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Firearms are a new type of ranged weapon in SLASH'EM. In brief, their characteristics are:

  • Very high damage
  • Ammunition is always lost when fired from the launcher
  • Potential to have a very high rate of fire
  • Never randomly generated, but may be found on the Yendorian army members and shopkeepers. Ammunition is sometimes generated in shops.
  • Most roles are restricted in the firearms skill.

An excellent spoiler on firearms by Christian Cooper can be found archived here, from which much of the following information on strategy and mechanics is adapted.

Firearms skill

Max Role


A table of firearms is seen below:

Firearm Tile Weight Size Cost Range Rate of fire To-hit Ammo
pistol Pistol.png 20 1H 100 15 0 0 bullet
submachine gun Submachine gun.png 25 1H 250 10 3 -1 bullet
heavy machine gun Heavy machine gun.png 500 2H 2000 20 8 -4 bullet
rifle Rifle.png 30 2H 150 22 -1 1 bullet
assault rifle Assault rifle.png 40 1H 1000 20 5 -2 bullet
sniper rifle Sniper rifle.png 50 2H 4000 25 -3 4 bullet
shotgun Shotgun.png 35 1H 200 3 -1 3 shell
auto shotgun Auto shotgun.png 60 2H 1500 3 2 0 shell
rocket launcher Rocket launcher.png 750 2H 3500 20 -5 -4 rocket
grenade launcher Grenade launcher.png 55 2H 1500 6 -3 -3 grenade

And their respective ammunition:

Ammo Tile Weight Cost Dmg vs. small Dmg vs. large To-hit
bullet Bullet.png 1 5 d20 d30 0
silver bullet Silver bullet.png 1 15 d20 + d20* d30 + d20* 0
shell Shotgun shell.png 1 10 d30 d45 0
rocket Rocket.png 200 450 d45** d60** 0
frag grenade Frag grenade.png 25 350 *** *** 0
gas grenade Gas grenade.png 25 350 *** *** 0

*Silver bullets, of course, do an extra d20 damage against silver-hating monsters, and may be used by any firearm that uses bullets.

**Rockets also explode for 3d8 damage against non fire-resistant monsters.

***See grenade for more details.

Rate of fire

Firearms, in general, have the potential to fire many shots per round. The rate of fire is computed as follows:

Basic shots fired:
Start with 1
Add 1 if skilled, 2 if expert
Add 1/3 the enchantment of the launcher, rounded down
If player is limiting their shots fired, and this number is lower than above, use it instead

Your rate of fire starts as 1d this number. Limiting shots fired is accomplished by typing, for example, "t3x", where x is the inventory letter of the ammunition. The number of shots fired is then modified as follows:

Add ROF of firearm
Subtract 1
If in burst mode, divide the total number by 3, rounding down
If in single shot mode, set the total to 1

Note that if you would fire less than one shot, you will instead fire one. The burst/single shot modes can be enabled on submachine guns, assault rifles and auto shotguns only. A couple of illustrative examples:

  • A rogue with their starting +0 pistol, at basic skill level:
    • Basic rate of fire: 1d1 (not skilled, no enchantment on launcher)
    • Adding ROF of pistol, +0, gives 1d1
    • Subtracting 1 gives 1d1 - 1
    • Since this is always below 1, it is set to 1
    • Note that advancing to skilled would still only allow said rogue to fire 1 shot. At expert, however, they could fire 1d3 - 1 shots.
  • A tourist (basic skill) who found/enchanted a +6 assault rifle, firing in full automatic
    • Basic rate of fire: 1d3 (not skilled, adding +6/3 from enchantment)
    • Adding ROF of assualt rifle, +5, gives 1d3 + 5
    • Subtracting 1 gives 1d3 + 4
    • So, said tourist could fire between 5 and 7 shots. Choosing burst mode would limit this to between 2 and 3 shots, and choosing single shot mode would always fire 1 shot.

Note that it is possible even for unskilled adventurers to pick up and use an automatic firearm moderately effectively; even an unskilled user of an assault rifle will always fire at least five shots. Also note that when twoweaponing with two firearms, you will fire from both in one turn, possibly in different directions.

See individual weapon articles for a more detailed treatment of the rate of fire of each.


