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Sinks are a dungeon feature represented by a #. Sinks will cause anything in the air above them to "sink" to the floor, be it thrown weapons, or your levitating character. Falling into a sink while levitating will hurt you (and might even cause death, if you're unlucky). Sitting on a sink will produce the message "Your rump gets wet." Kicking a sink or quaffing from it has consequences, most of them negative, with a few beneficial ones. Dropping rings into a sink will cause them to be lost down the drain, with a message that enables you to identify the ring. Digging down on a sink will turn it into a (non-magical) fountain (which can then be dug down onto to produce pools for blanking and diluting).

If there is a sink on the current dungeon level, you will occasionally hear a message:

"You hear a gurgling noise."
"You hear a slow drip."

Kicking a sink

Kicking a sink has several possible effects.

80 percent of the time, "Klunk! The pipes vibrate noisily." This exercises dexterity and wakes nearby monsters.

Once per sink, "A black ooze gushes up from the drain!" A black pudding is summoned, and dexterity is exercised.

Once per sink, "The dishwasher returns!" The dishwasher is a foocubus of opposite sex to the hero, or of random sex if the hero is a neuter creature. Dexterity is exercised.

Sometimes, "Flupp! Muddy waste pops up from the drain." Once per sink, when this happens, "You see a ring shining in its midst" and dexterity and wisdom are exercised.

If none of these things happens, "Ouch!  That hurts!" You lose up to 5 hit points, abuse dexterity and strength, and possibly end up with a wounded leg.

Quaffing from a sink

You can drink from a sink by using the quaff command while standing over it. Upon doing so you get a message hinting at the resulting consequences. The specific message you receive depends on your status and the condition of dungeon monsters.

Chance What came out Effect Condition NetHack message
11/20 water no effect   You take a sip of (very) <hot, warm, cold> water.
You hear clanking from the pipes...
You hear snatches of song from among the sewers...
you are hallucinating From the murky drain, a hand reaches up... --oops--
1/20 scalding water lose 1d6 hit points   You take a sip of scalding hot water.
no effect you are fire resistant You take a sip of scalding hot water. It seems quite tasty.
1/20 a rat A sewer rat is created you can see the created rat Eek! There's a sewer rat in the sink!
you cannot see the rat Eek! There's something squirmy in the sink!
nothing no effect Sewer rats are genocided or extinct The sink seems quite dirty.
1/20 random uncursed potion same effect as drinking that potion you can see Some <potion appearance> liquid flows from the faucet.
you are blind Some odd liquid flows from the faucet.
1/20 random ring A random ring is created and your wisdom exercised   You find a ring in the sink!
dirty water no effect you already got a ring from this sink Some dirty water backs up in the drain.
1/20 nothing The sink becomes a fountain.   The pipes break! Water spurts out!
1/20 a water elemental A water elemental is created.   The water moves as though of its own will!
nothing no effect water elementals are extinct The water moves as though of its own will! But it quiets down.
1/20 hard water You gain one experience point.   Yuk, this water tastes awful.
1/20 sewer water Your hunger increases   Gaggg... this tastes like sewage! You vomit.
1/20 toxic waste You polymorph   This water contains toxic wastes! You undergo a freakish metamorphosis!
no effect You have unchanging This water contains toxic wastes!


In UnNetHack, lucky vampires (either starting race or polymorphed), or unlucky non-vampires have a 1/13 chance of getting a Potion of vampire blood instead of a random potion. In addition, potions can now be of any BUC, depending on luck, with the following probabilities:

- First, there is a 1/(17+Luck) chance of the potion being cursed.

- Then, if it isn't cursed, there is a 1/(17-Luck) chance of the potion being blessed.

- Then, if neither of those happened, the potion is uncursed.

Identifying rings with a sink

All rings may be identified by dropping them into sinks. The sink will show an effect depending on the type of ring. Rings of searching and slow digestion will never be lost; all other rings will be lost down the drain with 95% probability. Therefore, it is a good idea to do this test only if you have another ring of the same type as the one being tested, or if you are starving.

After receiving the message you will be given the opportunity to name the kind of ring you dropped, but only if you have not already named it. A ring of hunger will also not give you the opportunity, if it fails to destroy an item. Of course, if you have a duplicate of the ring you dropped, you can always name that instead.

Note that most messages require that you are not blind, and the ring of hunger requires that there is a (preferably worthless) object already on the sink. If these are not the case, you will just get "You hear the ring bouncing down the drain pipe."

