Wielding is the action of holding an item in the hand, performed with the w key.
The game will warn the player if they attempt to perform melee combat with an unsuitable weapon, as this is a common mistake.
The player may choose to wield nothing and go empty handed, by pressing - (the minus key) when prompted for an item. Characters who intend to use Unarmed Combat will usually wield nothing.
Switching between weapons
Pressing ' (the apostrophe key) will attempt to wield and switch between the contents of the special inventory slots "a" and "b". The player may set their favorite weapons to these two slots by pressing the = key, then selecting items.
Note that you will not wield an item in one of those slots if it is unsuitable for wielding (i.e. wands, armour, etc.); instead, you will simply wield nothing. This is useful for Unarmed Combat specialists, who can keep a non-weapon item in one of their "a" or "b" slots to have a way to easily switch back to their fists.
Wielding will fail if:
- the item the player is trying to wield is too large for them
- the player is already wielding a cursed weapon
- the player tries to wield the item they are already wielding
- the item requires two hands to wield and the player is wearing a shield
Exceptions to wielding
There are several items that do not require wielding to use. Wands can be zapped and throwing weapons can be thrown directly from the inventory, and other evocable items function this way as well. Note that some of these items require thumbs to use, so characters without thumbs (i.e. Felids and those in certain form changes) still won't be able to use them.
Wielding cursed weapons
Wielding distortion weapons
Unwielding distortion-branded weapons can inflict magical contamination, teleport you next to a random monster on the level, or even banish into the Abyss. For this reason, low-level players should exercise caution in wielding known and possible distortion weapons. Risk-averse players can identify suspect weapons before wielding. An identified distortion weapon will always ask for a confirmation before wielding.
- Prior to 0.24, vampiric weapons required the player to be Full or above to equip them.
- Prior to 0.20, the player had to wield stones or large rocks to boost Sandblast's damage. Also, the player couldn't (un)wield things while berserk.
- Prior to 0.17, casting Sticks to Snakes required wielding javelins or arrows.
- Prior to 0.12, wielding a cursed, blunt weapon prevented butchering.
- Prior to 0.9, the player was required to wield a sharp weapon for butchering.