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* Gray stone.png
Name touchstone
Appearance gray stone
Damage vs. small 1d3
Damage vs. large 1d3
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill sling
Size one-handed
Base price 45 zm
Weight 10
Material mineral

A touchstone is a type of gem that appears in NetHack. It appears as a gray stone when unidentified.


All Archeologists start the game with an identified uncursed touchstone.[1][2]

The shopkeeper of a jewelery shop is always generated with a touchstone.[3]

The Mimic of the Mines map of Mines' End has a mimic pretending to be a touchstone.


Touchstones are used to identify valuable gems (including other gray stones), either directly or informally: Applying a touchstone to a gem, or else rubbing the gem on the touchstone, while you are not blind will produce a different message depending on the gem and the touchstone's beatitude.[4]

A valuable gem will leave streaks of that gem's color on an uncursed touchstone, while worthless glass will instead leave scratch marks;[5][6] rubbing either type of gem on another gray stone will leave colored scratch marks.[7] A blessed touchstone will immediately identify the gem and auto-identify itself if unidentified - an Archeologist or a gnomish character in any role can use uncursed touchstones as though they were blessed.[8] A cursed touchstone has a 15 chance of shattering non-gray stone gems that are rubbed on it.[9]

Any item made of iron will produce a signature "scritch, scritch" noise when a touchstone is applied or rubbed against it, and any gem will produce the same message if you are blind while using the touchstone.[10] Using a touchstone while hallucinating will produce YAFM without identifying the gem.[11] Items made of other materials produce distinct messages when rubbed on a touchstone or one is applied to them.


Touchstones can significantly ease inventory management even when uncursed: worthless glass can be informally identified, type-named and then subsequently discarded to save space in your pack or bags, allowing you to at least save resources in formally identifying valuable gems by other means. A blessed touchstone allows you to sell fully-identified valuable gems for full price and get the full Luck bonus for throwing them to unicorns.

Touchstones also have some limited use in distinguishing iron items from others in their object class using the signature noise that applying one produces. This can be used to informally identify gauntlets of power and kicking boots, or else eliminating them as the identity of non-iron gloves and boots, though gauntlets of power can also be worn to auto-identify them if they are known to not be cursed.


The most reliable means of identifying a touchstone is to apply it to an iron item or rub the item on it, ensuring you are not blind - it will produce a signature "scritch, scritch" as mentioned previously. Price identification is also reliable for identifying touchstones, as they are the only gray stone with a base price of 45zm.

While hallucinating prevents you from actually using a touchstone to identify gems, attempting to do so will produce a specific message that can indirectly identify an uncursed gray stone as a touchstone.


The touchstone first appears in NetHack 3.4.0.


"scritch, scritch"
You rubbed an iron item on a touchstone while not blind, or rubbed any gem on a touchstone while blind.
You see <color> streaks on the stone.
You rubbed a valuable gem on an uncursed touchstone.
You make scratch marks on the stone.
You rubbed a piece of worthless glass on an uncursed touchstone.
Oh wow, man: Fractals!
You tried to use a touchstone while hallucinating.[11]
You make <color> scratch marks on the stone.
You rubbed a gem on a non-touchstone gray stone.
A sharp crack shatters <one of> the <gem(s)>.
You destroyed a gem by rubbing it on a cursed touchstone.[9]
You feel something shatter.
As above, while blind.[9]
Oh, wow, look at the pretty shards.
As above, while hallucinating.[9]



In SLASH'EM, touchstones can only be used on gems - the whetstone is added for use with weapons.

Dipping a touchstone into a potion of amnesia will turn it into a flint stone.


In EvilHack, giant characters can use uncursed touchstones as blessed, though they also start the game with knowledge of all worthless glass.


In notdNetHack, Cavepeople can make a touchstone into a spear head that inflicts +3d5 study on hit.

Encyclopedia entry

"Gold is tried by a touchstone, men by gold."

[ Chilon (c. 560 BC) ]