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, a spellbook of magic missile allows you to learn the spell of magic missile. It is the special spell for Wizards.


The magic missile ray does ((xplev/2)+1)d6 damage, so higher-level spellcasters can deal significant damage with this spell. A level 30 character deals 16d6 damage with magic missile, averaging 56 damage per hit. This spell's damage is doubled for Knights by carrying the Magic Mirror of Merlin.


If your character can only learn one attack spell, it should almost certainly be magic missile. Because the damage scales with experience level, magic missile remains viable and useful throughout the entire game. And because the spell is only level 2, almost any character with some spellcasting ability can cast it effectively; roles such as priest, monk, and wizard will find it especially useful as an all-purpose ranged attack, but others like archeologists, healers, and knights may find it helpful as a backup as well, especially against monsters that might damage weapons (e.g., disenchanters) or when it's desirable to simultaneously damage a whole row of monsters. 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 than magic missile in the early game: force bolt costs 5 Pw and does 2d12 damage, while magic missile does slightly more damage starting at experience level 6 (doubled if hitting twice), but costs 10 Pw points. On the other hand, magic missile can still be useful in the early game in certain situations: it won't break fragile items and destroy boulders and doors, and it doesn't suffer from force bolt's fixed chance to hit, which can be an issue when encountering monsters with low AC. Wizards also get a bonus toward their success rate with magic missile since it is their special spell, so early-game wizards may be able to wear metal armor and still get an acceptably low failure rate with magic missile.

As with most ray-based spells and wands, this spell can be used to kill enemies behind boulders without breaking the boulder, making it invaluable in Sokoban. The ray can also be rebounded using walls to hit targets repeatedly.


In FIQHack magic missile does less damage at skill levels less than Expert (compared to vanilla). At Skilled level magic missile can partially bypass reflection. At Expert level magic missile can partially bypass magic resistance (MR only halves damage).


The canonical D&D spell of Magic Missile was a stereotypically 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. In NetHack, the spell of magic missile retains this scaling ability, though they can miss the target.