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"Searching" redirects here. For the property, see Automatic searching.
Keyboard commands
~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ = +
Q W E R T Y U I O P { } |
q w e r t y u i o p [ ] \
A S D F G H J K L : "
a s d f g h j k l ; '
Z X C V B N M < > ?
z x c v b n m , . /
q w e r t u i o p Alt
a s d f j l Alt
c v n m ? Alt
A C R T O Alt
a c d o p r t [ Ctrl

The search command, which is used by pressing the s key, causes you to search the 8 squares surrounding you for secret doors, secret passages, hidden monsters, and hidden traps. It may require several attempts to locate many of these: New characters still have a 22% chance of missing a door after 10 times searching the same spot. Applying a stethoscope instead can speed up things significantly.

Searching will always reveal hidden or invisible monsters which are in any square adjacent to you.

Your chance of success for other forms of searching is primarily dependent on Luck.

Wielding Excalibur improves your chance of finding secret doors and secret corridors based on its enchantment. Wearing any sort of lenses also improves your chance of finding these.

No other factors affect the success rate of searching.

The automatic searching property will cause you to automatically search (just like using the command, except that it does not find monsters) every turn. Some roles can gain this as an intrinsic, and it is granted by wielding Excalibur or wearing a ring of searching.


For source reference, see dosearch0 in detect.c.

Secret doors and passages

When searching, you will find a secret door or corridor if rnl(7 − bonus) is zero.

The bonus is normally 0, but wearing a pair of lenses increases it by 2, and Excalibur adds its enchantment to the bonus when wielded. (This is a penalty if Excalibur is negatively enchanted.) The bonus cannot exceed 5.


When searching, you will find a trap if rnl(8) is zero. This will activate statue traps (exercising wisdom) and reveal other traps.


Your chances of searching success based on your current Luck and whether you are using any equipment which aids searching.

Luck Traps Secret doors & corridors
Normal Lenses +5 Excalibur
≤ −3 <0.24% <0.27% <0.38% <0.94%
−2 to 2 12% 14% 20% 50%
3 to 5 25% 28% 40% 99%
6 to 8 37% 42% 59% 99%
9 to 11 49% 56% 78% 99%
12 to 13 61% 70% 98% 99%

To find a given trap or secret door, the number of trials to be 95% certain of success:

Luck Traps Secret doors & corridors
Normal Lenses +5 Excalibur
≤ −3 >1247 >1108 >787 >317
−2 to 2 23.43 19.86 13.43 4.32
3 to 5 10.41 9.12 5.86 1
6 to 8 6.48 5.5 3.36 1
9 to 11 4.45 3.65 1.98 1
12 to 13 3.18 2.49 1 1


Searching in FIQHack functions in a considerably different way than in vanilla NetHack. In FIQHack, searching may detect secret doors, secret passages, and hidden traps up to 5 tiles away. With non-negative luck, searching will always reveal any hidden doors or passages that are adjacent to you, but the effectiveness decreases as the distance from the player increases.

Base search formula: x20 × 2(distance − 1) capped at 5 tiles away (x320, i.e. 116 with the base search rate)

x is 20 + Luck + (ring enchantment × 5), plus 5 with lenses. This value is no lower than 1 and has no maximum.

If this check passes, doors and corridors will always be revealed, meaning at base Luck and no negatively enchanted rings of searching, you will always find secret doors and corridors. Traps must, in addition to this, pass another check: x6, where x is 1 normally or 2 + ring enchantment with the extrinsic searching.

Automatic searching no longer always happens. The autosearch rate is 13 with the intrinsic, or 3 + total ring enchantment6 of the time with the extrinsic. With a ring of searching enchanted to +2 or greater, you will usually detect traps before stepping on them, reducing your need to search manually.

At +3 ring enchantment with base Luck, you find traps 56 of the time when next to it (and about half the time you'll spot a trap two tiles away). At +4 and base Luck, you will always find traps next to you; further enchantment only helps you detect hidden and secret things from a greater distance.

Finding hidden monsters works exactly the same as in vanilla. Automatic searching will not help you find hidden monsters, nor will they be revealed further away than next to you.

An object with the searching object property does not gain additional effectiveness from enchantment, but merely grants the automatic searching extrinsic. They do, however, still gain the benefit of having extrinsic automatic searching rather than intrinsic, meaning it procs more often and finds trap more realibly (searches half of the time instead of 13, and find traps 13 of the time rather than 16).

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.0. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-360}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.