Talk:Vorpal Blade

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I have met once a shapelifter carrying vorpal blade on the castle level. I hint that any payer monster has a change of carrying ot of not created and that the shapeshifter that would be created as a player monster also has a chance (the same ?) to carry vorpal blade. Can anyone confirm this ?

I would doubt it; player monsters are generated differently on Astral than everywhere else. Everywhere else, they carry a few standard (non-artifact) weapons, different for every class, and generally pretty similar to what you would start with if you played that class. The major (and useful) difference is that wizard player-monsters carry athames instead of quarterstaves.
With that in mind, though, as a general thing, do people think it would be appropriate to add to the article a section on what to do if you do encounter a monster wielding Vorpal Blade, perhaps in order of risk? I can think of, from most safe to least:
  • Kill it at a distance with projectiles/spells
  • Use Elbereth (not safe for player-monsters!)
  • Polymorph into something without a head (a trapper/lurker above seems like a good choice, as they can instakill anything with their digestion attack)
  • Stone it
  • Ignore it, possibly immobilizing it/slowing it to prevent it following you (most viable on Astral, where you're going to ascend soon anyway)
  • Attempt to disarm it with a bullwhip
  • Melee it, hoping to kill it quickly enough

--Preceding unsigned comment added by Ion frigate (talkcontribs)

In my opinion, such a list would be wikiclutter here because none of this is really specific to Vorpal Blade and the actual problem is quite rare. I just don't think people would come here looking for this information. -Tjr 13:43, April 6, 2010 (UTC)


@Ion frigate - "Thiefbane is not better than Vorpal Blade, not by any means". Perhaps You are right, I forgot that Thiefbane beheads only "@". But what about it's level draining and cancellation? In combat with monsters without heads, it can be better weapon, but monsters with heads is propably more, more frequent. --S.K. 22:05, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

In combat against creatures without heads... use a different weapon. If the monster isn't an @ Thiefbane is no more effective than an (enchanted if you didn't wish for it) long sword. There aren't any @ (AFAIK) without heads, so there's no situation where you can take advantage of level draining but not beheading. Additionally, Thiefbane always has a chance to blast you because it's shopkeeper aligned, so switching to it when confronting a swarm of @ isn't the best idea anyways. -- Qazmlpok 22:12, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

On the usefulness of Vorpal

anselmus and I had a long debate tonight about the relative strength of certain artifact weapons. Mainly vorpal blade, frost brand, and grayswandir. I'm going to brain dump some of discussion here.

I'm also planning to add columns to that table on this page that show how much cumulative damage other artifact weapons would have done. aaxelb pointed out that excalibur is a good yardstick here, since it's damage is simple and consistent, and everyone has probably used and loved it. I'll get to this in the next day or so.

Silver saber vs. demons is (1d8 + 1d20 + enchant), demonbane vs demons is 2*(1d12 + enchant). Demonbane becomes better at enchant >=3.

It's not about survivability post castle, it's about minimum tedium. No one cares that grays cuts down asmo. Anything cuts down asmo unless you are insane and fight him without cold resistance off E. But the fact that grays cuts down normal &&&&&&&&&&& spam is awesome.

anselmus points out that no weapon combination lets you just mow everything easily; though I would say that that's basically what +7 grays/excal twoweaponed, dagger/arrowstorm, and magic missile come close to doing. Massive damage against everything in general.

I wondered idly how much item loss frosty/flamey _really_ caused; but without looking into it much. Burning up a bunch of crappy scrolls you don't need doesn't really count as item loss. And a lot of the potions would have been thrown or drunk anyway.

Some figures:

minotaur average hitpoints = avg(15d8) = 67.5
at +0 frostbrand averages 13 damage
at +7 27
that's 5.2 / 2.5 hits to kill the average minotaur
a 23%/12% chance for vorpal to behead it first

demo hp = 200
7.4 hits to kill with +7 frosty on average
32% chance for vorpal to get him first

5% beheading is fun; but doubling a +7 enchant for guaranteed damage against a good portion of the monsters in the game is better. But then you have the cold resistant monsters:

6.3 hits to kill archons (which have cold res) with +7 frosty on avg
or 13.1 for +0
27%/49% chance for vorpal to get the behead in that number of attacks

Vorpal is your preferred Archon killer, over frosty/flamey.

