Hit points

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Hit points, also known as HP or hp, are your life. If your hit points reach zero, you usually die. The only ways of avoiding death in this case are to wear an amulet of life saving, be in wizard mode, or be in discover mode. If you are polymorphed at the time, you will return to your natural form, unless you are wearing an amulet of unchanging, in which case you will die. Also, some deaths, known as instadeaths, kill you regardless of your hit points at the time. Many of these, including stoning and brainlessness, will still kill you if you are polymorphed.

More hit points are automatically gained whenever the player gains a new experience level. How much, depends on the race, role and constitution. Fighter classes, such as a barbarian (but not a ranger), generally start the game with more hit points and receive more hit points at each new level than other classes, such as a tourist.

Hit points can also be gained with some potions. Quaffing a potion of healing or potion of extra healing if already at maximum hit points gives you one or two (or five, in case of a blessed potion of extra healing) more hit points. A potion of full healing raises your maximum hit points by four - eight if blessed.

Other ways to raise maximum hit points include "nurse dancing" (letting a nurse hit you while wielding no weapon and wearing no armor), a favor ("You are surrounded by a golden glow.") from praying to your god at an altar, and beneficial effects from a incubus or succubus encounter.

If your maximum hit points are no more than 5*(2+XL) where XL is your experience level (i.e. HP ≤ 15 at level 1, 20 at level 2 and so on), then when you pray with very low hit points, your god will increase your maximum HP by a random amount as well as healing you. Some weak characters might deliberately become low on HP (less than or equal to 5 HP) on turn 101 (perhaps by throwing a weak weapon or rock upward) in order to pray for an increase to max HP.


Once you have seen one of these messages, you will not see another for 50 turns.[1]

You hear the howling of the CwnAnnwn...
You have less than 1/10 of your total hit points left.
You hear the wailing of the Banshee...
You have only 1 hit point left.
Valkyrie/Wizard/Elf, your life force is running out.
You have less than 1/10 of your total hit points left, are a Valkyrie, Wizard or Elf character, and have fewer than four intrinsics.
Valkyrie/Wizard/Elf, all of your powers will be lost...
You have less than 1/10 of your total hit points left, are a Valkyrie, Wizard or Elf character, and have at least four intrinsics.
Valkyrie/Wizard/Elf is about to die.
You have only 1 hit point left and are a Valkyrie, Wizard or Elf character.

Those Valkyrie/Wizard/Elf messages are references to the video game Gauntlet, made by Atari.

At least one other message relating to hit points does not observe the 50-move rule:

You don't have enough stamina to move
You are stressed or higher, have less than your maximum hit points, and have less than 5 hit points (if polymorphed) or less than 10 (if not polymorphed). This does not occur on the Plane of Air, nor if you are overloaded (if overloaded, "You collapse under your load" as you normally would).[2]

Hit point regeneration

Under normal circumstances, you recover hit points naturally with the passage of time.[3]

If you are below level 10, you will regenerate one hit point every (42 / (level + 2)) + 1 turns (see chart).

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. Otherwise, you get d(Con) hitpoints up to a maximum of your level minus 9.

If you are polymorphed, you instead regenerate one hit point every 20 turns.[4]

If your encumbrance is Stressed or worse, you will only regenerate hit points on turns when you aren't moving.

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

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)

Hit points gained on level gain and starting hitpoints

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.[5][6][7][8]

If your experience level is less than your cutoff level, the amount gained is randomized; otherwise, it is not.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11][12]

Role[13] 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[14] 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[15]
≤ 3 -2
≤ 6 -1
≤ 14 0
≤ 16 +1
= 17 +2
= 18 +3
≥ 19 +4


A monster's hit points is based on its level, modified in some rare cases by other things.[16]

Normal case

Default initial hit points: hp = (monster level)d8.[17]

If a monster has a level of 0, their hp is simply 1d4.[18]


An elemental's hit points are calculated normally, except that on its home elemental plane they are tripled.[19]


Golems' hit points are fixed and determined by type:[20][21]

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[22]:

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.[23]

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

Player monsters

The player monsters generated when the hero arrives on the Astral Plane or the final level of the Wizard quest have more hit points than their level would normally indicate:[24]

On the Astral Plane
hp = (monster level)d10 + d30 + 30
On the Wizard quest (Newt the Wizard and Pug the Rogue)
hp = (monster level)d10 + 30

Guardian angel

The hero's guardian angel on the Astral Plane uses the same hit point formula as the player monsters on that level:[25]

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:[26]

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.


The HP regeneration rate has been modified in FIQHack 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 aren't at maximum HP.

See the FIQHack HP page for more info.


External links

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