Firearms are never randomly generated. Rogues and undead slayers may start with one, they may be wished for, or they may be found on the members of the Yendorian Army and shopkeepers. The generation on mercenaries is as follows:

  • Soldier:
    • Equal chance of rifle or submachine gun
    • 2d25 + 4 bullets
    • d6 + 5 frag grenades
  • Sergeant:
    • Equal chance of assault rifle or auto shotgun
    • If assault rifle, has 2d30 + 4 bullets
    • If auto shotgun, has 2d10 + 4 shotgun shells
    • d5+2 grenades, equal chance of being gas or frag grenades
  • Lieutenant:
    • Equal chance of heavy machine gun or submachine gun
    • If heavy machine gun, has 3d50 + 6 bullets
    • If submachine gun, has 2d30 + 4 bullets
    • 2d6 + 10 grenades, with an equal chance of being gas or frag grenades
  • Captain:
    • 50% chance of auto shotgun, 25% chance of heavy machine gun, 25% chance of assault rifle
    • If auto shotgun, has 2d20 + 4 shotgun shells
    • If heavy machine gun, has 3d60 + 6 bullets
    • If assault rifle, has 2d60 + 4 bullets
    • Additionally and independently, has 50% chance of rocket launcher, 25% chance of grenade launcher, and 25% chance of no additional firearms
    • If rocket launcher, has d5 + 2 rockets
    • If grenade launcher, has d5 + 2 grenades, equal chance of being frag or gas grenades

Shopkeepers always start with a shotgun and stack of shells. Note that they are the only source of the basic, one-handed shotgun. Exploding grenades will destroy bullets and shells on the ground. Since the radius of effect of stacked grenades can be quite large, and grenades may trigger each other, this means that very frequently one may not find any ammunition on dead soldiers.


Firearm choice

The firearms all have various benefits and drawbacks; however, by far the most practical choices are the submachine gun and the assault rifle:

  • Pistol: This can be a rogue or an undead slayer's starting weapon. It is decent in the starting game, but has far too low of a rate of fire to be useful later.
  • Submachine gun: A very good choice, it is quite light (25) and fires relatively quickly. It does suffer from a to-hit penalty, but this is more than offset by its rate of fire. Easily found on basic soldiers.
  • Assault rifle: Like the submachine gun, but fires more rapidly at the cost of greater weight and reduced accuracy. Probably the best choice, as the -2 to-hit penalty becomes relatively insignificant in the later game. Easy to find on sergeants and occasionally on captains.
  • Rifle: Often a soldier's basic weapon, these are relatively accurate. However, they fire even more slowly than a pistol, making them an impractical choice as compared to other weapons found on mercenaries.
  • Sniper rifle: These are not randomly generated, and normally only a soldier in Grund's Stronghold will hold one. It is essentially a more accurate, slower rifle.
  • Heavy machine gun: These are far too heavy (500, half of a full inventory) to be useful. They also are two-handed, and suffer from the largest to-hit penalty of any firearm.
  • Shotgun: A shopkeeper's preferred weapon, these are occasionally useful in the early game if you should happen to kill a shopkeeper. They are very accurate and damaging, but the ammo is somewhat difficult to find.
  • Auto shotgun: This weapon is accurate, quick-firing, and very damaging. Unfortunately, it is also two-handed, making it impractical for most characters. Also, as with the shotgun, the ammo is hard to find.
  • Grenade launcher: While it is relatively light, grenades are not. It is not practical to accumulate grenades in quantities sufficient to make a grenade launcher useful.
  • Rocket launcher: This is the heaviest of all firearms, weighing in at 750. The ammo is also very rare and very heavy; no player could wield a rocket launcher with more than one rocket in open inventory without becoming burdened.


Firearms have the capability of doing more damage per round than any other weapon in the game, far and away. An expert user of a well-enchanted assault rifle can fire up to 9 shots in one round, doing up to 9d20 base damage. If the projectiles are enchanted as well, the damage is considerably increased. However, they do have downsides.

