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Revision as of 11:00, 22 June 2023 by Moult (talk | contribs) (Weapon skills: describe how scimitar skill has been deleted in 3.7.0)
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The term "master" redirects here. For the rank title of a Monk at experience level 30, see Monk#Rank titles.

NetHack's skill system allows different roles to attain different proficiencies in the use of different weapons and spells. Skills can be advanced using the #enhance command. When you become able to advance a skill, you will see the message "You feel more confident in your (weapon/fighting/spell casting) skills." If you have just advanced a skill and still have more that can be advanced, you will get the message "You feel you could be more dangerous!" Skills are not advanced automatically because each skill takes up skill slots, which are finite and gained by leveling up..


Most skills in NetHack have four possible levels: Unskilled, Basic, Skilled and Expert. Martial arts and Bare hands have two levels beyond expert: Master and Grand Master. Generally speaking, characters start at basic skill in the weapons and spells they begin their adventure with, and unskilled in all others.

Use the #enhance command at any time to get a list of skills which you can train. If a skill does not appear on this list, your role is restricted in this skill, meaning that no amount of training will enable it to advance beyond unskilled. However, if you receive an artifact weapon from your god, you will be "unrestricted" in the appropriate skill if necessary, which can then be advanced to Basic. #enhance will also indicate which of the listed skills have been trained up to their maximum levels. Tables of maximum skill levels can be found in Dylan O'Donnell's spoilers weap-343.txt and spl1-343.txt.

Combat skills are generally trained through dealing more than 1 damage using a given weapon while wielded in melee, and projectiles are thrown or else fired from the launcher they are designed for - some melee weapons (spear, javelin, knife, dagger, and aklys) can double as projectiles, and either use trains the appropriate skill. Spellcasting skills are trained by successfully casting a spell; a common training strategy is to use low-level spells such as light or knock to raise the skill for another desired spell in that spellcasting school.

Technical details

To advance a skill, you need to have enough free skill slots and to have practiced it enough. You gain a skill slot each time you gain an experience level, and being crowned also grants one skill slot - this means there is a maximum of 30 skill slots available. Higher skill levels require more skill slots. Skills that are non-weapon based (spellcasting, bare-handed combat, and riding) use half as many skill slots as weapon-based skills.[1] If you lose an experience level, you will also lose a skill slot, which may result in losing your most recently earned skill.

The table below shows the total number of successful uses of a skill required to reach each level and the skill slots required to advance. If you start with a skill at Basic, you are also precredited with 20 successful uses of that skill.

Skill level Successful uses Slots required for weapons Slots required for non-weapons
Unskilled 0
Basic 20 1 1
Skilled 80 2 1
Expert 180 3 2
Master 320 2
Grand Master 500 3

Hitting a monster for more than one point of damage (including from a distance) counts as a successful use of a weapon skill. For bare-handed combat, a successful use is only scored 50% of the times you hit a monster; for martial arts, 75%.[2][3] As with weapon attacks, a check is made to see if your skill damage bonus applies (see below). Riding a total distance of 101 squares counts as a successful use of the riding skill.[4] Successfully casting a level n spell counts as n successful uses of the corresponding spell casting skill.[5]



Improving spellcasting skills improves your chances of casting spells in that school successfully. Certain spells also have better effects when cast at skilled level or above. Cone of cold and fireball create explosions rather than a ray;[6] and detect monsters, confuse monster, levitation, remove curse, detect food, cause fear, identify, haste self, detect treasure, and restore ability all have the effect of a blessed potion or scroll.[7][8] Protection takes twice as long to decay if cast as expert.[9] Jumping allows you to jump farther based on your skill level, with a bonus even for Basic skill.[10] To-hit chance of most ray-type spells (sleep, magic missile, unskilled/basic cone of cold, and finger of death) also depends on your skill level.[11]


Improving weapon skills improve your to-hit and damage bonuses. Bare hands combat and martial arts skills are an exception to this rule: In 3.4.3 they never granted a to-hit bonus,[12] and in both 3.4.3 and 3.6.0 their damage bonus applies only to 50% and 75% (respectively) of all hits.[13][14]

