The Tsurugi of Muramasa

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)   The Tsurugi of Muramasa   Tsurugi.png
Base item tsurugi
Damage vs. small 1d16 +1d8
Damage vs. large 1d8+2d6 +1d8
To-hit bonus +2
Bonus versus (any)
Weapon skill two-handed sword
Size two-handed
Affiliation
When carried
When wielded
When invoked

(none)

Base price 4500 zm
Weight 60
Material metal

The Tsurugi of Muramasa is the Samurai quest artifact. It is the prize for completing the samurai quest, and is lawful for wishing purposes. Its base item is a tsurugi, a type of two-handed sword.

Effects

The Tsurugi has +2 to-hit and deals +d8 bonus damage; it additionally has a 5% chance to either instantly kill an up to medium-size monster (or any monster engulfing you) by bisection, or else deal double damage to a large monster. When carried, it acts as a luckstone. When wielded, it provides extrinsic protection, augmenting your magic cancellation as with a ring of protection, but not cumulative with one. Unlike other quest artifacts, it cannot be invoked.

Strategy

The Tsurugi's main disadvantage is being two-handed; if it becomes cursed in a fight, you will need to #tip an uncursing item out of your bag to regain use of your hands. However, as an intelligent artifact it resists the curse items monster spell 80% of the time, making it much safer than most other two-handed weapons.

Beyond that, the Tsurugi's extra Luck and protection renders it barely noteworthy among lawful artifacts for non-Samurai, if not artifacts in general. Unfortunately for Samurai themselves, that it uses the two-handed sword skill may prove a deterrent for those looking to twoweapon or use a shield. While they can attain Expert level in the skill, most samurai may already be comfortable with the easier-obtained Excalibur or Snickersnee as their main weapon and their starting katana or other long sword as their off-hand weapon.

The chance of bisection makes it dangerous for Samurai to face their quest nemesis Ashikaga Takauji in melee. Those facing him may employ ranged attacks, controlled polymorph, a boulder fort, or a wand of death to liberate the artifact from him.

Average damage calculation

The base damage range of the Tsurugi of Muramasa is 2–24 against small monsters, and 4–28 against large monsters before doubling damage. 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. Also, they do not include the 5% chance of either instantly killing the target (if it is a small monster) or doing double the damage (if it is a large monster). Furthermore, the twoweapon skill bonuses are not included for the damage calculations when using Excalibur with a katana.

One thing most Samurai will have to consider is two-weaponing versus the Tsurugi. Twoweaponing Excalibur with the starting katana does roughly the same amount of damage as the Tsurugi - while they will miss out on the 5% bisection bonus and protection from wielding it, there is no risk of curses rendering both of their hands unusable.

Weapon Small monsters Large monsters
+0 Tsurugi of Muramasa 1+162 + 1+82 = 13 1+82 + 2+122 + 1+82 = 16
+7 Tsurugi of Muramasa 1+162 + 1+82 + 7 = 20 1+82 + 2+122 + 1+82 + 7 = 23
+0 Excalibur and +0 Katana 1+82 + 1+102 + 1+102 = 15.5 1+122 + 1+102 + 1+122 = 18.5
+7 Excalibur and +7 Katana 1+82 + 1+102 + 7 + 1+102 + 7 = 29.5 1+122 + 1+102 + 7 + 1+122 + 7 = 32.5
+9 Excalibur and +7 Katana 1+82 + 1+102 + 9 + 1+102 + 7 = 31.5 1+122 + 1+102 + 9 + 1+122 + 7 = 34.5

History

The Tsurugi of Muramasa was introduced along with most of the other quest artifacts in NetHack 3.1.0.

Origin

Muramasa Sengo (千子 村正) was a famous Japanese swordsmith who founded the Muramasa school and lived during the Muromachi period (14th to 16th centuries) in Kuwana of Ise Province. They were originally reputed as fine blades favored by the shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu and his vassals, but gradually became a symbol of the anti-Tokugawa movement.

The idea of Muramasa's swords being bloodthirsty and compelling the wielders to murder or suicide is a product of 18th century Japanese lore and popular culture, such as kabuki dramas - this is also likely the source for the idea that Muramasa passed his own violence and bloodlust on to the blades he forged.

Variants

SLASH'EM

In SLASH'EM, the Tsurugi of Muramasa doesn't provide protection or magic cancellation. Keep in mind that SLASH'EM doesn't have the #tip command, so wielding a cursed two handed weapon is much more serious. As is true of any artifact weapon that simply does extra damage in slashem, it has been considerably improved. The Tsurugi does +8 extra damage instead of +1d8. Moreover, the bisection effect activates 10% of the time, as opposed to 5%.

However, the ability in SLASH'EM to dual-wield artifact weapons diminishes the Tsurugi's appeal considerably. Combining Excalibur and Snickersnee is an excellent option for Samurai, since both weapons are easily available to them, use the same weapon skill, and both have a flat damage bonus against all monsters. On average this will do much more damage than the Tsurugi, although it lacks the instakill chance against small monsters. A Samurai who can get his hands on one of the better lawful swords, such as Fire Brand, Frost Brand, Grayswandir, or the SLASH'EM-specific Sword of Justice can be even more powerful.

The following table summarizes the best-case scenario average damage for the Tsurugi of Muramasa versus two-weaponing the most powerful one-handed lawful swords. The following table does not include applicable strength or ring-based damage bonuses.

Weapon(s) Average damage vs. small Average damage vs. large
Tsurugi of Muramasa 28 + 10% instakill 33
Snickersnee + Excalibur 49 52
Snickersnee + Sword of Justice 51 54
Snickersnee + Fire Brand or Frost Brand 51 56
Snickersnee + Grayswandir 61 62
Excalibur + Sword of Justice 52 56
Excalibur + Fire Brand or Frost Brand 52 58
Excalibur + Grayswandir 62 64
Sword of Justice + Fire Brand or Frost Brand 54 60
Sword of Justice + Grayswandir 64 66
Fire Brand + Frost Brand 53 61
Fire Brand or Frost Brand + Grayswandir 64 68

Note: Best case for all listed weapons assumes expert in the relevant skill (two-handed sword or two-weapon combat and long sword and/or saber), attacking an undead or demon with a blessed weapon, enchanted to +7, and the following additional restrictions apply to each weapon:

FIQHack

In FIQHack, the Tsurugi of Muramasa now does double damage rather than +1d8, and can be invoked to uncurse itself.

Encyclopedia entry

This most ancient of swords has been passed down through the
leadership of the Samurai legions for hundreds of years. It
is said to grant luck to its wielder, but its main power is
terrible to behold. It has the capability to cut in half any
creature it is wielded against, instantly killing them.