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% Corpse.png
Name foo corpse
Base price 5 zm
Nutrition (depends on monster)
Turns to eat (weight / 64) + 3
Weight (depends on monster)
Conduct (depends on monster)

A corpse is the body of a dead monster. It is a very common comestible. Some monsters never drop corpses, some monsters drop corpses occasionally, while others will always drop corpses except in special circumstances.

Even though all corpses are classified as comestibles, that does not imply that they should all be eaten. Some corpses are acidic, poisonous or hallucinogenic; some corpses will give you a property that you may not want; even worse, some corpses are deadly to eat. Normally, you should avoid those corpses unless you have the appropriate resistance or means of curing the condition that they cause. One way to learn which corpses to avoid is to watch which ones your pet eats; for example, a pet will never eat a poisonous corpse (unless the pet is poison resistant). However, there are exceptions to this rule; for example, domestic pets may eat corpses of cats, dogs, bats, violet fungi, leprechauns, nymphs, stalkers, tengu, and your race without adverse effects, and you do not want to eat those corpses unless you have a way of dealing with their negative effects.

Most corpses can be revived with a wand or spell of undead turning, and a few revive spontaneously.

Corpse generation odds

Most monsters do not always leave a corpse when they die. Monsters that normally would leave a corpse will never if killed by stoning, disintegration, or digestion. Corpseless monsters such as ghosts or yellow lights will never leave a corpse. Lizards and any monster that is larger than size Medium are guaranteed to leave a corpse when killed by normal means unless they were produced by cloning, and player monsters and the Riders will always leave a corpse; in particular, this means that trolls, whose corpses can be very annoying, will normally always leave a corpse. Golems are guaranteed to leave their special death drops (if applicable) when killed.

For all other monsters, there is a 1 in n chance that the monster will leave a corpse when killed, where n is generated as follows:[1]

  • n starts with a value of 2
  • Add 1 if the monster is size Tiny
  • Add 1 if the monster's generation frequency is "Very Rare", "Not randomly generated" or "Unique".

Monsters will never leave a corpse on the Rogue level. Undead on a graveyard level have 1/9 of the normal chance of leaving a corpse if killed by you, or 1/3 of the normal chance if killed by anything else, further reducing the above odds.

(In a similar vein, some monster types will get replaced when you bring them back to life, e. g. priest corpses become zombies.)

As of NetHack 3.6.0, monsters represented by P (gray ooze, brown and black pudding, green slime) leave globs instead of corpses. Globs can be eaten like corpses, but not sacrificed or revived. In earlier versions of NetHack, and variants based on earlier versions, these monsters leave corpses.

Special corpse behavior

  • Lizard and acidic corpses cure stoning.
  • Lizard and lichen corpses never rot away, and never cause food poisoning.
  • Troll corpses (all T) come back to life 75% of the time.
  • The Riders' corpses have a chance to come back to life starting 12 turns after their "death".
  • Acid blob corpses never cause food poisoning, they are safe (but damaging) to eat and are suitable for sacrifice until they rot away.


Corpses are generally most useful and safe when fresh, slowly rotting as the turns pass. In most cases, with increasing age corpses become unsuitable for sacrifice or for feeding your pet and become harmful, even deadly, for you to eat, until finally they rot away to nothing.

Corpses do not age while stored in an ice box, and age at only half the normal rate while lying on ice. A tinning kit is also handy for preserving corpses for later consumption, by converting them into tins.

Any corpse dug up from a grave will already be old, aged 100 turns.[2] All mummies, zombies,vampires, and ghoul are undead—walking corpses already—so any corpse they leave will be the same age.[3]

Your god regards a corpse as "fresh" up to a maximum age of 50 and will accept its sacrifice on an altar.[4] If the corpse is too old, "Nothing happens." Even lizard and lichen corpses are subject to this limit, but acid blob corpses are an exception, suitable for sacrifice at any age.

Pets regard a corpse as "old" once its age reaches 50 turns.[5][6] Most pets will refuse to eat old corpses, except for lizard and lichen corpses; however, ghouls eat old corpses exclusively.

When you yourself eat a corpse, the effect of age is more complex, as the corpse progresses through several degrees of rottenness:

  • Lizard and lichen corpses are always safe for your consumption.[7][8]
  • For other corpses, rottenness is determined as age divided by random integer from 10 to 29, with a +2 bonus for being cursed or -2 for being blessed.[9]
  • If a rottenness is 6 or more, the corpse is considered "tainted" and will give you fatal food poisoning, expecting you to die in 10-19 steps. The corpse then rots completely, without any further effects (no nutrition or intrinsics conferred, no damages from poisonous corpses etc.)[10]
    • Acid blobs are never tainted.
    • Cockatrice, chickatrice, medusa corpses are never tainted, unless you are petrification resistant. They petrify, not food poison, you.
    • If you eat a tainted corpse while being immune to sickness, you will not become sick, but the corpse still rots completely, conferring no nutrition, intrinsics, etc.
    • If you were sick already, and the new moment of death is later then the old moment of death, you bring forward your death by 1 move. For example, if you were expected to die from sickness in 5 moves, and ate a tainted corpse, you are now expected to die in 4 moves.
  • Otherwise, if the rottenness is at least 4 ("old"), and you are not there is a 20% chance that you "feel sick" and lose 1d8 HP.
    • If the rottenness is 6 or more but the corpse is not tainted, the chance is 100%.
    • You are completely protected from this damage if the corpse is poisonous, or you receive acidic damage from the corpse, or you are immune to sickness.
  • In the absence of other negative effects, unless the corpse is a lizard or lichen, there is still a 1/7 chance of a corpse turning out to be rotten, in the same sense as non-corpse comestibles, with the associated consequences.[11]
  • Otherwise, you receive the full benefit of eating a fresh corpse.

