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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.
Normally-generated loadstones on the dungeon's floor are always generated cursed. 10⁄11 of loadstones inside containers are generated cursed; the other 1⁄11 of those are generated non-cursed.
Player monsters generated on the Astral Plane have a 1⁄30 chance to be generated carrying a loadstone.
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 it 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 # as the 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.
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.
- You can read a noncursed scroll of remove curse, or dip it into a potion of holy water.
- A successful prayer can uncurse a loadstone, since having a cursed one counts as a minor trouble.
- 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 - 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). When testing this way, be sure to take off any gauntlets of power and kicking boots first, and make sure you are not a role that uses martial arts (Samurai or Monk) or in the form of a creature with a bonus to kicking (e.g. a sasquatch).
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.
The loadstone is introduced in NetHack 3.0.0.
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 (which also alludes to its "sticky" properties).
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 holder's inventory and inconveniences them by slowing them down with its innate weight; curse removal is similarly required, though it does not destroy the stone, but makes it possible to drop or otherwise get rid of it.
SLASH'EM does not change loadstones themselves, but adds the healthstone, which is also always generated cursed and 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 you can then upgrade into a healthstone.
Be careful not to throw a loadstone—if you have autopickup on, you automatically pick up any items you have thrown.
In UnNetHack, a loadstone appears next to the upstair of Asmodeus' Lair.
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.
In dNetHack, the Center of All has a special projectile attack that launches a loadstone at the target; these thrown loadstones deal 1d30 damage and have a 1⁄3 chance of adding themselves to the target's inventory instead of dropping to the floor, which can quickly weigh down and immobilize targets. Loadstones generated this way are always cursed.
In addition to SLASH'EM notes above, lithivores such as rock moles can eat loadstones - this means that you can polymorph into a lithivorous monster to eat away a loadstone that you have picked up.
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 and uncursed.
In SpliceHack, Asmodeus' Lair uses the same layout as in UnNetHack, including the loadstone.
You can combine a loadstone with a scroll of identify at a furnace to create a crystal ball.
In EvilHack, Infidels can freely drop or remove cursed items, including loadstones.