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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 an intelligent artifact weapon that appears in NetHack. It is lawful-aligned, and its base item is a long sword.


Excalibur cannot be randomly generated or granted as a sacrifice gift, though it can still be left behind in bones. Excalibur's entry in the artifact code indicates that it would be the first sacrifice gift for Knights if it were able to be gifted.[1]

Excalibur can be obtained if a lawful character is either crowned or creates the artifact by dipping a single unnamed, non-artifact long sword into a fountain while they are at least experience level 5.[2]


Main article: Fountain dipping

Each time you dip a long sword as a lawful character, there is a 16 chance that instead of normal fountain effects, the sword will be transformed into Excalibur: This will exercise wisdom, bless and rustproof the sword while removing any rust or corrosion, and carry over its previous enchantment, but this does not unrestrict the long sword skill.[3] Dipping for Excalibur when not lawful instead has a 16 chance of removing erodeproofing and cursing the long sword, as well as abusing wisdom.[4] The fountain will always disappear after either event.[5]

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Per commit e8212743, there is now only a 130 chance of a non-Knight receiving Excalibur by dipping.


Main article: Crowning

If a lawful character is crowned while wielding a non-artifact long sword in their primary hand, and Excalibur has not yet been generated, the sword will be transformed into the blessed and rustproof Excalibur as the crowning gift. This auto-identifies the sword and unrestricts the long sword skill if applicable; if the sword has no positive enchantment at the time of crowning, its enchantment is set to +1.


Excalibur adds +d5 to-hit and +d10 damage against all monsters, and confers drain resistance, automatic searching, and an enchantment-based bonus to manual searching for secret doors and secret corridors (up to a maximum of +5). However, demon princes will be hostile if generated while Excalibur is wielded, and every monster can track your location whether it has eyes or not - though due to how monster pathfinding works in NetHack, the impact of this second property is negligible.

Demon princes

If Excalibur is wielded when a demon prince is generated, the demon prince will be generated as hostile rather than peaceful. If you are wielding Excalibur when a demon prince warps to you and wants to demand a bribe, they will also turn hostile.


Excalibur is an excellent weapon against all monsters and is generally only outperformed by a highly-enchanted Grayswandir, making it more than sufficient for an ascension kit at Basic skill level; in the later stages of the game, even unskilled use of Excalibur can provide sufficient offense while training the skill, particularly with scrolls of enchant weapon.

Generating Excalibur is easy for Knights and lawful Valkyries, who both start with an enchanted long sword. It is also a stellar weapon for Samurai, who can create it once they find a long sword and will already have the skill available. Lawfuls restricted in long sword can unrestrict the skill and receive Excalibur via crowning, which can be done fairly early (usually before the Quest) if they are not reliant on prayer; they can also receive another artifact long sword as sacrifice gift to unrestrict the skill.

Cross-aligned use

Though Excalibur is an intelligent artifact, it is not a quest artifact and so will not evade the grasp of non-lawful characters, allowing them to make good use of it if they can manage the artifact blasts. While bones are the typical means for a non-lawful character to acquire Excalibur, they may also consider either wishing for Excalibur or using a helm of opposite alignment to temporarily become lawful and dip for it. For dipping, chaotic characters are capable of reliably using the helm of opposite alignment, where neutral characters may need to try a few helms before finding one that turns them lawful.[6]

The rare drain resistance property and bonuses to damage and to-hit make Excalibur an enticing artifact for non-lawfuls with an extra wish to spare; chaotic characters in particular have a relative dearth of quality artifact wishes compared to other alignments. However, for a weaker character early wishes are typically best spent on covering the essentials, and crowning for Vorpal Blade or Stormbringer may be a preferable alternative to obtain a reliable weapon.


Acquiring Excalibur as soon as possible is generally a good idea, but the chance of obtaining it is only 16 for each dip. You should be prepared to deal with water demons, water nymphs, water moccasins and newly-made moats in the meantime. Some people prefer to wait until at least XL 7 before making the attempt: Knights, Valkyries and Cavemen gain intrinsic speed at level 7, which allows them to outrun water demons.

