The term instadeath can have several definitions, either in Crawl or in roguelikes in general. Of course, many people use it to describe a death which occurs instantly or very quickly, e.g. an early ogre killing a low-level spriggan in one shot.
However, the term is often used to describe deaths which occur regardless of a character's current HP, even if the death itself is not instant (so-called 'delayed instadeaths'). Such instadeaths are extremely rare in Crawl.
As of 0.30, the only way a player can involuntarily die is if they are reduced (by direct damage) to 0 HP. As mentioned, this doesn't mean you can't die from a single attack.
You can also escape the dungeon or quit the game, which are considered deaths as far as the game is concerned.
Dealing instadeath to monsters
There are a few ways to kill monsters irrespective of their hit points. They all require specific setups to work:
- Monsters die if they fall in deep water or lava, assuming the terrain is inhospitable for them. Usually, this requires confusing them near such terrain.
- Uskayaw's Grand Finale ***** ability can instantly kill any monster.
- The spell Maxwell's Capacitive Coupling "instantly" kills the closest monster, after a short delay.
- Yara's Violent Unravelling will instantly and explosively dismiss any summoned monsters.
- The unrand Finisher has a chance to instantly kill monsters.
- Prior to 0.30, the Zot clock would instantly kill players that were drained below 10% of their max HP.
- Prior to 0.29, the Zot clock would instantly kill regardless of drain status.
- Prior to 0.26, players could face starvation and die, as opposed to the Zot clock.
- Prior to 0.19, players falling into deep water or lava (through flight expiring) would be subject to instadeath, instead of draining every turn.
- Prior to 0.17, it was possible for confused players to accidentally walk into deep water or lava. Intelligent monsters used to be immune to this type of death, but no longer are.
- Prior to 0.15, it was possible to sometimes scramble out of deep water or lava.
- Prior to 0.13, one could suffer statdeath: after a few dozen turns of a stat being at zero, the character would die. Presently, being at 0 in a stat will just apply some penalties. In addition, one could die by being level-drained to level 0 - that is, being hit by a draining attack at XL1 (removed due to the removal of XP draining)
- Prior to 0.8, statdeath killed the player as soon as the stat hit zero, as opposed to being a delayed instadeath.
Instantkills on monsters has its own history:
- In 0.28, Yara's Violent Unravelling now abjures summons, always and instantly dismissing them.
- In 0.27, Maxwell's Capacitive Coupling replaced Absolute Zero as the OHKO spell.
- Prior to 0.26, players could instantly get rid of summoned monsters by casting Aura of Abjuration.
- In 0.25, Absolute Zero was introduced as an instant, instant killing spell.
- Prior to 0.15, orange crystal and silver statues could be instantly killed by wands of disintegration.
- Prior to 0.14, Lee's Rapid Deconstruction could instantly kill brittle monsters.