Magic resistance is an extrinsic property which protects against many annoying magical attacks and effects. It is part of most ascension kits, and is generally considered a high priority to obtain as soon as possible.
Magic resistance protects against:
- Death magic from external sources:
- Polymorph magic from external sources:
- Damage from pure magic:
- magic missile attacks of angels, gray dragons, Yeenoghu, the Chromatic Dragon, and the Oracle
- the magic explosion from breaking any wand, but not necessarily the wand specific special effect
- zapped or broken wands of striking or magic missile
- zapped spells of force bolt or magic missile
- broken wands of cancellation, create monster, digging, light, make invisible, sleep, slow monster, speed monster, teleportation, and undead turning
- damage from exploding spellbooks
- teleport and level teleport traps
- energy drain from anti-magic traps; they cause damage instead
- the destroy armor, drain strength, and confuse monster spells
- effect of the paralyze and stun monster spells is reduced to one turn
- damage from the psi bolt and open wounds monster spells is halved
- damage from artifact blast is halved
- number of items cursed by curse items from any source is halved
- Magicbane cannot scare you, chance of other effects is reduced
Magic resistance does not protect against:
- Magic traps.
- Death magic that you pointed at yourself:
- Polymorph magic that you pointed at yourself:
Magic resistance is granted by wielding Magicbane, wearing a cloak of magic resistance, gray dragon scales, or gray dragon scale mail, polymorphing into a (baby) gray dragon, or carrying, wearing or wielding certain Quest artifacts.
|Quest artifacts granting magic resistance when carried|
|Archeologist||the Orb of Detection||Lawful|
|Caveman||the Sceptre of Might (only when wielded)||Lawful|
|Knight||the Magic Mirror of Merlin||Lawful|
|Monk||the Eyes of the Overworld (only when worn)||Neutral|
|Tourist||the Platinum Yendorian Express Card||Neutral|
|Wizard||the Eye of the Aethiopica (only when worn)||Neutral|
In addition to monster-type magic resistance, some monsters have player-style magic resistance: those with a magic missile attack, a random breath weapon, and baby gray dragons. In vanilla, this means Angels, Yeenoghu, gray dragons, the Oracle, and the Chromatic Dragon. Anyone coding new monsters should be aware of this somewhat counter-intuitive means of granting intrinsic magic resistance to monsters.
Monsters gain player-style resistance from a worn cloak of magic resistance, gray dragon scales or scale mail, or from wielding a co-aligned artifact: neutral Magicbane, lawful Sceptre of Might. Carrying quest artifacts also works (especially important in the case of your quest nemesis and the Wizard of Yendor), but tame monsters will not keep them unless worn or wielded.
This provides most of the same protections to monsters as it does to the player, e.g. death rays, magic missiles and involuntary polymorphs. It does not make them resist taming or conflict, as monster-style magic resistance would, nor against level teleporter traps, as player magic resistance does.
Magic resistance and reflection are the number one properties to get, closely followed by magic cancellation. Generally, you should wish to get them or make gray DSM if you cannot get them otherwise, ideally before the Castle.
Relying only on a quest artifact for magic resistance is dangerous in the endgame, because the Wizard of Yendor can steal it from you and become magic resistant himself. He will now absorb any death rays or magic missiles unharmed, but you are now quite vulnerable to his touch of death. As of Nethack 3.6.1, the Wizard can steal any quest artifact, not just your own.
Player-style magic resistance is good in a pet: death rays and polytraps lose their threat. If you want to make your pet magic resistant, gray dragon scale mail (or the cloak) are usually best. If you go the artifact weapon route, make sure your pet is carrying as few objects as possible and disarm it with a bullwhip beforehand to keep it from wielding any different artifact it may encounter. Unfortunately, the most useful pet, the Archon, cannot be made magic resistant--pets will not wield quest artifacts (ruling out the Sceptre of Might) or crossaligned artifacts (preventing Magicbane from working). Thus, only intelligent neutral pets can be made magic-resistant with an artifact weapon.
New monsters with player-style magic resistance are diamond and crystal golems and adult shimmering dragons. In addition, there are many more useful pets capable of wearing body armor, including astral devas and vampire mages.
Also, magic resistance is granted by carrying The Great Dagger of Glaurgnaa, The Stake of Van Helsing, or The Crown of Saint Edward. The Crown will always be lawful, and the Stake is lawful if wished for or if obtained by a lawful Undead Slayer. Thus, they can both be used to give a pet Solar magic resistance.
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