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For weight as it applies to monsters, see Monster carrying capacity.

There are six levels of encumbrance in NetHack: unencumbered, burdened, stressed, strained, overtaxed and overloaded. The exact inventory weight threshold for each level of encumbrance is determined by a character's strength and constitution.

If a character's total inventory weight is more than their carrying capacity, they will become burdened and slow down. A character can carry up to three times your capacity before becoming overloaded, at which point most actions except dropping items or praying become impossible.

Carrying capacity

Your current carrying capacity is given by the formula (25 × (Str + Con)) + 50.[1] Next, if you are polymorphed, this capacity is rescaled (except for nymphs): normally by your current monster form's corpse weight / 1450, but not down if it is strong, or by size / 2 if weight is 0.[2] Note that strong monsters automatically get strength 18/**.[3] If you are currently levitating, on the Plane of Air, riding a strong steed, or polymorphed into a nymph, your carrying capacity is set to 1000. The capacity is then capped at a maximum of 1000. The maximum useful Str+Con is thus 38 (unless polymorphed into a non-strong monster lighter than a human, such as a lich). Finally, your carrying capacity is reduced by 100 for each wounded leg unless you are flying, levitating, or on the Plane of Air.

For the purposes of this calculation, a strength of 18/01–18/31 maps to 19, 18/32–18/81 maps to 20, and 18/82–** maps to 21.[4] Gauntlets of power still count as strength 25, but because of the cap, this extra strength may not be of use. (It will always be of use for elves, whose strength + constitution is otherwise capped at 18 + 16 = 34.)

Encumbrance categories

Category Weight Speed To-hit Exercise Message on increasing level Message on decreasing level Warning message
Unencumbered ≤ capacity normal none N/A Your movements are now unencumbered. N/A
Burdened capacity + 1 to 1.5 × capacity − 1 34 normal −1 Your movements are slowed slightly because of your load. Your movements are only slowed slightly because of your load. You have a little trouble lifting <item>.
Stressed 1.5 × capacity to 2 × capacity − 1 12 normal −3 Exercise strength You rebalance your load. Movement is difficult. You rebalance your load. Movement is still difficult. You have a little trouble lifting <item>.
Strained 2 × capacity to 2.5 × capacity − 1 14 normal −5 Exercise strength, abuse dexterity You stagger under your load. Movement is very hard. You stagger under your load. Movement is still very hard. You have much trouble lifting <item>.
Overtaxed 2.5 × capacity to 3 × capacity − 1 18 normal −7* Abuse dexterity and constitution You can barely move a handspan with this load! (no message) You have extreme difficulty lifting <item>.
Overloaded ≥ 3 × capacity normal* −9* You collapse under your load. N/A There is <item> here, but you cannot lift any more.
* but see below.

Encumbrance will reduce your speed to the fraction shown above, after applying any adjustment for speed.

Your encumbrance category will interfere with your chances to-hit in melee.

Some categories of encumbrance may exercise or abuse certain stats every 10 turns.[5]


If you are burdened or greater, you:


If you are stressed or greater, you also:


If you are strained or greater, you also:

  • lose 1 HP every 30 turns if you are moving.
  • lose 1 HP every 3 turns if you are attacking.
  • cannot disarm traps.
  • have a cursed loadstone considered your worst cursed item for the minor trouble cursed items (otherwise other things are worse).


If you are overtaxed or greater, you also:

  • lose 1 HP every 10 turns if you are moving.
  • cannot attack a monster in melee.
  • cannot throw or fire a weapon.
  • cannot cast spells.
  • cannot zap a wand.
  • cannot use the read command.
  • cannot engrave.
  • cannot apply a tool.
  • cannot eat.
  • cannot use the #loot command.
  • cannot teleport at will with teleportitis.
  • cannot attempt to help a monster out of a pit.
  • have the major trouble collapsing if you have also lost 4 or more points of strength.


You can only reach Overloaded status by picking up loadstones, changing items' weight with a bag of holding, or losing strength, typically by polymorphing into a weak monster. The listed warning message is used whenever an item is too heavy for you to lift; you can see it even at unburdened, e.g. if you try to pick up a dragon corpse while carrying your usual kit.

If you are Overloaded, you also:

  • cannot move.

Item weights

Main article: Weight

Some of the most common weight culprits are:

Item Weight
loadstone 500
body armor 30 to 450
weapon 1 to 180
The Orb of Fate 150
shield 30 to 100
pick-axe 100
spellbook 50
helm 3 to 50
potion 20
food ration 20
lamp 20
1,000 gold pieces 10


Think hard what you really need to carry. Pack rats die faster.

Your encumbrance level can be reduced by:

Any encumbrance past unencumbered will slow your character down. It is therefore generally a Bad Idea to wander around carrying too much, and almost always a bad idea to enter combat overencumbered. If you are near your encumbrance limit and about to enter combat with a monster that can lower your strength (e.g. with poison), consider dropping a few extra items temporarily to avoid becoming overencumbered during the fight.

When you are suddenly polymorphed into a small creature (e.g. via lycanthropy), it is common to become instantly overloaded, and unable to move.

Being encumbered is generally considered a bad idea: speed is crucial to survival, and faster monsters can sometimes get in multiple hits, increasing the chance of surprise deaths. Furthermore, climbing stairs becomes more difficult when burdened (and impossible when stressed or worse), and a character using down stairs will fall down them - this is a fatal move if it occurs while wielding a cockatrice or chickatrice corpse.

If you have a good reason to move around encumbered, prepare to drop items if you are attacked. You can pick them up after the fight. This goes especially for corpses you are dragging to an altar to sacrifice; they are likely to become too old if you take up more turns fighting while carrying them. If you are relocating a stash, put it into a sack or bag of holding, so you can drop the container if you are attacked. If you need something from the container during the fight, just #loot it; this takes the same time as applying a held one. Don't accidentally drop crysknives or scrolls of scare monster.

You should not try to train strength by being stressed. There are far safer ways, such as pushing boulders around. Being stressed also blocks your HP and Power regeneration.

External links


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