face here. tee hee

Anyway, I'm a level 13 Valkyrie trying to melee my way through Ft. Ludios so that I can level up enough to take on the Quest.

So far, I've been doing well...I'm funneling all my enemies to me one at a time into the room where the magic portal dumps you, and I am standing so that I can't have anything thrown/zapped at me other than by the person immediately attacking me.

The problem is that I currently don't have any sort of magic reflection (expecting to get that after the Quest with the Orb...), and I'd like to churn through all these warm bodies to level up a bit quicker.

Is there a good way to combat a soldier with the Wand of Death who is making my life currently miserable? Fortunately I made a backup of my save file before entering the fort, so I can go back and try different possibilities for getting past him.

  • 6
    Still, based on your history, I can only expect this to end in another story of woe.
    – Grace Note
    May 4, 2011 at 16:02
  • 2
    Isn't that how most Nethack deaths end? I've at least been focusing lately on dying from Bad Ideas....
    – erik
    May 4, 2011 at 16:25
  • 2
    @Grace - Such wonderful words of encouragement :)
    – sjohnston
    May 4, 2011 at 16:29
  • 5
    @sjohnston Woe builds character.
    – Grace Note
    May 4, 2011 at 16:36
  • 11
    Don't savescum!
    – user7220
    May 4, 2011 at 19:51

3 Answers 3


The only ways to protect against the death effect directly are magic resistance and reflection. In fact, because of other dangers in Fort Ludios, mostly ending in "DRAGON", I really recommend trying to get reflection before advancing. You'll probably survive in the lower levels to try and get that stuff moreso than you'll survive in Fort Ludios.

Failing the possession of such, pretty much the best you can do involves the standard method for assaulting ray attackers, which you acknowledge you're already doing. So I'm just going to write this for those who aren't familiar with it. It involves a position as follows:


Where @ is you, + is the door leading to the big area of Fort Ludios (and it will probably be open), and % is Mount Doom.

The advantage of this position is that enemies who approach can only fight you one at a time, they can only move straight from the doorway, and they cannot blast you with wands from a range. So the only place they can reach you is by stepping in melee.

You have a few different ways to capitalize on this. Here's some (and what you, yourself, are looking for).

  • Be very fast, or at least fast. With boots of speed, a potion of speed, or a spell of haste self, you gain extrinsic speed to be "very fast", while you can get intrinsic speed of "fast" by zapping yourself with a wand of speed or eating certain corpses. This can let you deal much greater melee damage when they step in before they get a chance to fire off the ray.

  • If you have a wand and sufficient resistance to its effects, use it! For example, use a wand of sleep if you have sleep resistance, and then just massacre the fellow while the soldier is helpless. sjohnston's answer also covers some other options that you can use to disable the foe for your easy killing.

  • Have a polearm with enough training (unfortunately, I don't recall how much Valkyries get but I hope they get at least to Skilled). This can let you pound enemies at a knight's move away from yourself, which is where the door is. You do this by applying the polearm. Lances can also be used, but I don't imagine you'll have one. The highest damage polearm, by the way, is the halberd.

    If you combine this with being very fast, by the way, it's really effective with a good halberd.

  • Wear an amulet of life-saving. It's gonna be painful to lose it, but they're meant to be used.

Even with death protection, you want to use this kind of strategy to handle this kind of foe, and any foe with a linear ranged attack. With the wand of death in particular, you can use this strategy to defeat the enemy before he uses up any of the charges, which is a much better result for you.

  • "Use haste self or a wand of speed on yourself, while wearing something that improves your speed." -> haste self and speed boots both make you as fast as you can go, and don't stack. The wand of speed just makes you fast, and is completely unnecessary if you've got speed boots.
    – Wooble
    May 4, 2011 at 17:35
  • @Wooble Right, I knew there were two levels of speed up (extrinsic versus intrinsic), I just confused it for POWDER where they stack. Thanks, I'll revise.
    – Grace Note
    May 4, 2011 at 17:36
  • @Wooble: Are you sure about that? I haven't sourcedived to make sure but you do get a "You feel yourself speed up a bit more" message when you put on speed boots when already fast. May 17, 2011 at 16:49
  • 1
    @Kaivosukeltaja "Very fast" supercedes "Fast", it doesn't stack for higher benefit, and it does not require you to be "Fast" in the first place either. Being fast to begin with is just a generally useful scenario to be in.
    – Grace Note
    May 17, 2011 at 16:50

You don't need reflection. Magic resistance will protect you from a wand of death. That said, there are numerous ways to deal with your adversary. You will want to kill or incapacitate him quickly, preferably in one turn.

  • Sleep spell/potion/wand is a good option.
  • Hit and run with high- powered wands like lightning or fire might work.
  • Since you have control of the entrance, you could also rely on a powerful melee attack or you could go get a cockatrice corpse to wield.
  • A ring of conflict will cause the soldiers to wipe themselves out, but you'll lose out on the experience and the wand will probably be depleted.
  • You could try to Polymorph yourself with a wand in hopes of getting a form with reflection (I.e. Silver Dragon), though the odds are not great and you'll have to drop your stuff.

Once you do kill the wand-wielder, quickly pick it up, or every soldier who walks into that space will do so.

  • 1
    +1 for polymorph. That could be very fun. Also, try polymorphing the soldier -- his new form might not be able to hold the wand.
    – user7220
    May 4, 2011 at 19:53
  • 2
    @Tim Of course, knowing NetHack, he'd probably become an arch-lich.
    – sjohnston
    May 4, 2011 at 22:33

If you are Poison resistant, you could try stinking cloud, that'll clear a good portion of the room if not cursed. As long as you're not aiming directly at a door, using wands that ricochets (Missile, fire, cold, lightning) may kill or reposition reposition the wielder for a better shot (careful with lightning, it may destroy the wand). If you have a strong enough pet, and a magic whistle, try to get your pet into the room, monsters usually don't use wands on pets.

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