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In Spelunky, if you bring a Damsel to the end of a level, you'll gain a hit point when you finish the level. Unfortunately, Damsels live up to their Hollywood stereotype: the only thing they're good for is running around randomly, and you have to pick them up and carry them over your shoulder to the level's exit. This means your hands will be full when you run into monsters, which is a bit awkward.

I am a horrible person: I've realized that the Damsel makes a reasonable weapon when thrown, and she can also be used to set off arrow traps. Sometimes I end up with a dead Damsel, and sometimes I don't.

What will damage a Damsel, and by how much? (Consider traps, hitting monsters with the Damsel, dropping her and a monster touches her, accidental whipping, long falls, etc.) How much damage can a Damsel take? Is all fair in spelunking and Damsels, or will I come to regret treating a Damsel like a bunch of pixels?

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I'm just gonna favourite this, because this is awesome. – Studoku Apr 17 '14 at 21:52
My only regret about Spelunky HD is that, unlike the original, you cannot unlock the Damsel and rescue Spelunkers, thus depriving the Damsel of a chance to get revenge for the gross mistreatment by the Spelunker. – Zibbobz Apr 25 '14 at 16:06

According to the Spelunky wiki, Damsels have 3 HP in Spelunky HD.

Since arrow traps only inflict 2 HP in damage, using a Damsel to trigger an arrow trap will be non-fatal to the Damsel if he/she/it hasn't sustained any other damage prior to that point.

While a dead Damsel can't be carried to the end of the level to give you HP, it can still be sacrificed on an altar to grant favor with Kali at half the rate of a live Damsel.

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I'm curious if the Damsel's behavior has changed then since 1.3 (I'm using the OSX port), as I can guarantee I've dropped the Damsel, used her to trigger several traps, and still received that sweet, sweet kiss at the end. – espais Apr 17 '14 at 22:23
Does using the Damsel as an improvised throwing weapon hurt her? If I accidentally whip her, does that hurt her? – Paul Marshall Apr 18 '14 at 0:17
@PaulMarshall Whipping definitely hurts - my friends and I will always whip a Damsel twice before exiting the level if we have the Kapala, for the extra blood, but if we overdo it she dies. I'm not sure if twice is the limit or it's just a safe number we arrived at. – Chris Hayes Apr 18 '14 at 1:27
@PaulMarshall Whipping takes one HP. The Damsel has three HP total – shea Apr 18 '14 at 8:39
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As the wiki entry lacks in-depth analysis on what does and doesn't hurt a Damsel, I embarked on SCIENCE! to fill in the gaps, though I am quite certain that no ethics board in Spelunky would condone my experiments.

Things that hurt a Damsel (they have 3 HP):

  • Arrow traps (two damage, as normal)
  • Whipping (one damage)
  • Cobra venom (one damage)
  • Spikes (instant death)
  • Tiki spikes (more instant, more death)
  • Throwing her at a Mantrap (death, instant)
  • Bombs and other explosions (quite instant, extreme death)
  • Leaving her unconscious on Kali's altar (beyond instant, transcending death)
  • Other ranged weapons, presumably, deal their normal damage (based on the examples of cobra venom and arrow traps).
  • Other environmental hazards, presumably, deal their normal damage (based on the spike and tiki examples)

Things that don't hurt a damsel:

  • Throwing her at enemies
  • Touching an enemy
  • Long falls

In conclusion, the Damsel makes a reasonable weapon when thrown, and will not wear out when used in such a manner. As long as you don't leave her in places with ranged weapons or environmental hazards, she is happy to socialize with whoever (or whatever) she meets. Furthermore, she is still happy to kiss you at the end of a level; additional research is required to psychoanalyze such behavior, but Stockholm Syndrome is a strong candidate.

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