Rock

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* Rock.png
Name rock
Appearance rock
Damage vs. small 1d3
Damage vs. large 1d3
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill sling
Size one-handed
Base price 0 zm
(+10/positive
enchant)
Weight 10
Material mineral
For the dungeon feature, see Solid rock.

The rock is a common item in Nethack that is often used as a projectile weapon. You can throw it by hand, or by wielding a sling and then throwing or firing the rock; rocks can also be multishot. They have no resale value in shops.

Rocks, flint stones and luckstones are also generalized and referred to as "stones" by the game, especially in messages indicating a pet has dropped one.

History

In the early versions of hack121 and PDP-11, rocks were instead called "bullets", as a reference to sling bullets, which are much more aerodynamically rounded. In Hack 1.0, the literal rock was added, alongside the "sling bullet."

In NetHack 3.0.0, the sling bullet was removed, and its description changed to the somewhat more sensible "flint stone", to imply a much more general case. It was furthermore removed from the weapon class in inventory, and instead moved to the "stones" category.

Strategy

As weapons, rocks are the most accessible means of dealing with enemies from a distance in the early game. Even without a sling, they can provide a useful alternative against sessile or slow-moving foes with dangerous melee or passive attacks, such as molds, floating eyes and jellies. This is especially useful for spellcasting characters (e.g. wizards) aiming to preserve their magic power for other purposes, or else any character lacking a viable choice or looking to preserve better weapons (such as daggers or darts). The player can carry as many as they deem necessary without encumbering themselves; once no longer needed or more reliable projectiles and/or ranged items are found, the rocks can safely be disposed of as junk.

Obtaining rocks

The most reliable form of obtaining rocks is to use digging tools, a wand of striking or a force bolt spell on a statue or boulder, shattering them into several rocks; rocks can be produced by various other measures as well. Using a cockatrice corpse on Tiny-size enemies to stone them will produce some rocks instead of a statue. Destroying a clay golem will cause its body to collapse into several rocks as well. A scroll of earth will produce 2-6 rocks per applicable space instead of boulders if read while confused.

A falling rock trap will cause a rock to fall and hit you on the head for 2d6 damage, which can prove fatal to you and your pet in the early game; wearing an iron helm will reduce it to a flat 2 damage. The trap will continue to dispense rocks until empty, signified by nothing falling out. Zapping a wand of digging or casting the spell of dig upwards can also cause a rock to fall on your head. Tunneling monsters will leave rocks behind when they dig around the level, and metallivores will produce rocks sometimes after eating metallic objects.

Other uses for rocks

With a stone to flesh spell, rocks can be turned into meatballs; this is the only other way to do so besides casting the spell at a Tiny-sized statue. Meatballs can be used to train the apport of a carnivorous or omnivorous pet; polymorphing meatballs via the wand or spell can easily create enough food to last the entire game — the odds of getting one or more food items with at least 100 nutrition from a non-shuddering polymorph is 48.3%. As starvation is mostly a threat only in the early game and usually only until Sokoban, this is generally only useful if a wand of polymorph be found early, food is particularly rare, or a player is maintaining specific conducts (where vegan extinctionist is a particularly gruesome combination). It can also be used to lower encumbrance from carrying food if the polymorph produces a sizable stack of lembas wafers.

In SLASH'EM Extended, lithivores can consume rocks and consider it a treat, similarly to carnivorous pets and meatballs.

Origin

Bullets of clay and stone

The simple stone is one of the oldest projectile weapons in all history. Their size varied greatly, from no larger than a mere pebble to fist-sized stones weighing a pound or more. In the hands of a skilled slinger, these stones could be hurled upwards of 400 meters (1300 feet), at speeds of 250 miles per hour[1], and can deliver as much as 3.6 kilonewtons of force[2]. Sling bullets would frequently be salvaged from river depths, where the rushing water would slowly shape the stone round. Some would be purpose-made from clay, often imparting far more consistency and quality.

Encyclopedia entry

Bilbo saw that the moment had come when he must do something.
 He could not get up at the brutes and he had nothing to shoot
 with; but looking about he saw that in this place there were
 many stones lying in what appeared to be a now dry little
 watercourse. Bilbo was a pretty fair shot with a stone, and
 it did not take him long to find a nice smooth egg-shaped one
 that fitted his hand cosily. As a boy he used to practise
 throwing stones at things, until rabbits and squirrels, and
 even birds, got out of his way as quick as lightning if they
 saw him stoop; and even grownup he had still spent a deal of
 his time at quoits, dart-throwing, shooting at the wand,
 bowls, ninepins and other quiet games of the aiming and
 throwing sort - indeed he could do lots of things, besides
 blowing smoke-rings, asking riddles and cooking, that I
 haven't time to tell you about. There is no time now. While
 he was picking up stones, the spider had reached Bombur, and
 soon he would have been dead. At that moment Bilbo threw.
 The stone struck the spider plunk on the head, and it dropped
 senseless off the tree, flop to the ground, with all its legs
 curled up.
        [ The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien ]

Reference

  1. http://www.slinging.org/
  2. Ancient Discoveries: Lost Science of the Bible

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It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

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