Wand of probing

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Name probing
Appearance random
Abundance 3%
Base price 150 zm
Weight 7
Type beam
Maximum charges 8
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

A wand of probing is a type of wand that appears in NetHack.


3% of all randomly-generated wands will be a wand of probing.

Wands of probing can generate with up to 8 charges.


Zapping a wand of probing in a given direction will reveal information about monsters and items in the path of its beam. Probed monsters will have their name, alignment, level, HP, AC, and statuses shown, along with their inventory - this does not anger peaceful monsters or wake sleeping ones, and will work on invisible monsters.[1][2] Probed items will have their appearances revealed, and containers and statues will have their contents listed and displayed.[3]

Zapping the wand downward at your square will reveal the contents of any containers and statues on that square, as well as listing any items that are buried on the square (i.e. within a grave or a filled pit or hole);[4] if done while you are riding, it will also reveal the inventory and status of your steed as with any other monster.[5] Zapping the wand at yourself will reveal your own HP, status, alignment record and other stats along with your inventory, including the contents of any containers or statues.[6] Zapping the wand upwards will probe the ceiling, typically revealing nothing.[7]

Zapping a wand of probing at a container that has Schroedinger's Cat will not reveal whether or not the cat is alive, but prints a unique message.[8] Zapping the wand while hallucinating will report the hallucinated identities of monsters rather than their real appearances. Successfully probing anything with the wand will auto-identify it.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

As of commit 44a649b, the wand of probing will map unseen squares in the beam's path, though it will stop at walls or doors. As of commit 412a996, the wand also reveals tin contents.

As of commit a31be02, the wand's beam will also reveal secret doors and secret

corridors and convert them to "normal", as well as revealing traps and the contents of eggs. As of commit 1a5eaf7, the wand will also reveal items submerged in lava or water when zapped downwards on an applicable square.


The wand or probing is usually neglected in favor of a stethoscope, which is a slightly lighter item that can reveal most of the same information about an adjacent monster minus its inventory - it is also not limited by charges and can be used once per turn as a free action. However, the wand has many distinct advantages over a stethoscope due to its ranged applications, and is at least viable as a situational substitute, especially if you have not yet found a stethoscope. If all else fails, the wand can be used as fodder for polypiling.


A wand of probing can display the inventory of pets for purposes of supplying them with equipment, and you can also check the inventory of monsters with predefined items such as shopkeepers and soldiers to informally identify those items. The wand of probing can also locate and identify invisible monsters in its path, which is easier if you have a source of warning on hand.[2] The wand even has late-game applications: it can be used on the Astral Plane to check for player monsters with reflection, magic resistance or even an artifact weapon like Vorpal Blade, and you can see if you are near the correct temple by probing the high priest.

Item hunting

The wand can check peaceful monsters for useful desired items (such as a dwarf's mithril coat, or a watch captain's silver saber or long sword) before deciding whether or not to risk killing them, whether you do so directly and risk murder penalties or have a pet do the job for you. It can also reveal if other monsters have a valuable known amulet or other similar items, e.g. finding a Sokoban amulet of reflection that you suspect has gone missing, or else tracking down a pesky nymph that has stolen your amulet of life saving and possibly devising a method to liberate the amulet without it being used up.

Zapping the wand of probing downward reveals buried objects, and can also be used to check bags that are found in bones to decide if a suspected bag of holding is worth uncursing right away. Using the wand to check statues for items can minimize the amount of historical statues broken for Archeologists.

Conducts and speed play

Wands of probing have a niche use for game-time speed ascension, which often requires a player to write many scrolls of charging via magic marker to replenish their power - such players also make frequent use of an air elemental polyself for speed, e.g. to find the vibrating square, and are blind while in that state; zapping themselves with a wand of probing reveals the object appearance of a freshly-written scroll, making it readable. This also gives it a use case for zen conduct players to reveal their inventory and other objects, provided they are lucky enough to find and identify one.


The wand of probing first appears in NetHack 1.3d.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, including some variants based on these versions, zapping the box containing Schroedinger's Cat with the wand of probing will simply show the box as empty. This is bug C343-263, and was fixed in February 2007 via commit 7abf238.


You probe towards the ceiling.
You zapped a wand of probing upward.
You probe beneath the <surface>.
You zapped a wand of probing downward.
Your probe reveals nothing.
Zapping the wand up or down did not reveal anything.
You aren't sure whether the <large box> has <Schrodinger's Cat> or its corpse inside.
You zapped a wand of probing at a box containing Schroedinger's Cat, with the specifics of the message changing if you are hallucinating.[8]


NetHack: The Next Generation

In NetHack: The Next Generation, the spellbook of finger is a rough spell equivalent to the wand of probing - unlike the wand, however, it can anger peaceful monsters that you cast the spell at, may wake up sleeping monsters, and does not reveal the identity of invisible monsters.

TNNT (the game)

In TNNT (the game), the swap chest cannot have its contents revealed by a wand of probing.


SlashTHEM adds the spellbook of finger from NetHack: The Next Generation, and the spell functions roughly the same.