Wizard mode ascension

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This is a guide to ascending a game of NetHack in wizard mode, from start to finish. Using this mode is considered cheating, so the goal is to help inexperienced players learn more about the game so they can approach a real playthrough with more confidence, and to allow them to experiment with mechanics and interactions that would normally be difficult to safely try.

Using wizard mode grants the player a great deal of power, including the ability to wish for items freely, force prayer to succeed, and teleport at will. Explore mode is another non-scoring mode and can be useful for those who want to learn with a closer simulation of normal gameplay; it does not grant the player as much extra power, but it provides a safety net to help players recover from normally-fatal mistakes without having to start from the beginning.

Getting started

Okay, so you've been playing NetHack for a while, and you know vaguely what the Dungeons of Doom hold for you at deeper levels through this wiki or other spoilers, but you've never actually seen Fort Ludios yourself? All right, it might be cheating, but let's have a go at wizard mode and see if we can't ascend that way at least once, just to see what the game's structure is like.

Start by opening a new game in wizard mode (see the wizard mode article on how to do this on your operating system). Choose a Valkyrie as a starting role and lawful as your alignment if you want to follow along with this guide, or any other role you want to try out. Welcome to wizard mode! You're now at level one of the Dungeons of Doom, and everything looks a whole lot like a standard game. Let's start by equipping yourself for the journey.


Using the wizard mode "wish" command (Ctrl + w), wish for the following items to prepare for your journey. Normally these items get gleaned along your journey, but we'll jump right in with them. Note that most all items we're wishing for here are blessed, fireproof, or rustproof to make them more durable and provide the best benefits. Grease protects you against grabbing and sucking attacks by certain monsters.


Getting a good AC and keeping it is a priority. Valkyries already have cold immunity, so we don't have to worry about that, but here's a good set of things to wish for and then wear. Type Ctrl + w and then type one of the following at the prompt. Hit Ctrl + w again to Wish for the next item. When all are in your inventory, do a quick Ctrl + i to identify them all and make sure you didn't mistype anything and get something else instead, then use Shift + W to put on each item in turn.

The red dragon scale mail grants fire resistance, so you won't take damage from fire; the shield will make most magic rays and cones bounce off of you, while the cloak will cancel out most other magical effects including monsters' special attacks and some traps. The helm will boost your intelligence and wisdom, and the gauntlets boost strength (so you can carry more stuff), and finally, the boots let you not be hampered by mundane things like water or lava in your way. Once all those items are worn, that should take you down to a rather impressive AC so you won't have to worry about getting hit by creatures until much deeper in the Dungeons.


With your good AC you could just run around the Dungeons for many levels and not need to fight, but we're not trying to be a pacifist as well this time around. You start the game with a trusty +1 long sword, and that's pretty good for a Valkyrie as a weapon, as later in the game you can turn it into Excalibur (if you're past level 5, dipping any long sword in a fountain by a lawful character has a 16 chance of transforming it into Excalibur). But we're looking for the best of the best!

Since we have unlimited wishes, having a primary weapon and some alternates isn't a bad way to go. Valkyries can reach expert skill in daggers, axes, long swords, two-handed swords, and hammers. To stick to a traditional Valkyrie route, type #enhance and choose to increase your long sword skill to Expert. Now to stock up on useful long swords for your skill, wish (Ctrl + w) for:

These are all artifact weapons that are special long swords, to make the best use of your skill. Only one of each can exist at a time in the game, and the spelling must be exact. If you want to try out a different artifact weapon, enhance your skill in that type, and wish for it.

To start with, equip Frost Brand as your primary weapon. Frost Brand grants cold resistance, which Valkyries already have, but it also adds cold damage to its attacks, which is very useful, especially against the fireproof demons we'll encounter later.

Valkyries can also become reasonably skilled at two-weapon fighting, which can increase your damage even more. #enhance your two-weapon fighting skill and saber skill, then wish for a blessed rustproof +5 silver saber. To set yourself up for two-weapon fighting, take off your shield with Shift + T, use w to wield your silver saber, press x to switch it to your alternate hand, then w to wield Frost Brand. Alternatively, if you have the pushweapon option set, you can simply wield the silver saber and then wield the Frost Brand. Then type #twoweapon or press shift + X to activate two-weapon fighting. While two-weapon fighting, your skill in the weapons you're wielding doesn't go up, but you already maximized those.

You cannot wield two weapons while wearing a shield, so if you choose to do this, you should find an alternative source of reflection. Possibilities include wearing an amulet of reflection, or wearing silver dragon scale mail and finding another source of fire resistance. Wishing for and eating a tin of red dragon meat will do nicely, giving you the resistance permanently.

Wielding a silver saber is useful later in the game against deeper-level creatures (along with Demonbane). Once you reach the Astral Plane, Frost Brand will be less useful, but you can switch it for Fire Brand. Vorpal Blade's chance of decapitation makes it good against high-HP monsters.


Rings and amulets provide various magical effects, though some of them are redundant thanks to wizard mode and other equipment. We have no need for rings of searching, teleportation, teleport control, polymorph, or polymorph control, since wizard mode has commands for those. We have no need for a ring of cold resistance since Valkyries get that automatically, nor fire resistance since our armor does that. Probably the best pair of rings that we could wish for is a blessed ring of shock resistance and a blessed ring of poison resistance since we have no items that cover those already.

