Turn undead

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This article is about the #turn command. For other uses, see Turn undead (disambiguation).

The #turn (turn undead) extended command allows Knights and Priests to frighten, and possibly even destroy or pacify, nearby undead creatures by calling upon the power of their deity.

Only those two roles can use this ability. Members of other roles using the command will attempt to cast the turn undead spell if they know it, or else be told, "You don't know how to turn undead!".

#Turn undead is, in fact, a special sort of prayer to your god, not a spell, although it doesn't affect your prayer timeout.

The name comes from Dungeons and Dragons, where it is a specific supernatural ability for causing undead beings to turn and flee. There are some unfortunate linguistic ambiguities associated with it in NetHack; for instance, the #turn command has the description "Turn undead", which might make a beginning player assume that it causes their character to become an undead creature!


Using the #turn command has the following effects[1]:

  • Exercises wisdom.
  • Turns all hostile undead monsters that you can see with a base range of 5 squares. Range increases by 1 square every 5 levels. If your level is higher than 15, hostile demons are turned as well. Affected monsters have a chance of resisting.
  • These monsters are woken if they are sleeping.
  • If you are lawful or neutral, certain classes of undead monsters may be killed instantly. If you are chaotic, they may become peaceful. These monsters are, in increasing order of difficulty: zombie, mummy, wraith, vampire, ghost, lich.
  • Demons and those undead who are not killed will flee. If you are confused, the command removes fleeing and paralysis effects from those monsters instead.
  • You become helpless for 5 turns while you are praying. (Ouch!)
  • Breaks atheist conduct

Turning will not work correctly in the following circumstances:


If you are high enough level, turned undead monsters must make a second resistance check or be destroyed instantly (turned peaceful if you are chaotic).

Monster Class Minimum Level
zombies 6
mummies 8
wraiths 10
vampires 12
ghosts 14
liches 16

(It is thus theoretically possible to instantaneously destroy an arch-lich by #turning, if you are at least level 16 and beat its MR of 90 in two sequential rolls.)


The #turn command's helplessness side-effect limits this ability's usefulness, especially since it's only likely to kill undead less powerful than yourself. Use with caution. It would probably clear a graveyard pretty fast if you're high enough level, though.


This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

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

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-360}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.