Ascension kit (dNethack)

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The ascension kit is the nickname given to a set of items that are virtually required for a successful ascension. The dNethack ascension kit is similar to the vanilla ascension kit, but has some differences, due to new or increased threats to the player, the addition of new items, and changes to existing items. This article discusses the additional options and concerns presented by dNethack, and how they modify the standard ascension kit selection.

Common items



  • Oilskin cloak: The oilskin cloak now protects your entire inventory from water damage. Given that the endgame has many Water Elementals and divine spellcasters (with their inventory-wetting geyser and acid rain spells), this cloak is a serious contender for inclusion in the ascension kit. Further, genociding ';' before reaching the Plane of Water causes a large army of (ungenocideable) deep ones to spawn in the Plane of Water, in place of the native seamonsters.
    • Other sources of Water Proofing
      • A R'lyehian faceplate (see below).
      • An ample supply of grease for your cloak, bag of holding, and other critical items, or perhaps even an oilskin sack, may be used instead. A greased cloak will protect your entire inventory; however, because it wears off you will want to also grease or otherwise protect your bag and other critical gear.
      • Permanent intrinsic water-proofing is the passive bonus from reading the Dividing Word of Creation of the Mithardir Quest.
  • Cloak of magic resistance: Two cloaks of MR can be found on the Tulani Eladrin in the Arcadian Tower.
    • Other sources of Magic Resistance
      • The amulet of nullify magic now exists, which grants MR while worn. It will block spellcasting though, so the cloak is likely better for wizards and other spellcasters.
      • Orihalcyon gauntlets offer magic resistance in the glove slot.
      • Magic resistance is offered by numerous dNethack artifacts, and slotless magic resistance can be obtained from two of the Chaos Quests.

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, but weighs 150 units (fairly heavy) and does not provide Magic cancellation. The other colors can be used to augment your offensive ability, or to plug a gap left in your energy resistances. Note that dragon scales can also provide resistances when converted into shields; see below. The secondary effects are also useful. If you're planning on going for silver dragon scale mail for improved reflection, consider a shield instead. They don't grant as much AC, but leave the body slot open for either another DSM or for (crystal) plate mail.
  • Plate mail, either regular or bronze: When fully enchanted, these provide lower AC than Dragon scale, as well as MC 3, but are heavy at over 200 units, and hinder spellcasting. If you can find high-elven plate (made from mithril, so it doesn't erode), maybe from a bones file, that is by far the better choice. It gives 1/2 the dex bonus to AC, and weighs only 60 units.
  • Crystal plate mail: When highly enchanted, this provides the lowest possible AC, does not hinder spellcasting, and MC 2, but is also the heaviest option at 250 units (1/4 the maximum unburdened carrying capacity). This can be found at the top of the Arcadian Tower, but it's on the Tulani Eladrin. A crystal plate mail can also be found in Vlad's tower. They can be safely enchanted to +7, and each enchantment counts for 2 points of AC. Their base value is less than a normal plate mail, but fully enchanted they are much better.
  • Elven mithril-coat: When enchanted to +7, gives 1 more point of AC than the dwarven variety. Both mithril coats grant MC3 and allow the character to apply their full dex bonus to AC, but still provide less of a bonus to AC than either of the other options. The coats are the lightest possible armor, however, weighing in at 40 units for dwarven and 20 units for elven coats.


  • Boots with the "Hiking Boots" random appearance give a 100 unit boost to your carrying capacity when worn, and are therefore useful for carrying a larger kit. This can inform your choice between speed boots and jumping boots, if one of those types happens to have gotten this appearance.
  • Very fast speed can also be gained from blue dragon scale mail/shield, so that may favor blue DSM/S in combination with jumping boots.
  • Boots with the appearance "Mud Boots" can also be very useful, as they protect you from drowning attacks. Mud boots in combination with a R'lyehian faceplate can replace a oilskin cloak, but you still won't be able to see.
  • Flying boots: Replace levitation boots, and are much easier to put to good use.


  • Helm of drain resistance: Since there are a few more sources of level drain in dNethack than in vanilla Nethack, drain resistance is a more useful property. Most players get by fine without this, though.
  • Cornuthaum: As it provides MC2 from a slot other than the cloak or body armor slots, it can be helpful when fighting nightgaunts.


