+ Papyrus spellbook.png
Name Book of the Dead
Appearance papyrus spellbook
Cost 10000 zm
Weight 20

The Book of the Dead is a unique item you retrieve from the Wizard of Yendor in his tower. It is one of the items needed for the invocation. It is a papyrus spellbook when unidentified.

Reading the Book[]

The Book's effects depend on whether you are standing on the vibrating square (i.e. you are trying to perform the ritual).[1]

On the vibrating square[]

If you have correctly prepared all the invocation items, you perform the invocation ritual. Otherwise, you get one of the following failure effects:

  • If the Book is cursed, nothing happens.[2]
    • "The runes appear scrambled. You can't read them!"
  • If you lack either the Bell of Opening or the Candelabrum of Invocation, nothing happens ("A chill runs down your spine."), and you get a clue:[3]
    • "You hear a faint chime..." (without Bell)
    • "Vlad's doppelganger is amused." (without Candelabrum)
  • If either the Bell or Candelabrum is cursed, nothing happens.[4]
    • "The invocation fails!"/"At least one of your artifacts is cursed..."
  • If the Bell has not been rung recently, or the Candelabrum is not fully lit, you raise the dead.[5]
    • "You have a feeling that something is amiss..."/"You raised the dead!"

Not on the vibrating square[]

  • If the Book is uncursed, there is no effect, and you get a random message:[7]
    • "Your ancestors are annoyed with you!"
    • "The headstones in the cemetery begin to move!"
    • "Oh my! Your name appears in the book!"

Raising the dead[]

If you fail to prepare the invocation items, or read a cursed Book of the Dead when not on the vibrating square, you will raise the dead. This has the following effects:[9]

  • There is a 1/3 chance of summoning a hostile master lich. (If master liches cannot be created, a nalfeshnee will be summoned instead.)
  • A number of undead creatures will be created around you.
  • Corpses in your main inventory will be revived and eggs rejuvenated.
  • The level becomes a graveyard level, meaning that undead are less likely to leave corpses.
  • If zombies can not be created, normal monsters will be summoned instead.



Chaotic players will find a blessed Book of the Dead much more useful than Lawful and Neutral adventurers. As the vast majority of undead are chaotic, the taming effect of the book can be put to good use. Moloch's Sanctum can be easily cleaned out by simply taming all the undead in the graveyard before entering the main altar room. 

All Alignments[]

The Book of the Dead is one of the most useful invocation artifacts in the late-game. With a little bit of preparation, level grinding becomes trivial once you have high magic-cancellation and/or level drain resistance. Wraiths generated by reading the book will not count towards extinction , meaning that while eventually zombies will be replaced by other monsters, you can continue to create as many wraiths as you like. While the viability of eating wraiths is offset by the book turning your dungeon level in to a graveyard, wraiths will follow you through stairs and portals. Simply read the book, kill all non-wraith monsters, then lure the wraiths to a non-graveyard level to kill and eat. 


In SLASH'EM, a cursed Book of the Dead can be much more useful if you know the command undead spell, as it allows you to call large amounts of undead to tame. Be careful with the Master Lich that may be summoned as well, though.