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." Skills are not advanced automatically because advancing them requires free skill slots which can only be gained by levelling up.

Training skills Edit

Introduction Edit

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 Edit

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. 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. 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, bare-handed combat or martial arts. Riding continuously for 100 turns counts as a successful use of the riding skill. Successfully casting a level n spell counts as n successful uses of the relevant spell casting skill.

Effects of skills Edit

Improving weapon skills improves your to-hit and damage bonuses. Improving spellcasting skills improves your chances of casting spells in that school successfully. Certain spells also have better effects when cast at skilled or expert level. Cone of cold and fireball create explosions rather than a ray; remove curse acts like a blessed scroll; levitation acts like a blessed potion of levitation (you can descend at will); jumping can go farther; protection takes longer to decay; detect monsters and confuse monster will continue to stay in effect for longer.

Quoting from Kate Nepveu's spoilers at :

Skill levels and bonuses, part 1 Edit

Skill Levels and their Bonuses
  Needed Weapon Two-Weapon
Skill Level Hits Exp +Hit +Dam +Hit +Dam
Unskilled 00 -4 -2 -9 -3
Basic 20100 -7 -1
Skilled 80221 -50
Expert 180332 -31

Weapon skills and bonuses, part 2 Edit

Weapon Skills and their Bonuses
  Needed Riding Bare-hand Martial
Skill Level Hits Exp +Hit +Dam +Dam +Dam
Unskilled 00 -200 +1
Basic 201 -10 +1 +3
Skilled 8010 +1 +1 +4
Expert 18020 +2 +2 +6
Master 3202 - - +2 +7
Grand Master 5003 - - +3 +9

Spell skills and special effects, part 3 Edit

Some spells have effects which depend on the skill level:

Spells with special effects affected by skill
  Attack Clerical Divination Enchantment Escape Healing Matter
Basic jumping
Skilled cone of cold, fireballremove curse, protection detect monsters, detect food, detect treasureconfuse monster haste self, levitation, jumping
Expert jumping

Skill tables (the highest skill level attainable by each class for each weapon(?))  Edit

b = Basic

S = Skilled

E = Expert

M = Master

GM = Grand Master

Weapon skills Edit

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 S b b S b
javelin - - S b S b S - E b b b 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 Edit

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
martial arts - - - - - GM - - - M - - -
two weapon combat b b - - S - - E - E S S -
riding b b - - E - - b b S b S b

Spell skills Edit

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 - - - - - b - S b - S b E
matter b - S - - b - S - - - - E
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