Wand of cancellation

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Name cancellation
Appearance random
Abundance 4.5%
Base price 200 zm
Weight 7
Type beam
Maximum charges 8
Spell cancellation
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

A wand of cancellation is a type of wand that appears in NetHack.


In addition to random generation, general stores and wand shops can sell wands of cancellation.


Main article: Cancellation

Zapping a wand of cancellation emits a beam that will cancel any monsters or objects it hits, with each affected monster rolling against their MR score to resist. Monsters will not use this wand.

Items that are cancelled have many of their magical traits (but not always their status as magical items) neutralized: their beatitude is set to uncursed, their enchantment set to +0, and charges are set to -1; potions of sickness and see invisible are turned into fruit juice, while most other potions (except booze and oil) are made into water; and scrolls and spellbooks are blanked. Wands of cancellation themselves and the spellbook of cancellation cannot be cancelled.

Monsters that fail to resist the beam and are successfully cancelled have several of their special attack effects neutralized: for example, nymphs become incapable of charming; shapeshifters are forced into their base form, and cannot shift again on their own; spheres and lights cannot explode, dragons and other monsters cannot use their breath weapons, and spellcasters cannot use their monster spells. Monsters will not have certain abilities that are innate but non-magical such as flight stripped from them; e.g., cockatrices and chickatrices cannot hiss to initiate stoning, but bare-skin contact with them or their corpses will still cause stoning. Clay golems are special-cased to immediately die when cancelled - this also applies to a character polymorphed into one, immediately returning them to normal form (or else killing them if they have unchanging).[1]

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

Zapping a wand of cancellation at magical traps such as magic traps, level teleporters and anti-magic fields will destroy them.

Bags of holding

Putting a charged wand of cancellation or any bag containing one into a bag of holding will cause a magical explosion that destroys the wand, the bag of holding and its contents, as well as the bag being inserted and its contents. However, zapping a bag of holding will only set its beatitude to uncursed, since the magical properties are applied within the bag.

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

Per commit 71754910, exploding bags of holding scatter their contents rather than destroying them outright: fragile items are destroyed, and if caused by a wand of cancellation, the wand is still lost along with the bag itself. Per commit 6fd51c29, 113 of the bag's contents are lost (not counting fragile items that are destroyed after), and per commit ce1f4788, monsters hit by scattered items are angered.


The wand of cancellation is one of the more dangerous items in the game for even experienced players: while the loss of a bag of holding can technically be recovered from, and some players have even ascended characters following a "BoHsplosion", the amount of items lost in the average bag explosion and the time it often takes to rebuild a kit (especially in the late game) is enough that most players prefer to quit rather than continue on.

Most players prefer to avoid picking up wands of cancellation if they do not need one, even if they currently do not have a bag of holding: monsters are unlikely to pick it up, and those that do will not use it. Even with "ideal" NetHack technique where a player carefully reads text, slows down and thinks before they type, and generally remains aware of what they are doing at all times, the most attentive players are still human and thus prone to occasional error.

With the above in mind, those that do keep a wand of cancellation tend to place it in a sack or oilskin sack, using menucolors to name the wand and/or sack something that displays in an eye-catching warning color. Cancellation wands can also be handy in dealing with bones piles for players that are willing to move items they do not want cancelled (e.g., scrolls, potions, wands, and desired weapons/armor with suspected enchantments) into a separate pile before zapping the main pile to uncurse it - the wand may be desirable for uncursing bones containers in particular to avoid losing any items in a bag of holding. A wand of cancellation is also a useful tool for intentional mass blanking of unwanted items such as potions and scrolls in order to make holy or unholy water and write new scrolls with a magic marker.

Learning the ins and outs of navigating the loot menu can reduce the occurrence of wand accidents: remember that if playing using tty or curses interfaces, you can use keys corresponding to item types (e.g. ! for potions, / for wands, ? for scrolls, - to deselect all, and so on) to select or deselect groups of items, making gameplay faster and item-handling less error prone. Some players use packorder in order to somewhat mitigate item loss from bag explosions if they do happen: placing a wand of cancellation inside of a bag of holding will destroy the bag, its contents, and everything you put in before the wand that turn, and by adjusting inventory letters, they can ensure that a wand of cancellation is the first item in and that no further items from their open inventory are lost with it.


