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Bard v0.9
Author André Bertelli Araújo
Download link
Bilious PatchDB 76

The Bard is a role added in the Bard patch. It has been included in the variants Slash'EM Extended, SlashTHEM, and (as the Troubadour role, starting in v. 3.10) dNetHack.

One of the distinctive features of the Bard patch is the option of casting enchantment spells as songs, performed on a musical instrument. The musical versions of the spells have some advantages and disadvantages over their regular versions. The patch gives several roles this ability, but the Bard excels at it. This feature has been carried over into some of the variants that include the Bard role.

For an explanation of the role by the patch author, see here.

For a discussion of the role, see here.

Starting inventory

Each Bard starts with the following:

From the start of the game, the Bard can recognize all musical instruments, including the magical ones.

In Slash'EM Extended, Bards can recognize the spellbooks for all enchantment spells, but do not start with the books or know the spells. Thanks to their wealth of adventuring lore, they start the game with the knowledge of several randomly selected items.

In dNetHack, Troubadours' lore also includes knowledge of several basic wards: Circle of Acheron, Hamsa, Elder Sign, Elder Elemental Eye, Sign of the Scion Queen Mother, Cartouche of the Cat Lord, the Wings of Garuda, and the Toustefna and Dreprun staves.

Drow Troubadours will get droven chain mail and a droven cloak instead of a leather cloak. Half-dragon will always get a leather drum as their starting instrument.



Bard skills
Max Skills

Bards start with Basic skill in Musicalize Spell and bare hands.

The Bard's special spell is sleep. Spell success is determined by intelligence in Slash'EM Extended. In SlashTHEM, spell success is determined by charisma.

In Slash'EM Extended, the Bard can reach expert in all of the skills above (except Musicalize Spell, which is not incorporated), plus unicorn horn and firearms. Escape spells are replaced by body spells, as in SLASH'EM.

In SlashTHEM, escape spells are replaced by body spells; otherwise, the maximum skill levels are the same as in the patch. This variant includes the Musicalize Spell feature (as "Music"), starting in version 0.8.

Musicalize spell

The Bard's distinctive advantage is mastery of a skill called Musicalize Spell, which gives the character the ability to perform magical songs. For the most part this is just a special way of casting enchantment spells, by (a)pplying a musical instrument instead of using the spell menu (though there is one song, "Inspire Courage", which is unlike any regular enchantment spell). For roles who can reach at least Basic in the skill, this will bring up a menu with the option of casting a spell in addition to the existing options of improvising or playing a series of notes.

Spells performed as songs have two advantages over spells cast in the usual way. First, songs require no energy to perform, and second, songs affect all monsters in an area, instead of all monsters in a specified direction. However, the advantages of using songs are balanced by several disadvantages:

  • The performer must have an appropriate musical instrument. For every magical song, there are two instruments that can be used: one that is "preferred" and less likely to be resisted by monsters, and an alternative that can be used if the preferred instrument is unavailable, but with a lower chance of success.
  • The performer must have learned the spell corresponding to the song being used.
  • Songs take several turns to perform, and can be interrupted.
  • The effects of spells cast as songs tend to be less powerful than their regular forms. For example, the Lullaby song, if successful, puts monsters to sleep for a shorter period of time than the sleep spell.
  • At Unskilled or Basic, songs affect pets as well as hostile monsters, though the effects on pets are milder. At Skilled or Expert, tame creatures are not affected—except by "Inspire Courage", which only affects pets.

Songs in Slash'EM Extended and SlashTHEM

Song Description Spell Preferred Instrument Alternative Instrument Duration
Lullaby Puts enemies to sleep sleep wooden harp wooden flute 4 turns
Cacophony Confuses enemies confuse monster leather drum tooled horn 5 turns
Drowsiness Slows enemies slow monster wooden flute wooden harp 5 turns
Despair Causes enemies to flee cause fear tooled horn leather drum 6 turns
Friendship Temporarily tames monsters charm monster wooden harp wooden flute 6 turns
Inspire Courage Increases the damage done by pets cause fear bugle leather drum 6 turns

Note that "Inspire Courage" does not mimic an existing enchantment spell; however, the character still needs to know a specific spell (cause fear) in order to use it.

