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Shopkeepers tend shops. They are relatively tough for low level characters and therefore excel at preventing shoplifting.

Shopkeepers are generated with (1000 + 30*d100) zorkmids,[1] a skeleton key, and some or all of a wand of striking, a potion of healing, a potion of extra healing, and a wand of magic missile (a d4 is rolled and that many items are generated starting from the beginning of that list).[2] Jewelers (shopkeepers of ring stores) also get a touchstone.[3]

Should a character die in the hands of a shopkeeper, or be killed while there's an angry shopkeeper around, any possible bones files will be generated with the player's grave empty - the possessions are all transported to the store and inherited by the shopkeeper, who must be pacified to safely search the loot.

For chaotic human players shopkeepers have a strategic value in that they are one of the few sources of human corpses in the early levels, which can be used by chaotic humans to automatically convert an altar.

Ways to kill shopkeepers easily

There are some ways to kill shopkeepers very easily, even when you have only a low level character. By killing shopkeepers early in the game, you're able to get a lot of money.

One possibility is that you have a cloak of magic resistance (e.g. if you start as a wizard) or an amulet of reflection and get invisible inside the shop (by putting on a ring of invisibility, drinking a potion of invisibility, wearing a cloak of invisibility, or taking off mummy wrapping if you have permanent invisibility). The shopkeeper will not leave his position in front of the door while he can't see you. Now you're able to attack the shopkeeper easily by ranged attacks (e.g. spells, wands, launchers, darts etc.). Be aware that you might run out of projectiles or charges doing this, and if you are using spells, make sure to have sufficient food, particularly if you are low-level and/or using force bolt.

If you lack invisibility, you can also dig pits all around the shopkeeper. Shopkeepers won't move into pits and you can thus freely attack them at range. Note that this requires a container to smuggle a pick-axe inside the shop, or bouncing a spell off a wall from outside the shop, since the shopkeeper will try to keep out of direct zapping range. (As an aside, shops sometimes do sell pick-axes and dwarvish mattocks. They are handled just like every other item, except that you cannot carry one into the shop outside a bag, you get a message when un-bagging it, and the shopkeeper will catch any ones you throw in.)

Also, using a scroll of stinking cloud can be very effective, if you can have the cloud cover most if not all of the store, and close the door to prevent retaliation. Note that cursed scrolls may not do enough damage to kill the shopkeeper. Again, the shopkeeper will stand still as long as he can't see you. Beware healing potions unblinding him.

An easy way to kill shopkeepers is to zap them with a wand of polymorph. Often they will polymorph into a weak creature that is unable to zap wands against you. However, they can also polymorph into something that is much, much tougher than a shopkeeper, so keep that in mind. Be aware that due to their intrinsic MR they will resist roughly 50% of the time. Also, a shopkeeper will never respect Elbereth, even while polymorphed into something that normally would. Note that should you kill a polymorphed shopkeeper, no insult to your deity will occur thus it is the preferred method for Lawful characters.

Shopkeepers are quite vulnerable to death rays, although be aware they can still occasionally miss. If you find a base-cost 500 wand in a shop, it is either a wand of death or a wand of wishing. A wand of wishing can be used to wish for a wand of death, so either provides a means to kill the shopkeeper. (Of course, you should always wish for charging first if needed, or a marker if you have identified the scroll, regardless of whether you need a wand of death.)


The shopkeeper will greet you, and has a high tendency to chat with you.


"<Hello>, <playername>, Welcome to <shkname>'s <shoptype>."
You are entering the shop for the first time.
"<Hello>, <playername>, Welcome again to <shkname>'s <shoptype>."
You came for the second time (or more) inside the shop.
"<Hello> <playername>! I was looking for <otherplayer>."
This is a bones level, and the shopkeeper was upset with the player who died there.
<shkname> detects your presence. "Invisible customers are not welcome!"
You are invisible and the shopkeeper blocks the doorway.
"Will you please leave your pick-axe(s)/mattock(s)/digging tools outside?"
You are carrying a pick-axe or mattock and the shopkeeper blocks the doorway. This also identifies broad picks as dwarvish mattocks.[4]
"Will you please leave <your steed> outside?"
You are riding and the shopkeeper blocks the doorway.
<shkname> asks whether you've seen any untended shops recently.
This shopkeeper does not own any shop. One way to produce this situation is to "wish for a shopkeeper statue and then animate it".[5]

<Hello> is either Hello or Greetings. Knights are greeted instead with Salutations, Samurai with Irasshaimase, Tourists with Aloha, and Valkyries with Velkommen.[6]


