An attribute shows some capability of the player.

There are six basic attributes, as in Dungeons & Dragons.


Strength corresponds to the ability to have more weight in your inventory. Also, the stronger you are the more damage you do in melee combat and the farther you can throw objects.

Like all attributes, strength ranges between 3 and 25. However, as in early editions of Dungeons and Dragons, strength has the unique property that values between 18 and 19 are given in percentage terms rather than jumping straight from 18 to 19 as with other attributes. For example, a strength of 18/35 means roughly that one is 35% of the way between 18 strength and 19 strength. Depending on race, most characters can attain a maximum strength of 18/** in their natural form. Note that, for gameplay purposes, the only differences between a strength of 18/** and 25 is that 25 allows you to throw Mjollnir and possibly to carry more.

strength to-hit damage
3-5 -2 -1
6-7 -1 0
8-15 0 0
16 0 +1
17 +1 +1
18 +1 +2
18/01-18/50 +1 +3
18/51-18/75 +2 +3
18/76-18/90 +2 +4
18/91-18/99 +2 +5
18/**-25 +3 +6

Reference: Weapon.c#line695.

The to-hit adjustment only applies to wielded weapons. The damage adjustment affects wielded and thrown weapons.

You can exercise strength by pushing boulders around. (One possibility: whenever you need to heal, spend your time pushing a boulder back and forth at one of the higher dungeon levels.) Eating royal jelly or giant corpses also increases your strength, as does spinach ("you feel like Popeye!"). Wearing gauntlets of power is a common and easy way to quickly maximize your strength.

Beware of poison: it can reduce your strength, as can hunger to the point of weakness.

Uses of strength[]

Strength is required for the following activities:

  • To cast spells, you need strength of at least 4.
  • To jump or do self-teleportation, you need strength of at least 6.
  • To break a wand, you need strength of at least 10.
  • To throw Mjollnir, you need strength of 25.

Strength is helpful for the following activities:

  • Strength of at least 18 speeds escape from a bear trap.
  • Greater strength usually allows you to carry more inventory without being encumbered.
  • Greater strength speeds escape from a web.
  • Greater strength allows better accuracy when fighting and increases damage per hit.

Events that alter strength[]

Strength may increase when:

Strength may decrease when:

  • you become hungry to the point of being weak
  • you are hit by certain monsters' attacks
  • you are poisoned
  • you eat cursed royal jelly or spinach

Exercising and abusing strength[]

Strength may be exercised when:

  • you are stressed or strained
  • you have intrinsic regeneration from eating a ring of regeneration (wearing a ring or wielding the Staff does not exercise strength)
  • you kick a non-boobytrapped door
  • you throw an iron ball or a boulder
  • you push a boulder
  • you #force a lock using a blunt weapon (using a blade exercises dexterity)
  • you attempt to open a door and it resists
  • a nurse heals you
  • you "feel restored to health" after consorting with a foocubus
  • you are polymorphed into a golem and an attack increases your health
  • you drink a potion of extra healing or full healing
  • you read a non-cursed scroll of enchant armor while not wearing armor
  • you fight

Strength may be abused when:


When you gain a point in strength by exercising, it will say:

You feel strong! You must have been exercising.

When you lose a point in strength by exercising, it will say:

You feel weak! You must have been abusing your body.


Dexterity has a multitude of effects, of which the most significant is probably that it affects your chance of hitting monsters, whether in melee combat or with a missile or spell.

There is no direct way to increase your intrinsic dexterity apart from drinking a blessed potion of gain ability (or the corresponding fountain effect) which increases all stats by one. However, there are ways to exercise it, for example, repeatedly picking locks. It is also exercised by fighting monsters, disarming traps, and reading a non-cursed Scroll of enchant weapon while not wielding a weapon.

Be aware that dexterity is easy to abuse. If you are trying to train it up, do not walk around satiated, and do not allow yourself to become strained or overtaxed. Being stunned or paralysed or having wounded legs is also bad for dexterity.

A pair of gauntlets of dexterity magically increases (or decreases) your dexterity by the amount of its enchantment, to a maximum of 25.

dexterity to-hit
3 -3
4-5 -2
6-7 -1
8-14 0
15 +1
16 +2
17 +3
18 +4
19 +5
20 +6
21 +7
22 +8
23 +9
24 +10
25 +11

Reference: Dothrow.c#line1200,Weapon.c#line705.


You feel clumsy! You haven't been working on your reflexes.

You have been abusing your dexterity, and you lost one point of it.

You feel agile! You must have been working on your reflexes.

You have been exercising your dexterity, and you gained one point of it.


Having a high constitution increases your healing rate and the number of HP you gain when levelling up and allows you to carry more weight in your inventory.

Constitution is exercised by keeping from being hungry and is increased when you sleep with a foocubus and "feel good enough to do it again".

Constitution hp/level bonus healing rate (turn/hp)
3 -2
4-6 -1
7-14 0
15-16 +1
17 +2
18 +3 3
>18 +4

Reference: Attrib.c#line649.


