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Samurai are Japanese warriors who adhere to the discipline of bushido (honor) and fight their enemies using ancient martial arts. Therefore they start out lawful and human, but can be of either gender.

The Samurai is one of the strongest roles in the early game, and thus an excellent choice for a new player. The guidebook describes them like this:

              Samurai are the elite warriors of feudal Nippon.   They  are
         lightly  armored  and  quick, and wear the dai-sho, two swords of
         the deadliest keenness.

Starting inventory[edit]

Each samurai starts with the following:[1][2]

Instead of a random pet, a samurai always starts with a little dog called Hachi, in reference to Hachikō.

Hachiko was a famous Japanese dog who faithfully waited for the return of his dead owner for nine years until his own death. Hachi means eight, in reference of its birth order in the litter and ko implies affection.


Samurai gain intrinsics at these experience levels:[4]


Samurai skills
Max Skills


Main article: Samurai quest

The Samurai quest item is the Tsurugi of Muramasa, a powerful two-handed tsurugi with the ability to bisect enemies (i. e. kill them outright) 5% of the time, much like the Vorpal Blade. Therefore it is not a good idea to engage your nemesis in honourable melee combat, since he might bisect you; making things worse, he ignores Elbereth. It's better to zap him with a wand of death. If you don't have one, other techniques include zapping him with a wand of sleep or hurling a potion of paralysis at him before attacking so that he can't fight back, protecting yourself with a scroll of earth on the upstair and killing him with ranged attacks, polymorphing into a black dragon and disintegrating him, and so forth. If you have a strong melee attack, you could just wear an amulet of life saving and hope for the best, possibly retreating if you have to burn the amulet; actually, having an amulet of life saving is probably a good idea anyway no matter what strategy you choose, just in case you get unlucky.

The Tsurugi is an excellent weapon in the mid-game (i. e. from the Quest to Gehennom), but becomes weaker in the end-game because it doesn't deal double damage like some other artifact weapons. (Frost Brand, Fire Brand, Grayswandir and the Staff of Aesculapius.) Once you have enough scrolls to enchant your primary weapon up to +7, you'll want to make the Tsurugi your back up. But until then, happy bisecting!

The quest is notable for producing a lot of loot, especially attack wands, which your opponents will use against you. Reflection, or at least resistance to sleep, fire, and cold, are highly desirable.

Rank titles[edit]

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

  • XL 1-2: Hatamoto
  • XL 3-5: Ronin
  • XL 6-9: Ninja/Kunoichi
  • XL 10-13: Joshu
  • XL 14-17: Ryoshu
  • XL 18-21: Kokushu
  • XL 22-25: Daimyo
  • XL 26-29: Kuge
  • XL 30: Shogun

Japanese names for items[edit]

Since the samurai are Japanese, some of the game items use Japanese names in place of their regular English names when playing as a Samurai. The following is a list of those items with their Japanese names:

English Japanese
short sword wakizashi
broadsword ninja-to
flail nunchaku
glaive naginata
lock pick osaku
wooden harp koto
knife shito
plate mail tanko
helmet kabuto
leather gloves yugake
food ration gunyoki
potion of booze potion of sake

There are also some regular items that are uniquely Japanese. Once identified, these are described using their Japanese name, regardless of which role you are playing. These items are the following:

Additionally some pieces of dialog are also changed. On losing a level or dying, you receive the message "Sayonara", instead of the usual "Goodbye"; when starting or loading a game, it greets you with "Konichi wa"; and friendly shopkeepers and priests greet you with "Irasshaimase".

[dNethack] Expanded list of Japanese item names[edit]

dNethack expands the list of items with Japanese names. This list is presented alphabetized by Japanese name for easy lookup.

Japanese English
bisento halberd
bo quarterstaff
bo-shuriken dart
chokuto long sword
dai tsuchi war hammer
dou-maru splint mail
dwarvish zaghnal dwarvish mattock
gunyoki food ration
hira-shuriken shuriken
kabuto helmet
kamayari guisarme
kote of fumbling gauntlets of fumbling
kote of power gauntlets of power
kunai dagger
jade-hilted kunai silver dagger
jade o-yoroi crystal plate mail
jade-set yari silver spear
jo club
koto wooden harp
magari yari trident
naginata glaive
ninja-to broadsword
no-dachi two-handed sword
nunchaku flail
ono battle axe
osaku lock pick
o-yoroi plate mail
potion of sake potion of booze
shito knife
tanko bronze plate mail
uma-yari lance
wakizashi short sword
yugake leather gloves

Additional Japanese item names[edit]

In Slash'EM Extended, SLASHTHEM, NetHack-- and probably other variants.

  • bokken(replacing jo) club (actually it's a "wooden sword")
  • dai-kyu bow
  • jo(reassigned here) baseball bat (actually, it's a short staff)(instead of club)
  • kaginawa grappling hook
  • mizugumo water walking boots.
  • okonomiyaki pancake
  • onigiri doughnut (actually, it's a rice ball)
  • timbe small shield.

Code of Conduct[edit]

The bushido code requires that samurai behave honorably. Dishonorable acts will incur an alignment penalty and display a guilt message. Examples include:

  • Digging up a grave: -1 "You disturb the honorable dead!"
  • Attacking a peaceful or tame creature: -1 "You dishonorably attack the innocent!"
  • Attacking with a poisoned weapon: -1 "You dishonorably use a poisoned weapon!"

A Samurai with a non-Lawful alignment (probably from wearing a Helm of opposite alignment) will still receive the message, but will not suffer the alignment penalty.


