Hit points

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Hit points, also known as HP or hp, represent the life force of you and other monsters in NetHack. A monster whose hit points reach zero will usually die - the only ways to avoid this are to wear an amulet of life saving.

If you are polymorphed and your HP reaches 0, and you are not wearing an amulet of unchanging, you will return to your natural form. If you are in wizard mode or explore mode, you can also choose not to die, including when your HP reaches 0. An instadeath will kill you regardless of your hit points at the time: such instadeaths, including stoning and brainlessness, can also kill you even if you are polymorphed.

Gaining and restoring hit points

The player character gains maximum hit points by gaining experience levels, with the exact amount dependent on the character's race, role and constitution. Fighter roles such as Barbarians generally start the game with more hit points and receive more hit points at each new level compared to, e.g. Rangers or Tourists.

Healing potions can also increase your maximum hit points if quaffing it would heal you for more than the difference between your current and maximum HP (including when at full HP):

Other methods of increasing maximum HP are listed as follows:

  • Quaffing a non-cursed potion of gain level or eating a wraith corpse while already at experience level 30 will still increase your maximum HP.
  • If your maximum HP is no more than five times the sum of your experience level and 2, i.e., 5*(2+XL), and you successfully pray with very low HP, your god will increase your maximum HP by a random amount and fully heal you.
  • The "restored to health" and "educational experience" positive effects from a foocubus encounter.
  • Successfully praying to your god at a co-aligned altar may grant you a favor that surrounds you with a "golden glow", fully healing you if possible and increasing your maximum HP by 5 similar to a blessed potion of full healing; the effect can also restore a lost experience level.
  • A nurse that is healing you (i.e. hitting you while you are not wielding a weapon and wearing no armor) has a 17 chance of increasing your maximum HP by 1, provided that your maximum is less than 5 × XL + (2 × XL)d10.

Hit point regeneration

Under normal circumstances, you recover hit points naturally with the passage of time, as described in the chart below:[1]

Level Turns HP
1 15 1
2 11 1
3 9 1
4 8 1
5 7 1
6 6 1
7 5 1
8 5 1
9 4 1
10+ 3 1 or d(Con)

If you are below experience level 10, you will regenerate one hit point every (42 / (level + 2)) + 1 turns; if you are level 10 or above, you will regenerate every third turn. If your Constitution is 12 or lower, you get one hit point, and will otherwise regain d(Con) hitpoints, up to a maximum of your level minus 9.

If your encumbrance is Stressed or worse, you will only regenerate hit points on turns when you aren't moving. If you are polymorphed, you instead regenerate one hit point every 20 turns.[2]

If you have the regeneration property, you will regenerate one hit point on any turn you did not do so above.

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.

As of commit f3408b87, the HP regeneration formula is now simply (xlevel + Con)% chance of regenerating 1 HP each turn. Also, regeneration heals 1 HP unconditionally on all turns, not only those turns where you are not otherwise regenerating HP.

Starting hit points and HP gain per level

The number of hit points and maximum hit points gained when gaining a level at is calculated differently depending on whether you have reached your role's cutoff experience level.[3][4]

If your experience level is less than your cutoff level prior to gaining a level, the amount gained is randomized, and will be non-random otherwise.[5][6]

Your role and race both add a certain number of hit points; in the case of below-cutoff characters, this number is specified as n-sided die. A bonus (or malus) based on your constitution is then added.

You always gain at least one hit point per level.[7]

Note that the point gains below apply even when "gaining a level" at experience level 30. In this case, the point gains are the only effect.

