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Some weapons are two-handed. You wield them in both hands, which means you cannot wear a shield or engage in two-weapon combat while wielding them.

Hitting a monster with a two-handed weapon has a 5% chance to shatter its wielded weapon.

The weapons below are two-handed. All other wielded ones are one-handed, including launchers. Polearms and missiles belong to a separate category.

Weapon Name Cost Weight Prob (‰) Damage (S/L) Material Appearance Tile Glyph
battle-axe 40 zm 120 10 d8+d4 d6+2d4 iron double-headed axe Battle-axe.png )
dwarvish mattock 50 zm 120 13 d12 d8+2d6 iron broad pick Dwarvish mattock.png )
two-handed swords
two-handed sword 50 zm 150 22 d12 3d6 iron Two-handed sword.png )
tsurugi 500 zm 60 N/A d16 d8+2d6 metal long samurai sword Tsurugi.png )
quarterstaff 5 zm 40 11 d6 d6 wood staff Quarterstaff.png )
unicorn horns
unicorn horn 100 zm 20 tool d12 d12 bone Unicorn horn.png (

Monsters (including pets) can wield two-handed weapons if they have the strong attribute and are not wearing a shield, in addition to the usual restrictions (must have a weapon attack, no cross-aligned artifacts etc).

Wielding cursed two-handers

Two-handed weapons are infamous for their crippling effect when wielding a cursed one. (Wielding a cursed weapon while wearing a cursed shield has similar drawbacks.) While your hands are welded to a cursed two-hander, you cannot loot or apply containers, cast spells, change your cloak, body armor, or shirt, wear or remove rings, and several other activities. Your god treats this as a major trouble for prayer purposes.

These handicaps make it hard to lift the curse, since your uncursing items will usually be safely in your bag. But you can empty your bag on the floor with the tip command to reach your curse removal items. That's quite annoying if you didn't prepare in advance a second bag with just what you needed. Praying is the most convenient solution, but keep in mind that you can't successfully pray in Gehennom. Some people also drop holy water on the ground in places you can easily branchport or level teleport to.

Spellcasting monsters, Rodney, angry gods, and fountain quaffing can curse your items, including your wielded weapon.


The tip command was introduced in NetHack 3.6.0, and variants based on older versions (such as SLASH'EM) may lack the command. As a result, wielding a cursed two-handed weapon is typically a much more serious problem. Players may choose to avoid these weapons entirely.

In SLASH'EM, bows, crossbows, and some firearms (but not slings) are two-handed.

See also