Delayed instadeath

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A delayed instadeath is an effect that is not immediately fatal, but will cause you to die instantly after some delay period, regardless of how many hitpoints you have at the time. These effects are generally treatable, so long as you are prepared, and act quickly.

Common examples are the delayed stoning from a cockatrice's hiss, or the disease attack that some unique monsters have.


Although the term delayed instadeath sounds self-contradictory, it is the accepted term in the roguelike community. Insta[nt] can be understood as referring only to the final reduction of hitpoints, which occurs in one fell swoop once the delay period is over.


Delayed instadeaths are regarded as major problems by your god, so prayer will normally save you, as long as it is otherwise safe to pray.


The following delayed instadeaths exist in NetHack:

Normally, prayer will not save you from the last two delayed instadeaths, though a sufficiently angry god could unintentionally save you from digestion by blasting the monster with lightning while trying to kill you.


FIQHack adds zombie attack delayed instadeath. If a zombie strikes you enough times in a short enough period, you will be afflicted with a fatal zombification disease that will kill you when a timer runs out.

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 Information on this page may be out of date.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.