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Breathlessnesss, also known as magical breathing, is a property in NetHack that allows a monster to breathe in any environment even if it would ordinarily be lethal, and also makes them amphibious, allowing for underwater travel.

The only item that grants the breathless property is the amulet of magical breathing. Various monsters also have this trait as an attribute, sometimes referred to as unbreathing, that is governed by breathless(ptr) in the code.[1]


While breathless, you can breathe while underwater without drowning by any means, though your inventory will be subject to water damage as usual - water squares become "safe" for purposes of teleportation. You are also protected from the effects of sleeping gas traps and the engulfing attacks of fog clouds;[2] poison clouds will not damage you regardless of poison resistance and are not a major trouble for prayer, though they can still blind you.[3][4] Protection from sleeping gas and poison clouds also applies to breathless monsters.[5][6][7]

You cannot choke from eating too much food while breathless: you will always "vomit voluminously" instead and lose 1000 nutrition, though you still abuse constitution.[8] Breathlessness protects from the effect of eating an amulet of strangulation, but does not protect from a worn amulet of strangulation unless the player is also mindless, since the amulet is also crushing your neck.

The 1000 experience point-bonus for killing sea monsters with drowning attacks does not apply while you are amphibious, including from breathlessness.[9]

List of breathless monsters

The following monsters are breathless:


You are laden with moisture and find it mildly uncomfortable.
You are breathless and engulfed by a fog cloud.
You sink like a rock. But you aren't drowning. You touch bottom.
You fell into the water while breathless.
You choke, but recover your composure.
You were saved from choking by breathlessness.
You stuff yourself and then vomit voluminously.
You were saved from overeating by breathlessness.



In SLASH'EM, vampiric characters are naturally unbreathing.


In UnNetHack, vampiric characters are also naturally unbreathing.


In dNetHack, breathlessness does not prevent strangulation as such, but causes your breath timer to ignore the status entirely until it times out harmlessly.

vampiric characters are naturally unbreathing as in other variants. White dragon scales and scale armor grant breathlessness as a secondary extrinsic while worn. The spirit Astaroth confers breathlessness while bound.


In FIQHack, wearing white dragon scales or white dragon scale mail also grant breathlessness.

Breathlessness is one of the properties that can be conferred by quaffing or dipping into a potion of wonder.


In EvilHack, sea dragon scales and sea dragon scale mail grant breathlessness while worn.


In addition to dNetHack details, notdNetHack adds The Gillystone, an artifact emerald that conveys breathlessness while carried.


In Hack'EM, sea dragon scales and sea dragon scale mail grant breathlessness while worn.