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In NetHack, conducts are various limitations that players may set on themselves to make a given game more challenging. The game keeps track of your conducts during play, and shows them at the end of a game; you may see them at any time by using the extended command #conduct. The Guidebook goes into detail on conducts in its eighth chapter.

Conducts only apply to actions taken in-game - i.e. a Priest "should" believe in a god but does not automatically lose atheist conduct, and classes that begin the game with learned spells can play illiterate.

Official conducts

The "official" conducts are the conducts that the game tracks.

When you start the game, the list of conducts looks as follows:

Voluntary challenges:

You have gone without food.
You have been an atheist.
You have never hit with a wielded weapon.
You have been a pacifist.
You have been illiterate.
You have never genocided any monsters.
You have never polymorphed an object.
You have never changed form.
You have used no wishes.

If you have configured your options to attempt the zen or nudist conducts, the following additional lines appear at the top of the list:

You have been blind from birth.
You have been faithfully nudist.

Certain conducts (vegan, vegetarian, and artifact wishless) must be fulfilled if you have followed other conducts (for example, being foodless implies that you have been vegetarian). The game does not show these conducts as long as you are still following the stricter version.


Main article: Foodless

Foodless means not eating anything at all. This includes sucking brains when polymorphed into a mind flayer, or digesting monsters when polymorphed into a monster with a digest attack.


Vegans refrain from eating anything which comes from an animal. Vegans may eat:

  • most, but not all, veggy food
    • food rations, cram rations, K-rations, C-rations and lembas wafers
    • melons, oranges, carrots, pears, apples, bananas, kelp, eucalyptus, garlic, wolfsbane, and user-defined fruit
  • corpses and tins of any monster represented by b, j, or F
  • tins of spinach

The only corpses from which a vegan may gain an intrinsic resistance (% chance when eaten) are:

When polymorphed into something with a digest attack, vegans may consume monsters that leave vegan corpses, as well as corpseless monsters such as ghosts and yellow lights, which are hardly even food. Additionally, polymorphed vegans may eat jewelry and other normally inedible metallic (as a metallivore) and organic (as a gelatinous cube) items, with the exception of leather items which would break both vegan and vegetarian conducts.


Vegetarians may, on top of vegan foods, eat:

All other comestibles break the conduct.

All of the food restriction conducts make it much harder to gain intrinsics, as the main source of intrinsics is eating corpses. When paired with other conducts such as polyselfless and/or atheist, it can make gaining some intrinsics impossible.


Main article: Atheist

An atheist hero is not involved with religion in most ways.


Main article: Pacifist

A pacifist is a player who does not directly kill any monster. A pacifist may, however, use a wielded weapon if they take care not to kill the victim.

Never hit with a wielded weapon

This is mostly self-explanatory. Throwing weapons, firing missiles and using wands is allowed. Hitting with other objects than weapons does not break this conduct. Thus you may very well use a cockatrice corpse as a weapon should you acquire one. Pick-axes, unicorn horns, and grappling hooks, however, do count as weapons, even though they are shown in the tool-category. Applying a bullwhip only breaks conduct if the target is not wielding a weapon. When trying to maintain a weaponless conduct, one should be very careful when wielding a pick-axe for digging.


Main article: Illiterate

Being illiterate means that you do not read or write anything - this includes scrolls, spellbooks and even fortune cookie messages and t-shirts. Using a magic marker to write a scroll or spellbook, or engraving anything but an X or x, also breaks this conduct. A scroll of mail (e.g. from users viewing your game on public servers) will warn you before you read it if the conduct is intact. Reading random engravings you may encounter on the floor does not break this conduct.

Never polymorph an object

"Polyless" conduct means never causing an object to be polymorphed via spell, wand, or potion of polymorph. Polymorphing monsters does not break this conduct. You don't need to worry about polymorphing previously carried items dropped by the monster as a result of polymorphing; they will not be polymorphed.[1] However, there may be objects on the floor below the monster which you cannot see.

This conduct is comparatively easy: 42.3% of all winning accounts on NAO have a polypile-less ascension.

Never change form

"Polyselfless" conduct means never changing into another monster, including from lycanthropy. Turning into a pile of gold/orange by eating a mimic corpse also counts as of NetHack 3.6.0 or later. Becoming a new man/woman/orc/etc does not count as changing. (In NetHack 3.4.3, eating a mimic corpse did not break this conduct.)

This conduct is easy to break inadvertently by wandering into an unknown polytrap. Nevertheless, it is relatively easy: 73.5% of all winning accounts on NAO achieve it.


Genocideless conduct is pretty obvious; refrain from causing genocide. Reverse genocide does not break this conduct. (You may not kill a mail daemon, either.)

Fully 33.1% of all winning accounts on NAO achieve this conduct at least once.

Wishless, artifact wishless

Main article: Wishless

Two wishing-related conducts are tracked: wishing for anything and wishing for artifacts. If you wish for, say, a silver dragon scale mail, you still have the artifact-wishless conduct. However, if you wish for any artifact, you lose both conducts, regardless of whether you actually receive the artifact.


Main article: Zen

The zen conduct is being blind throughout the entire game. It is one of the most difficult conducts, and only a handful of people are known to have ascended zen games. In order for this conduct to be tracked in your game, you must edit your configuration file to enable the blind option.

The difficulty in zen comes in that it is like a mixture of other conducts with additional twists to make it even harder. Reading is impossible (though there are ways to make scrolls readable, and the Book of the Dead can be read when blind). You cannot use altars to find the beatitude of objects because you cannot see any flash. You also do not see what your objects look like by their material or color, so all potions are only shown as "a potion", wands as "a wand" and so on.


Nudism means not wearing any armor throughout the game. Accessories like rings, amulets, lenses and blindfolds are permitted. Beginning the game with armor will automatically break the conduct, so in order to prevent this, turn on the nudist option in your configuration file.

Some success stories: Solidsnail, Ron Copeland.

Unofficial conducts

Main article: Unofficial conduct

Unofficial conducts are conducts that are not tracked by the vanilla version of the game. They are enforced by the players themselves only.


The blind option and nudist option were added in NetHack 3.6.0. Prior to 3.6.0, the zen and nudist conducts were unofficial but supported by certain variants.

In NetHack 3.4.3, eating a mimic corpse did not break the "polyselfless" conduct.

Candle considerations

When playing versions prior to 3.6.0, it is theoretically possible to explore the entire dungeon, and not come across seven candles. Izchak's lighting shop is guaranteed, but it is not guaranteed to have enough of them. If you have explored all branches of the dungeon and still not enough have been generated, you will have to obtain the remainder through one of the following means:

  • Wishing for them: violates wishless conduct
  • Polymorphing tools: violates polypileless conduct
  • Death drops: violates pacifist conduct

In effect, a lack of candles can make a game unwinnable without violating one of these three conducts.

This problem is solved by several variants. AceHack and NetHack 4 allow for gnomes to death-drop candles even if killed using a pet (and thus, spare candles are obtainable without breaking pacifist conduct); likewise, wax golems drop candles no matter how they die, in the variants in which they exist. GruntHack guarantees at least seven candles in the lighting shop. UnNetHack includes wax golems and sometimes generates gnomes with candles in their inventory.

NetHack 3.6.0 guarantees at least 8 candles at Vlad's Tower. Gnomes have a small chance of being generated with a candle, as well.


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

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.1. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-361}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.