Speed is both a monster property in NetHack (also referred to internally as movement rate), and an intrinsic/extrinsic related to that property.


For every turn that passes a monster will gain its movement rate in "movement points"; if the monster has 12 or more movement points (defined as NORMAL_SPEED[1]) in a turn, it gets a move that turn (and more than one if it has another 12 points remaining after this, etc.) Thus, a monster with a speed of 12 gets one move per turn, a monster with a speed of 1 gets one move every 12 turns, and a monster with a speed of 18 gets 3 moves every 2 turns. Monsters with a speed of 0 are sessile and never get a move. They may have passive attacks, however.

Being encumbered reduces the player's effective movement rate after adjustments. A burdened player has three quarters their normal movement rate, a stressed player one half, a strained player one quarter, and an overtaxed player one eighth[2].

Multi-turn actions (e.g. entering in "10s" to search ten times) consume one move per command issued plus whatever additional time is required for these moves. In contrast, certain actions will render the player immobile for a certain amount of turns; during those turns, the player's movement points are simply drained as though the player was executing moves during that time, but without actually allowing the player an action. Fainting, being paralysed, engraving a long sentence, etc. are examples of actions that cause this.

Extrinsic Speed (very fast) Edit

A player with the speed extrinsic (obtained through speed boots, a potion of speed, or the haste self spell), also known as a very fast player, gains a guaranteed six extra movement points per turn, and a 1 in 3 chance of another six extra movement points[3]. The player has an effective movement rate of 20, or five thirds normal, giving an average of five moves every three turns.

Intrinsic Speed (fast) Edit

In the absence of extrinsic speed, a player with intrinsic speed (obtained through wands of speed monster, quantum mechanic corpses, etc.), otherwise known as a fast player, gains a 2 in 3 chance of six movement points each turn.[4]. The player has an effective movement rate of 16, or four thirds normal, giving an average of four moves every three turns.

The extrinsic overrides the intrinsic.

Monsters Edit

A monster with intrinsic speed (gained by e.g. a wand of speed monster) or extrinsic speed (speed boots) has four thirds their normal movement rate[5]. A slowed monster (e.g. by means of a wand of slow monster) has two thirds their normal movement rate[6].

Strategy Edit

You can couple jumping, speed, and polymorph-self to move through the dungeon as fast as possible.

Starting with polymorph-self, the air elemental is the fastest creature with 36 movement points. As an air elemental, you'll get three movements in every turn. However, being an air elemental has serious drawbacks. You have relatively weak attacks, you can't open, close, engrave, wear any armor, or wield any tools. You can't put on or take off rings, though any ring you're wearing when you polymorph will still be worn. Strangely, you can put on and take off amulets, zap wands and spells, read scrolls and quaff potions. Because of this, Air Elementals make great travel forms, but terrible fighting forms.

A less fast form, but still fast, is the Titan with 18 movement points. The Titan has the obvious advantage of being able to fight well while still being fast.

Your speed affects all forms equally, meaning you can get up to four movements in one turn as an air elemental, or three movements as a Titan.

Another alternative is to be riding, as a swift steed like a warhorse or unicorn can have up to 24 movement points, and intrinsic speed can make it even faster. Kicking or whipping a steed can make it gallop for 20-30 turns, which on average increases its movement to 1.5 times normal,[7] but this decreases tameness and risks being dismounted.

Jumping can be done on any of the movement's turns, but it always advances to the next turn and resets your movement counter. Hence, if you're hasted, you should move as far as your hasted self can before advancing the turn counter, then, with your last movement, execute the jump. To accomplish this, you will have to carefully watch the turn counter and know where you are in the cycle. Using this strategy as an air elemental will allow you to move up to seven squares in a single turn.


  1. permonst.h, line 71
  2. allmain.c, line 119
  3. allmain.c, line 109
  4. allmain.c, line 113
  5. mon.c, line 501
  6. mon.c, line 499
  7. mon.c, line 506

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