I picked up a Scroll of Genocide while playing and it asked which race I would genocide. I was wondering what would be to happen if I used the Scroll on my own race. However, I don't want to attempt this by myself as I am the furthest that I have ever been (even if it isn't that far). What exactly would happen if I attempted to genocide my own race?

  • 14
    For reference, you can start Nethack in wizard mode if you want to test things out (Ctrl+W to wish for items).
    – Doorknob
    Dec 3, 2014 at 0:03
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    Check the wiki next time; it's very, very, very comprehensive: nethackwiki.com/wiki/Genocide#Restrictions_on_genocide
    – DBedrenko
    Dec 3, 2014 at 9:27
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    @Non-MasterRace. The snowflake thingy is the Chinese character for "ice" if I'm not mistaken. Just a little bit of trivia ;)
    – Nolonar
    Dec 3, 2014 at 11:02
  • @Nolonar It is indeed; see my profile "about me" section :)
    – Doorknob
    Dec 4, 2014 at 12:25
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    Bonus question: what happens if you polymorph into a race, and genocide that race?
    – o0'.
    Dec 5, 2014 at 10:54

3 Answers 3


If you are polymorphed into another race, you will "feel dead inside"; if at any point you revert you will immediately lose.

If you are not polymorphed into another race, you will merely die; this cannot be prevented with life-saving or any other effect.

  • Thank you! I now know to definitely never do that to myself. But I could mess some people up now... Dec 2, 2014 at 18:04
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    @Non-MasterRace You can't actually mess people up, nethack's only potential multiplayer interaction is in the form of mail and bones files.
    – Sconibulus
    Dec 2, 2014 at 18:06
  • By mess people up I meant that if I saw a friend playing I could possibly use a scroll against them Dec 2, 2014 at 18:09
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    Ha, "feel dead inside". The DevTeam really does think of everything.
    – wberry
    Dec 2, 2014 at 19:17

The outcome of attempting to genocide your own race actually depends on a number of factors, including whether the scroll is blessed, cursed or (as is most often the case) neither.

A blessed scroll of genocide is easy to recognize when used, because the prompt will ask you to specify a class of monsters to genocide.

You are expected to answer this prompt with a single letter; if you type more than one letter, only the first one will count. For example, answering human when prompted to genocide a class of monsters would wipe out all monsters denoted by the letter h (i.e. dwarves, hobbits, mind flayers and other small humanoids). This is fatal if you happen to be playing as a dwarf, but otherwise harmless.

Genociding @ with a blessed scroll, however, is always fatal (unless you're polymorphed; see below), regardless of your race. Apparently, this is because the class @ implicitly includes your role, and genociding your role also automatically kills you.

A cursed scroll of genocide, on the other hand, will give you the exact same prompt as an uncursed one, asking you for a specific monster type to genocide.

However, the effect of a cursed scroll of genocide is quite different from an uncursed one — instead of wiping out all monsters of the specified type as expected, it instead summons a number of them around you. This is generally not fatal in itself, although the summoned (and typically hostile) monsters may well proceed to kill you if you're careless.

Finally, if the scroll is neither blessed nor cursed (i.e. "uncursed"), it will simply ask for a single monster name and wipe out all monsters of that type. If the monster name you enter happens to match your race or your role, you will die instantly.

(In fact, it seems that death by genocide is so sudden that you won't even get the usual You die... message, but will proceed straight to DYWYPI. Also, the level you died on will apparently not be eligible to leave bones.)

Notably, NetHack will let you suicide by genociding yourself even if your race (or role) would not normally be a permitted genocide target. Specifically, even though humans and player role monsters are not genocideable by default, genociding your own race and/or role is always permitted.

Also, beware of reading uncursed scrolls of genocide while confused: the game will not even ask you what you want to do, but will automatically genocide your own role, and to add insult to injury, will mock you for it in the high score list ("killed by genocidal confusion").

The only way to genocide your own race (or role) and survive it is to do it while polymorphed into some other type of monster. Of course, you'll die as soon as the polymorph wears out, so an amulet of unchanging is highly recommended, if you want to sustain this unnatural state for more than a handful of turns. Your reward for pulling off this silly trick (besides the chance to brag about it, if you manage to ascend that way) is an oddball entry in the high score list ("quit while already on Charon's boat") if you #quit while your race/role is genocided.

