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Version 0.31: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.
The possibility of unavoidable deaths is a larger topic in computer games. Ideally, a game like [Crawl] would be really challenging and have both random layout and random course of action, yet still be winnable with perfect play. This goal seems out of reach. Thus, computer games can be soft in the sense that optimal play ensures a win. Apart from puzzles, though, this means that the game is solved from the outset; this is where the lack of a human game-master is obvious. Alternatively, they can be hard in the sense that unavoidable deaths can occur. We feel that the latter choice provides much more fun in the long run.

The term instadeath (or instakill) often refers to a death that happens instantly or very quickly. For example, an early ogre killing a low level Spriggan in one hit.

It is also used to describe deaths which occur regardless of a character's current HP, even if the death itself is not instant. For instance, Maxwell's Capacitive Coupling will always kill a monster in one hit, but it takes a few turns to charge. Such 'instadeaths' are extremely rare in Crawl.

Player Instadeath

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 or in a single turn.

There are a few situations where a player can die from 100% health, in a single turn, through no fault of their own:

  • You can step around a corner into an enemy that can one-shot you. Any character with less than ~35 HP can get one-shot by an ogre; anyone with less than ~75 HP can die to a two-headed ogre. Grinder can paralyse you for 5 turns, then cast Pain five times for 5 x 1d14 damage, dealing up to 70 damage.
  • If you have already visited a floor before, you can descend up/down the stairs into an enemy (or group of enemies) that can one-shot you. This chance is significantly lower for 'fast' stairs (stairs with unknown destination), but still present so long as you've visited the floor.
  • When you are teleported by malevolent force, any monsters at your destination may get to attack before you get a turn to respond. If there are too many and/or too strong monsters at your destination, you can die before you get a single turn to respond. For example, a D:10 character could be teleported next to an out-of-depth storm dragon, get doublezapped for 114 damage, and die. Or you could be teleported into Zot:5, and simply take too much damage from a group of ancient liches and orbs of fire.
  • When an ironbound convoker completes a Word of Recall, recalled monsters may get to attack before you can respond. This usually isn't lethal, but Word of Recall can bring monsters from sealed vaults. If the convoker brings 2 ancient liches, and each lich casts a 144 damage crystal spear, you'll just die. (It's possible to stop Word of Recall through silence or a phial of floods, but these may not always be available.)

You can also escape the dungeon or quit the game, which are considered deaths as far as the game is concerned.

Instakilling monsters

There are a few ways to kill monsters irrespective of their hit points. They all require specific setups to work:

Banishment (through Lugonu's ** ability or a weapon of distortion) works regardless of a monster's current HP, although it is not counted as a "kill". It doesn't count towards most god's piety, banishing the Royal Jelly doesn't open the vaults to Slime:5, and said monsters may again be encountered in the Abyss


  • 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: