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Page a mess

This whole page is a mess. I intend to rework it later. EkiM 11:40, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I was so happy to see that this page had been designated the featured article for April, 2008, that I created a jpeg of the word "Elbereth" in three of Tolkien's scripts and added it to the top of the article. That should spiff it up a bit.--Ckbryant 22:24, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, it looks really nice. I think this is a superb article too. --Andronikus 03:37, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
This page is horribly written. It's hard to find anything. There is no consistent separation of an easy-going summary for beginners and the concise technical details for experts. All of it is much too long. I don't quite see how to integrate Elbereth cage here. Worst of all, it's such a daunting task that I shrink away. Tjr 13:19, July 20, 2010 (UTC)
The article length can be cut down by a fair amount if we move almost all the notes on the mechanics of actually engraving Elbereth to engraving; most of them are already there anyway. After that, I would say to break the mechanics section into two subsections: monster behavior regarding the square you are standing on, and regarding the square you are not on. For the strategy section, divide that into two subsections: basic use (survival), and advanced use (stashes, Elbereth cages, etc). I can start doing this if this form seems like a good idea. -Ion frigate 14:04, July 20, 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, that sounds great. I think we should also separate facts and strategy. A few missing tidbits are: tengus & covetous monsters never respect Elbereth when teleporting; hostile Elbereth-respecters never pick up objects on Elbereth (useful when farming); monsters see the Elbereth engraving at your displaced location, but at your real location when invisible; I recommend keeping "E-y ElberethElbereth\n" in your paste buffer because that's 90% chance of success at the cost of taking one hit; people with Magicbane should always fight on Elbereth, renewing it as necessary; detail the interaction sanctuary <> Elbereth (soldiers respect the former, object pickup the latter). The engraving mini-spoiler on this talk page could be moved somewhere appropriate. I'm not sure if all these tidbits belong into the article. Tjr 14:24, July 20, 2010 (UTC)

Elbereth on empty squares

After discussing at Talk:Scroll of mail and at r.g.r.n, I finally sent an email to the devteam. Pat Rankin replied very quickly that in his opinion it is a bug that any item needs to be placed on an E-square to activate it and that this behaviour is a leftover from the times the only way achieve the same effect was a scroll of scare monster lying on the ground. The function that scares monsters only checks squares which have something on them, not empty squares, so they get ignored. --ZeroOne 14:38, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Magic marker

There is nothing here about the effect of inscribing elbereth with a magic marker. There needs to be. Magic marker elebereths almost appear to be permanent, but I don't have enough information to say for sure. I accessed this website to find out how long MM engravings last. Jack

Magic marker Elbereth is equivalent to using a wand of digging or a non-cursed athame - it takes one turn, you never mess up the letters (unless under some bad status effect) and it lasts much longer than engraving in the dust but is not permenant. Prayer has nothing whatsoever to do with it. (A)ngels do not respect E but (a)nts do. EkiM 11:35, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

ants are no exception

Please note. When I inscribe elbereth with a MM giant ants do respect it. This page notes that no "A" monsters respect it, and lists giant ants in that category. jack, battling two giant ants with 10hp left

-I think that they only mean monsters represented by a capital A, but the "A" link links to both capital and lowercase. Kahran042

I may have figured out why. I prayed at the sight of my engraving and the ants respected it. Later while being relentlessly pursued through a hallway i engraved it with a MM and they did not respect it. Maybe prayer is the key here Jack

Mechanics of engraving

The Speed and Quality section could use further rationalisation. I think this article should focus more on only those details that are relevant to tactical use of Elbereth; I have moved out some of the discussion of slow engraving, and trimmed some of the other discussion a bit, but the section is still rather long in getting over the basic points. --User:cph

Not a goddess

In Tolkien's works Elbereth is not a goddess, but a sort of angelic being. Tolkien's universe has just one god (Iluvatar, who is actually the same as the Christian God). I have changed the article. Molinari 23:14, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Engraving Probability

