The Knight FAQ

For NetHack 3.4.3
By Shawn M Moore
Version 0.9.3 [21:41 02 Mar 06]

This FAQ is very much under construction!

Table of Contents


Some would argue that this FAQ is poorly named. A strictly-Knight FAQ would include only the information contained in the section titled "Knight Notes." However, as Knights generally start with the ability to ride, jump, and use pole-weapons, I argue that the rest of the information contained herein has a right to be in a Knight FAQ.

I am merely the librarian of Knight-related information. I independently developed only a few of the techniques described in this FAQ. Thus, the following people deserve just about all of the credit (in alphabetical order): Andrew Kerr, Doug Freyburger, itsblah, Jove, Kremti, Krysia's Krusader, ManaUser, Oliver Klozoff, rast, Sean Kelly, Tek-69, and Troy Holly.

If you have any feedback, please mail me or flag down Eidolos in #NetHack on Freenode.

Warning: This FAQ is full of spoilers. Read at your discretion.

Knight Notes

Knights always start the game as human and lawful, of either gender. Their starting equipment is a +1 long sword, a +1 lance, a +1 ring mail, a +0 helmet, a +0 small shield, a +0 pair of leather gloves, 10-20 apples, and 10-20 carrots. Their starting pet is always a pony, unless turned off with pettype: none.

Knights can achieve expert in long swords, lances, bare-handed combat, and riding. They can achieve skilled in polearms, sabers, two-weapon combat, and some other lesser-used weapons. They can also achieve skilled in attack, healing, and clerical spells. Their special spell is turn undead.

Knights start with no special intrinsics, but gain speed at level 7. Like priests, they have the #turn undead command at their disposal.

Their quest artifact is the Magic Mirror of Merlin, which is a mirror-class item that when carried confers magic resistance and telepathy. It gives Knights double damage when turning undead in any way; using a spell of force bolt, magic missile, unskilled/basic cone of cold or drain life; or using a wand of striking. When applied, it will give a random rumor (true if blessed, false if cursed, either if uncursed). It has no effect when invoked.

Knights have a number of other special bonuses described in later sections. For example, they can jump like a chess Knight and riding does not reduce tameness.

Unfortunately, Knights have a few disadvantages, some of which drive players away. Experienced players will have seen "You caitiff!" a thousand times. Lawful Knights suffer a -1 alignment penalty for the following actions:

Lawful Knights, of course, also suffer all of the alignment penalties from being lawful. These include, among other things, lying about your name and using poisoned weapons.


A character can dip for Excalibur if he meets all of the following requirements:

Every time a lawful character who meets all of the following requirements dips a long sword into a fountain, there is a one in six chance of it becoming Excalibur. This roll is entirely unaffected by luck.

When Excalibur is made, the long sword is removed of any rust or corrosion damage, is made entirely fooproof, and is blessed. The character also exercises wisdom. A nonlawful character will suffer his long sword being cursed, and possibly also decreasing its enchantment by one. The character also abuses wisdom.

Be careful when dipping in Minetown! If Excalibur is made (or would be made, if only the character were lawful), the fountain in question dries up. There is no trickle warning whatsoever. The guards will become angry.

Wielding Excalibur confers automatic searching and resistance to level drain. In addition to the normal damage (d8/d12) and to-hit of a long sword, Excalibur has +d5 to hit and +d10 to damage. However, wielding Excalibur also makes enemies more likely to track you, and demon lords in general despise the weapon. They will not request bribes if you are wielding Excalibur, and will generally be more hostile.

The Quest

The Quest Nemesis is Ixoth, a dragon. He respects Elbereth. Stand on the <, drop an Elbereth, and swing until there's no tomorrow.


There is already an existing riding spoiler, but it covers only 3.3.0.


The ability to jump comes from three sources: being a Knight, wearing jumping boots, and casting the jumping spell. Knight jumping and jumping from the boots are practically identical; the only difference is to what squares you can jump. I'll call these two sources of jumping "physical" and the spell "magical." All sources of jumping require that you see destination tile, and all sources of jumping burn up some nutrition; physical less nutrition than magical.

You cannot jump if:

Items marked by a * will still incur the hunger cost associated with spellcasting, even though you failed to jump. Attempting to jump with any of the above will not incur the normal d25 hunger cost associated with any kind of jumping.

There is a d25 cost for successfully jumping. For magical jumping, there is a cost of 10 nutrition (which is double the energy cost of jumping). There is an additional d(4 * spell level) penalty for carrying the Amulet of Yendor. Being a high-int Wizard offers reductions. The following table shows the hunger cost of jumping.

