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)   Stormbringer   Runesword.png
Base item runesword
Damage vs. small 2d4 +1d2 +1d8 (4–18)
Damage vs. large 1d6+1 +1d2 +1d8 (4–17)
To-hit bonus +1d5
Bonus versus not drain resistant
Weapon skill broadsword
Size one-handed
When carried


When wielded
When invoked


Base price 8000 zm
Weight 40
Material iron

Stormbringer, often nicknamed Stormy by players, is an intelligent artifact weapon that appears in NetHack. It is chaotic-aligned, and its base item is a runesword.


Stormbringer can appear as a sacrifice gift for chaotic characters, and is also the chaotic crowning gift. It is not randomly generated, since runeswords are not generated outside of wishes or bones.[1]


Stormbringer grants +1d5 to-hit and deals an extra +d2 in bonus damage to monsters without drain resistance - the life-draining further reduces the target's level by 1, and lowers their current and maximum HP appropriately (usually by 1d8).[2] The wielder will then be healed for half of the reduced HP, rounded down - thus, for the typical 1d8 drain damage, 2 HP will be healed on average.

Stormbringer also confers drain resistance when wielded and is itself immune to drain life and other similar attacks[3] - but it is also bloodthirsty, attacking peaceful monsters and pets without confirmation if you attempt to move onto their square.

Levels drained from trolls with Stormbringer are permanently lost; levels drained from the Wizard of Yendor will be restored when he next revives. The Riders preserve their HP values at time of death and retain it for their revival, including any HP loss incurred from Stormbringer.[4]


Stormbringer is among the most desirable chaotic artifacts in the game - twoweaponing Stormbringer with a silver weapon is particularly effective, since many drain-resistant monsters (including monsters with draining attacks) are also silver haters. Chaotic Rangers will most appreciate an effective melee option, especially if they have not mapped out Gehennom to use their arrows reliably, while chaotic Priests can pair it with their quest artifact, the Mitre of Holiness, to blunt damage from drain-resistant demons and undead.

However, those seeking to use Stormbringer as their main weapon should avoid using pets if possible, as even a careful player may accidentally attack a pet with it - if you elect to keep a pet on hand, you may consider unwielding Stormbringer or switching to a secondary weapon when not in combat, especially when dealing with aligned priests or shopkeepers. Additionally, if any pets you plan to keep are not drain resistant, they should ideally have high enough health to withstand accidental hits and a way to increase their tameness to prevent them turning on you.

If you need to reduce the enchantment of Stormbringer (e.g., to reduce from +6 to +5 for an attempt to get to +7), the drain life spell will not work, but engraving still does.

As most hostile spellcasters are either drain resistant or else possess high monster magic resistance, Stormbringer can bypass the latter group's defenses to reduce their level where the drain life spell cannot (though it will often kill non-resistant monsters before the effects become noticable). Famine and Pestilence may also be ideal targets for the weapon in some situations, since they revive with their current max HP rather than their original base HP.

Forcing Stormbringer

Elven priests and elven rangers can arrange for their first sacrifice gift to be Stormbringer - since it will always be co-aligned and will not hate your race, only Sting and Orcrist compete with Stormbringer, and both of them can be #named. In rare cases, if Stormbringer has already been generated on a bones level, this will preclude sacrifice gifts altogether. A helm of opposite alignment can remedy the situation.

Theoretically, almost anyone could get a guaranteed Stormbringer because it is enough to be polymorphed in elven form and become chaotic from the helm of opposite alignment - the exception is if you started as chaotic and your role gets a guaranteed first sacrifice gift. However, this will most often rank as a stupid ascension trick, not as good general strategy advice.

Average damage calculation

The average damage calculations in the following table do not include bonuses from weapon skills, strength, or from using a blessed weapon against undead or demons.

