Spellbook of magic missile

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spellbook of
+   magic missile   Light green spellbook.png
Appearance random
Abundance 4.58%
Base price 200 zm
Weight 50
Turns to read 2
Ink to write 10–19
Spell type attack
Level 2
Power cost 10 Pw
Direction ray
Equivalent wand of magic missile
Special for wizard

In NetHack, the spellbook of magic missile can be read to learn the spell of magic missile. It is a level 2 attack spell, and the spellbook takes 4 actions (roughly 2 turns) to read. It is the special spell for Wizards.[1][2]


There is a ~4.58% chance that a randomly-generated spellbook is a spellbook of magic missile.

A spellbook of magic missile requires 10 to 19 charges from a magic marker to write.


When cast successfully, you are prompted to select a direction to cast the ray of magic missiles in. The ray deals ((XL/2)+1)d6 damage to monsters it hits before spell damage bonuses are applied, making the spell more damaging for higher-level casting characters: A level 30 character deals 16d6 damage with magic missile, averaging 56 damage per hit. This spell's damage is doubled for Knights carrying the Magic Mirror of Merlin.

Targets with magic resistance or reflection are immune to the spell.


If your character can only learn one attack spell, it should almost certainly be magic missile. Because it is a level 2 spell and the damage scales with experience level, magic missile remains viable and useful throughout the entire game for almost any character with some spellcasting ability, even when they are otherwise restricted in attack spells. As with most ray-based spells and wands, magic missile can also be rebounded using walls to hit targets repeatedly.

In addition to wizards, Roles such as Monks and Priests will find it especially useful as an all-purpose ranged attack, while others like Archeologists, Healers and Knights may find it helpful as a backup against a row of hostiles or monsters with dangerous passives (e.g., disenchanters Advanced Wizards armed with the Eye of the Aethiopica can rely on magic missile as their primary attack.

For low-level Wizards, the force bolt spell they start with is usually a more efficient use of power in the early game: it costs 5 Pw and does 2d12 damage, where magic missile costs 10 Pw and only begins to deal more damage starting at experience level 6 (ignoring intentionally-rebounded rays). Even then, magic missile can still be useful in certain early-game situations: it does not break fragile items, boulders or doors as force bolt does, making it especially invaluable in Sokoban; its to-hit chance is also not fixed like force bolt, making it more viable against low-AC targets. Wizards also get a bonus toward their success rate due to it being their special spell - some early-game wizards may be able to wear some metal armor and still get an acceptably low failure rate.


The spell originates from Dungeons & Dragons, where it was initially a stereotypical puny level one wizard spell that quickly became a staple of the wizard class, as it was effectively a homing attack with each bullet doing its own damage roll, which can easily rack up significant damage short of the target having magic resistance. The spell of magic missile in Nethack retains this scaling ability and removes the cap of five missiles at level nine, though it requires a target to be in particular squares and can miss the target.



In FIQHack, magic missile does less damage at skill levels below Expert. At Skilled level, magic missile can partially bypass reflection; at Expert level, it can also partially bypass magic resistance, which only halves its damage.