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In NetHack, murder is the act of killing a human monster that generated peaceful such as a watchman, shopkeeper, or aligned priest.


The following conditions must be fulfilled in order to qualify a killing of a peaceful monster as murder:[1]

This only applies to humans who were generated as peaceful: Keystone Kops do not count because they are generated hostile, while guards count because they are generated peaceful, though they will attack first if you try to evade them or claim to be Croesus after killing him.

The high priest of Moloch is a notable exception to the above: you may kill them without being considered a murderer, so long as you have angered them by directly entering the temple.[2][3]


Unless you are chaotic, murder will cause you to lose intrinsic telepathy and two points of Luck. This is applied on top of the normal penalty to alignment record for killing always-peaceful monsters, which is significantly high and mostly coincide with those that can be murdered.

Murder and standard humans

Strangely, killing any standard human, even a hostile one, will be considered murder for a lawful character. This occurs because the first four conditions are always met for a non-chaotic character, since humans are not always generated hostile. However, they are also not guaranteed to be peaceful: they will always be hostile to a lawful character, and have a 50% chance of being peaceful to a neutral character.

Because of the way alignment gain works, killing a hostile human will be considered murder for lawfuls, since killing a cross-aligned "sometimes peaceful" monster adjusts the player's alignment record by malign - this represents the monster's alignment, which in the case of the neutral human is zero, and neither positive nor negative. For a neutral character, killing a hostile human will not be considered murder, as the alignment gain from killing a co-aligned "sometimes peaceful" monster is max(3, malign), or 3 - killing a peaceful human will still be considered murder as normal. The human is the only monster for which these conditions can align.


Characters looking to avoid murder will generally have a strong enough pet to do the dirty work, and can also opt to wear a ring of conflict. Polymorphing them into another monster will circumvent murder penalties, but they may become something even harder to kill and you risk angering other peaceful monsters that witness this - additionally, the victim can die of system shock, which counts as murder.

It can be worth carrying a tin or two of floating eye meat in case you lose your telepathy to murder, whether accidental or otherwise, or by other means (e.g. a gremlin attack).


You murderer!
You committed a murder and were penalized.



In EvilHack, always-peaceful monsters are now racial monsters as well, meaning that murder is no longer limited to just killing humans of these monster types.


  1. src/mon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 2463
  2. src/priest.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 429: The alignment record gain you get from killing the high priest is set to a positive value when angered by you entering their temple.
  3. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 2076