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A spear is a kind of weapon. It can be used in melee, or thrown.

Runed elven spears and stout dwarvish spears are superior to ordinary spears, while crude orcish spears are predictably inferior. Silver spears deal the same base damage as ordinary ones, but add bonus damage versus silver-haters.

Spear skill

Max Role

The following weapons use the spear skill:

  • spear
  • dwarvish spear
  • elven spear
  • orcish spear
  • silver spear
  • javelin

Spears have an additional +2 to-hit bonus against all monsters when thrown.

Weapons in the spear class have a +2 to-hit bonus when hitting kebabable monster classes.

In versions of NetHack prior to 3.6.0, javelins had their own javelin skill that consisted solely of javelins, but it has since been merged into the spear skill. When unidentified, a javelin appears as a 'throwing spear'.

There are no artifact spears in vanilla NetHack.

Types of spear


) Spear.png
Name spear
Appearance spear
Damage vs. small 1d6
Damage vs. large 1d8
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill spear
Size one-handed
Base price 3 zm
Weight 30
Material iron

Ordinary spears make up about 5.0% of randomly generated weapons (on the ground, as death drops, and in shops).

Spears of this kind are made of iron and susceptible to corrosion from acidic monsters and rusting from rust monsters and water.

Dwarvish spear

) Dwarvish spear.png
Name dwarvish spear
Appearance stout spear
Damage vs. small 1d8
Damage vs. large 1d8
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill spear
Size one-handed
Base price 3 zm
Weight 35
Material iron

A dwarvish spear, which appears as a stout spear when unidentified, does the most damage of all spears to both large and small monsters (1d8/1d8: as much as a scimitar, an elven short sword or a silver saber not dealing silver damage). Dwarves are sometimes generated with one.[1] In addition, dwarvish spears make up about 1.2% of randomly generated weapons.

Elven spear

) Elven spear.png
Name elven spear
Appearance runed spear
Damage vs. small 1d7
Damage vs. large 1d8
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill spear
Size one-handed
Base price 3 zm
Weight 30
Material wood

An elven spear, which appears as a runed spear when unidentified, can do more damage to small monsters than an ordinary short sword. Elves may be generated with an elven spear.[2] In addition, elven spears make up about 1.0% of randomly generated weapons.

Being made of wood, elven spears are naturally immune to corrosion and rusting.

Orcish spear

) Orcish spear.png
Name orcish spear
Appearance crude spear
Damage vs. small 1d5
Damage vs. large 1d8
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill spear
Size one-handed
Base price 3 zm
Weight 30
Material iron

An orcish spear, which appears as a crude spear when unidentified, does the least damage versus small monsters of any of the spears, one point less than even the ordinary spear.

Curiously, no monsters are generated with orcish spears—not even any of the orcs. They make up about 1.3% of randomly generated weapons, however.

Silver spear

) Silver spear.png
Name silver spear
Appearance silver spear
Damage vs. small 1d6+(1d20)
Damage vs. large 1d8+(1d20)
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill spear
Size one-handed
Base price 40 zm
Weight 36
Material silver

The silver spear is the rarest kind of spear, making up just 0.2% of randomly generated weapons. It deals the same base damage as a regular spear, but being made of silver, it deals additional damage to silver-hating monsters.


Spears of all kinds make up about 9.7% of randomly generated weapons (on the ground, as death drops, and in shops). In addition, watchmen, soldiers in the Yendorian army,[3] salamanders,[4] and ice devils[5] may be generated with a spear.


In the absence of dagger skills, a small stack of spears is a powerful ranged weapon for any Caveman or Priest lucky enough to find more than one. Generally you need to encounter a large antique weapons outlet to find them in any number. However, spears are quite heavy (three spears weigh more than a pick-axe), so they have a tendency to cause encumbrance problems.

Spears can be multishot as of NetHack 3.6.0. Cavemen get a +1 multishot bonus for throwing spears.[6]

The silver spear does only one point less damage on average against small or medium monsters than a silver saber, and deals the same damage against large monsters (which includes most major demons), making it an attractive option for roles restricted in saber, such as Cavemen, Priests, and especially Monks. Valkyries and Samurai might also consider this weapon for two-weaponing as they can be skilled in spear versus basic in saber, overcoming the damage difference.

Average damage calculation

The average damage calculations in the following table do not include bonuses from weapon skills, strength, or from using a blessed weapon against undead or demons.

Weapon Not silver-hating Silver-hating
Small monster Large monster Small monster Large monster
+0 silver spear \frac{1+6}{2}=\bold{3.5} \frac{1+8}{2}=\bold{4.5} \frac{1+6}{2}+\frac{1+20}{2}=\bold{14} \frac{1+8}{2}+\frac{1+20}{2}=\bold{15}
+7 silver spear \frac{1+6}{2}+7=\bold{10.5} \frac{1+8}{2}+7=\bold{11.5} \frac{1+6}{2}+\frac{1+20}{2}+7=\bold{21} \frac{1+8}{2}+\frac{1+20}{2}+7=\bold{22}



SLASH'EM introduces the #name-able artifact orcish spear Elfrist, the anti-elven counterpart to Orcrist, and the artifact silver spear Holy Spear of Light, which functions much like Sunsword.

In SLASH'EM the Valkyrie's starting +1 long sword has been replaced with a +1 spear.[7] For dwarvish Valkyries, the spear will be a dwarvish spear.[8]

A +0 silver spear is part of one of four starting weapon combinations for Undead Slayers.[9] For Lycanthropes, it will be an ordinary spear.[10]

UnNetHack, SporkHack and SLASH'EM

In UnNetHack, SporkHack, and SLASH'EM, Dragonbane is a dwarvish spear.


The spear is a weapon designed for thrusting. Chimpanzees use very rudimentary spears, so it is likely that humans have used spears for an extremely long time.

The related lance is designed for jousting and the javelin for throwing.

Encyclopedia entry

- they come together with great random, and a spear is brast,
and one party brake his shield and the other one goes down,
horse and man, over his horse-tail and brake his neck, and
then the next candidate comes randoming in, and brast his
spear, and the other man brast his shield, and down he goes,
horse and man, over his horse-tail, and brake his neck, and
then there's another elected, and another and another and
still another, till the material is all used up; and when you
come to figure up results, you can't tell one fight from
another, nor who whipped; and as a picture of living, raging,
roaring battle, sho! why it's pale and noiseless - just
ghosts scuffling in a fog. Dear me, what would this barren
vocabulary get out of the mightiest spectacle? - the burning
of Rome in Nero's time, for instance? Why, it would merely
say 'Town burned down; no insurance; boy brast a window,
fireman brake his neck!' Why, that ain't a picture!

[ A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark
  Twain ]


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