For an amulet, if you are not using an amulet of reflection, the best one at this point is probably a blessed amulet of magical breathing. This, along with our boots of water walking, should enable us to go for a swim without having to polymorph. The next most useful one would be the amulet of ESP, but if you are neutral and not a Wizard, wish for the blessed Eye of the Aethiopica, the Wizard quest artifact. (In wizard mode, you can wish for this even if you are a Wizard, but you cannot otherwise.) This artifact is an amulet of ESP, but don't wear it for that. We'll gain ESP in a different way in a few steps. Instead, just carry it in your inventory and it will halve spell damage against you. Wearing it also grants magic resistance, but you already have that from your cloak. You can also #invoke the Eye to open a portal to any dungeon branch you have already been to.


Yes, it's mundane, but even in wizard mode, you're not immune to hunger, and ironically, teleporting around the levels drains more hunger than walking around them, so we should get some stock of food before heading out. Lembas wafers are true to their mythological roots in being more nutritional and lighter than other foods of man. So, wish for 10 blessed lembas wafers and you should be set for a while for food.


Valkyries aren't the best at casting spells, and especially with all the armor we've got on, our spellcasting prowess won't be that great. But that doesn't mean we can't use scrolls, wands and potions to our best advantage.


10 blessed potions of object detection. Wizard mode has automatic magic mapping and searching, but not full-level object revelations. 5 blessed potions of confusion, to use special effects of scrolls. In NetHack 3.6.1, these can be replaced with the #wizintrinsic command.


For the wand wishes, don't forget to include the parenthetical statement afterward in your wish. The (0:99) after the wand name indicates a wand that has been recharged zero times, and has 99 charges in it. Normally wands hold a maximum of 15 charges, so be sure to ask for more if you want more charges built in. Wish for the following and keep them on hand for future use:


10 blessed scrolls of taming, useful when surrounded by powerful monsters. 5 blessed scrolls of gold detection, for detecting traps.


A few more odds and ends that we will probably find useful:

  • blessed floating eye corpse – Eat it (e); your character probably will think it tastes bad, but it will grant you intrinsic telepathy.
  • blessed towel – Once you've got ESP, it's most effective if you're blind, so this is a way to control that. Put it on (Shift + P) to blind yourself, then remove it (Shift + R) to see again.
  • blessed bag of holding – Just because you're strong doesn't mean you can carry everything. Put your scrolls, wands, potions, food, and cash in here when not needed. This also protects the contents from damage by fire and cold.
  • blessed skeleton key – Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, and rather than kicking a locked door down, or smashing a locked chest and damaging its contents, simply unlock them instead.
  • blessed magic lamp – Just because you have ESP and can see things while blind doesn't mean you always want to. A magic lamp will never run out of oil, which is another bonus.
  • blessed magic whistle – Normal whistles produce a noise that attracts your pets; magic whistles produce a noise that instantly teleports all pets on the level to your side. Useful if you lose your pet while teleporting around the dungeons.
  • blessed unicorn horn, which can be applied with a to cure ailments such as confusion, blindness and terminal illness.

The telepathy granted by the floating eye corpse is convenient, but you need to be blind to use it. If you need to see creatures around you while not blind, wear the amulet of ESP you wished for earlier.

And finally, before heading out, do a final Ctrl + i to make sure everything is identified and truly what you wished for, and execute a #levelchange to make you level 10 off the bat to give you an edge on the competition.

Starting to explore

Now, this walkthrough is going to assume that you've at least played NetHack a bit before jumping into this guide. So you should be familiar with moving around the Dungeons of Doom, and hopefully have made it down a few levels on your own. But, we'll take a quick moment to get familiar with the more powerful tools available to you in wizard mode. Hit Ctrl + f to reveal the layout of the first level if you haven't already. Put on your towel and you should be able to see most of the monsters in this level - ESP will not reveal zombies and other mindless creatures, though there are likely not that many on the first level. Travel over to a monster and revel for a moment in how easy it is to slay first level creatures when you're level 10 and wielding Frost Brand! You can at this point just walk over to the down staircase (now that the map is revealed and you can see it), or have fun bashing all available monsters and watching them fall.

Once down on level 2, do another Ctrl + f to reveal what you're doing, and find the next down staircase. Again, tarry if you'd like, but you've no need to loot fallen monsters for additional stuff, as what you have is much better than what you'd get here. Extra potions or wands can be fun, though. If you do pick up stuff, remember to Ctrl + i to identify it and verify its BUC status before playing with it.

Continue on mapping and heading downward through the levels until you find a level with two down staircases.

Getting out of trouble

In these first few levels, nothing too difficult should appear to you, so you should be moderately safe, even if you do make a mistake.

If you accidentally put on an item that is cursed (you should have used Ctrl + i first), use Ctrl + w and wish for a blessed scroll of remove curse. Read that, and all cursed items you're carrying will become uncursed. If you have formally identified the scroll and learned the formula, you can even use it if you put on a cursed towel or blindfold (though it's unclear why you'd do that when you should already have a blessed towel). Alternatively, in that case, try using #pray to see if your god will help you (choose y to force the prayer to succeed). Or, use Ctrl + w and wish for a potion of holy water. Dip the cursed item in the holy water and it will get uncursed so that you can remove it.

