Ring of sustain ability

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Name sustain ability
Appearance random
Base price 100 zm
Weight 3
Probability out of rings 3.57%
Probability out of items in:
containers Rogue level Gehennom Elsewhere
0.179% 0.179% 0.286% 0.107%

Wearing a ring of sustain ability gives you the sustain ability property, which means that your base attributes cannot go up or down, except by polymorphing into your own race. It is not a good idea to wear this ring for long periods, because it prevents your attributes from being increased through exercise, but if you lack poison resistance, it is useful to wear a ring of sustain ability while eating poisonous corpses to avoid the strength loss.

This ring can also be used to prevent the intelligence drain from a mind flayer's attack, but it does not directly protect against death by brainlessness. In other words, if your base intelligence is at least 4, then the ring will prevent the intelligence drain and thus indirectly prevent death by brainlessness. But if your intelligence is already 3 when you put the ring on, then the ring will not protect you against brainlessness, and one successful brain-eating attack will put an end to your game. In any case, the ring will not keep you from forgetting maps and item identities.

You could use it to fix your stats if you abuse them a lot, for example, by being satiated for long periods of time to save food.


A ring of sustain ability can be identified by dropping it down a sink (with a 95% chance of losing the ring in the process), or by wearing it and doing something which ought to change your attributes like eating a poisonous corpse without poison resistance, eating a tin of spinach, quaffing a non-cursed potion of gain ability, #sitting on a coaligned altar, or applying a cursed unicorn horn. Alternatively, zap a wand of enlightenment and look for the line "You have fixed abilities".


Prior to NetHack 3.6.1, a bug allowed you to use a ring of sustain ability to increase strength.

When wearing the ring, if your nutrition status changes to Weak, your strength wouldn't go down as it usually does. However, if you then removed the ring and then raised your nutrition status to Hungry, your strength would increase as usual.

This could be farmed or abused to raise your strength to its racial maximum, provided that you have a large number of low-nutrition comestibles (such as meatballs). You first get your nutrition status to Hungry, and then:

  1. Put on the ring of sustain ability;
  2. Wait until your hunger status changes to Weak;
  3. Remove the ring of sustain ability;
  4. Eat a meatball (or enough meatballs to go from Weak to Hungry); 5) Repeat steps 1 through 4 until your strength reaches its racial maximum.

A ring of hunger, conflict or regeneration will speed up this process. Beware of possible negative effects, especially if the ring is cursed.

This would be especially productive for characters who start with low strength and the stone to flesh spell, such as Healers.

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