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), and perhaps augmented attributes, either intelligence and wisdom, dexterity, or strength. Complete your ascension kit before taking on the Wizard of Yendor. Because the Wizard may wake up early, it is safest to complete your kit before venturing below Vlad's Tower.
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 cover all the major attribute listed above in the items you select.
- 1 Common items
- 2 Armor combinations
- 3 Variants
- Cloak of magic resistance: Provides magic resistance, magic cancellation 1, and 1 base point of AC. Magic resistance is necessary in the endgame, and the quest artifact is unreliable as the Wizard may steal it.
- Cloak of displacement: Provides displacement, MC1 and 1 AC. Displacement helps keep you from being surrounded by making monsters waste moves attacking empty space.
- Robe: Provides enhanced spellcasting, MC2, and 2 AC. Commonly combined with GDSM and an amulet of reflection, or SDSM and a wished-for quest artifact that provides magic resistance.
- Cloak of protection: Gives MC3 by itself, and 3 AC, but does not provide the special benefits of the above cloaks. Should be erodeproofed to protect its natural AC bonus.
Whatever your choice, you should grease the cloak against drowning attacks.
You do not need an oilskin cloak if you have MC3. Instead, you can simply teleport the water monster or couatl away immediately when it wraps itself around you. You have one turn before it drowns you. Break the wand if you are stunned or confused. If you are burdened, it's your own fault—you may not get to act on that turn. Make sure to keep one wand fully identified as having charges; an un-ID'd wand may be empty, resulting in your death.
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 an acid resistance which cannot be gained intrinsically.
High-level Monks can hit accurately enough to overcome the −20 to-hit penalty for wearing body armor, but most Monks can get by without.
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. Other combinations of speed and jumping also work, but are less effective.
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.
- Gauntlets of power, if not a spellcaster: They provide strength 25 (+6 to damage) and 1 point of base AC. Valkyries in particular can benefit from gauntlets of power, since this allows them to throw Mjollnir and catch it again.
- Gauntlets of dexterity or leather gloves for spellcasters because you might need to wield a cockatrice corpse. The dexterity bonus does not matter much if you are at your racial maximum, unless you are a monk with a −20 to-hit penalty from body armor.
It's likely that you've found a pair of well-enchanted leather gloves at this point. Neither gauntlets of power or gauntlets of dexterity are absolutely essential, so consider keeping what you have rather than wishing for magical gloves.
- Helm of opposite alignment: For switching alignments at the last minute.
- Helm of telepathy: For characters who wish to use telepathy while non-blind.
- Helm of brilliance: Does not hinder spellcasting and increases intelligence and wisdom by its enchantment.
- Elven leather helm: Does not hinder spellcasting, provides base AC 1, and can be safely enchanted up to +7, giving a higher potential AC boost than any other helm. Its weight of 3 is also much less than the others' 50.
Any enchanted, greased piece of headgear will do. You should grease it to help protect against mind flayer attacks.
- Shield of reflection: If you are not wearing SDSM or an amulet of reflection, you need another source of reflection; otherwise lightning attacks can explode rings and wands, cold attacks can freeze potions, etc. The shield 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 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: Can be great for spellcasters who are wearing a robe. Provides base AC of 1, but can be safely enchanted to +5. It's made of wood, so you might also want to fireproof it.
- T-shirt or Hawaiian shirt, the only choices. They are, in practical terms, identical and both provide an extra piece of armor to enchant, for lower AC. Unenchanted, they provide 0 AC reduction.
- Ring of levitation: Players must be levitating or flying to move usefully on the Plane of Air. A single blessed potion of levitation will carry you through the endgame. Levitation boots are less desirable than speed boots or jumping boots. The Heart of Ahriman is an alternative to the ring. Levitation is also helpful but not necessary on the Plane of Fire. You can walk to the portal if you really have to, and fireproof boots of water walking are also an option. Still, most players levitate, and most levitating players use the ring.
- Ring of conflict: Makes monsters fight each other instead of you. A minor disadvantage is that the pet guardian angel on the Astral Plane will be replaced with some hostile angels if you arrive wearing the ring, or wear it in its presence. (But they will probably fight each other, and the guardian angel isn't a good pet at this point anyway).
