The Heart of Ahriman
|* The Heart of Ahriman|
|Base price||2500 zm|
The Heart of Ahriman is the barbarian quest artifact. It is the prize for completing the barbarian quest. It is neutral for wishing purposes. The Heart of Ahriman is considered one of the weakest quest artifacts.
Its base item type is a luckstone and it also has exactly the same properties that regular luckstones have. When carried, it confers stealth. As an intelligent artifact, it will resist curses, a useful property for a luckstone in particular, given the negative effects they have when cursed.
The most useful feature it has is that when invoked, it toggles levitation on or off. While levitating, you can use the > key to return to the ground, as with a potion of levitation (you can also just drop it, and pick it up when you land). Also as with the potion, this ends the levitation effect, and you must wait until the artifact is able to be invoked again to return to the air. As a levitation technique, the Heart is preferable to a supply of potions, but less desirable than the ring of levitation or boots of levitation. To make this form of levitation a bit more functional keep your eyes open for a bullwhip. It can be applied downwards while riding or levitating to pick up items from the floor. This requires no skill but rather dexterity, an attribute Barbarians tend to be high in. The artifact will also levitate both you and your mount while riding without having to remount, unlike like a blessed potion or spell of levitation.
The Heart of Ahriman can be used as a projectile weapon. When thrown, it gives +d5 to-hit. When slung, it gives +d5 to-hit and also does double damage to the monster it hits. However, given that a luckstone normally does d3 damage when slung, that stones cannot be enchanted, that sling skill is a huge waste of skill slots (and is restricted to Barbarians anyway), and that you have a fairly high risk of accidentally shooting your quest artifact into water or somewhere difficult to retrieve, this is almost completely useless.
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, on NAO, and in many variants of NetHack.
In the previous version 3.4.3, The Heart of Ahriman is vulnerable to stone-to-flesh, which will turn it into a normal meatball. This is fixed in version 3.6, where the artifact will resist such spell.
The Heart of Ahriman now grants MR, reflection, half-spell damage, drain resistance, fire resistance and poison resistance while carried, and #invokes for blessed remove curse. 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.
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."
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 ---"