Spellbook of drain life

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spellbook of
+   drain life   Light green spellbook.png
Appearance random
Abundance 1.01%
Base price 200 zm
Weight 50
Turns to read 2
Ink to write 10–19
Spell type attack
Level 2
Power cost 10 Pw
Direction beam

The spellbook of drain life provides the drain life spell. Casting it at a monster drains one level from it, and does 2*(1d8) damage (doubled if you are a Knight with The Magic Mirror of Merlin), plus spell damage bonus. It also decreases the monster's maximum hp by 1d8, again with the spell damage and magic mirror bonuses, if applicable. The monster's location will be revealed, if it is unseen. Level drain resistant monsters are not affected at all. If the monster resists the spell through monster magic resistance, it will not be level drained, will suffer only 25% damage to its current hp, and will suffer no damage to its max hp.[1]

Casting the spell at an object reduces any charge or enchantment on the object by 1. Objects may also resist. An object cannot have its charge or enchantment reduced below zero, and any objects with negative enchantments are unaffected.

Casting the spell at yourself drains one experience level, unless you are drain resistant. Losing a level reduces your maximum hit points and your hit points by the same amount, down to a minimum of one. If you are drained below experience level 1, you die.

In SLASH'EM this spell is also available (to you and to monsters) via the wand of draining.


"<Monster> suddenly seems weaker!"
The monster did not resist the spell.
"<Goodbye> level <x>."
You have been drained a level.


Drain life is not a great attack spell: It does not deal much damage, and you will not gain as many experience points from your kills because that is based on the monster's experience level before dying. An exception are extended battles with certain very tough opponents that teleport away to heal themselves but are not 100% magic resistant, such as the Monk Quest Nemesis, Master Kaen. As opposed to hit points, they cannot recover their drained levels, and will eventually die.

This spell is commonly used to reduce the enchantment of a weapon from +6 to +5, from where you may safely re-attempt to enchant it to +7, and also to reduce armor from +4 to +3 for the same purpose. It works on Magicbane too, usually after a lot of tries.

Another use of the drain life spell is to help getting cheaper extra AC through donation. After you collected a lot of money from the dungeon (say, 80k gold after looting all the vaults and Fort Ludios), you can go back and lock yourself in a temple (maybe keep a pet nearby for extra security), then repeatedly cast drain life on yourself (preferably with a robe on to lower failure rates) until you become XL1. After that, donate all the gold to the priest 400 zorkmids at a time. With ample gold, you have a decent chance of acquiring even -10 naked AC this way. The downside of this strategy is that you have to retrain your character's XL, so it's advisable that you reach XL14 and activate the quest stairs before doing this. However, with all your stats (especially Constitution and Wisdom) much higher than their starting value at this point, your character is likely going to have even more HP and Pw than before once he/she levels up again. This strategy must be used with care because some monsters possess a life-draining attack (notably vampires and wraiths); this will also drain an experience level. If you are drained below experience level 1, you die.

If you decide to drain your own experience level, you may also want to take a look at the "drain for gain" strategy to get some boost to your maximum HP and power when you level back up.

This spell can be used to kill enemies behind boulders without breaking the boulder, making it invaluable in Sokoban if you do not have magic missile.


  1. Source:Zap.c#line328, Source:Zap.c#line4079, Source:Zap.c#line4083. Note that the target's HP is lowered at lines 328 and 4083.

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