All unrevived corpses except lizards and lichens eventually disintegrate, quietly disappearing from the game. This happens at an age of approximately 250 turns, with some random variation.[12]

Poisonous and acidic corpses

Every corpse of a poisonuos monster has 4/5 chance to be poisonous. If you eat a poisonous corpse, while not poison resistant, you lose 1-4 points of strength and 1-15 hit points.[13]

"Ecch - that must have been poisonous!" - you started to eat one. "You seem unaffected by the poison." - you started to eat one but are poison resistant.

Acidic monsters always leave acidic corpses. If you eat one, while not acid resistant, you lose 1-15 hit points.[14]

"You have a very bad case of stomach acid." - you started to eat one while not being resistant.


In SLASH'EM, corpses sometimes get overgrown with molds. Knowing this fact, players may get extra resistances or lichen corpses. See Fungus.

Corpse benefits and dangers

Acidic or poisonous corpses do 1d15 points of damage,[15] old but otherwise (still) safe corpses sometimes do 1d8 damage.

Gaining intrinsics

Many monsters have a chance of giving one or more intrinsics upon eating their corpse. The chance of gaining an intrinsic from a corpse that could provide it is based on the monster's base level and any other intrinsics the monster could provide. If a monster could provide multiple intrinsics, then there is an equal chance of each being conveyed, even if you already possess the intrinsic. Once one intrinsic is picked from the list, there is a level in 15 chance for most intrinsics that it will be conveyed. Telepathy, teleportitis, and teleport control are exceptions; telepathy is guaranteed, while teleportitis and teleport control are level in 10 and level in 12 chances, respectively. Killer bee and scorpion corpses are also an exception; they have a (5 + level) in 20 chance of giving poison resistance.

Many other corpses also have special behaviors that are treated separately from the main intrinsics.

Corpses that are beneficial in a way

  • wraith (level up; slightly different results in SLASH'EM)
  • All giants (strength up)
  • mind flayer and master mind flayer (intelligence up)
  • floating eye (telepathy intrinsic)
  • stalker (gives you permanent invisibility and see invisible when eaten while invisible, otherwise gives you temporary invisibility; but stuns you for 60 turns either way. You may not want invisibility.)
  • quantum mechanic (you get the speed intrinsic if you don't already have it, but lose it if you do. It is poisonous.)
  • globs, jellies, fungi (F), gelatinous cubes and puddings (often hurts you a little, but a good way to gain intrinsics if you are observing vegan/vegetarian conduct. Black puddings are not vegetarian, and brown puddings are vegetarian, but not vegan. Don't eat yellow molds or violet fungi unless you can unhallucinate yourself or are wielding Grayswandir. Don't eat green globs, as it will make you slime.)
  • lizard (if needed; cures stoning, lowers stun + confusion to two rounds, will not rot, but does become unsuitable for sacrifice)
  • unicorn (poison resistance. Killing unicorns of your own alignment massively lowers your Luck, but eating unicorns, even of the same alignment, has no such effect.)
  • dragon (gain intrinsics that that dragon has, so red dragons give fire resistance, black dragons give disintegration resistance, green dragons give poison resistance, etc; however, yellow, gray and silver dragons confer nothing. Baby dragons don't give intrinsics.)
  • tengu (gain intrinsic teleport control, but also has chance of conferring teleportitis or poison resistance)
  • Wizard of Yendor (gain intrinsic teleport control, but may also confer teleportitis; This is cannibalism for humans (except Caveman), but this may be acceptable at the point of the game, you meet him, because you will aggravate monsters due to his interventions anyway)
  • elves (gain sleep resistance, don't do this if you're an elf)
  • flesh golems (gain fire, cold, shock, sleep, or poison resistance)
  • newts (can gain 1-3 energy, or increase your maximum energy if you are currently at max)
  • nurse (restores hitpoints to maximum, but is cannibalism for humans (except Cavemen))
  • chameleon (polymorphs you - useful if you have polymorph control)
  • doppelganger (polymorphs you - useful if you have polymorph control; This is cannibalism for humans (except Cavemen) )
  • disenchanter (a random intrinsic is picked and, if you have the intrinsic, it is taken away from you. The intrinsics are: fire resistance, teleportation, poison resistance, telepathy, cold resistance, invisibility, see invisible, fast, stealth, intrinsic protection, aggravate monster. Mostly bad, but it can cure teleportitis or monster aggravation.)[16]

As a general rule, monsters with a fiery attack (red molds, red dragons, etc.) tend to confer fire resistance and monsters with a cold attack (brown molds, white dragons, etc.) tend to confer cold resistance.

Corpses that are harmful in a way

Prior to NetHack 3.6.0 (and in variants based on earlier versions), eating a green slime corpse would slime you. In 3.6.0 this behavior was carried over to the glob of green slime, which slimes leave instead of corpses.

See also

  • Death drops: items that sometimes appear when a monster leaves a corpse
  • Glob: comestible left by some NetHack 3.6.0 monsters instead of a corpse


  1. src/mon.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1923
  2. src/dig.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 918
  3. src/mon.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 307
  4. src/pray.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1301
  5. src/dog.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 792
  6. src/dog.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 770
  7. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 51
  8. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1552
  9. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1542
  10. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1552
  11. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1599
  12. src/mkobj.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1125
  13. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1581
  14. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1577
  15. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1580
  16. src/eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1034

External links

  • Eating Corpses for Food and Intrinsics - useful reference table of corpses, the intrinsics and effects they give when eaten, and other related information, for Nethack 3.4.3
  • HiSPeed's NetHack Helper - contains, among other, the corpse attribute database from Eating Corpses for Food and Intrinsics in interactive form.

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

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 {{nethack-360}}.