Praying spoiler for Nethack 3.3.1

by Matthew Lahut <>
HTML conversion by Kate Nepveu


0) Some definitions
1) I'm in trouble! Will prayer save me?
2) When can I pray without bad things happening?
3) Okay, I can safely pray, and I'm doing so. How much help do I get?
4) A favor? What's that?
5) What happens if I pray at the wrong time?
6) Negative effects? Like what?
7) How much will sacrificing help my standing with my god?
Appendix) Ways to alter your alignment

0) Some definitions

"Alignment" refers to your standing with your god. Its initial value is 0 for character classes CPTVW, and 10 for character classes ABHKMRoRaS. Its maximum is initially 10, and its upper bound increase by 1 for every 200 game turns. It has no lower bound. The value can not be found precisely (except in wizard mode), but enlightenmenting yourself (such as with the wand or potion) can give you a clue. Additionally, your quest master will not permit you to go on your Quest if your alignment is below 20.

Enlightenment statement: Alignment range:
"You are piously aligned." 20 or greater
"You are devoutly aligned." 14 to 19
"You are fervently aligned." 9 to 13
"You are stridently aligned." 4 to 8
"You are aligned." 3
"You are haltingly aligned." 1 to 2
"You are nominally aligned." 0
"You have strayed." -3 to -1
"You have sinned." -8 to -4
"You have transgressed." -9 or worse

Your alignment gradually increases as you kill monsters, and decreases when you do actions your god does not approve of. A list of ways to change your numerical alignment is listed in the Appendix. Note that this is not the same as your character's Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic alignment. To clarify, I will use "alignment" to always refer to the numerical quantity and "lawfuls", "chaotics", etc. to refer to players that follow those paths.

"Prayer timeout" refers to how much time you need to wait before your god will accept another prayer. Nethack gods are often benevolent, but prefer if you wait some time between prayers. The initial value of your prayer timeout is usually between 300 and 500, and decreases by one each game turn. Note that if you are fast or very fast, you may move more than once per game turn, and your prayer timeout may appear longer because you take more actions in the same number of game turns. The exact amount by which your prayer timeout increases after praying is a complex mathematical function involving several random variables, causing the increase to range between about 50 and 1000.

"Luck" is your character's luck value, which ranges from -13 to +13. See the gems and luck spoiler "gems-341.html" for a discussion of luck.

"God's Anger" refers to the degree to which your god is currently angry with you. It is incremented for certain actions which annoy your god (described below). Its value can also be partially discerned by enlightenment.

Enlightenment message: God's Anger:
(no message about anger) 0
"<god> is angry with you." 1 to 3
"<god> is very angry with you." 4 to 6
"<god> is extremely angry with you." 7 or worse

"d" is the universal notation for multiple-sided dice. For example, in Monopoly, you roll 2d6 to see how far you move; that is, you roll two six- sided dice and add them. Likewise, some of the praying calculations use expressions like "1d(Level)" which means a random number between 1 and your level.

1) I'm in trouble! Will prayer save me?

Praying in a time of need may cause your god to help you with a problem that your character is facing. If your character is in really bad shape, your god may help you with more than one problem, generally the most dangerous one (in the judgement of your god). The list of fixable problems is below. Problems at the top of the list have the highest priority.

Major problems:

Minor problems:

[*] Note that when low HP is cured, not only are you restored to maximum HP, characters with low maximum HP (maxHP <= 5*(level+2)) will receive an additional 1d5 maximum HP at the end of the prayer. Most non-fighter characters start with 15 or less HP, so if these characters successfully pray for HP before level 2, they are likely to get their maximum HP increased. However, this trick is quite risky, and may fail if your initial prayer timeout is high.

2) When can I pray without bad things happening?

You may NOT pray safely if any of these things are true:

Additionally, sacrificing will give an indication about your current prayer timeout.

3) Okay, I can safely pray, and I'm doing so. How much help do I get?

If you can safely pray, you are invulnerable for the duration of the prayer. ("You are surrounded by a shimmering light.")

When your prayer is done, you will get a clue to your alignment. ("You feel that <god> is <feeling>.")

Feeling: If hallucinating: Alignment range:
well-pleased pleased as punch 14 or greater
pleased ticklish 4 to 13
satisfied full 0 to 3

Praying on a coaligned altar with uncursed water on the altar will create holy water.

If you were not in any trouble and your alignment was 14 or greater, your god grants you a favor.

Otherwise, your god's answer is based on the table below.

Result: Effect:
0 nothing
1 Fix one major problem
2 Fix all major problems
3 Fix all major problems or one minor problem
4 Fix all major and minor problems
5+ Fix all major and minor problems, then grant a favor

4) A favor? What's that?

If your god is very happy with you, your god may grant you a favor. Roll 1d(luck+6), divide the result by 2 (rounded up), and look in the following table.

Roll:     Reward:
1 nothing
2 Your weapon is dipped in holy water and any damage is repaired.
3 You gain 5 maximum hitpoints, your strength is restored, and you are no longer hungry. ("You are surrounded by a golden glow.")
4 First time: "Hark, mortal! To enter the castle, thou must play the right tune!" ("Hark, creature! ..." if not human). No effect.
Second time: Tune to enter the castle is revealed.
Subsequent times: Same as effect 3 above.
5 Uncurses all possessions (as blessed scroll of remove curse).
("You are surrounded by a light blue aura.")
6 You gain one intrinsic, selected in order from (Telepathy, Speed, Stealth). If you already possess all of them, you gain protection as if from a priest, except without the natural AC limits.
7 You get a spellbook. ("An object appears at your <feet>!") The game will try (level+1) times to randomly select a spell you do not already know (using the usual object generation algorithm), then give you a random book. If holding a magic marker, you may get a spellbook of blank paper. The book is always blessed.
8+ You are crowned. You gain intrinsic fire, cold, and poison resistance, see invisible, and an alignment-based artifact (Excalibur for lawfuls, Vorpal Blade for neutrals, Stormbringer for chaotics). Lawfuls must be wielding a non-artifact long sword in order for it to be changed into Excalibur.
If the artifact already exists, or a lawful isn't wielding a long sword, your weapon becomes blessed, rustproof, and +1.
Neutral Wizards will instead get a spellbook of finger of death.
If already crowned, no effect.
Prayer timeouts are much greater for crowned characters.

5) What happens if I pray at the wrong time?

It depends on which condition you violated.

If polymorphed into a demon and praying to a non-chaotic god,

"The very idea of praying to a <non-chaotic> god is repugnant to you."

Prayer aborted with no further effects.

If polymorphed into an undead creature and attempting to pray to a non- chaotic god,

"Vile creature, thou durst call upon me?" (lawful) "Walk no more, perversion of nature!" (neutral) "You feel like you are falling apart."

You return to natural form (even if wearing an amulet of unchanging) and take 1d20 - 1 damage.

If your prayer timeout is too high, your god is not happy. Your god's anger is incremented by 1, your lose 3 luck, and a possible negative effect occurs.

If your alignment or luck is negative, or if your god is angry with you, then you get a possible negative effect.

If standing on another god's altar, and attempting a water prayer by praying with potions of water on the altar, your own god's anger is incremented, you lose 3 luck, your prayer timeout is increased, and a possible negative effect occurs. Due to a bug in Nethack 3.3.1, the water on the altar is not in fact made unholy (cursed) unless it was originally holy (blessed).

If standing on another god's altar and not attempting a water prayer, you will pray to that god, get the usual clue about your alignment, but get no benefit. After receiving the clue, you lose 1 alignment, but get no other bad effects. Your prayer timeout remains the same.

Praying while in Gehennom is considered a prayer to Moloch. You get a negative effect unless your alignment is very low or negative. High luck may also reduce your chance of having a negative effect.

6) Negative effects? Like what?

The degree of your negative effect depends on your god's anger, your alignment, whether you are praying to another god, and your luck.

Start with a base value of 3 times your god's anger, or half your align- ment if you are not praying to the correct god (because of either standing on the wrong altar or being in Gehennom). Note that if you are in Gehennom, you're likely to have extremely high alignment, which will make the later numbers on the table far more likely.

Reduce this value by 1/3 your luck if your luck is positive or your alignment is at least 4, otherwise subtract your luck (which will increase the result if your luck is negative).

Roll 1d(max(result,15)) and check the following table: (In all cases, prayer timeout is increased.)

Roll:     Result
1 or 2 "You feel that <god> is displeased." ("bummed" if hallucinating)
No effect.
3 to 4 "Thou have strayed from the path, mortal." (if alignment < 0)
"Thou art arrogant, mortal." (if positive alignmenent or wrong god)
"Thou must relearn thy lessons!" You lose 1 WIS and one level.
The Wis point can be recovered by a unicorn horn, and the level can be recovered by a blessed potion of full healing.
5 to 6 "Thou hast angered me."
"A black glow surrounds you."
Inventory items are cursed, same as a spellcasting monster.
7 If not punished, you become punished.
If already punished, "black glow" effect.
8 to 9 "Thou durse scorn me?" (if prayer to wrong god)
"Thou durse call upon me?" (otherwise)
"Then die, mortal!" ("creature" if not human)
A hostile minion of your god is summoned.
Lawfuls get an A, neutrals an E, and chaotics get a &
10+ "Thou hast angered me."
Your god zaps you with a fatally damaging lightning bolt.
If engulfed, the creature engulfing you dies (unless shock resistant) [*]
Otherwise, you die unless shock resistant.
If you survive, "<god> is not deterred... A wide-angle disintegration beam hits you!"
If still engulfed, the creature engulfing you is fried. [*]
If you are not disintegration-resistant, you die.
If you are resistant, "You bask in its black glow for a minute..." and your god says "I believe it not!"
If on the astral plane, "Thou cannot escape my wrath, mortal!"
"Destroy <him>, my servants!" Three hostile minions are summoned.

[*] A quote from the source: "Yup, you get experience. It takes guts to successfully pull off this trick on your god, anyway." Note that this will break pacifist conduct.

7) How much will sacrificing help my standing with my god?

