Touchstone

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* Gray stone.png
Name touchstone
Appearance gray stone
Damage vs. small 1d3
Damage vs. large 1d3
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill sling
Size one-handed
Base price 45 zm
(+10/positive
enchant)
Weight 10
Material mineral

A touchstone is one of four gray stones that appears in NetHack.

Generation

Archaeologists always start with an uncursed touchstone, and one is always generated in the inventory of a jewelery shop's shopkeeper.[1]

Effects

The touchstone is used to identify gems by applying the touchstone or rubbing a gem on it.

A blessed touchstone will immediately identify the gem, as will an uncursed touchstone in the hands of an archeologist or gnome;[2] this includes glass and other gray stones, and will also auto-identify the touchstone. A non-blessed touchstone will merely distinguish glass from gems; valuable gems will leave streaks of the gem's color, while glass will leave scratch marks. A cursed touchstone has a 15 chance of shattering gems that are rubbed on it.[3]

You cannot use a touchstone if you are hallucinating.

Identification

Rubbing an iron item on the touchstone will produce a signature "scritch, scritch" noise, which is the most reliable means of identifying the stone. Rubbing any gem on the touchstone will produce the same noise as the result if you are blind. They can also be identified by price, being the only gray stone with a 45 base price.

Strategy

Blessed touchstones allow you to sell fully identified gems for full price and get the full luck bonus for throwing them to unicorns. For uncursed touchstones, if you formally identify glass from watching the messages, you should type-name the glass before discarding it to avoid the need for redundant testing. You may then use a scroll of identify to formally identify the valuable gems if you do not wish to bless your touchstone.

Rubbing a gem or glass on any other gray stone will make colored scratch marks.[4] Therefore, rubbing a gem or glass on an unidentified gray stone can identify a touchstone (colored streaks or scratch marks) from other gray stones (colored scratch marks).

An unidentified touchstone can be used to distinguish metal objects from non-metal objects using the aforementioned signature noise, but this strategy is somewhat obscure and of limited use. Gauntlets of power and kicking boots are the only items in the game that can be distinguished in this way; itt can potentially serve some use in narrowing down the identity of other gloves or boots.

While hallucinating prevents you from actually using a touchstone to identify gems, attempting to do so will produce a specific message ("Oh wow, man: Fractals!") that can indirectly identify an unused gray stone as a touchstone.

Messages

You see <color> streaks on the stone."
You rubbed a valuable gem on a touchstone.
You make scratch marks on the stone.
You rubbed a piece of worthless glass on a touchstone.
You make <color> scratch marks on the stone.
You rubbed a gem on a non-touchstone gray stone.
Oh wow, man: Fractals!
You tried to use a touchstone while hallucinating.

SLASH'EM

In SLASH'EM, touchstones can only be used on gems.

Encyclopedia entry

"Gold is tried by a touchstone, men by gold."

[ Chilon (c. 560 BC) ]

References