Weapon Drain-resistant Not drain-resistant
Small monster Large monster Small monster Large monster
+0 Stormbringer \frac{2+8}{2}=\bold{5} \frac{1+6}{2}+1=\bold{4.5} \frac{2+8}{2}+\frac{1+2}{2}+\frac{1+8}{2}=\bold{11} \frac{1+6}{2}+1+\frac{1+2}{2}+\frac{1+8}{2}=\bold{10.5}
+7 Stormbringer \frac{2+8}{2}+7=\bold{12} \frac{1+6}{2}+1+7=\bold{11.5} \frac{2+8}{2}+\frac{1+2}{2}+\frac{1+8}{2}+7=\bold{18} \frac{1+6}{2}+1+\frac{1+2}{2}+\frac{1+8}{2}+7=\bold{17.5}


Stormbringer is introduced in NetHack 3.0.0.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, Stormbringer was one of many ways a player could enact drain for gain.


Stormbringer is a weapon that appears in a number of fantasy stories from author Michael Moorcock featuring Elric of Melniboné. Stormbringer is a cursed daemon sword with a will of its own and a hunger for souls, which it instills into Elric and frequently torments him with by using the bloodlust to make him kill his friends and loved ones; Elric hates the sword, but is too dependent on its power. It physically appears as a black sword with runes engraved deep in the blade, reflected by its appearance as a runesword in NetHack.


Your bloodthirsty blade attacks!
You moved into a peaceful or tame monster while wielding Stormbringer, causing you to attack them.
The black blade draws the life from <monster>!
You used Stormbringer to attack a non-drain resistant monster.



In SLASH'EM, there is a runesword in the Lawful Quest, which has a 5% probability of being Stormbringer if it hasn't already been generated.

Where most artifact weapons in SLASH'EM do their maximum damage bonus instead of a random number, Stormbringer's case is somewhat more complex - it has a regular damage bonus and a level-drain damage bonus, and rather than doing maximum damage on both, it does +2 for the regular damage bonus and continues to do 1d8 for the level-drain bonus, making it do on average only 0.5 damage points more than vanilla.

This makes it considerably weaker than other artifacts such as Excalibur and Snickersnee compared to vanilla, and dramatically weaker than the more powerful chaotic SLASH'EM artifacts such as the Bat from Hell, Doomblade, and Serpent's Tongue. However, it does enjoy a full +5 to hit as well as the hit point gain bonus, making it a significant boon in SLASH'EM's challenging early game. Additionally, its drain resistance makes it a useful alternate weapon when facing off against monsters with a wand of draining and late-game deep dragons.

While SLASH'EM allows twoweaponing with two artifacts, extrinsics granted by wielding the artifacts are only available for the artifact wielded in the primary hand - thus Stormbringer should be your primary weapon if you plan to utilize its drain resistance. Note that even wielding it in the off hand does not prevent its bloodthirsty attack, and the game will "taunt" you if you try. ("The black blade will not be thwarted!")


In SpliceHack, Stormbringer can be invoked to give the effect of reading a scroll of scare monster.


In EvilHack, Stormbringer can be forged together with Grimtooth to create Shadowblade, an artifact athame.

Encyclopedia entry

There were sounds in the distance, incongruent with the sounds of even this nameless, timeless sea: thin sounds, agonized and terrible, for all that they remained remote - yet the ship followed them, as if drawn by them; they grew louder - pain and despair were there, but terror was predominant.
Elric had heard such sounds echoing from his cousin Yyrkoon's sardonically named 'Pleasure Chambers' in the days before he had fled the responsibilities of ruling all that remained of the old Melnibonean Empire. These were the voices of men whose very souls were under siege; men to whom death meant not mere extinction, but a continuation of existence, forever in thrall to some cruel and supernatural master. He had heard men cry so when his salvation and his nemesis, his great black battle-blade Stormbringer, drank their souls.

[ The Lands Beyond the World, by Michael Moorcock ]


  1. mkobj.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 403: Random artifacts are only generated by upgrading their base items.
  2. monhp_per_lvl in makemon.c
  3. zap.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line drain_item: Objects that grant drain resistance when equipped, or those that grant drain resistance when carried, cannot be themselves be drained.
  4. src/zap.c in NetHack 3.6.6, line 606