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)   Excalibur   Long sword.png
Base item long sword
Damage vs. small 1d8 +1d10 (2–18)
Damage vs. large 1d12 +1d10 (2–22)
To-hit bonus +1d5
Bonus versus (any)
Weapon skill long sword
Size one-handed
When carried


When wielded
When invoked


Base price 4000 zm
Weight 40
Material iron

Excalibur is a very easy artifact weapon to get (if you are lawful). Simply dip a non-artifact long sword into a fountain, provided you are a lawful character and at least level 5. Each time you dip, there is a 16 chance that the sword will be transformed into Excalibur. The dipped sword becomes rustproof, blessed, and any rust or corrosion on it is removed. It's intelligent, so it can only be safely wielded by lawful characters. As a weapon, it adds +d5 to-hit and +d10 damage. What's equally useful is that it confers level-drain resistance and automatic searching, and makes searching more likely to be successful. On the other hand, when wielded, it also makes demon princes generated hostile, and every monster can find you, whether it has eyes or not.

Excalibur is never randomly generated and cannot be granted as a sacrifice gift. Lawful characters may receive Excalibur when crowned.

Special effects


When wielded, Excalibur grants automatic searching, and also improves (or worsens) your ability to find secret doors and secret corridors (but not traps) by an amount equal to its enchantment, to a maximum of +5.

Demon princes

If Excalibur is wielded when a demon prince is generated, the demon prince will be generated as hostile rather than peaceful. The main effect of this is that it will not offer to accept a bribe for safe passage before attacking you. If you were not wielding Excalibur when the demon prince was generated, but are doing so when it wants to demand a bribe, it will instead become angry and attack.


When you are wielding Excalibur, monsters without eyes are able to track you as well as those with eyes. Due to how monster pathfinding works in NetHack, the impact of this is negligible.


Excalibur is never randomly generated. It cannot be generated in the inventory of a monster. It cannot be granted as a gift from sacrifice (although if it could, it would be the first sacrifice gift for knights).


Main article: Crowning

If you are crowned as lawful, Excalibur does not yet exist, and you are wielding a non-artifact long sword in your primary hand, it will be converted to the blessed rustproof Excalibur and identified, and its enchantment will be set to +1 if it was lower. The long sword skill will be unrestricted for you.


Main article: Fountain#Dipping

If you are lawful, are at least level 5, Excalibur does not yet exist, and you dip a non-artifact (and not otherwise #named) long sword into a fountain, there is a 16 chance your long sword will be converted to the blessed rustproof Excalibur. The sword will keep the enchantment it had before the conversion. The other 56 of the time your long sword gets wet and the normal effects of dipping an item into a fountain occur.

Dipping for Excalibur when not lawful has a 16 chance of doing the reverse: removing erodeproofing and cursing the long sword, and abusing wisdom to boot.[1] This happens with this message "A freezing mist rises from the water and envelopes the sword", and the fountain disappears.


Dipping for Excalibur is easy for Knights and lawful Valkyries, who both start with a long sword. It is also a decent weapon for Samurai, though they will first need to find a long sword to dip with. Acquiring it is generally a good idea, although the chance of getting it is only 16 at each dip. The other 56 of the time, normal dipping effects occur, so be prepared to deal with water demons, nymphs and other fountain hazards.

When you are given Excalibur, the fountain will dry up and disappear. This can be a big problem for you in Minetown, because this will anger the town watch and set them against you. It is probably a Bad Idea to dip for Excalibur in Minetown; if you try this, be very sure you know what you're doing. You may want to consider either using a pet to kill all the guards, or lock them up in rooms where they cannot come out and attack you.

One possible downside to getting Excalibur early is that it increases the number of artifacts in the game, which decreases your chance of successfully wishing for a better one later.

Another disadvantage of dipping for Excalibur is that doing so does not unrestrict the long swords skill. If your role is restricted in that skill, you may want to wait to dip until you receive another artifact long sword from your god.

As Excalibur is generated from an existing long sword, you can get a +9 Excalibur in the late game by enchanting an ordinary long sword to +9 first (likely evaporating several other long swords in the process). A +9 Excalibur is more competitive damage-wise with other late-game artifacts enchanted to a safe +7, conveys more useful extrinsics, and will not destroy potentially valuable items (like Mjollnir or Frost Brand may).

For more information on the chance of this process, see the page on enchant weapon.

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 Small monster Large monster
+0 Excalibur \frac{1+8}{2}+\frac{1+10}{2}=\bold{10} \frac{1+12}{2}+\frac{1+10}{2}=\bold{12}
+7 Excalibur \frac{1+8}{2}+\frac{1+10}{2}+7=\bold{17} \frac{1+12}{2}+\frac{1+10}{2}+7=\bold{19}
+9 Excalibur \frac{1+8}{2}+\frac{1+10}{2}+9=\bold{19} \frac{1+12}{2}+\frac{1+10}{2}+9=\bold{21}


Excalibur is the legendary sword of King Arthur, who is also present in NetHack as the Knight's quest leader.


Excalibur first appeared in NetHack 1.3d.

Before NetHack 2.2a, the method of obtaining Excalibur was different from the present time. One first had to name a long sword Excalibur and then dip it in a fountain. Excalibur in these versions had no special properties, but the dipping would make the sword +5 (if it was not already higher), rustproof it, and remove any curse.



In SLASH'EM, Excalibur has been made significantly better, as it always does 10 extra damage, instead of 1d10. This is because artifacts with a damage bonus in SLASH'EM always add that amount,[2] as opposed to a random number between one and that amount. Also, the drain resistance it gives is much more useful.


In SporkHack, it is not possible to obtain Excalibur by dipping unless you are a Knight. This limits the options of other lawful long sword wielders who want it to crowning, wishing or finding Knight bones. This devalues Excalibur slightly and makes Snickersnee, which can be randomly generated, more useful.


In dNetHack, Excalibur adds +1d20 to-hit and deals an extra 3d7 damage to demons and undead if blessed. In addition, Excalibur inherits the material and weapon properties of the sword it is made from. Players may therefore want to put off dipping for Excalibur until they obtain a more desirable base sword.

Sources of such swords include:

  • Using a gold or silver long sword (1d20 holy for gold or 1d20 silver)
    • These can be wished for (wish for the base item—a gold Excalibur wish will fail, but a gold long sword will work fine), but also found on barrow wights. Barrow wights are always generated with a long sword, with 15 chance for a silver one and a 15 chance for a gold one. In addition, 5% of barrow wight swords will be lesser holy (+1d8 holy) as well.
  • Acquiring Oona's sword (+1d8 elemental damage, +1d8 damage vs. chaotic and neutral targets).
  • Retrieving the Sword of the Deeps from the last level of the Lethe Waterway in the neutral quest (a +12 deep long sword).
  • As a Knight, somehow obtain King Arthur's axiomatic long sword (double damage vs. chaotic and neutral targets)
  • Nazgul are always generated with an unholy long sword (double unholy damage)

Encyclopedia entry

At first only its tip was visible, but then it rose, straight,
proud, all that was noble and great and wondrous. The tip of
the blade pointed toward the moon, as if it would cleave it
in two. The blade itself gleamed like a beacon in the night.
There was no light source for the sword to be reflecting
from, for the moon had darted behind a cloud in fear. The
sword was glowing from the intensity of its strength and
power and knowledge that it was justice incarnate, and that
after a slumber of uncounted years its time had again come.
After the blade broke the surface, the hilt was visible, and
holding the sword was a single strong, yet feminine hand,
wearing several rings that bore jewels sparkling with the
blue-green color of the ocean.

[ Knight Life, by Peter David ]


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