Loadstone

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* Gray stone.png
Name loadstone
Appearance gray stone
Damage vs. small 1d3
Damage vs. large 1d3
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill sling
Size one-handed
Base price 1 zm
Weight 500
Material mineral

A loadstone is a type of gem that appears in Nethack. It is one of the four kinds of gray stones, and is the least desirable of them by far.

Generation

Normally-generated loadstones on the dungeon's floor are always generated cursed. 1011 of loadstones inside containers are generated cursed; the other 111 of those are generated non-cursed.

Effects

A loadstone weighs slightly more than an iron ball, and ultimately serves as a "gotcha" item for the unwary: if you pick a cursed one up, you cannot drop or place it into a container. Any setting of the pickup_burden option will be ignored if the character attempts to pick up a loadstone, and other inventory restrictions may be ignored as well—if a character's inventory has already reached the 52-item limit, the loadstone will still be picked up and assigned inventory position '#'. A loadstone will autocurse once it is dropped or leaves your main inventory in any other way.

Despite its weight, a loadstone does not do any more damage than a flint stone when thrown.

Strategy

Loadstones severely hinder your movement and often render you stressed or worse, which will prevent you from using up stairs; to get rid of a loadstone, you must typically uncurse it first. There are several methods to dispose of a cursed loadstone:

  • Uncurse the stone, then drop it.
  • Drop all mineral objects that you want to preserve, then cast stone to flesh on yourself; this will turn it into a harmless meatball.
  • Similarly, drop all objects that you don't want to cancel, then zap or cast cancellation at yourself.
  • Dip the stone in a potion of polymorph to transform it.
  • Allow it to be stolen by a nymph or other item-stealing monster; however, this is very unreliable unless you can safely ensure no other desirable inventory will be targeted.

Testing for loadstones

Naturally, one of the most effective methods for dealing with loadstones is learning how to avoid them in the first place.

The easiest way to test if a gray stone is a loadstone is to kick it before you pick it up. Take off any gauntlets of power and kicking boots first, and make sure you are not a class that uses martial arts (Samurai or Monk) or polymorphed into a creature that has a bonus to kicking (e.g. a sasquatch).[1][2] Loadstones are heavy enough that they cannot be kicked under normal circumstancesny, i.e. with unenhanced strength, on non-ice squares, and without a kicking bonus.

If removing armor is not possible or desired, you can also compare kicking ranges: A loadstone should travel a much shorter distance than a harmless gray stone or any non-fragile object of similar weight, like a rock. Be careful though—some bonuses add a small random amount to the distance.

As a mass majority of loadstones are generated cursed, you can also pet-test a suspected loadstone; a pet will only "reluctantly" move over it. This method also works on stones stuck next to undiggable walls, which occurs most often in Mines' End - but beware of level teleporter traps. Loadstones also only autocurse when they are dropped or leave the inventory, not when picked up - as such, you can safely pick up any suspicious gray stone after cancelling it, which has no effect beyond rendering it uncursed; if it turns out to be a loadstone, you can simply drop it afterwards.

Picking up a container with a loadstone inside will not cause it to stick in your inventory; a pickup_burden warning about severe encumbrance when lifting such a container is usually a sign of a loadstone, though keep in mind that large boxes and chests tend to be fairly heavy themselves. If you are still uncertain, you can #tip the container after removing all other items from it, then test the gray stone using the other above methods.

Once you have determined that a gray stone is a loadstone, you can #name or formally identify it so that you can recognize any future ones. If you need to read a noncursed scroll of remove curse for other reasons anyway, you might want to deliberately pick up a known loadstone. Beware sources of amnesia, as you may forget the identification for the loadstone and pick one up; check your discoveries to see whether you still know the loadstone.

History

The loadstone is introduced in NetHack 3.0.0.

Origin

The loadstone is one of the many "treasures" derived from Dungeons & Dragons, where it first appears in the 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Guide; it is also known as a "stone of weight". "Loadstone" is a pun on the word lodestone, a naturally magnetic mineral.

A stone of weight causes a 50% reduction in attack and movement rate as soon as its owner has to move quickly in order to avoid an enemy; it also "sticks" to its owner and will always turn up on their person, no matter how they attempted to get rid of it. The stone could only be removed by casting "dispel evil", which would cause it to permanently vanish. The loadstone of NetHack behaves in a similar spirit: it "sticks" to the inventory and inconveniences the holder by slowing them down, though this is done with its innate weight; curse removal is similarly required and does not destroy the stone, but makes it possible to drop or otherwise get rid of it.

Variants

SLASH'EM

SLASH'EM does not change loadstones themselves, but adds the healthstone, which is always generated cursed and also appears as a gray stone - this makes pet testing insufficient on its own to detect a loadstone in a undiggable corner. Belatedly, dipping a loadstone in a potion of amnesia will transform it into a flint stone, which can then be upgraded into a healthstone.

Be careful not to throw a loadstone—If you have autopickup on, you automatically pick up any items you have thrown.

Vulture

When using Vulture, you can see the weight of items, so it is much easier to avoid picking up a loadstone. Drop a junk item on any suspect gray stone: this forces the pickup menu to appear since there are now several items. Gray stones weighing only 10 are harmless to pick up.

xNetHack

Loadstones are removed in xNetHack, with the thiefstone being introduced instead - though also very troublesome when cursed, it can be put to good use once detected.

Reference

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-364}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.