  Without the Amulet With the Amulet
Physical d25 d25
Magical d25+10 d25+d20+10
Wiz, int > 16 d25 d25
Wiz, int 16 d25+2 d25+(d20+10)/4
Wiz, int 15 d25+5 d25+(d20+10)/2

Physical Jumping

In the following diagrams, 'x' marks the spots to which you can jump.

Knight's Jump   Jumping Boots
  .........       .........
  .........       ....x....
  ...x.x...       ..xxxxx..
  ..x...x..       ..xxxxx..
  ....@....       .xxx@xxx.
  ..x...x..       ..xxxxx..
  ...x.x...       ..xxxxx..
  .........       ....x....
  .........       .........

Magical Jumping

The jumping spell's range depends on your skill level in escape. In the following diagram, 'U' marks the tiles to which you can jump if your spell level is unskilled or better. 'B' marks basic or better, 'S' marks skilled or better, 'E' marks expert or better.


Or, if that is too difficult to read, the following diagrams show where you can jump (marked by 'x') at each skill level.

 Unskilled        Basic         Skilled         Expert
...........    ...........    ...........    ...........
...........    ...........    ...........
.....x.....    ...xxxxx...    ..xxxxxxx..
...xxxxx...    ...xxxxx...    ..xxxxxxx..    ..xxxxxxx..
...xxxxx...    ..xxxxxxx..    ..xxxxxxx..    .xxxxxxxxx.    .xxxx@xxxx.
...xxxxx...    ..xxxxxxx..    ..xxxxxxx..    .xxxxxxxxx.
...xxxxx...    ...xxxxx...    ..xxxxxxx..    ..xxxxxxx..
.....x.....    ...xxxxx...    ..xxxxxxx..
...........    ...........    ...........
...........    ...........    ...........    ...........

Take note that the expert jumping radius exceeds the standard lamp radius. However, if you carry a lit Candelabrum of Invocation, or 49 or more candles, or are in a lit area, then you can still make this exceedingly long jump. The following table shows which level of escape each class can reach. '-' is used for restricted (i.e. unskilled), 'B' for basic, 'S' for skilled, and 'E' for expert.

Type Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Ran Rog Sam Tou Val Wiz
escape - - - - - B - B S - S B E


There are two flavors of pole-weapon in NetHack: lances and polearms (all other weapon types, spears; tridents; javelins; etc., are irrelevant). There is only one type of lance and it is one-handed. There are many types of polearms and they are all two-handed. All pole-weapons can be applied; this allows for the character to perform a ranged attack. I could call this action "applying" but that is too broad; "applying pole-weapons" is both clunky and unversatile. For lack of a better term I will call this "pounding." The other unique ability offered by pole-weapons is jousting. However, jousting can only be done with lances.

What follows is an excerpt from the NetHack Weapons spoiler. Consult that spoiler for more information regarding damage calculation and so forth.

lance 10 180 4 iron lance d6 3.5 d8 4.5
partisan 10 80 5 iron vulgar polearm d6 3.5 d6+1 4.5
fauchard 5 60 6 iron pole sickle d6 3.5 d8 4.5
glaive (naginata) 6 75 8 iron single-edged polearm d6 3.5 d10 5.5
bec-de-corbin 8 100 4 iron beaked polearm d8 4.5 d6 3.5
spetum 5 50 5 iron forked polearm d6+1 4.5 2d6 7
lucern hammer 7 150 5 iron pronged polearm 2d4 5 d6 3.5
guisarme 5 80 6 iron pruning hook 2d5 5 d8 4.5
ranseur 6 50 5 iron hilted polearm 2d4 5 2d4 5
voulge 5 125 4 iron pole cleaver 2d4 5 2d4 5
bill-guisarme 7 120 4 iron hooked polearm 2d4 5 d10 5.5
bardiche 7 120 4 iron long poleaxe 2d4 5 3d4 7.5
halberd 10 150 8 iron angled poleaxe d10 5.5 2d6 7

The following table shows which skill levels each class can reach in lances and polearms. '-' is used for restricted (i.e. unskilled), 'B' for basic, 'S' for skilled, and 'E' for expert.

Type Arc Bar Cav Hea Kni Mon Pri Ran Rog Sam Tou Val Wiz
lance - - - - E - B - - S B S -
polearm - - S B S - S S B S B S S


Jousting is the act of attacking while mounted and wielding a lance; polearms cannot be used to joust. When you successfully joust, you always push the monster back a square if possible and you risk breaking your lance. A successful joust has a 2d10 damage bonus. You can joust while two-weaponing, but only if the lance is in your primary hand; if the lance is in your secondary hand, it does not hit at all. Jousting while two-weaponing reduces the 2d10 damage bonus to 2d2.

