Ascension kit

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The ascension kit is the nickname given to a set of items that are virtually required for a successful ascension. Most often, they are chosen for their attributes: reflection, magic resistance and cancellation, and similar. Most kits include: a unicorn horn, escape items, a luck item, a source of levitation, some ranged attacks, a source of conflict, portal detection (for the Elemental Planes). Complete your ascension kit before taking on the Wizard of Yendor.

This page contains some common suggestions for ascension kit components. You will not need everything on this page (many of the items listed are mutually exclusive), but unless attempting an unofficial conduct, you should make sure that you collect items to cover all the major attributes listed above.

Common items

Armor

Cloak

If you have magic resistance and reflection, any cloak is good enough. Greasing the cloak will protect from grabbing and drowning attacks until the grease wears off.

Body armor

Dragon scale mail, usually silver or grey: This provides either reflection or magic resistance, 9 base points of AC, and does not hinder spellcasting. Yellow dragon scale mail is another lesser possibility as it provides acid resistance, which cannot be gained intrinsically.

High-level Monks with high Luck can hit accurately enough to overcome the −20 to-hit penalty for wearing body armor.

Boots

Speed boots and jumping spell, or jumping boots and haste self / potion of speed: Dodge monsters instead of fighting them. You zap teleportation in your free move to create an alley, then jump through it, ending your turn.

Jumping is an easier spell to cast than haste self, but casting it repeatedly with the Amulet will drain your power rapidly, and failed casts can waste precious movement opportunities. With jumping boots, you haste yourself with the Amulet at your feet when not in immediate danger, to build up hundreds of turns of the effect, then pick it up and go on your way. Jumping with the boots is not subject to random failure.

For characters who lack access to either spell, extrinsic speed is generally more useful than the ability to jump, which requires clear paths through monster hordes, and conveys no combat advantage.

Water walking boots are guaranteed in Vlad's Tower, and can be swapped with other boots to easily dilute potions and scrolls.

Gloves

  • Gauntlets of power for non-spellcasters: They provide strength 25 (+6 to damage) and 1 point of base AC. Valkyries in particular can use them to throw Mjollnir and catch it again.

Neither gauntlets of power or gauntlets of dexterity are absolutely essential - if you have already found a pair of well-enchanted leather gloves, they will suffice.

Helmet

Any sufficiently enchanted piece of headgear will do; you should grease it if possible to help protect against mind flayer attacks.

Shield

  • Shield of reflection: If you are not wearing SDSM or an amulet of reflection, the shield is an ideal choice for protecting your inventory from ray attacks. The shield of reflection is a good choice for non-spellcasters, cannot rust or corrode, and provides 2 base AC.
  • Elven shield: If you already have reliable reflection from one of the other above sources and are not a spellcaster, this may be a good choice. It has a base AC of 2, and can be safely enchanted to +7, giving it the highest generally feasible AC of any shield. It is also the lightest shield out of those with base AC 2.
  • Small shield: Provides 1 base AC, but does not penalize spellcasting as much as other shields.

Shirt

  • A T-shirt or Hawaiian shirt - they are identical in practical terms and lack AC of their own, but both provide an extra piece of armor to enchant for lower AC.

Rings

Amulets

  • Amulet of life saving: If you die while wearing it, you come back with full HP instead, unless the cause of death would still kill you afterward. While not necessary, this item is quite useful - chiefly, it lets you take on more risk in the Endgame, reducing resource consumption. It also provides limited protection against YASDs from overconfidence, inattentiveness, typos, and other gameplay blunders.
  • Amulet of reflection: Some playstyles prefer to gain reflection via the amulet—you may wish to free the left hand for #twoweapon instead of the shield of reflection, or keep a robe to enhance spellcasting while wearing GDSM for magic resistance.
  • Amulet of magical breathing: Without some way to cross the Plane of Water, you're at the mercy of the bubbles' random movement. Self-polymorph is a potential(ly risky) alternative. Not recommended without an oilskin sack to protect your scrolls and potions.

