An artifact is a rare and unique object with special properties not found on mundane items. No more than one of any given artifact will ever be generated in a given game; even if the original is destroyed, another cannot be made.
Every artifact is an object of a "base" type with a specific name. For example, Excalibur is a long sword named "Excalibur", and the Orb of Fate is a crystal ball named "The Orb of Fate". This is why attempting to create an artifact by giving it the appropriate name, or changing an existing artifact's name, always fails, and was the source of the naming artifacts bug.
Artifacts have their own opinions on who is fit to handle them, and may react violently to adventurers who don't meet their standards. Intelligent artifacts are especially picky, and will refuse to cooperate at all with those they deem unworthy.
Shopkeepers like to rip off adventurers who buy or sell artifacts. They charge four times normal price for them, but only pay a fourth of the normal selling price for them. Thus, one should use a pet to steal any artifacts generated in shops, and never sell them unless desperate for cash.
Randomly-generated weapons have a 5% chance of being made an artifact, provided an artifact of the base type exists and is eligible for generation. Quest artifacts can't be generated this way.
An artifact weapon is a possible reward for sacrifice. Some roles have a particular artifact specified, which will always be the first one granted this way if it hasn't already been generated. Otherwise, you can receive any artifact eligible for random generation which doesn't contradict your alignment. Crowning may also grant an alignment-dependent artifact weapon. The choice of potential artifact gifts is an important factor in choosing your character's alignment if you're not pursuing the atheist conduct.
Wishing is an option if you want a specific artifact that you aren't likely to get by other means, such as another role's quest artifact. There's a possibility of not getting your wish, however.
Bones levels may contain artifacts. Any artifact which was already generated, or your own quest artifact, will be replaced by its base item type, but others will be intact.
List of artifacts
- See Source:artilist.h or the article for each artifact for more details.
|Artifact name||Base item type||Alignment||Intelligent||Special properties||Obtaining|
|Carried||Used (Worn, Wielded, Applied, or Read)||Invoked|
|Cleaver||battle-axe (two-headed axe)||neutral||No||+d3 to-hit & +d6 damage. Arc-swing hits up to 3 monsters at once||First sacrifice gift for Barbarians.|
|Demonbane||long sword||lawful||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to major demons.||May be given to a new angelic being.|
|Dragonbane||broadsword||unaligned||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to dragons. Reflection.|
|Excalibur||long sword||lawful||Yes||+d5 to-hit & +d10 damage. Drain resistance. Searching. Hostile demon princes. Monsters track player.||May be produced for lawful adventurers at fountains. Lawful crowning gift.|
|The Eye of the Aethiopica||amulet of ESP (random amulet)||neutral||Yes||Energy regeneration. Half spell damage.||Magic resistance. Telepathy.||Branchport.||Quest artifact of Wizards.|
|The Eyes of the Overworld||pair of lenses||neutral||Yes||Astral vision. Protection against blindness & gazes. Magic resistance.||Enlightenment.||Quest artifact of Monks.|
|Fire Brand||long sword||unaligned||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to non-fire-resistant monsters. Fire resistance.|
|Frost Brand||long sword||unaligned||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to non-cold-resistant monsters. Cold resistance.|
|Giantslayer||long sword||neutral||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to giants.|
|Grayswandir||silver saber||lawful||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage. Protection against hallucination. Silver damage|
|Grimtooth||orcish dagger (crude dagger)||chaotic||No||+d2 to-hit & +d6 damage.|
|The Heart of Ahriman||luckstone (random gray stone)||neutral||Yes||Stealth.||As projectile, +d5 to-hit & x2 damage.||Levitation.||Quest artifact of Barbarians.|
|The Longbow of Diana||bow||chaotic||Yes||Telepathy.||+d5 to-hit. Reflection.||Create arrows.||Quest artifact of Rangers.|
|The Magic Mirror of Merlin||mirror (looking glass)||lawful||Yes||Magic resistance. Telepathy. x2 to some spell damage.||Rumors.||Quest artifact of Knights.|
|Magicbane||athame||neutral||No||+d3 to-hit. Special damage. Magic resistance. Protects against cursing.||First sacrifice gift for Wizards.|