The samurai strategy is very simple. If it moves, stab it, and if it's sessile, stab it anyway. The samurai are also good ranged warriors, receiving a bonus to hit and damage when shooting ya from a yumi. Samurai aren't good at spell casting. However, the katana and splint mail they start with make the first few levels a breeze.

As far as weapons go, the samurai should not bother with any sword other than a long sword. The katana they start with is the finest one-handed non-artifact weapon in the game. Since the samurai can reach expert level in two-weapon combat they are better off swinging two long swords/katana than one of any larger non-artifact weapon. However, in the early game it is important to build up skill in individual weapons, which cannot be done while using two weapons.

Of course, the samurai becomes even more powerful with an artifact weapon. Early options include Snickersnee, a buffed-up katana that you can get by sacrificing to your God, or Excalibur, an artifact weapon that has a 1/6 chance of being created if you dip a long sword into a fountain. Do this after you have attained experience level 5, but preferably 7. Note that you must use an actual long sword to accomplish this, do not dip your starting katana into a fountain to try to accomplish this. Once you have a decent artifact weapon and expert skill in long sword, slide your original katana over to the secondary hand in two-weapon combat, and it will continue to add its damage to your attacks.

Don't use the wakizashi for two-weapon combat because it's a short sword; a type of sword inferior to all other swords in inflicting damage. Find a long sword, which will share the skills you gained with the katana. A crysknife is good, but might not be worth the effort it takes to make one. Advancing multiple other weapon skills beyond basic level should be avoided, due to the finite number of skill slots available to you. If you don't care about riding or spells, however, it is not an issue. Save slots for two-weaponing, longsword, possibly saber, and bow.

The yumi is a good long distance ranged weapon, especially since it can shoot 2 ya in a single turn. It will aid you in situations where melee combat may prove fatal -- fighting floating eyes and cockatrices for example. However, veteran players recommend that the bow skill should only be advanced to skilled level, not expert level. This is so you can save expert level slots for later.

In the long term, the best artifact weapon for the Samurai is the Frost Brand. The most damaging all-purpose melee attack in the game comes from a samurai double wielding a +7 Frost Brand and a +7 katana. This assumes 18/** STR and expert level in both two-weapon combat and long sword. Next comes the Fire Brand, then Grayswandir, and then the Tsurugi of Muramasa.

If you have some wishes to burn, consider the Sceptre of Might, the Magic Mirror of Merlin or the Orb of Detection for magic resistance. In the non-artifact category, gray or silver dragon scale mail is a must-have, as is a good pair of fireproof speed boots.

Strategy in SLASH'EM[edit]

Samurai can be played more or less the same way in SLASH'EM as in Vanilla. Just be a little more wary of enemies' stronger attack power, using your ya and scribbling the E word whenever enemies are near.

  • Their "kiii" technique gives a temporary boost to your attack power. Due to the Samurai's strong attack power you may never use it, but it can be useful if you're facing somewhat powerful enemies and want to take them out quickly.
  • SLASH'EM allows you to #twoweapon two artifacts at the same time. Considering that Samurai can easily get both Excalibur and Snickersnee - two of the most powerful weapons in the game - and are able to advance both longsword and #twoweapon to expert, this is a huge advantage.
  • Since a Samurai wielding both Excalibur and Snickersnee will do large amounts of damage even with zero enchantment, enchanting your weapons is a low priority. If you find any scrolls of enchant weapon, consider blessing it and enchanting your unicorn horn - enchanting unicorn horns increases their chances of working in SLASH'EM.
  • Once you have at least a submachine gun and a bunch of bullets, don't bother any more with the yumi. Firearms are superior to bows and arrows. Later, replace your submachine gun with an assault rifle. The assault rifle will be very good for the special cases where melee is a bad idea.
  • Save up gold for shops, or get good at stealing: along with rogues and barbarians, samurai are massively overcharged in shops, paying twice as much. This is mainly relevant when you find a magic lamp in a shop, which in SLASH'EM has a base price of 1000zm.
  • A good ascension kit for a Samurai is:



In SLASHTHEM, the samurai is quite similar to the slashem samurai with some differences.

He can be of any alignment. As a first sacrifice gift he gets Kiku-ichimonji, a better katana then Snickersnee, that is not a samurai affiliated sword any more. If lawful, Excalibur is a good and easy to get primary weapon for the drain resistance.

The quest is basically the same. The most notable difference is that the second level is filled with sea monsters, a lot of them capable of stealing. Be prepared with telepathy and plenty of ranged attacks.

Some monsters have a passive disintegration attack, that can disintegrate your swords. So watch out for them.

The assault rifle is a very good ranged weapon. Especially with the higher weight cap, you can carry around thousands of bullets with out been burdened. A good ranged weapon is more important here, because of all the nasty attacks some monsters can posses.

Magic is once more, more accesible, because dragon scales don't block magic any more.


Main article: Religion

Encyclopedia entry[edit]

By that time, Narahara had already slipped his arm from the
sleeve of his outer robe, drew out his two-and-a-half-foot
Fujiwara Tadahiro sword, and, brandishing it over his head,
began barreling toward the foreigners. In less than a minute,
he had charged upon them and cut one of them through the torso.
The man fled, clutching his bulging guts, finally to fall from
his horse at the foot of a pine tree about a thousand yards
away. Kaeda Takeji finished him off. The other two Englishmen
were severely wounded as they tried to flee. Only the woman
managed to escape virtually unscathed.

[ The Fox-horse, from Drunk as a Lord, by Ryotaro Shiba ]


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