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'Sam' redirects here. For the guardian of the black market, see One-eyed Sam.

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. Their first sacrifice gift is Snickersnee.

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 equipment

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

Instead of a random pet, a samurai always starts with a little dog called Hachi. This is in reference to Hachikō, 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 his birth order in the litter, and ko implies affection.


Samurai gain intrinsics at these experience levels:[4]


Samurai skills
Max Skills

Samurai start with Basic skill in Long sword, Short sword, Bow, and Martial arts

Special rules

Samurai get a +1 bonus to multishot when firing ya from a yumi.

Samurai may perform a shattering blow while wielding a katana; other roles must wield a two-handed weapon to perform one.

Japanese names for items

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".

Code of Conduct

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.


Early game


While it may be tempting to start two-weapon combat with your starting katana and wakizashi, the to-hit penalty is quite severe, the wakizashi is a middling weapon that uses a different weapon skill from your katana, and you won't train your base weapon skill while twoweaponing. It's better to use your katana alone, and wait until you've found another long sword later.

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's your guaranteed first sacrifice gift, or Excalibur, an artifact weapon that has a 16 chance of being created if you dip a long sword into a fountain. You may do this when you have attained experience level 5, though you may also wish to delay doing so until you have better HP or equipment to handle the possible fountain monsters. 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.

The yumi is a good long distance ranged weapon, especially given your multishot bonus with ya. It will aid you in situations where melee combat may prove fatal—fighting floating eyes and cockatrices for example. Since you're likely to want to switch to shuriken once you retrieve some from your Quest, consider not advancing bow skill to Expert to save three skill slots.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Per commit e8212743, non-Knights have a 130 chance of transforming a long sword into Excalibur by dipping, making Snickersnee more of a priority in the early game unless they find an altar and a means of securing high luck.


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

Mid game


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 quest 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.

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.


With maxed strength and enchantment, shuriken and ya deal roughly comparable damage (since ya do not benefit from your strength bonus). Ya are slightly more effective when you have a substantial damage bonus, thanks to the Samurai's +1 multishot bonus when using them. Shuriken, on the other hand, do not require a wielded launcher (potentially saving valuable turns), and are generally more plentiful thanks to the Quest. Since you take an alignment record penalty when using poisoned missiles, poisoning your entire stack is a Bad Idea, but it might be worth poisoning a subset of your missiles to use against monsters such as minotaurs and mind flayers, where killing them quickly is more important than a few points of alignment.

The Tsurugi of Muramasa isn't as useful as it might seem, as it compares unfavorably to twoweaponing Excalibur and your starting katana, and doesn't provide any essential extrinsics.

Late game


Samurai typically get the most out of two-weaponing, using Excalibur with an offhand katana or silver saber through the endgame; Frost Brand, Fire Brand or Grayswandir can replace Excalibur in the primary slot if you have them available, and can also be swapped into that slot against specific monsters. If no other source of reflection is available for you, you can forgo two-weapon fighting for a shield of reflection.


If you want to twoweapon in the late game and also wear an amulet of life saving, you will probably want a cloak of magic resistance paired with silver dragon scale mail, using a wish for the cloak if necessary. Relying on a quest artifact like the Magic Mirror of Merlin for magic resistance is risky, because the Wizard of Yendor can steal it, leaving you vulnerable to his touch of death.

Rank titles

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


Main article: Samurai quest

The Samurai quest sees you fight Ashikaga Takauji for the Tsurugi of Muramasa.


Additional Japanese item names

In several variants, including SlashTHEM, and NetHack--, these additional items have Japanese names:

Japanese English
bokken (previously jo) club (actually means "wooden sword")
dai-kyu bow
jo (reassigned from club) baseball bat (actually means "short staff")
kaginawa grappling hook
mizugumo water walking boots
okonomiyaki pancake
onigiri doughnut
timbe small shield


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:


dNethack expands the list of items with Japanese names, but it also allows players to disable the Japanese translation via options. The Japanese names are divided into 2 lists, which are enabled by the options role_obj_names (enabled by default) and obscure_role_obj_names (disabled by default). All of the items enabled by role_obj_names are also enabled by obscure_role_obj_names, but some of them have different names. For these items, the "obscure" name overrides the common name, if both are enabled - these are shown in bold.

These lists are presented alphabetized by Japanese name (ignoring English prefixes) for easy lookup.

Enabled by both options
Japanese English
bo-shuriken dart
dou-maru splint mail
gunyoki food ration
jingasa war hat
kabuto helmet
kote of fumbling gauntlets of fumbling
kote of power gauntlets of power
koto wooden harp
kunai dagger
osaku lock pick
potion of sake potion of booze
shito knife
hira-shuriken shuriken
sugegasa sedge hat
yugake leather gloves
Only enabled by role_obj_names
Japanese English
bo staff quarterstaff
tanko plate mail
crystal tanko crystal plate mail
Only enabled by obscure_role_obj_names
Japanese English
bisento halberd
bo quarterstaff
chokuto long sword
dai tsuchi war hammer
kamayari guisarme
jo club
jodai no katchu archaic plate mail
magari yari trident
ninja-to broadsword
no-dachi two-handed sword
ono battle axe
o-yoroi plate mail
jade o-yoroi crystal plate mail
yari spear
uma-yari lance
dwarvish zaghnal dwarvish mattock

Naginata, nunchaku, and wakizashi are now distinct items, instead of Japanese names for existing items.

Samurai now get an artifact yumi as a crowning gift, Yoichi no yumi. It grants +1d20 to hit, 2x damage to fired ya, and can be #invoked to create ya.

In addition, the guaranteed first sacrifice gift for a Samurai is now Kiku-ichimonji for men, and Jinja Naginata for women.

  • Kiku-ichimonji is a lawful Samurai-favoring katana that grants +1d4 to hit and +1d12 to damage. Samurai can twoweapon Kiku-ichimonji in the off-hand, but will suffer a -20 to-hit penalty unless they are Expert in twoweapon.
  • Jinja Naginata is a lawful Samurai-favoring naginata that grants +1d4 to hit and +1d12 to damage. When blessed, it grants an extra +5 to-hit and +1d12 damage vs holy-haters. When wielded, it grants a bonus to AC equal to 2+enchantment, doubled from the normal naginata AC bonus. Samurai can twoweapon Jinja Naginata in the off-hand.

Snickersnee is relegated to a nameable artifact, which can be named by Tourists who are either at least level 19 or have completed their quest. It cannot be named by Samurai, but it still favors Samurai. It's now an intelligent knife. Like Vorpal Blade, it has a chance of beheading targets, and doubled and exploding base dice with +1 damage per dice: 2d5+2 versus small and 2d3+2 versus large, and each explosion adds 1d5+1/1d3+1 damage. It also has +1d3 to hit and +1d10 bonus damage. Both Tourists and Samurai can twoweapon Snickersnee in the off-hand, but will suffer a -20 to-hit penalty unless they are Skilled in twoweapon.

The Tsurugi of Muramasa has received some changes: it deals double damage instead of +1d8 bonus damage, its chance of bisecting foes is increased to 110, it grants automatic searching, and it is bloodthirsty (which works differently in dNetHack compared to vanilla). Since dNetHack is a 3.4.3 variant, it does not grant extrinsic protection while wielded, since that was added in 3.6.0.

Lastly, the Kusanagi no Tsurugi can be named by Samurai at level 22, but only used as a weapon at 30. It's an intelligent long sword with +1d20 to hit and +1d12 to damage. In addition, it may behead targets and will instantly kill elementals. It grants energy regeneration while wielded, and searching and luck while carried.

Encyclopedia entry

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 ]


This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.