Vlad the Impaler

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Vlad the Impaler, V, is a monster that appears in NetHack. He is a unique covetous vampire that guards the Candelabrum of Invocation.

Like his vampire brethren, Vlad the Impaler possesses the abilities of flight, unbreathing, and enhanced regeneration along with a weakness to silver - he is also a shapeshifter that can take on the same fog cloud, wolf and vampire bat forms as vampire lords, although he is only covetous in his base form and will not shapeshift while carrying the Candelabrum of Invocation.[1]

Vlad has a weapon attack and a life-draining bite, and possesses poison resistance and sleep resistance, as well as drain resistance from being undead.

Vlad the Impaler is poisonous to consume in his base form, which primarily comes up if he is digested by another monster.


Vlad the Impaler is always generated hostile, and is not a valid form for polymorph.

Vlad the Impaler resides on a throne in the center of the top floor of his tower, which is situated within Gehennom.

Along with the Candelabrum, Vlad the Impaler has a 58 chance of generating with any one of the default strong weapon sets, with an equal probability of each weapon: a two-handed sword, a long sword, a lucern hammer, a battle-axe, or a bow and 3-14 arrows.[2] As Vlad is a prince to his kind, any weapons he generates with will be at least +1.

Vlad the Impaler never leaves a corpse when killed - if killed by any method that ordinarily leaves a corpse, a message is printed about his body crumbling to dust.[3]


Vlad is the second fastest monster in the game at 26 speed, far faster than a player with speed boots: he hits hard and often, and is capable of sneaking in several warp-and-bites that may drain levels and then retreating to the stairs/ladder before you get a chance to retaliate. Unlike other covetous monsters, if you are standing on the ladder yourself, he will warp away a few steps when hurt instead of staying next to the ladder - if you take the bait and follow, he may then reach the ladder and escape down. Above all else, he deals double damage during the midnight hour (0:00-0:59 server time) due to being undead. Combined with his high 130 base HP and AC of -3, this can make Vlad quite frustrating to fight, especially for low-damage characters.

Among the quickest ways to deal with Vlad are a footrice corpse, or a potion of paralysis paired with a ring of free action; if neither is available, you will need solid AC and a reliable source of high damage, typically a well-enchanted silver weapon, to take him down quickly. A source of drain resistance from a weapon or polyself can prevent the worst of his bite's effects, though they can still be heavily damaging - Excalibur is among the best primary weapons to take on Vlad with for this reason. In the case of Stormbringer of The Staff of Aesculapius, whose draining Vlad resists, they can also be paired with powerful ranged attacks such as the spell of magic missile or daggerstorms. If you do not have drain resistance, MC3 is a decent option to minimize level loss, and a blessed potion of restore ability or two should be kept available in a bag along with healing resources to use after the fight (or else if you get overwhelmed during it).

If all else fails, you can let Vlad escape the tower into the main area of Gehennom and stand on an upstair to fight him. Be careful not to confuse Vlad: if he then levelports by reading a scroll of teleportation, you get to look for him in his Tower, all of Gehennom above it, and the entire Dungeons of Doom, which is very annoying; this also makes Magicbane an impractical choice due to the risk of the confusion effect processing. If you suspect Vlad of generating with a teleport scroll, a source of fire damage (e.g. Fire Brand or a fireball spell) can burn it out of his inventory.

While Vlad the Impaler is technically not immune to the spell or wand of polymorph, you must have protection from shape changers (usually from the ring) for it to have any effect at all while he is holding the Candelabrum, and his MR score of 80 will make the task far more difficult.[4][5] If you do not have protection from shape changers but manage to get the Candelabrum from Vlad without killing him, polymorphing him will shapeshift him into one of his other forms as normal.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Black dragon scales and black dragon scale mail grant drain resistance while worn, making the property more accessible.

Covetous monsters (including Vlad) may choose either the up or down stair to warp to in order to heal, making it much less practical to let Vlad escape into Gehennom.

