Base item

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The base item of an artifact is the type of item that the artifact appears as. When an artifact is unidentified, it will be described as a named variation of its base item, e.g. "a blessed amulet of ESP named The Eye of the Aethiopica".

Artifacts will have all the properties of their base items in addition to any of the artifact's special abilities. If your quest artifact or any other artifact that already exists in your current game would be found in a bones level, the bones artifact will be reverted to its normal base item.

Unique base items

The following base items are not randomly generated on the floor or as death drops in a vanilla game of NetHack:

Athames only appear rarely in the inventory of a master lich, arch-lich or a player monster wizard; the other two are not randomly generated at all. The most common way to encounter these base items is to find them in a bones level during a game where you have already generated their artifacts; the base items can also be obtained by wishing.

Unique base items are not to be confused with the items used for the Invocation; those are referred to as unique items by the game, and are not considered artifacts. However, these "invocation artifacts" function similarly enough, being one-per-game items that revert to more mundane forms if found in a bones file, since they appear in every game.

Naming base items

Sting and Orcrist are special among artifacts in that they can be created by using the #name (or, as of Nethack 3.6.0, call) command to name their base items. Any elven dagger can be named Sting to create it, while any elven broadsword can be named Orcrist to create it.

Creating Sting and Orcrist early via naming is commonly used to "force" Stormbringer as the first sacrifice gift for a chaotic character, since naming both artifacts only leaves Stormbringer and Grimtooth in the sacrifice pool; elves additionally will never receive Grimtooth as a sacrifice gift. However, the chances of receiving an artifact as a sacrifice gift after the first are decreased, as are your chances of receiving an artifact via wishing. Each weapon also has its own pros and cons with regards to early creation; see the articles on Sting and Orcrist for more information on each.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, naming artifacts could be used to distinguish the identities of certain base items such as luckstones; this is a result of the code to prevent non-artifacts being made into artifacts via naming. Specifically, attempting to give an object an artifact's name, outside of the aforementioned Sting and Orcrist, forces your hand to slip and mis-engrave it—but only if that object is of the same exact item type as the artifact's base item, e,g, naming a gray stone The Heart of Ahriman would mis-engrave if it was a luckstone. As of NetHack 3.6.0, this is fixed by having any attempt to name an item in the same category fail and force your hand to slip (e.g. any gray stone will now mis-engrave using the above trick).

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

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-364}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.