Anarchy Online Knowledge Base

All characters use Nano programs to some degree. Nanos can be offensive, defensive or a buff (adds to a certain skill). You should get used to using them as soon as you can.

You can think of nano programs as the futuristic version of the spells you might find in a fantasy game. Tiny robots called nanobots operate in vast numbers to rearrange matter and energy to execute the programs, doing things that seemingly transcend reality.

Nano programs can be found as finished nano crystals or Instruction Discs that can be turned into crystals using tradeskills. See Nano Crystal Creation.

All characters have access to nanotechnology through an invisible cloud of nano-bots surrounding them. Controlling these nano-bots requires skill and inner strength. The amount of nanobots available to a character is represented by his or her nano pool, which is shown as a blue bar on the left side of the screen, just above the left-hand menu. The nano pool bar can be moved just as hotkey bars can.

Nano program wnd

Commanding the nano-bots is done through nano programs, which are uploaded to your program storage.

Executing a program gives the nano-bots commands, which they carry out to produce the effect of the program, e.g. healing your body, increasing your aim, or damaging an enemy.

Nano programs can take effect instantly (such as heals and damage), or are continuously in effect for the duration (Buffs and Debuffs), intermittently (instantly, at regular intervals for the duration, such as (HoTs and DoTs), or intermittently add a short duration buff or debuff (Pulsing Effects).

With the exception of key, profession-defining nano programs such as the Fixer HoT, the highest level Enforcer strength + stamina buff, etc, Agents are capable of casting any nano program, when under the effect of False Profession and similar nanos.

Nano Crystal`s[]

In your Inventory you will find one or two nano crystals, depending on your profession. Each nano crystal contains a nano program, which you can upload to your program storage. The programs storage is shown in the Programs Window, which can be opened by clicking the "Nano" button on the left-hand menu. You can read what the program does by holding shift and left-click the nano crystal or the program in the storage. Here you can also see the requirements you must meet to upload and execute the program. You do not need to increase any skills to use the programs you start with. To upload the nano program from the crystal, right-click the crystal, i.e. use it. The crystal will disappear, and the program will show up in its correct category in the storage. The program can now be executed as long as you have enough energy left in your nano pool.


A nanoline is a grouping of similar and related nanos. Nanos in the same nanoline will not stack on the same target; the more powerful one will overwrite the lesser, and trying to cast a lesser will give an error message.

The Auno reference site displays the nanoline type on each nano program listing, with links to a list of all the nano programs in that nanoline, for example 'Doctor Strength and Stamina Buffs, aka Nanoline 156


Schools are a larger category of nanos than nanolines, but they only affect the game in three ways: the color of the nano crystal, which tab a nano program is stored under in a character's Programs window, and in Nano Crystal Creation, where Instruction Discs from each school must be combined with a Crystal Reflection Pattern and Program Crystal of the same school as the disc.

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Combat school nanos are red; Medical are blue; Protection are green; Psionic are yellow and Space are magenta.

Executing programs[]

Most nano programs require a target. You can target yourself by pressing F1. You can target others by left clicking on them. Most programs will run either on friendly or hostile targets, not both. Any program will run on yourself though, so be careful whom you target if you execute a hostile program. Your current target for nano programs (and other effects, like medical equipment) is shown next to the Chat Window - left-hand side if it is yourself, right-hand side if it is anybody else.

To execute a program, left-click it. Programs, like weapons, have an Attack time and a cooldown time, which in the case of nanos is called the Recharge time. You can see the progress of the nano execution with the orange bar to the left of the screen. Make sure to stand still while executing a program, as it requires full concentration from your character. If the program will not execute, an explanation why will be given in the Chat Window.

Example: As an Adventurer, your starting program will be "Quick Heal", a healing program. It will drain sixteen points from your nano pool upon being executed, and restore between fifteen and twenty-five points of your health. Healing programs can be used on any friendly target, and are good for use in combat, as the most efficient medical equipment requires the target to sit down and not be under attack.

Stacking and Overwriting[]

Two Nanos effects are said to 'stack' when both effects can coexist on the same character. A Program effect that does not stack will either 'overwrite' the other effect, and become active in its place, or cannot be cast on the target, giving an error message: "NCU error: Better nano program already running. Unable to execute nano program. You can't execute this nano on the target."

