Drum of earthquake

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( Drum.png
Name drum of earthquake
Appearance drum
Base price 25 zm
Weight 25
Material leather
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

A drum of earthquake is a magical drum. Drums of earthquake are atonal musical instruments, so they cannot be used to play the passtune.


It is generated with 4-8 charges.[1]


Size of pits and anger area.

Numbers: minimum experience level to affect that spot.

Red: 1-9, blue 10-19, green 20-29

Applying a charged drum of earthquake will create several pits around and possibly under you, anger nearby peaceful monsters, and wake up (and possibly scare) all monsters on the level.[2][3] This will "produce a heavy, thunderous rolling!" A drum with no charges behaves like a leather drum.

The power of this item increases massively as you level up[4]; at XL 30 it will create large fields of pits, as opposed to just a few around you.

The pits created by a drum of earthquake can destroy altars, even on undiggable dungeon levels. Besides breaking a wand of digging, this is the only way to destroy the unaligned altars in the Valley of the Dead and Orcus-town. The high altars in Moloch's Sanctum and the Astral Plane are unaffected.

All monsters on the level are unfrozen, monsters within 23.7 Euclidean distance will flee if they don't resist, and monsters within a 4*((u.ulevel - 1) / 3 + 1)+1 wide square centered on you will become hostile. In this square area you create pits. The Wizard of Yendor and other monsters "waiting for you" are activated only in the square area.


The drum of earthquake is a quirky item, to say the least. Its results are not unambiguously bad, but it is still hard to come up with good uses for it. Apart from breaking a wand of digging, it is perhaps the only item in the game capable of opening pits under squares the character is not currently standing on, but the number and distribution of the pits is randomized, so it can not be used to open a pit on a specific square. Perhaps some future genius will work out a brilliant drum of earthquake-based strategy that dominates the game, but until that happens, here are some ideas:

  • It may remotely wake up monsters. Uses for this include:
    • Attracting the rogue quest nemesis (stand at the bottom right square of the left segment of the level, and as long as you are at least level 13 the assassin should wake up).
    • Perhaps the most useful application is to use it to awaken the Wizard of Yendor without having to do the Wizard's Tower.
    • In SLASH'EM, it can wake up Vlad the Impaler, to get the Candelabrum without the alignment keys.
  • Shake hidden monsters off the ceiling
  • Trap monsters in a pit(maybe) and pound them with a polearm or fire missiles at them in relative safety.
  • If levitating, create an obstacle course to slow monsters pursuing you.
  • Save it for polypiling; the drum is a magical tool, and may turn into a magic marker.
  • Unblock some Sokoban boulders if the scroll of earth you read was not cursed after all.
  • Unload it in Moloch's Sanctum after grabbing the Amulet. Satisfying, but not really helpful in game terms.
  • At a high level, it can be useful to immobilize most non-flying monsters on a level, for instance the aligned priests and player monsters on the Astral Plane.
  • If a monster is wielding a footrice corpse, the monster's fall into a pit will result in the monster being stoned instead of you.

Be very careful using this item on levels that contain peaceful monsters you don't want to provoke. In particular, creating an earthquake in Minetown or on the quest home level is a very bad idea.


Main article: Leather drum

It can also be used as an ordinary leather drum: to awaken sleeping monsters from a distance, or to gain rogues' backstab damage. For example, it will awaken the Chromatic Dragon on the Caveman quest without requiring the player to leave the downstairs square. The aesthetic effect of using a drum of earthquake for this particular task (opening perhaps dozens of pits on a large, open level) is also quite pleasing. The Wizard of Yendor will also spare you some digging if summoned this way.

Pacifist players will probably empty this instrument in a safe area because they would risk breaking conduct by opening chasms under monsters. As a leather drum, it is great for unfreezing pets that have attacked a floating eye.

Encyclopaedia entry

Many travelers have seen the drums of the great apes, and
some have heard the sounds of their beating and the noise of
the wild, weird revelry of these first lords of the jungle,
but Tarzan, Lord Greystoke, is, doubtless, the only human
being who ever joined in the fierce, mad, intoxicating revel
of the Dum-Dum.

[ Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs ]


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