|Base price||50 zm|
|Monster use||Will not be used by monsters.|
A magic marker is a tool item in NetHack. It is one of the most useful writing items as it can be used to write magic scrolls or spellbooks. Of course, to do this, you must have a blank scroll or blank spellbook upon which to write. Magic markers can also be used to scribble a message on the floor (which is about as permanent as an engraving) at a cost of a charge per two letters (thus writing Elbereth costs 4 charges). Magic markers can be recharged only once. Archeologists, Monks, Priests, Tourists, and Wizards all have a chance of starting with a magic marker.
[Some details borrowed from Sascha Wostmann's "Yet Another NetHack FAQ," http://nethack.de/spoiler/yanfaq.txt ]
To create a scroll or spellbook, you apply the magic marker. Then you are asked what to write on, so you will need to have a scroll of blank paper or a spellbook of blank paper. Finally, you must specify what is to be written.
You may enter the correct name of a scroll ("scroll of light"), or just a short form ("light"). You may also write the label of a scroll ("ZELGO MER"), but only if you have already seen that scroll in your game. This means that if you want to write a scroll of remove curse, and you know that ZELGO MER is definitely the scroll of remove curse but it is not formally identified, you should write "ZELGO MER". Attempting to write "remove curse" will be subject to the normal failure chance from trying to write an unidentified scroll.
Similarly, you may create a spellbook by entering the correct name ("spellbook of detect food"), or a short form ("detect food"), or the spellbook label ("indigo spellbook") provided that you have identified that type of spellbook. You cannot write the Book of the Dead.
When engraving, a magic marker may be selected in response to "What do you want to write with?", creating a fast semipermanent engraving. However, this is generally viewed as a waste of charges, since the same effect can be achieved using an athame or a wand of digging. Early on, though, this can be a lifesaver.
When you write a scroll or spellbook, the BUC of the resulting item is the sum of the BUCs of the marker and the blank scroll/spellbook, as seen below. In short, blessed markers produce blessed scrolls, unless the material is cursed, and the reverse is true for cursed markers. Uncursed markers produce scrolls with the same status as the material and thus are the most useful.
Ink and charges
Writing with a magic marker uses up charges. Initially, a magic marker will be generated with 30–99 charges.
A magic marker can be recharged with a scroll of charging (or PYEC), but only once. They do not explode. A blessed charge will add 15–30 charges, then round up to 50 or 75 if able. An uncursed charge will add 10–20 charges, then round up to 50 if able. Because of the total gain of 50 charges, it is best to recharge your magic marker when it is totally empty. Blessed charging in this case gives no advantage over uncursed. An exception would be if you want to write a very high-level spellbook. In that case, charging it up to 75 with a blessed scroll could be desirable. Charges are capped at 127, but attempting to exceed this will not cause the marker to explode. It is possible, although with low probability of success, to create magic markers by polypiling magical tools. (It is technically possible to create them from non-magical tools, but the probability of this occuring is vanishingly small.) Be aware that any magic markers created by polymorphing come "pre-recharged", and cannot be charged again.
If the ink cost of a scroll or spellbook is X, then writing it will cost a random number of charges between X/2 and X-1 inclusive. If the marker has fewer than X/2 charges remaining, you will not even attempt to write the specified item ("Your marker is too dry to write that!"). If it has between X/2 and X-1, however, you will attempt to write. If it turns out that this is not enough, the written item will be useless, and the marker will lose all its remaining charges ("Your marker dries out!"). Useless scrolls will disappear, while books will clear themselves.
|stone to flesh||30||15-29|
|cone of cold||40||20-39|
|finger of death||70||35-69|
Unknown scrolls and spellbooks
Your chance of successfully writing a scroll or spellbook which is currently unknown to you depends on your luck and whether you are a wizard. Regardless of whether or not you succeed or fail, you will still use the normal range of ink.
A scroll or spellbook type is known to you if you have identified it in any way (so it appears as, e.g., "a scroll of identify"). Note that as of 3.6.0 type-naming a scroll no longer allows you to automatically write the scroll by its formally identified type (you can still safely write the scroll's label).
|-1 to 1||20%||6.7%|
|2 to 4||39%||13%|
|5 to 7||59%||20%|
|8 to 10||78%||26%|
If you successfully write an unknown scroll or spellbook type, you must read it or identify it to place it in your discoveries list. This will enable you to write it again later with 100% success.
Provided your Luck is maximized, it may be worthwhile to attempt to write unknown scrolls or spellbooks even if you are a non-Wizard, depending on the number of charges on your magic marker. For example, if you have a magic marker with a high number of charges, you are very likely to be able to write a scroll of charging and save a wish on the Castle wand. It is also useful and easy to write a low level unknown spellbook, such as the spellbook of sleep or spellbook of jumping; the spellbook of magic missile is also a possibility although less easily written.
Assuming maximized Luck, the following table gives approximate probabilities of successfully writing at least one of the specified scrolls or spellbooks, attempting repeatedly until the item is written or the marker goes dry, as a non-Wizard, given an initial number of magic marker charges:
|# of charges||Any 8 ink scroll||Any level 1 spellbook||Scroll of charging||Any level 2 spellbook||Scroll of genocide or any level 3 spellbook|
Obviously, the lower the number of charges on the marker or the greater the ink cost of the item, the less likely you are to write it successfully.
If you have a source of charging and your marker has not been recharged you of course have 50 more charges to attempt to write; therefore (for example) a Knight gunning for a spellbook of magic missile starting with a (0:40) magic marker, and willing to spend the entire marker if necessary, has about an 88% chance of obtaining it in total with maxed Luck (60% he gets it without recharging, plus 70% times 40% that he gets it after recharging. This is not quite the same probability as a marker with 90 charges since typically a few leftover charges are "wasted" after the last attempt before recharging.)
If you try to write something without enough ink, or fail at an unknown scroll/book, a scroll will disappear, but a spellbook will just blank.
Writing while blind
Spellbooks cannot be written while blind ("Your magic marker can't create braille text").
You may attempt to write a scroll while blind, but this is subject to fail depending on your luck, with the message "You fail to write the scroll correctly and it disappears." You have the same chance of successfully writing the scroll as a non-blind Wizard does to write an unknown scroll, so maximizing your Luck will give you a high chance of success. The game tests this after checking whether you failed to write an unknown scroll, so it is doubly hard to write an unknown scroll while blind.
SLASH'EM incorporates a balance patch to ink costs. Scrolls of enchant armor, enchant weapon, stinking cloud, remove curse, and charging require 24 ink (12-23 charges) to write, while scrolls of scare monster cost less, requiring 14 ink.
You are no longer guaranteed to write scrolls and books you have only named, not formally identified. This is the price to pay for the ability to name things you don't have.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
- read.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 312
- mkobj.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 496
- read.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 318
- read.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 344
- write.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 17
- write.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 169
- write.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 181
- write.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 201
- write.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 175
- write.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 198: Ink cost calculated before logic of whether item is known
- write.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 203
- write.c in SLASH'EM 0.0.7E7F2, line 51: "more useful scrolls cost more"