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A shop is a special room found on some dungeon levels. Each has an attendant shopkeeper and a selection of items to buy. The shopkeepers will also buy items from you, depending on the type of shop. A complete list is below.

The shopkeeper

A shopkeeper owns a shop and buys and sells the items within.

At first, shopkeepers seem skilled enough to prevent adventurers such as yourself from taking anything without payment. However, many NetHack players know where shopkeepers are vulnerable; if you do not, see stealing from shops. Be sure you don't accidentally attack the shopkeeper!

Normal transactions

Normally, shopkeepers own all items on any square of the floor of their shop, with the notable exception of the square adjacent to the door, here called the "entrance square". Here we make a distinction between:

  • the shop inventory, the items on the floor of the shop.
  • the shopkeeper's personal inventory, the items which the shopkeeper is carrying; this often includes several dangerous offensive wands.

Buying: If you pick up such an item, you will have an unpaid object in your inventory. Press p to pay for the items; the shopkeeper will ask you about each unpaid object, and if you pay, you will own the object while the gold will transfer to the shopkeeper's personal inventory. You can #chat to get the price without picking it up.

Selling: If you drop an item onto the shop floor (not the entrance square), the shopkeeper will offer to buy it if they normally carry that type of wares. If you refuse, or if the shopkeeper makes no offer, then you continue to own the item and can pick it up again without paying. Note that having an item unintentionally fall onto the floor will cause it to become theirs and you must buy it again, so it is generally a bad idea to eat tins in shops when you are wielding something.

Credit: If you drop gold onto the shop floor, the shopkeeper will give you credit, which you can use to buy items. You can abuse the credit system through credit cloning.

Shopkeepers are greedy

  • Shopkeepers will own and sell anything on their shop floor. If you kill a monster in a shop, even if you had to kill it to save your own life, the shopkeeper will own all the dropped items and the corpse. Likewise, if you eat fried food and drop your weapon, it's theirs. If you throw an object, even if you had to throw weapon in a monster in order to protect yourself, the shopkeeper will again own it. When you are in a shop, never kill a leprechaun that has stolen your gold or a nymph that has stolen an item, unless you like paying for what was previously yours. In the black market (in both SLASH'EM and UnNetHack versions), dropped artifacts may reach ridiculous prices.
  • Depending of your hunger status, shopkeepers will charge more for food: hungry x2, weak x3 and fainting x4[1] (They even do this for corpses of monsters that you killed.)
  • Shopkeepers will reveal the identities of non-magical weapons and armor when you buy or sell them. For example, if you sell a crude dagger, the shopkeeper will reveal that it was an orcish dagger. These identities are the same during every game. What shopkeepers never identify for you are scrolls, spellbooks, rings, or other such useful information. Shopkeepers also never tell you about BUC status or enchantment (directly – though price can hint at an item's enchantment). After each transaction, they will tell you the item's appearance, in case you are blind.
  • Shopkeepers will sell unidentified gems at high prices (as if all gems are valuable) while purchasing them at cheap prices (as if all gems are glass). So the most obvious way to identify gems by price does not work.
  • Shopkeepers sell all artifacts at grossly inflated prices. Specifically, they charge four times the normal price.[2] They are also stingy about paying for artifacts, only offering a fourth of the normal buying price.[3] In practice this means one should almost always steal artifacts generated in shops, and should pretty much never sell artifacts to shopkeepers.
  • You can attempt to calm an angry shopkeeper by pressing p. What then happens depends on how you angered the shopkeeper. If you angered them by walking out with unpaid inventory, covering that debt will calm them. If, however, you angered the shopkeeper by attacking them, you will first cover any debts you have to the shopkeeper. They will still be angry, but you can then try to calm them by offering them 1000 gold pieces (when you press 'p'). This has a 2/3 chance of calming the shopkeeper, but the money is taken either way. You can avoid the necessity for this bribe by walking out with an unpaid debt – doing so will make the shopkeeper 'forget' about the attack, and be calmed by your covering that debt. Of course, doing this takes time, during which the shopkeeper may very well kill you.
  • If you teleport out with an unpaid item (e.g. teleportitis) and you have established sufficient credit for the item beforehand, all of your credit will be used up, however much it was.

