From NetHackWiki
(Redirected from Armour)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Armor is a common type of item that is worn to improve your armor class, making it one of the primary elements standing between your hero and death.

Some types of armor may also provide "magic cancellation" on top of their AC bonus, as shown in the table below. There are 7 slots for armor: helm, cloak, body armor, shirt, shield, gloves/gauntlets, and boots. Some armor items reduce your ability to cast spells successfully, particularly shields and metal suits.

Armor and beatitude

If you put on cursed armor, or if it is cursed while you are wearing it, you will be unable to take it off; the item will be identified as cursed when you try to remove it. Cursed gloves will also prevent you from putting on or removing rings. A cursed suit of body armor prevents you from unequipping shirts, and a cursed cloak prevents you from unequipping suits and shirts.

The inconvenience of cursed armor is amplified by the fact that armor generated cursed often also has negative enchantment. This is why it is a good idea to check the BUC of a piece of armor before wearing it.

The effects of blessed armor are minor. Blessed armor is more resistant to curses, because it must be made unblessed before it can become cursed. Blessed armor also has a chance of resisting some sources of erosion. Blessed gloves and boots will do 1d4 extra damage to undead and major demons when fighting bare-handed or kicking (this is mostly relevant for monks). Further, armor generated blessed has a higher chance of an enchantment.

Blessings and curses do not affect the magical abilities of most pieces of armor. A notable exception is a cursed oilskin cloak, which will only protect you from grabbing attacks 2/3 of the time. Similarly, any grease present on cursed armor will only prevent grabbing or mind-flaying attacks 2/3 of the time.


Four items - the helm of opposite alignment, gauntlets of fumbling, fumble boots, and levitation boots - use the following generation odds: 90.45% cursed, 8.6% uncursed, and 0.95% blessed.[1] These are negatively enchanted 90% of the time, and positively enchanted 1% of the time.

Other randomly generated armor is generated with the following odds: 12.31% cursed, 78.96% uncursed, and 8.72% blessed.[2] Below is a table describing the total probability of beatitude and enchantment:

+0 +1 +2 +3 +4 >+4
Blessed 4.13% 3.06% 1.02% 0.34% 0.11% 0.06%
Uncursed 74.37% 3.06% 1.02% 0.34% 0.11% 0.06%
+0 -1 -2 -3 -4 <-4
Cursed 4.13% 5.45% 1.82% 0.61% 0.20% 0.10%

Given the BUC status, the chance of enchantment is:

+0 +1 +2 +3 +4 >+4
Blessed 47.37% 35.09% 11.70% 3.90% 1.30% 0.65%
Uncursed 94.19% 3.88% 1.29% 0.43% 0.14% 0.07%
+0 -1 -2 -3 -4 <-4
Cursed 33.55% 44.30% 14.77% 4.92% 1.64% 0.82%

Monsters, pets, and armor

Some types of monsters can wear armor and profit from a subset of its magical capabilities.[3] Pets are of main interest here.

  • If a monster is polymorphed while wearing dragon scale (mail), it will always turn into the appropriately colored dragon. Since monster polymorphing is permanent in NetHack, the armor is lost.

Monsters know armor enchantment and will switch to maximize total armor value, taking into account the base AC an item confers, the enchantment, and erosion, but not the BUC status.[5][6] Non-fast monsters will prefer speed boots to any other boots.[7]. However, tame monsters do not pick up any cursed objects.

Table of armor and properties

Source code reference: [8]

