Magic resistance

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This article is about the magic resistance property. For monsters' magic resistance, see Magic resistance (monster).

Magic resistance is an extrinsic property which protects against many annoying magical attacks and effects. It is part of most ascension kits, and is generally considered a high priority to obtain as soon as possible.


Magic resistance protects against:

Magic resistance does not protect against:


Magic resistance is granted by wielding Magicbane, wearing a cloak of magic resistance, gray dragon scales, or gray dragon scale mail, polymorphing into a (baby) gray dragon, or carrying, wearing or wielding certain Quest artifacts.

Quest artifacts granting magic resistance
Role Artifact When Alignment
Archeologist the Orb of Detection Carried Lawful
Caveman the Sceptre of Might Wielded Lawful
Knight the Magic Mirror of Merlin Carried Lawful
Monk the Eyes of the Overworld Worn Neutral
Tourist the Platinum Yendorian Express Card Carried Neutral
Wizard the Eye of the Aethiopica Worn Neutral


In addition to monster-type magic resistance, some monsters have player-style magic resistance:[1]

Anyone coding new monsters should be aware of this somewhat counter-intuitive means of granting intrinsic magic resistance to monsters.

Monsters gain player-style resistance from a worn cloak of magic resistance, gray dragon scales or scale mail, or from wielding a co-aligned artifact: neutral Magicbane, lawful Sceptre of Might. Carrying quest artifacts also works (especially important in the case of your quest nemesis and the Wizard of Yendor), but tame monsters will not keep them unless worn or wielded.

This provides most of the same protections to monsters as it does to the player, e.g. death rays, magic missiles and involuntary polymorphs. It does not make them resist taming or conflict, as monster-style magic resistance would, nor against level teleporter traps, as player magic resistance does.


Magic resistance, poison resistance, and reflection are among the most important properties to get, closely followed by magic cancellation. Generally, you should wish to get them or make gray dragon scale mail if you cannot get them otherwise, ideally before the Castle.

Relying only on a quest artifact for magic resistance is dangerous in the endgame, because the Wizard of Yendor can steal it from you and become magic resistant himself. He will then absorb any death rays or magic missiles unharmed, while you are left quite vulnerable to his touch of death. As of Nethack 3.6.1, the Wizard can steal any quest artifact, not just your own.

Player-style magic resistance is good in a pet, as death rays and polymorph traps lose their threat. If you want to make your pet magic resistant, gray dragon scale mail (or the cloak) are usually best. If you go the artifact weapon route, make sure your pet is carrying as few objects as possible and disarm it with a bullwhip beforehand to keep it from wielding any different artifact it may encounter. Unfortunately, the most useful pet, an Archon, cannot be made magic resistant—pets will not wield quest artifacts (ruling out the Sceptre of Might) or cross-aligned artifacts (preventing Magicbane from working). Thus, only intelligent neutral pets can be made magic-resistant with an artifact weapon.


You or a monster resisted a force bolt or wand of striking due to magic resistance.



New monsters with player-style magic resistance are diamond and crystal golems and adult shimmering dragons. In addition, there are many more useful pets capable of wearing body armor, including astral devas and vampire mages.

Also, magic resistance is granted by carrying the Great Dagger of Glaurgnaa, the Stake of Van Helsing, or the Crown of Saint Edward. The Crown will always be lawful, and the Stake is lawful if wished for or if obtained by a lawful Undead Slayer, so they can both be used to give a pet Solar magic resistance.


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