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- For the dungeon feature, see Solid rock.
A rock is a common type of stone that appears in Nethack. It is a stackable stone that can be used a projectile weapon by throwing them or firing them from a wielded sling; slung rocks can also be multishot. Rocks are made of mineral, and have no resale value in shops.
In addition to random generation, rocks can be found or made in various circumstances:
- Hitting statues and boulders with digging tools, a wand of striking or a force bolt spell will shatter them into several rocks.
- Using a footrice corpse or egg for stoning tiny-sized monsters produces rocks instead of a statue. Hitting a footrice with an egg will turn it into a rock.
- Clay golems leave behind several rocks as a special death drop instead of a corpse.
- The falling rock trap will drop a rock on the head of whatever triggers it, dealing 2d6 damage; a metal helm heavily reduces damage.
- Reading a scroll of earth while confused will cause several rocks to fall, with the patterns being the same as a normal scroll of earth dependent on its beatitude.
- Zapping a ray from the wand of digging or dig spell upwards can cause a rock to fall on your head.
- Tunneling monsters leave rocks behind as they dig around the level, and metallivores sometimes produce rocks after eating metallic objects.
Rocks are incredibly commonplace, and can accordingly be put to several uses by players.
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.
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.
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.
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 ]