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Caring too much about people's problems and you.

Empath is a mutation that grants a powerful support ability and a big boost to the Medic and Focus skills, at the cost of extra stress management and very stern focus requirements. It requires Swollen Brain and any tier 2 movement mutation (Flight, Blink or Medium) as prerequisites.

Empath is one of the most challenging mutations in the game, thanks to its tough requirements, and difficulty of acquisition and stress management. The mutation is a challenge for experienced players, and is inappropriate for newer ones.


Empath's location is technically a spoiler. In practice, the wiki has long made an exception for it and hosted a full guide, because Empath is very niche, the quest is obscure and difficult, and the final events are bugged and broken. For these reasons, players who want to be spoiled should see the "Acquiring Empath" portion of this article.


This mutation grants:

   Passive: +1 Brains
   Passive: +2 Senses
   Passive: +3 Focus
   Passive: +2 Medic
   Passive: +3 bonus to Medium's seek
   Passive: +? to Plant Whisperer's fertilize
   Passive: Automatically self-cleanse mentals
   Passive: Stress and chance of shock whenever something on current tile dies
   Passive: Chance of stress when anything in the current zone dies
   Passive: Periodically gain stress when in combat
   Passive: Stress level automatically gravitates to the average stress level of all mobs/players in the room
   massage command: use Medic to relieve stress
   soothe command: use Focus to relieve stress and cure mentals
   Access to crynet. See when anyone in the game bursts into tears. Page them with .nelson.


  • +1 Brains, +3 Medic in total. Medic is a supremely useful skill. This will elevate brainy builds' ability to use the medigun, and ensure that non-brainy builds can perform defibrillation, brain surgery, and other medicinal support.
  • +2 Senses, +4 Focus in total. Focus is extremely important to Empath mutants, and +4 is a big bonus to the other focus mutations an empath is likely to have. The highest focus totals in the game are off-limits to non-Empaths.
  • +3 to seek. +3 effective focus is a huge bonus to seeking, since seek is a focus vs. focus roll between the caster and the target. This adds a lot of oomph to an Empath's ability to track people down.
  • The soothe ability. This is one of the biggest draws of Empath. One or two soothes from a high-Focus empath is enough to clear even the most stubborn mentals, while regular medics must cling to their Medic skill and hope for the best. This is also notable for being the only way an Enigma mutant can remove a mental without dying, and for being much, much faster than analyze.
  • The massage ability. This is identical to the massage in Nimble Fingers, and so largely useless.
  • Bonus to fertilize. Failing a fertilize roll as a Plant Whisperer is very rare, even with only 20 persuade, so this is largely useless.
  • Stress averaging. This can be a blessing. An empath sitting on 200 stress who is surrounded by three or four buddies with zero stress will lose their stress extremely quickly. All NPCs also have zero stress, but a less weighted effect on the average.


  • Stress. Empaths take stress from being in combat, from being on the same tile as something that dies, from anything dying in the current zone, from anything dying in the world, from using soothe to relieve stress, from using soothe in general, and from being surrounded by stressed out people. Empaths need to carefully manage their stress multiplier and gains, which reduces a build's quality of life.
    • Even with good cool, stress multipliers and weed, Empaths need to be exceedingly careful in certain fights. Long encounters with multiple mobs that surround an Empath with unrelenting carnage will inevitably bring high stress levels.
  • Stiff punishments for bad focus. If an Empath cannot maintain about 38+ focus (in and out of combat), they will quickly find themselves stressed by random orphans dying to some AFK grinder halfway across the world. An enemy dying on the empath's tile will also punish them with shock (with roughly the same amount of focus required to resist that).
    • Whether the Empath was involved in killing the creature that died on their tile is not important; only the proximity of the death to the Empath matters.
    • Some creatures' deaths will not cost Empaths any stress or risk of shock. This is supposed to follow the rule of "if it wasn't alive in the first place, the death won't stress an empath", but in practice, the mechanic is very inconsistent and illogical. If in doubt, the system leans towards punishing rather than ignoring. There is a list of known "safe mobs" at the bottom of this article.
  • Stress averaging. If playing with party members who use focus mutations frequently or have a lot of stress for any reason, empaths will find themselves stressed out by their party members.

Acquiring Empath

Empath has two quests that must be completed before the mutation spot becomes available; in this regard, it's similar to Vampire and Brainslug in that it's a challenge to find for players who don't already know where it is. Here's a spoilery guide.

