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A two-handed weapon is a type of weapon in NetHack that requires both hands free in order to wield it.


You cannot wear a shield or engage in two-weapon combat while wielding a two-handed weapon. Hitting a monster with a two-handed weapon has a chance of performing a shattering blow that destroys its wielded weapon. Monsters with weapon attacks, including pets, can wield two-handed weapons if they have the strong attribute and are not wearing a shield.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

When you hit with a two-handed weapon other than a polearm, the damage bonus for Strength is increased by 50%.

List of two-handed weapons

The weapons listed below are two-handed:

Weapon Skill Cost Weight Prob (‰) Dam. (S) Dam. (L) Material Appearance Tile Glyph
battle-axe axe 40 zm 120 10 7 8.5 iron double-headed axe Battle-axe.png )
dwarvish mattock pick-axe 50 zm 120 13 6.5 11.5 iron broad pick Dwarvish mattock.png )
two-handed sword two-handed sword 50 zm 150 22 6.5 10.5 iron Two-handed sword.png )
tsurugi two-handed sword 500 zm 60 N/A 8.5 11.5 metal long samurai sword Tsurugi.png )
quarterstaff quarterstaff 5 zm 40 11 3.5 3.5 wood staff Quarterstaff.png )
unicorn horn unicorn horn 100 zm 20 tool 6.5 6.5 bone Unicorn horn.png (

In addition to the weapons listed above, polearms are also two-handed, but are designed for pounding and thus not as useful when handled as melee weapons.


Two-handed weapons are generally more damaging on average than one-handed weapons, but have a notoriously detrimental effect if you wield a cursed one, or else your currently-wielded weapon is cursed. While your hands are welded to a cursed two-hander, you cannot perform many actions including the following:

These handicaps also make it hard to get at your curse removal items, since you cannot cast spells and your uncursing items will usually be safely in your bag. Spellcasting monsters that cast curse items, including the Wizard of Yendor, are often the most notorious culprits.

Prayer to your god can uncurse a cursed two-handed weapon: your god treats having both hands welded to cursed weapons and/or shields as a major. You can also use the #tip extended command to empty your bag on the floor and get at your curse removal tools - it is best to prepare a bag of such items in advance for when prayer is inconvenient or unavailable (e.g. in Gehennom). Some players also drop holy water on the ground in places that they easily branchport or level teleport to.


Variants based on NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions may lack the #tip command, which is introduced in NetHack 3.6.0 - this makes wielding a cursed two-handed weapon a much more serious problem in those games, and players may choose to avoid these weapons entirely.


In SLASH'EM, bows, crossbows, and some firearms are two-handed. SLASH'EM also


In dNetHack, two-handed weapons get double the damage bonus from strength.

See also