Magic contamination

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Version 0.19: 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.

The glow from severe contamination makes you easier to hit and reveals you if invisible (similar to the Corona spell). Over time you may also suffer damage and mutations.

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

Contamination Levels

Contam[1] Colour[2] Description[3]
>0 Light grey You are very lightly contaminated with residual magic.
3.5 Dark grey You are lightly contaminated with residual magic.
5 Yellow You are contaminated with residual magic.
15 Light Red You are heavily infused with residual magic.
25 Red You are practically glowing with residual magic!
40 Red Your entire body has taken on an eerie glow!
60 Red You are engulfed in a nimbus of crackling magics!



  • Evoking turn invisible: 1 to 3[4]
  • While active: 0.03 per turn[5] (no dissipation)


  • Zapped by wand: 0.75 to 1.25[6]
  • Extending haste: 0.75 to 1.25[7]
  • While active: 0.03 per turn[8] (no dissipation)

Haste like effect from berserk does not cause contamination.



  • Every miscast: Amount depends on severity etc.[12]
  • Charms, Hexes or Translocation level 3 miscast (1 in 4 chance): 3d18 / 3 - 1
  • Transmutation level 2 miscast (1 in 5 chance): 3d18 / 3 - 1[13]
  • Transmutation level 3 miscast (1 in 3 chance): 3d34 / 3 - 1[14]



Magic contamination is dissipated at the rate of 0.025 per turn, 0.012 if holding the Orb of Zot, and not at all if hasted or invisible.[21]

Quaffing a potion of cancellation removes 1 to 5 points of contamination.[22]

While being severely contaminated every 200 to 600 turns[23] there is contamination / 12[24] chance of a violent release of energies. Standing in a sanctuary stops this from happening.

One likely bad mutation (about 95% chance) is gained that bypasses mutation resistance. If contamination is higher than 10, there is also a damaging explosion. The damage is 3d(contamination / 2), and doubled for the non-living. Explosion size also increases with the contamination level. After the negative effects contamination is reduced by 1 to 1 + (contamination / 4)[25].

Tips & Tricks

Being in lichform, by way of Necromutation, prevents any contamination-related malmutations; instead, rot damage is incurred.


  • Prior to 0.26, magic contamination decayed much slower: -0.025 per turn instead of -0.075. Also, reading a scroll of blinking contaminated the player.
  • Prior to 0.20, drinking a potion of haste contaminated the player.
  • Prior to 0.19, the light grey contamination level didn't exist.
  • Prior to 0.10, this effect was simply called glow, a term which ambiguously referred either to magic contamination, or to the relatively harmless glow from Sticky Flame or Corona.