|The Master Key of Thievery||skeleton key (key)||chaotic||Yes||Warning. Half physical damage. Teleport control.||Rumors. As of 3.6.1, automatically untraps when used to unlock.||Untraps.||Quest artifact of Rogues.|
|The Mitre of Holiness||helm of brilliance (random helmet)||lawful||Yes||Fire resistance.||Protection. Half damage from undead & demons.||Energy boost.||Quest artifact of Priests.|
|Mjollnir||war hammer||neutral||No||+d5 to-hit & +d24 damage to non-shock-resistant monsters. Can return when thrown.||First sacrifice gift for Valkyries.|
|Ogresmasher||war hammer||unaligned||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to ogres. 25 constitution.|
|The Orb of Detection||crystal ball (glass orb)||lawful||Yes||Magic resistance. Half spell damage. Telepathy.||Invisibility.||Quest artifact of Archeologists.|
|The Orb of Fate||crystal ball (glass orb)||neutral||Yes||Half physical damage. Half spell damage. Warning. Luck.||Level teleport.||Quest artifact of Valkyries.|
|Orcrist||elven broadsword (runed broadsword)||chaotic||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to orcs.||May be produced by naming an ordinary elven broadsword Orcrist.|
|The Platinum Yendorian Express Card||credit card||neutral||Yes||Magic resistance. Half spell damage. Telepathy.||Charging.||Quest artifact of Tourists.|
|The Sceptre of Might||mace||lawful||Yes||(Magic resistance prior to v3.6.0)||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to cross-aligned monsters. Magic resistance||Conflict.||Quest artifact of Cavepeople.|
|Snickersnee||katana (samurai sword)||lawful||No||+d8 damage.||First sacrifice gift for Samurai.|
|The Staff of Aesculapius||quarterstaff (staff)||neutral||Yes||x2 damage & level drain to non-drain-resistant monsters. Hungerless regeneration. Drain resistance.||Healing, cures sickness, blindness, & sliming.||Quest artifact of Healers.|
|Sting||elven dagger (runed dagger)||chaotic||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to orcs. Warning of orcs. Cuts through webs.||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. Drain resistance. Bloodthirsty.||Chaotic crowning gift.|
|Sunsword||long sword||lawful||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to undead. Light. Protection from light-based blinding.||May be given to a new angelic being.|
|Trollsbane||morning star||unaligned||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to trolls. Prevents trolls from reviving.|
|The Tsurugi of Muramasa||tsurugi (long samurai sword)||lawful||Yes||Luck.||Protection. +d8 damage. 5% chance of bisection.||Quest artifact for Samurai.|
|Vorpal Blade||long sword||neutral||No||+d5 to-hit & +1 damage. 5% chance of beheading (100% for jabberwocks).||Neutral crowning gift.|
|Werebane||silver saber||unaligned||No||+d5 to-hit & x2 damage to werecreatures. Silver damage|
Although similar to artifacts in some respects, these items are implemented as unique item types, rather than base items with names. Wishing for one doesn't violate artifact-wishless conduct (and also doesn't work, except in wizard mode). They will always be replaced by different items in bones piles. The only things they have in common with true artifacts is that they're unique, and they add to your score if you ascend with them.
|Artifact name||Bones replacement||Special properties||Obtaining|
|Carried||Used (Worn, Wielded, Applied, or Read)|
|Amulet of Yendor||cheap plastic imitation of the Amulet of Yendor||many||Find endgame portals. Sacrifice to win the game!||Obtained from the high priest of Moloch.|
|Bell of Opening||bell||Invocation ritual. Detect secret doors & traps. Opening.||Obtained from your quest nemesis.|
|Book of the Dead||spellbook of blank paper||Invocation ritual. Tame undead. Raise the dead.||Obtained from the Wizard of Yendor.|
|Candelabrum of Invocation||stack of candles||Invocation ritual. Radius 4 light.||Obtained from Vlad the Impaler.|
- Itlachiayaque replaces the Orb of Detection as the archaeologist quest artifact.
- The Iron Ball of Liberation is the quest artifact for the convict role.
- Thiefbane is carried by One-eyed Sam in the Black Market. Be very afraid.
- Giantslayer is instead a sling that grants 18/** strength when wielded. The strength bonus remains when the sling is exchanged to the alternate weapon slot.
- Dragonbane is instead a dwarvish spear that confers all dragon-breath resistances (instead of reflection) when wielded.
- shk.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 2008
- shk.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 3118
- mkobj.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 762
- 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.