If you find yourself growing hungry from all the running around the dungeon, remember you have a set of lembas wafers you can eat when hungry. And if you run out, wish for some more! Even though you can't die of starvation in wizard mode, you do still faint and lose consciousness for a while, so it's best to keep your stomach full.

If you find yourself low on hit points, either wish for a blessed potion of full healing to quaff, or just keep fighting away until you lose all your hit points, at which point you'll be asked if you want to die. If you choose "no", you'll be restored to full hit points. For this reason, it is vitally important not to repeatedly press the y key (generally in combat), or to turn on the paranoid confirmation option. If you're not using a numpad to move y moves you northwest or attacks that corner. But if in the midst of attacking, you get killed, and the next prompt is asking whether you really want to die, hitting y again will confirm this and end your game. So instead of wailing on the y key to move or attack that corner, use 8 y to attack 8 times in succession (or whatever number you want).

Fork in the road

Okay, so you've had a few levels to play and find out the extent of your powers, right? If on the off chance that you can't find the level with two down staircases (it's always between the 2nd and 4th levels, and using Ctrl + f should reveal them on any specific level), enter #wizwhere. This will show you where certain key levels are at in the current game. The fork in the road we're looking for is the "Stair to The Gnomish Mines". Find that entry in your list, and it will be followed by a number. That's the "Dlvl" you need to get to ("Dlvl" is shown in the lower left hand corner of the display). Use the stairwells to get to that dungeon level (or if you're truly lazy, hit Ctrl + v and when it asks "To what level do you want to teleport?" put in the number you saw after the "Stair to The Gnomish Mines" entry), and look again, and you should be able to find two stairwells. If you still can't, odds are there's an object sitting on the stairs. Press the travel command (_) then select stairs (>) repeatedly, or go visit all objects on the ground and move them to see if there's a staircase under them.

So now you're on the "Stair to The Gnomish Mines" level. Before we choose a fork in the path, let's take some time to do some fun things that usually takes a lot of work in the real game, but we can easily experiment with in wizard mode:


Main article: Altar

In these first few levels, odds are not too likely that you encountered an altar already, but if you have, there are a few things you can do at an altar. Normally #praying and #offering at altars influence your relationship with your character's deity, which can become good or bad. Luckily, in wizard mode, we have control over that influence, so can't get into too much trouble. We can also wish for an altar and specify its alignment.

Altars in NetHack have one of three alignments, or in special cases can be unaligned, and praying at co- or cross-aligned altars can have interesting results. As a Valkyrie, you should be Lawful at this point, and if you find an altar to Tyr, that would be your patron's altar. If you've found a patron's altar, try wishing for an uncursed potion of water, drop it on the altar, and while standing over the altar, #pray. After confirming that you do want to pray, force the gods to be pleased. You will see that "the potion on the altar glows light blue for a moment" and you may get a tidbit of advice from your god. After that, pick up your potion, and you'll find you've crafted a bit of holy water! What good is holy water? Well, now that you've got a vial of it, you can make more of it (without an altar) for one: wish for 5 uncursed potions of water, then #dip the uncursed water into the holy water. You should see that "your 5 potions of water glow softly with a light blue aura", and next thing you know, you've got 5 potions of holy water (your one original potion is used up in the process). So we can make more of it, but what do we do with it? Find some random uncursed item around the dungeon and try dipping it into a potion of holy water. You should find that it becomes blessed. Items that are blessed usually perform quite a bit better than those that are uncursed. If you have found a cursed item, dipping it in a potion of holy water will make it uncursed.

One other thing you can do on altars is to #offer corpses on them. Freshly killed, tough creatures make your god happy with you, and if the altar is of an alignment other than yours, it has a chance of converting it (at least until you reach Gehennom later on). In wizard mode, you can force your god to be happy, but sacrificing can also increase your luck and get you gifts of artifact weapons. Type Ctrl + x and hit the spacebar once to move to the second page. The second to last item on that list is your prayer timeout. If you cannot safely pray, there's a countdown timer there that tells you how long until you can (this does not appear when you gain enlightenment in a real game). So, try typing Ctrl + g, and creating a baby blue dragon. Kill the dragon and move its corpse onto the altar. Stand over it and type #offer. Tyr should become more pleased with you. If the altar was an opposing alignment, you may get a message like "You feel a conflict between Tyr and [the other god]. You feel the power of Tyr increase. The altar glows white." If you inspect the altar now, you'll find that it's now a lawful altar dedicated to Tyr. Take a look at your prayer timeout again and it should have decreased by a hefty amount. Repeat this process until the timer hits 0, and Tyr will start lavishing you with gifts for your offerings.

Altars of any alignment can be used to identify items of a blessed, uncursed, or cursed status. Wish for a few cursed items and drop them on the altar. You should see "a black flash" as each item lands on the altar. When you pick the item up, it will automatically be identified as a cursed item in your inventory. Blessed items give "an amber flash" when dropped on an altar.


Quaff one of your potions of object detection, if you haven't already. You'll notice that you sense objects both in the rooms and outside of them, and some of them may even be buried in the ground. You may even see a secret room not connected to anything, filled with gold. Now that you can see what you're aiming for, zap your wand of digging and go dig out some gems that are trapped in the rocks. Normally in the game you will run across a pick-axe, which you can use to go hunting for gold in this way if you're short. However, digging is usually very tiring and you'll burn through food quite quickly that way. Spellcasting characters can memorize the spell "dig", which can make the process faster, or you can get a wand of digging, like us.


