Object materials (xNetHack)

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In xNetHack, the object materials system affects far more items than in the original patch, and uses more complex lists of possible materials for each type of object. Certain items are renamed due to having a material-specific name; in practice, this generally takes the form of removing the material from the name (e.g. silver saber ➡ saber).

List of materials and behavior

Material Erodeability Effects
Glass Always shatters when thrown, and occasionally shatters when used in melee or as armor. However, it is possible to shatterproof glass weapons and armor via the normal methods of erodeproofing, such as confused scrolls of enchant weapon. Bladed glass weapons have a +3 damage bonus. Glass helms offer metal-like protection against falling objects, but may shatter if hit by a heavy object. Glass body armor may also shatter if hit by a heavy thrown object.
Silver Corrode Bonus damage to werecreatures, vampires, shades, and major demons.
Gold Blunt weapons made of these have a +2 damage bonus.
Stone Blunt stone weapons have a +1 damage bonus.
Plastic Burn Plastic weapons have a −2 damage penalty.
Paper Burn, rot Paper weapons have a −2 damage penalty.
Wood Burn, rot Wooden bladed weapons have a −1 damage penalty. Wooden helms offer metal-like protection against falling objects.
Mithril Mithril body armor always grants at least MC2.
Bone Burn Can hit shades, bypassing their usual immunity to physical attacks. Positively enchanted bone armor will intercept a level drain that hits you, instead draining a point of enchantment from the armor. Bone helms offer metal-like protection against falling objects.
Iron Rust, corrode Bonus damage to elves, nymphs, and lesser demons.
Metal Explicitly not iron; many items are changed to this so that elves can use them.
Copper Corrode Bonus damage to fungi and monsters with disease/decay attacks; copper armor can sometimes nullify falling ill (stacking 20% chance with each piece of copper armor worn)
Cloth and leather Burn, rot

List of material qualities

Below is a table that lists the density, price and AC modifiers of each material. To calculate the weight of an object, multiply its item type's weight by the density of its actual material and divide it by the density of its base material; the densities may be inexact due to deliberate changes for gameplay balance. (Assume that an object of a given material is made solidly of that material.) For example, chain mail has a base material of iron, so a set made of mithril will weigh 5080 = 58 as much, whereas gold chain mail will weigh 1.5 times as much.

The same is done to calculate price modifiers, e.g., a set of mithril chain mail costs 5010 = 5 times as much as a regular one; note that most items made of their base material will weigh and cost the same as they did previously, i.e. the base prices and weights in the object's statblock were not changed.

For calculating object AC bonuses, subtract the base material's AC from the actual material's AC and add the result to the armor's regular AC bonus. A floor of 0 is applied, as a poor material cannot make the set of armor worse than wearing no armor at all; if the armor is metal, its floor is 1 instead. The resulting value is then effectively the new "base" as far as erosion is concerned—for instance, an iron small shield will grant 2 points of AC instead of 1, but it will go down to 0 when it gets very rusty or thoroughly rusty, instead of bottoming out at 1.

Material Density (arbitrary) Price (zorkmids/aum) AC
Liquid 10 1 0
Wax 15 1 1
Vegetable 10 1 1
Flesh 10 3 3
Paper 5 2 1
Cloth 10 3 2
Leather 15 5 3
Wood 30 8 4
Bone 25 20 4
Dragonhide 20 200 10
Iron 80 10 5
Metal 70 10 5
Copper 85 10 4
Silver 90 30 5
Gold 120 60 3
Platinum 120 80 4
Mithril 50 50 6
Plastic 20 3 3
Glass 60 20 5
Gemstone 55 500 7
Mineral 70 10 6

Artifact changes

Artifacts are always made of one specific material, and some have had their default base materials changed from vanilla:

Grayswandir, Werebane, and Demonbane are all silver as usual, but the saber's base material is no longer silver by default.

Wished-for objects can only have their object material specified in wizard mode, and will otherwise have the normal base material they generate with.


Specific golems - gold, paper, leather, iron, glass, wood - may drop items made of their respective material rather than their regular drops. This has some restrictions for balance: potions, scrolls and spellbooks will never be generated from glass and paper golems, but wands are fair game.

Material hatred

In xNetHack, silver-hating code has been generalized so that it can be applied to any group of monster types for any specific material. Silver hatred itself works the exact same as it does in vanilla, with silver items dealing d20 damage to werecreatures, vampires and major demons, and silver items cannot be handled by any such monster, including by a silver-hating player.

The other materials operate according to the rules outlined below:

  • Monsters making contact with an object made of their hated material take d6 damage. This is reduced to d3 for players handling such an object.
  • In the player's case, the object can still be handled; due to a vanilla bug the player can always pick up an object made of a hated material with no harmful effect.
  • Monsters will not wear objects that are made of a material they hate.
  • If you wield something made of hated material while wearing gloves, or wear body armor made of hated material while wearing a shirt, this does not count as touching them and you will not take damage.

Elves (including elvish players), nymphs, and lesser demons hate 'cold iron', which applies to all iron in the game; this does not apply to undead variants of iron-hating monster (e.g. elf zombies). Fungi and monsters that use disease or decay attacks, including Pestilence, hate copper.

Elvish players in particular benefit from much of the above rules, which include common-sense additions to prevent too-frequent direct contact with iron. All elven weapons, including Sting and Orcrist, now have a base material of copper instead of wood; all iron items in a role's starting inventory will be made of copper for elves. Additionally, some items' base materials have been tweaked to make certain artifacts and objects in general safer for elves to handle:

  • Runeswords (including Stormbringer) are now metal.
  • Athames (including Magicbane) are now metal.
  • All amulets, including the Eye of the Aethiopica, are now metal.
  • Most rings that were iron - save for the randomized appearances "iron ring" and "steel ring" - are now metal.


The [monster] flinches at the touch of [material]!
The [material] broadsword hurts to touch!