As of 3.6.1, any ring lost in the sink has a 20% chance of ending up buried under the sink square.[1]

NetHack message Type of ring Notes
You thought your [ring] got lost in the sink, but there it is! searching Ring is not lost
The ring is regurgitated! slow digestion Ring is not lost
The sink quivers upward for a moment. levitation
You smell rotten fruit. poison resistance
Static electricity surrounds the sink. shock resistance
You hear loud noises coming from the drain. conflict
The water flow seems fixed. sustain ability
The water flow seems stronger now. gain strength (at least +0)
The water flow seems weaker now. gain strength (-1 or worse)
The water flow seems greater now. gain constitution (at least +0)
The water flow seems lesser now. gain constitution (-1 or worse)
The water flow hits the drain. increase accuracy (at least +0)
The water flow misses the drain. increase accuracy (-1 or worse)
The water's force seems greater now. increase damage (at least +0)
The water's force seems smaller now. increase damage (-1 or worse)
Several flies buzz around the sink. meat ring
Several flies buzz angrily around the sink. aggravate monster

The effects in the following table only occur if the hero can see:

NetHack message Type of ring Notes
Suddenly, <item> vanish(es) from the sink! hunger An item must be on the sink. Some items may resist.[2]
The faucets flash brightly for a moment. adornment Does not distinguish negative enchantment
The sink looks as good as new. regeneration
You don't see anything happen to the sink. invisibility
You see the ring slide right down the drain! free action
You see some air in the sink. see invisible
The sink seems to blend into the floor for a moment. stealth
The hot water faucet flashes brightly for a moment. fire resistance
The cold water faucet flashes brightly for a moment. cold resistance
The sink looks nothing like a fountain. protection from shape changers
The sink glows silver for a moment. protection (at least +0)
The sink glows black for a moment. protection (-1 or worse)
The sink glows white for a moment. warning Glows red in UnNethack.
The sink vanishes. teleportation The sink is teleported to a new location on the same level that is out of sight. "Momentarily" vanishes if the teleportation failed. The ring is always lost unless teleportation failed.[3]
The sink looks like it is being beamed aboard somewhere. teleport control
The sink transforms into a {feature}. polymorph The sink is turned into a fountain, throne, altar, or grave with equal probability. The ring is always lost.[4]
The sink momentarily looks like a regularly erupting geyser. polymorph control


SLASH'EM has new messages for its new rings.[5] Note that intelligence- and wisdom-modifying rings cannot be distinguished via sink-dropping.

SLASH'EM message Type of ring Notes
The sink looks groovy. mood ring
You hear loud snores coming from the drain. sleeping Works when blind.
The water flow seems faster now. gain dexterity (at least +0)
The water flow seems slower now. gain dexterity (-1 or worse)
The water flow seems quicker now. gain intelligence or gain wisdom (at least +0)
The water flow seems duller now. gain intelligence or gain wisdom (-1 or worse)

The ring of polymorph and ring of teleportation will not modify the sink in any way.

SLASH'EM Extended

Messages for rings added in the Slash'EM Extended variant are on their own page.


Quaffing from sinks is generally a dangerous gamble without much reward. At best you get a ring, which you could already get by kicking it (which is much safer). At worst, you get a potion of sickness or polymorph into something that will break your armor. The chance of something bad is significantly higher than the chance of something good (look at the chart of possibilities).

On the other hand, kicking sinks is fairly safe; provided you're past about experience level 5 you're not going to be killed by a foocubus, and black puddings are slow enough that they won't kill you if you move carefully. In fact, both the pudding and the foocubus can be used to your benefit.

Remember that if you plan on eating jewelry, only metal and wood rings are edible. Since you can't get the intrinsics from non-edible rings, you'll only need one to wear if you want that extrinsic; dropping one more down the sink isn't costing you very much.

Also note that ring identification is always safe, if costly, and you only need a single sink to do it. Therefore if you decide to quaff/kick sinks, it's in your best interest to leave at least one undamaged sink for your rings.

In UnNetHack, lucky players might find it more worthwhile to drink from sinks because instead of always giving uncursed potion effects, the BUC of the random potion is random, but changes with luck. Additionally, lucky vampires have a chance of getting a Potion of vampire blood, which can be a large boon. However, it is still a significant gamble.


  1. src/do.c in NetHack 3.6.1, line 510
  2. do.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 324: Balls and chains bound to you will resist, whereas normal objects will resist with 1% chance, artifacts with 99% chance, and unique items and the Amulet always
  3. src/do.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 305
  4. src/do.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 271

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