Intelligence is useful for reading spellbooks, for spellcasting (unless you are a Healer, Knight, Monk, Priest or Valkyrie, in which case it is wisdom that affects your chances of successfully casting a spell) and for encounters with foocubi. Mind flayers can drain your intelligence; if your intelligence falls below 3, you die of brainlessness.

Intelligence cannot be exercised but can be increased by drinking a blessed potion of enlightenment or a potion of gain ability. It can also be increased by wearing a helm of brilliance. If you eat a mind flayer corpse, there is a 50% chance your intelligence will be increased by one point (you will get the message "For some reason, that tasted bland." if your intelligence is already at maximum.)


A Healer, Knight, Monk, Priest or Valkyrie requires wisdom to cast spells. Wisdom is not particularly important to other classes, though it affects how fast your power regenerates (hence is fairly important for wizards) and how much power you gain when levelling up.

Wisdom is one of the easiest stats to maximize. Many activities exercise it, including engraving Elbereth and successful searching. It can also be increased by sleeping with a foocubus and getting the "You will always remember the foocubus" message.

When your wisdom changes through exercise or abuse you will receive one of the following messages :

If it goes up, :

You feel wise!  You must have been very observant.

and if it goes down. :

You feel foolish!  You haven't been paying attention.


Charisma is mostly useful for obtaining better prices at shops. It also helps with foocubus encounters, both by increasing the chance of a positive result and by giving more control over whether they remove your armor.

Charisma is a difficult stat to increase, as it cannot be exercised. You can gain charisma by triggering a magic trap, so some players deliberately trigger magic traps until they explode, a strategy known as the "magic trap boogie". However, this can be dangerous - many monsters will be summoned, and the towers of flame will reduce your maximum HP unless you have fire resistance.

Charisma Price
3-5 ×2
6-7 ×1.5
8-10 ×1.33
11-15 ×1
16-17 ×0.75
18 ×0.67
19-25 ×0.5

Reference: Shk.c#line1910.

Maximum attributes[]

You can increase strength, dexterity, constitution, and wisdom through exercise, and adjust all six stats through other means such as potions of gain ability. Some magic items, like the helm of brilliance, gauntlets of power, and gauntlets of dexterity, allow you to exceed these maximums. In fact, such items are common in ascension kits.

The maximum stats for each race are:

Race Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
Human 18/** 18 18 18 18 18
Elf 18 18 16 20 20 18
Dwarf 18/** 20 20 16 16 16
Gnome 18/50 18 18 19 18 18
Orc 18/50 18 18 16 16 16

Reference: role.c#line405.

NetHack brass[]

You can ignore this section unless you play the variant called NetHack brass.

NetHack brass implements different maximum attributes per role. Find your maximum attributes by looking for your role in the next table, then applying the racial modifiers. Humans have +2 to strength. All heroes have a minimum of 3 for each attribute.

Role Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
Archeologist 16 10 17 19! 18 19
Barbarian 18/** 18 20 12! 16 10
Caveman 18/** 18 20 14! 16 15
Healer 12 19 19 19 19! 18
Knight 18/50 13 18 17 19! 19
Monk 10 20 20 18 20! 18
Priest 18 15 18 17 20! 18
Ranger 17 21 13 19! 16 19
Rogue 18 20 17 17! 17 16
Samurai 18/50 20 19 15! 15 15
Tourist 17 15 18 19! 19 19
Valkyrie 18/** 16 20 12 17! 16
Wizard 10 19 16 20! 20 18

Reference: src/role.c in NetHack brass 040923.

Racial modifiers[]

To find your maximum attributes in NetHack brass, after finding your role in the above table, you must apply the racial modifiers of the below table. These racial modifiers apply only to the maximum attributes of each player, not the initial attributes.

An elven Ranger of NetHack brass, for example, can reach 19+1 = 20 in charisma by increasing charisma one more time after a human Ranger would have maxed at 19.

For strength modifiers only, a +1 raises 18 to 18/50, while a +2 raises 18 to 18/** or 17 to 18/50.

Race Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
Human +2 0 0 0 0 0
Elf 0 0 -2 +2 +2 +1
Dwarf +2 +2 +2 -2 -2 -2
Gnome +1 0 0 +1 0 0
Orc +2 0 0 -2 -2 -3

Wizard mode[]

The wizard mode of NetHack brass supplies the #rrllududab extended command, a code that gives your maximum attributes to you, a reference to the Konami code.


You can ignore this section unless you play SLASH'EM.

SLASH'EM, mainly due to the changed behaviour of the Gauntlets of power, handles strength between 18/** and 25 differently than vanilla NetHack.

strength to-hit damage
3-5 -2 -1
6-7 -1 0
8-15 0 0
16 0 +1
17 +1 +1
18 +1 +2
18/01-18/99 +1 +3
18/** +2 +4
19 +2 +5
20 +3 +6
21 +3 +7
22 +4 +8
23 +4 +9
24 +5 +10
25 +5 +11

Reference: SLASH'EM 0.0.7E7F2/weapon.c#line900.

Other traits of the player[]

These are important, though you might choose to avoid calling them attributes.