Dark One

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The Dark One, @, is the Wizard quest nemesis. He guards the Bell of Opening and the Wizard quest artifact, The Eye of the Aethiopica.

The Dark One has two weapon attacks, a 'claw' attack that can steal the quest artifact if you obtained it from him without killing him, and the ability to cast a mage monster spell during each of his turns. He possesses stoning resistance like all quest nemeses.


The Dark One occupies the cross-aligned altar of the abandoned temple within his dungeon on the Wizard quest goal level, with the quest artifact and Bell of Opening underneath him.

In line with the flavor text produced from his defeat (as seen on the Wizard quest article), the Dark One will never leave a corpse.


The Dark One is widely considered one of the easiest nemeses to defeat: many of his spells will be less troublesome or even ineffective against a Wizard with magic resistance, e.g. from their starting cloak of magic resistance or Magicbane, their first sacrifice gift. Although wearing The Eye of the Aethiopica confers magic resistance, monsters will not wear amulets of ESP, so characters are free to use a wand of death, the finger of death spell or even the magic missile spell on him. His high MR score of 80 makes him highly likely to resist other effects such as sleep or polymorph.

Like most covetous monsters, The Dark One should be fought from the upstairs, but preventing him from getting there first can be a bit difficult without a means of teleporting combined with teleport control. A character with a source of both can teleport to the stairs after alerting him to their presence; they can also read a scroll of earth upon entering the level and move a boulder onto the stairs, preventing his escape. He can summon nasties if generated at level 16 or higher, so have a plan for crowd control or even escaping at the ready.


The Dark One first appears with most other quest nemeses in NetHack 3.1.0. From this version to NetHack 3.4.2, including some variants based on those versions, the Dark One does not have a set gender despite being referred to by "his" once in the quest text - this is fixed in NetHack 3.4.3 via commit f11d009.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, including some variants based on those versions, carrying The Eye of the Aethiopica is enough to grant magic resistance - this makes magic missile, the finger of death and the wand of death completely ineffective against him. The Dark One also tends to place greater priority on healing than picking up the artifact, so a Wizard can approach him stealthily or else teleport directly in line with him, then use a wand or finger of death to dispose of him without a fight. Wizards lacking either option can instead hit him suitably hard (e.g. with a rebounded magic missile spell), forcing him to warp to the upstairs and leaving The Eye of the Aethiopica free for them to take - the Wizard can then deal with the Dark One at their leisure, stashing The Eye in a bag or other container to prevent him from stealing it back.


The encyclopedia entry vaguely implies that the Dark One is an avatar of Sauron, the titular chief antagonist of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The same work reveals Sauron to also be the "Necromancer" of The Hobbit, while The Silmarillion describes him as the chief lieutenant of the first Dark Lord, Morgoth.

Sauron rules the land of Mordor and has the ambition of ruling the whole of Middle-earth - he appears most often as a disembodied, flaming "Eye", though he is briefly seen in a humanoid form in Peter Jackson's film trilogy. Though Tolkien denied that absolute evil could exist, he stated that Sauron came as near to a wholly evil will as was possible.



UnNetHack changes the Dark One's name to Anaraxis the Black, with his other qualities left unchanged.


xNetHack also changes the name of the Dark One to Anaraxis the Black - Anaraxis also generates with a cloak of magic resistance.


In EvilHack, the Dark One is now an illithid that generates with a robe, and has a 14 chance of generating with a cornuthaum; he is also given an ancient pseudodragon familiar to match that of Wizard player characters. The Dark One's dungeon also features a pair of mind flayer larva nurseries.

The Dark One in EvilHack is much more difficult compared to NetHack: he has a quest artifact-stealing claw attack, a brain-sucking tentacle attack that drains intelligence, and can cast two mage monster spells during each of his turns - he will also wear The Eye of the Aethiopica and gain its magic resistance and half spell damage. Advanced elemental spells such as fireball, cone of cold, and acid blast are a Wizard's best options to bring him down quickly before he can sap their intelligence or potentially even their skill training.

Monster stats by variant

Encyclopedia entry

... But he ruled rather by force and fear, if they might
avail; and those who perceived his shadow spreading over the
world called him the Dark Lord and named him the Enemy; and
he gathered again under his government all the evil things of
the days of Morgoth that remained on earth or beneath it,
and the Orcs were at his command and multiplied like flies.
Thus the Black Years began ...

[ The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien ]