Stat death

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Obsolete: This article refers to an aspect of the game which has been removed. It is retained for historical reference only.

Stat death no longer occurs. For its replacement, see stat zero.

Stat death occurs 90 turns after one of a character's primary attributes (Strength, Intelligence, or Dexterity) lowered to 0 or below. The character will die unless the stat can be restored in time. After 50 turns have passed, the character can be paralyzed which is also very dangerous.

The following can all drain your attributes:

  • By 1 at a time, and affected (and thus blocked) by sustain abilities:
    • The Deterioration mutation. Rank 1 can generally be kept in check by your natural regeneration; ranks 2 and 3 of this mutation are eventually lethal, however.
    • Sickness
    • The special attacks of certain monsters (brain worms, quasits, shadows, etc.). Although all three stats can be drained, INT is by far the one most commonly affected. This is because it is drained by a smite-targeted spell, where the others are drained only through melee attacks.
    • Decomposition (not to be confused with rotting) from attempted mutation of an undead character.
  • By more than 1 at a time, but damage can be halved by sustain abilities:
  • By varying amounts, and not affected at all by sustain abilities:
    • Equipment with negative stat modifiers (but you can remove the equipment to restore the stat).

Stats can be more permanently lowered by the following means:

The last two will never lower a base stat to zero, but when combined with one of the above effects could still cause stat death.


Any character with a particularly low attribute should be aware of the dangers involved. Any attribute below 8 could conceivably be reduced to 0 by a single unfortunate effect, some of which are common, some less so.

  • Cursed equipment can reduce an attribute by up to 6 for as long as it's equipped, so be cautious about wearing unidentified items if you're at risk. This is especially dangerous in regards to INT, as a character with 0 INT cannot read scrolls (and thus cannot read a scroll of remove curse in order to remove the offending item). Low-INT characters may wish to keep a potion of brilliance on hand to give them a window of time in which they can read scrolls.
  • Miscast effects, Hell effects, Zot traps, and mummy death curses can temporarily reduce an attribute by up to 7. You may wish to bring all of your attributes up to a minumum of 8 to guarantee that you can survive a single worst-case scenario shot from either one.


Stat death was removed in 0.13. In its place, characters now suffer some penalties when at stat zero.

Prior to 0.7, stat death occurred immediately upon a stat hitting 0.