Your sword will also rust on each dip that does not transform it into Excalibur. Though succeeding will repair and rustproof the sword, it is best to wait if the long sword being dipped is your primary weapon - once you have found a few fountains, you can backtrack to them and try each one in turn rather than continue searching new floors with a thoroughly rusted long sword as your only weapon.

Generating Excalibur successfully will always make the fountain that was used dry up and disappear. In Minetown, there is no warning for this and the watch will immediately be angered, making dipping out in the open a Bad Idea. If you somehow do not have access to any other fountains, consider using a pet to kill the guards in advance, or lock them up in rooms where they cannot attack you.

The Oracle level is a popular place to dip for Excalibur; characters often arrive there at about the time that they are capable of escaping fountain hazards, and having four adjacent fountains means you will likely succeed without having to travel much further to find more.

Average damage calculation

The average damage calculations in the following table do not include bonuses from weapon skill, strength, or 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 first appears in NetHack 1.3d. In this version and NetHack 1.4f, you can name a long sword Excalibur and then dip it in a fountain, for a 215 chance of the Lady of the Lake blessing the sword[7] - this Excalibur lacks special properties, but creating it this way raises the enchantment of the sword to +5 (if not already higher), rustproofs it and removes any curses. The modern dipping method for obtaining Excalibur is introduced in NetHack 2.2a.


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


From the murky depths, a hand reaches up to bless the sword.
As the hand retreats, the fountain disappears!
You successfully transformed your dipped long sword into Excalibur as a lawful character.[8]
A freezing mist rises from the water and envelopes the sword.
The fountain disappears!
As above, but you were not a lawful character, and you "successfully" cursed the sword instead.[9]



In SLASH'EM, bonus damage rolls for artifact weapons are converted to a flat bonus, giving Excalibur +10 to damage.[10] This makes the already-good artifact weapon even better, and the abundance of life draining methods and attacks introduced in SLASH'EM make its drain resistance even more valuable.

The chance of receiving Excalibur from dipping in a fountain is 18 rather than 16.[11]


In GruntHack, dipping a long sword to create Excalibur preserves its object properties, making it a possible good idea to wish for a suitable Excalibur base once other properties are covered.


In SporkHack, only Knights can obtain Excalibur by dipping; other lawful characters must use one of the other remaining methods. This makes Snickersnee, which can be randomly generated, somewhat more useful in comparison.


In dNetHack, Excalibur has +1d20 to-hit and deals +3d7 damage to demons and undead if blessed. In addition, Excalibur inherits the weapon and material properties of the sword it is made with; players may want to put off dipping for Excalibur until they obtain a desirable base sword. Outside of wishing, sources of such swords include:

  • A barrow wight's guaranteed long sword has a 15 chance of being silver (which adds +1d20 silver damage) and a 15 chance of being gold (which adds +1d20 holy damage). In addition, 120 of barrow wight long swords will be lesser holy (+1d8 holy) as well.
  • Oona's long sword has +1d8 elemental damage, +1d8 damage vs. chaotic and neutral targets.
  • The Sword of the Deeps is a +12 deep long sword found in the last level of the Lethe Waterway.
  • King Arthur always generates with a blessed +7 silver axiomatic long sword (axiomatic weapons deal double damage vs. chaotic and neutral targets), though it cannot be obtained normally unless you are willing to attack and possibly kill him - if so, be sure to unlock the quest before attacking.
  • Nazgul are always generated with an unholy long sword (double unholy damage).
  • The Silver Flame can transform Excalibur or any base sword intended for Excalibur into silver.


In xNetHack, obtaining Excalibur by dipping a long sword into a fountain will set its enchantment to +0 if it was negative, and will always convert the sword's object material to iron. Obtaining Excalibur by crowning sets its enchantment to +3 if it was lower than that.


In SpliceHack, Excalibur can be invoked to create an explosion if wielded while carrying Avalon.


In EvilHack, only lawful Knights can dip for Excalibur as in SporkHack - other lawful roles can only obtain Excalibur through crowning, bones or wishing, and the helm of opposite alignment cannot be used by chaotic Knights to dip for it. There is the added a risk of the long sword rusting away completely when dipping it, as with any sufficiently-eroded object. Orcish and elven long swords cannot be used to create Excalibur in either instance.

A long sword that is successfully transformed into Excalibur is stripped of its object properties, and its object material is always converted to iron.

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 ]