Item Slot Cost Weight AC Weight per AC (+0) Max AC[9] Weight per max AC Material Effect MC Prob[10] (‰) Magical Appearance Turns to (un)equip[11]
Hawaiian shirt shirt 3 5 0 5 1.0 cloth Shop 8 0
T-shirt shirt 2 5 0 5 1.0 cloth Shop 2 0
leather jacket body armor 10 30 1 30 6 5.0 leather 12 0
leather armor body armor 5 150 2 75 7 21 leather 1 82 3
orcish ring mail body armor 80 250 2 125 7 36 iron 1 20 crude ring mail 5
studded leather armor body armor 15 200 3 67 8 25 leather 1 72 3
ring mail body armor 100 250 3 83 8 31 iron 1 72 5
scale mail body armor 45 250 4 63 9 28 iron 1 72 5
orcish chain mail body armor 75 300 4 75 9 33 iron 1 20 crude chain mail 5
chain mail body armor 75 300 5 60 10 30 iron 1 72 5
elven mithril-coat body armor 240 150 5 30 12 13 mithril 2 15 1
splint mail body armor 80 400 6 67 11 36 iron 1 62 5
banded mail body armor 90 350 6 58 11 32 iron 1 72 5
dwarvish mithril-coat body armor 240 150 6 25 11 14 mithril 2 10 1
bronze plate mail body armor 400 450 6 75 11 41 copper 1 25 5
plate mail (tanko) body armor 600 450 7 64 12 38 iron 2 44 5
crystal plate mail body armor 820 450 7 64 12 38 glass 2 10 5
dragon scales body armor 500 40 3 13 8 5.0 dragon hide Resist% 5
dragon scale mail body armor 900 40 9 4.4 14 2.9 dragon hide Resist% Yes 5
mummy wrapping cloak 2 3 0 5 0.6 cloth Vis 1 0
orcish cloak cloak 40 10 0 5 2.0 cloth 1 8 coarse mantelet 0
dwarvish cloak cloak 50 10 0 5 2.0 cloth 1 8 hooded cloak 0
leather cloak cloak 40 15 1 15 6 2.5 leather 1 8 0
cloak of displacement cloak 50 10 1 10 6 1.7 cloth Displ 1 10 Yes *piece of cloth 0
oilskin cloak cloak 50 10 1 10 6 1.7 cloth Water 2 8 slippery cloak 0
alchemy smock cloak 50 10 1 10 6 1.7 cloth Poi+Acd 1 9 Yes apron 0
cloak of invisibility cloak 60 10 1 10 6 1.7 cloth Invis 1 10 Yes *opera cloak 0
cloak of magic resistance cloak 60 10 1 10 6 1.7 cloth Magic 1 2 Yes *ornamental cope 0
elven cloak cloak 60 10 1 10 8 1.3 cloth Stealth 1 8 Yes faded pall 0
robe cloak 50 15 2 7.5 7 2.1 cloth Spell1 2 3 Yes 0
cloak of protection cloak 50 10 3 3.3 8 1.3 cloth Prot 3 9 Yes *tattered cape 0
fedora helm 1 3 0 5 0.6 cloth 0
dunce cap helm 1 4 0 5 0.8 cloth Stupid 3 Yes conical hat 1
cornuthaum helm 80 4 0 7 Wizard,
5 others
0.57 Wizard,
0.80 others
cloth Clair 1 3 Yes conical hat 1
dented pot helm 8 10 1 10 6 1.7 iron 2 0
elven leather helm helm 8 3 1 3.0 8 0.38 leather 6 leather hat 1
helmet (kabuto) helm 10 30 1 30 6 5.0 iron 10 *plumed helmet 1
orcish helm helm 10 30 1 30 6 5.0 iron 6 iron skull cap 1
helm of brilliance helm 50 50 1 50 6 8.3 iron Int+Wis 6 Yes *etched helmet 1
helm of opposite alignment helm 50 50 1 50 6 8.3 iron Align 6 Yes *crested helmet 1
helm of telepathy helm 50 50 1 50 6 8.3 iron ESP 2 Yes *visored helmet 1
dwarvish iron helm helm 20 40 2 20 7 5.7 iron 6 hard hat 1
leather gloves (yugake) gloves 8 10 1 10 6 1.7 leather 16 *old gloves 1
gauntlets of dexterity gloves 50 10 1 10 6 1.7 leather Dex 8 Yes *padded gloves 1
gauntlets of fumbling gloves 50 10 1 10 6 1.7 leather Fumble 8 Yes *riding gloves 1
gauntlets of power gloves 50 30 1 30 6 5.0 iron Str 8 Yes *fencing gloves 1
small shield shield 3 30 1 30 6 5.0 wood Spell2 6 0
orcish shield shield 7 50 1 50 6 8.3 iron 2 red-eyed shield 0
Uruk-hai shield shield 7 50 1 50 6 8.3 iron 2 white-handed shield 0
elven shield shield 7 40 2 20 9 4.4 wood 2 blue and green shield 0
dwarvish roundshield shield 10 100 2 50 7 14 iron 4 large round shield 0
large shield shield 10 100 2 50 7 14 iron 7 0
shield of reflection shield 50 50 2 25 7 7.1 silver Reflect 3 Yes polished silver 0
low boots boots 8 10 1 10 6 1.7 leather 25 walking shoes 2
elven boots boots 8 15 1 15 8 1.9 leather Stealth 12 Yes *mud boots 2
kicking boots boots 8 50 1 50 6 8.3 iron Kick 12 Yes *buckled boots 2
fumble boots boots 30 20 1 20 6 3.3 leather Fumble 12 Yes *riding boots 2
levitation boots boots 30 15 1 15 6 2.5 leather Lev 12 Yes *snow boots 2
jumping boots boots 50 20 1 20 6 3.3 leather Jump 12 Yes *hiking boots 2
speed boots boots 50 20 1 20 6 3.3 leather Speed 12 Yes *combat boots 2
water walking boots boots 50 20 1 20 6 3.3 leather WWalk 12 Yes *jungle boots 2
high boots boots 12 20 2 10 7 2.9 leather 15 jackboots 2
iron shoes boots 16 50 2 25 7 7.1 iron 7 hard shoes 2


