) Trident.png
Name trident
Appearance trident
Damage vs. small 1d6+1
Damage vs. large 3d4
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill trident
Size one-handed
Cost 5 zm
Weight 25
Material iron

A trident is a kind of weapon. It has a special +4 to-hit bonus against swimming monsters that are in water. If the monster is not in water, there is still a +2 to-hit bonus if it is one of the snakes or the sea monsters.[1]

The trident averages 7.5 damage versus large monsters, one point more than a katana, making it the most damaging one-handed non-artifact weapon versus large monsters. Along with the silver saber, crysknife and katana, the trident is one of the best choices for twoweaponing.


The trident goes as far back as the first public release of Hack, Hack 1.0.3.


Tridents are one of the rarer weapons in the game, with only 8 in 1000 of all randomly spawned weapons, making it very difficult to get before the midgame, and further, making it harder to plan to use one in advance. In addition to normal random generation methods, such as death drops and shops, the following monsters have a unique chance of being spawned with a trident in their monster starting inventory:

  • Salamander. 2 in 21, or about 9.52%.
    • Sadly, they are also very rare to even spawn, making this largely ineffective for obtaining a trident. While they appear in large numbers on the Plane of Fire, by that time a player has already completed their ascension kit and likely ignoring all drops.
  • Horned devil. 3 in 4, or exactly 75%.
    • If looking for a trident, it may be beneficial to avoid killing one without such in Gehennom to encourage the odds of one spawning with a trident. To be 95% certain to obtain one, the player need only kill ~2.16 , and 99% certainty at only ~3.32 . With polymorph control, should one turn into a Horned devil, there is a 1 in 13 chance of another being spawned in battle; attacking in bare-handed combat, so as not to actually kill a combatant, as few as ~50.41 strikes is enough to be 95% certain, and ~77.5 for 99% certainty (provided you have a means to safely kill your pets, such as conflict, of course).

Average damage calculation[]

We assume the player has expert skill in trident, which gives a +2 damage bonus. This is assumed despite the fact that no class can actually have expert skill (so as to be on a level playing field with other weapon tables). A blessed weapon deals 1d4 extra damage against demons and undead. The worst case scenario is against a small, non-undead, non-demon. The best case scenario is against a large undead/demon monster.

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

Despite the inclusion in the above table, attempting to enchant a trident to +9 is generally a very bad idea, as they're quite rare.


A real world trident

Tridents and military forks were seen in real-life warfare, with the trident's tines often affixed with barbs to as to help it in its primary peacetime use: fishing. In NetHack, this is referenced with the fact that it has a bonus when facing water creatures (though this point is mostly academic, as coming into melee range with a water creature is generally a bad idea).

In warfare, tridents were favored for their long reach and ability to disarm and dismount a horse-riding combatant. In the world of NetHack, tridents have no particular benefit against the Riders, nor is it possible to disarm an opponent with them. Oddly, it is possible to disarm them with a battle-axe or other two-handed weapon, by sundering the monster's weapon, or with a bullwhip. Military forks, in the real world, furthermore had abilities as a tool, such as raising siege ladders, and would work in a pinch for most things a pitchfork would; they enjoy no special benefits as a tool in NetHack.

The fact that it deals much more damage than the spear, or the literally named "forked polearm" (spetum), is rather curious, historically speaking. A trident's three tines may have inspired the DevTeam to give them 3d4 damage, as though striking with three daggers ot once; this is largely incorrect. The fact that it does not use the polearm skill, and moreover, that the description "forked polearm" doesn't belong to it, as it would far more accurately describe a military fork, is similarly quite curious.

Tridents exist in canonical D&D, where they dealt 1d8 base damage versus opponents, but have a lower critical hit multiplier, meaning it was, in fact, worse than the similar 1d8 long spear, insofar as raw damage. As in NetHack, however, they were a one-handed weapon; this meant that a trident user could still have the added benefit of a shield, or the versatility of an off-hand weapon. The trident's 1d8, for a one-handed weapon, was still better than the 1d6 of the one-handed short spear.

Trident skill[]

Max Role

The trident is the only weapon to use the trident skill. There are no artifact tridents.