Instadeath stands for instant death. An instadeath causes death in zero time and allows no intervention.

Causes of instadeaths are:

  • Cockatrices
    • Touching a cockatrice or chickatrice corpse without gloves.
    • Eating a cockatrice or chickatrice corpse, or eating the corpse of Medusa.
    • Kicking a cockatrice or chickatrice corpse without shoes.
    • Trying to sacrifice or tin a cockatrice corpse without gloves, even if it is already lying on the altar.
    • Falling into a pit while wielding a cockatrice corpse.
    • Falling down stairs due to being burdened while wielding a cockatrice corpse.
    • Attacking a cockatrice while polymorphed into a creature with a bite attack.
  • Being hit by a death ray while not having magic resistance. This can be achieved by:
  • Being touched by the touch of death while not having magic resistance. The Wizard of Yendor and high level liches can use this against you.
  • Being fatally poisoned, unless you have poison resistance.
  • Choking on your food
  • Drowning in a pool of water
    • If you fall into a pool of water with no adjacent land, you'll drown unless you have unbreathing or amphibiousness.
    • Stepping into water with excessive encumbrance will drown you even if there is adjacent land.
  • Standing near a collapsing drawbridge.
  • Genociding your own race, by scroll of genocide or sitting on a throne.
  • Stepping into lava without fire resistance.
  • Intentionally level teleporting yourself to level 0 or any "higher" level - level 0 is nowhere, -1 to -8 is "above the clouds", -9 is Cloud Nine and -10 and above is Heaven. Teleporting to a level "above" 0 will not instakill you if you have levitation or flying, but the game will end anyway.
  • Being hit by a black dragon's disintegration breath without reflection or disintegration resistance. If you are wearing a shield, it disintegrates, saving you; if not, but are wearing body armor, that disintegrates, again saving you (but likely leaving you with a very poor armor class).
  • Being hit by a lightning bolt from an angry god without reflection or shock resistance.
  • Being hit by a wide-angle disintegration beam from an angry god without disintegration resistance. An amulet of reflection, shield of reflection or any kind of body armor will not protect you in this case.
  • Being hit by Vorpal Blade or The Tsurugi of Muramasa (5% chance, 10% in SLASH'EM).
  • Cheating by modifying the save file ("death by trickery").
  • Being level drained on 1st experience level

Dying on turn one generates the message "Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 zorkmids." It is a reference to Monopoly.

Dealing instadeath unto other monsters[]

In many situations, it is very helpful for your player to have a way to instantly kill other monsters. Here are some methods of instantly killing monsters, listed roughly in order from most common to most obscure. Note that not all methods work on all monsters; for example, undead monsters resist death rays, etc.


SLASH'EM features several new instadeaths. They are:

  • Being hit by a gaze of death from a catoblepas or the Beholder.
  • Asking a gypsy to read your fortune and drawing Death while not having magic resistance.
  • Being hit by Thiefbane. (10% chance)
  • Being hit by Serpent's Tongue without poison resistance. (10% chance)
  • Being hit by a wooden stake while polymorphed into a vampire and while wearing an amulet of unchanging. (10% chance)
  • Invoking the Eye of the Beholder with your luck less than -9.
  • Being hit by Houchou, an artifact weapon-tool that is thrown at a target.

See also[]

Delayed instadeath, which also results in sudden death but allows for emergency intervention.