As a purely academic point, the probability of engraving Elbereth is slightly higher than (24/25)^8. Consider the following... I was getting swarmed by ants and my mirror wasn't cutting it, I bent down to try to engrave "Elbereth" with my fingers, the ants flee, I look down to read "elBereTh"... Woot! And no, I'm not a big enough nerd to find the actual probability (actually I am but I'd have to know how many characters the game allows you to engrave). DemonDoll 13:02, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Since you can engrave 10 letters for free in one turn and be in safe haven that turn already if you succeed, you'd have to account for "ElberethEl" turning out as "23elbereth" or similar. Highly unlikely, yes, but possible. BTW, I'm a mathematician. -Tjr 13:58, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
And that is why I love this game. I'll have to have a look at the source code sometime...can you "mistakenly" engrave "E" instead of "E" as well? (I mean, does the game exclude the original letter from the possibilities once it determines you've made a, "engravo"?) I put the calculation in the article, and I am happy to stand corrected. --Ckbryant 15:34, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I did the numbers, and the chance of "mis"-engraving E for E etc added up to half a percentage point. Word-boundary cases did not change the numerical result. -Tjr 12:28, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

I ran a monte-carlo simulation of engraving Elbereth for 8 turns, 100,000 times. I ran it once where you always engrave "Elbereth" and once where you look at what is engraved, then engrave the rest of Elbereth, then the start of the next Elbereth, and Engrave as far as you can get in 9 characters (the limit of instantaneous engraving). I'm not very good with wiki formatting, and I'm not sure how to best display the results. If you're someone who is good at presenting information, please present this strategy in the article. My results:

strategy:nieve (engrave "Elbereth")

t:1   t:2   t:3   t:4   t:5   t:6   t:7   t:8  
 Els:0 => 27872  7699  2141   538   145    33     7     1 
 Els:1 => 72128 40181 16834  6260  2126   691   220    65 
 Els:2 =>     - 52120 43354 24112 11111  4640  1759   619 
 Els:3 =>     -     - 37671 42082 29298 16191  7830  3429 
 Els:4 =>     -     -     - 27008 37835 31723 20508 11466 
 Els:5 =>     -     -     -     - 19485 32806 32066 23632 
 Els:6 =>     -     -     -     -     - 13916 27612 30804 
 Els:7 =>     -     -     -     -     -     -  9998 22749 
 Els:8 =>     -     -     -     -     -     -     -  7235

strategy:clever (engrave 9 characters, such as "rethElber"

t:1   t:2   t:3   t:4   t:5   t:6   t:7   t:8  
 Els:0 => 27730  6833  1549   305    62     9     3     - 
 Els:1 => 72270 38755 13854  4062   971   219    40     9 
 Els:2 =>     - 54412 42383 19572  6911  1957   540   124 
 Els:3 =>     -     - 42214 42332 23646  9765  3197   933 
 Els:4 =>     -     -     - 33729 40814 26586 12427  4292 
 Els:5 =>     -     -     -     - 27596 38518 28393 13087 
 Els:6 =>     -     -     -     -     - 22946 36104 25640 
 Els:7 =>     -     -     -     -     -     - 19296 30910 
 Els:8 =>     -     -     -     -     -     -     - 19912 
 Els:9 =>     -     -     -     -     -     -     -  5093

strategy:full-turn nieve (engrave "ElberethElbereth")

