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Certain monsters in Nethack can be bribed. Bribery always requires that the gold to be used is in open inventory; gold in containers cannot be accessed during the transaction.

Temple priests sell protection. This isn't normally called bribing.

Bribing in Gehennom

Demon princes will ask you for a bribe when they first notice you, if you have gold in open inventory; refusing to bribe them will turn them hostile and they will never ask for a bribe again, whereas bribing them will prompt them to disappear for good, along with their entire inventory (except the invocation items).[1][2]

  • The amount asked is normally 21-100% of your visible gold. If the demon is not in hell, or if it is a chameleon in a form of demon, it will instead ask only 1-80% of your visible gold. If your alighnment is the same as demon's, the amount will be half of this. The amount is always rounded down.
  • If you have no gold in open inventory, or have so little that the amount above is zero, the demon prince will be hostile and will not ask for a bribe.
  • If you are polymorphed into a demon, the demon prince will remain peaceful without requiring a bribe[3] and will attempt to teleport away.
  • If the prince is carrying the Amulet of Yendor, he will ask for more gold than you have, thus ensuring that he won't disappear from the game with the Amulet.[4][5]
  • If you are carrying the Amulet of Yendor at creation time, the demon cannot be bribed. Carrying the amulet at the time you meet the demon has no effect.
  • Wielding Excalibur at demon creation time or near the demon prevents bribing.[6][7]
  • Chaotic demons cannot be bribed. Orcus is the only one waiting in a lair.

Bribing the Yendorian Army

Soldiers can be bribed by by throwing a suitable amount of gold at them, turning them peaceful. On the Castle level, it is occasionally helpful to bribe a soldier to block a corridor for you, as hostile monsters will not route past peaceful ones.[8] The required amount is:

x + \frac{G + 1d5 \times {\mathit XL}}{{\mathit Cha}}

G here represents the amount of gold you have in your open inventory; X is 150 for soldiers, 250 for sergeants, 500 for lieutenants, and 750 for captains. They only have a two in three chance of accepting the offer.[9]

If you can't bag or drop your extra gold, the optimal amount to throw is:

\frac{(Cha \times X) + {\mathit (4 \times XL) + G}}{{1 + Cha}} + Cha

Bribing shopkeepers

Angry shopkeepers will also accept bribes via the #chat command, or by throwing the necessary amount of gold at them. If you can afford the asking price, the shopkeeper will become peaceful again.[10][11]

  • Pacifying a shopkeeper this way will also pacify any watchmen or watch captains on the level (usually Minetown, but also some variants' shopping mall).
  • Beware of throwing gold at peaceful shopkeepers: they have a chance of becoming hostile.