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
Weight 10
Material mineral
For the dungeon feature, see Solid rock.

A rock is a common type of stackable stone that appears in Nethack. You can use them as a projectile weapon by throwing them or firing them from a wielded sling; slung rocks can also be multishot. They are considered to be made of mineral, and have no resale value in shops.

Generation

The Caveman role starts with 18-33 rocks to use as sling ammo.[1]

In addition to random generation, rocks can be found or made in various circumstances:

  • The falling rock trap will drop a rock on the head of whatever triggers it, dealing 2d6 damage; a metal helm heavily reduces damage.

Strategy

Rocks are incredibly commonplace, and can accordingly be put to several uses by players.

Combat

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 option 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 options are found, the rocks can safely be disposed of as junk.

Other uses for rocks

The stone to flesh spell turns rocks into meatballs, which 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, and polypiling 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%.

Rocks themselves can be polypiled into valuable gems for various uses, from selling to jewelers to maximizing Luck with unicorns, or to haul them with you during the ascension run for a much higher score (with one example being DeathOnAStick's infamous gem-farming ascension attempt).

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.

History

Rocks as items are introduced in Hack 1.0. Prior to this, early versions of hack121 and PDP-11, variants of Jay Fenlason's Hack, did not have rocks - they instead used various types of "bullets", specifically sling bullets.

Variants

UnNetHack

In UnNetHack, various rocks appear on both variants of the Ruins of Moria's last floor. The intact variant has 21 rocks within the Twenty-First Hall, along with a flint stone and a lembas wafer; the "ruined" variant instead has the first versions statue's shattered into piles of rocks, and other rock piles are scattered across the map.

SlashTHEM

In SlashTHEM, lithivores can consume rocks, and they consider it a treat similarly to carnivorous pets and meatballs.

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 ]

References