Poison resistance

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Poison resistance is considered one of the most essential intrinsics in the game. This resistance protects against the harmful effects of poison, including instadeath. For example, a dart trap might shoot out a deadly poisoned dart.

Poison resistance does not protect you from food poisoning. It only partly protects you from the bad effects of potion of sickness.


Many corpses that offer poison resistance are themselves poisonous or otherwise dangerous (a notable exception is the corpses of shriekers, which can usually be found early). There are, however, many safe ways of acquiring poison resistance. For example, rings and amulets both include one that protects you against poison. Green dragon scale mail also protects against poison.

Barbarians, healers and orcs have a natural poison resistance. Monks get a natural poison resistance when they reach experience level 3 and tourists at level 20. Poison resistance is also granted when you are crowned.

You can safely obtain poison resistance from a corpse in one of the following ways:

  • Eat a non-poisonous corpse that grants the intrinsic.
  • Use a tinning kit to make a poisonous corpse safe (bear in mind that not all poisonous monsters grant poison resistance).
  • Wear an item that grants poison resistance. This could be a ring of poison resistance, an amulet versus poison, an alchemy smock, or green dragon scale mail or scales.
  • Use a unicorn horn to negate the strength drain caused by eating a poisonous corpse (this works because unlike poison attacks, corpse poison cannot cause instadeath, although it causes some HP loss).
  • Wear a ring of sustain ability to avoid the strength drain from eating a poisonous corpse.
  • If you know you can pray and you have lost more than 4 strength, pick up junk to be overtaxed, and pray to reverse the strength loss after eating poisonous corpses.

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.

Unicorn horns can no longer restore strength, so this tactic is not recommended unless you can cast the restore ability spell or don't mind using prayer.

Safe corpses

The following corpses provide a chance of gaining poison resistance, and are not dangerous to eat:

Monster Conduct Difficulty Chance
red mold vegan 2 3%
brown mold vegan 2 3%
cave spider meaty 3 7%
red naga hatchling meaty 4 10%
flesh golem meaty 10 12%
centipede meaty 4 13%
blue jelly vegan 5 13%
shrieker vegan 2 20%
golden naga hatchling meaty 4 20%
guardian naga hatchling meaty 4 20%
quasit meaty 7 20%
pyrolisk meaty 8 20%
red naga meaty 8 20%
black unicorn meaty 6 27%
gray unicorn meaty 6 27%
white unicorn meaty 6 27%
quivering blob vegan 6 33%
golden naga meaty 13 67%

Unsafe corpses

The following corpses and globs are among those that provide poison resistance, but are mildly dangerous:

Monster Conduct Difficulty Chance Notes
yellow mold vegan 2 7% poisonous and hallucinogenic
homunculus meaty 3 7% poisonous
gray ooze vegetarian 4 7% acidic
brown pudding vegetarian 6 7% acidic
black pudding meaty 12 7% acidic
tengu meaty 7 13% may also confer teleportitis
Chromatic Dragon meaty 23 17% poisonous, Caveman quest nemesis
black naga hatchling meaty 4 20% acidic
violet fungus vegan 5 20% hallucinogenic
jellyfish meaty 5 20% poisonous
soldier ant meaty 6 20% poisonous
Wizard of Yendor meaty 34 25% cannibalism for humans
snake meaty 6 27% poisonous
water moccasin meaty 7 27% poisonous
killer bee meaty 5 30% poisonous
giant beetle meaty 6 33% poisonous
giant spider meaty 7 33% poisonous
gremlin meaty 8 33% poisonous
pit viper meaty 9 40% poisonous
cobra meaty 10 40% poisonous
xan meaty 9 47% poisonous
scorpion meaty 8 50% poisonous
black naga meaty 10 53% acidic
queen bee meaty 12 60% poisonous
guardian naga meaty 16 80% poisonous
Scorpius meaty 17 100% poisonous, Ranger quest nemesis
green dragon meaty 20 100% poisonous
Master Kaen meaty 31 100% cannibalism for humans

Very unsafe corpses

Unless you are polymorphed into a stoning-resistant form, eating any of these corpses will instantly result in YASD. If, however, you are in a stoning-resistant form before getting poison resistance, these corpses can provide it permanently. Note that tinning them does not make them safe to eat.

Monster Conduct Difficulty Chance Note
chickatrice meaty 7 27% petrifies when touched or eaten
cockatrice meaty 8 33% petrifies when touched or eaten
Medusa meaty 25 100% petrifies when eaten


The following messages are associated with poison resistance:

"You feel healthy(!)"
You received poison resistance by eating a corpse or tin, or by reaching level 3 as a monk (the exclamation point is present in that last case).
"You feel especially healthy."
You received poison resistance by eating a corpse or tin, while having extrinsic poison resistance (from a ring, amulet, etc.), or poison resistance from level gain.
"You feel hardy!"
You received poison resistance by reaching level 20 as a tourist.
"You feel a little sick!"
You lost poison resistance due to a gremlin's attack.
"You feel less healthy!", "You feel less hardy!"
You lost poison resistance through level drain, as a monk/tourist.
"You seem unaffected by the poison", "The poison doesn't seem to affect you."
These messages indicate that you were poisoned, but suffer no adverse effects due to poison resistance.

External links

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.1. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-361}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.