Wizard mode ascension

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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? Alright, it might be a little bit cheating, but let's have a go at Wizard mode and see if we can't ascend that way at least once, to see what the whole game is like.

This guide is intended to walk you through a Wizard mode game from start to end. It would not work with normal gameplay, but it's a good eye-opener to the depth of the game (and to feel really powerful really quick!).

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 class if you want to follow along with this guide, or any other class 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.

Equip Thyself!

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.


Getting a good AC and keeping it there is a good 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 in return, then use W to put on each item in turn.

The red dragon scale mail grants fire immunity 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 level draining. The helm will give you more Int and Wis, and the gauntlets more Str (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 of 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 (and all Valkyries are lawful) has a 1/6 chance of being transformed 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 be Expert skilled in dagger, axe, long sword, two-handed sword, and hammer weapons. 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 longswords for your skill, wish (ctrl + W) for:

These are all Artifact weapons that are special long swords, so make the best use of your Valkyrie skill. Only one 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 the Frost Brand as your primary weapon. The 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 fire-proof 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, use w to wield your silver saber, press x to switch it to your alternate hand, then w to wield Frost Brand. Then type #twoweapon 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.

Wielding a silver saber is useful later in the game against deeper-level creatures (along with Demonbane). Once entering the Astral Planes, the Frost Brand is less useful, and can be switched for Fire Brand. Vorpal Blade is good against high hit-point monsters to have a chance of decapitation, killing them quicker.


Rings and Amulets are quite useful as having some special features in NetHack, though some of them are already covered by being in Wizard mode and other equipment. We have no need for rings of searching, teleport, teleport control, polymorph nor 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 are a blessed ring of shock resistance and a blessed ring of poison resistance since we have no items that cover that already.

For an Amulet, the best one at this point is probably a blessed amulet of magical breathing. This, plus 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 there's a better option... Wish for a blessed Eye of the Aethiopica. 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 and grant magic resistance.


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 wafer 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. 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 potions of object detection. Wizard mode has automatic magic mapping and searching, but not full-level object revelations.



10 blessed scroll of taming. Useful when surrounded by powerful monsters.


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

  • blessed floating eye corpse. Wish for it, then eat it (e); your character probably will think it tastes bad, but it will grant you intrinsic ESP.
  • blessed blindfold. Once you’ve got ESP, it’s most effective if you’re blind, so this is a way to control that (use apply (a) to take it on and off).
  • 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.
  • 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, a key is often useful for that.
  • 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 your pets (that are on the same dungeon level as you) to your side. Useful if you lose your pet while teleporting around the dungeons.

The ESP 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 Eye of the Aethiopica 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 Out

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. apply your blindfold and you should be able to see all the monsters in this level (ESP will not reveal Zombies and other ‘unthinking’ 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 the 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 (aside from the fact that you can wish for anything you want), 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 blessed/cursed 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 items you’re wearing that are cursed will become uncursed. If you’re really unlucky and put on a cursed blindfold (Why would you do that; you have a blessed blindfold in your inventory from the beginning if you’re following this guide...?!?), you won’t be able to read a scroll of remove curse (since you can’t see to read it). 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 blindfold in the holy water and it should get uncursed such 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! I’d suggest keeping your stomach full, since even though you can’t die of starvation in Wizard mode, you do still faint and lose consciousness for a while, which can cramp your style.

If you find yourself low on hit points, either wish for a blessed potion of extra 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). Normally this moves you diagonally to the upper left, or attacks your upper left corner. But if in the midst of attacking your upper left corner, you get killed, 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 extend of your powers, right? If on the offhand chance that you can’t find the level with two “down” stairwells (using Ctrl + F should reveal them on any specific level), hit Ctrl + O (that’s the letter “O”, not the number “0″). This will pull up an analysis of the current randomization for your game; specifically where certain key levels are at. 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. Go visit all objects on the ground and move them to see if there’s a stair 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:


In these first few levels, odds are not too likely that you encountered an altar already, but if you have, there’s a few things you can do at an altar. Normally #praying and #offering at altars influences 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.

Altars in NetHack have one of three alignments, and praying at matching/conflicting 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 “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 potions into the holy water. You should see "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 making of more). 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 creatures 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 Gehennom, a region deeper in the game). In Wizard mode, we can force your god to be happy, but #offering can also increase your Luck and other properties, which are harder to control, even in Wizard mode. 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. 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 ???. 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 items of cursed status, and drop them on the altar. You should see "a black flash" as the 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 that are both in standard rooms, and outside of them. You may even see a secret room not connected to anything, and 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 pickaxe, 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. Wizards 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 of reflection 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 items that grant an extrinsic property when worn have a chance of granting the same property when eaten. See the eating jewelry page for the full discussion. The main problem with eating items is that most are of a material humanoid character's can't eat (metal). So, start by using #polyself to turn yourself into a Xorn. Xorns can eat metal, so wish for the following and eat them:

When eaten, those items may give an extra message (like "You feel healthy" when eating the amulet versus poison) indicating you now have the intrinsic. If you don't get the message, wish for another, and eat it again.

