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) Knife.png
Name Knife
Appearance Knife
Damage vs. small 1d3
Damage vs. large 1d2
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill knife
Size one-handed
Base price 4 zm
Weight 5
Material iron

A knife is a type of weapon that appears in NetHack. It is made of iron, and can double as a projectile weapon.

For Samurai, the knife appears as a shito.


Knives make up about 2% of randomly generated weapons (on the floor, as death drops, or in shops).

Many randomly-created monsters can generate with knives:

  • Mordor orcs have a 13 chance of being generated with a knife;[1] orc-captains have a 12 chance of generating with Mordor orc equipment with the same odds of a knife, resulting in an effective 16 chance.[2]
  • A skeleton has an effective 16 chance of generating with a knife as its weapon.[3]
  • Yendorian army soldiers and watchmen have a 12 chance of generating with a knife as a secondary weapon if their primary weapon is a polearm.[4]
  • Barrow wights and Nazgul are always generated with a knife.[5]
  • Player monsters, including those on the Astral Plane, have a 158 chance (~1.7%) of generating with a knife as their initial weapon before role-based replacements.

Knife skill

Max Role

The following weapons use the knife skill:

The knife is the only ranged weapon class that gives Healers a multishot bonus at Skilled level.[6]

There are no artifact knives.


The knife is an unimpressive melee weapon, but may be worth collecting to use as projectiles for certain roles, particularly Healers. Unfortunately, they are somewhat sparse compared to daggers.

As a weapon class, knives are generally some of the lowest-damage melee weapons in NetHack with the sole exception of the crysknife, which roughly comparable to a long sword in terms of damage - the next best knife is the rare scalpel, whose damage is on par with an orcish dagger.


The knife first appears in NetHack 3.0.0.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, including some variants based on those versions, knives could not be multishot.[7] Starting in NetHack 3.6.0, any stackable weapon can be thrown with multishot if you are Skilled or higher in the appropriate weapon skill.[8]


In variants that incorporate the Pirate role, all Pirates start the game with two +1 knives.

NetHack: The Next Generation

In NetHack: The Next Generation, the tooth of an algolian suntiger is a new weapon that uses the knife skill.


In SLASH'EM, upgrading a knife can produce a stiletto and vice versa.


In dNetHack, knives deals 1d5 versus small monsters and 1d3 versus large monsters. dNetHack also adds the spoon, a weapon-tool that uses the knife skill. Snickersnee's base item changed from a katana to a knife.

Binders that are not dwarves, drow or elves start the game with a rusty knife.

Staves are a type of ward that can be carved into a wooden weapon with any type of weapon that uses the knife skill - all dwarven characters begin the game with a knife to carve staves with, as well as a wooden club to carve into.

Peasants may be generated with a knife.


In xNetHack, the kitchen is a type of themed room that contains knives and other cooking necessities. The slaughterhouse is a Gehennom-exclusive special maze room that also contains several knives.


In SpliceHack, Carnwennan is a lawful artifact knife that has +d3 to-hit and deals +d8 damage versus all monsters. It confers searching and stealth and can be invoked to toggle invisibility.

A knife can be combined with an iron chain at a furnace to create a spiked chain.


EvilHack adds Secespita, a chaotic artifact copper knife that acts as the first sacrifice gift artifact for Infidels. EvilHack also merges the knife skill into the dagger skill as of version 0.8.3.

Cultists have a 13 chance of generating with a knife.

A knife can be created at a forge by combining 2 arrows and 2 darts. Knives can be used to forge several items:


In SlashTHEM, in addition to SLASH'EM details, the Diver starts the game with a +2 rustproof knife. Player vampires can always reach a minimum of Basic in knife skill.

Two artifact knives exist in SlashTHEM, and some other artifacts also use the knife skill:


Hack'EM adds Carnwennan from SpliceHack and Secespita from EvilHack.

In addition to EvilHack forge recipes, 2 darts can be combined with 2 orcish arrows or elven arrows to create a knife.

Encyclopedia entries


Possibly perceiving an expression of dubiosity on their
faces, the globetrotter went on adhering to his adventures.

-- And I seen a man killed in Trieste by an Italian chap.
Knife in his back. Knife like that.

Whilst speaking he produced a dangerous looking clasp knife,
quite in keeping with his character, and held it in the
striking position.

-- In a knockingshop it was count of a tryon between two
smugglers. Fellow hid behind a door, come up behind him.
Like that. Prepare to meet your God, says he. Chuck! It
went into his back up to the butt.

[ Ulysses, by James Joyce ]


A Japanese stabbing knife.