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) Aklys.png
Name aklys
Appearance thonged club
Damage vs. small 1d6
Damage vs. large 1d3
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill club
Size one-handed
Base price 4 zm
Weight 15
Material iron

An aklys is a type of weapon that appears in NetHack. It uses the club skill, and is made of iron. When unidentified, it appears as a thonged club.

An aklys has the same hit dice versus small and large monsters as a club, but is much lighter. Unlike a club, it can also be used as a projectile weapon, and gains a +2 to-hit bonus when thrown.[1] While wielded in the primary hand, the aklys is tethered to that hand - when thrown, it has a max range of 4 squares and behaves slightly like Mjollnir, returning 99% of the time when thrown.[2][3][4] You will catch a tethered aklys 99% of the time if you are not impaired (i.e. blind, stunned, confused, etc.) in some manner, and it will either land at your feet or hit you in the arm the rest of the time.[5][6]


The aklys makes up about 0.8% of randomly generated weapons (on the ground, as death drops, and in shops).

An aklys is one of the weapons that can be given to a humanoid monster with a weapon attack, the ability to wield weapons and no other ruleset governing its monster starting inventory, 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.[7] For this reason, the weapon is often associated with gnomes - they qualify for this set of cases and generate in large numbers in the early game, specifically in the Gnomish Mines.


Compared to a stack of a dozen daggers, one aklys is far lighter and can be reused indefinitely, at least until it fails to return—and even then, it can simply be retrieved to re-tether for future use. The aklys also has higher base damage than a dagger; although daggers can be multishot to do more damage, it is usually easier to find a blessed or enchanted aklys in the Mines, compared to a stack of above-average daggers.

On the other hand, the aklys must be wielded before throwing if you expect it to return: this means one action will be used switching to it before firing, and another switching back if the target gets close and you have a more powerful weapon for melee. There is also the small chance of it backfiring and striking you upon return, though this does not deal much damage - a far more pressing concern is having your wielded aklys cursed, which prevents throwing and switching to a different weapon until it is uncursed.

For Cavemen and Priests, who cannot multishot daggers but can achieve Expert in club, an aklys is a worthwhile primary weapon for melee and ranged attacks alike—while other roles can utilize the aklys this way, they may also opt to use it as a backup ranged weapon when their primary projectile runs out, which in turn lets them save capacity by carrying fewer projectiles than they would otherwise. Those attempting a gnomish racial ascension often consider the aklys as the only acceptable melee weapon—in practice, one is more likely to remember seeing a gnome using this weapon than any other monster.


The aklys first appears in NetHack 1.3d, where it has a relative probability of 1 in 99 and weighs three units; for comparison, the two handed sword was the heaviest at four.[8] This "rarity" was shared with many objects, including even the katana, and remained unchanged until NetHack 3.4.3.

The ability to tether a wielded aklys, throw it and have it return to the player's hand is introduced in NetHack 3.6.1.


The word "aklys" comes from the Latin aclys and Greek agkulis, and refers to a Roman missile weapon; it is uncertain whether the "proper" plural would be "aklyses" (going by general English rules) or "aclydes" (by Latin rules)—in any case, the aklys does not stack, so it is unclear what NetHack would use.

There are two types of aklys: one resembles a javelin and measured approximately 2 m (79 in) in length, and was thrown using a leather strap (or amentum); the word was translated as "javelin" in English translations of Roman works such as the Aeneid. The second type of aklys is a small spiked mace or club attached to the wielder's arm by a strap of adjustable length, ensuring the weapon could be retrieved after it was thrown.

The aklys also appears in various fantasy games such as Dungeons & Dragons, where it is found in Dragon Magazine Vol. 7, No. 2, as well as the 1985 Unearthed Arcana supplement by co-creator Gary Gygax. This aklys is directly patterned after the second, blunt type of aklys and serves as the basis for the weapon and its hit dice in NetHack.


Some variants based on 3.4.3 may not have the updated behavior for the aklys introduced in later versions of vanilla NetHack.


UnNetHack is one of the 3.4.3-based variants that adjusts the aklys to behave like it does in current versions of NetHack.


In dNetHack, you and other monsters can apply an aklys to pound targets as with a polearm.

Encyclopedia entry

A short studded or spiked club attached to a cord allowing
it to be drawn back to the wielder after having been thrown.
It should not be confused with the atlatl, which is a device
used to throw spears for longer distances.