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Projectiles are any objects thrown or kicked by you or a monster, or shot with a launcher. Related but separate are ranged weapons, which are weapons monsters will attack you with from a distance.

To throw a projectile you can either throw t it, or quiver Q a stack of it and then fire f from that stack. There is no bonus or penalty for using the fire command; it is merely a convenience. (Gold is an exception.)

The autoquiver option can make firing simpler and works only with f.

A greased projectile has a chance of slipping when thrown or fired. A cursed projectile may also slip or misfire.

Thrown objects

Any item can be thrown (and thus be considered a projectile) if the entity throwing it is strong enough. Use the throw command to provide a list of readily-thrown items. You can expand this list to include your entire inventory by pressing *.

Some objects however are designed to be thrown:

The artifact weapon Mjollnir requires a strength of 25 to throw.[1] If thrown by a Valkyrie, it will usually return to her hand.[2] If that fails or if you are blind, fumbling, confused, stunned, or hallucinating[3][4] Mjollnir falls at your feet or you get hit.

These objects are unaffected by the use of a launcher.

Launchers and their ammunitions

Other objects, called ammunition projectiles, or shot projectiles, are designed to be used with a launcher.

Launchers and their ammunitions
Launcher Ammunition allowed

To get the most out of the ammunition projectiles, you need to wield w the corresponding launcher before attempt to shoot the projectiles. Then you may throw t or quiver Q and fire f them just as you would the thrown projectiles.

These shot projectiles can also be thrown in the absence of a launcher, but they will be less effective.


Some projectiles are at risk of breakage if they score a hit:

Blessing these projectiles lowers the chance of them breaking by an amount that depends on your luck. Enchanting them also reduces this chance. Stones and gems cannot be enchanted, but if they are blessed they will benefit from the reduced chance of breaking due to luck.

The chance of breakage can be calculated as follows:

  1. Compute chance = 3 + erosion - enchantment, where erosion is 3 if thoroughly eroded, 2 if very eroded, 1 if just eroded, and 0 otherwise. If the projectile has both types of erosion for its material, use the greater erosion only; erosions do not stack.
  2. If chance is at least 2, the projectile has a (chance-1)/chance chance of breakage. Otherwise, it has a 1/4 chance.
  3. If the projectile is blessed, it further decreases the chance of breaking, dependent on the character's luck. [5] Multiply the value from step 2 by the value from the table below. The result is the total chance of the projectile breaking.
Luck Range Exact Value[6] Average Value
-13 to -3 \frac{203 - 4 \cdot Luck}{204 - 4 \cdot Luck} 0.996
-2 to 2 \frac{3}{4} 0.750
3 to 5 \frac{103 - 2 \cdot Luck}{204 - 4 \cdot Luck} 0.505
6 to 8 \frac{53 - Luck}{204 - 4 \cdot Luck} 0.261
9 to 13 \frac{3}{204 - 4 \cdot Luck} 0.019

Potions may break when thrown. (See Potion.)

Other thrown objects, e.g., daggers, spears, javelins, and knives cannot break.


Multiple daggers, darts, shuriken, arrows, crossbow bolts, gems, rocks, and gray stones can be fired or thrown in one turn.

(See Multishot.)

Launchers and missiles in melee

If a launcher (bow, sling, or crossbow), a launcher's ammo (arrow, bolt, etc.), or a missile (boomerang, shuriken, dart) is used in melee, only 1d2 damage is usually done (regardless of enchantment), and the skill will not be trained.[7]


All forms of arrows, as well as darts, crossbow bolts, shuriken, boomerangs, and rocks may be wished for up to 20 at a time. Gems and gray stones cannot be wished for in this way. (Note that this is generally not an effective use of wishes.)

(See Wishing#Wishing_for_quantities.)


In fact, anything can be used as a projectile. Cockatrice eggs make popular missiles, and so do various potions. (Bashing monsters with a wielded one is more likely to score a hit, and will not petrify you.)

Projectiles are good for softening targets from afar. Almost anything can even be shot and thrown past boulders, which is often advantageous in Sokoban.

Exception: When you are levitating, you cannot throw arrows or crossbow bolts past boulders unless you are wielding the appropriate launcher.

You can throw almost anything at floating eyes or other enemies with only a passive attack (even your primary weapon, just be careful) if you lack the resistances needed to attack them in melee.

To exercise your skill with a projectile weapon designed to be thrown or shot from a launcher, you must throw t or fire f it and successfully hit an enemy, dealing at least 1 damage. Spears, javelins, and daggers are the exception, those skills are also exercised by wielding the weapon and striking foes in melee.

This page is a stub. Should you wish to do so, you can contribute by expanding this page.

A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"Something should be added, at least about skills. Exactly how does enhancing skill effect missile use? Does the damage you deal when wielding an arrow increase with higher bow skill? Perhaps the strategy section could feature more inter-missile comparisons?"


  1. dothrow.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 85
  2. dothrow.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1021
  3. dothrow.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 867
  4. dothrow.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1026
  5. dothrow.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1522: Breakage: Blessed projectiles
  6. rnd.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 38: Breakage: Luck
  7. uhitm.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 568

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-360}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.