Wand of cancellation

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Name cancellation
Appearance random
Cost 200 zm
Weight 7
Type beam
Maximum charges 8

A wand of cancellation emits a beam which cancels any monsters or objects it hits. Monsters are entitled to a resistance check against the effect.

Warning: Putting a charged wand of cancellation into a bag of holding will cause a magical explosion that will destroy the bag and everything within it. Don't do this. Zapping a bag of holding, however, will either unbless or uncurse it, and will have no effect whatsoever on the contents.


The wand of cancellation has a number of complicated effects; when you find one, it will behoove you to study thoroughly the article on cancellation before zapping it! Among these effects, it will:


If you break a wand of cancellation, there is an explosion from 1 to (4*charges) damage. Monsters and objects in the affected squares are cancelled.


Engraving over a writing in the dust gives the message "The engraving on the <floor> vanishes!". This can be either a wand of cancellation, make invisible, or teleportation.

Do not zap yourself with an unidentified wand that makes an engraving disappear; if it is a wand of cancellation, you will cancel all items carried in your inventory.

If you have a pet without a special attack (such as a kitten), you can zap an unidentified wand that makes engravings disappear. If the pet disappears, it is either teleportation (and you can find the pet later in the level) or invisibility (which you can see if you have the see invisible intrinsic). To confirm, you can use a stethoscope, the information line from it will say that it has been cancelled. Warning: Monsters have a chance to resist cancellation, so do not rely on the above before zapping yourself. Lives have been ruined that way.

Another means is to drop an un-needed non-blank scroll and then zap it with the wand. If the scroll vanishes, then the wand is a wand of teleportation, if it remains unchanged then it is a wand of make invisible, if however it changes into a blank scroll then it is a wand of cancellation. Known-cursed objects or stackables that do not stack also work.


Wands comprise 4% of all randomly-generated items in the main dungeon, 6% in containers, 5% on the Rogue level, and 8% in Gehennom. There is a 4.5% chance that a randomly-generated wand will be a wand of cancellation.


"You are covered in sparkling lights!"
You've just been zapped by a wand of cancellation. This is possible in SLASH'EM, but not in vanilla.
"You feel a strange sense of loss."
Having been hit, the wand has cancelled an item in your inventory.
"The engraving on the <floor> vanishes!"
You engraved with a wand of cancellation, teleportation, or make invisible where there is an existing engraving, or with a wand of cold where there is an existing burned engraving.


Avoiding wand explosionEdit

Exploding Wands of Cancellation are a very bad thing. Not only do you lose your wand, you will be caught in the subsequent explosion and suffer 4*charges damage (in SLASH'EM your entire inventory will also will be canceled). WoCs can explode as a result of a number of triggers, some of which do not apply to other wands. The following is a (probably not exhaustive) list of these triggers:

  • Breaking it
  • Putting it in a bag of holding (also destroys the bag and its contents)
  • Having a shopkeeper identify it in SLASH'EM (angering him if he's also caught in the explosion)
  • Zapping when cursed (1% chance)
  • Charging when previously recharged
  • As a result of lightning attacks

A large part of surviving Nethack is forming good habits. Do not pick up a wand of cancellation unless you need it, even if you do not (yet) have a bag of holding. Destroying the contents of your bag of holding can be a game-ending mistake. In vanilla, it is safe to leave it since no monster can use cancellation.

Of course, the best tip is to read all the text and make sure you understand what you are doing at all times. If you keep making simple mistakes such as placing a wand of cancellation in your bag of holding, then slow down and think before you type. However, even attentive players face a slight chance of accident, and in a long game, probabilites do add up.

Some people assign a special "danger" inventory capital letter to this "rod of disaster" (or the sack it is in). You could reduce the chance of blowing up your bag of holding by embedding the wand into multiple sacks, 7 are optimum.

On the other hand, this wand is great to uncurse worn stuff - just drop/bag everything else first.

There exists also the opposite school of thought: Always pick up a wand of cancellation, it is a great way to force yourself to pause and read the text before blindly mashing some key. This is the Nethack equivalent of placing a bomb in every car: Hopefully, people will drive more carefully, reducing total casualities. For unimaginable reasons, this scheme hasn't caught on in the Real World.


In a rare act of kindness, recent versions of SporkHack make an exploding BoH spew its contents around instead of destroying them. Thus, wands of cancellation are less dangerous.


  • See the main article on Cancellation for more details on the effects.

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