Priest of an unknown god
The priests of an unknown god are monsters in dNetHack that are more a feature of the dungeon than a threat to the player. They have no offensive or defensive abilities, but when you strike one with an artifact, it will "tug gently" on it, and you will be asked if you want to let go of the item. If you let go, both the priest and the artifact will disappear from the game, and an earthquake will occur around you. Artifacts that have been removed in this way will never be generated again in the same game. The Silver Key, the Annulus, and the Pen of the Void cannot be given away. (uhitm.c, line 4576)
If a priest of an unknown god is killed in any other way, it will resurrect after a few turns, like one of the Riders.
Five priests of an unknown god are guaranteed to appear in dNetHack, all of them in the Neutral Quest, below the Outlands:
- The first on the island in the headwaters of the Lethe
- The second on the sixth level of the Lethe, south of the temple of the forgotten god
- The third in a ruined temple on an island on the third level of the Gulf of N'kai
- The fourth and fifth on two of the altars in R'lyeh
The priests' ability to remove artifacts from the game makes them a way to manage unwanted artifacts. This is especially helpful given the many new artifacts that are present in dNetHack. If you want to wish for a certain artifact, or sacrifice in hopes of getting a good one from your deity, but find your path cluttered with artifacts you can't use or don't want, the priests are able to take some of them off your hands. Because there are five priests, an adventurer who dares to venture all the way to the sunken city of R'lyeh can dispose of a total of five unwanted artifacts. Interestingly enough, the game does keep track of how many artifacts have been "regifted" (given to the unknown god). This is not currently viewable in-game via enlightenment or similar.
Be aware, however, that not all artifacts in dNetHack are counted toward the total for wishing and sacrifice gifts. All of the artifacts guaranteed to appear on unique demons and devils are exempt, as are some (but not all) of the artifacts guaranteed to appear on the Lawful and Chaotic Quests (the Rod of Seven Parts, Nighthorn, and the Black Crystal do count toward the total). If you are interested in wishing or getting sacrifice gifts, take care not to waste a priest on an artifact that would not have interfered.