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A pit ^ is a hole in the ground that does not lead to the next level. This type of trap opens up and becomes visible when you walk over it. Falling into it causes 1d6 damage and will also abuse strength and dexterity. They require 3-7 turns to "climb to the edge" and escape. While in the pit, any light source you are carrying will not travel beyond the walls of the pit. There is a to-hit bonus when attacking trapped monsters and a penalty for trapped attackers. Flying or levitation can be used to cross a pit without falling in it. Falling into a pit as a pit fiend or a pit viper will generate YAFM.

Some traps that appear to be pit traps are actually spiked pits.

Pits can be removed by pushing a boulder into them. Any item the boulder covers will remain undisturbed by monsters until you dig it up again or it rots away.


Pits may be randomly generated at any dungeon level. Pits can be generated anywhere traps are generated except that they cannot be generated beneath a boulder.[1]

You can dig down with a pick-axe (or zap a wand of digging down on a undiggable floor) to create a pit on the square you are standing on. You can also create pits by applying a wand of digging or a charged drum of earthquake, which will create pits around you.

Pits that you create are nearly the same as randomly generated pits, except that they are recorded as being created by you.


Monsters (including your pets) can be rescued from a pit trap using the #untrap extended command. If successful, lawfuls have a chance (5-15%) the monster is made peaceful.

If the pet "backs away skeptically", try repeating the #untrap command several times. If your pet cannot go anywhere for lack of space, as in the Sokoban pits, it's likely to immediately fall back into the pit, possibly killing it. This does not break pacifist conduct or anger your god, as killing your pet by displacing it into the pit would.

Some monsters may be too heavy to rescue from a pit, but the attempt to untrap them may still calm down the trapped monster.

"The dwarf falls into a pit!"
"You reach for the dwarf. The dwarf is grateful!"
"The ogre lord is too heavy for you to lift. The ogre lord thinks it was nice of you to try."

Burying objects

If you drop something into a pit, and then plug the pit with a boulder, the objects become buried. While totally inaccessible to monsters, this is not a good stashing method: Organic materials (including large boxes etc) will rot away within 250 turns, and you would need a new boulder for each access. Sometimes, the gold and gems created by the game in solid rock are buried - if you used some form of object detection or gold detection and found that the gold or gem symbols disappeared upon digging your way adjacent to them, they're buried and you need to dig a pit in that location to retrieve them.


Pits can be useful for hunting unicorns, for controlling aligned priest and shopkeeper movement even if angry‚ and to make Fort Ludios soldiers easier to kill right at the choke point.

Pits can be deadly, especially for little dogs and kittens.

Pits and stairs down are the prime reason why you always levitate while wielding cockatrice corpses.

Trying to create pits with a pickaxe or by zapping wands of digging will not destroy altars. But pits created by applying a wand of digging or a charged drum of earthquake will destroy altars if present.

Monsters that die from your pits will earn you experience (and break pacifist) only if you create a pit right under them (by applying a wand of digging or charged drum of earthquake) or if you displace them in.

The Mine Town watchman and other peacefuls will get angry if they fall into your pits. It doesn't matter what was on the square before you dug the pit, so if you dig a pit to disarm another trap (rust, fire, ...) they will get angry anyway.

Pits and boulders aren't a good stashing method because boulders are in limited supply, and organic items left underground will rot (completely rots away like a corpse rather than normal erosion),[2] including large boxes and chests.

Items lost in pits represent a real problem for SLASH'EM vampires: due to their innate flying ability, the cannot simply pick them up. One solution is to wear a ring of levitation and to apply a bullwhip down.

Encyclopedia entry

Amid the thought of the fiery destruction that impended, the
idea of the coolness of the well came over my soul like balm.
I rushed to its deadly brink. I threw my straining vision
below. The glare from the enkindled roof illumined its inmost
recesses. Yet, for a wild moment, did my spirit refuse to
comprehend the meaning of what I saw. At length it forced --
it wrestled its way into my soul -- it burned itself in upon my
shuddering reason. Oh! for a voice to speak! -- oh! horror! --
oh! any horror but this!

[ The Pit and the Pendulum, by Edgar Allan Poe ]


  1. mklev.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1251: List of traps that cannot be generated underneath a boulder.
  2. dig.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1324

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.1.

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.