Tools

Wands

Scrolls

Cursed scrolls of gold detection show all traps as $. This is useless on the Plane of Fire, which is full of fire traps. Also, traps detected as gold will vanish from the screen once they are in sight.
You could also use a crystal ball, but it freezes you for d10 turns and has possible negative effects; you could use a wand of secret door detection or the unreliable Amulet of Yendor, but it only helps if you are within eight squares of the portal.
  • Blessed scroll of remove curse: Can be useful to uncurse all items in main inventory. Uncursed scrolls only uncurse worn and wielded items.
  • Blessed scroll of charging: In case your wands run out of charges.
  • Scroll of scare monster: An excellent single-turn panic button that works against nearly all monsters. Tip it out of a container or your bag of holding. Since Elbereth does not work in Gehennom, it is the best defense against a gated Demogorgon.
  • Cursed scroll of genocide: Can be used to create cockatrices, which can be killed for their corpses to use as good weapons on the Astral Plane or the Sanctum, or else killing the Wizard of Yendor in a pinch.
  • Scrolls of blank paper: To write scrolls with your magic markers, ideally of assorted BUC.

Weapon

  • Weapon: You likely want some weapon, unless you are a conduct player. Most players choose an artifact weapon. Grayswandir, enchanted to +6 or +7, is usually considered the best. #Twoweapon with a blessed silver saber makes it even better. For all characters, any of the crowning weapons will suffice. Check your role's page (under § Strategy → Late game) for further advice.

Potions

  • Holy water: Used to bless items that are unblessed or cursed by the Wizard of Yendor, liches, and other foes. While there are a number of techniques for un-cursing your items, holy water is the only convenient route to re-blessing items that you need to be blessed (such as a bag of holding). It is advisable to carry at least five holy water in your bag.
  • Blessed potions of full healing: Quickly restores your hit points by a large amount in case of emergency. It also cures sickness, blindness, and hallucination. A reliable way to cure sickness is vital on the Astral Plane because of the Riders (read: a blessed unicorn horn might not be enough).
  • Potions of paralysis: You may wield the potion and attack in melee against Riders, none of whom resist paralysis. You will need free action to avoid paralyzing yourself.
    • A thrown potion has a (Dex/25) chance to hit, which is an appealing option for characters with extremely high dexterity. You will not paralyze yourself unless the target is adjacent. Consider that a death ray has a 65% chance to hit Famine and Pestilence.
  • Potion of speed: Gives temporary extrinsic speed, excellent for characters without speed boots. Save them for critical end game areas such as the Sanctum, Plane of Air, and the Astral Plane.
  • Blessed potion of monster detection: More powerful than extrinsic telepathy, and useful for locating Riders without blinding yourself.

Comestibles

  • K-rations and C-rations: Often dropped by the Yendorian Army, these rations provide 400 and 300 points of nutrition respectively. Both weigh only 10 units and are consumed in only one turn, making them very useful when facing Famine.
  • Lembas wafers provide 600-1000 points of nutrition each (depending on race), are eaten in 2 turns, and only weigh 5 units; they can be very effective while still running to the Planes.
  • Royal jelly found in giant beehives provides 200 nutrition, but weighs only 2 units and can heal you up to 20 HP at a time when eaten. Non-cursed royal jelly also increases strength by 1 and heals wounded legs (cursed jelly decreases strength and does not heal wounded legs).
  • Blessed tins of nurse meat: Consuming one restores you to full hit points, with some advantages and some disadvantages relative to potions of full healing.
    • First and foremost, consumption of nurse meat is cannibalism for human characters!
    • Unlike potions, tins never explode or dilute, so are always safe to carry in main inventory, even in such hostile environments as the Plane of Fire. On the other hand, even a blessed tin will take two turns to heal you (one to open and one to consume), which is slower than quaffing a potion in main inventory and no faster than retrieving a potion from a bag before quaffing.
    • A non-cursed homemade tin will always provide 50 nutrition, and can cause you to choke to death if you are satiated; this is never the case with a potion.
    • Finally, a full healing potion can only restore a maximum of 400 hit points; nurse meat always restores you to your maximum, however high that is (although it is rare to attain or need over 400 hp without alchemy or any farming in the first place).
  • Lizard corpses: For curing stoning, and can also nullify the effect of the new moon when carried in open inventory.
  • Cockatrice eggs: if you manage to obtain some, they can make short work of the Wizard and other tough monsters sans the Riders. If you rely on a quest artifact for magic resistance, this could be your backup plan in case the Wizard manages to steal it - don't forget to pack a wand of striking to extract your artifact from the statue. The eggs should be generally used in melee (wielded one at a time!), but similarly to potions of paralysis, with very high Dexterity you can try throwing them as well.
  • Footrice corpse: While perishable, if you get a fresh one just before beginning the ascension run and don't dally, it should last through the Sanctum, greatly simplifying the combat. (Make sure to avoid the guaranteed spiked pit!) A blessed partly eaten chickatrice corpse is also a common Astral Plane wish, and you can try to reverse genocide cockatrices before entering.

