Unlocking tool

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( Skeleton key.png
Name skeleton key
Appearance key
Base price 10 zm
Weight 3
Material iron
Monster use May be used offensively by monsters.
( Lock pick.png
Name lock pick
Appearance lock pick
Base price 20 zm
Weight 4
Material iron
Monster use May be used offensively by monsters.
( Credit card.png
Name credit card
Appearance credit card
Base price 10 zm
Weight 1
Material plastic
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

There are three unlocking tools in NetHack: the skeleton key, the lock pick (osaku to Samurai) and the credit card. The skeleton key and the lock pick allow you to lock and unlock doors and chests, while the credit card can only unlock them. Credit cards have nothing to do with money in NetHack; they appear as unlocking devices because of their popularity in films for jimmying open door locks.

Usage

The chance of successfully locking or unlocking a door depends on which tool you use, your dexterity, the type of lock, and whether or not you are a Rogue. The per-turn probabilities of success are listed in the table below.

Tool For Rogues For non-Rogues
Door Box Door Box
skeleton key (70+Dex)% (75+Dex)% (70+Dex)% (75+Dex)%
lock pick (3*Dex + 30)% (4*Dex + 25)% (3*Dex)% (4*Dex)%
credit card (2*Dex + 20)% (Dex + 20)% (2*Dex)% (Dex)%

For rogues, the lock pick has a higher (un)locking chance than the key for boxes at dexterity 17 or higher, and for doors at dexterity 21 or higher (usually achievable only with gauntlets of dexterity). For non-rogues, the key is better than the lock-pick except at normally unreachable dexterity levels, and in all cases the lock-pick has better chances than the credit card.

"Box" includes chests and large boxes.

If you have not succeeded after 50 turns, you give up.

This exercises your dexterity, even if you don't succeed.

To unlock doors apply the unlocking tool and then choose the direction of the door.

To unlock chests apply the unlocking tool while standing on the chest and then choose ">", for down or ".", for here.

Generation

All unlocking tools are generated uncursed.

Other effects

If a watchman sees you picking a lock, he may warn you or get hostile. If a warning is given, a trap is automatically added to the door in question.

Attempting to apply a credit card at a shopkeeper or the Oracle will produce the message "No checks, no credit, no problem.". Attempting to apply an unlocking tool on a visible monster (other than a disguised mimic) in any other situation will produce the message "I don't think Monster would appreciate that.".

Strategy

Credit cards are the lightest unlocking tool, but also the slowest, and they won't lock. Lock picks are the heaviest and most expensive, and for a Rogue with 18 dexterity give a 97% chance of (un)locking a box in one turn. However, in all other circumstances, skeleton keys are faster, as well as cheaper and lighter.

Rust does not impede the operation of any unlocking tool, however cursed tools have only half the chance of unlocking that uncursed tools have.

Beginners frequently kick down doors (or do other loud actions). Although often a reasonable strategy, here are some reasons why you might want to unlock a door instead:

  • Kicking wakes up nearby monsters. This includes the fabled invisible nymph. (This can have a major effect on your game, and is one of the main reasons you might choose to avoid kicking doors.)
  • You cannot close and/or lock doors to partition out spawned monsters if you have kicked them down (unless you have the wizard lock spell or a wand of locking).
  • For characters with low Strength and Constitution, kicking can take longer, unless wearing kicking boots. (Note that for characters with high values in those physical statistics, even an unlocked door can be faster to kick down than to open naturally if approached on the diagonal, because open doors, as opposed to destroyed doors, must be approached orthogonally.)
  • The door might be attached to a shop closed for inventory. (You can check this by examining the square orthogonally next to the door using the : command, except in a few corner cases related to bones levels.)
  • Kicking doors is impossible while riding or levitating.

History

All the unlocking tools first appear in NetHack 3.0.0.

In addition, the NetHack 3.0 Series had special shaped keys that fit specific locks on chests and large boxes. You might see "a chest (triangular keyhole)", for example, and a "triangular key" would open its lock much more quickly than a skeleton key; but a "square key" would not fit.

Doors did not have locks of any specific shape, and the shaped keys could not open them; you had to use one of the other unlocking tools.

Keys, and the locks that they fit, were as follows in NetHack 3.0.10:

Key Lock
round round
square square
triangular triangular
oval oval
octagonal octagonal
hexagonal hexagonal
cylindrical wide
irregular notched
conical large round
wedge-shaped large square

In time, the shaped keys were felt to add nothing of value to the game, and in NetHack 3.1.0 they were removed.

Some monsters with unlocking tools in their inventories may use them to unlock doors. [1]

SLASH'EM

SLASH'EM changes unlocking tools, adding a chance of breaking[2][3], and also adding some artifact keys. Blessed unlocking tools and artifact unlocking tools will never break.

Breakage

Tool Breakage Chance
credit card 1/20
1/30 (tourist picking a door)
skeleton key 1/15
lockpick 1/30
1/40 (rogue)

Strategy

Since the unlocking tools now break, it is a good idea to carry more than one on your person. There's nothing worse than locking yourself into a shop, only to have your pick break when you try to get out again!

Once you get an artifact unlocking tool, this becomes less of a problem. Generally, you'll only need to worry about it being stolen. Note that the alignment keys are available to all players who progress far enough into the game. After this, use the key matching your alignment to avoid artifact blast, and keep the other keys in your bag of holding or in a stash.

UnNetHack

Starting with version 5.1, it is possible for UnNetHack monsters to pick up keys and use them to unlock doors.

See also

References

  1. monmove.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 43
  2. lock.c in SLASH'EM 0.0.7E7F2, line 416 boxes, chests
  3. lock.c in SLASH'EM 0.0.7E7F2, line 518 doors

This page is based on a spoiler by Dylan O'Donnell. The original license is:

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This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

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