Spellbook of finger of death

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spellbook of
+   finger of death   Light green spellbook.png
Appearance random
Abundance 0.50%
Base price 700 zm
Weight 50
Turns to read 80
Ink to write 35–69
Spell type attack
Level 7
Power cost 35 Pw
Direction ray
Equivalent wand of death

In NetHack the spellbook of finger of death allows you to learn the finger of death spell.

Generation

The spellbook is most commonly received through wizard crowning: it is given on crowning if the wizard does not already have one and is not wielding Vorpal Blade or Stormbringer. The spellbook received this way is always blessed.

Effects

Finger of death is the most powerful attack spell. The ray produced by this spell has the same effect as a wand of death: it instantly kills any monster it hits, unless the monster is Death, a major demon, nonliving, or has magic resistance or reflection. Your skill in attack spells has no significant effect on finger of death, other than increasing the spellcasting success rate and to-hit probability.

Zapping yourself directly with the spell is an instadeath, regardless of reflection or magic resistance, and is a very bad idea.

Strategy

The finger of death is the most difficult and magic-intensive spell in the game, but this is to be expected given its extremely powerful effects. Since the spell is a ray, it can hit multiple enemies and bounce off walls, and is subject to reflection. Be extremely careful about casting it without having reflection or magic resistance yourself.

It is most useful for being able to instantly kill most of the monsters in the game, if they are not resistant. Unfortunately most of the nastier late-game enemies are: Death resists it, as do all demons and undead. Archons do not technically resist it, but since they are always generated with a shield of reflection, they will never be affected unless their shield has somehow been swapped or removed. Minotaurs are a good candidate for this spell, and it is also generally good for crowd control, since it can take out multiple monsters per casting. It can also take out the High priest of Moloch and the Wizard of Yendor, assuming they don't steal or otherwise obtain an item that gives them magic resistance.

In other games

The finger of death is also the ultimate spell in the old game Spellcast.