For the method for creating artifacts, see Sting or Orcrist (and in SLASH'EM also Elfrist or Sword of Balance).

The naming artifacts trick is a bug exploitation that lets you identify certain item types.

The way NetHack keeps track of which items are artifacts is through their names; this saves memory and allows a flexible artifact set (i.e. multiple artifacts can be of the same item type). As a consequence of this mechanic, naming e.g. a long sword "Excalibur" would turn it into Excalibur. So if you try to name a non-artifact with the name of an artifact of the same base type, the game will prevent you and you will mis-engrave. ("Your hand slips...")

For example, naming a helmet "The Mitre of Holiness" will fail if and only if the helmet is a helm of brilliance. The key is that this only works on the same item type, even if appearances are randomized. And you must name, not call, the object in question (answer yes when it asks you to "Name an individual object?").

Some players disapprove of this exploit as an abuse of unintentional behavior; note, however, that despite being well-known it does not appear on the bug list for 3.4.3.

By this exploit, you could identify (or rule out) the following items:

Appearance Item type Artifact name
amulet amulet of ESP The Eye of the Aethiopica
gray stone luckstone The Heart of Ahriman
magic helmet* helm of brilliance The Mitre of Holiness

*: The appearances of magic helmets are: plumed helmet, etched helmet, crested helmet, and visored helmet.

A possible fix is to prevent the naming of any item with the name of an artifact (so no items at all could be named "The Eye of the Aethiopica"), or perhaps just those with the same appearance as the artifact (so no gray stones could be named "The Heart of Ahriman", but, say, frost horns could). We have more info on how this bug might be fixed on our talk page, Talk:Naming artifacts.


In SLASH'EM, the artifact naming trick is even more effective due to the many new artifacts.

Appearance Item type Artifact name
bag bag of holding Wallet of Perseus
candle magic candle The Candle of Eternal Flame
amulet amulet of ESP The Eye of the Aethiopica
gray stone luckstone The Heart of Ahriman
magic boots speed boots Whisperfeet
magic cloak cloak of displacement Deluder
magic gloves gauntlets of dexterity Gauntlets of Defense
magic helmet helm of brilliance The Mitre of Holiness
magic helmet helm of telepathy The Crown of Saint Edward
whistle magic whistle The Storm Whistle
amulet amulet of ESP The Medallion of Shifters (defunct Doppleganger quest artifact)
white gem diamond The Arkenstone (defunct Dwarf quest artifact)
ring ring of invisibility The One Ring (defunct Hobbit quest artifact)

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