NetHack characters can gain various properties that can make gameplay easier, and as you go deeper, it might be useful to acquire some of these. Valkyries automatically gain cold resistance, your cloak and Eye of the Aethiopica grant magic resistance, your shield or amulet of reflection or silver dragon scale mail grants reflection, and your red dragon scale mail grants fire resistance. These are all considered extrinsics, since you would lose them if you took off the item (or polymorphed into a monster that couldn't use them). So, converting those to intrinsics (part of your character) can be beneficial.

To do that, let's eat some items. Some rings and amulets that grant an extrinsic property when worn have a chance of granting the same property when eaten. The main problem with eating jewelry is that most are of a material humanoid characters can't eat (metal, minerals, or wood). So, start by using #polyself to turn yourself into a xorn. Make sure to take off your body armor and cloak before doing this, otherwise it will be destroyed as you change size. (Helmets, gloves, and boots are safe.) Xorns can eat metal, so wish for the following and eat them:

When eaten, those items may give the message "Magic spreads through your body as you digest the amulet," indicating you now have the intrinsic. If you don't get the message, keep wishing for and eating amulets until you get it.

Now for rings. Rings are made of a random material each game, so these may not be edible, but try anyway. Wish for the following and try to eat them:

If you can eat them as a xorn, keep wishing for them and eating them until they give a message indicating you got the intrinsic. You can also turn into a gelatinous cube to eat wooden rings.

With those items eaten, you should now have unbreathing, poison resistance, sleep resistance, see invisible, and searching intrinsics. A ring of free action protects against paralysis when you wear it, but not when you eat it, so you should wish for another one to wear.

To get the remainder of the intrinsics, we'll have to eat corpses of specific monsters. The unbreathing intrinsic will keep you from choking on your food, which would ruin the effect. Polymorph back into a humanoid, and then obtain the following monster corpses. If you're feeling sporting, type Ctrl + g and type in the monster's name, which will create a living version of that monster right next to you. Kill it and then eat the corpse. Or, for a faster route, wish for a blessed tin of [monster] meat, then eat the tin.

Adult dragon corpses have a 100% chance of imparting the intrinsic, so should only take one dose to complete. As a Valkyrie above level 7, you should have intrinsic speed already; if you don't for some reason, eating quantum mechanic meat will toggle intrinsic speed.

Choose a dungeon branch

Okay, once you're done playing for a bit, go down each staircase in this level and do a Ctrl + f on each fork to see the level. One will be noticeably different than the way things have looked so far. So far the dungeon levels all look like rectangular rooms with straight(-ish) hallways connecting them. One of the down stairwells will lead to an area that's one great big amorphous room. This fork is the Gnomish Mines, and usually it is a good idea to leave it until you're at a higher level, but since we're super-buffed at the moment, let's go explore.

If you quaff a potion of object detection, you'll note that there are a decent quantity of gold and gems buried outside the bounds of these mountain caverns, so feel free to do a little more mining while you're down here. Make your way down a few levels in the mines, and you should find a level that's a small town. This is Minetown. In a normal game, this would be a good place to rest up (as the watchmen usually won't attack you if you don't attack them) and sell items you've acquired (since you can wish for both gold or items, it's a moot point at the moment), and there's a guaranteed altar in this town. See the above section on altars to learn about what you can do with it. This altar will usually have an attending priest, who will become a powerful foe if you try to convert the altar. In any case, you can #chat with the priest to make a monetary donation to the temple, which will increase your favor with your god and magically protect you—just as armor does. Don't bust open any doors that are locked, unless you somehow found yourself trapped in a locked room, as you're likely to get the whole town up in arms against you. Not that you can't whip the whole town if you needed to, but it's best to be nice.

Continue down the levels of the Mines, and you'll eventually reach the bottom—Mines' End. There are several different variants of this level, but some of them start with a rectangular room. Quaff a potion of object detection on this level, and you should see a wide variety of gems around the level. This level at the bottom of the mines is guaranteed to have some real gems in it (as opposed to "worthless pieces of glass" that many colored stones turn out to be), and a special luckstone. This is a good opportunity to experiment with some other means of gem identification that are available to you outside of wizard mode (when you don't have the Ctrl + i option). Wish for a blessedtouchstone. Go find a gem, and without using the Ctrl + i option to identify, apply (a) or #rub the touchstone to it. If you view your inventory, you'll find that this automatically identified the gem for you. This only works with a blessed touchstone; an uncursed one can only indirectly reveal whether the gem is glass or not.

Once you've collected the gems from this vault, make your way back up out of the mines into the "regular" dungeons again, to the level that has the two down staircases, and take the other fork. Go down a few more levels on this fork and you should find a level that includes a large room with a smaller room inside it, and several statues around it.


Main article: The Oracle

This is the area known as the Oracle level. If you travel to the inner room, you'll find four fountains and the Oracle herself. For a modest fee, she'll give advice. Unlike a non-blessed fortune cookie, her consultations are always correct, albeit often cryptic. Since you can just wish for money, feel free to blow some change on her advice before heading onward. Continue down to the level immediately below, where you will find two "up" staircases.


