Wand of digging

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Name digging
Appearance random
Abundance 5.5%
Base price 150 zm
Weight 7
Type ray
Maximum charges 8
Spell dig
Monster use May be used defensively by monsters.

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


A wand of digging can generate with up to 8 charges.

Monsters may be generated carrying a wand of digging as a defensive item, with the exception of floating eyes.[1] Minotaurs have a 13 chance of being generated with a wand of digging, and the minotaur generated upon entering the Plane of Earth is guaranteed to have one.[2]

Shopkeepers, guards, and temple priests can generate with a wand of digging, despite being unable to use them.[3][4][5][6]


Zapping a wand of digging in a given direction produces a ray that can dig open a corridor of several squares through solid rock and walls, destroying any doors in its path; the ray has no effect on boulders. Zapping the wand upward causes a rock to fall from the ceiling and bonk you on the head, unless you are underwater. Zapping the wand downward creates a hole, and doing this on an undiggable floor creates a pit - unless you are levitating, flying, or else happen to escape, you will fall in. Doing so on a headstone always creates a pit on the square and unearths the contents of that grave, with appropriate penalties to alignment record.

Zapping the wand in a maze level will limit the ray's effect to one square; the ray has no effect on undiggable walls and rock. Zapping the wand while being engulfed by a non-whirly monster sets the monster's current HP to 1 and expels you.[7] Razing the walls and/or doors of Minetown will anger the watch.

Attempting to engrave with the wand will auto-identify it, then prompt you for what you want to engrave - using the wand this ways creates a semi-permanent engraving. Zapping the wand or seeing a monster zap it will also auto-identify it.

Applying a charged wand of digging, or wresting one last charge from applying an empty wand, will break the wand and create pits or holes on your square and the eight squares around you, with the exception of undiggable floors, stairs, boulders, traps, and altars.[8][9] This can destroy thrones.

A fleeing monster with a wand of digging may zap it wand downward to escape; monsters that try this on an undiggable floor will simply fail to dig, though this does not stop them making repeated attempts. Shopkeepers, guards, and temple priests will not use a wand of digging, as mentioned above.

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

Juiblex now only loses half of his HP when hit with digging magic from inside.

The blast from applying a charged wand of digging (or applying and wresting a last charge from an empty one) can destroy altars.


The wand of digging is an invaluable item that serves multiple purposes for any player, especially those doing speed ascensions - they can also be extremely annoying to snag from monsters without "losing" at least one charge, if not several. The most common use for a wand of digging is as an escape item to extract yourself from a hairy situation and gain some breathing room; it is also the only way you can dig at all while levitating. Any text engraved with a wand of digging is as durable as text engraved with a weapon or hard gem - this makes it as effective as an athame and slightly less effective than a wand of fire or wand of lightning for engraving Elbereth.

A wand of digging can be useful for the aspiring shoplifter; one of the best methods of doing so is to dig through the shop walls using the wand, then step outside of them and zap it downward.

Wands of digging can aid in clearing treasure zoos, throne rooms and other similar special rooms without waking the inhabitants, especially since destroying a door this way does not create noise.

The wand is a practically ubiquitous aid in navigating Gehennom - even with the above difficulty in obtaining one from a monster, a character is likely to have several spare wands by the time they reach the Valley of the Dead, and being able to consistently kill minotaurs can net them several more. Zapping a wand of digging diagonally at the Wizard's Tower allows a character to fire a wand of death or finger of death through the newly-created gap at the Wizard of Yendor, potentially killing him without giving him the chance to cast spells and leaving the Book of the Dead to be retrieved with relatively little trouble.

The wand of digging also proves valuable for ascension kits; navigating the Plane of Earth is easiest with this method, and zapping the doors on the Astral Plane can save a lot of time in searching for your high altar.

Digging for victory

Main article: Digging for victory

While not always the primary tool in a "dig for victory", the wand of digging is likely to be essential, both for escaping a Big Room and for evading minotaurs as you near the Castle.


The wand of digging 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.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, including some variants based on those versions, applying a wand of digging while charged, or wresting one last charge from an applied wand, can destroy altars.


You barely hear some noises.
You zapped a wand of digging while underwater.
The <wall/rock> glows then fades.
You zapped a wand of digging at undiggable terrain.
The floor is too hard to dig in here.
A wand was zapped at an undiggable floor.
The door is razed!
A door was destroyed by a ray from a wand of digging.



In SLASH'EM, zapping a boulder with a wand of digging will vaporize it; doing this in Sokoban will incur a -1 Luck penalty. Rays from a wand of digging will also halve the current HP of "stony" monsters, including xorns, earth elementals, statue gargoyles (but not regular gargoyles), and stone golems.[10]


In UnNetHack, wands of digging are no longer restricted to digging a single square on maze levels. Wands of digging are ineffective on the ice walls and crystal ice walls generated in Sheol, although other forms of digging are still effective.

Zapping a wand of digging to escape the engulfing of Juiblex will only halve his current HP, rather than reducing it to 1.


In dNetHack, The Rod of Lordly Might, The Rod of the Elvish Lords and The Sceptre of Lolth can each be invoked while in the form of a mace for effects similar to a wand of digging. The invoked artifact becomes a "ladder" that allows you to escape to the floor below if you invoke it while possessing the Amulet of Yendor; invoking this effect while being engulfed by a solid monster will severely damage them, reducing the current HP of unique monsters by 14 and setting the monster's HP to 1 otherwise. In all cases, these invoke effects are governed by timeout.

NetHack Fourk

NetHack Fourk incorporates the Wands Balance Patch, meaning that all wands are subject to skill level. Using a wand of digging with a higher skill level increases the amount of tiles that can be dug through.


FIQHack also incorporates the Wands Balance Patch, and the wand of digging functions as it does in Fourk. Additionally, a wand zapped at Master skill ignores maze restrictions.


In SlashTHEM, in addition to SLASH'EM details, a wand of digging can be found on the home level of the Geek quest.