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 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.
- Oilskin cloak: Renders you immune to drowning attacks on the Plane of Water (in other places, simply do not stand next to water until you have verified all the eels are dead); however, carrying escape items such as a wand of cold or wand of teleportation will largely mitigate this risk.
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.
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.
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 on the Astral Plane, or reducing the effect of the mysterious force.
- Helm of telepathy: Gives a limited range of telepathy when not 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 piece of headgear will do. You should grease it if possible 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, your inventory will be exposed to ray attacks. 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: Provides 1 base AC, but does not penalize spellcasting as much as other shields.
- 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 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 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. However, the ring of levitation is the quickest and most convenient option.
- Ring of free action: Prevents paralysis from a number of sources. Not the same as sleep resistance.
- Ring of teleport control or other source of teleport control: If you have teleportitis, very important. Can be used to teleport between staircases on the the ascension run, and is also convenient for easy level teleportation.
- 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. Not recommended without an oilskin sack to protect your scrolls and potions.
- 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.
- A tooled horn, bugle or leather drum will cause monsters to flee from you, which is useful to scare off low MR monsters in the endgame, such as the sea monsters in the Plane of Water or the air elementals in the Plane of Air.
- 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 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 or create blank scrolls and potions of water in an 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).
- Wand of cancellation: Very dangerous, but useful for blanking scrolls and making water on short notice. Can also cancel annoying monsters like disenchanters or energy vortices.
- 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.
- 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 no longer works in Gehennom, it is the best defense against a gated Demogorgon.
- 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. For all characters, any of the crowning weapons will suffice. Check your role's page (under § Strategy → Late game) for further advice.
- 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 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).
- 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.
- 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. Useful for locating Riders without blinding yourself.
- 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. Nullifies the effect of the new moon when carried in open inventory.
- 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), and high magic cancellation. 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 want better MC and AC than provided by the cloak of displacement|
MC3 with ring of protection
|No life saving
|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
|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
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
|magic resistance||reflection||No body armor
||No life saving
||Monks who don't want to wish for an MR artifact|
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 SporkHack's main design goals of 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.