Taming Vlad

Since Vlad the Impaler is not covetous in his other forms, it is possible to tame him. For those players with enough time, resources and daring to pursue this optional goal, stoning Vlad and then unstoning him via stone to flesh is the most reliable method, since the Candelabrum cannot be contained within a statue and will drop to the floor. Since vampires will not normally shapeshift while you see them, it may be useful to blind yourself, or preferably hide in a closet, if you are trying to get Vlad to shapeshift after liberating the Candelabrum from him. Once tamed, you can feed him meatballs or other food items to increase his tameness to its maximum, then use protection from shape changers to force him back to vampire form and give him equipment; reading the Book of the Dead as a chaotic character can also increase his tameness. Vlad's high speed, strong attacks, and ability to use items and wield weapons can make him a powerful pet for the difficulty involved in successfully taming him.

However, significant care is required to ensure his survival and maintain his tameness - an untamed Vlad with a suite of gifted armor and weapons is a very dangerous Vlad. On top of dedicating a ring slot to preventing him from shapeshifting again, Vlad must be kept safe from the handful of threats that can still reliably kill him - he cannot be revived if he is killed normally in his base form, and his covetous behavior makes it difficult to keep him from hitting certain traps or attacking dangerous monsters, such as those that can digest him or possess highly dangerous passive attacks. On the Elemental Planes, Vlad must be healed frequently due to the amount of heavily-damaging monsters you will likely have to fight through, even with his intrinsic regeneration - plain potions of healing are sufficient for this purpose: thrown potions of any "healing" type will fully heal a monster that they hit, regardless of how much they would heal when quaffed.

Good items to give to a tamed Vlad the Impaler include a non-cursed unicorn horn, an amulet of reflection, a cloak of magic resistance or protection, and any other highly-enchanted armor. If you are committed to keeping Vlad as a pet, it may be worthwhile to genocide monsters with digestion attacks such as purple worms, and keep well and clear of level teleport traps where at all possible; magic resistance offers a defense against the magic missile attacks of Angels, and reflection is enough to protect him from dragon breath, particularly that of black dragons. One method of avoiding trouble with level teleportation is to park his shapeshifted form on a shallow level, then return to re-tame him during the ascension run.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Like other vampires, Vlad can be fed while in animal form in order to grant him intrinsics. Among other things, this makes it possible for him to gain disintegration resistance among other useful properties, such as fire resistance to make traversing the Planes slightly easier. Magic resistance is also more important due to the presence of genetic engineers.


Vlad the Impaler first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. From this version to NetHack 3.6.1, including variants based on those versions, Vlad is significantly slower and weaker, with a 1d10 weapon attack and a 1d10 life-draining bite, and does not teleport away - he is widely regarded as lacking in power compared even to the mundane vampire lords encountered in his tower.

Particularly during the era of NetHack 3.4.3, jokes abounded of fighting him with food rations, magic markers, tin openers or orcish daggers that were thoroughly rusty and corroded, not moving every second turn while fighting him, or a variety of other absurd scenarios which would normally result in YASD, and still easily defeating Vlad. The items used for such exploits had become known as Vladsbanes, Vladbanes or Vladsmashers, which parodies the naming scheme of the Banes) - these items were often #named so in tribute, with one such list of items gleaned from ttyrecs and posted here on codehappy.net. The danger of Vlad reading a scroll of teleportation while confused even gave players a legitimate reason to use a Vladbane-type weapon over Magicbane.

A variety of patches were written before the release of NetHack 3.6.1 to address this issue by altering Vlad in some way - one of the better known ones was the aptly-named Vlad Balance patch. Several variants also try to make Vlad more challenging or unique in their own way, with the specific methods discussed in the section below.

Dudley's dungeon

The Dudley's dungeon strip for 30 November 2006 (via Wayback Machine) features several humorous attempts to remake Vlad; see also the comments for the 30 November and 1 December strips.


Vlad the Impaler is a vampire that features heavily in many fictional works - he is based mostly on Bram Stoker's literary vampire, Count Dracula. Dracula and Vlad are both based on Vlad Drăculea, the Romanian name for the non-fictional Vlad the Impaler: Known as Vlad III or Vlad Dracula, he was a 15th-century Romanian prince, serving Voivode of Wallachia three times between 1448 and his death in 1476/1477. He is often considered one of the most important rulers in Wallachian history and a national hero of Romania.