"For you, <honorific> lady/sir/creature; only <price> for this <object>."
You picked up an item, and were told its price. <honorific> is either good, honored, most gracious or esteemed; if you have killed the Wizard or performed the Invocation, the shopkeeper may also refer to you as most renowned and sacred.[7]
"Thank you for shopping in <shkname>'s <shoptype>!"
You just bought one or more items.
"<objectname>, price <price>, an excellent choice/a real bargain/finest quality!"
You #chatted above a single object.
"Fine goods for sale: "
You #chatted over multiple objects. The objects will be displayed in a list, with their individual price at the right.
<shkname> complains about the problem of shoplifting.
You chatted to the shopkeeper, and he/she had nothing else to talk about. Izchak has some unique dialogue instead.
<shkname> complains that business is bad.
As above, but the shopkeeper has less than 50 gold.
<shkname> says that business is good.
As above, but the shopkeeper has more than 4000 gold.
"You sneaky cad/minx! Get out of here with that pick!
You hid a pick-axe or mattock in a container and carried it into the shop, then took it out.
<shkname> says "You be careful with my <object>"
You wielded <object>.

Izchak's lines

Izchak says: 'These shopping malls give me a headache.'
Izchak says: 'Slow down. Think clearly.'
Izchak says: 'You need to take things one at a time.'
Izchak says: 'I don't like poofy coffee... give me Columbian Supremo.'
Izchak says that getting the devteam's agreement on anything is difficult.
Izchak says that he has noticed those who serve their deity will prosper.
Izchak says: 'Don't try to steal from me - I have friends in high places!'
Izchak says: 'You may well need something from this shop in the future.'
Izchak comments about the Valley of the Dead as being a gateway.

When angry

Asidonhopo gets angry!

For unprepared characters, it is often best to appease an angry shopkeeper than try to fight. The following messages can give a clue as to the problem:

<shkname> mentions how much he/she dislikes non-paying customers.
You left a shop without paying. You can make payment by throwing money to the shopkeeper.
<shkname> mentions how much he/she dislikes rude customers.
You attacked the shopkeeper or damaged the shop walls or doors. You can pay 1000 zorkmids for a 2/3 chance of pacifying the shopkeeper.
"For you, scum ; only <price> for this <object>."
You picked up an item for sale. The shopkeeper will charge you extra.
<shkname> calms down.
The shopkeeper is peaceful again.
Satisfied, <shkname> suddenly disappears!
The shopkeeper is peaceful again, and instantly disappears back to his or her shop, wherever it was.
<shkname> is after blood, not money! Moreover, you seem to have no money.
An unhappy shopkeeper seeks to be repaid by you, but you have no gold visible.
"Thank you for your contribution to restock this recently plundered shop."
You drop gold (&/or other items?) in a shop robbed by the previous player on a ghost level, allowing you to exit the store (if sufficient gold was dropped?).


Messages will appear if you die or #quit while you are inside a shop, or while you are on the same level as an angry shopkeeper. Substitute the name of your shopkeeper for Shkname.

Shkname gratefully inherits all your possessions.
This happens when (quoting a comment in the source code) "you die in the shop, the shopkeeper is peaceful, nothing stolen, nothing owed."[8]
Shkname (wakes up and) (comes and) takes the <number> zorkmid(s) you owed him/her.
You owed the shopkeeper money but you were outside of the shop (you robbed the shopkeeper), but your purse contained enough gold pieces to compensate the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper takes the amount of the payment, but not anything else.
Shkname (wakes up and) (comes and) takes all your possessions."
Either the shopkeeper was angry at you, or you owed the shopkeeper more money than you had in your purse, or you owed the shopkeeper money and ended your game inside of that shopkeeper's shop.
Shkname (wakes up,) looks at your corpse, (shakes his/her head,) and disappears/sighs.
Another shopkeeper wanted to inherit your stuff, but the first shopkeeper already took everything. There is a 50% chance that the shopkeeper shakes his or her head. A shopkeeper "disappears" back to his or her shop, or "sighs" if he or she is already inside his or her own shop.

A shopkeeper "wakes up" if he/she was paralysed or sleeping. He/she "comes" when more than two squares away from you.

Shopkeeper names

If you have telepathy, you can tell what type of items a shop sells by the name of its keeper. Some names available only on exotic platforms are missing from the tools shopkeeper list. The light shop in Minetown is always run by Izchak. Lucrezia and Dirk are catchall names that don't imply any specific shop type.

