Spellbook of drain life

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spellbook of
+   drain life   Light green spellbook.png
Appearance random
Abundance 1.01%
Base price 200 zm
Weight 50
Turns to read 2
Ink to write 10–19
Spell type attack
Level 2
Power cost 10 Pw
Direction beam

The spellbook of drain life provides the drain life spell. Casting it at a monster drains one level from it, and does 2*(1d8) damage (doubled if you are a Knight with The Magic Mirror of Merlin), plus spell damage bonus. It also decreases the monster's maximum hp by 1d8, again with the spell damage and magic mirror bonuses, if applicable. The monster's location will be revealed, if it is unseen.[1] Level drain resistant monsters are not affected at all. If the monster resists the spell through monster magic resistance, it will not be level drained, will suffer only 25% damage to its current hp, and will suffer no damage to its max hp.[2], [3].

If the spell is cast at an object, the object will resist 90% of the time if an artifact and 10% if not an artifact. If the object does not resist, its charge or enchantment is reduced by 1. An object cannot have its charge or enchantment reduced below zero, and any objects with negative enchantments are unaffected.

Casting the spell at yourself drains one experience level, unless you are drain resistant. Losing a level reduces your maximum hit points and your hit points by the same amount, down to a minimum of one. If you are drained below experience level 1, you die.


"<Monster> suddenly seems weaker!"
The monster did not resist the spell.
"<Goodbye> level <x>."
You have been drained a level.


Drain life is not a great attack spell: It does not deal much damage, and you will not gain as many experience points from your kills because that is based on the monster's experience level before dying. An exception are extended battles with certain very tough opponents that teleport away to heal themselves but are not 100% magic resistant, such as the Monk Quest Nemesis, Master Kaen. As opposed to hit points, they cannot recover their drained levels, and will eventually die.

This spell is commonly used to reduce the enchantment of a weapon from +6 to +5, from where you may safely re-attempt to enchant it to +7, and also to reduce armor from +4 to +3 for the same purpose. It works on Magicbane too, usually after a lot of tries.

This spell can be used to kill enemies behind boulders without breaking the boulder, making it invaluable in Sokoban if you do not have magic missile.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, this spell could be used to reduce your level in a controlled way in order to get massive amounts of maximum HP, maximum Pw, and intrinsic protection. See drain for gain for more information.

This page is based on a spoiler by Dylan O'Donnell. The original license is:

Redistribution, copying, and editing of these spoilers, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  1. The original contributors to any spoiler must continue to be credited.
  2. Any modifications to the spoiler must be acknowledged and credited.


In SLASH'EM this spell is also available (to you and to monsters) via the wand of draining.