Nanos in the same Nanoline never stack. Nano Programs that do not stack almost always are unequivocally unequal in power, but this is not always the case, particularly in cases of secondary effects, where a secondary effect of one nano program is inferior in value to the primary effect of another. For example, a QL 83 Fixer single target runspeed buff contains a secondary +37 bonus to evades. Even though the Fixer nano is a higher QL, and its primary effect is of another type, the programs will not stack, nor will the run speed buff overwrite, because its evade bonus is less than the +60 bonus to Evades from the QL 50 Metaphysicist buff.

Nano programs as shortcuts[]

Regularly used nano programs can be moved onto the shortcut bar; simply drag and drop. Move your mouse pointer over the program in the Program Window, click and hold down the left mouse button. When the program attaches to the mouse pointer, move it to the wanted place on the shortcut bar and release the mouse button. To remove icons, drag them off the shortcut bar and release the mouse button.

Only one hotkey bar will be active (responding to number buttons) at a time. To activate a new hotkey bar, click on the very small circular button at the left of the bar, or top of the bar in the case of vertical bars. Hotkey bars can be made vertical: right click on the body of the hotkey bar.

With multiple shortcut bars onscreen (F10 > Misc > Number of hotkey bars), shortcuts such as nano icons will be copied to a new bar rather than moved, when dragging. The old icon can be removed as usual if desired.

Nano Controlling Units (NCU)[]

See Main Article: NCU

Your Nano Controlling Units, normally just called NCU, limit what programs you can have running on yourself at any time. Beneficial programs that have continual effect take up a set amount of NCU, and if the target does not have enough NCU free to hold a new program, that program will fail to execute. Hostile programs do not take up NCU, nor do programs with one-shot effects like instant healing or damage.

Your free and total numbers of NCU are listed in the bottom left corner of the screen. You start with eight total NCU. The most common way to increase your NCU is to install a Belt Component Platform, and then fill the slots in the platform with NCU Memory chips.

Friendly Effects types[]

Bestow Life[]

Hit points are removed from the caster. Damage to the target is healed.
Martial Artist, Trader.

Bestow Nano[]

Nano is removed from the caster. Nano points are given to the target.
Martial Artist, Trader.


See Main Article Who Buffs What

Buffs increase abilities or skills or statistics derived from those such as Attack Rating (to see your Attack Rating, use F10 > GUI > Control Center > Mini Toolbar > Stats [second button from the right]), and even hidden statistics such as Add All Defensive and Offensive.

Damage Add[]

Adds a fixed amount of damage to each attack. This amount is not affected by armor.
Adventurer (animal forms), Agent, Fixer (highest), Trader (the only profession with a damage add for the whole team at once).


Healing can be either instant, requiring no NCU, or multiple heals at regular intervals over the duration of the nano. This is known in AO and some other games as the acronym HoT, for Heal over Time. This is also known in some other games as regeneration, but regeneration means something different in AO; the natural regeneration rate all characters have. HoTs are further divided into short term and long term HoTs.
Adventurer (heal only), Doctor (all types), Fixer (HoT only), Martial Artist (heal only), Metaphysicist (Heal Pet-heal only)


A hostile program, that does damage to the target, with a secondary, friendly effect, that heals the user. Instant.
Trader only.


Increases the amount of Nano Controlling Units available to hold friendly buff programs.
Fixer, Trader (self only).


Adventurers can morph themselves and others into shapes resembling Rubi-Ka creatures to boost damage, runspeed and other stats.

Run Speed[]

Increases the rate at which the friendly target moves.
Adventurer, Enforcer (self only), Fixer.


Some nanos can enlarge or shrink character size, notably Agent 'Ruse of Taren' and Enforcer 'Challenger' and 'Essence' buffs.


There are four types of shields in AO.

  • AC shields add to Armor ACs, blocking 10% of the listed value in damage from any successful hit, right down to the minimum damage of the weapon.
  • Damage shields return a listed amount of damage to enemies that attack the user.
  • Reflect Shields block a listed value and return a listed value.
  • Absorption shields work like HP, used up with each hit; no HP is taken from hits until the absorption shield is gone.

There are various combinations of these, such as Adventurers' Damage + Absorption shields and Engineer Damage + AC. There are also combinations of Shields with other effects, such as Enforcers' Damage + HP Bonus.

