The Master Key of Thievery

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(   The Master Key of Thievery   Skeleton key.png
Base item skeleton key
When carried
When applied
When invoked
Base price 3500 zm
Weight 3

The Master Key of Thievery is the rogue quest artifact. It is the prize for completing the rogue quest. It is chaotic for wishing purposes. Its base item type is a skeleton key.

When carried, the Key confers warning, teleport control and half physical damage. Using the Master Key of Thievery for unlocking always succeeds. It also speaks to you: it gives a random rumor, true if the Key is blessed, false if cursed and either if uncursed. Invoking it removes all traps[1] in the door or container. Also, a Rogue carrying the Key has improved chances to disarm a trap[2].

In 3.6.1 the Key has additional effects, all of which only take place if it's blessed (non-cursed for Rogues)[3]. Firstly, locking or unlocking a trapped door or container with the Key automatically detects and offers to remove the trap[4] (this is guaranteed to succeed). In the inventory of a monster, the Key will also untrap any door the monster is trying to open[5]. Secondly, untrapping doors and chests manually always succeeds as well[6]. Finally, wielding the Key without gloves will give you clues about adjacent traps of any kind[7] (it will feel "warm" or "hot").

Encyclopedia entry

This skeleton key was fashioned in ages past and imbued with
a powerful magic which allows it to open any lock. When
carried, it grants its owner warning, teleport control, and
reduces all physical damage by half. Finally, when invoked,
it has the ability to disarm any trap.


Half physical damage is a rare property and is very useful, which makes the Master Key a good wish for a chaotic character, particularly considering its low weight. It should be wished for early, because artifact wishing depends on the number of artifacts in existence already (specifically you can only be certain of getting it if there are less than 2 artifacts in existence)—in fact, a chaotic character may want to hold back on sacrificing before their first wish because of this. Also be sure to be able to withstand the blasting damage: you need at least 41 HP or 21 with magic resistance. Once the Key is in your inventory you should avoid dropping it, since picking it up again will blast you another time. Keep a normal skeleton key or lockpick for mundane unlocking purposes, since applying the Master Key will also blast you.

As with all quest artifacts, cross-aligned characters can only pick up the Master Key via appropriate use of a helm of opposite alignment (or permanent conversion at an altar). This is usually not worth the trouble, since non-chaotic adventurers are better off with an artifact that grants magic resistance, and neutrals can obtain half physical damage from the Orb of Fate.

See also


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.