In the patch, Monks and Priests can advance the Musicalize Spell skill to Basic, while Tourists can advance it to Skilled.

In SlashTHEM, Musicians and Rockers can also reach Expert in Music. In this variant, characters can perform any song without having to know the corresponding spell.

Songs in dNetHack

Song Description Spell Preferred Instrument Alternative Instrument Duration
Lullaby Puts enemies to sleep sleep wooden harp wooden flute 4 turns
Meditative Healing Heals pets, at the cost of immobilizing them extra healing wooden harp wooden flute 4 turns
Lethargy Slows enemies (including sleep-resistant foes) slow monster wooden harp wooden flute 5 turns
Friendship Permanently tames single adjacent monster charm monster wooden harp wooden flute 6 turns
Rally Teleports pets to you, heals pet status ailments teleport away bugle tooled horn 1 turn
Charge Pets move and attack faster while the song is playing haste self bugle leather drum 5 turn
Disruption Interferes with monster spellcasting while the song is playing cancellation tooled horn bugle 5 turn
Inspire Courage Increases the damage done by pets cause fear bugle leather drum 6 turns
Fear Causes enemies to flee cause fear tooled horn, leather drum <none> 6 turns
Cacophony Confuses enemies confuse monster tooled horn leather drum 5 turns

Success chance in dNetHack

Success chance is calculated as:

ATTRIBUTE x 2 x MUSICALITY_SKILL + experience level


  • ATTRIBUTE is strength for drums (either leather or of earthquake) and dexterity for all other instruments.
  • MUSICALITY_SKILL is 1 at unskilled, 2 at basic, etc.

Bonuses are applied (in the following order):

  • If the instrument is an artifact or the instrument is the song's preferred type, increase the chance by 50%.
  • If your health is lower than 30% of your maximum, increase the chance by 100%.
  • If the instrument is a drum or a harp, and you are wearing a shield, decrease the chance by 50%.
  • If you are blind, increase the chance by your experience level.
  • If you are using the Lyre of Orpheus (Bard's quest artifact) and you are not playing one of: Rally, Meditative Healing, Lullaby, or Friendship, decrease the chance by 50%.

Note: The chance is only capped to 0/100% after all bonuses have been applied, so you can still get to 100% success chance with the Lyre of Orpheus.


In Slash'EM Extended and SlashTHEM, the Bard gains techniques at the following experience levels:

The Booze technique allows the Bard to simulate the effects of drinking booze without needing the potion ("You procure some refreshing drinks.") This provides some nutrition.

  • Slash'EM Extended tech.c line 185, 2545
  • Slash'EM Extended tech.c line 226
  • SlashTHEM tech.c line 148



Early game

Early game is all about training up your musicalize skill by spamming it as much as possible, with the ultimate goal of getting Musicalize up to expert as quickly as possible. Use Lullaby on every enemy your pet fight to limit damage to your pet, and heal your pet with Meditative Healing as much as possible. As you begin to progress deeper in to the dungeon and find slightly stronger monsters, consider using Lethargy and Friendship to slow them down and capture them. Keep your eyes peeled for a magic whistle as this is essential to keeping your pets in position as you travel through the dungeon. When possible, upgrade your Beast Mastery skill to maximize your pets' effectiveness.

Exercise your dexterity as much as possible in the early game to build up this trait. As increased dexterity decreases the chance of failure from your Musicalize skills, most importantly the Friendship spell, you will need this trait at maximum as quickly as possible.

Mid game

As you progress through the mid game, keep a look out for an altar you can sacrifice on (or convert) and try to get your hands on the Singing Sword, which is essential for the mid game. Rushing the castle so you can get a few wishes, if you haven't received any already, is a good idea - that will allow you to take your time on the other quests once you're better equipped.