Luck item

Armor combinations

Reflection and magic resistance are considered essential properties for the end game. Other desirable properties are life saving, displacement, two weaponing (when available), and high magic cancellation. The following table summarizes the tradeoffs:

Body armor Cloak Amulet Shield Other Advantages Disadvantages For whom?
SDSM magic resistance life saving Gives life saving
Allows twoweaponing
No displacement
MC1
Wizards, or any character who has found a cloak of magic resistance
GDSM displacement reflection Displacement
Safe switching to robe or oilskin cloak

Allows twoweaponing

No life saving
MC1
GDSM displacement life saving reflection Gives life saving
Gives displacement

More AC from shield

No twoweaponing
MC1
Classes that cannot do two-weapon combat: caveman, healer, priest, ranger
Rogues who want backstab damage

Genocideless conduct players who want maximum protection from ;

GDSM protection life saving reflection Maximum AC
Gives life saving

Safe switching to oilskin cloak
MC3, no ring needed

No displacement
No twoweaponing
Those who want better MC and AC than provided by the cloak of displacement
GDSM robe reflection Enhanced spellcasting
MC3 with ring of protection
No life saving
No displacement
Those who need help casting spells: Priests have no spellcasting skill in many schools, and start with a robe
SDSM robe life saving MR artifact such as the Eye of Aethiopica Best spellcasting
Gives life saving
MC3 with ring of protection
Must wish for artifact
Wizard of Yendor can steal the quest artifact of other roles
No displacement
Classes that need help casting spells but can be powerful casters: knights especially (due to doubled magic missile damage; note they cannot obtain the Eye unless they convert themselves to neutral after the quest and wish for it)
Those willing to wish for artifacts
none robe reflection MR artifact such as the Eye of Aethiopica (if neutral) or The Orb of Detection (if lawful) No body armor
Best spellcasting
MC3 with ring of protection
Must wish for artifact
Wizard of Yendor can steal the quest artifact of other roles
No life saving (though can use shield of reflection instead)
Monks who are not wearing body armor because of the to-hit penalty
Other quest artifacts confer MR but don't enhance spellcasting as much
other
or
none
magic resistance reflection No body armor
No life saving
No displacement
Monks who don't want to wish for an MR artifact
Vegetarians looking for an additional resistance

Variants

SLASH'EM

For the most part, the ascension kit in SLASH'EM stays the same, with some differences.

SporkHack

One of SporkHack's main design goals was to do away with the notion of a clear-cut ascension kit, instead forcing the player to make hard and interesting choices.

For example, the other colors of DSM might be useful as well, due to their secondary effects.

UnNetHack

UnNetHack offers chromatic dragon scale mail, which provides multiple resistances including stoning.

dNetHack

The dNethack ascension kit is similar to, but more inclusive than, the vanilla ascension kit.

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

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-363}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.