Every time you attack a monster while wielding a lance and while mounted, you have a chance to joust. If you are two-weaponing, the skill level used for this calculation is the lesser between two-weapon and lance. Your chance to successfully joust is based entirely on your skill level, as given in the following table.

Unskilled Basic Skilled Expert
20% 40% 60% 80%

If you successfully joust, there is some chance your lance will break; this chance is dependent on your luck. If you are familiar with the NetHack source, the check is rnl(50) == (50-1). The following table lists the chance your lance will break.

Luck Ratio Percentage CRatio CPercentage Luck Ratio Percentage CRatio CPercentage Luck Ratio Percentage CRatio CPercentage
13 1/1850 .054% 1/9250 .011% 4 1/2300 .044% 1/11500 .009% -5 13/110 11.8% 13/550 2.36%
12 1/1900 .053% 1/9500 .011% 3 1/2350 .043% 1/11750 .009% -6 193/1400 13.8% 193/7000 2.76%
11 1/1950 .051% 1/9750 .010% 2 1/2400 .041% 1/12000 .008% -7 449/2850 15.8% 449/14250 3.15%
10 1/2000 .050% 1/10000 .010% 1 1/2450 .041% 1/12250 .008% -8 257/1450 17.7% 257/7250 3.54%
9 1/2050 .049% 1/10250 .010% 0 1/50 2.00% 1/250 .400% -9 581/2950 19.7% 581/14750 3.94%
8 1/2100 .048% 1/10500 .010% -1 101/2550 3.96% 101/12750 .792% -10 13/60 21.7% 13/300 4.33%
7 1/2150 .047% 1/10750 .009% -2 77/1300 5.92% 77/6500 1.18% -11 721/3050 23.6% 721/15250 4.73%
6 1/2200 .045% 1/11000 .009% -3 209/2650 7.89% 209/13250 1.58% -12 397/1550 25.6% 397/7750 5.12%
5 1/2250 .044% 1/11250 .009% -4 133/1350 9.85% 133/6750 1.97% -13 869/3150 27.6% 869/15750 5.52%

The ratio and percentage cells give the chance of the lance breaking if the random roll (to check if the joust was successful) was a zero. The corrected ratio and percentage cells give the chance of the lance breaking when you successfully hit. In other words, one fifth of the time, your hit is a guaranteed joust regardless of skill level, and this is only time the lance can break. If this hit is the guaranteed joust, the ratio and percentage cells give the chance to break.

All you really need to take away from this table is that any amount of positive luck is a Very Good Thing.

Artifact lances (though currently nonexistent in vanilla) cannot break in this manner. Also, you can only break your lance when jousting a solid monster. This excludes lights, wraiths, ghosts, fire and air elementals, vortices, and so on.

It is my recommendation that, until you get a backup lance, you keep the jousting to a minimum, because of this chance to break.


When you apply a pole-weapon, the tiles you can hit depend entirely on your skill level in lance or polearm. In the following diagram, 'U' marks the tiles you can pound at unskilled or better. 'S' marks skilled or better, 'E' marks expert or better.


Or, if that is too difficult to read, the following diagrams show where you can pound (marked by 'x') at each skill level.

  Basic     Skilled     Expert
 .......    .......    .......
 ...x...    .xxxxx.
 .......    .x...x.    .x...x.
 .x.@.x.    .x.@.x.    .x.@.x.
 .......    .x...x.    .x...x.
 ...x...    .xxxxx.
 .......    .......    .......

Clearly, any player who is going to be doing any serious amount of pounding should spend extra skill points for the enhanced range, not to mention the to-dam and to-hit benefits.

You can only pound a square that you can see. This means that lamps are unusually good and telepathy is unusually worse. You cannot into darkness, past boulders, or, unless wearing the Eyes of the Overworld, while blind. You can pound past monsters without upsetting the monkey in the middle. Naturally you cannot pound through walls, closed doors, drawbridges, etc., but you can pound over lava, ice, water, traps, and just about every other passable tile.

Pounding does not activate the special passive attacks of any monsters. This makes pounding a wonderful attack against floating eyes, blue jellies, and other unconventional nasties.

Applying a cursed pole-weapon will weld it to your hand, though the game does not give a message indicating this. Pounding will break the weaponless conduct, but only if you do damage. This is due to how pounding is a sort of hack; the code only increments u.uconduct.weaphit if the monster's HP went down.

Applying a pole-weapon carries no chance of breakage.


Now the fun part of the FAQ. The previous sections were all information only; this section utilizes information from all the previous sections to form a number of useful tactics for keeping your Knight (or Knight-like) alive.

For now, this will all be jumbled up in list fashion. I'll paragraphize and make it nicer when I get a sufficient amount of tactic out of my head.

To the top!