Magic contamination

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Version 0.29: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

Magic contamination is a dangerous condition caused by miscasts and some magical effects.


Various activities cause harmful magical energies to accumulate in your body. A small amount of magical contamination (a dark or light grey "Contam" status) is mostly harmless, and will dissipate over time without any further effect. Larger amounts of accumulated magic contamination (a yellow, red, or dark red "Contam" status) will make you start to glow with magical contamination.

Contamination over 5000 points is considered severe. Being at a severe contamination level makes you easier to hit and reveals you if invisible, similar to the Corona spell. It also leaves you at risk to bad mutations and damaging explosions.

Any amount of contamination can cause ugly things adjacent to you change their colour.

Contamination Levels

Contam[1] Colour[2] Description[3]
>0 Dark grey You are very lightly contaminated with residual magic.
3000 Light grey You are lightly contaminated with residual magic.
5000 Yellow You are contaminated with residual magic.
15000 Light Red You are heavily infused with residual magic.
25000 Red You are practically glowing with residual magic!
40000 Red Your entire body has taken on an eerie glow!
60000 Red You are engulfed in a nimbus of crackling magics!



  • Irradiate: 1250 - 2000 per cast[4].
    • When a player is hit by Irradiate: 2000-3000 [5]

Spell Miscasts



Magic contamination is dissipated at the rate of 75 per turn.[11] Quaffing a potion of cancellation instantly removes 1000 - 5000 points of contamination.

While being severely contaminated every 70 - 200 turns[12] there is contamination / 12000[13] chance of a violent release of energies. Standing in Zin's Sanctuary stops this from happening.

One likely bad mutation (about 95% chance) is gained that bypasses mutation resistance. If contamination is higher than 10,000, there is also a damaging explosion. The damage is 3d(contamination / 2000), and doubled for the non-living. Explosion size also increases with the contamination level. After the negative effects, contamination is reduced by 1000 - 1000 + contamination / 4[14].

Tips & Tricks

Being in lichform, by way of Necromutation, prevents any contamination-related malmutations; instead, your stats temporarily rot.


  • Prior to 0.29, the contamination level for the light grey warning was 3500 instead of 3000. This change was enacted to match Irradiate, which had its contamination increased in this version.
  • Prior to 0.28, the Orb of Zot extended contamination.
  • Prior to 0.26, magic contamination decayed much slower: -25 per turn instead of -75, while the time between bad effects was also slower (200 - 600 turns).
  • Prior to 0.25, miscast effects were different, and thus had different contamination levels.
  • Prior to 0.19, the light grey contamination level didn't exist.
  • Prior to 0.10, this effect was simply called glow, a ambiguous term that also referred to the backlight caused by Sticky Flame and Corona (and contamination itself).

Sources of Contamination