Vlad's moniker is derived from his invasion of Wallachia and subsequent conflict with the Saxons that inhabited Transylvania. When Vlad invaded Wallachia with Hungarian support in 1456, he fought and killed Vladislav II, his second cousin who had been installed as voivode by regent-governor of Hungary John Hunyadi nearly a decade prior. Vlad then began a purge among the Wallachian boyars to strengthen his position; the Transylvanian Saxons threw their support behind his opponents, Dan and Basarab Laiotă (who were Vladislav's brothers), and Vlad's illegitimate half-brother Vlad Călugărul. Vlad plundered the Saxon villages, taking the captured people to Wallachia, where he infamously had them impaled; peace was eventually restored in 1460.

Vlad also had two envoys of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II impaled, after the Sultan had ordered Vlad to pay homage to him personally - Vlad would then attack Ottoman territory in February 1462, massacring tens of thousands of Turks and Muslim Bulgarians. Mehmed launched a campaign against Wallachia to replace Vlad with Radu, Vlad's younger brother; the campaign met with some success, and more and more Wallachians deserted to Radu following a failed attempt by Vlad to capture the Sultan at Târgoviște during the night of 16–17 June 1462. When Vlad went to Transylvania in late 1462 to seek assistance from Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, Corvinus had him imprisoned. During his captivity in Visegrád from 1463 to 1475, anecdotes about his cruelty started to spread in Germany and Italy - this led to books describing Vlad's cruel acts becoming some of the first bestsellers in German-speaking territories after Vlad was killed in battle in or before January 1477.

In Russia, popular stories suggested that Vlad was able to strengthen his central government only by applying brutal punishments, and many 19th-century Romanian historians adopted a similar view. Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula was the first book to make a connection between Dracula and vampirism, but the titular character's portrayal is more directly based on the blood-sucking vampires of Romanian folklore than Vlad himself or his legendary cruelty. Stoker borrowed the name from "scraps of miscellaneous information" about the history of Wallachia when writing his book about Count Dracula - his main source described the historical Vlad as a wicked man, based on the aforementioned German stories (which the source considered reliable).


Some variants adjust Vlad's placement in the dungeon, and many employ their own methods to make him significantly stronger and more challenging.


In SLASH'EM, Vlad the Impaler's basic stats and properties are mostly unchanged from his appearance in NetHack 3.4.3. Vlad is made carnivorous and his monster difficulty is increased to 21, and he needs a +3 or better weapon to hit while hitting as a +3 weapon himself, making him invulnerable to Vladsbanes and similar junk weapons.

There is also the distinct Count Dracula, who appears as the Undead Slayer quest nemesis and is also derived from the non-fictional Vlad Drăculea.


In SporkHack, Vlad is given a 4d6 mage monster spell attack and the ability to see invisible, and his difficulty is increased to 20. He also generates with Lifestealer, an artifact two-handed sword that has similar properties to Stormbringer.


In GruntHack, many of Vlad's vital statistics are enhanced: his base level is raised to 28, his base speed is raised 24, and he has four attacks - two 6d6 weapon attacks that can stun and confuse targets, a 1d10 level-draining bite, and a 2d6 stunning gaze attack.

Vlad is always generated with a thirsty spetum, as well as a stack of cursed scrolls of teleportation which must be burnt up or otherwise disposed of if defeating him through normal means.


In UnNetHack, Vlad the Impaler uses his stats from the latest version of NetHack.


In dNetHack and notdNetHack, which are based on NetHack 3.4.3, Vlad has cold resistance, 14 points of natural AC, a slightly stronger bite, and an additional 'seducing' gaze attack. He is also generated with a full set of armor and a weapon.

Vlad resides at the top of the Windowless Tower with his three wives, and the Tower is available as soon as you can reach the Gnomish Mines. While it is highly dangerous for characters that first gain access to the Gnomish Mines to immediately attempt entering the Tower, a character that waits until they need the Candelabrum and prepares accordingly should have relatively little trouble with the top floor, especially if they have acquired an engagement ring along the way.


In EvilHack, which is based on the NetHack 3.6 series, Vlad is given a 3d6 mage monster spell attack and is generated with Lifestealer, similar to SporkHack.

Encyclopedia entry

Vlad Dracula the Impaler was a 15th-Century monarch of the Birgau region of the Carpathian Mountains, in what is now Romania. In Romanian history he is best known for two things. One was his skilled handling of the Ottoman Turks, which kept them from making further inroads into Christian Europe. The other was the ruthless manner in which he ran his fiefdom. He dealt with perceived challengers to his rule by impaling them upright on wooden stakes. Visiting dignitaries who failed to doff their hats had them nailed to their head.