Escape item

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An escape item refers to any object that can instantly get you out of trouble. These are the ones you will search your inventory for when cornered by a tough monster, being pulled underwater, or something similar. As a general note, scrolls and potions can get destroyed, and some intelligent artifacts will blast you, so you might want to carry one of the less vulnerable cures to each trouble in your main inventory at all times. Being prepared is key to winning NetHack.

Frequently useful escape items

Some common escape items are:

Scroll of teleportation
An obvious one — teleports you out.[1] A cursed scroll of teleportation is noteworthy as it will not only teleport you away from your current predicament but also place you on a different dungeon level[2].
Cursed potion of gain level
Moves you through the ceiling to an upper dungeon level.[2]
The Eye of the Aethiopica
Opens a portal for you to any visited dungeon branch when #invoked.[2]
This is unreliable if used too often because rnz might draw huge timeouts (up to 2,000 turns).
The Orb of Fate.
Can be invoked for level teleportation.[2]
This is unreliable if used too often because rnz might draw huge timeouts (up to 2,000 turns).
Wand of digging
Zap this downwards and fall to the next dungeon level[2], or engrave Elbereth.
You won't fall if a monster is holding you.
Scroll of genocide
Can instantly kill the monster that is about to kill you.
Note that reading an uncursed scroll of genocide while confused is a very Bad Idea, and reading a cursed scroll of genocide will create even more monsters rather than getting rid of them.
Wand of teleportation
Same as the scroll, except that the wand gives you the choice of teleporting the monster instead, and a cursed wand won't teleport you to a different level. The wand is much more useful on no-teleport levels, as teleporting monsters will work even on no-teleport levels.[1]
Wand of cold
If you are being pulled underwater, you can use this wand to freeze the water that the sea monster is swimming in, thus preventing it from drowning you. It also deals significant damage, and stands a pretty good chance of destroying most early-game threats in one strike.
Wand of fire or wand of lightning
Can be used to engrave Elbereth permanently and quickly. The wand of lightning, however, will blind you, and there are monsters that don't respect Elbereth. Also, like the wand of cold, these can be used to simply nuke the attacking monster. Fire can also be used to cure sliming. Lightning will not explode when you get shocked.
Non-cursed scroll of earth
You can use this one in an open space to create a boulder fort around you, possibly giving you the time to heal. If it is not blessed, one of the boulders will fall on your head, damaging you. It can also be used to save yourself from a sea monster's drowning attack, but this has a 10% chance of failure and thus shouldn't be relied on.
Wand of polymorph
Zap that monster that is about to kill you and change it into another (hopefully easier) monster, unless it resists. You can also zap yourself with it, using it as a makeshift healing device (if your HP reaches 0 when you are polymorphed, you change back to your original form instead of dying).
This should be your last resort, as the monster may very well become much tougher than whatever it was before, or you could kill yourself with system shock, not to mention that using this wand for polypiling is a much better use for it. Minotaurs and air elementals engulfing you are worthy targets, though.
Non-cursed athame, including Magicbane
You can engrave Elbereth in one turn whenever needed.
Tooled horn or leather drum
Scares monsters, 80% chance, even those that don't respect Elbereth.
Can be resisted.
Expensive camera
May blind or scare seeing monsters, causing them to be less effective at attacking you and/or to flee.
Elbereth will not work on blinded monsters, but does work on eyeless ones.
Magic whistle
Summons your pet(s), which can then either attack the monster or block its path to you.
Wand of death
Will kill most enemies in one turn. However, there is a slight chance of missing. Beware of having the beam bounce and hit you (or your pet), unless you have reflection or magic resistance. (A)pply it if you are surrounded (if you can survive the blast damage).
Lizard corpse or potion of acid
Not strictly for running away, but cures stoning in one turn. Note that tins of acidic monsters will also work, but take at least two turns to consume, and the spell of stone to flesh has other drawbacks. Don't choke on the lizard.
Amulet of life saving
Remember to put on another one when it's used up!

Lesser escape items

A few other items have defensive properties that may not be quite so obvious.

  • Several attack wands can be thrown at wand-using nasties that have troublesome melee attacks when the player is already immune to them either by resistances, reflection or magic resistance.
  • Create monster can be used to generate lesser nasties to block some already generated worse ones. In a similar vein a cursed scroll of genocide is even more practical, but it often has other uses, whereas the wands and scrolls of create monster are typically abundant.


You might want to assign fixed inventory letters to the following items and carry them in your main inventory at all times:

The above selection covers the most common or pressing problems without burdening you down too much.

NetHack is a game of risk management. That's why escape items are so important.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Covetous monsters will still be able to go to you immediately, regardless of how far you are from them.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Will not work on followers, who will pursue you if adjacent.

See also

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.