Those listed with an asterisk (*) are randomized within their armor category.
Boots with the appearance "snow boots" prevent ice from causing you to fumble.
Gloves and boots with the appearance "riding gloves" and "riding boots" give a (non-cumulative) bonus to the chance of successfully saddling a steed.
Helmets with the appearance "visored helmet" provide defence against the blinding attack of ravens and the spitting attack of cobras.


Align Changes your alignment, removes protection, and auto-curses.
Clair A Wizard gets clairvoyance and +1 charisma; other characters have existing clairvoyance blocked and get −1 charisma.
Dex Adds armor's enchantment to your dexterity.
Displ Gives displacement.
ESP Gives telepathy.
Fumble You will occasionally fumble.
Int+Wis Adds armor's enchantment to your intelligence and wisdom.
Invis Gives invisibility.
Jump Gives jumping at will. The special restrictions for Knights do not apply while this item is worn.
Kick Kicking does additional damage, and grants martial arts bonuses.
Lev Causes levitation. Does not prevent you being drowned by monsters.
Magic Gives magic resistance. Does not affect magic cancellation.
Poi+Acd Gives poison resistance and acid resistance.
Reflect Gives reflection.
Resist% Dragon scales provide an extrinsic according to the color of the dragon.
Shop If not covered by body armor or cloak, shopkeepers consider you a "sucker" and offer worse prices (see Price identification § Price derivation for details).
Speed Gives you the speed extrinsic, the same as a potion of speed or the haste self spell.
Spell1 Player spellcasting is more likely to succeed, and reduces the penalty for metallic armor.
Spell2 Does not limit spellcasting as much as other shields.
Stealth Gives stealth.
Str Increases your strength to 25.
Stupid Your intelligence and wisdom are fixed at 6; auto-curses; shopkeepers consider you a "sucker" and offer worse prices.
Vis Suppresses invisibility.
Water Protects metal body armor from rusting or corroding (13 chance of protection if cursed) and prevents grabbing attacks.
WWalk Allows you to walk on water. Does not prevent you being drowned by monsters.

The "magical" property some armor has is only important to polypiling: non-magical armor will tend to stay non-magical, and vice-versa.

Modifying armor class

See also: Scroll of enchant armor; Erosion

Enchantment increases (or decreases) the effective armor class (AC) bonus from wearing armor. Most armor will not be destroyed when enchanted beginning from +3. If a blessed scroll of enchant armor is used, then the new enchantment may reach +5. If only +4 is reached, the armor can be degraded to +3 with drain life magic or a disenchanter attack, and then an attempt made to enchant it again. Elven armor may be safely enchanted from +5, reaching up to +7. A wizard may also safely enchant a cornuthaum from +5. Attempting to enchant from higher enchantments has a high chance of destroying the item.

