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Players can pound colored squares, depending on their skill level.

In NetHack, pounding is the action of applying a lance or polearm on a target that is at a distance of two squares from the wielder.


Pounding with a weapon allows a character or monster to attack a target that is not adjacent and is roughly two squares away from them, with the eligible target squares dependent on the wielder's skill in that weapon:


The @ is the wielder's location. Spaces marked with a X are too close to be hit, spaces marked with a U can be hit even while Unskilled, spaces marked with a S can only be hit when Skilled, and spaces marked with a E can only be hit when Expert. Only Knights can reach Expert skill level in lance, and no roles can reach more than Skilled in polearms.

Pounding will not trigger passive attacks from monsters against the wielder, but does scuff engravings on their square and cause Elbereth to fade, incurring an alignment record penalty;[1] the pounding weapon will still be subject to the effects of passive attacks (e.g. erosion, disenchantment, etc.) as normal. When twoweaponing, the range for pounding is the lesser of your pounding weapon's skill and your two-weapon combat skill - this is only applicable with a lance, as all polearms are two-handed. A lance can be used for pounding without any penalty, even when the wielder is not mounted.[citation needed]

Most monsters can only pound using polearms and lances with a skill level equivalent of Unskilled - trolls are an exception, and can pound with a skill level equivalent of Skilled.


A character with fast speed or better that is pounding at Skilled level or better can take out groups of hostile monsters using a choke point (such as a door) that is a knight's move away. Characters planning to pound monsters in corridors will need either a light source or infravision, since pounding cannot target unseen monsters even if they can be detected via other means.

Pounding can deal well with monsters that are deadly in melee range: aside from passive attacks, sea monsters on levels such as Medusa's Island, the Castle and the Wizard's Tower are prime pounding targets to avoid their drowning attacks. Pounding can also be used for the hit and run tactic, and is much safer than melee attacks in that respect.


The game function is first named by Shawn M. Moore, whose Knight FAQ for NetHack 3.4.3 gives a thorough description of the mechanic.

The feature of pounding scuffing engravings on the square beneath the pounder is introduced in NetHack 3.6.0.



In SLASH'EM, the range for pounding with a lance or polearm is expanded and made unrestricted by skill level:



dNetHack and notdNetHack allow the use of other weapons besides polearms and lances to pound.

The aklys, white vibrospear, gold-bladed vibrospear, and force pike can be applied to pound as a polearm; the shepherd's crook is a weapon that can be applied to pound like a polearm, but is also able to pick up items and pull monsters on those squares. Sol Valtiva and Shadowlock are artifacts that can also be applied to pound as a polearm, and The Rod of Lordly Might, The Rod of the Elvish Lords and The Sceptre of Lolth can be applied to pound while in lance form.

A weapon's pounding range is determined by that weapon's skill, and when pounding a menu is brought up that offers any monsters in range, as well as an option that allows selecting a square as in NetHack if targeting a specific square or an invisible monster. The letters used in the pounding menu can be arranged in either sequential order of target, starting clockwise from N (north), or else apply the same letter to a given directional square (i.e., a is always north, b is north-northeast, etc.) regardless of if it is occupied.

Monsters can pound with the above weapons as well, and some monsters are capable of using certain special attacks at the same range as a polearm.

NetHack Fourk

In NetHack Fourk, the game tries to place the cursor at a reasonable target square initially when pounding, rather than at the character's own location.