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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 appears as a thonged club when unidentified. It is made of iron.


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

Humanoid monsters that can wield weapons and have a weapon attack, but no default monster starting inventory, can generate with an aklys unless they are created 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.[1]


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 tethered and used as a projectile weapon, and gains a +2 to-hit bonus when thrown.[2] The aklys remains tethered while wielded: a wielded aklys has a maximum thrown range of 4 squares and behaves slightly like Mjollnir, returning 99100 of the time when thrown.[3][4][5] A player character will catch a tethered aklys 99100 of the time if not impaired in some manner (e.g. blind, stunned, confused, etc.), and the remaining 1100 of the time it will either land at their feet or hit them in the arm.[6][7]


Compared to a stack of a dozen daggers, one aklys is far lighter and can be reused until it fails to return—even then, in most cases it can be easily retrieved. 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 procuring a stack of above-average daggers.

On the other hand, the aklys has a limited range and must be wielded before throwing in order to return: this means one action will be used switching to it before firing, and switching back if the target gets close uses up another action. There is also the small chance of it backfiring and striking the character upon returning, though this does not deal much damage - a far more pressing concern is having the 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. The aklys is also excellent against sea monsters, since it lets characters stay out of melee range, yet you don't have to worry about retrieving your projectiles from water afterwards. While polearms have higher base damage, they are also much heavier and two-handed.

The aklys is often associated with gnomes, who qualify for the generation cases discussed above and generate in large numbers in the early game, specifically in the Gnomish Mines. Those attempting a gnomish racial ascension often consider the aklys as the only acceptable melee weapon for this reason.


The aklys first appears in NetHack 1.3d, where it has a relative probability of 199 to generate and weighs three units, making it the second-heaviest item after the two handed sword (which weighs four units).[8] This "rarity" is shared with many objects, including even the katana, and remains unchanged until NetHack 3.4.3.

The ability to throw a wielded aklys 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 adopt the updated behavior for the aklys introduced in later versions of vanilla NetHack, while others leave it unchanged.


In UnNetHack, characters can throw a wielded aklys and have it return as in vanilla NetHack.


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


In SlashTHEM, characters can throw a wielded aklys and have it return as in vanilla NetHack.

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.