Shop Type Possible Shopkeeper Names
Potions Njezjin, Tsjernigof, Ossipewsk, Gorlowka, Gomel, Konosja, Weliki Oestjoeg, Syktywkar, Sablja, Narodnaja, Kyzyl, Walbrzych, Swidnica, Klodzko, Raciborz, Gliwice, Brzeg, Krnov, Hradec Kralove, Leuk, Brig, Brienz, Thun, Sarnen, Burglen, Elm, Flims, Vals, Schuls, Zum Loch
Spellbooks/Scrolls Skibbereen, Kanturk, Rath Luirc, Ennistymon, Lahinch, Kinnegad, Lugnaquillia, Enniscorthy, Gweebarra, Kittamagh, Nenagh, Sneem, Ballingeary, Kilgarvan, Cahersiveen,Glenbeigh, Kilmihil, Kiltamagh, Droichead Atha, Inniscrone, Clonegal, Lisnaskea, Culdaff, Dunfanaghy, Inishbofin, Kesh
Armor Demirci, Kalecik, Boyabai, Yildizeli, Gaziantep, Siirt, Akhalataki, Tirebolu, Aksaray, Ermenak, Iskenderun, Kadirli, Siverek, Pervari, Malasgirt, Bayburt, Ayancik, Zonguldak, Balya, Tefenni, Artvin, Kars, Makharadze, Malazgirt, Midyat, Birecik, Kirikkale, Alaca, Polatli, Nallihan
Wands Yr Wyddgrug, Trallwng, Mallwyd, Pontarfynach, Rhaeader, Llandrindod, Llanfair-ym-muallt, Y-Fenni, Maesteg, Rhydaman, Beddgelert, Curig, Llanrwst, Llanerchymedd, Caergybi, Nairn, Turriff, Inverurie, Braemar, Lochnagar, Kerloch, Beinn a Ghlo, Drumnadrochit, Morven, Uist, Storr, Sgurr na Ciche, Cannich, Gairloch, Kyleakin, Dunvegan
Rings Feyfer, Flugi, Gheel, Havic, Haynin, Hoboken, Imbyze, Juyn, Kinsky, Massis, Matray, Moy, Olycan, Sadelin, Svaving, Tapper, Terwen, Wirix, Ypey, Rastegaisa, Varjag Njarga, Kautekeino, Abisko, Enontekis, Rovaniemi, Avasaksa, Haparanda, Lulea, Gellivare, Oeloe, Kajaani, Fauske
Food Djasinga, Tjibarusa, Tjiwidej, Pengalengan, Bandjar, Parbalingga, Bojolali, Sarangan, Ngebel, Djombang, Ardjawinangun, Berbek, Papar, Baliga, Tjisolok, Siboga, Banjoewangi, Trenggalek, Karangkobar, Njalindoeng, Pasawahan, Pameunpeuk, Patjitan, Kediri, Pemboeang, Tringanoe, Makin, Tipor, Semai, Berhala, Tegal, Samoe
Weapons Voulgezac, Rouffiac, Lerignac, Touverac, Guizengeard, Melac, Neuvicq, Vanzac, Picq, Urignac, Corignac, Fleac, Lonzac, Vergt, Queyssac, Liorac, Echourgnac, Cazelon, Eypau, Carignan, Monbazillac, Jonzac, Pons, Jumilhac, Fenouilledes, Laguiolet, Saujon, Eymoutiers, Eygurande, Eauze, Labouheyre
Tools Ymla, Eed-morra, Cubask, Nieb, Bnowr Falr, Telloc Cyaj, Sperc, Noskcirdneh, Yawolloh, Hyeghu, Niskal, Trahnil, Htargcm, Enrobwem, Kachzi Rellim, Regien, Donmyar, Yelpur, Nosnehpets, Stewe, Renrut, Zlaw, Nosalnef, Rewuorb, Rellenk, Yad, Cire Htims, Y-crad, Nenilukah, Corsh, Aned, Lechaim, Lexa, Niod
Light/Pet store (SLASHEM only) Zarnesti, Slanic, Nehoiasu, Ludus, Sighisoara, Nisipitu, Razboieni, Bicaz, Dorohoi, Vaslui, Fetesti, Tirgu Neamt, Babadag, Zimnicea, Zlatna, Jiu, Eforie, Mamaia, Silistra, Tulovo, Panagyuritshte, Smolyan, Kirklareli, Pernik, Lom, Haskovo, Dobrinishte, Varvara, Oryahovo, Troyan, Lovech, Sliven
General Hebiwerie, Possogroenoe, Asidonhopo, Manlobbi, Adjama, Pakka Pakka, Kabalebo, Wonotobo, Akalapi, Sipaliwini, Annootok, Upernavik, Angmagssalik, Aklavik, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, Chicoutimi, Ouiatchouane, Chibougamau, Matagami, Kipawa, Kinojevis, Abitibi, Maganasipi, Akureyri, Kopasker, Budereyri, Akranes, Bordeyri, Holmavik


In SLASH'EM shopkeepers also provide very useful services, although they come at a hefty cost. These are identify, uncurse, appraise, weapon-works, armor-works and charge. Additionally, they have been made far more formidable adversaries. Their base level has been raised to 24, their AC lowered to -6, and they are always generated with a shotgun, shells, a wand of teleportation, and a knife. Note that this makes it quite difficult to make pets attack them; in particular, no domestic animal can be easily raised to a high enough level.

Encyclopedia entry

See the encyclopedia entry for human.


  1. shknam.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 414
  2. makemon.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 561
  3. shknam.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 416
  4. shk.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 599
  5. shk.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 3744
  6. role.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1448
  7. shk.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 2270
  8. shk.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1665
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