t:2   t:3   t:4   t:5   t:6   t:7   t:8   t:9  
 Els:0 =>  7757   574    50     7     -     -     -     - 
 Els:1 => 40343  6278   686    75     8     -     -     - 
 Els:2 => 51900 24474  4696   647    88    10     1     - 
 Els:3 =>     - 41922 16366  3402   556    86     9     1 
 Els:4 =>     - 26752 31632 11447  2551   473    89     9 
 Els:5 =>     -     - 32752 23828  8219  1918   380    58 
 Els:6 =>     -     - 13818 30888 18023  6033  1487   312 
 Els:7 =>     -     -     - 22666 26597 13546  4393  1110 
 Els:8 =>     -     -     -  7040 25724 21859 10377  3320 
 Els:9 =>     -     -     -     - 14572 25735 17688  7978 
 Els:10=>     -     -     -     -  3662 19501 23249 14106 
 Els:11=>     -     -     -     -     -  8952 22127 20291 
 Els:12=>     -     -     -     -     -  1887 13868 22043 
 Els:13=>     -     -     -     -     -     -  5353 17665 
 Els:14=>     -     -     -     -     -     -   979  9475 
 Els:15=>     -     -     -     -     -     -     -  3152 
 Els:16=>     -     -     -     -     -     -     -   480

strategy:full-turn clever (engrave 19 characters, such as "thElberethElberethE")

t:2   t:3   t:4   t:5   t:6   t:7   t:8   t:9  
 Els:0 =>  7680   407    13     -     -     -     -     - 
 Els:1 => 40322  4955   212    17     -     -     -     - 
 Els:2 => 51998 21925  1619   138     9     -     -     - 
 Els:3 =>     - 42715  7490  1069    83     8     -     - 
 Els:4 =>     - 29998 20265  4417   564    50     7     1 
 Els:5 =>     -     - 32488 13043  2354   259    30     4 
 Els:6 =>     -     - 27962 25053  7617  1180   152    16 
 Els:7 =>     -     -  9951 30136 16973  3658   609    71 
 Els:8 =>     -     -     - 20152 26195  9219  2078   276 
 Els:9 =>     -     -     -  5975 26424 17452  5522  1062 
 Els:10=>     -     -     -     - 15593 23640 11656  2973 
 Els:11=>     -     -     -     -  4188 22718 18929  6651 
 Els:12=>     -     -     -     -     - 14907 22926 12517 
 Els:13=>     -     -     -     -     -  5879 20290 18249 
 Els:14=>     -     -     -     -     -  1030 12306 20944 
 Els:15=>     -     -     -     -     -     -  4657 18544 
 Els:16=>     -     -     -     -     -     -   838 11890 
 Els:17=>     -     -     -     -     -     -     -  5163 
 Els:18=>     -     -     -     -     -     -     -  1458 
 Els:19=>     -     -     -     -     -     -     -   181

Thefifthsetpin 00:54, September 14, 2009 (UTC)