Main article: Sokoban

In the level with two "up" stairs, one is the one you just came from, and leads back up through the dungeon. The other leads up into Sokoban tower, a series of smaller levels that transform NetHack into a modified game of Sokoban. If you've never been up here before, take a look. In this offshoot of the main dungeon, you are unable to teleport (except in wizard mode), and the walls cannot be dug or passed through. The goal of this puzzle is to push the large boulders around to fill up the holes in the floor so that you can get to the stairwell to climb the tower. The end level includes a "zoo" room (a room filled with piles of gold and sleeping creatures), and your reward for completing the tower is either a bag of holding or an amulet of reflection. (You probably don't need either, but in a real game, either prize is an excellent find.) If you want to quickly make your way through the levels, you can wish for a boulder, which will put it in your inventory, you can then drop it where you want and push it about. Also, if you push a boulder against a wall, or try to push against a boulder that can't move, you can break it with your wand of striking or use #polyself to transform into a fire giant, which can move onto the same square as it, preventing you from getting stuck. But try not to break boulders or cheat this way in a real game—it will bring bad luck. There are two scrolls in the first level that are guaranteed to be scrolls of earth, which can also be used to create boulders around you.

There's a limited number of variations of the Sokoban tower, and the Sokoban article covers how to solve each one, if you want to try it as if you weren't in wizard mode. Once you're done with Sokoban, come back down and continue down in the standard dungeon, and you may eventually come to a level that is one huge room.

Big room

Main article: Big Room

There's nothing real special about the "Big Room" level, other than it's filled with some reasonably tough (were you playing the game naturally) creatures. Sometimes, some areas of the room are magically darkened, which can get annoying, but can be removed with a wand or scroll of light if you're so inclined.

Since we've got some space in this big room after you've cleared it of monsters, let's pause for a bit more fun. Take off all items you're wearing, type #polyself, and turn yourself into a blue dragon. Aside from being a very powerful, carnivorous, magical creature, there's one additional thing you can do since you're a female dragon (all Valkyries are female; if you're male, an amulet of change can permanently change your gender), use the #sit command to lay an egg on the ground. Pick it up and repeat to get three eggs in your inventory. These will be identified in your inventory as yours with a "(laid by you)" tag. You are able to eat them for a tiny nutrition gain if you get really hungry, but for now leave them in your inventory. If you wait long enough, some baby dragons will pop out of your backpack and cry "Mommy!" These hatchlings will of course be tame to you, and in-game this is one of the better ways to get high-powered pets.

But now you're stuck as a blue dragon without the ability to use most of your equipment. You can #polyself back to your own form (though this will shuffle your attributes and level), let it wear off on its own, or run out of hit points so that you revert instead of dying. So, let's shift again to something more practical: a master mind flayer. Mind flayers are humanoid enough to be able to wear any armor, are devastatingly effective (even unarmed) against creatures with brains (oozes, zombies, and other ilk of that nature aren't affected), and have a psychic blast special attack. If you would like, you can stay in this form for the rest of the game (just put on an amulet of unchanging)—but in that case watch out for cockatrices that will petrify you and green slimes that will turn you to slime.

Once your dragon children hatch, they will follow you around as pets. For added effect, try wishing for a blessed saddle, apply it to a dragon while standing in an adjacent square, then #ride that dragon (force the ride check to succeed). Now you've got a mount with some intimidation force! Unfortunately Valkyries weren't made to ride, and you start out as unskilled in riding, which means that while riding you can't pick things up off the floor. To fix this, type #enhance, and then yes to the prompt to advance skills without practice. Advance your riding skill to at least basic and you will be able to function just fine on dragonback. Just don't forget to ride over a fresh corpse every once and a while to let your dragon eat. You can also wish for a wand of speed monster and zap your dragon with it to let the pair of you move faster.


Main article: Quest

Continue down the dungeon and you'll eventually get to a level where as soon as you set foot in it, you'll hear: "You receive a faint telepathic message from the Norn: Your help is urgently needed at the Shrine of Destiny! Look for a ...ic transporter. You couldn't quite make out that last message." The Norn said "magic transporter". If you use Ctrl + f, somewhere in the level will be revealed a "magic portal" trap. Step onto it to go to a "cutscene" which leaves you on the frozen tundra outside a tower. Enter the tower and go speak to the @ Norn (the one inside standing still next to the chest). If the Norn sends you away saying you're not yet a Warrior, quaff some potions of gain level or use the #levelchange command and try again. Eventually, the Norn shall tell you to travel downwards from here to defeat Lord Surtur and recover the Orb of Fate that was stolen. Pretty straightforward, no? Head down the only stairwell in the level to venture down through the tundra. After a few levels, you will find "a huge round hill surrounded by pools of lava". Circle around it to find the entrance and a way down into Lord Surtur's volcano.

Once inside, be careful about walking on the lava. Your fireproof water walking boots make it safe, but otherwise that's a sure way to get killed (not that you have a problem with that, choose "no" if asked if you want to die). It may also destroy your scrolls and potions unless they are hidden in your bag of holding. If your pets are not too smart, likely some of them will get killed in these levels; keep a close eye on them (or use a leash if you want), or just see above on how to get more pets. Eventually you'll get to the palisade that is Lord Surtur's lair. On two sides of it there are drawbridges to get inside it. Several fire giants guard this level, and one of them is H Lord Surtur himself. He's slightly easy to identify as he possesses the ability to teleport and will use it to run around the level after he picks up the Orb from the middle of his lair. Defeat Lord Surtur (he is vulnerable to cold and your wand of death) and look at the objects that he dropped, one of which is "a glass orb named The Orb of Fate". Another thing he dropped is "a silver bell". Strange, slightly mundane thing for a fire giant lord to have, no? Pick it up and identify your pack, and you'll find it's actually the Bell of Opening with three charges in it. Keep that, you'll need it later. Meanwhile, head back up and chat to the Norn. The Norn will applaud you, return and identify the Orb, and tell you to continue with the ultimate quest of the game: finding the Amulet of Yendor.

