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Protection is the name of a number of effects which reduce your AC by magical means.

If you have any source of protection, you will receive the enlightenment message, "You are protected." (If your protection is negative, the message reads, "You are ineffectively protected.")

Extrinsic protection

The following are sources of extrinsic protection:

  • A cloak of protection gives you extrinsic protection when worn. This appears in the list of attributes seen with enlightenment but does not affect your AC in any unusual way.
  • A ring of protection lowers AC by its enchantment when worn. Thus, a +1 ring of protection lowers AC by 1, and a −2 ring of protection raises AC by 2. Rings of protection with negative enchantment are often also cursed.
  • The Mitre of Holiness gives extrinsic protection when worn.
  • The Tsurugi of Muramasa gives extrinsic protection when wielded.

Starting in NetHack 3.6.0, extrinsic protection from equipment is also associated with higher magic cancellation. The cloak of protection is the only item that naturally grants MC3, and rings of protection and extrinsic protection from artifacts increase your effective magic cancellation by one point. So a robe or mithril-coat (both MC2) worn with a ring of protection, the Mitre of Holiness, or the Tsurugi of Muramasa will give you MC3, the same as a worn cloak of protection.

The MC bonus is non-cumulative. Two rings of protection or two protection artifacts equipped with a leather armor or any other MC1 item will only give you a magic cancellation of 2, not 3.

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.

The amulet of guarding lowers AC by 2 and boosts MC by 2. Like other extrinsic protection, the MC bonus stacks with armor but not other sources of protection.

Intrinsic protection

Main article: Intrinsic protection

The following are sources of intrinsic protection:

Having intrinsic protection provides MC1 unless you also have extrinsic protection. Unlike the extrinsic, magic cancellation from intrinsic protection is not added to other sources of magic cancellation.

Angering any of the gods and/or inciting one to smite you results in the loss of divine protection. Wearing a helm of opposite alignment and getting converted will also result in the loss of divine protection.

Temporary protection

Casting the spell of protection temporarily lowers AC for a duration and amount that depends on your AC prior to casting, experience level, and casting skill. This is not strictly either an extrinsic or intrinsic, though it behaves somewhat like having intrinsic protection temporarily, and provides MC1 unless you have the extrinsic.


All of these types of protection stack; you can buy protection from a temple (more than once), wear two rings of protection, and cast the spell, if you need a large temporary AC boost.


SLASH'EM adds natural protection to the Monk class and to the doppelganger and lycanthrope races. These bonuses stack for doppelganger Monks. Monks have their AC lowered by level/2 + 2, with a maximum of 11 bonus AC at level 18 if they are not wearing a shield, body armor (robes are allowed), and are not wielding a weapon. Doppelgangers and lycanthropes have their AC lowered by level/4 + 1 if they are not wearing any body armor (robes are not allowed), even if they are in a form that would not be able to wear body armor anyway (and thus would likely have lowered natural AC already to compensate).

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

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

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