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Every item in NetHack, except for gold pieces, may be blessed or cursed; an item that is neither is described as uncursed. An item cannot be both blessed and cursed; the two cancel each other out. An item's state of being blessed, uncursed, or cursed is commonly called its BUC, BUC status, or beatitude.

Non-cursed is generally used to mean "either blessed or uncursed". This term is useful because many items behave similarly whether blessed or uncursed, but very differently if cursed.

Blessed items

Generally speaking, blessing an item is never a Bad Idea. All blessed items are one step further from being cursed. Also, many items confer additional bonuses when blessed:

  • Blessed weapons do 1d4 extra damage to undead and major demons.[1]
    • Blessed missiles (e.g., arrows, darts, and throwing stars) have a significantly lower chance of disappearing when used.
  • Most blessed scrolls and potions work better if they are beneficial, or have their harm reduced or nullified if they are harmful.
  • Blessed spellbooks can always be read successfully, regardless of the spell's level, your level, or your intelligence score.
  • Blessed tins require only one turn to open no matter what opening tool you use (or even if you use no tool at all).
  • Some tools work better when they're blessed. Notable examples include the bag of holding and unicorn horn.
    • Blessed item generators generates blessed items:
      • A blessed horn of plenty will produce blessed foods and potions.
      • A blessed tinning kit will make blessed tins.
      • A blessed magic marker will make uncursed blank spellbooks and scrolls into blessed ones, and cursed ones uncursed.
    • Blessed tools with charges will also resist the effect of a cursed scroll of charging.
  • Blessed touchstone can be applied to identify other stones, while uncursed one can be applied only by Archeologist.
  • Blessed luckstone prevents the timeout of positive luck, while uncursed one prevents the timeout of both positive and negative luck.
  • Wands cannot be harmed by cursed scrolls of charging if they are blessed.
  • Blessed items are resistant to erosion, with a chance depending on your Luck.

For some items, being blessed may be undesired:

  • Blessed magic marker cannot produce cursed scrolls, therefore many players prefer at least one magic marker to be uncursed.
  • Quaffing blessed potion of invisibility makes the player permanently invisible, which may cause problems. In particular, quaffing it within a shop may make it hard to leave the shop.
  • Quaffing blessed potion of booze does not cause confusion, which make it almost useless for quaffing.
  • To genocide one kind of monsters without genociding all monsters denoted by the same letter, you need an uncursed scroll of genocide.

Cursed items

A cursed item, on the other hand, is usually bad. Cursed items are more difficult to bless, and almost all of them will at least impede the item's performance, if not incurring an ill-intended effect.

  • Anything that can be worn or wielded is reluctant to be taken off or put aside if it's cursed. This includes amulets, rings, weapons, weapon-tools, armor, tin openers, iron chains, heavy iron balls, and leashes. This also applies to monsters: Seeing a monster attempt to wield a cursed weapon or weapon-tool will produce a message about it sticking to their hand, as does a monster attempting to wield another weapon while already wielding a cursed weapon. In either case, this formally identifies the item as cursed.
  • Potions and scrolls generally work worse if they are cursed: if they are harmful, the harm is generally amplified, and if they are beneficial, the benefit may be reduced or nullified, or a totally different (usually harmful) effect occurs.
  • Wands have a chance of exploding when you zap them while they are cursed.
  • You can never read a cursed spellbook successfully.
  • Tools generally do not work as well when they are cursed.
  • Pets will not pick up cursed items.
  • Comestibles (but not corpses) are always rotten when they are cursed.
  • A loadstone cannot be dropped or thrown while cursed.
  • The invocation ritual won't work if any of the three items (Bell of Opening, Candelabrum of Invocation, or Book of the Dead) is cursed.

However, there are items which have special uses when cursed, if you know they are cursed:

BUC identification

Main article: Curse-testing

An altar can be used to detect the beatitude of an item by means of the coloured flashes when the item is dropped on it, an amber flash indicates that the item is blessed, whereas a black flash means the item is cursed, if there is no flash the item is uncursed. Identifying an item this way is impossible when blind, and when hallucinating it is impossible to tell blessed and cursed items apart since the flash will appear different; however, the lack of a flash can still tell you that the item is uncursed.

For some items, such as gold pieces or scrolls of mail, the beatitude has no meaning and is always omitted. For some other items, such as weapons or rings with charges, it is not shown if the object is uncursed, if you have fully identified the item. Priests can automatically tell the beatitude of any item they see, even if it has yet to be identified; as such, "uncursed" is not displayed for them, because for a Priest, any item that does not display as blessed or cursed must necessarily be uncursed. If you want the game to override this behavior and show "uncursed" on every item you have identified as such, set the implicit_uncursed option to FALSE.

A scroll of identify will also show you the BUC status of an item.