Use the portal to return to the main dungeon, and continue exploring down.

Fort Ludios

Main article: Fort Ludios

Fort Ludios is a dungeon branch that is completely optional to explore, as it doesn't contain anything particularly important. It is entered using a portal that can appear in a vault on or below the 11th floor. (However, there is an approximately 25% chance that the portal doesn't appear at all, making Fort Ludios inaccessible except by Ctrl + v.) You can use Ctrl + f or read a scroll of gold detection while confused to search each level for the portal, or simply dig for a vault on every level where you hear guards on patrol.

Upon entering Fort Ludios, you will hear an alarm and be faced with a small room full of monsters. After clearing it, the Fort grounds will be found swarming with soldiers ready to fight you. Reflection is very important here, as many of these soldiers will come with attack wands, and multiple wands of death are not unlikely. The door into the courtyard provides a very useful choke point, which you can use to prevent more than one or two of them from attacking you at a time, and wearing a ring of conflict will make them fight each other as well as you.

After fighting your way through the guards and few other monsters around, explore the grounds to find the entrance at the back of the fort. You will need to levitate or jump over the moat to get in, or freeze it with magical cold or fill it using a scroll of earth. The throne room of the fort contains Croesus and an entourage of other throne room monsters. After fighting your way past them, you may sit on the throne for a chance at a variety of effects, but only if there are no items sitting on top of it, then explore the treasure room and turrets. The main treasure room holds of a large amount of gold, but is also full of mines and pits, so be careful of them. After taking as much as you can carry, leave Fort Ludios through the portal at the entrance and continue down in the main dungeons.

Medusa's lair

Main article: Medusa's Island

You may eventually come to a dungeon level that when you arrive, looks like a small room with no doors, or otherwise surrounds you with water. Use Ctrl + f and you'll see that the majority of the map is water; this level is a series of islands floating in water. With telepathy, you can catch a glimpse of numerous giant eels that can instantly drown an unprepared adventurer, but magical breathing protects against this. You can use Ctrl + e to search for secret doors/traps in your area, which should reveal an exit from this room. There is also a version of this level where you see the water right away. Get yourself over to the largest island in the level (walk on water with your water-walking boots), and be ready with your blindfold or reflection; Medusa rules this level, and one look from her can turn you to stone. You know it must be her, since outside her door, there's bound to be a menagerie of statues of creatures. Put on your blindfold and wade in there. Using telepathy you will be able to tell where she is and defeat her. After destroying her, crack open a couple of statues with your wand of striking to find some cool stuff inside. If you find the statue of Perseus, he will usually have some magical items inside his statue if it's busted up. The "down" staircase in this level is under Medusa, so search diligently to find the stairwell in her room.

Under Medusa's level, you may find the first of a series of levels that get very monotonous when not in wizard mode. Type Ctrl + f and you'll see the whole level is a nice, dense maze. Luckily you can see the staircase, and the walls are diggable, so feel free to teleport or make a line as the crow flies toward the exit. You'll soon come to a partial maze level, with a big, long building in the middle. This is the Castle.


Main article: Castle

You always start this level somewhere to the left of the castle entrance in a little mini-maze. Exit the maze and come stand out on the landing surrounded by water. Quaff a potion of object detection and put on your blindfold to see all the stuff that's going on in the castle. There's no entrance into the castle except a drawbridge in the front, and a door all the way around the back. The way you're "supposed" to get in requires a musical instrument. Wish for a wooden flute and apply it. You are asked if you want to improvise. Answer no, and you're then able to enter notes A–G to play. If you're standing within three squares of the drawbridge, in response to your tune, you may hear sounds from the drawbridge in return. This is similar to a game of Mastermind, where you have to get the right notes in the right order based on some clues. If you hear a "tumbler click", that's a correct note, but at the wrong position in the sequence. A "gear turn" indicates a correct note at the correct position. If you puzzle out the right sequence (or hit Ctrl + o to see what the answer is), the drawbridge will slam open, unleashing a wave of creatures at you! No problem, you should be strong enough to destroy them all. Alternatively, you can play the passtune again to crush nearly anything standing on the drawbridge. Be careful, as you or a monster can destroy the drawbridge with a wand of striking, possibly crushing you underneath the portcullis!

Get past the first room, and you will pass through a hallway into a throne room. Battle your way through that and you'll move into the storeroom area of the castle (secret door behind the throne). Watch out for the trap doors in the floor. If you're still a mind flayer, you'll float over them without issue if you want to loot the rooms beyond. But you will note that there is no exit from this level that's visible. In order to continue, you have to go down the trap doors. So, either fall into one, or as a flying creature, press > to fly down a level, and enter Gehennom itself.


