Wizard of Yendor

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The Wizard of Yendor, @ (also informally known as Rodney), is one of the main antagonists in NetHack. As he is the guardian of the Book of the Dead, you must steal the Book from him, usually through a fight to the death, before you can descend into Moloch's Sanctum and snatch 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, and he can and will follow you up to the Elemental Planes. He will not appear in the Astral Plane; however, if he appears on the Plane of Water, he can follow you through the portal to the Astral Plane.

In addition to the full complement of arcane monster spells, up to and including the touch of death, the Wizard has a unique 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;[2] one of water demon, vampire, red dragon, troll, umber hulk, xorn, xan, cockatrice, floating eye, guardian naga or trapper.[3] He will not use this spell if there are already two of him in the world.[4]

He is incapable of harming monsters, e.g. pets or the high priest of Moloch.[5] The latter case is frequent in NetHack 3.4.3 because he may appear within twelve turns after you perform the Invocation,[6] and will immediately warp into the Sanctum to obtain the Amulet from the high priest. As of NetHack 3.6.0, covetous monsters won't attack the priest.


The Wizard of Yendor is always generated residing in his Tower in Gehennom. He is generated without a weapon.


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,[7] 2–12 turns after you perform the Invocation[8] and every 50–249 turns afterwards[9] (not counting turns where you are invulnerable while praying), one of the following effects will happen:

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.'"

In addition, the Wizard always reappears immediately when you enter the Plane of Earth. On the Astral Plane, the Wizard cannot appear, and every other effect has equal probability.

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

In UnNetHack, there is one additional possible effect of this harassment—if you aren't on the Astral Plane, there is a chance of a large earthquake, similar to the effect of playing a drum of earthquake.


To take him down the first time, simply zap a wand of death at him while he's sleeping and hope it doesn't miss. Fighting him fairly in his tower can be inconvenient, as the Wizard can fly and thus might drop the Book of the Dead underwater when killed, and it will need to be recovered. 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 lead to a 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 by conventional means or, for example, stoning him. Watch out for the Elvenkings the Wizard likes to summon—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.


Being covetous, the Wizard is capable of stealing quest artifacts from your main inventory. If you were relying on that carried artifact for magic resistance, look out: he can not only remove your MR, but steal it for himself! Not only is he is now immune to death rays and the like, but he might be inclined to return the favor. Prudent players will arrange for other items to duplicate the vital powers of their quest artifacts before beginning the ascension run, and may even wish to carry their own quest artifact in a container to avoid the Wizard stealing it and making use of it himself. 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.

In NetHack 3.6.0, he will only steal the player's own quest artifact—those of other roles are immune (e.g., a neutral non-wizard can get theft-proof MR by wishing for The Eye of the Aethiopica). As of NetHack 3.6.1, any quest artifact is vulnerable, so this is no longer a viable strategy.

The Wizard will also steal any and all of the invocation items, such as the Bell of Opening and his own Book of the Dead.

The Wizard will not reappear to harass you if he obtains the real Amulet, but he will still be hostile and will need to be killed to reobtain it. 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. However, the other forms of harassment will continue to affect you.

Obtaining the Book of the Dead

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.

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.

Avoiding harassment

Once you have killed the Wizard or performed the Invocation ritual, the harassment will begin and will last for the remainder of the game. Thus it is usually a good idea to prepare for the ascension run before killing him to reduce the number of turns—and thus the amount of harassment—needed to finish the game. Finding the vibrating square and creating paths through the Gehennom mazes are always beneficial. 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.

Level draining the Wizard will permanently reduce the level of this incarnation, 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 (enchantment can be easily reduced to −3 through engraving). Reducing his level will also make him more susceptible to polymorph; polymorphing him will prevent his covetous teleportation and remove most of his abilities. Your pets can also begin to attack him on their own initiative once he approaches their level. Sliming is also an option.

Teleporting the Wizard will always move him to the upstairs, or the down ladder if you are within his tower.[11] As he is covetous, this is rarely a concern as he can simply warp himself back to your position; if you managed to polymorph or slime the Wizard first, you will not be able to teleport him away from the staircase.

The Wizard normally cannot be made tame or peaceful, but there are a handful of methods to pacify him if you are able to polymorph him. (Usually, you have to slime him first.) The Wizard will always be made hostile when he next revives, so these methods cannot be used to permanently pacify him.

  • Polymorph him into a unicorn and throw him a gem. (It is not necessary to use a co-aligned unicorn nor a valuable gem.)
  • 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 and successfully turn undead.
  • Polymorph him into any non-human, non-mindless monster and #untrap it from a pit that you did not create. Failure from the monster weighing too much, or success, both have chances of pacifying the wizard, but failure will leave him trapped, allowing you to try again.
  • In SLASH'EM, polymorph him into any monster and hit it with a potion of amnesia. This effect can be resisted by the monster's MR.


The Wizard of Yendor first appeared in Hack 1.0.2.

Through NetHack 2.3e, he appeared in a 1x2 room in the center of the maze, which also contained a hell hound (that did not have a breath weapon) and the Amulet of Yendor. The room had no doors and was surrounded by a moat. His symbol was 1, rather than @. These versions of NetHack did not have color.

Fake Wizard rooms had a demon (generic in this version) instead of the Wizard, and a fake Amulet.

From NetHack 3.0.0 through 3.0.10, the Wizard lived in a larger tower, now also accompanied by a vampire lord. NetHack acquired color display in version 3.0.4.

Fake Wizard rooms had a randomly chosen demon prince, or demon lord if no demon prince was available, or a random demon if demon lords were also gone; at the time, all eight modern named demons existed, but occurred only in fake Wizard rooms or when summoned.

Starting with NetHack 3.1.0, the Amulet is now given to the high priest of Moloch, and the Wizard instead carries the Book of the Dead. The 3.0.x-style Wizard room still exists as the room in which the Wizard lives, as well as a similar room on the first level of the Wizard's Tower, and as the two "fake Wizard" levels.

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!


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It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

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