Dragon scale mail

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[[[[[[[[[Black dragon scale mail.pngBlue dragon scale mail.pngGray dragon scale mail.pngGreen dragon scale mail.pngOrange dragon scale mail.pngRed dragon scale mail.pngSilver dragon scale mail.pngWhite dragon scale mail.pngYellow dragon scale mail.png
<color> dragon scale mail
Appearance <color> dragon scale mail
Slot body armor
AC 9
Special
  • <by color>
Base price 900-1200 zm
Weight 40
Material dragon hide
[[[[[[[[[Black dragon scales.pngBlue dragon scales.pngGray dragon scales.pngGreen dragon scales.pngOrange dragon scales.pngRed dragon scales.pngSilver dragon scales.pngWhite dragon scales.pngYellow dragon scales.png
<color> dragon scales
Appearance <color> dragon scales
Slot body armor
AC 3
Special
  • <by color>
Base price 500-700 zm
Weight 40
Material dragon hide

Dragon scale mail (commonly abbreviated DSM) is the strongest single piece of body armor available. Its base AC reduction is 9, it weighs only 40, provides a useful extrinsic, is inherently erodeproof, and doesn't hinder spellcasting. It does not however provide any magic cancellation, and should hence be complemented by a high MC cloak.

Dragon scales are body armor that might be dropped by a dragon. They have a base AC reduction of only 3, but are otherwise identical to the dragon scale mail of the same color. They can be converted into dragon scale mail.

The most coveted varieties are silver dragon scale mail (SDSM) for reflection and gray dragon scale mail (GDSM) for magic resistance.

Colors

The following table shows the extrinsic abilities provided by each color of dragon scales or dragon scale mail:

Color Extrinsic
Blue shock resistance
Black disintegration resistance
Gray magic resistance
Green poison resistance
Orange sleep resistance
Red fire resistance
Silver reflection
White cold resistance
Yellow acid resistance

Black, gray, and silver dragon scale mail have a base price of 1200 zm, and their scales are 700 zm. Other varieties are 900 zm for the mail and 500 zm for the scales. Gray, silver, and yellow dragon scales are the only ones whose resistances cannot can be obtained as intrinsics.

Polymorph

Uncontrolled polymorphing while wearing dragon scales or dragon scale mail turns you into a dragon of the same color. This, and purposeful polymorph into a dragon of the same color, will revert your scale mail back to its scale form[1], but leave its enchantment unchanged. If the dragon scales are enchanted above +3, it is possible that they will evaporate while attempting to return them to dragon scale mail. While polymorphed, the scales will show up as "(embedded in your skin)" and will not function as armor: the base AC and enchantment of the scales will not lower your polymorphed AC, and they cannot be targeted by a scroll of enchant armor. Your shirt and cloak will tear as normal. If you polymorph again while in dragon form, there is a chance that you will turn into a different large monster, destroying your armor in the process.

Dragon scale mail is considered to be magical for purposes of object polymorph, whereas dragon scales are not.

Since scales and mail are never generated randomly, they cannot be obtained by polypiling.

Acquiring scales and scale mail

There are two main ways to acquire dragon scale mail: either wish for it directly, or obtain dragon scales and then upgrade them to scale mail.

There are two other ways to obtain DSM. The first is to find it in a bones pile, which is obviously unreliable. The other option is to kill one of the player monsters on the Astral Plane, who have a chance of wearing dragon scale mail. This method is almost completely useless, since any adventurer reaching the Astral Plane will probably have DSM already.

Making dragon scale mail from scales

Dragon scale mail can be easily made from dragon scales:

  1. wear only the dragon scales you wish to convert
  2. read a non-cursed scroll of enchant armor

If the scroll is blessed, the mail gains 1 point of enchantment and becomes blessed.

Acquiring dragon scales

Dragon scale mail is simple to acquire: kill dragons of the color you want until one drops scales, and make mail out of them as described above.

The chance of a dragon dropping scales is 1/3, but only 1/20 if the dragon was revived.[2]

Here are some methods of generating dragons:

  1. Reverse genocide dragons.
  2. Polymorph into a female dragon of the desired variety, lay some eggs (#sit command), let them hatch and slowly grow up into adult pet dragons. Killing them with a monster's passive attack or a trap avoids penalties.
  3. Use undead turning on a dragon corpse.
  4. Seek out the dragons found in the Castle, in Fort Ludios, and in some quest levels.
  5. Utilize throne farming, to the degree possible.

If you want to reverse-genocide dragons to kill, but aren't strong enough to beat them in normal combat, you can force them to engage you in a "cage match" where they can't fight back.

.|
.|DDD 
.+D@D 
.|DDD 
.|

Dig a 3x3 square in the rock behind a closet, or use a boulder to block the entrance. Stand on a scroll of scare monster (Elbereth will eventually fade, exposing you to dragon attacks). The scroll will prevent the dragons from attacking you in melee, but they also won't use their breath weapons while in melee range. Beware of digging monsters breaking your setup.

----------
}}}}}}}}}|
}-------}|
-|0D@D0|}|
.+D.DD.|}|
--------}|
..|}}}}}}|

If you manage to get to the castle without dragon scale mail, the room with the wand of wishing in a chest includes a guaranteed scroll of scare monster on the floor. There are two positions in the room where a dragon can breathe at you, which you can block off with boulders generated by a scroll of earth from Sokoban. The walls are undiggable, negating the threat of disruption.

Gray or silver?

Main article: GDSM versus SDSM

Gray and silver are widely considered the two best types of dragon scale mail, but players disagree as to which is more useful in particular circumstances. Gray provides magic resistance which protects against monster spells and polytraps; silver provides reflection which protects against wands and breath attacks. Since both are extremely useful, it's best to find a source of magic resistance or reflection and then get the dragon scale mail that grants the other intrinsic.

