Level drain is an insidious and highly sinister attack form usually associated with undead monsters. In AD&D, level drain is often referred to as "energy drain". Most of the more powerful undead (in AD&D, not NetHack) can drain levels because of their strong connection to the Negative Material Plane -- low-level undead such as zombies and ghouls exist primarily on the Prime Material Plane and thus do not usually possess this ability. I believe the weakest type of undead which posseses level drain is the wight, but this depends on your DM.

The net result of being hit with a level drain attack is that you lose one of your hard-earned experience levels. In NetHack, depending on the type of level drain attack, it is sometimes only necessary to make a single kill to regain the lost level. In AD&D, it is always a major pain to regain a lost level -- spells like heal, atonement, or wish might help.

Certain very evil weapons possess level drain ability, including the artifact weapon Stormbringer in NetHack, Kura-the-Darkness in AD&D, and Uberfetus's Patented Node-Vertising Pimp Stick. Additionally, Stormbringer confers resistance to level drain attacks when it is wielded. Sadly, in AD&D, magical items that give such resistance are few and far between.

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