Wizard of Yendor

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The Wizard of Yendor, @ (also informally known as Rodney), is one of the main antagonists in NetHack.

He is the guardian of the Book of the Dead, and you must steal the Book from him, usually through a fight to the death, before you can descend into Moloch's Sanctum to take the Amulet of Yendor from the high priest of Moloch. However, killing him alone will not be enough to deter him - not only can he hassle you remotely with mysterious curses and spells, the Wizard will eventually reappear stronger than ever. He will even follow you to the Elemental Planes, with a guaranteed reappearance on the Plane of Earth.

Eating the corpse of the Wizard of Yendor has an equal chance to convey fire resistance, poison resistance, teleportitis, or teleport control.

Generation

The Wizard of Yendor is always generated residing in his Tower in Gehennom. He does not normally have a starting inventory; when he makes his guaranteed reappearance on the Plane of Earth, he is generated with a spellbook of dig.

Abilities

The Wizard of Yendor has -8 AC, full monster magic resistance, along with fire resistance and poison resistance; he is breathless, regenerates, can see invisible, and is capable of flight. The Wizard also has a form of teleport control: teleporting him will always move him to the upstairs of that floor, and if you are inside his Tower, he will always end up on the down ladder.[2] This is typically not a concern for you or him, as he is covetous and can easily warp right back to you.

He has two attacks - a 2d12 "claw" attack that has a 120 chance to steal the Amulet of Yendor, any invocation items or any quest artifacts you possess, and a spellcasting attack that can pull from the full complement of arcane monster spells up to and including the touch of death. As both his Amulet-stealing attack and monster spellcasting in general are only coded for player-versus-monster combat, the Wizard of Yendor is incapable of harming other monsters such as pets.[3]

The Wizard also has a unique arcane spell, Double Trouble, which creates another incarnation of him with all his powers. The clone can show up with a different appearance from his normal self, and may be any one of the following: water demon, vampire, red dragon, troll, umber hulk, xorn, xan, cockatrice, floating eye, guardian naga or trapper.[4][5] He will not use this spell if there are already two of him in the world.[6]

Harassment

After the Wizard dies for the first time, or after you perform the Invocation (if you have stolen the Book from him without killing him), he will cause you trouble for the rest of the game. Fifty to 299 turns after the wizard is first killed,2–12 turns after you perform the Invocation and every 50–249 turns afterwards (not counting turns where you are invulnerable while praying), one of the following effects will happen:[7][8][9]

Probability Effect Message
13 No effect "You feel vaguely nervous."
16 Curse items "You notice a black glow surrounding you." (if not blind)
16 Aggravate "You feel that monsters are aware of your presence."
16 Summon nasties No message
16 If there is currently no living Wizard, he returns to life near you, one monster level higher than his previous incarnation. If the Wizard is alive on a different dungeon level, and doesn't have the real Amulet, he is brought to you. "A voice booms out... 'So thou thought thou couldst <kill/elude> me, fool.'"

Unrelated are various cosmetic messages that "harass" the player (e.g. "laughing fiendishly").

The Wizard will always reappear or return to life when you enter the Plane of Earth; as the Wizard cannot appear on the Astral Plane this way, every other effect has equal probability. If he appears on the Plane of Water, he can follow you through the portal to the Astral Plane.

Strategy

The battle with the Wizard of Yendor marks the beginning of the ascension run for a mass majority of players - once you kill him or perform the invocation, he will hound you for the rest of the game, and finishing as fast as possible from that point reduces the number of turns that he harasses you. Before facing him for the first time, most players will want to have found the vibrating square and created quick paths from stairway to stairway through the Gehennom mazes.

Stealing the Book of the Dead without killing him will allow you to continue preparations without risk of harassment; this is especially useful for pacifists trying to raise the dead to obtain a level 49 purple worm. Prudent players will have non-quest artifact sources of vital properties on hand before beginning the ascension run, and especially cautious ones may wish to carry their quest artifact(s) in a container.

Defeating him the first time you face him is not too difficult - the Wizard lacks intrinsic magic resistance, and landing a shot a wand of death or finger of death will do the job; as his AC makes it likely for a death ray to miss, beware of having your quest artifact(s) that grants magic resistance or reflection stolen from you if taking multiple shots - pity the unprepared Caveman who has the Sceptre of Might stolen with no other source of MR and no other good melee weapon in inventory, especially if the Wizard immediately takes advantage.

Most players prefer to kill him as fast as possible; in addition to avoiding the above scenarios, this minimizes the odds of killing him over a water tile in his Tower and having the Book of the Dead fall in, and also has the benefit of preempting him summoning nasties or casting Double Trouble. See the below section for methods on retrieving the Book.