Main article: Gehennom

To progress past the first level of Gehennom, make your way to the west side of the level where there's a rare unaligned temple. North of the temple there's a series of secret rooms that lead to the down staircase. This is the gate to the Gehennom mazes.

In general, there's no need to explore all the mazes in Gehennom to find the way down; that would be terribly tedious. There are a few ways to make it easier, which are detailed in the Gehennom mapping article. However, in wizard mode, you can simply press Ctrl + f to reveal the map of each level, and dig or teleport your way to the down staircase. This is somewhat similar to using the magic mapping spell in a real game.

As you proceed down, eventually you will find the lairs of four unique demons: Asmodeus, Baalzebub, Orcus and Juiblex. Juiblex's lair is immediately obvious without having to map it—it's a huge swamp. When fighting the demons, you may notice that they tend to teleport away before you can finish them off. They are warping to the up staircase to heal themselves before re-engaging you. You can foil this strategy by standing on the up staircase yourself, or luring them to the down staircase and leading them down to the up staircase on the next level. Juiblex, as he will engulf you, can easily be defeated by zapping a wand of digging from inside him; this reduces him to 1 HP. Don't forget to cure the sickness from his attack using your unicorn horn!

Vlad's tower

Main article: Vlad's Tower

One significant feature of Gehennom that we are looking for is the stairs to Vlad's tower. These are a second up staircase between the 9th and 13th floors of Gehennom, inclusive. You should easily find it by mapping all of those levels. Alternatively, the #wizwhere command will tell you on which floor the staircase is. Vlad's tower has a selection of guaranteed loot, but likely the most important for us will be the candles on the top floor. They will be needed for a later ritual, so pick them up here.

Vlad the Impaler is extremely fast and, like all vampires, has the ability to drain experience levels from you with his attacks. However, like all vampires, he is weak against your silver saber. You can limit your exposure to his bites by destroying him quickly and by wearing armor or rings that provide magic cancellation. If you are wielding Excalibur you need not worry, as it provides total level-drain resistance. Once destroyed, Vlad drops a special candelabrum known as the Candelabrum of Invocation. You can attach candles by pressing a to apply the candles while carrying the Candelabrum, and seven candles must be attached for later. Once that is done, leave the tower and continue down.

The vibrating square

The next goal in Gehennom is to find the place where the item must be used. Somewhere in Gehennom you will find a tower that spans the middle of three consecutive levels. If you use telepathy here, you will notice the @ Wizard of Yendor waiting for you in the top of the tower; however, it is too early to meet him right now. The only way into the tower is via a magic portal that appears in one of the two fake Wizard's towers; these are much smaller and lack the surrounding rooms of the real tower. When you find the portal, you can venture into the tower to clear the first two floors, but be careful not to wake up the Wizard yet.

Eventually, you will reach a level that seems to have no way down any further. There is a special vibrating square somewhere on this level that hides the entrance to the place where the Amulet of Yendor is kept. Because the square is marked with a trap, there are a few easy ways to find it. Quaff a potion of confusion, and then read a scroll of gold detection. This will reveal all traps on the level, including the purple ~ that is the vibrating square. After finding it, we must retrieve a third unique item: the one which is guarded by the Wizard of Yendor himself.

After returning to his tower and digging your way into the area where the Wizard waits, easily the simplest way to kill him is by zapping him with a wand of death. Fortunately, in wizard mode, you can simply wish for one if you do not have one already. Do not despair if the Wizard is killed over the moat; if this happens, simply wish for a wand of cold and zap the square where he died to freeze the water. A papyrus spellbook will rise to the surface; this is the Book of the Dead, the last of the three Invocation items. If the Wizard used his unique Double Trouble spell before you managed to kill him, he may also drop what looks like the Amulet of Yendor, but Ctrl + i will reveal that it is only a fake. Fake Amulets are very easy to identify by attempting to put them into a container—a fake will go in normally, but the real Amulet will resist. Do not be fooled.

Now that we have the necessary items, it is time to return to the vibrating square that we found earlier and perform the invocation ritual. When you feel the vibration under your feet, first light the Candelabrum of Invocation. Then, ring the Bell of Opening (if it makes no sound, wish for a blessed scroll of charging and use it to restore the Bell's magic charge). Finally, read the Book of the Dead. If everything has gone well, this will open a down staircase underneath you. Proceed down to the bottom level.

Moloch's Sanctum

Main article: Moloch's Sanctum

This is Moloch's Sanctum, where the real Amulet of Yendor is hidden. In a real game, magic mapping will not work here, but that isn't a problem in wizard mode, and the layout is almost fixed anyway. There is a temple at the west side housing the high priest of Moloch, but the door is hidden. The Bell of Opening (if it still has charges), a wand of secret door detection, or the detect unseen spell can be used to find the door; wizard mode mapping also reveals it for you). When you enter the temple, the high priest of Moloch will start attacking you. Kill him and grab the real Amulet. Once you have it, it is a good idea to immediately #name the amulet: this will allow you to tell it apart from fakes.

Ascension run

Main article: Ascension run

Now that you have the Amulet, it is time to leave the dungeon. Of course, in a real game, the Amulet blocks level teleportation, so you must traverse up each level properly; what is more, when you go up the stairs in Gehennom, you will find that a mysterious force sometimes pulls you back down! However, the Amulet does not always block horizontal teleportation, so if you can perform controlled teleports, you can easily return to the stairs. Another common shortcut is to bring along cursed potions of gain level; quaffing one will lift you through the ceiling to the level above. However, it can't be used inside the Wizard's tower from its top floor.

