Berserk is a status effect which fills you with overwhelming rage, making you significantly deadlier in combat but unable to do almost anything else. Afterwards, you are left severely handicapped as you recover from your overexertion. Used correctly, a berserker can overcome challenges far beyond its level. Used improperly, it'll leave you seriously weakened just as things are at their most dangerous.
A berserk rage nominally lasts 20 - 40 turns, but this duration decreases rapidly if you do anything except for fighting or butchering, lasting only 3 turns if you don't do either of these things at all.
- Current and max HP increase by 50%.
- Might (+5 strength, +1d10 melee attack damage).
- Immunity to sleep
Monsters also get immunity to fear and might gives them +50% damage instead of +1d10.
- Cannot do anything except for attacking, moving, butchering corpses, eating, and wielding, unwielding, dropping, or picking up items.
- Leaves you slow and gives the -Berserk status effect after it ends, preventing repeated berserks.
- Occasionally makes you "pass out" (essentially paralysis) for a few turns after it ends (10% chance, lower with berserk mutation or Trog).
- Costs you 600 satiation per use.
- Cannot trigger if you are Near Starving or worse.
- Sets your stealth to 0, and causes you to make lots of noise when opening doors (You throw open the door with a bang!).
- Followers of Cheibriados may wish to avoid berserk, as he dislikes the Haste effect it causes. If you go berserk unintentionally while following him, he will cancel the Haste effect. That being said, in an emergency, its benefits may outweigh the relatively minor cost.
The simplest way to get access to berserk is to worship Trog, who grants it to users as an ability once they hit one * of piety. This ability costs an additional 200 - 400 satiation per use (bringing the total cost to 800 - 1000), but it never fails and requires no other resources. Also, Trog followers receive several divine benefits to all of their berserk rages, regardless of the source; the berserker has a (piety/10)% chance of extending the berserk by 4 - 13 turns each time he kills something, and you receive an additional (piety/1.5)% chance of staying conscious when you would normally pass out.
Amulet of Rage
Wearing an amulet of rage (or any randart with the +Rage intrinsic) allows you to go berserk as an ability. It's success rate increases with evocation skill (50% with no skill) and costs 2 MP along with the standard satiation cost.
If you have the Berserk mutation or a piece of equipment with the *RAGE intrinsic, you may automatically go berserk each time that you hit an enemy in melee or take damage. The chance of this happening due to the mutation rises with each rank of the mutation (1% / 3% / 9%), but more ranks also dramatically reduces the odds of you passing out from berserking; the normal 10% chance is reduced to roughly 3%, 2%, or 1.5%. Each piece of berserkitis equipment has its own chance of activation, making some items significantly more dangerous than others. Because there are many situations in which berserking is a terrible idea, berserkitis is generally seen as a dangerous trait to have.
Potion of Berserk Rage
Quaffing a potion of berserk rage will immediately make you go berserk.
Moth of Wrath
The bite of a moth of wrath may cause you to go berserk. Monsters near it (but not necessarily adjacent to it) will also occasionally go berserk.
Xom may decide to make you berserk. He may even be kind enough to do so in situations where berserking is helpful!
The following all prevent you from going berserk.
- Clarity prevents unintentional berserks (berserkitis, moths of wrath, etc.) while still allowing voluntary ones.
- Having berserked recently (-berserk status effect)
- Being a mummy, ghoul, lichform, formicid, or vampire (if less than Satiated).
- Being Very Hungry or worse.
- Don't assume that nimble, dexterous characters armed with short blades have less to gain from berserking than a lumbering brute with a massive weapon; the +1d10 damage per hit applies to light and heavy weapons equally. The faster you hit your enemy, the more free damage you apply.
- Bear in mind that berserk characters have zero stealth. While this might make no difference to a rampaging troll or minotaur in crystal plate armour, stealthier characters might want to be careful about berserking near enemies that aren't yet aware of them; doing so may draw more enemies into combat than you can handle at once, especially if the berserk runs out mid-fight.
- A potion of haste will counter the post-berserk slowing, which can be useful if your berserk wears out while you're still in combat with dangerous enemies. Elyvilon's Purification ability and Ru's Draw Out Power are also effective.
- If none of these options are available, think carefully before going berserk. It's a good idea to lure enemies to an already-cleared area with a staircase leading up before berserking so you can escape in case a monster approaches while you're slowed. Summoning allies (incidentally, another of Trog's given powers) also increases your chances of survival if your rage expires while you are still in combat.
- Ranged weapon users should switch to a melee weapon before going berserk, as you can't shoot during it.
Prior to 0.20, berserk gave the exhausted status effect after wearing off instead of -Berserk. This only mattered if you could cast Death's Door or had access to one of Ru's active abilities. Also, players and monsters were unable to (un)wield things while berserk.
Prior to 0.11, an amulet of rage also reduced the risk of you passing out after your berserk ended.