Usage fee

Main article: Usage fee

If you use an item with limited uses in a shop before paying for it and in the presence of a shopkeeper, you will be charged a usage fee.[4]

Paying off angry shopkeepers

If you stole items, you are guaranteed to pacify the shopkeeper by paying them. There will be an angry shopkeeper price hike, and you need to move adjacent to the shopkeeper unless you both are in his shop. Damaging their door or wall will immediately prompt you to pay 400zm, and you will always avoid angering him if you do.

In all other cases, you can pay them 1000zm for a 2/3 chance of pacifying him.[5] In such a situation, it can be advantageous to steal something inexpensive so you can pay him off reliably, or to toss him a wand of magic missile to avoid his powerful melee attacks.

Notable shopkeepers


Main article: Price identification

When you sell an item, typically you are offered half its base price.

When you buy an item, typically you are charged from half the basic price to twice the basic price, depending on your charisma. To be charged half the basic price, you need to have a charisma above 18.

If you are a Tourist below the experience level of 15, or wearing a dunce cap, or wearing a shirt not covered by body armor or cloak, you will be charged 4/3 of the normal price when buying and offered 2/3 of normal price when selling.

If the object (except a gem) is unidentified, in 25% of cases the shopkeeper will charge 4/3 of the normal price when you buy, and offer 3/4 of the normal price when you sell. The effect is cumulative with the previous effect.

When buying unidentified gems, glass is sold as if it is a precious gem. When selling unidentified gems, you will be offered 3-9 zorkmids for each one.

Positive enchantment increases prices of weapon and armor. You can use it to identify positive enchantments. In particular, if one weapon or armor is more expensive than another one of the same type, the former is either enchanted or it is the occasional 33% supercharge on unidentified item.

Water is the only thing whose price depends on its BUC status. It is 100 for holy or unholy water, 0 for uncursed water (efficiently, it means that you can buy uncursed water for about 2-16 zorkmids, and cannot sell it).

If the shopkeeper has not enough money, he will offer "only" as much as he has.

If the shopkeeper has no money at all, he will offer a credit. The price will be 90% of the normal price.

Artifacts have their own base prices. Shopkeeper charge exorbitant prices when selling them and offer low prices when buying them. The ratio between the two prices is at least 16-fold.

Table of shops

Shop Probability Stock
general 42% 100% random
used armor dealership 14% 90% armor, 10% weapons
second-hand bookstore 10% 90% scrolls, 10% spellbooks
liquor emporium 10% 100% potions
antique weapons outlet 5% 90% weapons, 10% armor
delicatessen 5% 83% food, 5% fruit juice, 5% water, 4% booze, 3% ice boxes (containing corpses)
jewelers 3% 85% rings, 10% gems, 5% amulets
quality apparel and accessories 3% 90% wands, 5% leather gloves, 5% elven cloaks
hardware 3% 100% tools (containers may contain random items that are also for sale)
rare books 3% 90% spellbooks, 10% scrolls
health food 2% 70% vegetarian food, 20% fruit juice, 4% healing, 3% full healing, 2% scrolls of food detection, 1% royal jelly
lighting Minetown only 48% tallow candles, 30% wax candles, 9% oil lamps, 5% brass lanterns, 5% potions of oil, 3% magic lamps

Accessories and rare book shops may not be larger than 20 squares (including the non-stocked squares); if they would otherwise be (about half the time), they are converted into general stores instead.

In addition, the first shop generated in Minetown will always be a health food store when the player is a monk.


Shops have a base 3/DL chance of being created between level 2 and Medusa's Island, provided there is a suitable room to put them in (no stairs, only one door), and provided that there are enough rooms on the level to start with (minimum 3, 4 for a branch level). Note that this means that there will always be a shop on each of levels 2 and 3 if the conditions are right (which in practice turns out to only be the case about 45% of the time).