Engraving over existing writing on the floor gives a message about the writing "vanishing", which can indicate a wand of cancellation, make invisible, or teleportation; a wand of cold will also produce this message if used to write on a square with a burnt engraving. Do not zap yourself with an unidentified wand that makes an engraving disappear if you have not conclusively identified it, informally or identified - if it is a wand of cancellation, you will cancel most (if not all) of your inventory.

One good means to test a suspected cancellation wand is to zap it at a monster that is hostile and lacks a special attack - floating eyes are among the best monsters to test on, and pets can also be sufficient, provided you can see invisible and they do not have a special attack themselves. If the zapped monster does not disappear, end up elsewhere in the room or turn transparent (which reveals a wand of make invisible if you can see invisible), then the wand is likely to be cancellation; you can use a stethoscope to confirm. Since monsters have a chance of resisting cancellation, do not rely on the above test to zap it at yourself.

You can also test the suspected wand on 'junk' items that can be canceled as listed above, such as a scroll or potion: if it vanishes, then the wand is teleportation; if it remains unchanged, then the wand is make invisible; otherwise, it is cancellation. Good test items include useless non-blank scrolls, known blessed or cursed objects, unwanted potions other than water, and less-important items with known enchantment.


The wand of cancellation first appears in Hack 1.21 and Hack PDP-11, which are based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial item list for Hack 1.0.


Many variants give monsters the ability to use the wand of cancellation.


In SLASH'EM, monsters may zap the wand of cancellation at at the player character, canceling some of your items. The effects of the wand can be prevented with magic resistance, and are different from zapping the wand at yourself: every item in your inventory has a 124 chance of being canceled, and if you are polymorphed and are not wearing an amulet of unchanging, you return to human form and lose current and maximum HP equal to the monster level of the form you were in - this will kill the character if their HP drops below zero, and a character that survives dying this way (e.g. due to an amulet of life saving) will have their max HP set to 1.[2]

If a character is caught in the explosion of a wand of cancellation, it will cancel all objects in open inventory. This makes the wand especially dangerous to carry, as it can explode as a result of several factors: shock damage, accidentally applying it, zapping a cursed wand of cancellation with a 15 chance, or charging a previously-recharged wand of cancellation.

Fortunately, identifying this wand is somewhat easier in SLASH'EM, owing to the addition of invisible items: zapping any junk item with a wand that makes engravings vanish can unambiguously identify the wand, since make invisible will make the item invisible, teleportation will teleport it, and cancellation will leave it visibly unchanged.


You are covered in sparkling lights!
You feel a strange sense of loss.
You were zapped by a wand of cancellation, with the second line occurring if it has canceled an item in your inventory.


In GruntHack, monsters will zap wands of cancellation at the player, randomly canceling items in their open inventory - there is no means to resist the wand's effects.


In UnNetHack, monsters may use a wand of cancellation against the player character, with the same effects as in SLASH'EM.


In AceHack, placing a wand of cancellation in a bag of holding will cancel the wand, rather than destroying the bag, making such accidents much less immediately game-ruining.

NetHack 4

In NetHack 4, a wand of cancellation placed in a bag of holding is cancelled as in AceHack.


In dNetHack, monsters may zap wands of cancellation at the player character, reducing your current energy by 10d10 and your maximum energy by 10 - this can interfere with your ability to use spells and other special abilities.


In FIQHack, monsters will zap wands of cancellation at the player character, with magic resistance providing a chance to resist dependent on the zapper's wand skill. Being cancelled prevents the use of your energy and certain other abilities - this can be cured by successful prayer (where it is considered a major trouble), or by any means of obtaining energy: quaffing a non-cursed potion of gain energy, reading a non-cursed scroll of charging while confused, or being caught in a magic trap's magical explosion.


In EvilHack, monsters will zap wands of cancellation at the player character, which can be partially negated with magic resistance and/or half spell damage; gray dragon-scaled armor has a 1415 chance of blocking cancellation effects.