The Wizard of Yendor (also informally known as Rodney) is the guardian of the Book of the Dead. He resides in his tower in Gehennom. You must get the Book of the Dead from him before you can descend to Moloch's Sanctum and get the Amulet of Yendor from the high priest of Moloch. Rodney is generated without a weapon.

In addition to the full complement of arcane monster spells, the Wizard has a unique spell, Double Trouble, which creates another incarnation of him, with all his powers. The clone can show up with a different appearance from his normal self[1]; one of water demon, vampire, red dragon, troll, umber hulk, xorn, xan, cockatrice, floating eye, guardian naga, or trapper[2]. He will not use this spell if there are already two of him in the world.

The wizard can and will follow you up to the Elemental Planes. However, he will not appear in the Astral Plane, though if he appears on the Plane of Water, he can follow you through the portal to the Astral Plane.


After the Wizard dies for the first time, or you perform the Invocation (by stealing the Book from him without killing him), he will cause you trouble for the rest of the game. Every 50-250 turns, one of the following effects will happen:

Probability Effect Message
1/3 No effect "You feel vaguely nervous."
1/6 Curse items "You notice a black glow surrounding you." (if not blind)
1/6 Aggravate monsters, as per the monster spell "You feel that monsters are aware of your presence."
1/6 Summon nasties No message
1/6 If there is currently no living Wizard, he returns to life near you, one monster level higher than his previous incarnation. If the Wizard is alive on a different dungeon level, and doesn't have the real Amulet, he is brought to you. "A voice booms out... 'So thou thought thou couldst <kill/elude> me, fool.'"

On the Astral Plane, the Wizard cannot appear, and every other effect has equal probability.


Many players choose to zap a wand of death at the wizard instantly every time he reappears. However, if you are low of charges on your wands, you may want to take him out by conventional means or, for example, stone him. Watch for the Elvenkings the wizard likes to summon — they are represented by the same @ symbol as the wizard. It is annoying to realize that you've squandered a charge of your wand of death on the wrong monster.

One important thing to note is that the Wizard is capable of stealing your own quest artifact if you have it in your main inventory. If you were relying on that artifact for magic resistance -- look out! You don't have MR any longer, but Rodney does -- so he is now immune to death rays, for instance. Prudent players will arrange for other items to duplicate the vital powers of their quest artifacts prior to beginning the ascension run, and may even wish to carry their own artifact in a container to avoid Rodney stealing it and making use of it himself. Pity the unprepared Caveman who has the Sceptre of Might stolen with no other source of MR, and no other good melee weapon in inventory.

Luckily, Rodney will only steal the player's own quest artifact -- wished-for artifacts from other roles are immune to this kind of theft (so a Neutral Monk can get slotless, theft-proof MR by wishing for The Eye of the Aethiopica).

If you manage to steal the Book of the Dead from the Wizard without killing him, and then escape the level without him following, he will not hassle you until you perform the Invocation ritual[3].

It is possible to dig into the Wizard's tower without waking him up: standing in a corner of the room, zap a wand of digging diagonally at the tower. This will remove a bit of the tower, but will not wake up the Wizard. If you then shoot a death ray in through this newly created gap, you will kill him without giving him the chance to cast spells at you. If you dig in any other way, you will wake him up.

If you kill him over the moat, you can get the Book of the Dead by zapping a wand of cold over the water (the Book is immune to blanking). The book will end up on top of the ice.  Alternately, you can wear an amulet of magical breathing to go into the water and pick up the Book of the Dead.  If you choose to do this, remember to leave your water-damageable items (potions, spellbooks, scrolls, non-rustproof weapons) on the dry land before you jump in.


The Wizard of Yendor first appeared in Hack 1.0.2.

Through NetHack 2.3e, he appeared in a 1x2 room in the center of the maze, which also contained a hell hound (that did not have a breath weapon) and the Amulet of Yendor. The room had no doors and was surrounded by a moat. His symbol was 1, rather than @.


Fake Wizard rooms had a demon (generic in this version) instead of the Wizard, and a fake Amulet.

From NetHack 3.0.0 through 3.0.10, the Wizard lived in a larger tower, now also accompanied by a vampire lord.

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Fake Wizard rooms had a randomly chosen demon prince, or demon lord if no demon prince was available, or a random demon if demon lords are also gone. (All eight modern named demons existed, and occurred only in fake Wizard rooms or when summoned.)

Starting with NetHack 3.1.0, the Amulet is now given to the high priest of Moloch, and the Wizard instead carries the Book of the Dead. The 3.0.x-style Wizard room still exists as the room in which the Wizard lives, and as the two "fake Wizard" levels.

Encyclopedia entry[]

No one knows how old this mighty wizard is, or from whence he
came. It is known that, having lived a span far greater than
any normal man's, he grew weary of lesser mortals; and so,
spurning all human company, he forsook the dwellings of men
and went to live in the depths of the Earth. He took with
him a dreadful artifact, the Book of the Dead, which is said
to hold great power indeed. Many have sought to find the
wizard and his treasure, but none have found him and lived to
tell the tale. Woe be to the incautious adventurer who
disturbs this mighty sorcerer!