Negative energy is one of the most common elemental forces you will encounter as you explore the Dungeon. Both players and monsters can take advantage of negative energy through spells or specially branded weapons, though some monsters also possess innate negative energy abilities.
Negative Energy Damage
The effects of negative energy damage are far more complicated than most other elemental types, simply because each source functions in a very different way. For instance, the pain brand and Pain spell simply deal damage to the target. Agony cuts the target's current HP in half. Bolt of Draining, the draining brand, and other draining attacks deal damage and also inflict the drained status effect, temporarily lowering your skills until more experience is acquired. Weapons of vampiricism utilize negative energy to steal HP, even if they don't deal any extra damage. Even defenses against these abilities varies from source to source: some can be negated with high magic resistance, some by a single rank of negative energy resistance, and some require three to be fully stopped.
Torment is similar in some ways to negative energy, but is much harder to protect against and is capable of wreaking havoc on unprepared characters. See its own article for more details.
Negative Energy Sources
It is relatively easy for characters to gain access to sources of negative energy damage. Most character types can benefit from common Draining-branded weapons, which deal additional negative energy damage on top of their normal physical damage and also permanently weaken the target (but cause them to be worth slightly less XP). Other less common negative energy weapon brands include pain (deals flat negative energy damage based on your Necromancy skill) and vampiricism (gives half the damage you deal back to you as healing).
Zapping a wand of draining allows almost any character to inflict negative energy damage at range, softening up threats from a distance or killing them outright. The additional draining effect makes this a fantastic choice against overwhelming natural monsters such as hydras or most dragons.
The Necromancy school is also available to necromancers or any character with spellcasting capabilities and an appropriate book. This school offers an extremely diverse variety of uses, such as healing, direct damage, and undead creation/destruction.
Any character that worships a good god should avoid using negative energy, as these gods are offended by it.
Negative Energy Resistance
The negative energy resistance intrinsic (also known as life protection, rN+, or rNeg+) reduces or completely negates the effects of negative energy attacks you receive. Those attacks and effects which aren't fully negated with a single rank are reduced by 50% at rN+, 75% at rN++, and 100% at rN+++. All sources of negative energy resistance stack, and there are a number of sources:
- Negative Energy Resistance demonspawn mutation: rN+/rank
- Pearl dragon armour: rN+
- Amulet of warding: rN+
- Armour of positive energy: rN+
- Staff of death: rN+
- Ring of life protection: rN+
- Tiamat's dragonskin cloak (50% chance per attack of rN+)
- Randarts: rN+, rN++, or rN+++ (very rarely)
- Statue Form: rN+
- Necromutation: rN+++
- Playing a Gargoyle: rN+
- Playing a ghoul or mummy: rN+++
- Playing a vampire (depends on hunger level): rN+ - rN+++
- Worshiping the Shining One (depends on piety): rN+ - rN+++
- MONSTERS ONLY: All monsters that are not natural are immune to negative energy. None naturally possess partial negative energy resistance, although they may gain it by wearing items that grant it.
Prior to 0.13, draining attacks had no effect on your skills. Instead, they would permanently reduce your experience, potentially forcing you to lose levels. Also, ranks of negative energy resistance were somewhat less effective at reducing damage (33%/66%/100%). Finally, several bugs related to the implementation of rN+ for monsters were fixed.