Nethack Weapon Selection for Healer

Disclaimer: This document was written for Nethack 3.2.2. The advice may not be consistent with later versions.

The Healer is not great with weapons in general, but still very playable. It is hard to find good weapons for the healer. The scalpel just won't cut it (sorry :-). Do not waste skill slots with the knife (but see below on unicorn horns and crysknives).

As soon as you can, get a quarterstaff, and become Expert in it. Normally lame weapons, your proficiency makes it a much better weapon. For the early game this will be about as good as any other choice, and it will also prepare you for your quest artifact, which is also a quarterstaff.

A good first weapon otherwise might be any of: halberd, spetum, trident, bardiche, or elven short sword. Advanced to basic, these will be similar to the quarterstaff in damage. (Don't advance the short sword past basic, its a waste of slots). Even if you have a quarterstaff, pick one of these as a backup weapon, in case something happens to your staff.

You have two choices for your next upgrade, either a unicorn horn or a crysknife. Both can be hard to get - worms are easier to kill than unicorns but you also need a scroll of enchant weapon to get the crysknife. The unicorn horn does more damage, but the crysknife has a better to-hit. Both are rustproof, but the unicorn horn has healing properties. The crysknife uses one less slot for advancement because you start with Basic knife skills. Whichever one you get first, advance to Expert, but do not try to advance to Expert with both, you'll use too many slots too soon.

Which brings us to the Quest. Your quest artifact is the Staff of Aesculapius. This is in my opinion the best weapon in nethack, because it does double damage, and for double damage enchantment is also doubled. Once it is well-enchanted it will do just as much damage as a well-enchanted Tsurugi of Muramasa. In addition it drains life, it regenerates your health faster when wielded (without hunger!), and has healing powers when invoked. This artifact will come later in the game -- make sure you have some slots available if you haven't already advanced a quarterstaff.

The best artifacts that might be given to you would be Fire Brand, Frost Brand, and Mjollnir. Magicbane is also very good and protection against cursing is very useful. I wouldn't waste my time with any of the other Neutral-class weapons. I personaly really like Grayswandir for late in the game against demons, so it may be worth wishing for it, but since it is the wrong alignment it will occasionally blast you with its power.

Oh, also, if you really want a distance weapon, shurikens are better than darts in the long run. But don't advance to more than Basic, it'll just waste skill slots you'll need elsewhere. But this isn't very important, IMHO. Better to gather lots of wands :-).


Weapon Recommendations for:
  • Healer
  • Samurai
  • Archaeologist
  • Knight
  • Elf
  • Tourist
    Notes on Nethack Weapon Skills
    Damage Calculator
    What's the Best Artifact?
    My Nethack Font for X11

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