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), 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.

Common items



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.

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 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.

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.


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.



  • 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.




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.


  • 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.

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), 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
Allows twoweaponing
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
GDSM displacement life saving reflection Gives life saving
Gives displacement

More AC from shield

No twoweaponing
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 need AC: speed ascenders, illiterate conduct players
GDSM robe reflection Maximum spellcasting
Artifact not required
MC3 with ring of protection
No life saving
No displacement
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
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
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.


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.


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


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

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.2.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-362}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.