)   Excalibur   Long sword.png
Base item long sword
Damage vs. small 1d8 +1d10 (2-18)
Damage vs. large 1d12 +1d10 (2-22)
To-hit bonus +1d5
Bonus versus (any)
Weapon skill long sword
Size one-handed
When carried


When wielded
When invoked


Cost 4000 zm
Weight 40
Material iron

Excalibur is a very easy artifact weapon to get (if you are lawful). Simply dip a (non-artifact) long sword into a fountain, provided you are a lawful character and at least level 5. Each time you dip, there is a 1/6 chance that the sword will be transformed into Excalibur. The dipped sword becomes rustproof, and any rust or corrosion on it is removed. It's intelligent, so it can only be safely wielded by lawful characters. As a weapon, it adds +d5 to-hit and +d10 damage. What's equally useful is that it confers level-drain resistance and automatic searching, and makes searching more likely to be successful. On the other hand, when wielded, it also makes demon princes generated hostile, and every monster can find you, whether it has eyes or not.

Excalibur is never randomly generated, and cannot be granted as a sacrifice gift. Lawful characters may receive Excalibur when crowned.

In SporkHack, it is not possible to obtain Excalibur by dipping unless you are a Knight. This limits the options of other Lawful long sword wielders who want it to crowning, wishing or finding Knight bones. This devalues Excalibur slightly and makes Snickersnee, which can be randomly generated, more useful.

Special Effects[]


When wielded, Excalibur improves (or worsens) your ability to find secret doors and secret corridors (including with the automatic searching it grants) by an amount equal to its enchantment, to a maximum of +5.

Demon Princes[]

If Excalibur is wielded when a Demon Prince is generated, the Demon Prince will be generated as hostile rather than peaceful. The main effect of this is that it will not offer to accept a bribe for safe passage before attacking you. If you were not wielding Excalibur when the Demon Prince was generated, but are doing so when it wants to demand a bribe, it will instead become angry and attack.


When you are wielding Excalibur, monsters without eyes are able to track you as well as those with eyes.


Excalibur is never randomly generated. It cannot be generated in the inventory of a monster. It cannot be granted as a gift from sacrifice (although if it could, it would be the first sacrifice gift for knights).


Main article: Crowning

If you are crowned as lawful, Excalibur does not yet exist, and you are wielding a non-artifact longsword in your primary hand, it will be converted to the blessed rustproof +1 Excalibur (and identified). The longsword skill will be unrestricted for you.


Main article: Fountain#Dipping

If you are lawful, are at least level 5, Excalibur does not yet exist, and you dip a non-artifact longsword into a fountain, there is a 1/6 chance your longsword will be converted to the blessed rustproof Excalibur. The sword will keep the enchantment it had before the conversion. The other 5/6 of the time your longsword gets wet and the normal effects of dipping an item into a fountain occur.


Dipping for Excalibur is easy for Knights and lawful Valkyries, who both start with a long sword. It is also a decent weapon for Samurai, though they will first need to find a long sword to dip with. Acquiring it is generally a good idea, although the chance of getting it is only 1/6 at each dip. The other 5/6 of the time, normal dipping effects occur, so be prepared to deal with water demons, nymphs and other fountain hazards.

When you are given Excalibur, the fountain will dry up and disappear. This can be a big problem for you in Minetown, because this will anger the town watch and set them against you. It is probably a Bad Idea to dip for Excalibur in Minetown; if you try this, be very sure you know what you're doing. You may want to consider either using a pet to kill all the guards, or lock them up in rooms where they cannot come out and attack you.

One possible downside to getting Excalibur early is that it increases the number of artifacts in the game, which decreases your chance of successfully wishing for a better one later.

Another disadvantage of dipping for Excalibur is that doing so does not unrestrict the long swords skill. If your role is restricted in that skill, you may want to wait to dip until you receive another artifact longsword from your god.

As Excalibur is generated from an existing long sword, you can get a +9 Excalibur in the late game by enchanting an ordinary long sword to +9 first (likely evaporating several other long swords in the process). A +9 Excalibur is more competitive damage-wise with other late-game artifacts enchanted to a safe +7, conveys more useful extrinsics, and will not destroy potentially valuable items (like Mjollnir or Frost Brand may).

For more information on the chance of this process, see the page on enchant weapon.

Like all artifacts, Excalibur will refuse to be wielded as the second weapon in #twoweapon combat. SLASH'EM lifts this restriction.

Average damage calculation[]

We assume the player has expert skill in long sword, which gives a +2 damage bonus. A blessed weapon deals 1d4 extra damage against demons and undead. The worst case scenario is against a non-undead, non-demon small monster. The best case scenario is against a undead/demon large monster.

Weapon Against regular small monsters Against regular large monsters Worst case scenario Best case scenario
Uncursed Excalibur + 0
Blessed Excalibur +7
Blessed Excalibur +9


In SLASH'EM, Excalibur has been made significantly better, as it always does 10 extra damage, instead of 1d10. This is because artifacts with a damage bonus in SLASH'EM always add that amount[1], as opposed to a random number between one and that amount.


Excalibur is the legendary sword of King Arthur, who is also present in NetHack as the Knight's quest leader. See Wikipedia for an in-depth description.

Encyclopedia description[]

At first only its tip was visible, but then it rose, straight,
proud, all that was noble and great and wondrous. The tip of
the blade pointed toward the moon, as if it would cleave it
in two. The blade itself gleamed like a beacon in the night.
There was no light source for the sword to be reflecting
from, for the moon had darted behind a cloud in fear. The
sword was glowing from the intensity of its strength and
power and knowledge that it was justice incarnate, and that
after a slumber of uncounted years its time had again come.
After the blade broke the surface, the hilt was visible, and
holding the sword was a single strong, yet feminine hand,
wearing several rings that bore jewels sparkling with the
blue-green color of the ocean.

[ Knight Life, by Peter David ]


Excalibur first appeared in NetHack 1.3d.

Before NetHack 2.2a, the method of obtaining Excalibur was different from the present time. One first had to name a long sword Excalibur and then dip it in a fountain. Excalibur in these versions had no special properties, but the dipping would make the sword +5 (if it was not already higher), rustproof it, and remove any curse.