- Ring of teleport control or other source of teleport control: If you have teleportitis, very important. Also very useful for controlled level teleport between the Wizard's Tower and the vibrating square, or the vibrating square and Moloch's Sanctum, or from anywhere to your stash if not using the Eye of the Aethiopica.
- Ring of free action: Prevents paralysis from a number of sources. Not the same as sleep resistance. Combine the two to prevent those annoying "while helpless" deaths.
- Ring of protection: For characters with MC2 from armor, extrinsic protection reduces the success rates of cancellable attacks by 75%. Makes paralysis, life drain, lycanthropy, sliming, and disenchanting attacks much less of a threat. Characters with strong ranged attacks may be able to deal with such monsters before they can close to melee range, but monster summoning (especially of nasties) is still an issue.
- 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 YASD from overconfidence, inattentiveness, typos, and other gameplay blunders.
- Amulet of reflection: Some playstyles would 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 instead of a cloak of magic resistance (gaining magic resistance from GDSM instead).
- 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.
- Blessed unicorn horn: Can be applied to cure sickness caused by Pestilence, not to mention all of the status ailments you might pick up otherwise. An absolute must.
- Towel or blindfold: Put one of these on to become blind and use intrinsic telepathy if you have it. It lets you avoid stunning from Archons. It's a good idea to bless your towel or blindfold as an extra layer of protection against cursing.
- 7 candles: These must be attached to the Candelabrum as part of the Invocation Ritual.
- Can of grease in case you need to re-grease your headgear or cloak after a mind flaying or drowning attack.
- Crystal ball, mostly only if illiterate: Apply it (while engulfed) to find the location of the portals on the Elemental Planes. Others normally use gold detection.
- A container for storing your things: sack, oilskin sack, bag of holding if you are experiencing weight problems.
- Magic markers if you have any left.
- A tooled horn, bugle or leather drum will cause monsters to flee from you, which is useful to avoid being engulfed by the air elementals on the Plane of Air.
- A light source, mostly for jumping on the Astral Plane. To fully make use of Skilled or Expert jumping spell, you will need the Candelabrum; otherwise any lamp will suffice. Make sure you have one that's not low on oil.
- Wand of teleportation: Can be zapped (even on non-teleport levels!) at monsters or objects to make them go away. Very useful when trying to get to a high altar or get rid of air elementals. When surrounded on a non-teleport level, breaking one can give you room to maneuver. Zapping a rider or its corpse will usually move it adjacent to you, but possibly adjacent in the direction you came from.
- Wand of death: Pestilence, Famine, and the Wizard of Yendor are all vulnerable to wands of death, as are other Endgame baddies: air elementals, player monsters, etc. (Do not zap Death with a wand of death.)
- Wands of digging: You will need several wands of digging for the Plane of Earth, and one to raze the doors on the Astral Plane. You could also use a pick-axe, but that is much too slow, and the ground there very often forms earth elementals when dug. You may need fewer wands if you have the spell of digging.
- Wand of secret door detection: Very useful for finding the secret door in Moloch's Sanctum, as well as finding the portal on the Plane of Water or finding it again on the Plane of Air if you used a cursed scroll of gold detection.
- Wand of cancellation: Best kept in a separate bag, it can be used to uncurse a bag of holding in case of emergency.
- Wands of fire: Burn Elbereth when surrounded by nasties, or cure sliming.
- Wand of wishing if it still has charges—and as long as it still exists, it has at least one (unless it has been cancelled).
- Scroll of gold detection: You want four or more to discover the locations of the portals on the Elemental Planes. The best solution is to read a scroll of gold detection while confused, which will detect and identify traps. However, it takes a turn to read the scroll, and another turn or more to cure confusion using a unicorn horn. Confusion usually comes from a forgotten spell, which takes no game-time but can stun you, or a cursed scroll of confuse monster, a potion of confusion, or a cursed unicorn horn.
- 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.
- Scrolls of blank paper of assorted BUC, to go with magic markers.
- 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. A comprehensive discussion on weapon selection is beyond the scope of this page.
- Athame: Its ability to engrave Elbereth in one turn can be helpful.
