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For other uses, see Breath (disambiguation).

Many monsters have breath weapons which they can deploy against you as a ranged attack. Breath weapons are often vexing to low-level characters who do not have reflection or the appropriate resistance.

Types of breath weapons

There are eight types of breath weapon:

Weapon Monsters using it
Magic missile D gray dragon
Fire d hell hound pup
d hell hound
D red dragon
N red naga
D Ixoth
Cold d winter wolf cub
d winter wolf
D silver dragon
D white dragon
Sleep gas D orange dragon
W Nazgul
Disintegration D black dragon
Lightning D blue dragon
Poison gas D green dragon
' iron golem
Acid D yellow dragon

The D Chromatic Dragon can attack with any breath weapon, chosen at random when attacking.

In 3.6.1, poison breath also leaves behind a short-lived trail of poison clouds.

Defending against breath weapons

There are basically four ways to defend against a breath weapon:

  • Have reflection; any breath weapon that hits you will then be reflected, though all monsters are immune to their own breath weapons.
  • Have the appropriate resistance, either intrinsic or extrinsic. This however does not protect your gear from fire, cold, or lightning. Disintegration resistance, on the other hand, does extend to armor that would otherwise disintegrate.
  • Fight the monster in melee. A monster will never use its breath weapon if it can hit in melee, unless it is impaired.
  • Cancel the monster. It will then cough instead of blasting when it tries to use its breath weapon.

Use of breath weapons while polymorphed

While you are polymorphed into a monster with a breath weapon, you can launch a breath blast by using the #monster extended command. This uses 15 points of magical energy.

Use by pets

In 3.6.1 and later, pets can use their breath weapons against both hostile and peaceful monsters.[1] Unlike melee attacks, they can sometimes target monsters of much higher level than themselves, although attacking anything 5 or more levels higher that the pet is increasingly unlikely.[2] Pets are much less likely to use a breath attack if they're hungry.[3] They will avoid to breathe in your (or other pets') direction, assuming you are not invisible or displaced and they're not confused.[4] However, they can still hit you on a rebound.


The following new SLASH'EM monsters have breath weapons:

Weapon Monsters using it
Magic missile D shimmering dragon
' diamond golem
Fire ' ruby golem
Cold ' steel golem
Sleep gas f kamadan
Lightning ' sapphire golem
Poison gas D deep dragon

In addition, ' crystal golems use a random breath weapon like the Chromatic Dragon.


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.