Artifact weapon

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An artifact weapon is a rare unique weapon, often with special properties. It may be acquired by sacrifice, by finding in a bones file, by finding in the dungeon, by wishing for one, or at the end of a quest. Excalibur may be acquired by dipping an ordinary long sword, provided you are lawful and level 5 and it hasn't already been generated. Excalibur, Vorpal Blade and Stormbringer may be acquired by praying with very good Luck; this is known as crowning.

An artifact weapon resists being wielded as a second weapon when #twoweaponing.[1]

Any artifact weapon given to you by your god will be noncursed and erodeproof, and you will be unrestricted[2] in the appropriate weapon skill if necessary. Certain roles are guaranteed to receive a particular weapon as their first gift[3]: Valkyries receive Mjollnir, Barbarians receive Cleaver, Wizards receive Magicbane, and Samurai receive Snickersnee.

Sunsword and Demonbane might be created in the possession of a humanoid angelic creature; Archons are sure to be generated with one. Sting and Orcrist may be created by #name'ing an ordinary elven dagger or elven broadsword.

Like all other objects, you may wish for an artifact weapon. There are some caveats:

  • If two or more artifacts have already been created, there is a chance that wishing for another will fail.
  • You cannot wish for your own quest artifact, and wishing for another class's quest artifact is only useful if it is of the same alignment as you - otherwise you will be unable to pick it up. If it is of your alignment, you can use it but it will blast you.
  • More generally, an artifact of the wrong alignment has a chance of blasting you every time you attempt to pick it up or wield it. Being blasted is not dangerous unless you are low-level (it only causes a small amount of damage) but it prevents you from picking the item up if it is intelligent. (To be precise, damage is 4d10 if the artifact is intelligent and 4d4 if not intelligent.)

List of artifact weapons

See Source:artilist.h, Source:artifact.c or the article for each artifact for more details.

Mean damage is calculated before any strength, skill, and blessed bonuses. Silver damage is indicated in italics. Assumes weapon enchanted to +7. Assumes monster is susceptible to special bonuses and includes them (i.e. double damage, +damage bonuses, and extra damage from a level draining attack) with the damage to resistant monsters in parentheses, if applicable.

Artifact name Base item type Alignment[4] Intelligent Special properties Mean Damage Obtaining
Carried Wielded Invoked vs. Small vs. Large
Cleaver battle-axe (two-headed axe) neutral No +d3 to-hit & +d6 damage. 17.5 19 First sacrifice gift for Barbarians.
Demonbane long sword lawful No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to major demons. 23 (11.5) 27 (13.5) May be given to a new angelic being.
Dragonbane broadsword unaligned No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to dragons. 24 (12) 23 (11.5)
Excalibur long sword lawful Yes +d5 to-hit & +d10 damage. Drain resistance. Searching. Hostile demon princes. Monster tracking. 17 19 May be produced for lawful adventurers at fountains. Lawful crowning gift.
Fire Brand long sword unaligned No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to non-fire-resistant monsters. Fire resistance. 23 (11.5) 27 (13.5)
Frost Brand long sword unaligned No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to non-cold-resistant monsters. Cold resistance. 23 (11.5) 27 (13.5)
Giantslayer long sword neutral No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to giants. 23 (11.5) 27 (13.5)
Grayswandir silver saber lawful No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage. Protection against hallucination. 23+10.5 23+10.5
Grimtooth orcish dagger (crude dagger) chaotic No +d2 to-hit & +d6 damage. 12.5 12.5
The Longbow of Diana bow chaotic Yes Telepathy. +d5 to-hit. Reflection. Creates arrows. arrow damage arrow damage Quest artifact of Rangers.
Magicbane athame neutral No +d3 to-hit. Special damage. Magic resistance. Protects against cursing. 13.40 (10.5)[5] 12.90 (10)[5] First sacrifice gift for Wizards.
Mjollnir war hammer neutral No +d5 to-hit & +d24 damage to non-shock-resistant monsters. Can return when thrown. 23 (10.5) 22 (9.5) First sacrifice gift for Valkyries.
Ogresmasher war hammer unaligned No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to ogres. 21 (10.5) 19 (9.5)
Orcrist elven broadsword (runed broadsword) chaotic No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to orcs. 26 (13) 23 (11.5) May be produced by naming an ordinary elven broadsword Orcrist.
The Sceptre of Might mace lawful Yes Magic resistance +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to cross-aligned monsters. Conflict. 23 (11.5) 21 (10.5) Quest artifact of Cavepeople.
Snickersnee katana (samurai sword) lawful No +d8 damage. 17 18 First sacrifice gift for Samurai.
The Staff of Aesculapius quarterstaff (staff) neutral Yes x2 damage & level drain to non-drain-resistant monsters (the draining itself causes an addition 1d8 damage to both current and max hp, and restores half that to your current hp, but this damage is NOT doubled.) Hungerless regeneration. Drain resistance. Healing, cures sickness, blindness, & sliming. 25.5 (10.5) 25.5 (10.5) Quest artifact of Healers.
Sting elven dagger (runed dagger) chaotic No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to orcs. Warning of orcs. Cuts through webs. 20 (10) 18 (9) May be produced by naming an ordinary elven dagger Sting.
Stormbringer runesword chaotic Yes +d5 to-hit, +d2 damage & level drain to non-drain-resistant monsters (the draining itself causes an addition 1d8 damage to both current and max hp, and restores half that to your current hp.) Drain resistance. Bloodthirsty. 18 (12) 17.5 (11.5) Chaotic crowning gift.
Sunsword long sword lawful No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to undead. Light. Protection from light-based blinding. 23 (11.5) 27 (13.5) May be given to a new angelic being.
Trollsbane morning star unaligned No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to trolls. 24 (12) 23 (11.5)
The Tsurugi of Muramasa tsurugi (long samurai sword) lawful Yes Luck +d8 damage. 5% chance of double damage or instakill via bisection, depending on the size. instakill (20) [6] 38.85 (19.425) Quest artifact for Samurai.
Vorpal Blade long sword neutral No +d5 to-hit & +1 damage. 5% chance of beheading monsters with heads. Instantly kills jabberwocks. instakill(12.5)[6] instakill(14.5)[6] Neutral crowning gift.
Werebane silver saber unaligned No +d5 to-hit & x2 damage to werecreatures. 23+10.5 (11.5+10.5) 23+10.5 (11.5+10.5)


  1. Wield.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 493
  2. Weapon.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 994
  3. artilist.h#line43 and following
  4. The hero's quest artifact and any guaranteed sacrifice gifts are adjusted to the hero's starting alignment. For example, for a wizard who starts chaotic, Magicbane and The Eye of the Aethiopica are generated chaotic. See Source:Artifact.c#line54.
  5. 5.0 5.1 For +2 Magicbane, mean 9.48 (6.57) vs. small and 8.98 (6.07) vs. large
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Plus 5% chance of an instakill.

See also

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