Player's misconceptions

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This page attempts to dispel common assumptions and misconceptions that many players may have about NetHack.


Drinking water is necessary

The Guidebook's advice on this matter is misleading, stating that "although creatures can survive long periods of time without food, there is a physiological need for water". Though that is true for real life, it surely does not apply for the game, where there is absolutely no need to drink water at all — instead of being healthy, quaffing from fountains can be downright dangerous.

Because corpses are dangerous to eat, they should be saved for emergencies

Some corpses are, indeed, inherently dangerous and should not be eaten. Any other corpse should be eaten while it is still fresh, if you plan to eat it at all. If you save a corpse to eat later, it will almost certainly be tainted and give you food poisoning. Lizard and lichen corpses are exceptions to this rule, as they last indefinitely.

I would not eat that in real life, so my character also probably should not

Remember: NetHack is not real life. Though most of us would not eat a sewer rat or a (uncooked!) jackal's corpse — and would most probably get ill if we did — that is not an issue for your alter ego in the game. Therefore, if a corpse is fresh, unless there is something intrinsically harmful about the monster that dropped it — such as the kobold, which is poisonous, or the cockatrice, which causes stoning — it will probably be safe for consuming.

Eating pet corpses is bad

There is no specific penalty for eating a pet's corpse after the creature is already dead, but there are several similar things that do have bad effects:

  • Personally killing the pet incurs into a penalty of -15 alignment and -1 Luck.
  • Eating a domestic cat or dog corpse will give you the Aggravate monster intrinsic, but this applies regardless of whether it had been a pet.
  • Sacrificing pets that died while tame also gives bad effects and should be avoided.


Wizards are better at reading spellbooks

In fact, the formula that determines the chance of successfully reading a spellbook is the same for all roles (and, just for completeness, all races and alignments). The only advantage Wizards have in reading books is that, when attempting to read an uncursed book with less than 100% chance of success, they are given a warning and prompted whether to continue reading. The actual success chance, however, is the same as for all other roles.

Wizards are, however, better at writing unknown scrolls and spellbooks than other roles.

The player should not wear metal armor if intending to cast

Metal does tend to hinder casting, but some types of metallic armor have much less effect than many players may think. For example, a Wizard with 18 Int can wear a metal helmet, boots, or gloves and can still cast low-level spells with 0% failure, and will only see a small increase in fail rate for higher-level spells. Shields and metallic body armor interfere with casting the most.


A Chaotic character can kill anything without penalties of any kind

Actually, Chaotic characters get alignment and Luck penalties for most of the same things that characters of other alignments do, such as killing coaligned peaceful monsters or killing always-peaceful humans. See the Alignment record page for more details on alignment penalties and bonuses.

Offering a human corpse is bad

There is no specific penalty (or bonus, for that matter) for #offering human corpses — they are just standard sacrifices. Of course, sacrificing one's own race has its peculiarities, but humans are not a special case. Non-chaotic humans are the only characters who should never sacrifice a human corpse.


Gauntlets of power are required to maximize carrying capacity

Carrying capacity is based on more than just Strength, and also has a limit. Specifically, the formula is:

((Str + Con) * 25) + 50

Further, the result is capped at 1000. Therefore, if (Str + Con) >= 38, carry capacity is maxed, and all races other than elf can reach this without Gauntlets of power or any other additional equipment.