Here's a sample of what happens if you try to genocide human with each type of scroll (while playing as an unpolymorphed human, unless specified otherwise):

Blessed (human gets parsed as h):

As you read the scroll, it disappears.  You have found a scroll of genocide!--More--
What class of monsters do you wish to genocide? human
Wiped out all hobbits.  Wiped out all dwarves.  Wiped out all bugbears.--More--
Wiped out all dwarf lords.  Wiped out all dwarf kings.--More--
Wiped out all mind flayers.  Wiped out all master mind flayers.

Cursed ("reverse genocide"):

As you read the scroll, it disappears.  You have found a scroll of genocide!--More--
What monster do you want to genocide? [type the name] human
Sent in some humans.
The human misses.  The human misses.  The human hits!

(This is one of the few rare ways to encounter a generic human in NetHack.)

Uncursed (while playing as a human):

As you read the scroll, it disappears.  You have found a scroll of genocide!--More--
What monster do you want to genocide? [type the name] human
Wiped out all humans.--More--
Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] (n)

Uncursed or cursed (while playing as a non-human):

As you read the scroll, it disappears.  You have found a scroll of genocide!--More--
What monster do you want to genocide? [type the name] human
A thunderous voice booms through the caverns:  "No, mortal!  That will not be done."--More--
What monster do you want to genocide? [type the name]

Uncursed (while playing as a human, polymorphed into a master mind flayer):

As you read the scroll, it disappears.  You have found a scroll of genocide!--More--
What monster do you want to genocide? [type the name] human
Wiped out all humans.  You feel dead inside.
As you read the scroll, it disappears.  You have found a scroll of genocide!--More--
What monster do you want to genocide? [type the name] master mind flayer
Wiped out all master mind flayers.  You return to human form!--More--
Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] (n)

(All testing was carried out in wizard mode. No actual ASCII characters were harmed during testing.)

  • You say there's no reward for pulling off this silly trick, but I wonder... if you were playing as a human and somehow stumbled upon an amulet of unchanging, a means of polymorph, and a scroll of genocide all early in the game, could this be usefully exploited to wipe out all shopkeepers? I assume they count as human, and that that's the reason you're not usually allowed to genocide humans. Also, would this remove the Wizard of Yendor from the game?
    – Mark Amery
    Dec 4, 2014 at 18:58
  • @MarkAmery: Alas, no. Shopkeepers and the Wizard are both @, and thus in the general class of "humans and elves", but they're not the same monster type as the generic "human", and they're not genocideable: trying to blessed-genocide @ just tells you, among the other messages, that "You aren't permitted to genocide shopkeepers." and "You aren't permitted to genocide the Wizard of Yendor." (Besides, why would you want to get rid of shopkeepers? You'll need them if you want to do price-ID or credit cloning.) Dec 4, 2014 at 21:29
  • Do the last four lines imply that you can safely switch back to your genocided race, if you genocide your polymorphed race?
    – o0'.
    Dec 5, 2014 at 10:52
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    @Lohoris: Genociding your polymorphed race just reverts you to your original form (just like dying while polymorphed in general). Of course, if your original race is also genocided (like in the example above), then you'll die as soon as that happens. (Note that, in NetHack, the prompt "Do you want your possessions identified?" is the universal indication that your game is over; there are many ways to end the game, but they all lead to DYWYPI.) Dec 5, 2014 at 11:50
  • @IlmariKaronen oooh, ok, I didn't know that!
    – o0'.
    Dec 5, 2014 at 13:41

You die:

If you genocide your base race or role, you will die. Variants of your base race are safe to genocide; for example, as a gnome, you could genocide gnome lords or gnome kings, but choosing "gnome" to genocide is fatal. An amulet of life saving will not save you from death by genocide.

And your name goes on the great list of players who have experienced yet-another-stupid-death.

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    And as it mentions a bit further down the page, when playing as a dwarf, blessed-genociding all h ("to get rid of those pesky mind flayers!") is a very, very bad idea.
    – Cloudy
    Dec 2, 2014 at 18:26
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    Just FYI, the NetHack Wikia site is kind of a ghost town these days. Most of the community migrated to nethackwiki.com several years ago, so you might want to link there instead (or not, of course; nobody's forcing you). Dec 2, 2014 at 23:34
  • Good point (it was just the first search result I found, but non-wikia sites are always preferable in my book; updated).
    – user6789
    Dec 3, 2014 at 18:28

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