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NetHack's skill system allows different roles to attain different proficiencies in the use of different weapons and spells. Skills can be advanced using the #enhance command. When you become able to advance a skill, you will see the message "You feel more confident in your (weapon/fighting/spell casting) skills." If you have just advanced a skill and still have more that can be advanced, you will get the message "You feel you could be more dangerous!" Skills are not advanced automatically because advancing them requires free skill slots which can only be gained by levelling up.

Training skills


Most skills in NetHack have four possible levels: Unskilled, Basic, Skilled and Expert. Martial arts has two levels beyond expert: Master and Grand Master. Generally speaking, characters start at basic skill with the weapons and spells with which they begin their adventure and unskilled in all others.

Use the #enhance command at any time to get a list of skills which you can train. If a skill does not appear on this list, your role is said to be restricted in this skill, meaning that no amount of training will enable it to advance beyond unskilled. (If you receive an artifact weapon from your god, you will be "unrestricted" in this weapon if necessary, and will be able to advance it to Basic.) #enhance will also indicate which of the listed skills have been trained up to their maximum levels. Tables of maximum skill levels can be found in Dylan O'Donnell's spoilers weap-343.txt and spl1-343.txt.

As a general rule, skills are trained by using them successfully. There is a trick to training spell skills: practise with a low-level spell in the school you want to train until your skill improves enough that you can cast high-level spells in that school. For example, train up divination spells by casting light so that you can cast magic mapping and identify more reliably.

Technical details

To advance a skill, you need to have enough free skill slots and to have practiced it enough. You begin the game with no free skill slots and gain one each time you gain an experience level. You can earn a maximum of 29 skill slots, by advancing from level 1 to maximum level 30. It costs one skill slot to advance a weapon skill from Unskilled to Basic, two to go from Basic to Skilled, and three to go from Skilled to Expert. Other skills take one skill slot to go from Unskilled to Basic, one to go from Basic to Skilled, two to go from Skilled to Expert, two to go from Expert to Master and three to go from Master to Grand Master. [1] If you lose an experience level, you will also lose a skill slot, which may result in losing your most recently earned skill.

The table below shows the total number of successful uses of a skill required to reach each level. If you start with a skill at Basic, you are also precredited with 20 successful uses of that skill.

Skill Level Successful Uses
Unskilled 0
Basic 20
Skilled 80
Expert 180
Master 320
Grand Master 500

Hitting a monster for more than one point of damage (including from a distance) counts as a successful use of a weapon skill. For bare-handed combat, a successful use is only scored 50% of the times you hit a monster; for martial arts, 75%.[2][3] As with weapon attacks, a check is made to see if your skill damage bonus applies (see below). Riding for 101 steps counts as a successful use of the riding skill.[4] The steps do not have to be consecutive. Each time you move while mounted counts as one step. Successfully casting a level n spell counts as n successful uses of the corresponding spell casting skill.[5]

Effects of skills


Improving spellcasting skills improves your chances of casting spells in that school successfully. Certain spells also have better effects when cast at skilled level or above. Cone of cold and fireball create explosions rather than a ray;[6] and detect monsters, confuse monster, levitation, remove curse, detect food, cause fear, haste self, detect treasure, and restore ability all have the effect of a blessed potion or scroll.[7][8] Protection takes twice as long to decay if cast as expert.[9] Jumping allows you to jump farther based on your skill level, with a bonus even for Basic skill.[10]


Improving weapon skills improve your to-hit and damage bonuses. Bare hands combat and martial arts skills are an exception to this rule: In 3.4.3 they never granted a to-hit bonus,[11] and in both 3.4.3 and 3.6.0 their damage bonus applies only to 50% and 75% (respectively) of all hits.[12][13]

Quoting from Kate Nepveu's spoilers:

Weapon skill levels and bonuses, part 1

Skill Levels and their Bonuses
  Needed Weapon Two-Weapon
Skill Level Hits Exp +Hit +Dam +Hit +Dam
Unskilled 0 0 -4 -2 -9 -3
Basic 20 1 0 0 -7 -1
Skilled 80 2 2 1 -5 0
Expert 180 3 3 2 -3 1

Skills and bonuses, part 2

Skill levels and their Bonuses
  Needed Riding Bare-hand Martial
Skill Level Hits Exp +Hit +Dam +Hit +Dam +Hit +Dam
Unskilled 0 0 -2 0 +1 0 +2 +1
Basic 20 1 -1 0 +1 +1 +3 +3
Skilled 80 1 0 +1 +2 +1 +4 +4
Expert 180 2 0 +2 +2 +2 +5 +6
Master 320 2 - - +3 +2 +6 +7
Grand Master 500 3 - - +3 +3 +7 +9


Your skill at riding affects your chances of successfully applying a saddle.[14] It also affects your chance of hitting[15] and the damage you inflict[16] when riding. Also, you need at least Basic skill to pick up items or loot a container on the ground[17] or search one for traps,[18] dip something into a pool,[19] set a trap[20] or disarm one[21] or engrave on the floor[22] while riding. Also, if your steed is capable of lifting (and moving over) boulders, you need Basic skill to make them use this ability.[23]

Skill tables

- Restricted
b Basic
S Skilled
E Expert
M Master
GM Grand Master

Weapon skills

Skill \ Role Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Rog Ran Sam Tou Val Wiz
dagger b b b S b - - E E b E E E
knife b - S E b - - E S S S - S
axe - E S - S - - - S - b E S
pick-axe E S b - b - - - b - b S -
short sword b E - S S - - E b E E S b
broadsword - S - - S - - S - S b S -
long sword - S - - E - - S - E b E -
two-handed sword - E - - S - - b - E b E -
scimitar S S - b b - - S - b S b -
saber E b - b S - - S - b S b -
club S S E S b - E S - - - - S
mace - S E b S - E S - - b - b
morning star - S b - S - E b b - b - -
flail - b S - b - E b S S b - -
Skill \ Role Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Rog Ran Sam Tou Val Wiz
hammer - E S - b - E b b - b E -
quarterstaff S b E E - b E - b b b b E
polearms - - S b S - S b S S b S S
spear - S E b S b S b E S b S b
trident - S S b b - S - b - b b b
lance - - - - E - b - - S b S -
bow - b S - b - b - E E b - -
sling S - E S - - b - E - b b S
crossbow - - - - S b b E E - b - -
dart b - - E - - b E E - E - E
shuriken - - - S - b b S S E b - b
boomerang E - E - - - b - E - b - -
whip E - - - - - - - b - b - -
unicorn horn S - b E - - S - - - S - -

Other combat skills

Skill \ Role Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Rog Ran Sam Tou Val Wiz
bare hands E M M b E - b E b - S E b
two weapon combat b b - - S - - E - E S S -
riding b b - - E - - b b S b S b
martial arts - - - - - GM - - - M - - -

Spell skills

Skill \ Role Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Rog Ran Sam Tou Val Wiz
attack b S b - S b - - - S - b E
healing b - - E S E E - b - - - S
divination E - - - - b E S E - b - E
enchantment - - - - - b - - - - b - S
clerical - - - - S S E - - S - - S
escape - - - - - S - S b - S b E
matter b - S - - b - S - - - - E


In SLASH'EM, advancing a spell skill costs as much as weapon skills. [24]


UnNetHack changes the number of successful uses of a skill required to reach each level. As of UnNetHack 3.6.0, the new values are:

Skill Level Successful Uses Old value
Unskilled 0 0
Basic 100 20
Skilled 200 80
Expert 400 180
Master 800 320
Grand Master 1600 500


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.