Serpent's Tongue

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)   Serpent's Tongue   Dagger.png
Base item dagger
Damage vs. small 1d4 x2 + (special)
Damage vs. large 1d3 x2 + (special)
To-hit bonus +2
Bonus versus (any)
Weapon skill dagger
Size one-handed
When carried


When wielded


When invoked


Base price 400 zm
Weight 10
Material iron

Serpent's Tongue is an artifact dagger in SLASH'EM and SpliceHack

It does double damage to all monsters, and even more to non-poison-resistant enemies:[1]

  • 40% chance of 2 + d6 damage
  • 30% chance of 4 + 2d6 damage
  • 20% chance of 6 + 3d6 damage
  • 10% chance of poison instadeath


In SLASH'EM (but not SpliceHack), Serpent's Tongue is the first sacrifice gift for necromancers. In both variants, it can also be generated randomly, and the mechanics of artifact generation make it very common: it is the only artifact (plain) dagger, meaning every randomly generated dagger has a 5% chance of becoming Serpent's Tongue. As daggers are very common items, it is thus generated quite frequently.

Comparison with other artifacts

Despite its being a weak base item type and comparing unfavorably with many other artifacts at +0, a fully-enchanted Serpent's Tongue is among the best weapons in SLASH'EM from an average expected damage perspective. A +7 Serpent's Tongue will, in the best case scenario, do an average of:

  • 5 base damage vs. small and 4 base damage vs. large foes
  • plus 2 x 7 = 14 from the doubled enchantment
  • plus 90% chance of an additional ~10 average damage and 10% chance of instakill vs. non-poison resistant foes
  • plus any applicable strength and skill bonuses (Rogue, Ranger, Tourist, Valkyrie, Wizard can all reach expert in dagger)

This gives it a total damage of 29 vs. small and 28 vs. large non-poison resistant foes with a 10% chance of instakill, plus any applicable strength, skill, and blessed damage bonuses.

Compare this with an average of 31.5 / 30.5 for the Bat from Hell (club skill), 32.5 / 34.5 for Reaper (polearm skill), and 34.5 / 34.5 for Mjollnir (hammer skill), none of which can instakill, and of which Reaper is two-handed and Mjollnir's damage bonus doesn't apply to to shock-resistant foes. For these reasons, Serpent's Tongue is an excellent end-game choice for either a primary weapon or secondary weapon for #twoweaponing.


Note that this artifact does not provide poison-resistance. Also, for lawful characters and Samurai, using it does not incur the usual alignment penalty for using a poisoned weapon.

Its low base cost makes it one of the few artifacts it is feasible to simply buy (rather than steal) from a shop. Note that you will have to pay 1600zm for it, as the usual 4x artifact surcharge still applies.


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