During the ascension run, make sure you have magic resistance on as often as possible, as the Wizard may reappear at any inconvenient moment and quickly bring about YASD. Many players choose to zap a wand of death at the Wizard instantly every time he reappears; however, if you are low on wand charges, you may want to take him out quickly through some other means, e.g. stoning him. If he reappears and summons nasties on you immediately, watch out for Elvenkings —they are represented by the same symbol (@) as the Wizard, and it's annoying to realize that you've squandered a ray of death on the wrong monster.

The Wizard will not warp to you if he obtains the real Amulet, but will still harass you through other methods; if you are being overwhelmed by the Wizard, you can throw the Amulet away and change levels as he goes to pick it up. You will need to retrieve the Amulet at some point, but this gives you an opportunity to recover pets and equipment before you kill him to reobtain it.

Obtaining the Book of the Dead

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Attacking the Wizard through the corner

You can zap a wand of digging diagonally at the Wizard's tower without waking him up; you can then shoot a death ray from that position through the newly-created gap, killing him without giving him the chance to cast spells at you if it hits. If you step near the breached tower, you will wake him up.

If you kill him over the moat, you can get the Book of the Dead by zapping a wand of cold or the cone of cold spell over the water; the Book of the Dead is immune to blanking, and will end up on top of the ice. Alternately, you can wear an amulet of magical breathing to go into the water and pick it up. If you choose to do this, remember to leave your water-damageable items (potions, spellbooks, scrolls, non-rustproof weapons) on the dry land or in a noncursed oilskin sack.

Awakening the Wizard

If you have a drum of earthquake, you can reliably wake him up from outside the Wizard's Tower. You can then kill him and obtain the Book without having to enter the Tower at all. A tame (master) mind flayer can also lock onto him with its telepathy, waking him up and bringing him to you. If you polymorph into a mind flayer, you have a 10% chance of locking into his mind each time you #monster, provided he is within an eight-tile radius.[10] Drinking a cursed potion of invisibility will also wake him up, along with all other sleeping and meditating monsters on the level, but only if you are inside the Tower.

Weakening the Wizard

Level draining the Wizard will permanently reduce the level of his currentincarnation, although it will still increase when another one appears. If you are able to reduce his level to 0, he will lose all spellcasting abilities, and his melee damage becomes unremarkable. Reducing his level without killing him is best done with a negatively enchanted Stormbringer, whose enchantment can be easily reduced to −3 through engraving. Reducing his level will also lower his monster magic resistance, making him more susceptible to sliming and subsequently polymorphing - this will prevent his covetous teleportation and remove most of his abilities, and your pets can also attack him on their own initiative once he approaches their level.

While the Wizard normally cannot be made tame or peaceful, there are a handful of methods to pacify him if you are able to polymorph him (which usually requires sliming him).

  • Polymorph him into any unicorn and throw him a gem of any kind.
  • Polymorph him into a snake and successfully use a wooden flute.
  • Polymorph him into a nymph and successfully use a wooden harp.
  • Polymorph him into any undead monster and read the blessed Book of the Dead.
  • As a chaotic priest or knight outside of Gehennom, polymorph him into any undead monster and successfully turn undead.
  • Polymorph him into any non-human, non-mindless monster and #untrap him from a pit that you did not create. Failure from the monster weighing too much, or success, both have chances of pacifying the Wizard; failure will leave him trapped, allowing you to try again.

The Wizard will always be made hostile when he next revives, so these methods cannot be used to permanently pacify him. Remember that teleporting the Wizard will always move him to the upstairs, or the down ladder if you are within his tower - if you managed to polymorph or slime the Wizard while he occupies a staircase, you will not be able to teleport him away.

History

The Wizard of Yendor is first introduced to NetHack in Hack 1.0.2. From this version through NetHack 2.3e, he appeared in a 1x2 room in the center of his floor's maze with a hell hound (which does not have a breath weapon in this version), and the Amulet of Yendor was placed underneath the hell hound; his symbol was 1, rather than @, as these versions of NetHack did not have color. The room has no doors and is surrounded by a moat; fake Wizard rooms have a demon present with a fake Amulet instead of the Wizard.

From NetHack 3.0.0 through 3.0.10, the Wizard is given a larger tower to occupy, and gives him a vampire lord as an additional "roommate"; NetHack acquired color display in version 3.0.4. Fake Wizard rooms had a randomly chosen demon prince, and placed a demon lord instead if no prince was available; if all of the named demons are gone, a random demon is used instead. At the time, all eight modern named demons existed, but were only generated in fake Wizard rooms or via summoning.

In NetHack 3.1.0, the Amulet is given to the high priest of Moloch, and the Wizard instead carries the Book of the Dead. The Wizard still lives in a 3.0.x-style Wizard room, and similar rooms exist on the first level of the Wizard's Tower and as part of the the two "Fake Wizard's Tower" levels; one of these levels contains a magic portal to the real tower.