Eroded only affects the base AC and armor will still keep the full AC bonus from enchantment. Thus if enchantment scrolls are scarce, it is often better to use them to add enchantment than to erodeproof items, especially for items with low base AC.


See also: Ascension kit

A careful selection of armor is part of the typical ascension kit. NetHack players may choose a combination of armor that conveys magic resistance, high magic cancellation, reflection, various intrinsics and bonuses, and, of course, high AC.

Losing your armor

Since armor is neccessary for survival, and it takes lot of efforts to obtain a good armor, losing it can be very painful. There are several ways you can lose your armor.

Changing shape

If you change shape through any means into any form that is Large or bigger (Medium or bigger for non-humanoid forms), a winged gargoyle or marilith (wings and extra arms don't fit), your torso armor (body armor, a shirt and/or a cloak) will burst apart, destroying the items.

As an exception, if you polymorph into a dragon while wearing dragon scale mail (or dragon scales) of the same color, it will not burst apart. Instead, it will merge into your scales. When you return to your original form, you will get it back. If enchanced above +3, it may evaporate when you return to your original form. Your shirt and cloak will tear as usual. See Dragon scale mail § Polymorph for more information.

If you polymorph into a whirly monster (all v's and air elemental), however, your torso armor will not tear, since all whirly monsters also lack a solid form.

Polymorphing and prevention

While potions and wands of polymorph can be dealt with through the usual methods of testing (e.g. engraving and dipping, avoiding quaffing randomly, etc.), polymorph traps are an obstacle to any player since they may step on one unexpectedly. In addition to the usual means of checking and avoiding traps, polymorph traps can be dealt with in the following manner:

  • Gray dragon scale mail, cloak of magic resistance, Magicbane, and some quest artifacts provide magic resistance, which protects you from polymorph traps.
  • Wearing an amulet of unchanging prevents you from changing your current form by polymorph or other means, and also protects you from being slimed.
  • Wearing a ring of polymorph control while stepping on a polymorph trap will prompt you to enter what monster you want to polymorph into. Enter the name of a monster who you know will not compromise body armor; gargoyles (not winged gargoyle) are a good choice. The usual polyself tips are also applicable.
  • As mentioned above, stepping on a polymorph trap while wearing dragon scale mail or dragon scales will polymorph the player into a same-color dragon, though the scales may evaporate upon reverting to normal form if they were enchanted; while they can be restored to mail using a scroll of enchant armor, this is usually less desirable overall since the player might not have a chance to remove their other body armor before hand.


Being bitten by a werecreature will give the player lycanthropy, which causes involuntary shapeshifting into that creature's form; if bitten by a werewolf, the transformation into a wolf will destroy body armor. This cannot be prevented with magic resistance.

The lycanthropy page goes into more detail for dealing with its adverse effects. Generally, players should pay attention while fighting a werewolf to see if it bites them, and take the appropriate measures available (e.g. prayer, wolfsbane, holy water, etc.)

Polymorph control and amulet of unchanging prevent the transformation as in the previous section.

Scrolls of destroy armor

Reading unidentified scrolls is generally a bad idea, since you may read a scroll of destroy armor and possibly lose a vital piece of protection as a result. Price identification can partly mitigate this by at least helping a player recognize the scroll's price range and avoiding it. If a player is determined to test a random scroll for some reason, they can simply remove any armor except for common "throwaway" items such as an orcish helm before reading it. Shirt and body armor can be protected by a "throwaway" cloak, since the scroll does not destroy other torso armor if the player is wearing a cloak.

Scrolls of enchant armor

The scroll of enchant armor has the potential to vaporize a piece of armor being worn if it is enchanted above +3; elven armor may safely be enchanted at +5 or lower, and this also applies to cornuthaums if the player is a wizard.

