In NetHack, zapping the floor with a wand can cause some effects to help you identify it (for example, "The bugs on the floor stop moving!" can be a wand of sleep or death.)

Rings are another common item like wands. However, they can not use the same trick as wands to identify them.

I really hate it when I have a ring of aggravate monster when I'm trying to sneak around, especially if it's cursed.

Is there a method I can use to identify rings in a similar fashion as wands?

  • Don't try on cursed rings in any event...
    – Wooble
    Mar 21, 2016 at 16:58

2 Answers 2


Rings are one of the trickier (riskier) items in nethack to identify. Short of using a Scroll of Identify on them or (gasp!) putting it on, you might be interested in dropping them into sinks.

  • Pro: You get a message that helps you figure out what the ring was.
  • Con: You are very likely to loose the ring.

Prior to v3.6, it was recommended to have a duplicate that you can Name. Now you can Name from your discoveries list, and don't actually need to have the "identified" item on your person. ... of course you should Name it something like "Test Subject" first to make sure it's on your discoveries list.

Less effective and less damaging is to try on a ring that you know is uncursed. Altars & Pets are both good techniques for filtering out Cursed items. Unfortunately only a small number of rings are readily identifiable by simply wearing them, and many of those will more likely be cursed...

Ilmari Karonen's excellent comment added in for posterity:

Also, when trying on uncursed rings, be prepared for conflict (don't stand next to a powerful pet or peaceful creature), polymorph (be somewhere safe, and don't wear your best armor) and teleportation (be on a safe level -- or better yet, in Sokoban or some other non-teleport level -- and don't test unpaid rings in a shop unless you can handle Kops and an angry shopkeeper).


For any unidentified item, first pet test if possible (pets avoid or move RELUCTANTLY over cursed, otherwise it's UC/blessed) in absence of an altar. Then go to a General Store or item-specific store and price-check (I always price-check all items in the store as well). Bear in mind a few things though.

1) Charisma affects buying (3-5 X2, 6-7 x1.5, 8-10 X1.33, 11-15 X1, 16-17 X.75, 18 X.67, 19-25 X.5), but not selling price (always half nominal price, exception see next). Nominal prices can be found in lists on the wiki--I print these lists so they're handy) .

2) Tourists under Levl15 and others wearing a visible t-shirt get charged X1.33 (how this works in conjunction with charisma? I 'm not sure) , and get paid 1/3 instead of 1/2, nominal price regardless of charisma.

3) Blessed and cursed items often (but not always) get an unspecified surcharge both buying and selling (I'll post if I remember what it is).

4)When selling, remember to say NO if you want to keep it. Also, try selling the same item a few times, shopkeepers often try to buy things at a reduced price. Use the higher price as a rule.

5) Use #name to remember what the nominal price is if you still are.t sure (ex; c100 is "cursed $100," uc100 is "uc/blessed.$100," etc. for pet-tested/price-checked items). Using the \ key, you can check to see which other same-priced items you've already found to narrow the possibilities. Hope this helps, and may Tyr be with you.

  • Very useful. I've seen pets move reluctantly but never knew it was due to cursed items. Jul 6, 2016 at 1:05
  • 1
    If you don't mind spoilers, there's a good price ID tool: nethack.roy.org/clippy
    – Kal Zekdor
    Jan 6, 2017 at 22:38

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