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) Lance.png
Name lance
Appearance lance
Damage vs. small 1d6
Damage vs. large 1d8
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill lance
Size one-handed
Base price 10 zm
Weight 180
Material iron

A lance is a type of weapon that appears in NetHack. It is a one-handed weapon that is designed for use in mounted combat, and is made of iron.

Lances behave similarly to polearms, only dealing full damage when used for pounding monsters as well as mounted melee attacks.


Lances make up about 0.4% of randomly generated weapons (on the floor, as death drops, or in shops).

All Knights start with a +1 lance.[1]

Watchmen and soldiers may be generated with a lance.[2][3]

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 da859c5e, lances no longer generate on watchmen and soldiers.

Lance skill

Max Role

The lance is the only weapon to use the lance skill, and there are no artifact lances.

The range at which a character or monster can pound with a lance varies with skill level - see that article for more information.


When a mounted character attacks an adjacent monster in melee with a lance, there is a skill-dependent chance of jousting the monster:[4]. the base chance is 15, and increases by an additional 15 for each skill level (i.e. 25 at Basic, 35 at Skilled, and 45 at Expert). If jousting as part of twoweaponing, the skill level used is the lower between the character's lance skill and their twoweapon skill, e.g. the chance of jousting with an offhand lance is 15 if the character is unskilled in two-weapon combat.

A monster that is jousted monster takes +2d10 damage (or +2d2 if the lance is twoweaponed in the offhand), loses all its movement points for that turn, and becomes stunned; the monster is also pushed back one square in the direction of the melee attack, if they are not currently immobilized (e.g. they are trapped, as opposed to being sessile) and are of medium size or smaller, and the target square is not occupied or deadly. Each joust also has a luck-based chance of breaking the lance (with a hypothetical artifact lance resisting this chance completely), unless the jousting occurs against an unsolid monster:[5]

Luck Break chance
−13 1 in 18
−5 1 in 43
−1 1 in 126
0 1 in 250
+1 1 in 9550
+5 1 in 10500
+13 1 in 12500


The lance is an extremely heavy weapon that is only second in weight to the heavy iron ball, and as its base damage is quite low for that weight, a character seeking a weapon solely for pounding will prefer any polearm - the lance's primary perks lie in its jousting ability, which more than makes up for the lance's base damage and turns it into one of the most powerful non-artifact weapons.

Jousts can push monsters into pounding range, and with sufficient player skill it is possible to stay a knight's jump away from monsters with ranged attacks and pound at them without fear of retaliation. Lances are difficult to come by, meaning that most players only attempt this with Knights and their starting lance once they secure enough positive luck - until then, a lance is most safely applied at range, ideally with a backup weapon and/or space to retreat when opponents close in; even low-skill Knights in an open space can make particularly good use of this strategy with their role's jumping ability.

Barracks offer the best odds of finding a backup lance, particularly in the Castle and Fort Ludios, and dedicated lancers can wish up a spare or backup if all else fails - a light source is also worth carrying around to keep the character's pounding range illuminated. A deadly jousting tactic at high skill level is to pound at a monster that comes in range until it moves adjacent to the character, then melee with the lance to push it back into pounding range: this potentially stunlocks monsters to death without them getting a chance to attack, and with enough movement speed even covetous monsters like many of the demon lords and princes are unlikely to get a single turn in.

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.

The removal of lances from watchmen and soldier starting inventories means that lances will be much more difficult to come by through regular means for most characters.


The lance first appears in NetHack 1.3d.


A lance is a long thrusting spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior or cavalry soldier (called a lancer). In ancient and medieval warfare, it evolved into the leading weapon in cavalry charges, and was unsuited for throwing or for repeated thrusting unlike similar weapons typically used by infantry. Lances were often equipped with a vamplate, a small circular plate to prevent the hand sliding up the shaft upon impact; beginning in the late 14th century, they were used in conjunction with a lance rest attached to the breastplate.

Though best known as a military and sporting weapon carried by European knights and men-at-arms, the use of lances was widespread throughout Eastern Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa wherever suitable mounts were available. Lancers of the medieval period also carried secondary weapons such as swords, battle axes, war hammers, maces and daggers for use in hand-to-hand combat, since the lance was often a one-use-per-engagement weapon; assuming the lance survived the initial impact without breaking, it was often too long, heavy, and/or slow to be effective in a melee.


Some variants add artifact lances, which will not break when jousting as explained above.


In SLASH'EM, the range of pounding is also unrestricted, and lances can hit any square that is two squares away from the wielder.

Two of the five roles that are new to SLASH'EM can raise their skill in lances:

Max Role


SporkHack changes the additional jousting damage from 2d10 to 2d(5 + XL3).


In dNetHack and notdNetHack, the lance's weight is reduced to 80 aum, and both variants add the elven lance, droven lance, white vibrospear, gold-bladed vibrospear, and force pike as weapons that use the lance skill.

Berith is a spirit that grants skill in lances while bound.

Iron golems may be generated with a lance.

There are several artifact lances:


In FIQHack, Dragonbane has its base item changed from a broadsword to a lance. Dragonbane is the first sacrifice gift for Knights, and deals +1d20 against dragons - it also confers reflection while wielded, as in NetHack. Dragonbane has half the weight of a regular lance at 90 aum, and being gifted Dragonbane unrestricts riding and provides a free saddle.


In SpliceHack, Bradamante's Fury is a neutral artifact lance that has +1d5 to-hit and +1d10 damage bonuses versus all monsters. It has a 110 chance of stunning a monster on each hit, and instantly dismounts any mounted monsters it hits and stuns them.


In EvilHack, a lance can be created at a forge by combining a glaive and a javelin.

The ability to forge lances of a desired (usually lighter) material and/or object property makes them much more attractive propositions for most EvilHack characters compared to vanilla NetHack.


Hack'EM adds Bradamante's Fury from SpliceHack, improving the damage bonus to +1d12 and changing its alignment to lawful to match the source material. Forging recipes are the same as in EvilHack.

Encyclopedia entry

With this the wind increased, and the mill sails began to turn
about; which Don Quixote espying, said, 'Although thou movest
more arms than the giant Briareus thou shalt stoop to me.'
And, after saying this, and commending himself most devoutly
to his Lady Dulcinea, desiring her to succor him in that trance,
covering himself well with his buckler, and setting his lance
on his rest, he spurred on Rozinante, and encountered with the
first mill that was before him, and, striking his lance into
the sail, the wind swung it about with such fury, that it broke
his lance into shivers, carrying him and his horse after it,
and finally tumbled him a good way off from it on the field in
evil plight.

[ Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miquel de
           Cervantes Saavedra ]