Crossbow bolt

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) Crossbow bolt.png
Name crossbow bolt
Appearance crossbow bolt
Damage vs. small 1d4+1
Damage vs. large 1d6+1
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill crossbow
Size one-handed
Base price 2 zm
Weight 1
Material iron

A crossbow bolt is a type of weapon that appears in NetHack. Crossbow bolts are stackable projectiles designed for use with a crossbow, and are made of iron.


All Gnomish Rangers start the game with a +1 crossbow and stacks of +0 and +2 crossbow bolts, rather than a bow and arrows;[1][2] crossbows and crossbow bolts are considered racial equipment for gnomes, though gnomish Rangers are the only case where this substitution applies.[3]

A humanoid monster with a weapon attack, the ability to wield weapons and no other ruleset governing its monster starting inventory has a chance of generating with a crossbow and a set of bolts, unless they are being generated on the Rogue level: the base odds are 114 for normal monsters, 112 for a monster that is a lord or nasty, 110 for a monster that is an overlord or both a lord and nasty, and 18 for a monster that is both nasty and an overlord.[4]

Plains centaurs and mountain centaurs have a 12 chance of generating with a crossbow and 3–14 bolts.[5] Crossbows and their ammo can also be generated on any monster lacking the strong monster attribute that can use a weapon, but has not received one.[6]


Like some other missile weapons, throwing or firing crossbow bolts may cause them to mulch upon hitting a monster, and cursed bolts will misfire and fly in a different direction or simply hit the ground. Crossbow bolts can be poisoned by dipping them in a potion of sickness.

Crossbow bolts launched from a crossbow will always fire at their maximum range of 8 squares, but are subject to a multishot penalty if their user is below a certain strength level - gnomes only need must have at least 16 strength to obtain full multishot bonuses, while other races require at least 18 strength in order to avoid multishot penalties. Gnomes who are not Healers or Wizards also gain a +1 multishot racial bonus when firing bolts from a crossbow.


Main article: Crossbow

High-strength characters lacking a ranged weapon may choose to retrieve a crossbow and bolts from the gnomes in the Gnomish Mines; bolts are somewhat scarce compared to the various arrows that can be found in several monster inventories and arrow traps. As with most launchers, the bolts themselves should be enchanted rather than the crossbow in order to increase their damage.

Monks looking to maintain weaponless conduct may elect to carry a crossbow and bolts on hand; Rogues can also get Expert in crossbow, though they are an uncommon choice of long-term ranged weapon. Gnomish rangers may have to rely on their pet in the early game to kill their fellow gnomes for additional bolts - the Ranger quest provides a plentiful source as early as the midgame, though they will also have to look out for attack wands while there; their quest artifact, The Longbow of Diana, also forces them to switch launcher and ammo types as well.


Crossbow bolts first appear in Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, which are based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and are included in the initial weapon list for Hack 1.0.

The special behavior of bolts with regards to range and multishot is introduced in NetHack 3.6.0.



SLASH'EM introduces Hellfire, a chaotic artifact crossbow that causes bolts fired from it to produce a 3x3 fiery explosion centered on any monster that it hits.

Undead Slayers have a chance of starting the game with a crossbow and bolts.


In GruntHack, crossbows fire bolts at a set range regardless of strength, and require high strength for multishot.


In dNetHack, all gnomish characters in roles that start with a bow and arrows are given a crossbow and bolts, and all gnomes get an extra die of weapon damage when firing bolts from crossbows.

Each shot from a crossbow applies a 3x damage bonus based on current skill level: -5 at Restricted, -2 at Unskilled, +0 at Basic, +2 at Skilled and +5 at Expert. Higher skill levels also apply damage increases for each fired bolt instead of multishot:

  • Basic or lower: 1x(bolt+enchantment) damage
  • Skilled: 2x(bolt+enchantment) damage
  • Expert: 3x(bolt+enchantment) damage

The extra damage is precision-based and does not apply against monsters that are amorphous or stationary, or ones that are incorporeal (as they are assumed to lack discernible weak-points).

Some artifacts, usually artifact crossbows, have various effects related to crossbow bolts:

  • Hellfire causes bolts that it fires to explode in a 3x3 radius for 6d6 fire damage if they hit a monster, consuming the bolts in the process.
  • The Unstoppable causes fired bolts to pierce through hostile monsters on hit, and bolts that miss will continue flying until they hit a wall.
  • Wrathful Spider fires 1d8 bolts in a single volley: each bolt gains 12 of the normal damage bonus, bringing the total damage of a volley to twice the base damage in practice. (As with normal projectiles, using the number prefix via n when shooting can control the maximum amount of bolts in a volley.)
  • The Rogue Gear-spirits fires two crossbow bolts at minimum instead of one, and will automatically create and fire +0 crossbow bolts if there is no ammo quivered.
  • Sansara Mirror grants doubled multishot with any projectile, including crossbow bolts fired from a crossbow, whhile it is wielded or in the off-hand - this does not stack with the effect of The Rogue Gear-spirits.


In SpliceHack, merfolk characters in roles that would start the game with a bow and arrows receive a crossbow and bolts instead.


In EvilHack, bolt traps appear in the dungeon that can be untrapped to obtain their crossbow bolts.

Gnomish Rangers have their quest artifact changed to The Crossbow of Carl, an artifact crossbow that mirrors The Longbow of Diana and can be invoked to create crossbow bolts - this allows them to preserve their multishot bonuses and maintain a supply of bolts.

Crossbow bolts can be used to create many items at a forge:

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (EvilHack). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

In EvilHack 0.9.0, The Crossbow of Carl is also the Hobbit Ranger quest artifact.


In SlashTHEM, in addition to SLASH'EM details, Warriors start each game with a +1 crossbow and a stack of +0 crossbow bolts; Undead Slayers now have a 12 chance of starting with a crossbow and some bolts.

Player monster undead slayers and gnomish player monsters that are not cavepeople are likely to generate with a crossbow and some bolts.