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)   Sting   Elven dagger.png
Base item elven dagger
Damage vs. small 1d5 x2
Damage vs. large 1d3 x2
To-hit bonus +1d5
Bonus versus orcs
Weapon skill dagger
Size one-handed
When carried


When wielded
When invoked


Base price 800 zm
Weight 10
Material wood

Sting is among the weakest of artifacts. If you touch it, even if you are of the wrong alignment, it will not blast you unless you are an orc. For all purposes, Sting is only a normal elven dagger, except that it has a slight to-hit bonus, happens to do double damage to orcs, and cuts through all webs.

Also, if you wield Sting, you can detect the location of any orc on the level, so you will know when NetHack sends in large teams of orcs.

Sting's 'big brother' in NetHack is Orcrist, an artifact elven broadsword that also has to-hit and damage bonuses against orcs.

Orcish players will never receive Sting as a gift.[1]

Name it to make it

Unlike most artifacts, you can create Sting by changing the name of any random elven dagger to "Sting". This can only fail if Sting already exists.


Because all you need to make Sting is an elven dagger, it becomes available very early in the game. Elf Rangers start with an elven dagger that they can turn into Sting as early as their first turn, if they wish. Other characters can create Sting as soon as they find an elven dagger. Hobbits are a common source of elven daggers in the early game.

Advantages of creating Sting early are:

  • You will not receive it from your god as a sacrifice gift, possibly receiving something more useful instead (only useful for chaotic characters as others will not receive Sting anyway)
  • You can use it to #force open locks on chests and large boxes; an artifact weapon is 1/100 as likely to break as a non-artifact[2] and Sting is an artifact that you can afford to break
  • Sting will sell for more gold in a shop than a regular elven dagger. The difference is trivial in most situations, but could be useful for a character attempting the protection racket

Disadvantages stem mainly from the fact that the number of artifacts that have already been generated in the game affects your chances of acquiring more artifacts:

  • Sting is only useful against orcs; many players can already kill orcs
  • The existence of Sting reduces the chance of receiving any sacrifice gift after the first (all alignments): if two or more artifacts exist in the game, you cannot reliably wish for an artifact
  • You cannot unrestrict the dagger skill by receiving Sting as a gift; applies only to Monks and Priests
  • You could preclude all sacrifice gifts in some corner cases: If all eligible co-aligned, non-race-hating sacrifice gifts have already been created, no first sacrifice gift can be granted, and you will never receive any artifacts at all. This is usually only an issue for chaotic elves who name Sting and Orcrist to guarantee Stormbringer if the latter has already been created. As Stormbringer can only otherwise appear via a wish, crowning, or bones, players will almost invariably know if it exists.

Therefore you should generally only create Sting if you are chaotic and/or a wizard and you do not want to wish for any (further) artifacts.

Encyclopedia entry

There was the usual dim grey light of the forest-day about
him when he came to his senses. The spider lay dead beside
him, and his sword-blade was stained black. Somehow the
killing of the giant spider, all alone and by himself in the
dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of
anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt
a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of
an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put
it back into its sheath.
"I will give you a name," he said to it, "and I shall call
you Sting."

[ The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien ]


From Tolkien

"Sting" is the name of an Elven dagger from J.R.R. Tolkien's novel The Hobbit and novel trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Sting was the usual weapon of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, when he found it, along with Orcrist and Glamdring, in a troll's hoard. In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo gave the dagger to his nephew Frodo Baggins. It was also famously wielded by hobbit Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee in his fight against the spider-like Shelob. Shortly before, Frodo used it to cut through Shelob's web, which was preventing their passage.

The blade was first dubbed "Sting" after the giant spiders of Mirkwood Forest referred to it as Bilbo's "sting".

Sting radiated a blue glow whenever orcs were near; this was a feature of many elven blades made at the same time as Sting. Thus, Sting in NetHack is a weapon for use against orcs.

From Dudley's dungeon

In the Dudley's dungeon strip of 18 June 2004, Sting will glow blue when Dudley inserts batteries, but batteries have not been invented yet.

Years later, in the strip of 8 March 2009, Dudley builds a battery and uses it to power Sting.


This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.1.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-360}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.