Magic trap

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The Magic trap is a trap with many possible effects. It can occur on any level in the dungeon. The Knight quest has 45 guaranteed magic traps; the lair of Asmodeus has three; the Valley of the Dead, the Wizard of Yendor's Tower, and the lairs of Juiblex, Orcus, and Baalzebub have two each; and the variant of Medusa's lair with Medusa to the right, the Sanctum and the Archeologist and Wizard quests have one each.

Effects of magic traps

The effects of magic traps are as follows[1]:

Probability NetHack message Effect
20/600 (3.3%) "You are caught in a magical explosion! Your body absorbs some of the magical energy!"[2] Trap is destroyed; lose 1 to 10 hit points; maximum magical energy increased by 2 points; current magical energy equated to maximum
261/600 (43.5%) "You are blinded by a flash of light!" (If already blind, "You hear a deafening roar!" If already blind and deaf, "You feel rankled." If not subject to blindness, "You see a flash of light!") Blinds the hero for 5 to 15 turns, increments deafness for 20 to 30 turns[3], and creates 1-4 random monsters
58/600 (9.7%) No message No effect (but the trap is still marked)
29/600 (4.8%) "A tower of flame bursts from the floor!" Same effect as fire trap
29/600 (4.8%) "A shiver runs up and down your spine!" No effect
29/600 (4.8%) "You hear distant howling." (If hallucinating, "You hear the moon howling at you.") No effect
29/600 (4.8%) "You suddenly yearn for your distant homeland." If on the Quest portal level, or in lower Quest levels: "You suddenly yearn for your nearby homeland." If on the Quest home level and male: "You feel like the prodigal son." If on the Quest home level and female: "You feel oddly like the prodigal son." if hallucinating: "You suddenly yearn for Cleveland." No effect
29/600 (4.8%) "Your pack shakes violently!" No effect
29/600 (4.8%) "You smell charred flesh." (If hallucinating, "You smell hamburgers.") No effect
29/600 (4.8%) "You feel tired." No effect
29/600 (4.8%) "You feel charismatic!" (If charisma is at maximum, "You're already as charismatic as you can get.") Increase charisma by 1 if not maximum; tame nearby monsters as with a scroll of taming, but ignoring resistance
29/600 (4.8%) "You feel like someone is helping you." Uncurse worn and wielded items and loadstones, as with an uncursed scroll of remove curse; confusion is suppressed for this effect

Monsters seem much less likely to trigger magic traps than players. There is a 1 in 21 chance that they will experience the fire trap effect, with all other possible outcomes suppressed.

Uses of magic traps

Repeatedly #sitting or stepping on magic traps is an easy way to raise charisma; a patient player can usually reach the maximum for his race. This is especially useful when dealing with foocubi. This effect can also acquire pets, especially when combined with the create monster effect. On average, a single magic trap grants 1.4 points of charisma.

One should prepare oneself by engraving Elbereth, having telepathy (or wearing The Eyes of the Overworld), and fire resistance. Having a unicorn horn to cure blindness or a blindfold or the Sunsword to prevent it is also helpful. The unicorn horn is also the only reliable way to cure deafness. (Leather or cloth armor will not burn if you remove it, but this point is usually minor.) The choice of which trap to use is also important; since the monsters are generated right next to you, they are an imminent threat, especially without Elbereth. If your Quest branch generates less threatening monsters, you might use the magic traps there first. Start with the shallowest dungeon levels and work your way down until you have reached the charisma score you want.

A magic trap sufficiently close to an altar may be useful for generating sacrifices.

A player desperate to rid himself of cursed gear may attempt to use a magic trap for that purpose.


In UnNetHack some traps can be created by breaking a wand with a similar name. Breaking a wand of magic missile can create a magic trap if the terrain can accommodate such a trap.


Magic traps are slightly changed in SLASH'EM. The "Your pack shakes violently!" message now has an associated effect; every object in your inventory has a 1 in 10 chance of being assigned a new random letter. If the newly assigned letter is already taken by another object in the inventory the two items are swapped. Players that use fixinv will instead take 2 damage for each item that would have been moved; if this damage is fatal the death message will be "killed by violence". Additionally, monsters also have a 1 in 30 chance of destroying the magic trap in the same manner as the player; the trap is removed, they take 1d10 damage, their maximum power is increased by 2, and their power is set to this new maximum.


  1. trap.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 3045
  2. trap.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1305
  3. trap.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 3060