Valkyrie

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The Valkyrie is one of the roles in NetHack. They are based on the valkyries of Norse legend who would carry the spirits of fallen warriors to the afterlife.

Unlike other roles, all Valkyries are required to be female when starting the game, though they can become male through polymorph or with an amulet of change. Valkyries are often considered to be the easiest role for a new player. The guidebook describes them like this:

Valkyries are hardy warrior women.  Their upbringing in  the
         harsh  Northlands  makes  them strong, inures them to extremes of
         cold, and instills in them stealth and cunning.

Valkyries can be neutral or lawful humans or lawful dwarves. Their first sacrifice gift is Mjollnir. Lawful dwarf is usually the best alignment and race for a Valkyrie: they have better physical stats such as HP, the Gnomish Mines will have more peaceful monsters in comparison to a lawful human Valkyrie, and since the class has the third-highest spellcasting penalty, the mental disadvantages of dwarves rarely come into play.

Starting inventory

Each Valkyrie starts with the following:[1]

Intrinsics

Valkyries gain intrinsics at these experience levels:[3]

Skills

Valkyrie skills
Max Skills
Basic
Skilled
Expert

Valkyries start with Basic skill in Long sword and Dagger.

Valkyries use wisdom as their spellcasting stat.

Quest

Main article: Valkyrie quest

The Valkyrie quest sees you fighting Lord Surtur for the Orb of Fate.

Gods

Main article: Religion

Rank titles

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1–2: Stripling
  • XL 3–5: Skirmisher
  • XL 6–9: Fighter
  • XL 10–13: (Wo)man-at-arms
  • XL 14–17: Warrior
  • XL 18–21: Swashbuckler
  • XL 22–25: Hero(ine)
  • XL 26–29: Champion
  • XL 30: Lady/Lord

Strategy

Early game

Weapons

Valkyries start with a fairly good +1 long sword; for lawfuls, they can upgrade to Excalibur by #dipping it in a fountain as soon as they experience level 5. However, it is advisable to wait until at least level 7, as the intrinsic speed is a useful aid in evading and wearing down whatever monsters the fountains may spawn. Ranged weapons are not strictly necessary, but they can come in handy for wearing down particularly strong monsters, eliminating ones with annoying passive attacks, or shooting past boulders in Sokoban. The best option is usually a stack daggers, as Valkyries can train the skill to Expert and the dungeon is a plentiful source of daggers.

Mjollnir is an incredibly powerful artifact for a guaranteed first sacrifice gift, and remains useful as a long-term option well into the late game; neutral Valkyries will almost certainly want to go for it, while lawful Valkyries will eventually have other options such as Excalibur and Grayswandir to weigh the choice against. Valkyries are the only class who can use the gauntlets of power to throw Mjollnir that can also have it return; the hammer has a 99% chance of returning,[4] as well as a 99% chance of the player catching it unless they are impaired in some way, e.g. confused, stunned, etc.[5]

Armor

The starting +3 shield is an extremely good option and incredibly light for its AC, and is thus worth keeping and fireproofing if possible. Valkyries can wear all armor without any penalty beyond weight, as the class already comes with a substantial spellcasting handicap; players should put on any armor they find that isn't cursed and burdensome, pet testing them where applicable, and upgrade to better and lighter armor as they find it. An AC of roughly −5 by the end of the Gnomish Mines is a reasonable goal to shoot for.

General

Valkyries are strong early game characters that can hold their own in one-on-one combat, but will still need to exercise caution against YASD and mind their HP, even after finding some decent armor and weapons. Poison resistance should be obtained as soon as possible, and retreating and Elbereth usage can save a Valkyrie's life many times over, especially against groups of monsters such as soldier ants and Mordor orcs.

The Gnomish Mines are a plentiful source of armor and weapons, and for lawful human and dwarven Valkyries it is a relatively safe first destination - many of the inhabitants will be peaceful, meaning that random monsters will be generated as hostiles instead. This in turn makes it more likely that the random items lying around the Mines may be left untouched. Lawful Valkyries can let their pet fight the inhabitants to get at their armor and weapons, though they must take care not to let them die in the process. Conversely, while neutral Valkyries will find some of the dwarves and gnomes less peaceful and more willing to pick up and use items against them, the risk also provides an opportunity to gain valuable experience and skill training while allowing them to gather weapons and armor more easily.

As the Orb of Fate, the Valkyrie quest artifact, acts as a luckstone, Mines' End is not strictly necessary, but can be a viable choice for players who have picked up poison resistance and want an earlier guaranteed source of luck. However, this must be weighed against the dangers of polymorph traps and other severe pitfalls en route; do not expect to find much useful loot from any of the possible Mines' End levels, apart from gems.

Midgame

By this point, players should ideally have the scroll of enchant weapon and/or scroll of enchant armor identified, and bless a few in order to enhance the weapons and armor that will make up their future ascension kit, especially their primary artifact weapon. In addition to Excalibur and/or Mjollnir, a particularly patient Valkyrie player may want to shoot for Grayswandir or Frost Brand. Twoweaponing is a viable option to consider at around XL 10; since Valkyries can only train #twoweapon to Skilled, players taking that path should give some thought to leaving long swords at Skilled, as well as training up the skill of the desired secondary weapon if applicable. Common choices include long swords, katanas, and silver sabers.

