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An engulfing attack is one which involves you being caught inside a monster, whether by being swallowed whole (for example, by a purple worm or trapper) or by simply being drawn into a nonsolid or amorphous monster such as a vortex. Each turn you are inside the monster, you will take damage of some kind.

Engulfing is an attack type rather than a damage type. The type of damage caused depends on the monster doing the attack.


Monsters with engulfing attacks can be divided into three general categories:

  • Whirlies: Unsolid monsters composed of a single element, which attack by drawing you inside and exposing you to their constituent element. All of these monsters share the whirly monster attribute. The air elemental and all vortices are whirly engulfers. Vortices (such as the fog cloud or dust vortex) are likely to be the first engulfing monsters you encounter in the Dungeons of Doom. They vary widely in their composition and attacks, so they range from being fairly harmless to being a nuisance even to experienced adventurers.
  • Digesters: Living monsters that swallow and attempt to digest you. Digestion is a special damage type that can instakill you if you do not escape the monster's digestive system in time.

A list of monsters with engulfing attacks, and the type of damage dealt by their attack:

Monster Damage Type
fog cloud Physical
dust vortex Blinding
ice vortex Cold
energy vortex Shock and Drain energy
steam vortex Fire
fire vortex Fire
trapper Digestion
lurker above Digestion
purple worm Digestion
air elemental Physical
ochre jelly Acid
Juiblex Disease

Escaping an engulfer

There are a variety of ways of escaping an engulfing monster, but some are only applicable to certain types of monster.

Methods that can be used on all engulfing monsters:

  • Kill or destroy the engulfing monster. This is the best way to be rid of an engulfing monster, but it may not be an option if your player is near death and cannot survive a few more turns inside the monster.
  • Use "opening" magic (a wand of opening, the spell of knock, the Bell of Opening).
  • Scare the engulfing monster, using a tooled horn or drum, or Magicbane.
  • Polymorph yourself into a monster that is too big to be engulfed (size Huge or larger).
  • Polymorph the engulfing monster. A monster with an engulfing attack that is polymorphed into one without an engulfing attack will release its prey immediately (and have its health reduced to one point by the physical trauma). However, if by chance the new form is also an engulfing monster, you will remain engulfed.
  • Teleport yourself out (this will not work on non-teleport levels).
  • Teleport the engulfing monster, if you are on a non-teleport level. The monster will disappear and you will be left behind. If this is used on a level where teleportation is allowed, you will be teleported with the monster.

Methods that are applicable only to certain monsters:

Take note that when you are expelled from an engulfing monster, you are subject to any traps on the square you are released to. If the engulfing monster has moved you, this may trigger traps that you have not discovered yet.

Preparing for engulfing attacks

Wearing a ring of slow digestion prevents digesting attacks. Instead of being swallowed, "You get regurgitated! Obviously the <foo> doesn't like your taste." and you are expelled.

The time you will be engulfed is shortened by high monster level, and lengthened by good (low) AC. This means digesters will fully digest you faster if they are high level or you are poorly armored. The effect is perhaps unintuitive for other engulfers, however. The minimum number of (the engulfer's) turns you will be engulfed is 2 (including the one on which you are swallowed), which means at normal speed you are guaranteed at least one to attempt to escape a digester.

Gameplay while engulfed

Any directional spell cast while engulfed will always hit the engulfing monster ("The <spell> rips into the <monster>!"). Ray-based attacks do not travel beyond the confines of the monster.

Also, any melee attacks on a monster engulfing you will always hit. This can be useful for practicing melee weapon skills at low levels. Low-level engulfers such as fog clouds and dust vortices are preferred for this.

You may not engrave while engulfed,[1] although trying may elicit a humourous reply.


SLASH'EM adds new monsters with engulfing attacks: yellow jelly, orange jelly, rancid jelly, and (giant) shoggoth.

In GruntHack, adult dragons have digestion attacks.

See also


  1. src/engrave.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 498