  • Dragon Scale Shields: Dragon scales can be converted into a dragon scale shield via confused enchant armor. A dragon scale shield can be used to plug a gap in your resistances, but is inconveniently heavy at 75 units. They provide 3 points of AC and can be enchanted to +5.
  • Shield of reflection: No longer reflects dragon breath, so a silver dragon scale shield is a much better choice.


  • Ruffed shirt: This grants a point of Charisma, but for all intents is interchangeable with the vanilla shirts.
  • Victorian underwear: This grants MC3 as well as providing an extra enchantable item, but its restrictive nature means that it also costs you 2 points of AC. A +5 set of underwear, therefore, provides only +3 net AC. Since it is not a cloak or suit of body armor, yet provides high MC, it can be very helpful when fighting nightgaunts.


  • Engagement ring: This is a random appearance, rather than a separate type of ring. Engagement rings grant immunity to seduction attacks, in addition to their normal abilities. If you find yourself facing Pale Night, Belial, Malcanthet, Lilith, or Graz'zt, this ring may prove essential.
  • Rings of energy resistance: Since you can no longer gain permanent energy resistances from eating corpses, these rings are more valuable. Crowning provides a full suite of intrinsic energy resistances, but if you don't get crowned, or if a gremlin, phantasm, or unique monster steals one of your resistances, you can use one or more of these rings to plug the gaps. Note that the elemental crystals from Version 1 of the Chaos Quest can provide shock, cold, and fire resistance. This only leaves sleep, disintegration, and poison resistance.
  • Ring of Free Action: There are many more opportunities in dNethack for monsters to paralyze the player, and that tends to end in death. Some source of free action (and the ring is one of the easiest) is nearly as necessary as magic resistance.


  • Amulet of drain resistance: Since there are a few more sources of level drain in dNethack than in vanilla Nethack, drain resistance is a more useful property. Most players get by fine without this, though.
  • Amulet versus curses: Situational. If you're going to be fighting, say, a devil lord that likes the curse items monster spell, this may be useful. It gives 100% resistance to this effect. It's almost always better to wear an amulet of life saving instead.
  • Amulet of reflection: As amulets of reflection no longer reflect dragon breath, this may not be as good a choice anymore. A silver dragon scale mail/shield will, and may be a better choice.
  • Amulet of nullify magic: Bad choice for spellcasters, as it will block your own spellcasting. However, it grants magic resistance when worn. May be useful if you can't find/don't want a cloak of magic resistance or GDSM/S

Tools & miscellaneous items

  • R'lyehian faceplate: When worn over your eyes, this item protects your entire inventory from water, but blinds you (the visor is opaque, or perhaps transparent in a part of the spectrum outside your visual range). Given that the endgame has many Water Elementals and divine spellcasters (with their inventory-wetting geyser and acid rain spells), some form of waterproofing is essential. Note that these are somewhat rare, but can be dropped by deep(er, est) ones and (master) mind flayers.


  • Wand of opening: Divine spellcasters (such as the priests on the Astral Plane) love to punish you. This wand (or the Knock spell) is an essential countermeasure.

Stoning Countermeasures

  • Some high-level arcane spellcasters can cast Turn-to-stone as a monster spell. This spell is partially, but not completely, blocked by a lizard corpse in open inventory (much like a cockatrice's hissing attack).
    • Therefore, you need at least one lizard corpse in open inventory at all times, as well as a means to cure stoning (possibly a second lizard corpse). Do not depend on a single lizard corpse for both, eating it would mean that you no longer resist the spell, and could immediately be affected a second time.
      • You should keep all items that allow you to cure stoning that you find in the game, and bring them on your ascension run in your bag of holding. You probably won't be affected by Turn-to-Stone more than once or twice in the entire game, but better safe than sorry!
    • Some races can't eat, and therefore can't use lizard corpses to cure stoning. These races will need potions of acid, lizard blood, or acidic blood for this purpose. They still need a single lizard corpse to help them resist Turn-to-Stone.
    • As an alternative, yellow dragon scale mail provides extrinsic stoning resistance. Note that Medusa in dNethack is tameable. Stoning resistance, pet blind Medusa, and a light source make a powerful combination. Because she remains susceptible to reflection, the easiest way to grant stoning resistance to Medusa is by blinding her.

Quest Artifact

  • The Wizard of Yendor can no longer steal your quest artifact, so in many cases it can now serve as a reliable source of useful extrinsics.
  • You can no longer wish for any quest artifacts (though you may still find other roles' quest artifacts in bones files). Therefore, the contribution of quest artifacts varies from role to role.