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 emits a beam which cancels any monsters or objects it hits. Monsters are entitled to a resistance check against the effect.

Putting a charged wand of cancellation (or a bag containing a wand of cancellation) into a bag of holding will cause a magical explosion that will destroy the bag and everything in it. Zapping a bag of holding, however, will either unbless or uncurse it, and will have no effect on the contents.


Main article: Cancellation

The wand of cancellation has a number of complicated effects. Among these effects, it will:

Applying a wand of cancellation will break it and cause a damaging magical explosion that also cancels all monsters and objects in a 3x3 square around you. See breaking wands for details.


Engraving over a writing in the dust gives the message "The engraving on the <floor> vanishes!" This can be either a wand of cancellation, make invisible, or teleportation.

Do not zap yourself with an unidentified wand that makes an engraving disappear; if it is a wand of cancellation, you will cancel all items carried in your inventory (except wands of cancellation).

If you have a pet without a special attack (such as a kitten), you can zap an unidentified wand that makes engravings disappear. If the pet disappears, it is either teleportation (and you can find the pet later in the level) or make invisible (which you can see if you have the see invisible intrinsic). To confirm, you can use a stethoscope; the information line from it will say that it has been canceled. Monsters have a chance of resisting cancellation, so do not rely on the above test before zapping yourself.

Another means is to drop an item that can be visibly canceled, and then zap it with the wand. 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, potions other than water, and items with known enchantment.


You are covered in sparkling lights!
You've just been zapped by a wand of cancellation. This is possible in some variants, but not in vanilla.
You feel a strange sense of loss.
Having been hit, the wand has canceled an item in your inventory.
The engraving on the <floor> vanishes!
You engraved with a wand of cancellation, teleportation, or make invisible where there was an existing engraving, or with a wand of cold where there is an existing burned engraving.


Avoiding wand explosion

Exploding wands of cancellation are a very bad thing. Not only do you lose your wand, you will be caught in the subsequent explosion and suffer 4 × charges damage. Wands of cancellation can explode as a result of a number of triggers, some of which do not apply to other wands. The following is a (probably not exhaustive) list of these triggers:

  • Breaking it
  • Zapping when cursed (1% chance)
  • Charging when previously recharged
  • Being hit by shock damage
  • Putting a charged wand of cancellation (or a bag containing a wand of cancellation) in a bag of holding causes a magical explosion which destroys the wand along with the bag and everything in it. This explosion, however, does not cancel your inventory, though it is still a very bad idea.

A large part of surviving NetHack is forming good habits. Do not pick up a wand of cancellation unless you need it, even if you do not (yet) have a bag of holding. If you do pick it up, make menucolors display it in an eye-catching warning color. Destroying the contents of your bag of holding can be a game-ending mistake. In vanilla, it is safe to leave it since no monster can use cancellation.

Of course, the best tip is to read all the text and make sure you understand what you are doing at all times. If you keep making simple mistakes such as placing a wand of cancellation in your bag of holding, then slow down and think before you type. However, even attentive players face a slight chance of accident, and in a long game, probabilities do add up.

The !"$%/()=?[] keys can and should be habitually used at the loot menu (if you are using the tty or curses interfaces). This makes gameplay faster, and handling dangerous items much less prone to mistakes.

You could reduce the chance of blowing up your bag of holding by embedding the wand into multiple sacks; seven are optimum.

The safest way to deal with a wand of cancellation is to get a spare plain sack or oilskin sack, name it something eye-catching, and put the wand in there instead of keeping it out in the open or accidentally putting it in a bag of holding.

On the other hand, this wand is great to uncurse worn stuff—just drop or stash everything else first. If this is your plan for the case where your two-handed weapon gets cursed, carry the wand in the open.

There also exists the opposite school of thought: Always pick up a wand of cancellation, as it is a great way to force yourself to pause and read the text before blindly mashing some key. This is the NetHack equivalent of placing a bomb in every car—hopefully, people will drive more carefully, reducing total casualties.


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. What objects go in first is determined by packorder, and within each object class the inventory letters.

Players who choose to carry these wands could keep their most valuable items outside their bag of holding, and use packorder and adjust to make their "rod of disaster" go in first.

However, losing the contents of the bag is usually the worst problem. Also, items you carry in the open can be destroyed, cursed, or stolen, so this trick hardly makes your valuables safer.


AceHack and NetHack 4

In AceHack and NetHack 4, placing a wand of cancellation in a bag of holding will cancel the wand, rather than destroying the bag. It's still a bad idea, but less game-ruining.


In dNetHack, monsters may zap wands of cancellation at you, reducing your current energy by 10d10 and your maximum energy by 10, which may interfere with your ability to use spells and other special abilities.


In SLASH'EM, monsters may zap the wand of cancellation at you, canceling some of your items. The effects of the wand are prevented if you have magic resistance. The effect is not the same as zapping yourself; every item in your inventory has a 1 in 24 chance of being canceled.[1] 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.

If you are caught in the explosion of a wand of cancellation, it will cancel all objects in your open inventory. This makes the wand especially dangerous to carry, as it can explode as a result of shock damage.

Identifying this wand is easier in SLASH'EM, owing to the addition of invisible items. You can zap any junk item with a wand that makes engravings vanish to unambiguously identify the wand; make invisible will make the item invisible, teleportation will teleport it, and cancellation will leave it visibly unchanged.


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


Monsters in GruntHack will zap wands of cancellation at the player, randomly canceling their inventory items. This attack cannot be defended against in any way; neither magic resistance nor magic cancellation helps.


Monsters in FIQHack will zap wands of cancellation at the player. If the player has magic resistance, it will protect against the zap from monsters with lower wand skill. Without magic resistance, or for particularly skilled wand users, the player will be canceled, preventing usage of energy as well as other changes similar to canceled monsters. This is considered a major trouble; it can be cured by praying, drinking a noncursed potion of gain energy, reading a noncursed scroll of charging while confused, or being caught in a magic trap's magical explosion.

Slash'EM Extended

Monsters will zap this wand at you, which may cancel some items in your inventory; magic resistance provides partial protection from that effect. The wand will be identified if you saw the monster that zapped you. If the player is zapped by this wand or zaps themselves with it, a random intrinsic property may also be lost, similar to being hit by a gremlin.

See also


This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.1. Information on this page may be out of date.

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