Vlad the Impaler

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Vlad the Impaler, V, is a unique vampire that appears in NetHack. He guards the Candelabrum of Invocation. Like his weaker vampire brethren, he possesses the abilities of flight, magical breathing, and life-draining bites. He is also covetous, and will warp to the upstairs (or the ladder down in his tower) to heal.


Vlad the Impaler resides at the top of his tower in Gehennom. He has a 79% chance to be generated with a two-handed sword, a battle-axe, or a bow and 3-14 arrows.


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 and 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, and he is also immune to sleep, death rays, slowness, and polymorph.

Combined with his high 130 base HP, Vlad can be quite frustrating to fight, especially for low-damage characters. The quickest way to deal with him is to use a footrice corpse or a potion of paralysis. If neither is available, you will need solid AC and a well-enchanted silver weapon to take him down quickly. Failing that, you can let him 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.


Vlad the Impaler first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. From this version to NetHack 3.6.1, Vlad used to be significantly slower, weaker and wouldn't teleport away. He was widely regarded as being quite a feeble enemy for the stage of the game when he is faced - he was not significantly stronger than the vampire lords which appear as normal enemies.

Particularly during the era of NetHack 3.4.3, jokes abounded of fighting him with food rations, magic markers, thoroughly rusty thoroughly corroded tin openers or orcish daggers, 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 (in a mockery of the Banes) - these items were often #named so in tribute, as seen in the link below. The danger of Vlad reading a scroll of teleportation while confused even gave you a legitimate reason to use a Vladbane-type weapon instead of Magicbane. A variety of patches had been written before 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.

Dudley's dungeon

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


Vlad is a major vampire based mostly on the fictional Count Dracula, who is in turn based on the non-fictional Vlad Drăculea, a 15th century Romanian prince.


Several variants that feature Vlad either adjust his placement in the dungeon, or else employ their own methods to make him significantly stronger and more challenging.


In SporkHack he's been beefed up significantly, most notably by arming him with an artifact two-handed sword named Lifestealer that has similar properties to Stormbringer.


GruntHack enhances Vlad's vital statistics (base level 28, base speed 24, stunning and confusion attacks) and give him a guaranteed thirsty spetum and a stack of cursed scrolls of teleportation.


Strangely, in SLASH'EM there is also the distinct Count Dracula as a quest nemesis. So they are two monsters, derived from the same non-fictional Vlad Drăculea. Dracula's last words ("Mark my words, niggling! I shall return!") imply that they may be intended to be one and the same, though.


Vlad is adjusted in dNetHack, adding a seductive gaze to the 3.4.3 version of his attacks. In addition, he now resides at the top of the Windowless Tower with his 3 consorts. However, none of them are particularly threatening by the time one reaches his level, assuming one has acquired an engagement ring.

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.

External links

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