Fire resistance is an invaluable intrinsic when preparing for the Valkyrie quest, due to the abundance of fire-based hazards and enemies; the monster generation is heavily biased towards fire ants, whose corpses can also be used as a source of the intrinsic. Fire giants can also provide the intrinsic as well as valuable strength boosts, and are plentiful on the home level as well. While neither are strictly necessary, magic resistance can also prove potentially vital if a hostile titan spawns, as well as having a source of reflection to deal with attack wands. An AC of about −10 with a solid weapon and fireproofed pieces of armor is considered safe, and dragon scale mail should be pursued if a wish for one has yet to be obtained. A fireproofed source of levitation or water walking boots is also handy; on the home level, even a well-prepared Valkyrie can possibly drown if the ice is melted out from under them by a fire trap.

Lord Surtur is not particularly difficult by quest nemesis standards, to the point an accidental spill into the lava or a potential mishap involving the drawbridges may prove a bigger threat. Even so, he still hits quite hard and has the standard suite of quest nemesis tactics, so you may want to use the Valkyrie's stealth to clear out the fire giants, or else intentionally awaken him to lure him away from them before engaging him. Lord Surtur himself respects Elbereth, is affected by the scroll of scare monster as of 3.6.0, and has a weakness to cold-based attacks such as the cone of cold spell. Once the Orb of Fate is secured, players can continue on to Medusa's Island and beyond.

Late game

General

Valkyries who make it to the Castle can typically clear it out and get the wand of wishing without too much difficulty. If a player should manage to make it to the castle without a source of reflection, Perseus's statue on Medusa's level can potentially contain a shield of reflection. Investing some of your gold in obtaining clairvoyance from an aligned priest prior to entering Gehennom can make it much easier to map the area. Magic resistance is also a must-have due to the liches and golden nagas that will most likely be generated; the scroll of scare monster is also a life-saver in case a lich decides to summon nasties.

For the endgame, while The Orb of Fate can work to detect portals on the Elemental Planes in a pinch, confused scrolls of gold detection are vastly preferable, as they don't immobilize you and are therefore much less dangerous.

Weapons

Excalibur remains a great weapon through the remainder of the game, especially when twoweaponed with a silver saber in the offhand; keep in mind that you cannot bribe Asmodeus and Baalzebub if you are carrying Excalibur in open inventory. While Grayswandir and/or Frost Brand are also especially good for Gehennom, any artifact long sword that isn't a hassle to use should suffice.

Mjollnir can make a good backup weapon, particularly if you have gauntlets of power, as it excels in frying some particularly nasty monsters such as mind flayers; however, many of the most dangerous endgame monsters (e.g. priests) are shock resistant. If you want to throw Mjollnir occasionally, you should keep most of your wands in your bag of holding to minimize the chance of blowing your valuable wands up

Armor

With half physical damage from the Orb of Fate, an armor class of −25 or so should be more than enough. Your magic marker charges are probably better spent on enchanting weapons or writing scrolls of magic mapping. Speed or jumping boots are very nice, but are generally not worth a wish unless you have the rest of your armor and ascension kit covered; you have the Castle armory, Orcus-town, and the rest of Gehennom to find at least one of them. If you lack GDSM and/or a magic resistance-providing artifact, you should wish for a cloak of magic resistance, since Gehennom without MR is an extremely bad idea.

Variants

SLASH'EM

Main article: Valkyrie/SLASH'EM

In SLASH'EM, Valkyries start with a spear or dwarvish spear instead of a long sword.

SporkHack

Valkyries in SporkHack are substantially similar to Valkyries in vanilla NetHack, but there are a few wrinkles players should be aware of.

  • SporkHack Valkyries can be of any race. Elven and orcish Valkyries are always neutral.
  • It is no longer possible to obtain Excalibur by dipping; this option is only available to Lawful Knights. Therefore, unless you find lawful Knight bones (unlikely) or get crowned (more likely), you won't be getting Excalibur.
  • Sacrificing is no longer guaranteed to yield artifacts; it may yield mundane weapons and armor instead. These will be highly enchanted, so it is a very valuable source of early game equipment. However, it's no longer nearly as easy to obtain Mjollnir. Combined with the lack of Excalibur, this can mean that sacrificing in hopes of getting Fire or Frost Brand, Vorpal Blade, Snickersnee, or Grayswandir (depending on your alignment) is worthwhile.
  • With the two-weapon fighting changes in SporkHack, offhand long swords and sabers are no longer viable. Instead, consider a silver spear or silver short sword as an offhand weapon. Silver daggers, though weak, are useful as well, since Valkyries can reach expert in daggers, but are limited to Skilled in spears and short swords.
  • Racial armor bonuses make dwarven Valkyries even stronger than they might otherwise be—but be aware that dwarves aren't the only ones who get racial armor bonuses. In particular, if you're an orc, a simple orcish helm improves AC by 3, even before enchantment.

Encyclopedia entry

The Valkyries were the thirteen choosers of the slain, the
beautiful warrior-maids of Odin who rode through the air and
over the sea. They watched the progress of the battle and
selected the heroes who were to fall fighting. After they
were dead, the maidens rewarded the heroes by kissing them
and then led their souls to Valhalla, where the warriors
lived happily in an ideal existence, drinking and eating
without restraint and fighting over again the battles in
which they died and in which they had won their deathless
fame.

[ The Encyclopaedia of Myths and Legends of All Nations, by Herbert Robinson and Knox Wilson ]

References