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Disintegration is a way items and creatures can be destroyed. Disintegration is one kind of instadeath, which occurs when you are hit by a blast of disintegration. The only possible sources of such a blast are a black dragon's breath or a particular flavor of your God's wrathwide-angle disintegration beam (which can also destroy worn shields, body armor, and shirts even if you are reflective or disintegration-resistant); there are no spells or wands of disintegration. Magic resistance does not save you from disintegration.

Reflection will reflect a blast of disintegration, but not a wide angle disintegration beam. You can gain disintegration resistance, by eating an adult black dragon corpse, by wearing black dragon scales, black dragon scale mail, or by polymorphing into any black dragon. This will protect you from both sources of disintegration, and your armor from a dragon's blast. (Reflective or black dragon armor is not destroyed by a god's wrath.)

If a dragon's blast of disintegration hits you or a monster, and you/it are neither resistant nor reflecting, it will destroy:[1][2]

  1. worn shield, otherwise:
  2. worn body armor, (plus worn cloak), otherwise:
  3. you/it (plus worn cloak and worn shirt, and in case of monster, with some probability, each inventory item[3]). An amulet of life saving, if worn, will revive you/it, except if the monster is nonliving. The latter case can only arise if a living monster wearing an amulet is subsequently polymorphed.

The rebound can still kill you/it in case your gear saved you from the direct hit.

Other uses of the term

Certain items can also disintegrate; a spellbook has a chance of disintegrating when you fail to read it. An uncursed scroll of scare monster disintegrates when picked up if it both is uncursed and already has been picked up once, and a cursed one always disintegrates when picked up. In neither case the game refers to the destruction as "disintegration" .


This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.1.

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 Information on this page may be out of date.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}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.