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The foodless conduct restricts eating in any form. This includes noncomestible items, such as rings and amulets, walls, doors, and boulders, if you happen to be polymorphed into a creature that can eat such things.

For non-eating monsters, see inediate.

Breaking the conduct

The following activities break the foodless conduct:

  • Eating any item with the e command.
  • Eating the brain of a monster while polymorphed into a (master) mind flayer.
  • Engulfing a monster while polymorphed into a digester.
  • Chewing through a wall while polymorphed into an umber hulk

The following activities do not break the foodless conduct:


Main article: Nutrition

A player starts at 900 nutrition. This means, without any aid or penalties, a player begins fainting at approximately turn 900 and starves soon after. Wearing a ring of slow digestion reduces nutrition consumption to 5% of the natural rate. So if you put on a ring of slow digestion on turn one, you will last approximately 18000 turns before fainting, which, if you're fast enough, gives you plenty of time to ascend. However, only Wizards have a chance at starting with slow digestion, making this option less viable.

Other than the passage of turns, non-hungerless spellcasting, jumping, carrying the Amulet of Yendor, wearing rings and amulets, attacking, attempting to displace pets, and being Stressed or worse all consume additional nutrition.


Restoring nutrition

The following activities restore nutrition to some set amount:

  • Praying while Hungry or worse may restore your nutrition to 900.[1] It is normally best to wait until Weak; being Weak or worse is considered a major problem and if prayer works at all it will cure your worst major problem.
  • Activating an amulet of life saving with less than 500 nutrition restores your nutrition to 500.[2]
  • Polymorphing into your own race sets your nutrition to 499 + 1d500.[3]

Polymorph control works even when fainted. A constitution 18 character has only a 0.15% chance of starving before polymorphing if he puts on both rings after getting hungry. At con 3 it is 2.36% chance.

The following activities increase your nutrition level without breaking foodless:

Any potion except for a potion of acid can be processed: Dilute it, dip a large stack of water into anything else to alchemize for a 14 chance of sickness, convert to fruit juice by cancelling or dipping a unicorn horn, and optionally alchemize with speed for booze to double its nutritional value.

When to pray

Successfully praying and having your hunger cured restores your nutrition to 900 points. If you pray after 900 turns when you're hungry again, the prayer will succeed if your prayer timeout was less than 1100. Your prayer will fail with a ~7% chance. If instead you spend some turns in the Fainting state, until 1200 turns have passed since your last prayer, and only then pray, you will succeed if your prayer timeout was less than 1400. Now your chance of failure is only around 2%. [7] Thus if your foodless strategy relies on repeatedly praying for food (until you find a ring of slow digestion), you should consider finding a safe place to faint to increase your odds of successfully praying.

Keeping nutrition

Ways to keep your nutrition high include:

Gaining intrinsics

Other than the obvious problem of avoiding starvation, foodless is difficult because eating corpses is the most common way to gain important intrinsics like poison resistance and telepathy. One technique to address this is to play as a Monk, who attain most of the important intrinsics from gaining experience levels.

Here are other techniques to gain important intrinsics.

Be crowned
Zap a wand of speed monster

Fire resistance is much less urgent if you detect and avoid fire traps, e.g. with the detect unseen spell or the PYEC and a crystal ball. Spellcasters (especially Wizards with hungerless casting) can simply use skilled monster detection to substitute for telepathy.

Once you have reflection, can reliably avoid traps, have poison resistance, and have free action, the other resistances can generally be missed just fine.



Ascending so quickly that nutrition never falls low enough to become a problem.


Not praying to restore hunger, or being crowned for intrinsics. Also includes all of the other atheist challenges (such as no divine protection and no altar BUC identification).

Liquid diet

Only restoring nutrition by quaffing potions, usually by using the Platinum Yendorian Express Card as a Tourist on a horn of plenty.

True polyselfless

Not polymorphing into one's own race to restore hunger. Oddly enough, polying into one's own race does not break the polyselfless conduct.


Not using any amulets of life saving to restore hunger.

Dual slow digestion

Abusing the dual ring of slow digestion bug to, ideally, never lose any points of nutrition.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

The dual ring of slow digestion trick no longer works, as ring hunger is no longer deterministic.


  • Daniel Ligon describes the first known foodless ascension here on RGRN.
  • eit_brad describes his ten-conduct ascension (including foodless) here on RGRN.

1.2% of all winning accounts on NAO have a foodless ascension.


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.