)   Sting   Elven dagger
Base item elven dagger
Damage vs. small 1d5 x2
Damage vs. large 1d3 x2
To-hit bonus +1d5
Bonus versus orcs
Weapon skill dagger
Size one-handed
When carried


When wielded
When invoked


Cost 800 zm
Weight 10
Material wood

Sting is among the weakest of artifacts. If you touch it, even if you are of the wrong alignment, it will not blast you unless you are an orc. For all purposes, Sting is only a normal elven dagger, except that it happens to do more damage to orcs and that it cuts through all webs.

Also, if you wield Sting, you can detect the location of any orc on the level, and you will notice when NetHack sends in large teams of orcs.

Sting's 'big brother' in NetHack is Orcrist.

Name it to make it Edit

Unlike most artifacts, you can create Sting by changing the name of any random elven dagger to "Sting". This can only fail if Sting already exists.


Because you can make Sting easily, it becomes available very early in the game. An Elf Ranger can always immediately create Sting at the start of the game, if he or she wants to. Other characters can create Sting as soon as they can locate an elven dagger, such as one dropped by a hobbit in the early game.

Advantages of creating Sting early are:

  • You will not receive it from your god as a sacrifice gift, possibly receiving something more useful instead (only useful for chaotic characters as others will not receive Sting anyway)
  • You can use it to #force open locks on chests and large boxes; artifacts only break 1% as often as non-artifacts[1] and Sting is an artifact that you can afford to break
  • Sting will sell for more gold in a shop than a regular elven dagger. The difference is trivial in most situations, but could be useful for a character attempting the protection racket

Disadvantages stem mainly from the fact that the number of artifacts that have already been generated in the game affects your chances of acquiring more artifacts:

  • Sting is only useful against orcs; many players can already kill orcs
  • The existence of Sting decreases the probability of the dungeon randomly containing another artifact
  • The existence of Sting reduces the chance of receiving any sacrifice gift after the first (all alignments)
  • If two or more artifacts exist in the game, you cannot reliably wish for an artifact
  • You cannot unrestrict the dagger skill by receiving Sting as a gift; applies only to Monks and Priests
  • You could preclude all sacrifice gifts in some corner cases: If all eligible co-aligned, non-race-hating sacrifice gifts have already be created, no first sacrifice gift can be granted, and you will never recieve any artifacts at all. This is usually only an issue for chaotic elves who name Sting and Orcrist in order to guarantee Stormbringer if the latter has already been randomly created.

You should only create Sting therefore if you are chaotic and you do not want to wish for any (further) artifacts.

A good idea, however, is to create Sting just before entering the elemental planes. That way, you'll have it for sure at the end and it will count for your score.

Encyclopaedia entryEdit

There was the usual dim grey light of the forest-day about
him when he came to his senses. The spider lay dead beside
him, and his sword-blade was stained black. Somehow the
killing of the giant spider, all alone and by himself in the
dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of
anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt
a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of
an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put
it back into its sheath.
"I will give you a name," he said to it, "and I shall call
you Sting."

[ The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien ]

Mythology Edit

From Tolkien Edit

"Sting" is the name of an Elven dagger from J.R.R. Tolkien's novel The Hobbit and novel trilogy The Lord of the Rings[1]. Sting was the usual weapon of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, when he found it in a Troll Hoard along with Orcrist and Glamdring. Later, in The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo gave the dagger to his nephew Frodo Baggins. It was also famously wielded by hobbit Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee in his fight against the spider-like Shelob.

The blade was first dubbed "Sting" after the giant spiders of Mirkwood Forest referred to it as Bilbo's "sting".

Sting glowed blue to detect the approach of orcs, which was a feature of many elven blades made at the same time as Sting. Thus, Sting in NetHack is a weapon for use against orcs.

From Dudley's dungeon Edit

In the Dudley's dungeon strip of 18 June 2004, Sting will glow blue when Dudley inserts batteries, but batteries have not been invented yet.

Source code referencesEdit

  1. lock.c#line149
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