Small shield

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[   small shield   Small shield.png
Appearance small shield
Slot shield
AC 1
Special (none)
Base price 3 zm
Weight 30
Material wood

A small shield is a type of shield that appears in NetHack. It is made of wood.


Knights and Priests start each game with a +0 small shield.[1][2] Valkyries start each game with a +3 small shield.[3]

Lines of code are present that give dwarven, elven and orcish characters in roles that start with small shields a race-appropriate shield instead, though only the line regarding orcs and orcish shields not being commented out, and this line has no applicable roles.[4][5][6]

Mercenaries have a 23 chance of being generated with small shields.[7] Aligned priests, high priests and the Arch Priest always generate with a small shield.[8]


While worn, a small shield grants 1 base AC. The spellcasting penalty for a worn small shield is much lower than other shield types, due to its low weight.[9]


Main article: Shield § Strategy

The small shield is the best shield by far for spellcasters and characters with low carrying capacity - characters in other roles or builds may consider sticking with a highly-enchanted small shield in the long term if they have reflection covered by other slots. An elven shield may be a superior option depending on a character's exact needs: it has higher base AC and can be enchanted safely from +5, in exchange for weighing 10 more aum and inhibiting spellcasting more than the small shield.

A Valkyrie's starting small shield is worth wearing for a long time due to its high enchantment, though many of them eventually ditch the shield so they can twoweapon.


The small shield first appears in NetHack 3.0.0, where it replaces the shield from NetHack 2.3e and previous versions - this shield is somewhat similar to the small shield, but is metallic and susceptible to rust.


In variants with object materials systems, shields larger than the small shield may be exempt from additional spellcasting penalties if they are made of a lightweight, non-metallic material such as bone or wood.[9]


In SLASH'EM, Priests start the game with a +2 small shield.


In dNetHack and notdNetHack, the small shield is renamed to the buckler, and it grants 1 base AC and 0 DR while worn.


In xNetHack, small shields are surpassed as the ideal shield for spellcasting by elven shields, since they work identically due to spellcasting system changes - the small shield's slightly lower weight is one of its few advantages in comparison.


In SpliceHack, a small shield can be combined with an amulet of reflection at a furnace to create a shield of reflection.


In EvilHack, all racial replacements for roles starting with small shields are commented out.

Mercenaries that are not elves, drow or orcs have a 23 chance of being generated with small shields.

A small shield can be created at a forge by combining a dagger and a helmet; a small shield and an elven dagger can be combined to create an elven shield.


In SlashTHEM, in addition to SLASH'EM details, Warriors and Paladins start each game with a +0 small shield. Dwarvish, elven and orcish characters in roles that start with small shields will start the game with a race-appropriate shield instead.


In Hack'EM, upgrading a small shield will produce an elven shield, and vice versa.

Elven Knights can upgrade their starting small shield into an elven shield with relative ease.