From NetHackWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
) Battle-axe.png
Name battle-axe
Appearance double-headed axe
Damage vs. small 1d8+1d4 (2-12)
Damage vs. large 1d6+2d4 (3-14)
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill axe
Size two-handed
Base price 40 zm
Weight 120
Material iron

A battle-axe is a type of weapon that appears in NetHack. It is a two-handed melee weapon that uses the axe skill, and appears as a double-headed axe when unidentified.

The battle-axe is the base item for the artifact Cleaver.


Barbarians have a 12 chance of starting the game with a +0 battle-axe as their starting axe.[1][2]

In addition to random generation, general shops and antique weapon outlets can sell battle-axes.

Ogres can be generated with battle-axes: ogres have a 112 chance, ogre lords have a 16 chance, and ogre kings have a 13 chance.[3]

A strong humanoid monster with a weapon attack, the ability to wield weapons and no other ruleset governing its monster starting inventory has a chance of generating with a battle-axe, unless they are being generated on the Rogue level: the base odds are 114 for normal monsters, 112 for a monster that is a lord or nasty, 110 for a monster that is an overlord or both a lord and nasty, and 18 for a monster that is both nasty and an overlord.[4]

Player monsters, including those on the Astral Plane, have a 1116 chance (roughly 0.86%) of generating with a battle-axe before role replacements - barbarians have a 14 chance of receiving a battle-axe in place of their initial primary weapon, bringing their odds to roughly 25.6%.[5]


Main article: Two-handed

Battle-axes are solid early game weapons for their high damage, particularly for weaker roles: while slightly weaker than two-handed swords, the are also much lighter, and is easily the better of the two axe weapons overall. In addition to its damage, it can be used to deal with locked doors, especially for characters that have yet to find an unlocking tool. As with regular axes, characters will be given an indication if they are chopping at a shop door, which is vague but often sufficient for the player to realize in time and avoid angering the shopkeeper - additionally, merely attempting to chop through doors and trees in view of a Minetown watchman instantly angers them.

Like other two-handed weapons, battle axes can become a nuisance when cursed, making them an unpopular choice to use past the mid-game. Though the #tip command can be used to get curse removal items out from a carried bag, most characters prefer a one-handed and/or curse-resistant weapon to sidestep this problem.


The battle-axe is introduced in NetHack 3.1.0.



In SLASH'EM, upgrading an axe will produce a battle-axe and vice versa.


In UnNetHack, the Executioner is generated with a rustproof battle-axe if Cleaver is already generated in the current game.


In dNetHack, the battle-axe appears as a double-bitted axe when unidentfied. Dwarven Nobles start the game with a +2 battle-axe.

Cleaver is the first sacrifice gift for Barbarians that start the game with a battle-axe. There are a couple of other artifact battle-axes:


In SpliceHack, a battle-axe can be created at a furnace by combining two axes can be combined to create a battle-axe.


In notdNetHack, in addition to dNetHack details, Marionette is generated with a battle-axe when summoned by an Illithanachronounbinder.


In EvilHack, tortle barbarians receive a trident in lieu of the role's two-handed weapon.

A battle-axe is always generated on the first floor of the Ice Queen's Realm at level creation.

Aligned champions have a 12 chance of generating with a battle-axe, and flinds have a 23 chance of generating with a battle-axe. Geryon is always generated with a cursed battle-axe that has the shock object property.

A battle-axe can be created at a forge by combining an axe and a broadsword; a bardiche can be created at a forge by combining a battle-axe and a spear.


In Hack'EM, in addition to EvilHack forging recipes, a battle-axe can be created at a forge by combining two axes, similar to SpliceHack. EvilHack changes to starting inventories also apply.


  1. src/u_init.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 44: Barbarian initial inventory
  2. src/u_init.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 680: Barbarian inventory substitution; rn2(100) is used rather that rn2(2)
  3. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 434
  4. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 521: Case for battle-axe in "default" monster weapon generation
  5. src/mplayer.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 171