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Location Level 25–29 of the
Dungeons of Doom
Bones No
Mappable Yes
Teleportable No
Diggable floor No
Diggable walls Only in maze parts

The Castle is a special level just above the Valley of the Dead. It is the lowest level of the Dungeons of Doom, and is located between DL 25 and 29. The level permits no bones files and is no-teleport. It is considered a graveyard level (undead are unlikely to leave corpses). It is notable for having a lot of monsters, soldiers, loot and a guaranteed wand of wishing.


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

The following map may be mirrored vertically and/or horizontally.

The stairs up are in a small maze on the left side of the level. The middle part of the level contains the castle, surrounded by a moat. In one of the four corner rooms on a spot marked (, there is a guaranteed untrapped chest containing a wand of wishing. The walls inside the castle are undiggable, but the walls of the mazes and the two vertical walls separating the mazes from the moats at the front and back of the castle are diggable. The only way down is through the trap doors in the castle (there is no downstair). The floor is undiggable, but if you fill the trap doors, you may dig holes where they were.

Climbing the stairs up from the Valley of the Dead will place you in a random location in the right-hand maze on the Castle level.

The four rooms marked "store" are filled with food, weapons, armor, and gems, and may include useful magical items or artifact weapons.

The Castle moat contains four sharks and four giant eels. The two barracks on either side of the entry hall contain their usual complement of inhabitants (chosen from soldiers, lieutenants, sergeants, and captains); in addition, each corner tower contains two soldiers, and the atrium eight soldiers and a lieutenant. The throne room contains 27 monsters at the positions marked "t", roughly equally chosen from E H L M N O R T X Z; a chest is behind the throne. The alcoves between the marked storerooms contain two random dragons each.

The chest with the wand of wishing is in one of the four spots marked ( each guarded by two soldiers. The black floors (marked ".") and the mazes (marked "m") are unlit.


The # at the front of the castle is the drawbridge. If you don't know the passtune, one way to open it is to play a game of mastermind with it. The player must use a tonal instrument and be standing at most a knight's move from the drawbridge (standing any closer can be hazardous, if the drawbridge opens or closes on you or is destroyed). Applying the instrument without improvising, the player must guess the 5 note combination to open the drawbridge. The notes you can play are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Once you get the right combination, the drawbridge opens and you can cross the moat. You may close the drawbridge by playing the passtune again, to crush any monster that happens to be on it.

The drawbridge may also be opened with a wand of opening, a spell of knock, or the blessed, charged Bell of Opening.

Zapping the open drawbridge with a wand of striking or a spell of force bolt will smash it to pieces, also tearing apart any monster (or player) currently standing on or next to it.


  • It may be useful to quaff a blessed potion of object detection (or cast the Skilled spell of detect treasure) before entering the castle, as this will both reveal the location of the wand (allowing you to travel to it directly), and the contents of the store rooms (which frequently contain magical armor or artifact weapons and therefore might influence how you spend your wishes).
  • There is a small probability that the xorns will go and eat metal items from the storage rooms, so if you are worried about losing potentially valuable items you may want to kill the xorns quickly as you see them. You can also try to go directly to the storage rooms before they have a chance to eat anything.
  • After you open or destroy the drawbridge, it may be better to retreat to the maze to fight rather than doing it right at the entrance – this way, you can stand in a spot where only one monster can reach you at once and monsters you aren't currently fighting can't use ranged attacks. This also reduces the time you spend fighting next to the moat and the chance of making a typo and falling into it, blanking valuable items.
  • Once you've killed everything, it's often worth trying to polypile some of the junk left behind. There is an awful lot of junk armor, and the chances of getting some nice magical items or a T-shirt are quite good.
  • You can whistle pets into the castle without entering yourself by floating over the moat between the corner towers and the edge of the map. (You may have to try many times for this to work; it helps if there are other monsters around you to limit the possible squares the pet can be summoned to.) Vampire lords work well due to their natural regeneration, provided you give them an elven cloak to cancel the lichs' cold attack. It is still a good idea to monitor your pet's health. Occasionally strong pets such as dragons may even be able to pick up and fetch the chest.