Vorpal is more consistent across monster types; there being few headless monsters; but less consistent across fights.

quipyowert had the interesting idea that Vorpal's behead chance should be luck dependent.

< anselmus> it's really a question of how fast each weapon kills over the entirety of the game
< anselmus> which would seem to me to be a studependously complicated statistical problem
< anselmus> as long it's granted that vorpy CAN be better against some monsters, i'll be happy

Perhaps that's the real point. We should have harder discussions on weapon choice in Nethack. Many roles have a weapon they do and should gravitate towards; like excal for valk, excal for samurai, excal for knight; stormy or bow/dagger for ranger, dagger for rogue; etc. Other classes (priest, tourist, monk) are less obvious.

Nethack has plenty of weapons, like giantslayer/demonbane, which we often portray as being complete crap. Giantslayer is a perfectly serviceable long sword with an unimportant to-hit bonus, nothing more, nothing less. Demonbane/vorpal/sunsword are slightly better than normal long swords. As someone once said to me: Grimtooth is almost a long sword with the form factor of a dagger (5.5 avg for Grimtooth vs 4.5/6.5 for long sword small/large).

And ultimately, a good part of the reason that giantslayer/demonbane/sunsword/grimtooth never get used isn't because they are terrible, but because they have no use-case. "I need a strong melee weapon!" Are you lawful? Excal. Are you neutral/chaotic? Did you get frosty/flamey/stormy? Yes? Use one. No? Keep saccing. Unless you FOUND one of those swords very early game (unlikely) and aren't able to sac yet, and are not a magic-wizard, dagger-rogue, dagger/arrow-ranger, using them isn't even a consideration. They might as well not exist.

Trollsbane, at 5/4.5, really IS floor trash. It should NOT be used. But here's what the Trollsbane page says: "Trollsbane is an artifact weapon that does double damage and +1d5 to-hit against trolls." Could be a bit clearer no? (The sarcasm is biting, but only if you know Trollsbane sucks.)

The role-specific pages do a better job of discussing weapon choice. Maybe some of that discussion needs to propagate into the weapon pages themselves.

Like I said, brain dump.

Blackcustard (talk) 03:26, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

  • Mean damage calculations are available at Artifact_weapon
  • Demonslayer/Vorpal/Sunsword are good for pets: you can enchant it and be sure your pet won't ever swap it out for an unenchanted but preferred-base-item weapon.
  • Fire- and Frost Brand will not destroy death drops, only the monster starting inventory. So all you loose are scrolls of teleportation/create monster/earth and various mostly-healing potions.
  • Orcrist and Sting can be named to guarantee Stormbringer as your first sacrifice gift.
--Tjr (talk) 08:36, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
Something else for vorpal blade's favor: healing. Even regeneration isn't going to help the monster much in normal combat (7.4 expected hit to kill demogorgon would mean 8 additional HP), but it's a big deal when dealing with covetous monsters. Demogorgon isn't going to let you hit him 8 times in a row unless you're on the upstairs. However, with vorpal blade, you don't need to hit him multiple times in a row; all you need to do is keep hitting him and eventually he'll be instakilled. This is probably more useful against the regular demon princes, as you can't teleport to the upstairs on their levels, and this would allow you to kill the prince without needing to backtrack to the start of the level, constantly trading blows but not doing any lasting damage. -- Qazmlpok (talk) 12:44, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

The Logic of Probabilities

The article now says, "For example, after you hit a monster ten times, there is a 40% chance that you have beheaded it." That's not true. If VB has a 5% chance per hit of beheading a monster, then after the tenth hit, there is a 5% chance that the monster has been beheaded. Because if you behead it on hit 1, 2, ..., or 9, then you don't *get* a tenth hit.

While the sentence is apparently intended to say something meaningful, possibly even useful, as it stands it is nonsense.

I'd go on, but NetHack does not allow you to flog a dead horse. Netzhack (talk) 20:28, 26 May 2016 (UTC)

No reaction ... so I changed that sentence and the one following it to fix the logic. Netzhack (talk) 22:21, 14 November 2016 (UTC)