Monster spells

Monsters in lower levels of the dungeon may cast the destroy armor spell on the player, with the same effect as the scroll. This includes liches and golden nagas, who may be the first such examples a player encounters. There are several ways to prevent this:

  • Magic resistance (from gray dragon scale mail, cloak of magic resistance, and some quest artifacts) completely nullifies the spell effects.
  • Cancelling the offender will prevent them from casting any spells.
  • Liches are high on the list of genocide candidates, and thus are often removed as a threat as soon as possible.
  • If a monster is confused, the spell has lower chances to succeed (see monster spell for more information).
  • As with scrolls of destroy armor, wearing a "spare" cloak (such as a dwarvish cloak for non-dwarven characters) over your armor can protect it by giving the spell something else to target, though this is not as viable if the player cannot dispose of the monster quickly.


Black dragons can fire blasts of disintegration, as can the Chromatic Dragon, and a sufficiently angered god will attempt to smite a player with a wide-angle disintegration beam if the initial lightning bolt they use fails. Disintegration blasts from dragons will destroy worn shields, worn body armor including cloaks, and the player themselves (along with shirts and cloaks) in order of priority.[12][13]

Reflection and disintegration resistance can protect your shield, cloak, body armor and shirt from the former; worn pieces of armor that provides either extrinsically will be protected from both and, in the case of body armor or cloaks, protects shirts worn under them. Disintegration resistance can be acquired as an intrinsic by eating the corpse of a black dragon, and may also be granted with a ~17% by eating the corpse of the Chromatic Dragon for cavemen (though note that her corpse is poisonous). Black dragon scales or scale mail can provide extrinsic disintegration resistance.

For detailed advice on dealing with an angry god and how to avoid angering one in the first place, see the article section on smiting.



UnNetHack adds new pieces of armor:

The names, colors, and breath types of dragons other than chromatic dragons are randomized. Scales from "glowing dragons" act as a light source, in addition to whatever resistance they confer.

Racial armor tracking is implemented. The number of pieces of equipment worn that are associated with your starting race is tracked as a conduct. Also, every worn piece of racial armor gives an extra point of AC.


SporkHack adds several new items, including:


Armor generally weighs more in FIQHack than in vanilla. However, wearing a piece of armor decreases its weight by half.

Dragon scale mail weighs 300 (150 if worn) instead of vanilla's 40.

If your outermost armor is greased, you can squeeze through tight diagonal spaces with twice as much inventory as in vanilla.

Encyclopedia entry

"The last spot on the school jousting team came down to another boy and me. He was poor, and his only armor was a blanket his mother had made him from her hair. I, on the other hand, had a brand new suit of chain mail. Just before our joust, I asked him what he'd do if he made the team. (I was hoping to be more popular with the ladies.) He said he would be able to save the town from dragons and be able to afford some water for his 20 brothers and sisters.

Well, a sense of compassion came over me. I insisted we swap armor. He was forced to accept, as it would have been an insult not to do so.

On the battlefield, we charged at each other and we both connected with our lances.

Lying there on the mud mortally wounded, I learned what true armor class was that day."

[ When Help Collides, by J. D. Berry ]


  1. src/mkobj.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 993
  2. src/mkobj.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1000
  3. update_mon_intrinsics in worn.c
  4. src/mhitm.c in NetHack 3.6.1, line 920
  5. worn.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 571
  6. hack.h in NetHack 3.6.0, line 396
  7. worn.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 939
  8. src/objects.c in NetHack 3.6.6, line 310
  9. Maximum practical AC with enchantment, which is +5 for most armor and +7 for elven armor or a wizard-enchanted cornuthaum. It is technically possible for armor to be enchanted further, but with a high risk of vaporization.
  10. Probability of the object appearing when generating a random armor item. Mostly relevant for polypiling, since the majority of armor is generated as part of monster starting inventory, which does not respect these odds. Some items, notably dragon armor, cannot be generated randomly at all.
  11. This is the number of actual turns that the turn counter will be incremented by while equipping the item, even if you are fast. It will still take at least one player action to equip an item. This is relevant for the 0-turn items, which will always take one action to equip, but might not increment the turn counter if you are fast.
  12. src/zap.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 3593
  13. src/zap.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 3450

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

Redistribution, copying, and editing of these spoilers, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  1. The original contributors to any spoiler must continue to be credited.
  2. Any modifications to the spoiler must be acknowledged and credited.

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-364}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.