The probability of a shop being of a particular type is given in the second column above.

Minetown is also guaranteed a number of shops, including Izchak's lighting store. Abandoned shops can be found in Orcus-town and occasionally in bones files.

Closed for inventory

Shops can be generated "closed", in which case the message "Closed for inventory" will be written in dust outside of the shop door. The shop door itself will be locked. Trying to chop down the door with an axe will give you the message "This door seems too hard to chop through."

  • Opening the door with a lockpick or key will not anger the shopkeeper, and you will be able to buy and sell as usual.
  • Breaking down the door will anger the owner unless you immediately pay 400 zorkmids.

The shop remains closed permanently unless the player opens it using one of these methods.

Shops are never restocked under any circumstances. The only way they can gain more items is if you, or very rarely a monster, bring them in.


Traps cannot be generated in shops. Exceptions are on special levels: the tourist quest and Orcus-town.[6] You can make traps yourself (such as pits), but the shopkeeper will usually remove them.


You can tell there is a shop on the level if you receive any of the following messages.

You hear someone cursing shoplifters.
You hear the chime of a cash register.
There is a shop on the level
You hear Neiman and Marcus arguing!
There is a shop on the level; you are hallucinating
This shop appears to be deserted.
There is no shopkeeper in this shop.


Shops are extremely useful. As well as being a source of items, they let you do price identification.

Do not quaff any unidentified potions in a shop – it may be a potion of invisibility, and if you do not have a mummy wrapping you will have to teleport out (recommended) or kill the shopkeeper (not recommended). This goes double for cloaks, as a cursed cloak of invisibility could well render your game unwinnable.

You can raise cash by selling junk and credit cloning. Know which objects are lightweight and expensive.

Unless you're completely averse to the idea of shoplifting, always drop your gold and use credit to buy things rather than paying directly even if you don't plan on shoplifting. There's always a chance that a monster will bring the money out for you.

Shopkeeper actions

Shopkeepers stay within a few squares of the entrance square to their shops. They move fast (speed 18, the normal speed of a character is only 12) and will always immediately move to the entrance square if you pick up an unpaid item (i.e. not one that you have refused to sell or they are not interested in), and if you are outside their shop and invisible or carry a visible digging tool (see below). This means that a very fast character can beat them to the entrance square, at which point you will receive a warning to pay for any items you haven't before you exit the shop.

Shopkeepers will not allow (a) invisible customers: "SHKNAME detects your presence. Invisible customers are not welcome!"; (b) those with visible digging tools: "Hello PLAYER, welcome {again} to SHKNAME's STORETYPE! Will you please leave your {pick-axe(s)/mattock(s)/digging tools(if you have both)} outside?", (providing passive identification of your mattock if unidentified); or (c) those who are mounted on a steed:[7] "Hello, PLAYER, welcome {again} to SHKNAME's STORETYPE! Will you please leave your STEED outside?" into their shops. After speaking, a shopkeeper will then move to bar access to their shop.

To gain access, you need to wear a mummy wrapping or take off that ring of invisibility and drop or bag any digging tools you may be carrying. The door of the shop is not considered suitable for dropping your digging tools if you have extra speed, to prevent people entering on a free turn. (Speed exclusively from polyself does not count.) You could retrieve them with a grappling hook. Shopkeepers do not check contents of containers, however.

Leaving a shop by digging down is safe as long as no unpaid wares fall though. If you smuggle a digging tool in to the shop, when you take it out of the container, the shopkeeper will ask you to leave, "You sneaky {cad/minx}! Get out of here with that {pick/mattock}". If you then dig a pit in the floor, you get a warning, "Be careful, {sir/madam}, or you might fall through the floor!" but otherwise there are no ill effects – the shopkeeper does not become angry. If you dig again and create a hole, items on the same square will fall through, and potentially other items from the squares around your hole. If unpaid items fall through, this counts as stealing and angers the shopkeeper, who will try to grab your pack if he can get adjacent, and making it more dangerous to return to the level.