As you get stronger in the mid game, you should be constantly recruiting the most dangerous monsters you can find as pets, and you may have to lure strong monsters into isolation from other nearby monsters to capture them as nearby monsters may interrupt your musical spellcasting. During the Gnomish Mines, the Minetown Watch can serve you well, and Cerebus in Vlad's Tower will carry you for a quite a while. Mind flayers, dragons, orc kings, and even a few elementals are all good pets in this part of the game. The master mind flayer on throne at the start of the Neutral Quest is particularly good if you can get him - just make sure to surround yourself with enough disposable pets that you won't get hit with every attack. Metroids will also work well mid game, but as they level, they will eventually turn into an untamable metroid queen, so this is not a viable long-term option.

The mid game is a good time to consider using scrolls of genocides to exterminate monsters that will instakill your pets. Purple worms, trappers, and cockatrices should all be eliminated if you're not going to use them yourself.

Keep an eye peeled for smart situational branches that could help you in creative ways. For example, if the Sunless Sea is the sunken city variant, you can recruit a few deep ones and then kill the constantly spawning hoarde of deep ones to create massively overpowered deepest ones that will help you tremendously in the mid and late game.

Late game

In general, as you progress deeper towards the late game, more and more monsters will shout down your Musicalize spells, making it difficult to heal monsters or recruit new monsters. All but the strongest of monsters should be considered disposable, and you should be constantly using your pets to protect you with their lives. When you actually complete your own quest, make sure to ring the Bell of Opening once to teach it to your Singing Sword - the five percent change of instantly killing monsters will be essential for killing demon princes and other strong monsters.

Demon princes in Gehennom will be a problem, and should be avoided as much as possible. Archons and other strong pets (like Lady Oona or Tulani Eladrim) that have lasted you well will not survive demon princes in a toe-to-toe fight. If you have to fight, ward a square, as a scared demon prince often won't attack either you or your pets. Good monsters to keep an eye out for include master mind flayers, orcs of the ages of the stars, Angband orcs, and ancient nagas. Ancient nagas particularly can be useful in Nessus, as these can kill Nessian pit fields quickly without triggering their summon nasties spell, though they may turn on you. Be careful in capturing pets that might turn traitor, but don't be afraid to include a few in your entourage - traitors will distribute their attacks against other pets as well as yourself, at which point you can just heal your pets with Meditative Healing.

Most likely, your stable troops will be a supply of dragons. Higher level dragons can take quite a lot of punishment, and the period summon nasties spell that starts to trigger after you've slain the Wizard will provide you with a ready supply. Keep your eyes peeled for summoned jabberwockies as well - these are somewhat fragile, but can dish out a lot of punishment and compliment a corps of dragons nicely.

In Moloch's Sanctum, avoid fighting the elder priest - you can wait for the Wizard of Yendor to spawn and then steal the amulet from him. Just make sure you have enough wand of death charges to kill him quickly as you make your final escape.

Rank titles

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Bard
  • XL 3-5: Lyrist
  • XL 6-9: Sonneteer
  • XL 10-13: Jongleur
  • XL 14-17: Troubadour
  • XL 18-21: Minstrel
  • XL 22-25: Lorist
  • XL 26-29: Well-known Bard
  • XL 30: Master Bard


Main article: Bard_quest

The Bard quest sees the Bard traveling to the island of Anthemoessa to fight the siren Aglaope for the Lyre of Orpheus.


Main article: Religion

In Slash'EM Extended, the Bard uses the pantheon from the defunct Gnome role:

  • Lawful: Garl Glittergold
  • Neutral: Flandal Steelskin
  • Chaotic: Urdlen

In SlashTHEM, the Bard's pantheon combines music-related gods from Greek and Roman mythology:

  • Lawful: Minerva
  • Neutral: Apollo
  • Chaotic: Linus

The dNetHack Troubadour's pantheon is Greek, perhaps Thracian (Thrace was the home of Orpheus):

  • Lawful: Apollon
  • Neutral: Pan
  • Chaotic: Dionysus


The Bard is inspired in large part by the bard character class in Dungeons & Dragons, and similar characters.

The quest and mythos also draw on Greek mythology, including the myth of Orpheus.


  • Slash'EM Extended role.c line 297
  • SlashTHEM role.c line 147
  • Slash'EM Extended u_init.c line 5381
  • dNetHack role.c line 450
  • dNetHack u_init.c line 1613

See also