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)   Stormbringer   Runesword.png
Base item runesword
Damage vs. small 2d4 +1d2 +1d8 (4–18)
Damage vs. large 1d6+1 +1d2 +1d8 (4–17)
To-hit bonus +1d5
Bonus versus not drain resistant
Weapon skill broadsword
Size one-handed
When carried


When wielded
When invoked


Base price 8000 zm
Weight 40
Material iron

Stormbringer is a chaotic artifact, as well as the only runesword normally generated in the game. It is considered a broadsword for skill purposes. It drains life (and levels) from monsters it attacks ("The black blade draws the life from <monster>!"), healing you for a few hit points per attack. It is bloodthirsty, attacking peaceful monsters and pets without confirmation if you attempt to move onto their square. ("Your bloodthirsty blade attacks!")

It is intelligent and is also the chaotic crowning gift.


Stormbringer #twoweaponed with a silver weapon is additionally effective, since many sources of draining attacks are drain-resistant and silver haters.

Stormbringer is a great melee weapon for chaotic Rangers. As soon as you get it, you can dump your Sting. A +7 Stormbringer will easily clear out hordes of monsters in places like Fort Ludios or the Astral Plane. It will also be an important weapon in Gehennom, where projectiles can't be reliably used if the area isn't mapped out.

Stormbringer is also a good weapon for a chaotic Priest wearing their quest artifact, the Mitre of Holiness. Even drain resistant demons and undead will only do half damage.

Levels drained from the Wizard of Yendor are restored when he revives. Levels drained from trolls are permanently lost, however.

It's preferable to avoid the use of pets if you're carrying Stormbringer, as even a careful player may accidentally attack a pet with it. If you wish to have both Stormbringer and a pet, be sure the pet has a high enough health to withstand being hit accidentally, and also keep its tameness up to ensure it doesn't go feral. In addition, it is suggested that you wield something else when dealing with peaceful creatures such as aligned priests or shopkeepers.


The only ways to obtain Stormbringer are through sacrifice, crowning, wishing, and rarely bones. It cannot ever be found randomly because its base item never is.[1]

Elven priests and elven rangers can arrange for their first sacrifice gift to be Stormbringer: Since the first one will always be co-aligned and will not hate your race, only Sting and Orcrist compete with Stormbringer, both of which can be #named. In rare cases, if Stormbringer has already been generated on a bones level, this will preclude sacrifice gifts altogether. A helm of opposite alignment can remedy the situation.

Theoretically, almost anyone could get a guaranteed Stormbringer because it is enough to be polymorphed in elven form and become chaotic from the helm. The exception is if you started as chaotic and your role gets a guaranteed first sacrifice gift. However, this will most often rank as a stupid ascension trick, not as good general strategy advice.

Average damage calculation

Stormbringer itself has a d2 damage bonus applied against non-level drain resistant monsters, and the life-draining attack itself applies a further d8 drain to the target's current and maximum HP. Half of the dealt d8 is added to the wielder's current HP.

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 Drain-resistant Not drain-resistant
Small monster Large monster Small monster Large monster
+0 Stormbringer \frac{2+8}{2}=\bold{5} \frac{1+6}{2}+1=\bold{4.5} \frac{2+8}{2}+\frac{1+2}{2}+\frac{1+8}{2}=\bold{11} \frac{1+6}{2}+1+\frac{1+2}{2}+\frac{1+8}{2}=\bold{10.5}
+7 Stormbringer \frac{2+8}{2}+7=\bold{12} \frac{1+6}{2}+1+7=\bold{11.5} \frac{2+8}{2}+\frac{1+2}{2}+\frac{1+8}{2}+7=\bold{18} \frac{1+6}{2}+1+\frac{1+2}{2}+\frac{1+8}{2}+7=\bold{17.5}


The sword is featured in a number of fantasy stories from author Michael Moorcock. Physically, it appears as a black sword with runes engraved deep in the blade. It's a cursed daemon sword with a will of its own and hungry for souls. Frequently betraying its wielder, emperor Elric of Melniboné, by creating a bloodlust in his mind and making him kill friends and loved ones. Elric hates the sword, but he is too dependent on its power.


In SLASH'EM, there is a runesword in the Lawful Quest, which has a 5% probability of being Stormbringer if it hasn't already been generated.

Most artifacts in SLASH'EM do their maximum damage bonus instead of a random number. Stormbringer's case is somewhat more complex, as it has a regular damage bonus and a level-drain damage bonus. Rather than doing maximum damage on both, it does +2 for the regular damage bonus and continues to do 1d8 for the level-drain bonus, making it do on average only 0.5 damage points more than vanilla. This makes it considerably weaker than other artifacts such as Excalibur and Snickersnee that it stacks up well against in Vanilla, and dramatically weaker than the more powerful chaotic SLASH'EM artifacts such as the Bat from Hell, Doomblade, and Serpent's Tongue. It does enjoy a full +5 to hit, as well as the hit point gain bonus, making it a significant boon in SLASH'EM's challenging early game. Additionally, its drain resistance makes it a useful alternate weapon in the late game when facing off against deep dragons and monsters with wands of draining.

SLASH'EM allows twoweaponing with two artifacts. However, extrinsics granted by wielding the artifacts are only available for the artifact wielded in the primary hand. If you plan to dual-wield Stormbringer with another artifact and want to take advantage of its drain resistance, you should wield it in the primary hand. Also note that wielding it in the off hand does not prevent it from its bloodthirsty attack, and the game will taunt you if you try ("The black blade will not be thwarted!")

Encyclopedia entry

There were sounds in the distance, incongruent with the
sounds of even this nameless, timeless sea: thin sounds,
agonized and terrible, for all that they remained remote -
yet the ship followed them, as if drawn by them; they grew
louder - pain and despair were there, but terror was
Elric had heard such sounds echoing from his cousin Yyrkoon's
sardonically named 'Pleasure Chambers' in the days before he
had fled the responsibilities of ruling all that remained of
the old Melnibonean Empire. These were the voices of men
whose very souls were under siege; men to whom death meant
not mere extinction, but a continuation of existence, forever
in thrall to some cruel and supernatural master. He had
heard men cry so when his salvation and his nemesis, his
great black battle-blade Stormbringer, drank their souls.

[ The Lands Beyond the World, by Michael Moorcock ]


  1. mkobj.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 403: Random artifacts are only generated by upgrading their base items.

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