Nurses have a single relatively weak attack, but are unique in that they can actively heal the player under certain circumstances: if a nurse attacks you while you are unarmored and empty-handed (as in not wielding anything), the attack will instead heal them for that same amount. Chatting to a nurse will tell you what needs to be removed before they can heal you.
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.Nurses can now heal you even when you are wielding something, as long as it is not a weapon or weapon-tool.
If you encounter a nurse, and there are no other dangerous monsters nearby, the easiest way to strip yourself is to press shift + A and select all of your armor, plus your wielded weapon, for removal. Then you can let the nurse start healing. Letting many nurses heal you at once this way is known as nurse dancing, most often done by reverse-genociding nurses on a non-teleport level - see that article for more details.
When you are unarmored and not wielding anything, the nurse's attack will restore 2d6 HP per hit and cure food poisoning and illness; being healed this way has a 1⁄3 chance to exercise strength. A cancelled nurse will attack and damage you as normal. After healing you, a nurse has a 1⁄33 chance of teleporting away - if you are on a non-teleport level, the nurse will become scared for a while instead, and if your maximum HP was raised the nurse also has a 1⁄13 chance of vanishing entirely. If you are a Healer, a non-cancelled nurse will not hurt you even if you are wearing armor or wielding a weapon, and you may occasionally receive a special message.
The chance of a nurse raising your max HP is 1⁄7 for each hit, provided that your maximum is less than 5 × xlvl + [2 × xlvl]d10 - nurses are thus most effective when you have fewer than 7 HP/level, and become completely ineffective at 25 HP/level. No such restrictions apply to polyself, but any max HP increases acquired while polymorphed will only last until you revert to your original form.
Characters with a tinning kit should ideally tin nurse corpses when possible; the tin and/or the kit itself should be blessed, as it will take two turns at most to open and eat. Tins of nurse meat are often carried alongside blessed potions of full healing during the late game and the eventual ascension run, as they are comparable major sources of healing.
Nurse meat will always restore you to full HP, while potions of full healing are limited to restoring 400 HP at most; the latter is still sufficient for a majority of cases, and quaffing non-cursed potions while under 400 maximum HP can increase that maximum by up to 8 per potion. Tins of nurse meat in open inventory cannot be destroyed by cold or fire, but opening and eating a blessed tin may take two turns, while a potion can be downed in one go - do not wait until you are one turn from death to consume tinned nurse.
Eating nurse meat is also cannibalism for humans, with the exception of human Cave(wo)men - those playing humans in other roles may still want to keep a few tins on hand for dire emergencies, as they may consider it better to live as a cannibal and eventually restore lost Luck than die of hit point loss.
- "Put that weapon away before you hurt somebody!"
- You are wielding a weapon or other item.
- "Please undress so I can examine you."
- You are wearing armor, possibly hiding a shirt.
- "Take off your shirt, please."
- You are only wearing a shirt.
- "Relax, this won't hurt a bit."
- You are fully disrobed and wielding no weapon, and the nurse's attacks will heal you.
- "I hate this job!"
- The nurse is cancelled and won't heal you.
- The nurse hits! (I hope you don't mind.)
- You were hit by a nurse and were healed instead of damaged.
- "Doc, I can't help you unless you cooperate."
- You are a Healer and wearing armor or wielding something in the presence of a nurse.
In dNetHack, nurses will only use their heal attacks on allied creatures. Tame nurses will heal players and pets, while hostile nurses will heal other hostile monsters.
Nurse dancing is no longer possible, but nurses are now tameable via charm monster, and you can pay a peaceful or tame nurse to have your health fortified through a number of services, with the price depending on the service and the effect that it replicates. Any gold used to pay for these services is removed from the game - peaceful nurses add a 10% surcharge, which instead goes into the nurse's inventory.
1. "Fortify my health" (2000 zm) - This has the same effect as a potion of full healing, restoring up to 400 hp and, if that takes you to full, increases max HP by 8. 2. "Something for my nerves" (1000 zm) - The nurse applies a course of tranquilizers that behaves like a blessed potion of sleeping, with 15 sanity restored per course. 3. "Steroids" (1000 zm) - This has a similar effect to a blessed potion of restore ability from vanilla NetHack, restoring all lost attributes to their former maximums. 4. "Extract morgul shards" (4000 zm) - This removes any and all morgul shards from your person, and generates 1 metal shuriken per shard with the "lesser morgul" object property. 5. "Antibiotics" (2000 zm) - This cures any sickness you currently have. 6. "Remove slimy green growths" (2000 zm) - This cures any sliming. 7. "Fertility treatment" (1000 zm) - This cures any sterility you have, which prevents you laying eggs in oviparous polyforms and will always result in detrimental effects when consorting with foocubi. 8. "Brain surgery" (6000 zm) - Brain surgery removes one chosen thought granted by an insight: the process will lower your sanity by 10 points, reduce your wisdom, intelligence and constitution by 1, halve your current HP, and creates a glyph on a shard in your inventory. You can read the shard at any time to re-implant the thought in your head.
- src/mhitu.c in NetHack 3.6.6, line 1466: Nurse healing attack code
- mhitu.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1405
- src/mhitu.c in NetHack 3.6.6, line 1492: Nurse HP-raising formula
- Issue #159: Nurse meat has the flag for conferring poison resistance, but doesn't.