Dragon scale mail
<color> dragon scale mail
|Appearance||<color> dragon scale mail|
|Base price||900-1200 zm|
<color> dragon scales
|Appearance||<color> dragon scales|
|Base price||500-700 zm|
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 following table shows the extrinsic abilities provided by each color of dragon scales or dragon scale mail:
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.
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, 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.
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. When wishing, make sure of your spelling and wording, or you may end up with a scroll of 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:
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.
Here are some methods of generating dragons:
- Reverse genocide dragons.
- 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.
- Use undead turning on a dragon corpse.
- Seek out the dragons found in the Castle, in Fort Ludios, and in some quest levels.
- 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.
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 fade immediately if you attack, but a permanent engraving is an acceptable alternative if you can rely on pets to kill the dragons for you). 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.
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. It is cursed, so attempting to pick it up will destroy it. 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?
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.
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.
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, and the law quest one is generated cursed -9.
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
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.
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|
|Black||disintegration resistance||passive blinding attack|
|Green||poison resistance||passive poison attack|
|Orange||sleep resistance||passive slow attack|
|Red||fire resistance||+1d6 to all melee damage|
|White||cold resistance||freezes water and lava under foot|
|Yellow||acid resistance||stun and confusion resistance|
New colors in SporkHack
|Gold||radius 2 light|
In dNethack, shimmering dragon scales/mail is also added. All old DS/DSM have additional properties too.
|Color||Extrinsic||dNethack additional extrinsics|
|Blue||shock resistance||very fast speed|
|Black||disintegration resistance||drain resistance|
|Gray||magic resistance||half spell damage|
|Green||poison resistance||sickness resistance|
|Orange||sleep resistance||free action|
|Red||fire resistance||protects from sliming|
|White||cold resistance||magical breathing, swimming, and protects inventory from water damage.|
|Yellow||acid resistance||stoning resistance|
In addition, dragon scale shields can now be made. They are made by reading a scroll of enchant armor while confused, and will harden worn dragon scales into a shield. They grant the same extrinsics that the same color of mail does.
Also, dNethack silver dragon scale mail/shields is much more valuable. Amulets and shields of reflection no longer reflect dragon breath, but SDSM/SDSS do.
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)|
|chromatic||all except magic (not randomized)|
(*) 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".
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 ]