Sacrificing powerful creatures can help you get back on your god's good side, if you are in trouble, or increase the rewards you get. The value of most sacrifices is based on the level of the creature killed. A monster's level can be found with a stethoscope. Monster's with high-damage attacks, special attacks, and/or low armor class are considered slightly higher level for this calculation. The value (difficulty) that is used can be found at J. Ali Harlow's spoiler page,

If you have negative alignment, you may feel "partially absolved" when sacrificing, and your alignment is increased by the level of the corpse, to a maximum of 0.

See also section 2 for more messages you get when sacrificing.

Sacrificing can be dangerous in the following circumstances:

Difficulty of sacrifice: Luck increase: Anger reduction (if chaotic): (if not chaotic): Prayer timeout reduction (chaotic) (if not chaotic)
0 0 0 0 0 0
1 0 0 0 20 12
2 0 0 0 41 25
3 0 0 0 62 37
4 0 0 0 83 50
5 1 0 0 104 62
6 1 0 0 125 75
7 1 0 0 145 87
8 1 0 1 166 100
9 1 0 1 187 112
10 2 0 1 208 125
11 2 0 1 229 137
12 2 1 1 250 150
13 2 1 1 270 162
14 2 1 1 291 175
15 3 1 1 312 187
16 3 1 2 333 200
17 3 1 2 354 212
18 3 1 2 375 225
19 3 1 2 395 237
20 4 1 2 416 250
21 4 1 2 437 262
22 4 1 2 458 275
23 4 1 2 479 287
24+ 5 2 3 500 300

Appendix) Ways to alter your alignment

"L" refers to the current maximum alignment, which is 10 + (moves / 200). This chart does not include the (large number of) monsters that you will get one or more alignment points for killing. Generally, for a character not attempting a pacifist conduct, who has not irritated his god, your alignment will be very close to the maximum.

Adjustment: Cause:
-3 As a lawful Archaeologist, digging up a grave
-1 As any other lawful, digging up a grave
-1 As a Knight, attacking a fleeing or sleeping monsters
("You caitiff!")
-1 As a Knight, eating while satiated ("You feel like a glutton!")
-1 As a Knight, digging down in a shop
("You feel like a common thief.")
-1 As a Samurai, attacking a peaceful creature
("You dishonorably attack the innocent!")
-1 As a lawful or Samurai, attacking with a poisoned weapon
-1 As a Monk, eating meat ("You feel guilty.")
-1 As an Archaeologist, breaking a historic statue
("You feel guilty about damaging such a historic statue.")
+1 As a chaotic, being seduced by a foocubus
-3 Displacing your pet into a trap
-15 Killing your pet (stacks with the above -3)
-3 Sacrificing your pet (Also you gain aggravate monster)
-1 While riding, having your steed drown in water or lava
-5 Killing a peaceful creature in one attack
-1 Angering a peaceful creature
+L/4 Killing your quest nemesis
-L/8 Killing one of the friendlies around your quest leader
set to -L/2 Killing your quest leader
-5 Angering a coaligned priest
-2 Killing a coaligned priest
+2 Angering a non-coaligned priest
+2 Killing a non-coaligned priest
+L/4 Killing a priest of Moloch
-1 Praying on a non-coaligned altar, at a time when praying does not annoy your god
+1 Praying successfully, with alignment 1 or less and a minor trouble
-5 As a non-chaotic, sacrificing a member of your own race
(Also summons a demon and increases anger by 3)
+5 As a chaotic, sacrificing a member of your own race
+5 Sacrificing a non-coaligned unicorn on a coaligned altar
set to -1 Sacrificing a coaligned unicorn on a non-coaligned alter
(A conversion is likely to follow)
-1 Sacrificing an identified fake Amulet of Yendor
+L/2 As a lawful with negative alignment and positive anger, sacrificing at a non-coaligned altar and converting
-L/2 As a chaotic with negative alignment and positive anger, sacrificing at a non-coaligned altar and converting
-5 Attempting to change alignment (as above) a second time
-1 Contributing 0 gold to a coaligned priest
("Thou shalt regret thine action!")
+1 With alignment below -5, contributing 200*level to 400*level to a priest, getting clairvoyance
set to 0 With alignment negative, donating more than 600*level to a coaligned priest, which is more than half your visible gold, and this hasn't happened in the past 5000 moves
+2 Same as previous, but with positive alignment
+3 Freeing a prisoner during your quest
-1 As a lawful human or a chaotic demon, genociding something
+1 As a chaotic human or a lawful demon, genociding something
-1 As a lawful, stealing from a shop
(reversed if shopkeeper is later made peaceful)
+1 As a chaotic non-rogue, stealing from a shop
(reversed if shopkeeper is later made peaceful)
-1 As a lawful, choosing not to pay for damage to a shop
+1 As a chaotic, choosing not to pay for damage to a shop
+1 As a lawful, untrapping a monster (probability about 5-15%, depending on luck)
-1 As a lawful, lying when asked your name by a vault guard
+1 As a lawful or Healer, casting a heal spell on a pet or peaceful creature
-1 As a chaotic, casting a heal spell on a pet or peaceful creature

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