Excalibur

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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
Affiliation
When carried

(none)

When wielded
When invoked

(none)

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.

Generation

Main article: Fountain dipping

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

Excalibur is created by dipping an un-named non-artifact long sword into a fountain as a lawful character who is at least experience level 5. Each time you dip, there is a 16 chance that, instead of normal fountain effects, the sword will be transformed into Excalibur - this will bless and rustproof the sword, along with removing any rust or corrosion, and its previous enchantment is retained. (This does not unrestrict the long sword skill.) When Excalibur is created, the fountain will always disappear afterward.

Dipping for Excalibur when not lawful has a 16 chance of removing erodeproofing and cursing the long sword instead, as well as abusing wisdom ("A freezing mist rises from the water and envelopes the sword"). The fountain will always disappear after this occurs.[1]

Crowning

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.

Description

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, while wielded, demon princes will be generated hostile, 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 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 said prince warps to you and wants to demand a bribe, they will also turn hostile.

Strategy

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 - other lawfuls seeking to utilize Excalibur while avoiding crowning will first have to receive another long sword as a sacrifice gift (which will unrestrict the corresponding skill for them). While non-lawful characters can make use of Excalibur, they cannot dip for it and will have to find it in a bones level, additionally contending with possible artifact blasts each time they wield it.

Dipping

While acquiring Excalibur as soon as possible is generally a good idea, the chance of getting it is only 16 for each dip. You should be prepared to deal with water demons, water nymphs and other hazards that may appear in the meantime. In addition, your sword will often rust when dipping fails. Any rust will be repaired when dipping eventually succeeds, so this isn't usually a serious problem, but if the long sword you're dipping is your primary weapon, it's best to wait until you have found at least a few fountains, lest you have to explore new levels with a thoroughly rusted long sword as your only weapon.

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.

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.

Combat

Excalibur is an excellent weapon against most if not all monsters, with the only more damaging weapon versus all monsters would be a highly enchanted Grayswandir. As such, it is more than sufficient for an ascension kit.

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}

Origin

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

History

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 curses.

Variants

SLASH'EM

In SLASH'EM, the already-stellar Excalibur becomes much better - all artifacts with a roll for a damage bonus in vanilla NetHack have it converted to a flat bonus in SLASH'EM.[2] This gives Excalibur a +10 bonus, and the abundance of life draining methods and attacks that can be used against the player also make its drain resistance even more valuable as well.

SporkHack

In SporkHack, it is not possible to obtain Excalibur by dipping unless you are a Knight. Other lawful long sword wielders who want it must get it as a crowning gift, through a wish or by finding Knight bones. This devalues Excalibur slightly and makes Snickersnee, which can be randomly generated, more useful.

dNetHack

In dNetHack, Excalibur adds +1d20 to-hit and deals an extra 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 therefore want to put off dipping for Excalibur until they obtain a more desirable base sword.

Sources of such swords include:

  • A barrow wight's guaranteed long sword has a 15 chance to be a silver one (which adds 1d20 silver damage) and a 15 chance to be gold (which adds 1d20 holy damage). In addition, 5% of barrow wight swords will be lesser holy (+1d8 holy) as well. Wishing for a gold or silver long sword also works.
  • 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).

EvilHack

In EvilHack, only lawful Knights can dip for Excalibur, and other lawful roles can only obtain it through crowning - there is an added a risk of the long sword rusting away completely when dipping, as with any sufficiently-damaged object in EvilHack. A long sword that is successfully transformed into Excalibur is stripped of its object properties, and its object material is always converted to iron.

Orcish and elven long swords cannot be used to create Excalibur in either instance.

SpliceHack

In SpliceHack, Excalibur can be invoked to create an explosion if the wielder is carrying Avalon.

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 ]

References