Boomerang

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) Boomerang.png
Name boomerang
Appearance boomerang
Damage vs. small 1d9
Damage vs. large 1d9
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill boomerang
Size one-handed
Base price 20 zm
(+10/positive
enchant)
Weight 5
Material wood

A boomerang is a type of ranged weapon that appears in NetHack. It is made of wood, and can be stacked and multishot.

Boomerang skill

Boomerang
Max Role
Basic
Expert

Boomerangs are the only weapons to use boomerang skill.

Description

When thrown, a boomerang will travel in a circular path counterclockwise from the direction thrown, hitting anything in its path: it will alternate with ( as it flies to show spinning.[1] If it makes its way back to you, there is a (dexterity in 20) chance of catching the boomerang safely[2] - if this rolls fails, or the boomerang is cursed or thrown while fumbling, you are hit, aborting any multishot attempts.[3]

Boomerangs will not return if their path is blocked by a wall, or if they move over a sink.[4]

When used as a melee weapon rather than thrown, a boomerang has a luck-dependent chance of breaking into splinters.[5]

A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"Boomerangs in 3.6.0 seem to stop whenever they pass over or hit a monster."

Flight patterns

The exact path of a thrown boomerang is shown below, where @ is the player's position; |, /, -, and \ show the direction the boomerang was thrown; and ( and ) show the path of the boomerang.

..)(... ..()..  ...)(..
.(..\.. .)..(.  ..(..).
.)...@. .(..|.  .)...(.
..(..). .)..@.  .(../..
...)(.. ..()..  ..)@...
 
..(-@..         ..)()..
.)...).         .(...(.
.(...(.         .)...).
..)()..         ..@-(..
 
...@).. ..)(..  ..()...
../..(. .@..).  .)..(..
.(...). .|..(.  .@...).
.)..(.. .(..).  ..\..(.
..()... ..)(..  ...()..

Strategy

Though the boomerang has useful features, the unusual flight path tends to make it a rarely-used weapon, and enchanted gauntlets of dexterity might be necessary to ensure completely safe operation. However, players more interested in doing damage than having the weapon return can still use this weapon effectively over a range up to four spaces:

Assume a monster is approaching you from a cardinal direction (N,S,E,W). If it approaches from the N, it can be hit at a distance of four spaces by throwing to the NW (45 degrees counter-clockwise) if there are at least two open tiles to the W. A monster at a distance of three spaces to the N can be hit by throwing to the W (90 degrees counter-clockwise) if there are three open tiles in that direction. Any monster can be hit at two spaces by throwing directly at it (the only available option in hallways). Monsters approaching from an ordinal direction (NE,NW,SE,SW) can also only be hit at two spaces.

Boomerangs can be particularly effective against unicorns, who will always attempt to avoid any direct line of ranged attack. They can also be especially effective in large open spaces with crowds of monsters, like the Big Room. However, as with other projectiles it is unwise to throw during levitation.

History

The boomerang first appears in Hack 1.0.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, along with some variants based on those versions, boomerangs cannot be multishot and fly clockwise when thrown.

Origin

A boomerang is a thrown tool, typically constructed as a flat airfoil and designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. Boomerangs and paintings depicting them have been found that date back to more than 10,000 years ago - they have been historically used for hunting, as well as sport and entertainment, and are primarily restricted to the latter in modern times. Though commonly thought of as an Aborigine/Indigenous Australian icon, boomerangs come in various shapes and sizes and have also been found in ancient Europe, Egypt, and North America.

The "standard" boomerang and associated flight arc used in most fictional media is actually closer to a specific type of "returning" boomerang - those designed for hunting are typically "straight-flying", and there were others used for hand-to-hand combat. It is speculated that "returning" boomerangs were developed from flattened throwing sticks still used by the Australian Aborigines, American Navajo and other indigenous peoples around the world; hunting boomerangs are more delicately balanced and difficult to make in comparison.

Encyclopedia entry

Rincewind pulled himself up and thought about reaching for his
stick. And then he thought again. The man had a couple of spears
stuck in the ground, and people here were good at spears, because
if you didn't get efficient at hitting the things that moved fast
you had to eat the things that moved slowly. He was also holding
a boomerang, and it wasn't one of those toy ones that came back.
This was one of the big, heavy, gently curved sort that didn't
come back because it was sticking in something's ribcage. You
could laugh at the idea of wooden weapons until you saw the kind
of wood that grew here.
[ The Last Continent, by Terry Pratchett ]

References