|Damage vs. small||1d6|
|Damage vs. large||1d3|
|Base price||4 zm|
Humanoid monsters that have the ability to wield weapons and a weapon attack, but have no default monster starting inventory, can generate with an aklys unless they are created on the Rogue level: the base odds are 1⁄14 for normal monsters, 1⁄12 for a monster that is a lord or nasty, 1⁄10 for a monster that is an overlord or both a lord and nasty, and 1⁄8 for a monster that is both nasty and an overlord.
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. The aklys remains tethered while wielded: a wielded aklys has a maximum thrown range of 4 squares and behaves slightly like Mjollnir, returning 99% of the time when thrown. You will catch a tethered aklys 99% of the time if you are not impaired in some manner (e.g. blind, stunned, confused, etc.), and the remaining 1% of the time it will either land at your feet or hit you in the arm.
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 to you: 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.
Like polearms, the aklys is also excellent against sea monsters, since it lets you 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're also all much heavier and two-handed, which is again an important consideration for a backup weapon.
The weapon 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 1 in 99 to generate and weighs three units; for comparison, the two handed sword is the heaviest at four. This "rarity" was shared with many objects, including even the katana, and remained 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.
UnNetHack allows you to throw a wielded aklys and have it return, as in vanilla NetHack.
In SlashTHEM, you can throw a wielded aklys and have it return, as in vanilla NetHack.
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.
- src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 547
- src/dothrow.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1070
- src/dothrow.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1252
- src/dothrow.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1318
- src/dothrow.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1377
- src/dothrow.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1341
- src/dothrow.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1347
- comp.sources.games - "v02i006: nethack - display oriented dungeons and dragons, Part06/16"