Methods of entering/leaving when invisible

  • wear a (non-cursed) mummy wrapping (the safest and most typical method)
  • teleport (requires teleport control to enter reliably)
  • jump diagonally through the door
  • hurtle diagonally through the door by throwing things (e.g. rocks) while levitating due to Newton’s Third Law
  • dig down on the level above to (hopefully) fall into the shop, and leave by digging down on an empty square after paying
  • instead of entering, use a pet and a magic whistle to steal stuff
  • have a digging monster dig a hole for you to enter (e.g. a dwarf with a pick-axe/mattock)
    • the hole will close after 5 turns if the shopkeeper is not dead and no monster on the hole (“Suddenly, a section of wall closes up!”)[8]
  • polymorph into a xorn and walk through the wall
  • polymorph into an umber hulk or rock mole and chew through the wall, then pay for the damage (risky!)
  • raze the closed shop door (kicking, digging, striking without hitting the shopkeeper, what have you), pay for the damage immediately, then enter/leave
    • only safe if you openly carry 400zm
    • the door will be fixed in five turns, same conditions as a hole. (“Suddenly, the shop door reappears!”)[9]
  • be very fast and beat the shopkeeper to the door.
    • The shopkeeper will move to stay ahead of a player's intrinsic speed, but not speed from polyself.

Of course, you could always kill or teleport the shopkeeper directly or indirectly, but that deprives you of price identification and counts as murder.

Due to a bug, you can leave a 2x2 size shop only with these methods. (Saving and reloading the game while standing next to the shopkeeper may alleviate this bug in a semi-sane and perfectly legal fashion)

Robbing shops

Main article: Stealing from shops

It's possible to steal from a shop with the help of a pet, or without.

Scrolls of scare monster

Because a cursed scroll of scare monster turns to dust when picked up, novice adventurers who shop by picking up items can find themselves trapped in a store with no money and no way out. Wearing or putting on an unpaid for object (weapon, armor, blindfold, rings, amulets) to only find that it is cursed and hence cannot be taken off is not a pleasant experience either. If you cannot remove curse and cannot pay for that object, praying may work as a last resort. There are several ways to prevent these mishaps from happening to you:

  • Use #chat instead of picking up scrolls.
  • Always carry a few hundred spare zorkmids to cover any accidental charges you incur.
  • As a last-chance option, sell everything you have to cover the cost of the scroll. Better to leave naked than in a coffin.


While mimics may appear elsewhere in the dungeons, they are most likely to appear in shops, disguised as items. There is a (dungeon level - 1)% chance of squares getting a mimic instead of an item. Earlier versions of NetHack made them relatively easy to identify, but more recent versions have made them virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the shopkeeper's wares. Clever adventurers can still identify mimics:

  • Search before walking onto an item.
  • A stethoscope is better than searching, as it will not unhide the mimic.
  • A mimic can be healed while disguised, provided it is disguised as an item (as opposed to a dungeon feature for example). This will result in a message such as "The boulder seems a more vivid gray than before."[10]
  • Quaff a non-cursed potion of object detection. You may notice suspicious blank squares if you have not yet seen the contents of the shop.
  • Throw a single gold piece across the store. If it hits the wall, nothing in its path was a mimic. This is better than throwing items because you don't automatically sell gold. Be careful not to hit (and possibly anger) the shopkeeper.
  • Wear a ring of protection from shape changers. This will cause mimics to appear as mimics.
  • Use telepathy, warning or monster detection.
  • If you don't have telepathy and can't chance being attacked by a mimic, a less effective method is to only walk where your pet or the shopkeeper has walked.
  • Use common sense: A long sword in a potion shop is probably a mimic. A down staircase in any shop is a mimic. This method is least useful in general stores and stores in bones files.
  • In the graphical system, if you see a chest that has eyes, then it is a mimic: mimic Strange object.png/] versus chest Chest.png / armor [.


This page is based on a spoiler by Dylan O'Donnell. The original license is:

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