For a new character, the starting maximum hitpoints is a constant: simply the sum of the base starting hitpoints for the role and the race. The constitution bonus does not apply here.[8][9]

Role[10] cutoff pre-cutoff post-cutoff starting
Arc 14 d8 1 11
Bar 10 d10 2 14
Cav 10 d8 2 14
Hea 20 d8 1 11
Kni 10 d8 2 14
Mon 10 d8 1 12
Pri 10 d8 1 12
Rog 11 d8 1 10
Ran 12 d6 1 13
Sam 11 d8 1 13
Tou 14 d8 0 8
Val 10 d8 2 14
Wiz 12 d8 1 10
Race[11] pre-cutoff post-cutoff starting
Human d2 1 2
Elf d1 1 1
Dwarf d3 2 4
Gnome d1 0 1
Orc d1 0 1
Con modifier[12]
≤ 3 -2
≤ 6 -1
≤ 14 0
≤ 16 +1
= 17 +2
= 18 +3
≥ 19 +4

Monster hit points

A monster's hit points is based on its level, modified in some rare cases by other things.[13]

Normal case

Default initial hit points: hp = (monster level)d8.[14]

If a monster has a level of 0, their hp is simply 1d4.[15]


An elemental's hit points are calculated normally, except that on its home elemental plane they are tripled.[16]


Golems' hit points are fixed and determined by type:[17][18]

Hit points Golems
20 paper golem, straw golem
30 rope golem
40 flesh golem, gold golem, leather golem
50 clay golem, wood golem
60 glass golem, stone golem
80 iron golem


Riders are a very special case; from the source code[19]:

We want low HP, but a high mlevel so they can attack well

Their hp is 10d8

Adult dragons

An adult dragon's hp depends on whether or not the player is in the endgame.[20]

Not in endgame
hp = (monster level)d4 + 4 * (monster level)
In endgame
hp = 8 * (monster level)

Player monsters

A player monster normally has (monsterlevel)d10 + 30 HP. If generated in the endgame (in practice, the Astral Plane in vanilla NetHack), it gets an extra d30 HP.[21]

Guardian angel

The hero's guardian angel on the Astral Plane uses the same hit point formula as the player monsters on that level:[22]

hp = (monster level)d10 + d30 + 30


Some other monsters have fixed hit points. Any monster with a defined level of 50-127 calculates its hp by:[23]

hp = 2 * ((monster level) - 6)

Their actual level is then approximated by:

level = hp / 4

Those monsters are the named demons and the mail daemon. The complete table for vanilla NetHack is as follows:

Monster Hit points Level
& Juiblex 88 22
& Yeenoghu 100 25
& mail daemon 100 25
& Orcus 120 30
& Geryon 132 33
& Dispater 144 36
& Baalzebub 166 41
& Asmodeus 198 49
& Demogorgon 200 50

Raising monster maximum hit points

Main article: Monster level

Monsters (including pets) gain levels by raising their hit points. Thus advancing levels and increasing hit points are one and the same goal for them.


Characters should always have an escape plan or emergency healing method for situations where their health is low, regardless of their strength level, and should be able to judge when it is safe to heal by waiting and when it is preferable to use a spell or item, especially characters with pets. Some weak starting characters might deliberately lower their HP in order to pray for an increase to max HP on turn 101.

Nurse dancing is a commonplace strategy that uses one or more nurses (typically from reverse genocide) in order to massively increase HP.


You hear the howling of the CwnAnnwn...
You have less than 110 of your total HP left.
Valkyrie/Wizard/Elf, your life force is running out.
As above, while you are a Valkyrie, Wizard or elven character, and have fewer than four intrinsics. This and other similar messages are references to the Gauntlet franchise of video games.
Valkyrie/Wizard/Elf, all of your powers will be lost...
As above, but you have at least four intrinsics.
You hear the wailing of the Banshee...
You have only 1 hit point left.
Valkyrie/Wizard/Elf is about to die.
As above while you are a Valkyrie, Wizard or elven character.
Once you have seen one of the above messages, you will not see another for 50 turns.[24]
You don't have enough stamina to move.
Your encumbrance is stressed or higher while you are under your hit point maximum and have less than 5 hit points if polymorphed, or less than 10 otherwise. This does not occur if you are on the Plane of Air, nor if you are overloaded.[25]



Main article: FIQHack/New HP growth

In FIQHack, the HP regeneration rate has been modified as follows:

  • +1hp/turn for regen
  • +0.33hp/turn for healers
  • +0.03*level hp/turn
  • +0.03*(constitution - 5) hp/turn
  • min cap is +0.01 hp/turn

In addition, hunger from the ring of regeneration only applies when you are not at maximum HP. See the linked article at the top of the section for more information.

External links


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.