In NetHack 3.4.3, if he appears within twelve turns after you perform the Invocation and you are on the Sanctum's floor, he will immediately warp into the Sanctum to obtain the Amulet from the high priest of Moloch (without damaging them due to the aformentioned coding of his attacks).[3][11][12] This would allow him to bring the Amulet to you, thus circumventing the need to fight the high priest; it is no longer possible starting in NetHack 3.6.0, as covetous monsters won't attack the priest, but is still relevant for some 3.4.3-derived variants.

Before NetHack 3.6.1, your role's quest artifact is the only one eligible for the Wizard of Yendor to steal with his theft attack; as such, in those versions you can simply use another role's quest artifact to supply magic resistance and/or reflection while placing your own in your on-hand container. Starting in 3.6.1, the Wizard can steal any role's quest artifact, making this no longer viable.

Variants

Quite a few later variants alter the Wizard of Yendor's stats and behavior in some manner.

SLASH'EM

In SLASH'EM, NetHack 3.4.3 rules for the Wizard of Yendor stealing quest artifacts apply. Additionally, there is a method of temporarily pacifying the Wizard exclusive to this variant - once you manage to drain enough levels from the Wizard that you can slime or polymorph him, hit his monster form with a potion of amnesia; this effect can be resisted dependent on his current form's monster MR.

UnNetHack

In UnNetHack, the Wizard of Yendor has an additional harassment effect outside the Astral Plane - a large earthquake will occur, similar to the effect of playing a drum of earthquake.

dNetHack

In dNetHack, the Wizard of Yendor will not attack the Elder Priest carrying the Amulet of Yendor in Moloch's Sanctum.

The Wizard's Amulet-stealing attack no longer targets quest artifacts, making them more reliable as sources of magic resistance both when fighting against him and on the ascension run. Additionally, he is capable of casting nearly any monster spell available in dNetHack, and will do so 34 of the time. The remaining 14 of the time he will cast haste self, Double Trouble, or another spell exclusive to him that forces an amulet of strangulation onto your neck, transforming your current amulet if necessary; magic resistance will prevent your amulet from being transformed, but does not protect you if you are not wearing one.

While the Wizard's harassment mechanics are unchanged, the pool of eligible nasties is expanded and includes incredibly dangerous monsters such as the bebelith and ancient naga.

EvilHack

In EvilHack, the Wizard of Yendor is a far more powerful opponent that generates with his own inventory: his armor includes a robe and cornuthaum, and he will have either an amulet of magic resistance or an amulet of guarding with equal chance. The Wizard also has a 23 chance of an athame or a 13 chance of a quarterstaff as his weapon; said weapon has a 23 chance of generating with the fire object property, a 16 chance to generate with th efrost property, and a 16 to generate with the venom property. The Wizard's attack routine is upgraded as well: he has a 2d8 weapon attack in addition to the 2d12 Amulet-stealing attack, and can cast two monster spells per turn from both mage and clerical schools; this includes the various new spells added to the game such as acid blast, lightning and reflection. His glyph is also changed to @ in order to distinguish him from elven royals.

The potential amulet of magic resistance means that death rays are no longer a surefire method to dispose of Rodney, and the added weapon attack and other tweaks to monster AI makes it possible for him to use quest artifact weapons and armor against you should he steal them. Furthermore, the Wizard is far more aggressive in attempting to use nearby monsters as steeds than other hostile monsters, including some of the various nasties he can summon; the new monsters added to EvilHack also mean that Double Trouble can result in the Wizard taking on very dangerous forms. A player facing the Wizard should be ready to dispatch him as quickly as possible without the use of a wand/finger of death (although it can still weaken him and drain his HP). However, he is markedly less cautious about warping away to heal compared to other covetous monsters, which the player can use to their advantage.

Similar to UnNetHack, the Wizard can also cause an earthquake as part of his harassment if you have the Amulet of Yendor in your possession.

Monster stats by variant

Encyclopedia entry

No one knows how old this mighty wizard is, or from whence he came. It is known that, having lived a span far greater than any normal man's, he grew weary of lesser mortals; and so, spurning all human company, he forsook the dwellings of men and went to live in the depths of the Earth. He took with him a dreadful artifact, the Book of the Dead, which is said to hold great power indeed. Many have sought to find the wizard and his treasure, but none have found him and lived to tell the tale. Woe be to the incautious adventurer who disturbs this mighty sorcerer!

References

  1. monst.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 2482: The Wizard is the only always-unaligned monster in NetHack (though some other monsters can be set to unaligned if generated under special conditions)
  2. teleport.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 993
  3. 3.0 3.1 His Amulet-stealing attack is handled entirely in mhitm.c, and there are no provisions for mon vs mon spellcasting in mcastu.c.
  4. wizard.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 405
  5. wizard.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 38
  6. wizard.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 733
  7. wizard.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 551: Specifically, you must not be a demigod to start this counter.
  8. spell.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 256
  9. allmain.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 267
  10. polyself.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1090
  11. spell.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 248
  12. mhitm.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1129