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) Flail.png
Name flail
Appearance flail
Damage vs. small 1d6+1
Damage vs. large 2d4
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill flail
Size one-handed
Base price 4 zm
Weight 15
Material iron

A flail is a type of weapon that appears in NetHack. For Samurai, the flail will appear as a nunchaku.


Flails make up about 125 of weapons randomly generated on the floor, as death drops or in shops.

Yeenoghu is always generated with a flail, and sergeants in the Yendorian army are generated with either a flail or a mace.[1][2]

Flail skill

Max Role

Flails and grappling hooks use the flail skill. There are no artifact weapons that use the flail skill.

Your skill level in flails determines how far you can reach with an applied grappling hook.


A flail does decent damage and is relatively light, but is not particularly remarkable. Flails can be of use to certain roles such as Cavemen and Priests.


The flail has been present in the game since hack121, a port of Jay Fenlason's Hack.


A flail is a weapon with a striking "head" attached to a handle by a flexible rope, strap, or chain; there are two primary types, though the word has been used somewhat loosely to describe any similarly-structured blunt weapon. Flails were generally employed to strike around a defender's shield or parry, but were imprecise and difficult to use in close combat or closely-ranked formations.

Cylindrical-headed flails are two-handed weapons adapted from European agricultural tools used to remove the husks from grain by beating; they were considered a peasant's weapon, commonly used by infantry. One-handed "military" flails - sometimes called a "mace-and-chain" - had spiked metal heads on chains and appeared in late medieval art; however, the scarcity of artifacts suggests they were very rarely used, and varieties with long chains and short handles in particular would have been hazards to their wielder. Regardless, the latter are usually the depiction of choice for fantasy media such as Dungeons & Dragons (which NetHack takes the flail's traits and hit dice from).

The nunchaku (sometimes known as "nunchuks" in English) is an Asian weapon consisting of two usually-wooden six-inch sticks connected at their ends by a 1-inch metal chain or a rope, and was popularized by martial artists Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto. Nunchaku are traditionally held to have also been adapted from short flails originally employed in threshing rice, as were similar weapons such as the the three-section staff. The nunchaku is most widely used in martial arts such as Okinawan kobudō and karate - it is intended for training, since practicing with it enables the development of quick hand movements and improves posture. Modern nunchaku may be made of metal, plastic or fiberglass instead of the traditional wood; while toys and replicas may be made of polystyrene foam or plastic.


In some variants that integrate the Convict Patch, a wielded heavy iron ball functions as a melee weapon that uses the flail skill and may even train it when swung.


In dNetHack, player monster convicts have a 34 chance of generating with a flail as their weapon.

dNetHack also adds several artifact flails:

  • Quicksilver is an unaligned silver flail that grants +1d4 to hit and +1d8 damage, and grants an extra attack at experience level 16 (made with a -15 to-hit penalty); it can be invoked to toggle extrinsic speed, as with speed boots.
  • The Tentacle Rod is a drow-favoring intelligent flail that grants +1d7 to-hit and +1 to damage, and is the primary quest artifact for renegade drow Priests, Rangers, Rogues, and Wizards. It only receives half the normal damage bonus from strength, and receives no damage bonus from your skill or its enhancement; however, to-hit bonuses are applied as normal, and it has various effects when wielded or used to attack.
  • The Three-Headed Flail is a chaotic and intelligent large flail wielded by Yeenoghu; if it hits a target, it makes two bonus attacks that each deal the standard weapon damage, and will confuse and stun the target if both of them land.
  • The Sting of the Poison Queen is a chaotic and intelligent large flail wielded by Shaktari; it grants +1d4 to-hit and +1d12 damage, is permanently poisoned, and grants magic resistance when wielded.


In SpliceHack, two flails can be combined at a furnace to create a triple flail.


In addition to including the Convict role and giving iron balls the flail skill, EvilHack also adds the triple-headed flail, a two-handed weapon which serves as the base item for the artifact flail Butcher. Butcher is Yeenoghu's trademark flail, and he will always generate with it; gnolls also have a 12 chance of generating with a flail.

At a forge, you can combine a mace and a morning star to create a flail; you can also combine a flail with a mace to create a war hammer, or combine one with a spear to create an aklys.

See also