphs and later Nagas.
Throughout the dungeon, you will see "Jewel Encrusted Thrones" Youc an try to pry the gems off of them. There is a chance you can get one to 8 gems from a throne, depending on how much open space is around it. The most I've gotten, however, is six. If you have a vaporize rock spell (or fireball/lightning) you can try to knock the walls down from around throne before you pry the gems. Of course, there's also a chance that the gnome king (k) will appear. These guys are VERY TOUGH to kill. On higher difficulties you can't even take them out with a pulverization scroll. One trick you can try, is if you have a hold monster scroll or a stealth scroll going, you can pry and then if the gnome king appears you can get away. They will be killed by a finger of death spell, a hit from the lance of death, or three to four lightning/fireballs. either way, if you choose to play throne lottery, beware.
PERMANENCE: If you can read a book and get the spell "Permanence" you've basically won the game. Whenever I get this spell, it's usually from a book in the volcano. What this spell does is to make every buff spell (the ones you see on the right panel of the larn screen) permanent. If I get this spell, I usually run back up to the Home level and go shopping. I get a heroism potion, a giant strength potion, scrolls of undead protection and spirit protection (especially important for nagas) fire resistance (for dragons) stealth and expanded awareness--then I cast all my buff spells, dex+2, str+2, haste, invisibility, invulnerability, cancellation, walk through walls, and then finally PER (permanence). All those things will be on for the rest of the game. With Stealth permanenced, the monsters will be frozen and only wake up when you hit them. If you have the lance of death, that means they're dead. Even if they wake up, you'll still have haste, invisibility, charm monster, and all those other things running, and they won't stand a chance. Permanence is guaranteed victory if you play it right.
More to follow!