- 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. If you're particularly worried about curse-casting foes, individually name your holy water. It makes it less likely that all of them will be cursed and you'll be unable to uncurse your gear when you need to.
- Blessed potions of full healing: Quickly restores your hitpoints 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).
- A potion of acid: For curing stoning, especially for conduct players who cannot eat lizard corpses.
- Potions of paralysis: paralyzing Riders delays them for about as long as killing them would; with 23 Dexterity, a thrown potion has a much higher chance of hitting than a wand of death (not accounting for rebounds), and, unlike the latter, works on Death.
- K-rations and C-rations: Often dropped by the Yendorian military members, these rations provide 400 and 300 points of nutrition respectively. Both are consumed in only one turn making this type of food very useful when facing Famine; both weigh 10.
- Lembas wafers provide 800 points of nutrition each and are eaten in 2 turns, weigh 5. Can be very effective while still running to the planes.
- Royal jelly found in giant beehives provides 200 nutrition, but weighs only 2. These can actually 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. A useful item for healing yourself, 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.
- A blessed luckstone. Alternatively, a blessed quest artifact that acts as a luckstone (for example, The Tsurugi of Muramasa or The Orb of Fate).
Reflection and magic resistance are considered essential properties for the end game. Other desirable properties are life saving, displacement, two weaponing (when available), high magic cancellation, and a slippery cloak (oilskin being the most reliable option). The following table summarises the tradeoffs:
|Body armor||Cloak||Amulet||Shield||Other||Advantages||Disadvantages||For whom?|
|SDSM||magic resistance||life saving||Gives life saving
|MC1||Wizards, or any character who has found a cloak of magic resistance|
Safe switching to robe or oilskin cloak
|No life saving|
|GDSM||displacement||life saving||reflection||Gives life saving
More AC from shield
|Classes that cannot do two-weapon combat: caveman, healer, priest, ranger|
Rogues who want backstab damage
|GDSM||protection||life saving||reflection||Maximum AC
Gives life saving
Safe switching to oilskin cloak
|Those who need AC: speed ascenders, illiterate conduct players|
Artifact not required
MC3 with ring of protection
|No life saving
|Those who need help casting spells: Archeologists do well with this|
|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 or wield Magicbane
|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
MC3 with ring of protection
|Must wish for artifact
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
|magic resistance||reflection||No body armor
No wishes required
|No life saving
||Monks who don't want to wish for an MR artifact|
Players attempting wishless conduct
Vegetarians looking for an additional resistance
For the most part, the ascension kit in SLASH'EM stays the same, with some differences.
- If two-weaponing is possible, wielding two artifact weapons at the same time is allowed.
- Amulet of flying or water walking boots, due to the new create pool spell.
- Amulet of drain resistance or deep dragon scale mail: Level draining been a more serious threat.
- The cloak of magic resistance is much more interesting for freeing a slot for the new required resistances. You could enchant an elven cloak to +7, and then upgrade it to a cloak of magic resistance. Gray dragon scale mail loses its appeal. Shield of reflection. More interesting, for freeing a slot for level drain resistance.
- Less of a priority, yellow dragon scale mail which provides acid resistance, and shimmering dragon scale mail which provides displacement, can be useful. YDSM can be useful due to more dangerous acid attacks from giant shoggoths, among others.
- A robe of power or a robe of protection: Can be upgraded from regular robes. They take the suit slot, and dragon scale mail interfering with spellcasting now.
- The Hand of Vecna provide half physical damage, hungerless regeneration, and level drain resistance when wielded. You can decide to forfeit level drain resistance and rely on MC3 and wielding the hand for special cases.
- +7 unicorn horn or +7 Nighthorn if lawful. They need to be highly enchanted now to be reliable.
- A ring of free action has more positive effects.
- A magic candle: It burns indefinitely and only weights 2.
- An assault rifle and bullets: A more powerful ranged weapon.
- A holy wafer: Better than sprig of wolfsbane.
- Blessed healthstones: They increase health regeneration.
One of the main design goals of Sporkhack 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.
The dNethack ascension kit is similar to, but more inclusive than, the vanilla ascension kit.