AC (Armor)[]

AC Shields add to a character's total armor, usually to all damage types at once. You can see the total armor value for each damage type with F10 > GUI > Control Center > Mini Toolbar > Stats (second button from the right). The total armor divided by 10 is the amount of damage that is subtracted from an enemy's attacks. This does not affect the base damage, only the range. E.g., if an enemy does 10-100 damage, that enemy will never do less than 10 damage, no matter how much armor is worn. It may miss a lot, and high level characters' natural regeneration will be faster than such puny damage, but it will never do less damage than 10.
Adventurer, Enforcer, Engineer, Nanotechnician, Soldier.

Damage Shields[]

Damage shields do a set amount of damage to anyone hitting you with the AC type it damages. For instance, a nano program saying ShieldProjectileAC 50 would cause you to do 50 damage to anyone who hits you with projectile damage.

Effects of damage shields are cumulative.


Reduces damage of the AC type listed by the number next to it as a percentage. This means, for instance, that a bracer which says ReflectMeleeAC 3 will deflect 3% of all melee damage you take.

In combination with this value, you will often see a Max Reflected Damage statistic. This is the maximum amount of the deflected damage of that AC type that will be returned to the attacker. For example, the same bracer also has a MaxReflectedMeleeDmg 8. While wearing this bracer, you are hit for 100 melee damage before the bracer reduction. 3 of that damage is deflected (3% of 100 is 3). And 3 of that damage is returned, since you are able to reflect up to 8 damage, but only deflected 3. If you then get hit for 300 melee damage before the bracer is counted, you would have 9 damage deflected (3% of 300 is 9). The bracer would then reflect 8 damage, not 9, since the maximum damage reflected is only 8.

Effects of ReflectAC and MaxReflectDmg are cumulative!

Hostile Effects types[]


Instant, and self-explanatory. This is also known in other games as Direct Damage, but that means something else in AO; a melee character that has high damage output and lower defense than a 'tank' melee character, also known as a 'light tank'.

Damage over Time[]

The reverse of a HoT, or Heal over Time. A DoT, or Damage over Time damages the target at regular intervals over the duration of the nano. Known in some games as Poison.
Agent, Doctor, Nanotechnician.


A hostile program, that does damage to the target, with a secondary, friendly effect, that heals the user. Instant.
Trader only.


Lowers a statistic of the target, including skills, abilities attack speed or runspeed. Snare is both a debuff and Crowd Control.


Reduces the target's chance to hit its target. Blind is arguably but not unmistakeably a form of Crowd Control.
Nanotechnician, Engineer (Pulsing Effect).

Crowd Control[]

See Main Article Crowd Control

Crowd Control effects are arguably but not unmistakeably debuffs. Their purpose is damage reduction. When more than one enemy is being fought at one time, Crowd Control effects attempt to stop additional enemies from doing damage.


Stops the target from moving. It can still attack if in range. Agent, Bureaucrat, Fixer.


Reduces the target's run speed.
Agent, Bureaucrat, Fixer.


Known in some other games as Mez or mesmerize. The target is immobilized and will be prevented from taking any actions until the target is attacked, or the Calm expires or breaks.
Adventurer, Bureaucrat, Nanotechnician.

Pulsing Effects[]

Pulsing Effects, or auras, differ from other nanos in that the target is always the caster, but effects are always targetted in a radius around the caster. Pulsing effects can be Friendly or Hostile. See Friendly Effects and Hostile Effects for that distinction.

Pulsing effects are only ever Continuous, while nanos can be Intermittent. Nanos are Intermittent when a nano with the same effect would be instantaneous, with no duration, e.g. damage or healing. In this case, the effect happens intermittently, at regular intervals, in a similar way to a Heal over Time (See Healing). Otherwise, pulsing effects are Continuous,

Pulsing Effects have two durations: one for the program, which remains on the caster for many minutes, and one for the effect, which is placed on valid targets within the radius every 30 seconds or so, and remains until the next pulse. This setup ensures that the buff or debuff remains on those targets even if they leave the radius, while also limiting the duration for those leaving the radius (a very slick game design element, which is probably unique to Anarchy Online). Hostile pulsing effects can never affect the caster, and usually do not target friendlies.