Quoting from Kate Nepveu's spoilers:

Weapon skill levels and bonuses

Needed Weapon Two-weapon
Skill level Hits Exp +Hit +Dam +Hit +Dam
Unskilled 0 0 −4 −2 −9 −3
Basic 20 1 0 0 −7 −1
Skilled 80 2 2 1 −5 0
Expert 180 3 3 2 −3 1
Needed Riding Bare-hand Martial
Skill level Hits Exp +Hit +Dam +Hit +Dam +Hit +Dam
Unskilled 0 0 −2 0 +1 0 +2 +1
Basic 20 1 −1 0 +1 +1 +3 +3
Skilled 80 1 0 +1 +2 +1 +4 +4
Expert 180 2 0 +2 +2 +2 +5 +6
Master 320 2 +3 +2 +6 +7
Grand Master 500 3 +3 +3 +7 +9


Your skill at riding affects your chances of successfully applying a saddle.[15] It also affects your chance of hitting[16] and the damage you inflict[17] when riding. Also, you need at least Basic skill to pick up items or loot a container on the ground[18] or search one for traps,[19] dip something into a pool,[20] set a trap[21] or disarm one[22] or engrave on the floor[23] while riding. Also, if your steed is capable of lifting (and moving over) boulders, you need Basic skill to make them use this ability.[24]

Skill tables

- Restricted
b Basic
S Skilled
E Expert
M Master
GM Grand Master

Weapon skills

Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Rog Ran Sam Tou Val Wiz
dagger b b b S b - - E E b E E E
knife b - S E b - - E S S S - S
axe - E S - S - - - S - b E S
pick-axe E S b - b - - - b - b S -
short sword b E - S S - - E b E E S b
broadsword - S - - S - - S - S b S -
long sword - S - - E - - S - E b E -
two-handed sword - E - - S - - b - E b E -
scimitar S S - b b - - S - b S b -
saber E b - b S - - S - b S b -
club S S E S b - E S - - - - S
mace - S E b S - E S - - b - b
morning star - S b - S - E b b - b - -
flail - b S - b - E b S S b - -
Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Rog Ran Sam Tou Val Wiz
hammer - E S - b - E b b - b E -
quarterstaff S b E E - b E - b b b b E
polearms - - S b S - S b S S b S S
spear - S E b S b S b E S b S b
trident - S S b b - S - b - b b b
lance - - - - E - b - - S b S -
bow - b S - b - b - E E b - -
sling S - E S - - b - E - b b S
crossbow - - - - S b b E E - b - -
dart b - - E - - b E E - E - E
shuriken - - - S - b b S S E b - b
boomerang E - E - - - b - E - b - -
whip E - - - - - - - b - b - -
unicorn horn S - b E - - S - - - S - -

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

The scimitar skill has been deleted, and merged into the saber skill. Barbarians have their saber skill raised from Basic to Skilled.

Other combat skills

Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Rog Ran Sam Tou Val Wiz
bare hands E M M b E - b E b - S E b
two weapon combat b b - - S - - E - E S S -
riding b b - - E - - b b S b S b
martial arts - - - - - GM - - - M - - -

Spell skills

Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Rog Ran Sam Tou Val Wiz
attack b b b - S b - - - b - b E
healing b - - E S E E - b - - - S
divination E - - - - b E S E b b - E
enchantment - - - - - b - - - - b - S
clerical - - - - S S E - - S - - S
escape - b - - - S - S b - S b E
matter b - S - - b - S - - - - E



In SLASH'EM, advancing a spell skill costs as much as weapon skills.[25]


UnNetHack changes the number of successful uses of a skill required to reach each level. These values are:

Skill level Successful uses Old value
Unskilled 0 0
Basic 100 20
Skilled 200 80
Expert 400 180
Master 800 320
Grand Master 1600 500

Spell skills, however, advance four times as fast until the player is Skilled in the relevant skill, after that, the skill only advances twice as fast as shown in the table above.


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.