Scroll of earth

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? Scroll.png
Name earth
Appearance random
Base price 200 zm
Weight 5
Ink to write 4–7
Monster use May be used offensively by monsters.

A scroll of earth is a type of scroll the appears in NetHack. It creates boulders when read.

Generation

The first level of Sokoban always has two guaranteed scrolls of earth in the lower-left corner.

Effects

Reading an uncursed scroll of earth will create 9 boulders - 8 around the reader and one on top of their head. A blessed scroll will create 8 boulders around the player without dropping one on them, and a cursed scroll will create a single boulder over the character's head. If there is a wall where a boulder would normally fall, that boulder will not be created. The scroll has no effect on the Rogue level and the Elemental Planes, except for the Plane of Earth.[1] Reading a scroll of earth on a Sokoban level before solving that floor will decrease your Luck by 1.[2][3]

A boulder that falls on a monster's head does 1d20 points of damage - if they are wearing a hard helmet, it bounces off and deals just 2 points of damage. A scroll of earth does no damage to amorphous, phasing, noncorporeal, and unsolid monsters.[4]

Intelligent monsters can read this scroll for offensive purposes, but will only read them 10% of the time unless they would be unaffected by the boulders, or else are wearing a hard helmet. Monsters will not read the scroll in the above areas where the scroll has no effect.[5]

If read while confused, the scroll will create rocks instead of boulders, using the same pattern based on the beatitude of the scroll.

Strategy

The scroll of earth can be used to create a "boulder fort". This is a relatively safe way to deal with a dangerous monster or horde of monsters - monsters will not be able to attack a player they cannot see, and the boulders prevent most monsters from approaching them. While within this "fort", the player can use telepathy to detect them and attack with missile weapons and spells. Be careful of force bolts and striking wands, as they will destroy boulders.

Alternately, you can use the boulders to create your own choke point by carefully moving a single boulder to allow only one monster through. This is best done on a staircase, a scroll of scare monster and/or a permanent Elbereth square to allow a means of escape if things go poorly. You can also use the boulders to block off up stairs or ladders to prevent demon lords and other covetous monsters from warping and fleeing to another floor.

Scrolls of earth can be used to fill trapdoors, holes, and moats - if you lack a source of levitation, this can be another way to cross large bodies of water, such as Medusa's Island or the moat at the Castle. While you can use them to fill the Castle trap doors, keep in mind that filling all of them means you would need to dig one out again to reach Gehennom.

Sokoban

The scrolls of earth found in Sokoban are intended as backups in case boulders are destroyed or additional pits/holes need to be filled, and can be used to informally identify any other scrolls you may have picked up previously. Remember that reading any scroll of earth on an unsolved level will incur a Luck penalty, and try to identify their beatitude beforehand if possible - for example, a blessed scroll will leave more boulders free to move, and there are situations where a single boulder from a cursed scroll is preferable. You may also want to position yourself before reading depending on how many boulders are actually needed.

Breaking boulders on unsolved levels also incurs a Luck penalty - as such, try not to let any intelligent monsters (e.g., nymphs) steal and use scrolls of earth in Sokoban, or you may be forced to repair your Luck and their mess. Thankfully, since monsters will hesitate to read the scroll unless they have a hard helm, you will usually be able kill them fast enough.

UnNetHack

In UnNetHack's black market, scrolls of earth have no effect 50% of the time.

References