Now for two 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.

With those four items eaten, you should now have unbreathing, poison resistance, sleep resistance, and searching intrinsics.

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, ruining 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 open the tin (will only take one turn because it's blessed) and eat it.

The dragon corpses have a 100% chance of imparting the intrinsic, so should only take one dose to complete. The quantum mechanic toggles the speed intrinsic, so only eat one, or else you cancel out the effect.

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 square rooms with straight(-ish) hallways connecting them. One of the down stairwells will lead to an area that’s one great big amorphous area. 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 mining (see above section) 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 city. In a normal game, this would be a good place to rest up (as the watchmen won’t attack you if you don’t attack them), 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 is guaranteed to have an attending priest/ess, who will become a powerful foe if you try to convert the altar. In any case, you can #chat with the priest/ess 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, 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. This level will likely have a long, wide room somewhere in the level. quaff a potion of object detection on this level, and you should see a wide variety of gems around the level. This ‘treasure vault’ at the bottom of the mines is guaranteed to have some real gems in it (as opposed to “worthless pieces of glass” that normally colored stones turn out to be). 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) 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 or cursed one won’t do it.

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 in it.


This is the area known as the Oracle. 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 fortune cookie, her answers are guaranteed correct. And since you can just wish for free money, feel free to blow some change on her predictions before heading onward. Continue down in levels until you find a level with two “up” staircases.


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 and the walls cannot be dug through. The purpose of this game is to push the large boulders around to fill up the holes in the floor so that you can get to the stairwell to get higher in the tower. The end level involves a “zoo” room (a room with every square filled with a sleeping creature of some sort) and your reward for completing the tower is either a Bag of holding (you’ve already got one if you followed my advice from the beginning), or an Amulet of reflection. If you want to quickly make your way through the levels, your best bet is probably to use #polyself to transform into a fire giant (though take off your armor and cloak first, or you’ll rip and destroy them!). Now you can throw boulders around the level. You won’t be able to pick up boulders already in the level, but 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’ll push past it and wind up in the same square as it, preventing you from getting stuck. But don't break boulders or cheat this way in a real game - it will bring bad luck.

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’ll eventually come to a level that is one huge 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 and type #polyself and turn yourself into a blue dragon. You will be polymorphed for a time into a blue dragon. Now 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; 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 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 younglings 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’t #polyself back to your own form, it has to wear off on its own, or 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 standard armor, are devastatingly effective (even unarmed) against creatures with a brain (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.

Once your dragon children hatch, they will follow you around as pets (how’s your cat doing, by the way...?). 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 feed.


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 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, avoid walking on the lava, as 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). 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 one side of it there’s a drawbridge to get inside it. Several Fire Giants guard this level, and one of them is 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 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 return the Orb of Fate to the Norn. The Norn will applaud you, return the Orb, and task you with the ultimate quest of the game: finding the Amulet of Yendor.

Teleport back to the main dungeon, and continue down until you reach the level that’s filled with water.


You will likely eventually come to a dungeon level that when you arrive, looks like a small room with no doors. Use Ctrl + F and you’ll see that the majority of the map is water, not dirt; this level is a series of islands floating in the sea. With telepathy, you can catch a glimpse of numerous giant eels that can instantly drown an unprepared adventurer. 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 sea 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; Medusa rules this level, and one look from her can put 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 ESP 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 (who is here to allow those of us who are caught up on our Greek myths some bragging rights), he’s guaranteed to have some magical items inside his statue if it’s busted up. The “down” staircase in this level is often under Medusa, so search diligently to find the stairwell in her room.

Possibly as early as under Medusa’s level is 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. After a few of these levels, you’ll come to a partial maze level, with a big, long building in the middle. This is The 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. Also note that 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 on the square directly opposite 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 items in the right order based on some yes/no answers. If you hear a “tumbler click”, that’s a right note, but in the wrong sequence. A “gear turn” is a correct note in the correct sequence. 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.

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 pits 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, type > to fly down a level, and enter Gehennom itself.


To progress past the first level of Gehennom, make your way to the left side of the level where there’s a rare “unaligned” altar. In the north of the temple there’s a secret room that leads to more secret rooms that lead finally to the down staircase.

To be continued...

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 instead of learning about the game. In that case, you can even ascend in a single turn: level teleport to the Astral Plane, wish for a co-aligned altar, and #offer the Amulet of Yendor. This is nothing to brag about unless you like to be terribly embarrassed.

See also

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

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

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