Life saving

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Life saving is a property that occurs in NetHack, and is capable of resurrecting a player character or monster from death, though at a slight cost.

The only item that confers the property is the worn amulet of life saving - a character in explore mode or wizard mode can also choose not to die, which has roughly the same effects.

Description

The following effects occur for a character whose life is saved:[1][2]

  • If their life is saved by an amulet of life saving, they lose a point of constitution.[3]
  • Their hit points are restored to the maximum - if said maximum is lower than either 10 or twice the character's experience level, then it is raised to the higher value of the two.
  • Their nutrition is set to a minimum of 500 unless they died of choking, in which case it is set to 900 and they vomit.
  • Sickness that would kill the character immediately after they revive is cured.
  • A character trapped in lava additionally becomes untrapped.
  • A character that is totally digested will additionally be regurgitated.[4]
  • A character killed by a drowning attack will additionally be released from the grip of the monster that drowned them upon reviving.[5]

Life saving will not successfully resurrect a character in the following circumstances:

  • Trickery forfeits the game rather than killing the character, so it ignores life saving entirely and does not generate bones - in wizard mode, the game will simply print a message acknowledging the trickery and delete the offending level files, allowing play to continue.
  • Death by self-genocide or brainlessness will cause the character to die again immediately. A player in explore mode or wizard mode can still choose not to die:
    • If a character in either mode chooses not to die from genocide, all other genocided monsters will still be wiped out.
    • If a character in either mode chooses not to die from brainlessness, their intelligence is set to 5 before applying attribute loss from the successful brain-eating attack.
  • Level teleporting to a negative dungeon level causes the game to end regardless of life saving, though a character whose life is saved in this case will escape the dungeon rather than dying.[6][7]
    • Level teleporting to level 0 does not count, as 0 is a non-negative level: the character will cease to exist instead, which life saving can reverse as normal.[8]
  • Offering the Amulet of Yendor to Moloch on the high altar in his Sanctum causes the game to end regardless of life saving: Moloch retains dominion over the character's god and kills them, and if life saving occurs he then reduces them to dust[9] - in explore mode or wizard mode, declining to die will force the character to escape the dungeon and end the game.[10]

Having a character's life saved breaks the survivor semi-conduct, with more details explained below.

Monsters can only obtain life saving from wearing the amulet, and it has no effect on a nonliving monster, including a shapeshifted vampire.[11] Monsters that have their life saved do not award experience, but a character "killing" one this way still breaks pacifist conduct.

Survivor

NetHack keeps track of how many times a character's life has been saved by amulets of life saving. If this number is zero, and the game ends without dying (i.e. by ascension, escaping or quitting), the end-of-game attributes list will note as much - this is referred to as the survivor semi-conduct:

You survived.

Choosing not to die in explore mode or wizard mode also counts towards this statistic. If the number is not zero, the line will instead read:

You survived after being killed <x> times.

Strategy

Surviving is usually an indicator that the player was fortunate or even skillful enough not to die during a particular game - in particular, survivor can add some prestige to a foodless ascension, which removes one of the game's alternative sources of nutrition. Exploiting the polyself bug to raise maximum HP is incompatible with surviving.

History

In NetHack 3.6.1 and previous versions, including some variants based on those versions, a character being digested by a monster and that had their life saved from some other cause of death will be totally digested on the next hit of the engulfer's digestion attack - this bug is fixed in NetHack 3.6.2 via commit 858e9ce.

Messages

Your life will be saved.
You have life saving as viewed via enlightenment.
You survived that attempt on your life.
You were revived by life saving and not immediately killed again.
You feel like a scarecrow.
While in explore or wizard mode, you died of brainlessness from a brain-eating attack landing while your intelligence is 3, but chose not to die.

Variants

Some variants add other methods and sources of life saving.

SLASH'EM

In SLASH'EM, the amulet versus stone confers life saving to its wearer that only applies if they are petrified, with the same effects as an amulet of life saving.

dNetHack

dNetHack, notdNetHack and notnotdNetHack add multiple sources of life saving for characters and monsters:

  • Witnesses of the Great Fracture have intrinsic life saving that triggers 12 of the time - each time a Witness is revived by its intrinsic life saving, it gains 4 monster levels.
  • Uvuudaums have an intrinsic life saving property that revives them upon death, though it will activate no more than once every 34 turns.
  • The artifact Crystals have two sources of life saving: one comes from The Black Crystal, and a second use of the property is granted if all four Crystals are together.
  • If a character dies while wearing a charged ring of wishes, the ring will apply life saving and use up a charge.
  • Jack is a spirit that saves the character's life if they die with him bound, though this also immediately unbinds him.
  • A life-saving object property exists that applies the property if the item's wearer dies and is removed from the object afterward; an amulet of life saving takes priority over this effect, but the object property is applied before any other sources of life saving. On objects that are not fully identified, it appears as "haloed" on helmets, "gold-feather-encrusted" on silver items, and "silver-feather-encrusted" on other items.

Life saving in any form will cause gevurah sephirah to begin generating randomly.

The November NetHack Tournament

In The November NetHack Tournament, survivor is tracked as a formal conduct.

A devteam member dying causes the game to end, and life saving will revive the character only for them to die again, similar to genocide or brainlessness.

Messages

Unfortunately, you are still buried under tons of rock...
Your amulet of life saving triggered after a devteam member died, but the game still ends. The cause of death is instead logged as "dungeon debris".

SpliceHack

In SpliceHack, the worn amulet of reincarnation applies life saving if the wearer dies, but polymorphs them into a random form upon revival and confers unchanging.

SlashTHEM

In SlashTHEM, in addition to SLASH'EM details, the amulet of second chance similarly saves a character's life, though their health is set to the value it was at right before they were killed.

If a troll character dies while they are at least experience level 3, there is a 34 chance of them reviving as though their life was saved, draining two levels afterward.

References