Getting into the Castle

There are many ways to get into the castle. These include:

  • Open the drawbridge by playing the passtune, zapping it with a wand of opening, or applying the blessed Bell of Opening. Be sure to stand back a couple of squares for the wand or a knights-move away otherwise, to avoid having the bridge hit you in the face and kill you. If you have a tonal instrument, you can repeatedly play the passtune to crush monsters under the drawbridge. Do not cross until you're sure no monsters with wands of striking might zap them at you.
  • Zap the drawbridge with a wand of striking or a spell of force bolt. This will leave an empty square of moat, which can be crossed by reading a scroll of earth and pushing a boulder in, levitating across, jumping, throwing a heavy iron ball (chained to you), or zapping a wand of cold to freeze the water (be sure no fire-breathing monsters or wands of fire are aimed at you before crossing). If you are truly desperate, you can wait until the square where the drawbridge used to be is empty, then repeatedly dive into the water. Eventually, you will climb out on the opposite side. (Naturally, drop anything you don't want wet first.) Also, make sure you are not standing directly in front of the drawbridge (over the moat)--if you are, you will be hit by flying metal and insta-killed. Any further back is safe.
  • Levitate or water walk around to the back of the castle, or freeze the water around the castle with a wand of cold or the cone of cold spell. (Look out for sea monsters.) You can also level teleport into the Valley of the Dead (you can specify level 99, or one level below the castle), and climb the stairs up to the castle. In either case, you will need to get through the back trapdoors in the back to get into the castle; you can levitate or jump across, or you can use the boulders from a scroll of earth to fill them in; note, however, that if you do this you will need to dig through the filled trap doors to enter Gehennom.
  • Polymorph yourself into a phasing monster (xorn or earth elemental), and walk through the wall of the castle. This has the advantage of taking you directly to the wand, if you know where it is, and allowing you to skip the monsters. (Both xorns and earth elementals can also breathe underwater, so you can walk through the moat safely, although anything not inside a greased or oilskin bag will still get wet.)

Dealing with the drawbridge

The drawbridge has been a source of many deaths. Here are a few things you can do to avoid YASD:

  • Do not zap the drawbridge with a wand of striking while standing directly in front of it.
  • Do not open it while standing on either of the two spaces directly in front of it.
  • Do not linger near it when other monsters have wands of striking.

Beware crushing peacefuls in the drawbridge. The resulting bad Luck can make your wishes fail or come out cursed.


Lazy players may find the automated Mastermind solver at useful.


The original Castle appears in NetHack 3.0.0. The wand of wishing appears in one of the corner turrets, as in the current version; but it lies exposed on the floor instead of being protected by a chest and Elbereth. Furthermore, the Castle has empty rooms where the barracks are now. The next level is the beginning of Hell, and so the trap doors can lead to instadeath.

NetHack 3.1.0 adds the barracks and engraves Elbereth under the wand of wishing. Gehennom replaces Hell and so an adventurer without fire resistance no longer risks instadeath, though rashly dropping through the trap doors is still not a good idea.

NetHack 3.2.0 places the wand of wishing in a chest for the first time.

NetHack 3.6.0 introduces a few minor changes: filled trapdoors can be re-dug, opening or closing the castle drawbridge by playing the passtune consumes a turn, and the chest containing the wand of wishing can never be trapped.


A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"Add FIQhack versions"


Main article: Castle (UnNetHack)

UnNetHack adds two new versions of the castle with different challenges and rewards.


The water in SLASH'EM castle moat is different from any other water ("sparkling water"); although SLASH'EM does not fully implement the Lethe patch, it mimics the "waters of Lethe" concept from that patch. The castle water is far more dangerous, as falling into it causes every magical item in your inventory to be dipped in it, and its dipping effects are far nastier than normal water:

In addition, anyone falling into it will suffer amnesia.

Walking on the water via water walking boots (but not swimming via gauntlets of swimming or polyself) has no ill effects on the boots or you, and obviously flying or levitation over the water is safe. One of these three is very advisable in SLASH'EM's castle. Destroying the drawbridge/door, jumping in the water, and hoping you land inside the castle is no longer a viable strategy (although opening the drawbridge still is). Although the water is dangerous, controlled dipping of items into it via flying or water walking provides an unlimited way to remove cursed gear, so long as you don't mind the item losing a point of enchantment and possibly rusting. Non-chargeable rings and amulets will be unaffected.

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This page is based on a spoiler by Dylan O'Donnell. The original license is:

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