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Convict Role
Author Karl Garrison
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Bilious PatchDB 421

The Convict is a role added in the Convict Role patch and also in UnNetHack, Slash'EM Extended, SLASHTHEM, dNetHack and DynaHack. It was designed to be more difficult than Tourist (statistically the most difficult class in vanilla NetHack), a goal at which it succeeds handily.

Convicts always start out as chaotic. In the original patch they can be humans, dwarves, gnomes, or orcs. UnNetHack adds vampires as a starting option, and dNetHack adds elves, vampires, half-dragons, and incantifiers. Slash'EM Extended unrestricts all race and alignment combinations.

Starting inventory

A Convict also starts chained to an iron ball and with a sewer rat named Nicodemus (reference to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH) as a pet, which can grow up to be unusually large. Additionally, convicts can pacify and tame other rats by #chatting with them.


Convicts gain intrinsics at these experience levels:


Convict skills
Max Skills

The Convict's special spell is teleport away. Spell success is determined by intelligence.


The convict quest sees you fighting Warden Arianna for the Iron Ball of Liberation, a heavy iron ball that grants magic resistance, stealth, searching and warning. When invoked, it allows phasing for a limited time. The downsides are its weight (almost as heavy as a normal iron ball) and the fact that it chains itself to the player every time its power is invoked.


Main article: Religion
  • Lawful: Ilmater
  • Neutral: Grumbar
  • Chaotic: Tymora

The Convict pantheon is made up of deities worshiped by human inhabitants of Faerûn in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons.

Ilmater is the god of martyrdom and perseverence. His followers seek to ease the suffering of others, even if it requires enduring suffering themselves. He is described as similar to the god Issek in the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber.

Grumbar is the Elemental Lord of Earth, known for constancy and changelessness, but also indifference. He is influenced by the god Grome in the Elric series by Michael Moorcock.

Tymora is the goddess of good fortune, invoked by risk-takers and adventurers. She is inspired by the Greek goddess Tyche.

Rank titles

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Detainee
  • XL 3-5: Inmate
  • XL 6-9: Jail-bird
  • XL 10-13: Prisoner
  • XL 14-17: Outlaw
  • XL 18-21: Crook
  • XL 22-25: Desperado
  • XL 26-29: Felon
  • XL 30: Fugitive


Convicts start the game on the verge of becoming hungry, with no food in their inventory and no ability to pray for food. Their ability to descend through the dungeon looking for food is also limited by the iron ball chained to them, as they face death from falling down the stairs. It is advisable to always wield the ball before attempting to descend, as that will reduce the damage to 1-9 (average 5) instead of the 1-26 (average 11) you will take if the ball falls on you. You should wield the iron ball most of the time anyway, as it makes a superb weapon, doing d25 damage (average 13), which is higher than any non-artifact, even a dwarvish mattock – if you can hit with it. For a convict (and a convict only), fighting with the iron ball advances flail skill, which can eventually reach expert.

The early game is dominated by a desperate search for food. It is therefore critical to get the most out of any food they do find. Convicts burn nutrition at half the normal rate while hungry or worse, meaning that you should wait to eat food rations and the like until you are at least weak with hunger. Convicts are also immune to sickness from level one, enabling them to eat tainted corpses. In particular this allows them to eat corpses left by zombies and mummies, and to finish every last bite of their kills without worrying about how long the corpse has been lying there.

Races that are normally friendly to them (e.g. gnomes and dwarves to themselves and each other) are hostile to the Convict. This may influence the decision whether to do the Gnomish Mines or Sokoban first. The Minetown watch will also be hostile to Convicts, making the mines an even less appealing early destination. However, a short foray into the mines can yield good armor and numerous edible corpses.

The convict's difficulty in obtaining food and equipment is compounded by the fact that shopkeepers who see his striped shirt will not allow him to enter their shops (and will remember him if he later removes or covers the shirt). An exception to this is the Black market, where the convict will receive a reduction in prices instead.

A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"Strategy for vampiric convicts should be added. They have the advantage of flying, so going down levels with a iron ball in hand poses no danger. The sickness resistance is useless when looking for food. Unless you get incredibly lucky, you will most likely not make it to turn 600 (the turn at which the vampires negative luck or alignment, not sure which one, runs out) without fainting. The monsters in the first few levels don't have much nutrition in their corpses and 20 % of something like a gnome is only 20 nutrition. So getting lucky on the bites is what will give you a more significant amount. But since this is unlikely it's important to find a safe place to faint for 50-100 turns to make it to turn 600 in order to pray successfully. This goes a little contrary to the suggestions for vampires to constantly fight and convicts to do whatever is necessary to find nutrition. Once you get past that it's important to keep eating until you are satiated. Then only cast spells if you are satiated. And always take food into account, when you want to do something like go back to the Priest in Minetown to get protection. Speaking of minetown, the gnomish mines are a feast for vampire convicts. Once you have your first prayer, slaughtering a bunch of gnomes and dwarves is relatively easy. But it's important to make the most out of your regeneration and not get overwhelmed. Pull back, regenerate health and kill the next set of mine-people. This will level you up quickly and get you to poison resistance (convict specific). Once you have that, it opens up a new set of corpses that can be drained. Minetown is especially dicey for vampire convicts, since the watch captain usually has a silver saber and is always hostile towards you (even without a striped shirt!). Since you are powerful and your iron ball does a lot of damage, it is feasable to kill the watch. But it is really important to have an escape plan. You regenerate health faster than they do, so a hit an d run strategy works well. I suggest avoiding the watch captain until the rest is dealt with. And the watch captain himself need to be dealt with carefully. He swings twice in a turn (not sure if that's precicely true) and each hit does regular saber damage plus d20 silver damage. So expect to be taking 40 damage when you give him a chance to strike. You will most likely need to retreat and regenerate your health each time he hits. When he is dead make sure to take the silver saber. It can be useful for later and you want to avoid other monsters from picking it up. In addition grab some gloves (the watch usually has some), so that you can use it (and later a shield of reflection and other silver items) without loosing regeneration. Being a vampire has a lot of benefits, but in combination with the sickness resistance, you become very powerful for the late game. Jubilex, Demegorgon and Pestilence (and two a lesser extent locusts) loose their most potent attacks. And all death magic is useless against you, which means you can use the iron ball of liberation as your only source of magic resistance. If the wizard steals it, you just kill him and get it back, with no risk of finger of death killing you before that happens. The risk you take there is stepping on a poly trap or that a lich is summoned and starts taking apart your armor while you are trying to get the ball back.For the late game spell-casting becomes viable, but it's a resource management game. The ball weighs a lot, you're food supply (tinning kit and vials of blood) weigh a lot and spellbooks are heavy as well. And the main resource you are spending when casting spells as a vampire convict is food. And food either weighs a lot or is randomly generated through draining and eating of corpses. So you can either consistently use spells and have to deal with additional weight from food or you can only cast spells when you happen to have drained (in both senses) enough monsters. Especially in Gehemmon you don't have the fall-back of prayer to save you from starvation."


Once he manages to free himself from his heavy iron ball, a convict will need another weapon to fight with. A convict has a guaranteed first sacrifice gift called the Luck Blade, a chaotic short sword which also acts as a luckstone. Given that he will only be able to reach basic, however, this is likely to only be a viable weapon in the early game.

A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"Luckblade is a broadsword in UnNethack."