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, except when polymorphed or an amulet of change becomes involved. 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. Lawful dwarf is usually the best alignment and race for a valkyrie, as they have the advantages associated with a dwarf (more hp, peaceful mines) and, as they are lawful, can #dip for Excalibur. The mental disadvantages of dwarves rarely come into play with valkyries.


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 longsword, which is a fairly good weapon. For lawfuls, this should be upgraded to Excalibur at the earliest possible opportunity (you must be level 5 or above).

Ranged weapons are not strictly necessary, but they can come in handy for attacking particularly strong monsters or ones with annoying passive attacks, or for shooting past boulders in Sokoban. The best option for a Valkyrie is usually daggers, as they can reach expert skill in them and it's easy to find them lying around the dungeon. Some players recommend using the starting dagger instead of the longsword on weak monsters at the beginning of the game in order to build skill in it from the beginning.

Opinions are very mixed on Mjollnir. Many players think it's quite useful and others think it's pointless or even dangerous (when thrown). If you're not lawful, you definitely want to get Mjollnir (by sacrificing), but if you are lawful you can choose to go for it or not. Keep in mind that you can't safely throw it until you get gauntlets of power.

Armor

Valkyries can wear all armor without penalty (except the weight), so at the beginning of the game, you should put on any armor that isn't cursed and doesn't burden you. You can upgrade to better and lighter armor as you find it (see armor article for a listing of options). The starting +3 shield is extremely good and you'll be hard-pressed to find another shield that matches its armor class and is as light, so you should usually keep it.

By the time you finish the Mines, you should nearly always have an AC of -5 or lower.

Objectives

  • If you choose a lawful character, many of the inhabitants of the Gnomish Mines will be peaceful, so they're relatively safe. As such, it's probably a good idea to go there first.
  • Afterwards (or first, if you prefer), proceed to Sokoban.
  • Once you're level 5, find a fountain or three and start #dipping your longsword to get Excalibur. Be prepared to deal with anything the fountain produces; some players prefer waiting until they're level 7, when Valkyries gain intrinsic speed and can run away from hazards such as water demons more easily. Note: You should never dip for Excalibur in Minetown; if you get it successfully, you will anger the watch, even if they are not in sight.
  • Mines' End is not strictly necessary. The Orb of Fate, the Valkyrie quest artifact, acts as a luckstone, so you don't need to get the one in Mine's End unless you really want one immediately. The possible spellbooks at the end of the Catacombs level are not useful to Valkyries. And Mine's End is fairly dangerous because of the polymorph traps. However, if you just want to build up your character a bit more, there's also no particular reason why you should not do it.

General

  • Early wishes (from a lamp in Minetown or from dipping for Excalibur, probably) should usually be used on silver dragon scale mail. On occasion you may prefer gray (for instance, if the Sokoban prize is an amulet of reflection); see GDSM versus SDSM for more.
  • Valkyries are fairly strong in the early game and don't have to flee in terror as much as other roles. However, be careful not to play like you're invincible; valkyries can still easily fall prey to YASD, particularly dangerous monsters like soldier ants, or simply not paying attention to their HP levels. Never be afraid to retreat and come back later or to use Elbereth.
  • Sacrificing probably won't be of too much use in the early game. If you're neutral or particularly want Mjollnir for some other reason, you might sacrifice to try to get it. You should, however, pray at an altar to get holy water once you find a coaligned one or can convert one.
  • If you can find a level 1 spellbook early on, it's a good idea to read it; this way, 20,000 turns later, you can "cast" the spell to become confused on demand. Other than this, it's usually not worth pursuing spellcasting, as valkyries are not particularly good at it and can do just fine without it.

Midgame

Weapons

  • Excalibur and Mjollnir remain good weapons.
  • If you have a couple of scrolls of enchant weapon, using them on Excalibur could be helpful (bless them first, of course). Since you'll likely want to at least keep Excalibur around through the end of the game, if nothing else as a backup and for the searching and level-drain resistance, it isn't a waste of resources to do so.
  • If you are patient enough to sit at altars for a while, you can go for Grayswandir or Frost Brand.
  • Once you're level 10 or so, you might think about training twoweapon skill. (You might prefer not to enhance your longsword skill to Expert, since you can only train twoweapon to Skilled.) Common secondary weapon choices are long swords, katanas, and silver sabers. If the secondary weapon you plan to use does not use long sword skill, you should train that skill first, as it will not be trained while twoweaponing.