  1. Go to the Berkeley Psychic Institute. This involves going to Necropolis Gate, so be tough enough to handle that first.
  2. Search the outdoor tile on the ground floor for a BSI badge.
  3. Go to the basement and find the recipe for the dreamwalker helmet, then craft it or get someone else to do it (or buy/borrow one from someone else).
  4. Go to Mt. Fisty and find Guru, a short way up from the base of the mountain. Parrot his quest words until he asks for the badge, then give it to him.
  5. Climb to the top of Mt. Fisty. See the linked page for more information on that; you'll want at least 20 climb if you're doing it with ropes. Consider cheating with a plane. Don't die to thunderbirds.
  6. Go back to Guru, say "learn" to him until he registers success (this sometimes takes several attempts). He'll eventually talk about success and the word "themselves".
  7. Go back to Berkeley Psychic Institute with the special hat, and this time, bring a friend with an adrenaline hypo.
  8. Wear the hat and plug into the chair on the bottom floor of the institute.
  9. Once in the dreamworld, follow the path until stopped by an NPC.
  10. Answer all of the NPC's questions; the answer to the first is "themselves", the second is "five conjunctions", the third is "the self". This may require some repetitions until the game catches up properly, just like with Guru before.
  11. Go west. This is the mutation tile; mutate.
  12. The quest is supposed to kick mutants out of the dream at this point, but it's bugged. Tell the adrenaline buddy in corpnet, partychat, or via @mail to use the adrenaline hypo.


Empath's stress, shock and soothe mechanics are complex by HellMOO standards. Here's an overview.

Empath Stress

Empath stress is special, and is not treated the same as regular stress in some instances. It's also resisted in an unusual way, and comes from lots of sources.

  • Empaths take stress from most creatures dying on their tile. This stress is unavoidable, and is soaked by having high Cool and few implants. The stress from each death can vary widely.
    • As an example, an Empath with 18 cool and 2 implants will take anywhere between 30 and 80 stress.
  • Empaths sometimes take stress from creatures dying in the zone that they are in. The chance for this stress to be avoided outright is increased with higher focus. If the stress does hit, then it is resisted with cool and implants as normal.
    • The stress hit for this is much lower than from a creature dying on the Empath's tile. An Empath with 18 cool and 2 implants will typically take around 15-30 stress from this.
  • Empaths can take stress from creatures dying anywhere in the world. The chance for this stress to be avoided outright is increased with higher focus; with 40+ focus, taking stress this way is very rare.
    • This is the lowest stress hit of all. An Empath with 18 cool and 2 implants will typically take less than 15 stress from this.
  • An Empath's stress level will gravitate to the average of all players and mobs on their tile. This does not appear to respect Focus, and is soaked purely with Cool and few implants.
    • Mobs are considered to have zero stress at all times for the purpose of calculating this, but appear to have a lesser weighting than players when the average of the room is calculated.
    • Using soothe to relieve stress in another is almost always worth the stress hit for an Empath, since the Empath will be destressed by remaining around the stress-free player that they just soothed.
  • Empaths take stress for every heartbeat that they are in combat. This does not appear to respect Focus, and is soaked purely with Cool and few implants.
  • Empath stress does not respect Hideous Freak's stress reversal for combat stress and death stress, but it does respect the reversal for stress averaging. This means that freakpaths will take all the death and combat stress on top of being stressed out by being around their non-stressed friends. Freakpath is generally considered non-viable for this reason; when taken in conjunction with -5 cool from freak, it's just too much for anybody to bother wrestling with.

Empath Shock

The only time an Empath will take shock from their mutation is when they are present on the same tile as a creature's death and have insufficient focus. At roughly 37 focus or less, the Empath will gain increasing chances to get shock doses upon the death of a creature. The magnitude of the shock scales with focus; at low focus totals, a creature death in close proximity will absolutely cripple an Empath for an extended time.


