Wand of death

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Name death
Appearance random
Abundance 0.5%
Base price 500 zm
Weight 7
Type ray
Maximum charges 8
Spell finger of death
Monster use May be used offensively by monsters.

The wand of death is arguably the most powerful wand in the game, but also quite dangerous. The spellbook with similar powers is finger of death. One of the major sources of YASD is the fabled Gnome With the Wand of Death.

Zapping it sends a ray of death towards an enemy, who will instantly die if not Death, magic resistant, reflecting, a demon, or nonliving. The same criteria apply to the player character. As with all wands, however, there is a chance that the wand will miss the target. If you are being targeted with death rays, you should consider using some escape item unless you have reflection or magic resistance.

Zapping a wand of death at Death makes him stronger.

Zapping a wand of death at yourself results in an instadeath, even if you have magic resistance and/or reflection ("You irradiate yourself with pure energy!"), unless you are polymorphed into any of the unaffected monsters mentioned above ("The wand shoots an apparently harmless beam at you."). This is generally considered a Bad Idea. Beware also of bouncing rays.

Breaking the wand results in a standard magical explosion with (16 * charges) damage, but also identifying the wand. Although the game refers to this explosion as a "death field" if it kills you, magic resistance is not necessary to survive it.

The wand of death shares its base cost of 500 with the wand of wishing. These two are the rarest wands, each comprising only 0.5% of randomly generated wands.

Orcus always carries a wand of death. Other monsters with difficulty of 8 or more can receive it as an offensive item if eligible.


In SporkHack, death rays will still cause damage and reduce your maximum hit points if you have magic resistance or reflection. If you have both, the damage is dramatically reduced and you lose much fewer maximum HP.

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.1.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-360}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.