Armor

Objectives

  • When you see the quest level, find the portal. If you don't have fire resistance yet, go through and kill and eat some fire ants and fire giants until you get it.
  • If you can level up to level 14 (probably via wraiths or incubi), go ahead and do the quest. The valkyrie quest is relatively easy; as long as you have the following, you should be fine:
    • An AC of about -10.
    • A decent weapon (Excalibur or Mjollnir is fine).
    • Fire resistance (this is really easy to get on the first level of the quest, as noted).
    • A ring of levitation, boots of levitation, or fireproof water walking boots are preferable, as it's all too easy to step in lava by mistake. If you're careful, you should be able to complete the quest without them, though (on rare occasions you may find yourself blocked in completely by lava on the last level of the quest).
  • Continue on to Medusa and the Castle and get the wand of wishing. As a Valkyrie, if you make it to the castle, you can typically clear it out without too much difficulty. If you don't have reflection or magic resistance, though, you're taking your life into your hands—the chance that someone has a game-ending wand of death is quite high. Look out, and check Perseus' statue on Medusa's level for a shield of reflection before going in without reflection.

Late game

Weapons

  • Excalibur makes an acceptable weapon through the remainder of the game, especially when paired with a silver saber as an offhand weapon for extra damage in Gehennom. Keep in mind that you cannot bribe Asmodeus and Baalzebub if you are carrying Excalibur in open inventory.
  • Mjollnir can make a good backup weapon, particularly if you have found gauntlets of power (throwing it at things like mind flayers can be useful). 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. You should not rely on Mjollnir as a primary weapon at this stage, if possible, as many of the most dangerous endgame monsters such as priests are shock resistant.
  • If you can get Grayswandir or Frost Brand, they're even better for Gehennom. However, Frost Brand is not a very effective weapon on the Astral Plane since most of the monsters there are cold-resistant, so you should enchant Excalibur up as well for use there.

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 not necessary. Unless you have spare wishes, these are probably not worth a wish if you haven't found them. (The Castle armory, Orcus-town, and the rest of Gehennom may still have some—keep your eye out.)
  • If you don't have GDSM or a magic resistance-providing artifact, you should wish for a cloak of magic resistance if you don't have one—doing Gehennom without MR is an extremely bad idea.

General

Strategy in SLASH'EM

While Valkyries are arguably the strongest class in Vanilla NetHack, in SLASH'EM the early game is noticeably more difficult; Knights, Samurai, and even Barbarians are probably easier classes for the early game.

  • Instead of a +1 long sword, Valkyries start with a +1 spear. This is partially balanced out by the 5 daggers they also start with, but overall it is a major disadvantage. Spears are considerably weaker than long swords, and you lose the advantage of an easily obtainable Excalibur if lawful. While the spear is still a decent melee weapon, you will have trouble going toe-to-toe with the baby dragons, scrampers, and werepanthers that will start to plague you after you hit level 5 or so, so you will need to round out your fighting strategy with a ranged attack (your starting stack of 5 daggers will come in handy) and probably engrave Elbereth fairly often.
  • As soon as you find an altar, prioritize sacrificing to get Mjollnir. Instead of 1d24 bonus damage, in SLASH'EM Mjollnir will strike anything it hits for an additional 24 points of electrical damage. Few early game monsters are immune to this, so this becomes an awesomely powerful weapon even into the endgame. If you are lawful, you should also try for Excalibur as soon as you happen upon a long sword (weapon shop, barrow wight, the Rat King, etc.). A Valkyrie two-weaponing with Excalibur and Mjollnir will cruise through the early game and well into them midgame with little difficulty.
  • Since you will be throwing daggers so often, getting dagger to expert for the multishot bonus as quickly as possible is an extremely high priority. Use your weapon practice #technique while wielding daggers as much as possible until you reach expert.
  • Think twice before putting any skill points into spears, because as soon as you find a katana or long sword you will want to switch to that as your main melee weapon. However, if you have a really hard time finding a better weapon, it might be worth it to advance spears to skilled.
  • The weapon practice #technique can be used to discover a weapon's magical enchantment as well as to build skill points. Note however that you will want to BUC test the item first, since you must wield a weapon to use this technique.
  • Since exploding wands have the same effects as breaking them in SLASH'EM, Mjollnir becomes a much more dangerous weapon. Aside from one or two emergency wands like digging, and wands of lightning which are immune, don't carry ANY wands outside of containers if you're going to throw Mjollnir. It is also a good idea to avoid using it as a melee weapon against monsters that might be carrying wands, because the explosions will affect you if you are next to them.
  • Given that the Orb of Fate's critical half physical damage can be superseded by the Hand of Vecna (which also provides hungerless regeneration), you may want to stash this item in your bag to save on carrying capacity, pulling it out only to levelport, or find the portals in the planes in the endgame. The half spell damage and warning can be useful, however, particularly if you do not have extrinsic telepathy.
  • A good ascension kit for a Valkyrie is:

Strategy in 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/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


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