Spellbook of fireball

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spellbook of
+   fireball   Light green spellbook.png
Appearance random
Abundance 2.03%
Base price 400 zm
Weight 50
Turns to read 12
Ink to write 20–39
Spell type attack
Level 4
Power cost 20 Pw
Direction ray/distant

Fireball is a medium-level attack spell. The spellbook is fireproof: reading a scroll of fire, standing on a fire trap or being hit by a fire ray won't destroy this spellbook. This protection ceases if the spellbook is blanked, though.


Unskilled or basic

This spell fires a ray. NetHack will prompt you for a direction in which to cast the spell. When the ray hits an obstacle or monster, it explodes affecting the square hit and all 8 adjacent squares.

Skilled or expert

You may choose a location at which to cast explosions of fire. This location may be no more than 10 squares away, and must be in sight and open space. However, if you know a monster is on a square via intrinsic or extrinsic telepathy, or a blessed potion of detect monsters or its spell equivalent, then you can cast fireball on the monster's square, even if the square is dark or there are wall separating you. You cannot cast the spell on a creature you only detect through warning. This spell cannot be used underwater or on the Plane of Water; if used while engulfed, it is automatically cast on your own location.

2 to 9 explosions follow; the first is centred at the location you chose, subsequent ones randomly at any of the eight squares around that point (unless swallowed). Each explosion affects the surrounding squares, as when unskilled/basic.

Fire explosion effects

  • Monsters are hit for 12-72 damage: this is doubled if they are cold resistant.
  • You take 6-36 damage if you hit yourself and aren't fire resistant (and un-slime yourself)
  • Ice melts into a pool of water.
  • Pools evaporate to leave a pit, but moat does not.
  • A fountain dries up.
  • There is no effect on other water squares.
  • A closed door is destroyed: this will halt a ray.
  • Scrolls or spellbooks in an affected square may be destroyed. Scrolls of fire, spellbooks of fireball and the Book of the Dead will resist.
  • Potions in the explosion zone may boil and explode.
  • Does NOT destroy boulders


Message Reason
"<Monster> is caught in the fireball!." You cast the spell and hit a monster.
"You are caught in the fireball!" You cast the spell and hit yourself, or while engulfed.
"Steam billows from the fountain." You cast the spell at a fountain
"The water evaporates." You cast the spell at a pool
"Some water evaporates!" You cast the spell at a moat
"You hear hissing gas." You cast the spell at water out of sight
"The door is consumed in flames!" You cast the spell at a door
"You smell smoke." You cast the spell at a door out of sight
"You see a puff of smoke." You destroyed a spellbook or scroll
"You smell a whiff of smoke." You destroyed a spellbook or scroll, out of sight
"Your mind fails to lock onto that location!" You tried to cast the spell at a location out of sight
"The spell dissipates over the distance!" You tried to cast the spell over too great a distance
"You're joking! In this weather?" You tried to cast the spell underwater
"You had better wait for the sun to come out." You tried to cast the spell at skilled/expert, on the Plane of Water


Advancing to skilled deprives you of the ability to explode fireballs in dark squares, but otherwise massively increases the destructive power of the spell. Enhancing to expert skill gives no benefits over skilled for this spell. In several variants and 3.6.0 (but not 3.6.1), fireball and cone of cold can target any monster you can see, or sense with telepathy/monster detection/similar, up to 10 squares away disregarding walls or other obstacles, making the spell incredibly effective, especially if combined with skilled detect monsters.

Blasting an enemy with fire will destroy potions and scrolls they are carrying and often damage their armor. You are likely to destroy any fountains you hit.

The minimum safe range for this spell if not fire resistant or carrying flammable items is 3 spaces away, however this can still kill monsters standing next to you if the random explosions are positioned favourably. It is advisable to have a light source for this spell. A lamp works well enough, but a spell or wand of light will let you illuminate much more distant targets.

Use this wiki to determine which monsters are fire resistant before you let fly and expend 20 power. Add cone of cold to your repertoire for an equivalent attack option for killing fire resistant monsters, and to preserve any scrolls and spellbooks your targets possess.

See also

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

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This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

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