Other colors

In general, one will always want GDSM or SDSM. However, there are some corner cases where one might use another color:

  • Wishless ascensions: Of course, one can obtain DSM without wishing via reverse genocide. However, some unlucky characters may find neither the scroll nor enough magic markers to write one. In this case, it is worth enchanting the first dragon scales found, simply for the AC benefit and weight reduction.
  • Foodless ascensions: While players attempting a foodless ascension can get most resistances through crowning, this may be undesirable (and impossible for a foodless atheist) and still does not provide sleep resistance. The extra extrinsic may thus be worthwhile, particularly if the player already has MR and reflection from other sources. One advantage of gaining extrinsics from DSM over rings is that you have to identify the rings, first. The three most desirable colors are:
  • Red dragon scale mail, to protect against the fire traps in Gehennom, can be superseded by the ring.
  • Green dragon scale mail, to protect against spiked pits, poisoned missiles, and poison melee attacks, can be supplanted by an alchemy smock, by the eponymous amulet or ring, and for some roles by leveling up.
  • Sleep resistance, from orange dragon scale mail, protects against traps, wands, and thrown potions. It is granted to elves at level 4, but otherwise cannot be entirely superseded by a ring of free action, making that DSM also useful.
  • If you really hate acid attacks: Short of self-polymorph or the MC 1 alchemy smock, yellow dragon scale mail is the only way to obtain acid resistance. Acid attacks are rarely threatening, however.

SLASH'EM

Getting dragon scale mail is a bit different in SLASH'EM. Baby dragons take much longer to grow up, and it is not feasible anymore to polymorph pets into dragons for their death drop (due to polymorph working like it does for player characters). However, there are many dragons in the Wyrm Caves, and there are the guaranteed gray dragon scales in the Lawful Quest and the gray dragon scale mail worn by One-eyed Sam. The last two may be somewhat difficult to liberate from their previous owners.

Some of the gnolls can be generated with dragon scale mail: gnoll warriors may be generated with orange dragon scale mail, chieftains may get blue dragon scale mail, and shamans may get either red or silver dragon scale mail.

SLASH'EM's used armor dealers can sometimes enchant armor for you. Using this service on dragon scales will turn them into dragon scale mail, providing a way for illiterate characters to obtain dragon scale mail without violating conduct. However, the player is far from guaranteed to find a shopkeeper who offers the appropriate service: only 25% of armor dealers will offer it.

New colors in SLASH'EM

Color Extrinsic
Shimmering displacement
Deep level-drain resistance

While still less useful than GDSM and SDSM, these two new dragon scale mails are still worth using for some players. Drain resistance is a lot more important in SLASH'EM, given the abundance of wands of draining and the breath of deep dragons in its later game; a player who has magic resistance and reflection from other sources may well consider deep dragon scale mail as an option. Meanwhile, shimmering dragon scale mail provides a way for players to get displacement and MC 3 at the same time without sacrificing their cloak slot. Finally, due to the presence of shoggoths and giant shoggoths with their high speed and massive acid damage, yellow dragon scale mail is also a viable option.

SporkHack

In SporkHack, all colors of DSM save gray and silver have some kind of secondary effect. Spork also adds an additional color, gold, which acts as a permanent light source.

Color Extrinsic SporkHack secondary extrinsic
Blue shock resistance speed
Black disintegration resistance passive blinding attack
Gray magic resistance none
Green poison resistance passive poison attack
Orange sleep resistance passive slow attack
Red fire resistance +1d6 to all melee damage
Silver reflection none
White cold resistance freezes water and lava under foot
Yellow acid resistance stun and confusion resistance

New colors in SporkHack

Color Extrinsic
Gold radius 2 light

UnNetHack

In UnNetHack, dragon scale mails have AC 5 (down from 9) and dragon scales have AC 1 (down from 3).

The powers of dragons and thus their scales and scale mails is randomized each game:

Appearances Powers (randomized each game)
tatzelworm "magic"
amphitere "reflecting"
draken "fire"
lindworm "ice"
sarkany "sleep"
sirrush "disintegration"
leviathan "electric"
wyvern "poison"
glowing* "stone"**
guivre "acid"

(*) Dragons described as "glowing" always emit light, and wearing their scales or scale mail grants radius 2 light, like SporkHack.

(**) The dragon with the "stone" power has lava breath, not stoning. However, wearing its scales or scale mail confers stoning resistance.

Before wishing for dragon armor, note the new rules for wishing in UnNetHack. In particular, wands of wishing only have 0-2 charges (plus 1 wrest), and only wishes from wands can grant wishes for magical items. Dragon scale mails, magic markers, scrolls of genocide and scrolls of enchant armor all count as magical items. However, dragon scales are considered non-magical items and can thus be obtained from any wish source.

Any dragon armor can be wished for by appearance, so wishing for "guivre scale mail" (from a wand of wishing) or "guivre scales" will always work.

To wish for dragon armor by its power, the corresponding armor must be formally identified first, e.g. by using a scroll of identify on dropped dragon scales (the matching scale mail will be identified with it). The name of the power (from the table above) can then be used in the wish, e.g. "reflecting dragon scale mail".

Encyclopedia entry

Stephen had argued, and the expert armorer had grudgingly
admitted, that dragonscale shield or armor, provided it proved
feasible to make at all, ought to offer some real, practical
advantages over any metal breastplate or shield -- gram for
gram of weight, such a defense would probably be a lot
tougher and more protective than any human smiths could
make of steel.
[ The Last Book of Swords: Shieldbreaker's Story,
by Fred Saberhagen ]

References

  1. src/polyself.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 500
  2. src/mon.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 255

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-360}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.