If the difference doesn't look substantial to you, notice that by turn 3 your chance of failing to engrave an E drops by about a quarter. By turn 4 it drops by half. I posit that 3-4 failed attempts to engrave an E have killed many adventurers.Thefifthsetpin 00:54, September 14, 2009 (UTC)
My numbers are optimistic -- I assume you don't rub out what you're standing on while you engrave on the next turn. Nethack isn't so nice. If anyone posts the odds for that part, I'd be happy to include that in my simulation.)Thefifthsetpin 00:54, September 14, 2009 (UTC)
From playing, I have the impression smudging the Elbereth you are standing on is indeed a problem. However, as you can engrave 19 letters on one turn, the smart way would be to engrave "ElberethElberethElb" and monitor if monsters hit you. (Fine print: If you successfully engrave Elbereth with 9 or less letters in one go, it protects you that turn. If you engrave 19 or less letters in one turn, you get protected the next turn.) In practise, I keep "ElberethElbereth" in the clipboard and engrave that. I'd like to see a simulation for the optimal 19-character case with smudging, and also for the copy-paste-"ElberethElbereth" approach. Could you please add that? -Tjr 16:39, September 14, 2009 (UTC)
Update: my previous analytic computation of engraving success probability should be accurate for the 8-letter case without smudging, and correcting for word boundaries within each turn's engraving only has a negligible effect (less than 0.1%). So what your simulation could improve is the smudging part and the effects of "berethElbe". -Tjr 16:45, September 14, 2009 (UTC)
Smudging is indeed a problem if you're fighting. Engraving, however, is nearly nonabrasive, so smudging should have a quite minor effect. As I said before, if someone explains the smudging rules to me, then I'll include them in the sim. I'd like to, in fact. Thefifthsetpin 20:52, September 18, 2009 (UTC)
Engraving "ElberethElbereth" or "ElberethElberethElb" is an interesting idea. I've uploaded those stats as you requested (still no smudging). Bear in mind that fast or very fast characters can get many actions to the turn, which becomes an advantage for those using instantaneous engraving. Regardless of character speed, your chances of getting hit several turns in a row drop considerably when engraving 19 characters, but the damage you take in the first (and possibly second) turn means that you still take more damage overall, assuming you get hit for the same amount in every turn during which you get hit. Of course, getting hit more overall is often a good trade for not getting hit 4 turns in a row.... 20:52, September 18, 2009 (UTC)
1) I researched the smudging, and while I'm at it, wrote this smuding mini-spoiler:
Firstly, the letter "B" can be smudged to "b", this is only relevant for "ElBereth". See Engrave.c#wipeout_text for probability details.
Other than obscure cases (engravement before you finish your turn, printing on burnt t-shirts, appearance of scrolls after unsuccessful magic marker writes,...), all smudging is done via Engrave.c#wipe_engr_at. It converts the given number (pseudo-number) of letters to smudge to 0 or 1 (number) if the engraving isn't in the dust or in blood, else "pseudonumber" == "number". Next, it calls Engrave.c#wipeout_text with no random number seed, the effect is Engrave.c#wipeout_text will chose "number" times an equally-distributed, random position in the engraving and alter the letter. The same position can be picked several times, even if it is a blank at the end. Finally, Engrave.c#wipe_engr_at will delete the engraving if only blank space is left. I am not sure how throughoutly eroded engravings get shorter: I have never observed one beginning with a blank space character. It might be a goot idea to read the source for wipe_engr_at and the functions it calls because matters are a bit complicated.
Places that call Engrave.c#wipe_engr_at are: moving monsters wipe pseudo-one letter per turn or per monster movement, stone to flesh and force bolt (cast down) wipe pseudo-2d4 letters, and Source:Engrave.c#u_wipe_engr for all smuding the hero does himself, but only if you can reach the floor (including if you are flying as a vampire, but not levitating ...).
Places that call Source:Engrave.c#u_wipe_engr are: Source:Allmain.c#line265 There is a 1-in-(40+3*dex) (+1?) chance you will wipe pseudo-rnd(3) characters at your spot each turn (not per-movement); Source:Uhitm.c#line381 you wipe pseudo-three letters per melee attack; Source:Dig.c#line989 unsuccessful dig attempts wipe pseudo-three letters; Source:Dothrow.c#line94,Source:Dokick.c#line729 kicking or throwing wipes pseudo-2 letters; Source:Hack.c#line876 domove() wipes pseudo-rnd(5) letters, once per player movement (I'm not sure if this includes waiting with ".").
The logic "wipe 3 random letters" explains why it is better to fight on a long string of Elbereths, even if the beginning of the string has long been eroded.
2) Sorry to nit-pick your tables again: I think you let the simulation engrave Elbereth n times, that is a pre-determined number, and then counted the instances with correct spelling. In practise, a player would engrave until there was one correctly spelled Elbereth on the floor. So what's interesting is the probability distribution of the stopping time "number of engraving attempts until there is a correctly spelled Elbereth on the floor". In the "smart" case, this includes re-starting with "ElberethElberethElb" if you mis-spelled the ending, e.g. "...ElRe".
3) Getting hit more often but less hard is a good thing: it lets you take better advantage of your innate healing than the same amount of damage in one chunk. -Tjr 10:32, September 19, 2009 (UTC)
Wow. Thanks, Tjr. Firstly, I'll address point 2) because it's simple. The "smart" case would not engrave "ElberethElberethElb" if your engraving ended "...ElRe" It would engrave "lberethElberethElbE". The fact that there are 3 'e's in Elbereth is helpful, and is in fact why I felt like running this simulation. Also, notice that the first row of each table contains the statistics which you are interested in. I concede that the later rows are less useful.
Also, thanks for noticing the B => b. I looked at that table for calculating mis-engraves, but I must have been too focused on seeking letters that become 'E' or 'e'.
Regarding 3), I quite agree that getting hit more often and less hard bing a good thing. As I said in my first comment, the main danger in relying on Elbereth comes from when engraving repeatedly fails, not from when it fails during your first few attempts.
On to smudging. Since we're discussing engraving actions and turns only, I'll recalculate using the "1-in-(40+3*dex) (+1?) chance you will wipe pseudo-rnd(3) characters at your spot each turn." bit from your spoiler. I should be able to get to that this weekend. For dex, I'll probably just hardcode a 14. Seems like an easily attainable dex for early or mid game. Sound good?
I need to just get magicbane and stop worrying about these things. ;) Thefifthsetpin 15:49, September 26, 2009 (UTC)
(I'm back from my vacation.) Thank you for doing this simulation work. Minor points: a) B->b only concerns smuding after the engravement is finished; the misengraving before the code commits the string onto the tile is handled differently. b) Could you also provide a table at various racial maxima for dexterity (18 human, 20 elves, 16 orcs iirc)? c) In my experience, relying in Elbereth is more than engraving when a monster comes in range. You can prepare "safe" spots ahead of time so you have a guaranteed haven, you can lock off parts of the dungeon, you need a solution for elves and werecreatures, and you will want a way to keep your pets from smuding/deactivating E-squares. 4) My most Elbereth-heavy games were conduct games without Magicbane. -Tjr 17:50, October 6, 2009 (UTC)