As you proceed up, the Wizard of Yendor will periodically harass you with various effects, up to and including reappearing to try to steal back the Amulet. His harassment starts as soon as you kill him and won't let up until the end of the game, which is why we held off on killing him until it was the last thing needed before the invocation. When he reappears, zap him with your wand of death again to get him off your back for now. Eventually, you will be right back where you started, on the first floor of the Dungeons of Doom. After making sure you have the real Amulet, leave the dungeon by climbing up the stairs. From here, there is no return; you have been warned.

End game

Main article: End Game

You now find yourself in the start of the final test of the game: the Plane of Earth. The Wizard is guaranteed to reappear here, carrying a spellbook of dig. However, the spell is far too complex for a Valkyrie to use; instead, kill the H minotaur that also appears nearby to retrieve a wand of digging from it. There is also an Elvenking carrying a pick-axe, but digging with a pick-axe is very slow and prone to causing cave-ins on this Plane, so magical digging is preferred.

On each of the Planes until the final Astral Plane, there is a magic portal hidden somewhere. The same methods that can be used to find the vibrating square can also be used to find the portal. In case you don't have any of them, you can also find them by wearing or wielding the Amulet of Yendor; it will grow warmer the closer you are to the portal. As a reminder, a common method of trap detection is to confuse yourself and read a non-cursed scroll of gold detection. Once you have found the portal, use the wand to dig your way to it and jump in. The portal will only work if you are still carrying the Amulet.

The second level of the End Game is the Plane of Air. You will notice that there is no gravity here and it is very difficult to move around. You can gain control of your movements by levitating or flying, so in a real game, you'll want to bring a source of levitation. In wizard mode, you can wish for a blessed potion of levitation, which will make you levitate for at least 250 turns and can be ended at will by pressing >. The elementals here on their home plane are much tougher than the same elementals elsewhere in the game; this may be an issue if you keep being engulfed and pummeled by air elementals. You can escape by ringing the Bell of Opening, scaring it, or zapping it with slow monster, opening, or teleportation (as you can't teleport in the End Game, the elemental will be teleported and you will be left behind). However, since you are in wizard mode, you can also use Ctrl + t to teleport out.

The third level is the Plane of Fire. There is plenty of lava, fire traps and fire-related monsters here, but since you have fire resistance they will not pose much of a threat. In fact, being engulfed by harmless vortices can give you time to heal from the Plane of Air. The lava also creates poison clouds that will blind you. If you are still levitating, you can pass right over the lava, but watch out for messages indicating that your levitation is wearing off; it is nearly always possible to reach the portal without levitation, however.

The fourth level is the Plane of Water. You will find yourself in a small bubble surrounded by water. The portal is in a bubble on the other side, and bubbles will continually shift and merge. If you reveal the portal using formal trap detection, you will be able to see it as it moves around the map. Since you have magical breathing, you can also simply swim through the water to reach it, but remember that this will get your inventory wet. (Because the level is entirely underwater, levitation won't work as of NetHack 3.6.0.)

After entering the portal here, you will find yourself on the final level of the game, the Astral Plane. This is where the high temples of the aligned gods are located, and where you must find the high altar that matches your alignment to sacrifice the Amulet of Yendor. Trying to stop you are many Angels, priests, a few powerful player monsters, and the unique Riders: Famine, Death, and Pestilence. There are three paths you can take from the starting position, each with one high temple and one Rider; some players use telepathy to identify the Riders and explore the path with whom they feel is the least dangerous one first (usually Famine). Be very careful if you must fight the Riders; each one has a unique special attack, and they all can push other monsters out of their way and unlock doors without using an unlocking tool. They will also revive shortly after being killed.

Famine's attack makes you hungry, so it is a good idea to be satiated before entering the Astral Plane and bring along quick snacks such as K-rations, lembas wafers, and royal jelly. Death will kill you instantly if you lack magic resistance and can reduce your maximum hit points, and Pestilence will terminally poison you. This can be cured using a unicorn horn or a potion of extra healing or full healing, so it is a good idea to bring those as well. Famine and Pestilence are both vulnerable to a wand of death, but Death is not. In a real game, you probably do not want to try teleporting the Riders, as they will usually end up right next to you. However, teleporting other monsters out of your way is very useful here.

Once you reach one of the high altars, use : to check its alignment. If it is of the same alignment as you, congratulations! Use #offer to sacrifice the Amulet and finally ascend to demigodhood. If it is of a different alignment, you can backtrack to check another altar, or if it is not neutral, you can wish for a helm of opposite alignment and hope it changes your alignment to match the altar. If it does, you can offer the Amulet to that god instead of your starting god; you'll still ascend, but your score will be lower. If you offer the Amulet to a cross-aligned god, you will escape in celestial disgrace under that god's protection instead of ascending.

One-turn wizard mode ascension

Main article: 1-turn ascension

There is also a different meaning to wizard mode ascension—using all the quirks of wizard mode to ascend in a single turn. This is most commonly done by level teleporting to the Astral Plane, wishing for a co-aligned altar, and #offering the Amulet of Yendor. However, this is not a particularly noteworthy achievement.

See also

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