  • The ammunition can be hard to find:
    • This can be helped by good strategy, however. If you happen upon a barracks, do your best to kill all the soldiers while they sleep, and be sure to collect and stash their ammo as you do. If you spot a grenade thrown near a pile of ammo, pick it up and throw it elsewhere. If you are careful, you can get large amounts of ammo from places such as Fort Ludios and the Castle.
  • The ammunition is heavy, and since it is always destroyed on impact, you must carry a lot of it. A bag of holding (or in particular the Wallet of Perseus) helps a fair amount, but one simply cannot find or carry enough ammunition to make firearms a valid choice for a main weapon throughout the whole game.
  • Exploding grenades will destroy all bullets on the floor within the radius of the explosion. Since all Yendorian Army members carry stacks of grenades which can explode simultaneously for a very large-radius explosion, one must collect the ammunition quickly to prevent it being lost. Note that due to a bug, barracks do not generate in SLASH'EM, limiting the supply of bullets to the Castle, Fort Ludios, and somewhat infrequent randomly generated soldiers.
  • Few roles can gain skill in firearms. Tourists can gain basic proficiency, archeologists and yeomen can become skilled, and rogues and undead slayers can reach expert. All other roles are restricted.

In general, firearms are best used for clearing out specific areas. For example, the Astral Plane can be a breeze with a well-enchanted assault rifle and a large stack of enchanted ammo. Even an unenchanted firearm can be useful to dispatch the Riders from a distance, as unlike most high-level adversaries in SLASH'EM, they lack enchantment resistance. They are also generated with at most 80 hitpoints, so not much ammo will be required either.

When using firearms, one should be careful that no friendly monsters are in the line of fire. While this is true of any multishot-capable ranged weapon, it bears repeating for firearms, due to their very high rates of fire. In particular, one should be careful of shopkeepers and the high priests.

Another use for those not interested in using the firearms is to simply sell them. Firearms are expensive and soldiers are generated with firearms in fairly large quantities, and soldiers and sergeants are generated in groups as well. The high price of the firearms means that it is possible to quickly drain a shopkeeper's gold and pay for services without the need for tedious credit cloning. This is especially useful in the tourist quest, where there are large numbers of soldiers and many shops on the same level.

Large quantities in which bullets are found (you can collect several thousands of them in Fort Ludios alone) make them ideal candidates for overenchanting (a feat made slightly easier in SLASH'EM with enchanting services and enchant weapon spell); you can then polymorph them into something more useful, like a long sword, or leave some for more tough opponents.

Real life

Real life origins of specific firearms are covered on their respective pages. However, bearing in mind that NetHack is not real life, the following general comments apply to SLASH'EM's implementation of firearms:

  • Ammunition compatibility is unrealistically high. In real life, two different assault rifles could easily use mutually incompatible ammunition, and a pistol and a heavy machine gun certainly would. Because of both historical factors and technical considerations, there are hundreds of types of cartridges on the market, and while some types (such as the 9mm Parabellum or the 5.56 NATO round) are more common than others, no one cartridge could be considered even close to a "universal" round like in SLASH'EM.
  • Although commonly depicted in action movies, the idea of firing an automatic weapon one-handed with any degree of accuracy is highly unrealistic. Even submachine guns generally have stocks and foregrips to enable their users to control recoil.
  • The ranges of firearms other than submachine guns and pistols are too low. For example, a typical assault rifle is effective to around 300 meters; even with the most generous estimates for the distance covered by a square in NetHack, that should cover an entire level.



In SlashTHEM, firearms and ammunition are far lighter. Combined with a much higher weight cap, firearms are a viable option as a primary weapon. They can also be randomly generated, plus there are additional monsters that may be generated with firearms and bullets in their starting inventory.


dNetHack incorporates the (slightly modified) firearm code, and additionally implements several types of blasters that use the same skill. Anachrononauts and Pirates can achieve expert proficiency, Archeologists can advance to skilled, and Tourists are limited to basic skill. All other roles are restricted. However, it must be noted that in dNetHack firearms are exceedingly rare: they are not normally generated, and, with the exception of the lowly flintlock, are classified as future tech, making them unwishable except by Tourists. For non-Anachrononauts the most common way to obtain a firearm is to find it in a bones pile. Even then, the only reliable sources of bullets are wishing, a bullet fabber which is also future tech, and wandering pirates which appear if you have the Pirate quest artifact.


In SpliceHack, shopkeepers are generated with shotguns and shotgun shells. These may be generated in many different materials due to the object materials system in SpliceHack.