How to paste

Somebody asked this with an "inline question". Just so it doesn't get lost: You paste into Nethack with the usual means of your operating system. For example, in OS X, you paste using apple-v into the popup opened by the tiles port, or using apple-v into the terminal window you telnetted to NAO with. Tjr 13:45, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

We The Players

Are there advantages to the player should said player choose to respect Elbereth, or would that be no more than informal conduct?Slarty 21:40, July 2, 2010 (UTC)

An informal conduct only. Depending on how you word 'respecting Elbereth', most players probably already do it. Monsters never engrave Elbereth and will smudge dust engravings, so it's rare to attack a monster standing on Elbereth. Besides, you're an @, and @'s do not respect Elbereth. -- Qazmlpok 23:54, July 2, 2010 (UTC)
Specifically; for the 1st time ever, I ran into gold on an elberethed square. I took the dough, and was wondering if there might have been some advantage, (even 1

not comparable to da dough) in not having taken said gold, and in that manner, respecting elbereth?Slarty 22:25, July 7, 2010 (UTC)

"Activated" Elbereth?

There are multiple references on this page to "active" or "activated" Elbereth squares but no description of what that actually means. 20:31, August 15, 2010 (UTC)Dan

"Note that there must be something, like you or any dropped object, in the same square with Elbereth for it to be active and have effect--an engraving on an otherwise bare square will not deter monsters." -- Qazmlpok 22:18, August 15, 2010 (UTC)

When it's compiled out

"Elbereth" is permanently engraved on at least two squares in each standard game: the square with either a bag of holding or an amulet of reflection in Sokoban, and the square with the wand of wishing in the castle. When you're playing a version of Nethack with Elbereth compiled out of the game, are those squares protected? Is the word still engraved despite not having an effect? Delbow 02:14, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

