Expensive camera

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( Expensive camera.png
Name expensive camera
Appearance expensive camera
Base price 200 zm
Weight 12
Material plastic
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

An expensive camera is a type of tool that appears in Nethack. It is fragile and made of plastic.


Randomly generated expensive cameras are always uncursed, with 30 to 99 charges.

All Tourists start the game with an expensive camera.


When applied in the direction of a monster that has eyes, the flash of an expensive camera (whose beam is represented by !) will blind that monster, as well as typically scaring it - applying a cursed camera has a 50% chance of blinding you for 1d25 turns instead when applied. Applying a camera at a sleeping monster will wake it up with no further effects.[1] Gremlins will take d4 damage from the flash, and cannot die as a result of this damage.[2] Applying the camera at yourself with . will blind yourself for up to 25 turns.[3]

Affected monsters that are adjacent are blinded permanently, while monsters that are farther away are blinded for up to 13 turns, depending on the distance.[4] Monsters hit by the flash will also flee with a 34 chance, provided they are not shopkeepers and no more than 2 squares away from you.[5]

If wielded and used to attack, the expensive camera will break and do no damage; it shares this property with the cream pie.[6] Breaking a camera in any way has a 13 chance of releasing a "picture-painting demon", which will be a homunculus 23 of the time and an imp the remaining 13 - the resulting demon will be peaceful unless the camera is cursed.[7]

Applying an unpaid expensive camera induces a 10% usage fee. Like most other tools, a camera has no limit on charging.


An expensive camera is a solid escape item and scaring tool, and is the only known item that can cause the Riders to flee from you. Cameras are also the only way to permanently blind a monster, which is useful if you need it alive, but are unable to render it peaceful and don't want it to chase you (often the case with foocubi) – remember that blinded hostile monsters will not respect Elbereth and may still attack you in melee while fleeing, particularly in closed spaces where they may not be able to get clear of you.

If you find an expensive camera early in the game before you have a blindfold, it can be a viable method for blinding yourself, e.g. in order to use your intrinsic telepathy, or to avoid the longer blinding from a yellow light when it explodes (which blinds you for 10d20 turns); it can also be used to blind yourself and safely attack a floating eye in melee. You could blind the floating eye with the camera instead: although there is a 0.2% chance of losing a point of Luck for attacking a blinded eye, this happens so rarely that it is not a significant risk. The risk of accidentally blinding yourself with a cursed camera is usually only a concern for cameras found in bones piles.

You can use a camera to wake up a sleeping monster, including your pet, making it useful for Knights in particular; this does not work on paralyzed monsters, and should be avoided around rooms of monster that you don't want to wake up prematurely, e.g. in barracks. Pacifist and illiterate conduct players will appreciate having an expensive camera to scare monsters, as will players attempting a protection racket.


The expensive camera first appears in Hack 1.0, introduced as part of the Tourist role's starting inventory and the TOURIST compile-time option.


The "picture-painting demon" generated from a broken camera is based on how cameras work in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels.


You succeed in destroying the expensive camera. Congratulations!
You broke a wielded expensive camera by attacking a monster with it.
The picture-painting demon is released!
You generated an imp or homunculus by breaking an expensive camera.


Many variants incorporate the advent calendar room, which may have an expensive camera as the Christmas present in the 24th room.


In SpliceHack, Cartomancers know the expensive camera as a holographic card. Their quest nemesis, Dal Zethire, also generates with an expensive camera.


SlashTHEM incorporates the photography patch created by Nephi, allowing you to take photographs of various things and store them in a photo album.

Graduates start the game with an expensive camera.