The Heart of Ahriman

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*   The Heart of Ahriman   Gray stone.png
Base item luckstone
Affiliation
When carried
When slung
When invoked
Base price 2500 zm
Weight 10

The Heart of Ahriman is the Barbarian quest artifact. It is the prize for completing the Barbarian quest, and is neutral for wishing purposes. Its base item type is a luckstone.

Effects

When carried, The Heart of Ahriman confers stealth. When invoked, it toggles levitation on or off. While levitating, you can use the > key to end the effect and return to the ground, as with a blessed potion of levitation; dropping the artifact will also end the effect.

When thrown as a projectile weapon, The Heart of Ahriman gives +d5 to-hit; when slung, it also does double damage to the monster it hits.

Strategy

The Heart of Ahriman is considered one of the weaker quest artifacts, as most Barbarians will gain intrinsic stealth from reaching XL 15, and there is a luckstone guaranteed in Mines' End. Its increased damage as a projectile is almost completely useless—not only is the sling skill considered useless and restricted for Barbarians anyway, but even the most outside scenarios where a player will want to fire the Heart of Ahriman carries the risk of shooting it into water or any other location that makes it difficult to retrieve.

However, as a source of levitation, the Heart is preferable to a supply of potions, though less desirable than the ring of levitation or boots of levitation; if invoked while riding, the artifact will also levitate both you and your steed, and unlike a spell or blessed potion you will not have to re-mount them. You can also simply end the levitation at any time via > or dropping the artifact to cut down on #invoke reliance. As always, keep your eyes open for a bullwhip if you want to retrieve loot—applying a bullwhip is reliant on dexterity, an attribute Barbarians tend to be high in.

As an intelligent artifact, it will also resist the curse items spell 80% of the time, which is a useful property for a luckstone in particular due to the negative effects they have when cursed.

Origin

In the universe of Conan the Barbarian, the Heart of Ahriman is a powerful artifact, the one thing that can allow a man to stand against the powerful wizard Xaltotun. It was also featured in the movie "Conan the Destroyer".

History

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, the Heart of Ahriman is vulnerable to the stone to flesh spell, which will turn it into a normal meatball. This was fixed in NetHack 3.6.0, where the artifact will resist the spell.

Attempting to name an ordinary luckstone as The Heart of Ahriman always makes your hand slip and gives it another name. Before version 3.6, you could exploit the naming artifacts bug and try to name any unidentified gray stone as The Heart of Ahriman; if it succeeds, then you know that it was not a luckstone. Together with kicking (to detect loadstones) and rubbing (to detect touchstones), this bug provides a surefire way to distinguish any unidentified gray stone. The artifact naming trick does not work in Nethack 3.6.0 and later versions, NAO's version of 3.4.3, or in many of the variants based on it.

Message

You feel a surge of power, but nothing seems to happen.
You invoked the Heart of Ahriman while already possessing uncontrolled levitation from another source.

Variants

UnNetHack

In UnNetHack, the Heart of Ahriman grants displacement rather than stealth when carried, as well as the same faster power regeneration that the Eye of the Aethiopica grants.

NetHack Fourk

In NetHack Fourk, invoking the Heart of Ahriman removes curses instead of toggling levitation.

dNetHack

In dNetHack, the Heart of Ahriman is now a ruby that grants magic resistance, reflection, half spell damage, drain resistance, fire resistance, and poison resistance while carried, and #invokes for curse removal, with the exact effects depending on BUC. If cursed, it uncurses itself; otherwise, it acts as a scroll of remove curse of the same beautitude. This makes it significantly more useful. With all the new spell-casting monsters in dNetHack, you're likely to want as many different sources of MR as you can.

Encyclopedia entry

The other three drew in their breath sharply, and the dark,
powerful man who stood at the head of the sarcophagus whispered:
"The Heart of Ahriman!" The other lifted a quick hand
for silence. Somewhere a dog began howling dolefully, and a
stealthy step padded outside the barred and bolted door. ...
But none looked aside from the mummy case over which the man
in the ermine-trimmed robe was now moving the great flaming
jewel, while he muttered an incantation that was old when
Atlantis sank. The glare of the gem dazzled their eyes, so
that they could not be sure what they saw; but with a
splintering crash, the carven lid of the sarcophagus burst
outward as if from some irresistible pressure applied from
within and the four men, bending eagerly forward, saw the
occupant -- a huddled, withered, wizened shape, with dried
brown limbs like dead wood showing through moldering bandages.
"Bring that thing back?" muttered the small dark man who
stood on the right, with a short, sardonic laugh. "It is
ready to crumble at a touch. We are fools ---"

[ Conan The Conqueror, by Robert E. Howard ]