The Master Key of Thievery

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(   The Master Key of Thievery   Skeleton key.png
Base item skeleton key
When carried
When applied
When invoked
Base price 3500 zm
Weight 3

The Master Key of Thievery is the Rogue quest artifact. It is the prize for completing the Rogue quest, and is chaotic-aligned. Its base item type is a skeleton key.


When carried, the Master Key of Thievery confers warning, teleport control and half physical damage. Using the Master Key of Thievery for unlocking always succeeds, and a Rogue carrying the Key has improved chances to disarm traps.[1] Invoking it removes all traps in a door or container.[2] When applied or invoked, the Master Key will speak a random rumor: the rumor will be true if the Key is blessed, false if cursed, and either if uncursed.

The Master Key of Thievery has additional effects when blessed (and/or uncursed for Rogues):[3] Locking or unlocking a trapped door or container with the Key automatically detects and offers to remove the trap, which is guaranteed to succeed;[4] monsters using the Key will untrap any door the monster is trying to open.[5] Additionally, untrapping doors and chests manually always succeeds as well.[6] Finally, wielding the Key without gloves will give you clues about adjacent traps of any kind (it will feel "warm" or "hot").[7]


See also: Invoke § Optimum invocation schedule

Half physical damage is a rare property and is very useful, which makes the Master Key a good wish for a chaotic character, particularly considering its low weight. It should be wished for early, because artifact wishing depends on the number of artifacts in existence already—in fact, a chaotic character may want to hold back on sacrificing before their first wish, because an artifact wish is only guaranteed if there are 2 or fewer artifacts generated. Also be sure to be able to withstand the blasting damage; you need at least 41 HP (21 with magic resistance). Once the Key is in your inventory, you should avoid dropping it, since picking it up again will blast you another time. Keep a normal skeleton key or lockpick for mundane unlocking purposes, since applying the Master Key will also blast you.

As with all quest artifacts, cross-aligned characters can only pick up the Master Key via appropriate use of a helm of opposite alignment (or permanent conversion at an altar). This is usually not worth the trouble, since non-chaotic adventurers are better off with an artifact that grants magic resistance, and neutrals can obtain half physical damage from the Orb of Fate.


The Master Key of Thievery is introduced along with most of the other quest artifacts in NetHack 3.1.0.

The artifact's special effects when blessed were added in NetHack 3.6.1.

Encyclopedia entry

This skeleton key was fashioned in ages past and imbued with a powerful magic which allows it to open any lock. When carried, it grants its owner warning, teleport control, and reduces all physical damage by half. Finally, when invoked, it has the ability to disarm any trap.


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