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Your experience level in NetHack is a measure of the overall power of your hero and progress of your adventure. The more experienced you are, the better you become at both fighting and magic.

Experience points (XP) are the units that you accumulate to increase your level. Depending on your game options, you may see a display of your XP or only see your current experience level.

You start at level 1 and can reach a maximum level of 30. Monsters also have an experience level defined, but it can only be seen with a wand of probing, stethoscope, or Magicbane.


Gaining an experience level will have a number of effects on gameplay:

  • Increases your maximum HP
  • Increases your maximum energy
  • Increases your skill slots by one
  • Increases your chance to hit in combat
  • Increases your chance of successfully learning a spell from spellbook
  • Decreases your spell failure rate
  • Increases difficulty of monsters generated
  • Changes your rank, based on your role (and possibly gender)
  • Characters at level 14 or more can attempt the Quest
  • Increase your chance of converting an altar
  • Increases your chance of successfully playing certain musical instruments
  • Scrolls will have more meaningful error messages once you aren't considered a beginner anymore ("You have a strange feeling, then it passes.")

Experience level has no direct effect on your attributes.

Gaining levels[]

There are several ways to gain an experience level, ranging from obvious to somewhat obscure:

You may never gain more than one experience level at a time; killing a water demon at XP1:0 will only put you on 2:39, not 4:169 as might be expected. (You can, however, gain multiple experience levels in a single turn, as for example when a beginner character manages to destroy many creatures at once with an exploding gas spore.)

If you are already level 30, experience points will not raise your level. Except for polymorph, the "Gain Level" methods above will cause your maximum HP and energy to increase.

Losing levels[]

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It's also possible to lose your hard-earned experience levels:

These are preventable with drain resistance, except polymorph. If you kill anything after losing an experience level you immediately gain it back, however only one level can be restored in this way. A blessed potion of full healing will also restore a lost level, but only up to half of those lost. For this reason care should be taken when fighting wraiths.

Alternate Methods of Gaining Experience[]

Besides killing monsters or the above "Gain Level" methods, there are some alternate ways of getting experience. These may be useful if you're trying a pacifist ascension.

  • A major or minor consultation with the Oracle. (see Oracle for number of points)
  • Eating a tripe ration. (1 XP)
  • Fixing a squeaky board. (1 XP)
  • Drinking from a sink. 1/20 chance. (1 XP "Yuk, this water tastes awful.")

Experience points required per level[]

Level NetHack - XP Required SLASH'EM - XP Required
1 0 0
2 20 40
3 40 80
4 80 160
5 160 320
6 320 640
7 640 1280
8 1280 2560
9 2560 5120
10 5120 10000
11 10000 20000
12 20000 40000
13 40000 80000
14 80000 150000
15 160000 250000
16 320000 300000
17 640000 350000
18 1280000 400000
19 2560000 450000
20 5120000 500000
21 10000000 550000
22 20000000 600000
23 30000000 650000
24 40000000 700000
25 50000000 750000
26 60000000 800000
27 70000000 850000
28 80000000 900000
29 90000000 950000
30 100000000 1000000


  1. See also: The Nethack Incubus and Succubus Spoiler by Ray Chason, succubi.txt

This page is based on a spoiler by Dylan O'Donnell. The original license is:

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