Leather drum

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

A leather drum is an atonal musical instrument, so it cannot be used to play the passtune. It is one of the two drums. When played, you will "beat a deafening row!" Applying a leather drum (or a depleted drum of earthquake) will awaken and scare nearby monsters – including pets – and abuse your wisdom.[1][2] You will also become deaf for 30-49 (more) turns. Monsters are awakened if their distance to you is at most 6.3 times the square root of your level, and are scared (if not resisted) if their distance to you is at most 3.65 times the root of your level. They have the usual resistance roll against the scare effect. But even fleeing monsters are reluctant to retrace their steps.[3] In a corridor, they will often get stuck between you and the square they came from -- and continue attacking you.[4]


The leather drum is not especially useful for most players, who will probably discard it or stash it for later polypiling, hoping for a more valuable tool.

A drum can become useful on the Plane of Air to scare away air elementals. If applied every few steps or when an elemental begins to approach, it is possible to avoid being engulfed most of the time. And if engulfed, continued beating of the drum will cause them to expel you and flee, although it may take several applications.

One role that may find it worthwhile to carry is the Knight, as it can be used to awaken sleeping monsters and avoid an alignment penalty (it's still not the best tool for this job, as lighter and/or tonal instruments are also available). Since using it abuses wisdom, you might want to either restore stats lost to abuse with a unicorn horn, or engrave a few Elbereth to compensate the wisdom abuse (effective only if your stats are very low).

Rogues may also find it useful, as they get bonus damage against fleeing monsters and it is easier to scare a large number of monsters with a drum than to engrave Elbereth against each one.

Illiterate heros can use a drum or horn as an Elbereth replacement, at least in open rooms. The drum has a somewhat larger range (and a bit more weight) than a tooled horn and is applied directly without having to answer a tonal "Improvise? (y/n)" query.

The drum is a valuable item for pacifist players, as it can cause monsters that have engulfed you to spit you out. It will also scare monsters that do not respect Elbereth and unfreeze 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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