IIRC, Elbereth is present but does nothing. This was brought up on another talk page somewhere. -- Qazmlpok 02:21, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Looks like there is no wiki page with strategy regarding non-E-word servers and games. I'm playing on my school's old server, and they have compiled it out (because they're jerks and in that ludicrous "nethack is too easy" camp). I'm finding it very hard to even get past the zoo in sokoban. What should I try? If I could somehow farm early in the game and get my AC down to -10 or something, that would work, but how? --Davek (talk) 14:02, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Source code

Why angelic beings are resistant to Elbereth? Is it covered by "is_lminion(mtmp)"? "Keystone Kops and their officers, while human for many game purposes, will respect Elbereth, but only if you are standing on it" - "only if you are standing on it" is quite suspicious, it seems to be misinterpretation of situation where Elbereth was not working due to empty square.

Also, where code check for items on square ("activating Elbereth")? Bulwersator (talk) 06:32, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Hope that helps. --Tjr (talk) 11:10, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Nethack 3.6.0

Elbereth is certainly less effective now. I'm mostly going off comments, but at the very least the following are now true:

  • Elbereth has no power if you aren't standing on it (Already reflected in article, at least partially)
  • Elbereth has no power unless the engraving begins with Elbereth. sengr_at (engrave.c, line 263) is now called with strict=TRUE (from monmove.c, Line 124), meaning it will check the first 8 characters to see if they match "Elbereth" (case insensitive), rather than searching the entire string for any occurance of "Elbereth". In other words, "E|berhh Elbereth" is powerless, "Elbereth E|berhh" is active. Engraving more than 1 Elbereth should still reduce the decay chance by adding in junk letters, but it's not nearly as effective as it used to be. I haven't checked that letter degration is unchanged.
  • Elbereth has no power in Gehennom or the planes (Astral and elemental). Comment on monmove.c, line 150 states "the influence of the Valar only reaches so far."
    • The scroll of scare monster will still function in these places. Additionally, it appears to work on everything except Angels, Riders, and Rodney now. I haven't tested this to see if humans are effected or not; and shopkeepers might be a special case regardless.

-- Qazmlpok (talk) 19:58, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

"Engraving more than 1 Elbereth should still reduce the decay chance by adding in junk letters": Oh, true, I should figure out the probabilities and edit the article to reflect that. "Elbereth has no power in Gehennom or the planes (Astral and elemental)." I forgot to add that. I should do that. Also, there's no such thing as nethack 2.6.0. Elronnd(talk) 20:04, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
Whoops. Fixed the typo. -- Qazmlpok (talk) 20:36, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
I also noticed dust Elbereth now instantly get eroded when it affect something. I engrave it correctly, and exactly when something flee thanks to it, it eroded. This keep happening in my 3.6.0 games.

Burning in 3.6.0

Is this no longer permanent, or can the wizard (or anything?) smudge even a burned Elbereth? I burned Elbereth on the upstairs to protect myself from an arch lich. He turned to flee, so I'm pretty sure I wrote it correctly. But then he started attacking the next turn. After the wizard and lich were dealt with, I checked the engraving: Elbe?th. I'm almost positive I wrote it correctly, since I definitely saw the lich flee for a turn. But it certainly didn't stay that way, at least. I don't know where to look in the source code to check for this myself. -- Qazmlpok (talk) 02:49, 12 December 2015 (UTC)

Yep. Burned Elbereth is not permanent anymore. engrave.c, line 294: magical means have a 50% chance to smudge a "permanent" engraving. Magical means include Elbereth itself being invoked: monmove.c, line 312. "magical protection won't last forever, so there'll be a chance of the magic being used up regardless of type". If a monster is scared by Elbereth, attempt to erase 1 letter from the engraving. Another result of this change is that now a dust Elbereth can only ever scare one monster; if 3 enemies have you surrounded and you successfully write "Elbereth", the first monster that moves will be scared. This will smudge the engraving, meaning the other two will not be affected at all. -- Qazmlpok (talk) 13:46, 19 December 2015 (UTC)