If you play NetHack, then you want to exercise your six attributes to help the hero survive the dungeon. Though increases in experience level might grant you more hit points and power, the hero requires boosts to attributes to fight well and succeed in more situations.
Of the six attributes (strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma), you can only exercise four; there is no way to exercise intelligence or charisma. However, charisma can be increased by stepping into a magic trap, and intelligence by eating a mind flayer corpse or quaffing a blessed potion of enlightenment. All attributes can be raised by quaffing a (blessed) potion of gain ability or drinking from a magic fountain (best if Luck >=4).
Here are examples of how to exercise strength, dexterity, constitution, and wisdom:
- Push boulders around for strength.
- Wield a blade and #force open locked chests for dexterity.
- Eat and avoid becoming hungry or satiated for constitution.
- Engrave Elbereth with uppercase "E" and lowercase "lbereth" for wisdom.
You should already be exercising during normal gameplay. However, exercise does not cause immediate gains in your attributes. Instead, exercise increments a counter. At turn 600, NetHack does a check and increases your attribute if the counter is high enough. Subsequent checks occur at random intervals between 800 and 1000 turns from the last one, with special treatment for game restores. However, increases become less likely over time.
Abuse is the opposite of exercise. Acts of abuse can undo exercise, or even cause your strength, dexterity, constitution, or wisdom to drop. If your stats get lowered, use a unicorn horn to heal any such loss. Note that in SporkHack, this won't work - use a potion or spell of restore ability instead.