The crown jewel of Empath, soothe is an Empath-exclusive ability with three main effects, all of which use the focus skill to determine their effectiveness:

  • Stress steal: Soothe will transfer stress from a stressed target to the empath.
    • This appears to scale with focus to an extent, but is still very RNG-dependent. Sometimes soothe will only transfer single digits of stress, sometimes it'll do 120 in one hit.
    • Soothe is unique in that it is the only targeted ability in the game that does not respect Hideous Freak's stress reversal. Soothing a freak will destress the freak as normal.
  • Mental cleansing: Soothe will use focus to remove mentals from the target. At lower focus totals, they will be transferred to the Empath instead; at higher levels, they will be annihilated altogether.
    • It can take several soothes for a mental to be cleansed, even at high focus totals.
    • Soothe has a chance to lessen the severity of a mental, if it does not remove it outright.
    • Unlike a medic's analyze, soothe does not respect the "difficulty" rating of a mental. Soothe can cure the psychoanalyst's nightmare, damnation, as easily as it gets rid of benign Christianity.
    • Soothe does not respect Enigma's resistance to diagnosis and analysis with the Medic skill. As long as an Enigma knows that they have a mental, they can be treated by an Empath with a soothe or two.
    • The rough requirement for perfect mental cleansing without transfer seems to be about 40 focus.
  • Horny removal: Soothe will remove (or, at lower levels, transfer) horny status from the target. Horny is easy to acquire and easy to remove, so this is of little consequence.

Synergies and Playstyle

Empath is one of the least popular mutations in HellMOO, and has a long-running misconception attached to it: the idea that all empaths are so stressed and shocked that they must spend forever idling in a hot-tub with massive brains totals and craft. This is completely untrue; Empaths can and do contribute to top-end PvE fights, tank endgame bosses, run the Das Kochenhammer, and a great deal else. However, for this to be possible, it is essential that the Empath manages their stress multiplier carefully and has sufficient focus. Below are a few notes on useful synergies and playstyle adjustments that can vastly increase the utility of an Empath.

  • Maintain at least 38 focus. This is almost non-negotiable.
  • Maintain a low stress multiplier. This is done by having relatively few implants, having a corp discipline implant installed and having good Cool (whether boosted by mutations, bling, or stats. Trading away a +1 reflexes implant for the ability to fight with less stress management is more than worthwhile for an Empath.
  • Consider Vampire. Vampire and empath, or "vampath", is a famously excellent synergy: Vampire itself grants +4 cool and +4 focus, and vampires can destress themselves by feeding. In addition, vampires gain mentals for being hungry, but at 40+ focus, Empath will consistently cleanse the mental milliseconds after it is acquired, giving it no chance to take effect.
  • Consider Fuck Machine. Empaths have more than enough focus to max out fant and cum, and the two can be used for a quick -90 stress if things get out of hand. Using cum also grants a very short endorphins duration, which means that FM mutants can get that -90 hit regularly. Most empaths also have excellent fuck skill, and this can be used to fuck corpses or inflatable sheep for an extended +2 cool buff.
  • Consider Medium. Empaths are uncontested in gaining the #1 best focus totals in the game, surpassing even focus-heavy freaks, which is ideal for seeking. Empaths also get an extra 3 focus for free while seeking, so this is even more powerful.
  • Consider Enigma. While widely considered one of the worst mutations in the game, one of Enigma's biggest downsides (resisting psychoanalysis) means nothing to Empaths, since they automatically cleanse their own mentals. The +2 cool is also very significant; Empath stress is serious business.
  • Use THC. One hit of a joint is -30 stress per heartbeat; pinning a THC hypo is -90. This does a lot to combat stress for empaths during extended PvE sessions.
  • Use psilocybin. Empaths thrive on focus, and psilocybin grants a long-lasting +5 focus at max dosage. Note that this is unavailable to Iron Liver mutants.
  • Don't be scared. With proper stress management, Empaths can be highly capable frontline fighters. While they do sometimes require additional support, they also offer unparalleled support with soothe. Their potential shouldn't be wasted cowering in a hot tub.

Stress-Free Mobs

A small selection of mobs don't give stress, shock or any other penalties when killed. The logic behind the categorization is confused and questionable, so for reference, confirmed stress-free mobs are listed here.


Empath does not alter a character's appearance.

Racial Mutations AbominationChromemouthChudEmpathGenetic PurityHideous FreakVampireZombie
Focus Mutations CarrieChillerFuck MachineSalamanderScreechWrithing Smoke
Movement Mutations LeapfrogPhaserClairvoyance
Soak Mutations High DensityFirewalkerRubberskinSnakeskinYeti Skin
LithodermisSolar SpongeSilicone SkinEelskinYeti Fur
Miscellaneous Mutations BillygoatBleederBloodhoundBrainslugBrute StrengthCamelfatEnigmaFibrocartilageHooliganHyperimmuneIron LiverJunkratMuleNimble FingersPlant WhispererRipperStenchTwitchy NervesSuperclotXray Vision
Joke Mutations Cat Ears • Caucasian • Third Nipple
Defunct Mutations Jammer