Changing the BUC status of an item

There are quite a few ways to change the BUC status of items:

Curse removal or blessing

Main article: Curse removal
  • Dipping an object into a potion of holy water will change the BUC status from cursed to uncursed, and from uncursed to blessed, using one potion of holy water each time you dip it. Dipping a blessed item into holy water will not consume the potion and not wet the object.
  • An uncursed scroll of remove curse will remove the cursed status from the wielded object (whether it is a weapon or not), all worn items (armor, rings, amulet, blindfold, towel, and lenses), any leashes currently in use, and any carried loadstones.[2] A blessed scroll of remove curse will remove the cursed status from every object in your inventory. A cursed scroll of remove curse "disintegrates" and removes no curses, though it will still end any punishment.
  • A non-cursed scroll of enchant armor or enchant weapon will uncurse the armor or weapon it targets. A blessed scroll of enchant armor will bless uncursed armor.
  • Your deity may bless and repair your weapon or uncurse your inventory when you pray on an altar, depending on your Luck (see prayer for details).
  • When stepping on a magic trap, there is a 4.8% chance of an uncursing effect, equivalent to an uncursed scroll of remove curse.
  • #dipping items in fountains can curse and uncurse items (430 chance of uncursing, 130 chance of cursing). A fountain will never bless an item.
  • When dipping a unicorn horn or amethyst into a potion which then transforms, the result is uncursed, except for juice made with a cursed horn or an amethyst, which is cursed.[3]

Blessing removal or cursing

  • Dipping an object into a potion of unholy water will change the item from blessed to uncursed, and then from uncursed to cursed.
  • If you read a scroll of remove curse while confused, each affected uncursed object will have a 25% chance of becoming cursed and 25% chance of becoming blessed. The same objects are affected as when not confused, such as wielded objects, worn items, leashes in use, and carried loadstones.
  • Cursed scrolls of enchant weapon and armor will curse the item they target.
  • High-level spellcasting monsters (notably liches and the Wizard of Yendor) can randomly curse items in your inventory during combat. The message received is "You feel a malignant aura surround you."[4] Magic resistance and half spell damage reduce the amount of items that are cursed (but will not nullify the attack), while Magicbane will "catch the curse" and nullify the attack 95% of the time when wielded.
  • Quaffing from fountains can have a cursing effect on every item in your inventory (see fountain for details).
  • #dipping items in fountains can curse and uncurse items (430 chance of uncursing, 130 chance of cursing). It is never blessed.
  • A loadstone will curse itself automatically, making it impossible to drop should you pick it up again, and picking up a blessed scroll of scare monster will remove its blessing.
  • The dunce cap and the helm of opposite alignment can be generated uncursed, but autocurse when worn, preventing you from removing them by normal means.
  • A blessed eucalyptus leaf may be applied and used as a magic whistle; this act has a 150 chance of removing the blessing.

Removal of either curse or blessing

  • Cancelling an item will remove any blessing or curse, but may also have other (probably detrimental) effects such as removing enchantment or emptying a wand of charges.
  • Alchemy results are always uncursed.

Game messages

In-game, the phrase "Items of unknown B/C/U status" appears in the drop menu, but the "BUC" ordering is more common in discussions.


The random generation rate for blessed or cursed items varies as shown in the table below.

Item Blessed Uncursed Cursed
amulet of change 0.50% 9.50% 90.50%
amulet of restful sleep 0.50% 9.50% 90.50%
amulet of strangulation 0.50% 9.50% 90.50%
Other amulets 5.00% 90.00% 5.00%
All weapons 8.64% 78.18% 13.18%
helm of opposite alignment 0.95% 8.60% 90.45%
gauntlets of fumbling 0.95% 8.60% 90.45%
fumble boots 0.95% 8.60% 90.45%
levitation boots 0.95% 8.60% 90.45%
Other armor 8.72% 78.96% 12.31%
Tins 5.00% 90.00% 5.00%
Other comestibles 0.00% 100.00% 0.00%
All scrolls 12.50% 75.00% 12.50%
All spellbooks 2.94% 94.12% 2.94%
All potions 12.50% 75.00% 12.50%
ring of aggravate monster 0.00% 10.00% 90.00%
ring of hunger 0.00% 10.00% 90.00%
ring of polymorph 0.00% 10.00% 90.00%
ring of teleportation 0.00% 10.00% 90.00%
ring of adornment 15.73% 41.33% 42.93%
ring of protection 15.73% 41.33% 42.93%
ring of gain constitution 15.73% 41.33% 42.93%
ring of gain strength 15.73% 41.33% 42.93%
ring of increase accuracy 15.73% 41.33% 42.93%
ring of increase damage 15.73% 41.33% 42.93%
Other rings 0.00% 90.00% 10.00%
All wands 2.94% 94.12% 2.94%
tallow candle 10.00% 80.00% 10.00%
wax candle 10.00% 80.00% 10.00%
brass lantern 10.00% 80.00% 10.00%
oil lamp 10.00% 80.00% 10.00%
magic lamp 25.00% 50.00% 25.00%
can of grease 5.00% 90.00% 5.00%
crystal ball 25.00% 50.00% 25.00%
figurine 12.50% 75.00% 12.50%
Other tools 0.00% 100.00% 0.00%
loadstone on floor 0.00% 0.00% 100.00%
loadstone in a container 0.00% 9.98% 91.02%
Other stones 0.00% 100.00% 0.00%
Other 0.00% 100.00% 0.00%

Items generated on "fake bones" are always cursed.

Encyclopedia entry

The NetHack encyclopedia has this to say about cursed items:

Curses are longstanding ill-wishings which, in Fantasyland,
often manifest as semisentient. They have to be broken or
dispelled. The method varies according to the type and
origin of the Curse:
4. Curses on Rings and Swords. You have problems. Rings
have to be returned whence they came, preferably at over a
thousand degrees Fahrenheit, and the Curse means you won't
want to do this. Swords usually resist all attempts to
raise their Curses. Your best source is to hide the Sword
or give it to someone you dislike.

[ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, by Diana Wynne Jones ]


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