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( Stethoscope.png
Name stethoscope
Appearance stethoscope
Base price 75 zm
Weight 4
Material iron
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

The stethoscope is a tool that appears in NetHack, and is used to determine the status of a monster and listen to dungeon acoustics.


All Healers start the game with a stethoscope.


The stethoscope can be applied in any direction, including up, down, or at yourself; stethoscopes require a free hand to use, and will not function while you are deaf. Applying it to a monster will show you their name, alignment, experience level, hit points, armor class, and miscellaneous attributes of the target. Such attributes generally consist of impairments, but can be any of the following:[1]

In wizard mode, applying a stethoscope to a pet displays its tameness, hunger, and apport. Mimics that are disguised as other objects will be revealed and uncloaked; the 'shapeshifter' attribute is only displayed for monsters in a different form from their "innate" one, and as such is not displayed for werecreatures.[2]

When applied to yourself, it displays your experience level, HP, and AC, an accurate appraisal of your alignment record, and any of the following properties:[3]

The stethoscope's use is free once per action, meaning that it doesn't count as your action for that turn; applying one twice in a row will increment the turn counter, and this does not stack with multiple stethoscopes.[4][5] A cursed stethoscope has a 50% chance of just sounding your own heartbeat.[6]

Applying a stethoscope to a tile with a secret door or passage reveals it; this does not exercise wisdom.[7][8] Applying a stethoscope in certain other scenarios may produce YAFM - see the Messages section below.


Although a stethoscope is not essential for survival, it is an excellent source of tactical data when used early and often, and is thus one of the most frequently used tools. It may be a good idea to #adjust the stethoscope's inventory letter to something memorable, like the letter s.

Unlike Magicbane and the wand of probing, a stethoscope does not show items in the monster's inventory; however, the stethoscope has an unlimited amount of uses, and the monster's AC may provide a vague hint as to what armor they are wearing, depending on how different it is from their base AC.

An important use of the stethoscope is monitoring your pet's health. Consistently using the stethoscope allows you to gauge their experience level, which is invaluable when attempting the protection racket. The stethoscope will also indicate when its hit points are critically low, and you can then heal it or else escort it away from danger. A stethoscope is also valuable when altar farming in order to properly appraise your alignment and avoid accidental crowning.

The stethoscope is fine for revealing hidden passageways and doors; manually searching via s is preferable if you wish to exercise Wisdom, but using the stethoscope is often much faster. It can also be used to safely decloak mimics, especially in shops.

Blind heroes (or those without see invisible) can use it to remove I symbols without using up an action by searching or running into one normally.


The stethoscope first appears in NetHack 1.3d.

In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, as well as variants based on those versions, applying a stethoscope to a disguised mimic would reveal its identity, but would not uncloak it. Unaligned monsters would be reported as chaotic - they have an alignment of −128, which is a magic number for unaligned;[9] the code checks specifically for this number for other purposes (e.g., your alignment record), but for the stethoscope it is just a negative number.[10] Both of these were fixed in NetHack 3.6.0.


The stethoscope is a real life medical instrument used by doctors to examine a patient's heartbeat, hence its primary usage and appearance in the Healer's starting inventory. Its other uses, especially in SporkHack and UnNetHack, are inspired by the pop cultural trope of stethoscopes being used as a safe-cracking aid.


You hear your heart beat.
You applied a cursed stethoscope; this replaces the normal message half the time.
You can't hear anything!
You applied a stethoscope while deaf.
The <floor> seems healthy enough.
You applied a stethoscope down.
You barely hear faint splashing.
You applied a stethoscope up or down while underwater.
You hear the crackling of hellfire.
You applied a stethoscope to the floor of the castle, beneath which lies Gehennom.
You hear a faint typing noise.
You applied a stethoscope to the edge of the map.
You hear a hollow sound. This must be a secret <door/passage>!
You applied a stethoscope to a wall concealing a secret door or passage, instantly revealing it.
The <monster> interferes.
You applied a stethoscope to yourself while engulfed by a whirly monster, which is examined instead. This happens 13 of the time, or 110 if you are a Healer.[11]
The invisible monster must have moved.
You applied a stethoscope to an I which represented a monster that is no longer there.
You determine that <this/that> unfortunate being is dead.
You applied a stethoscope to a corpse; the message will use "this" if the corpse is at your feet, and "that" if it is on an adjacent square.)
You hear a voice say, "It's dead, Jim."
As above, while hallucinating.
You determine that <this/that> unfortunate being is mostly dead.
As a Healer, you examined a corpse that will revive.[12]
The <monster> appears to be in fine health for a statue.
You applied a stethoscope to a statue.
The <monster> appears to be in remarkable health for a statue.
As above, but you are a Healer and the statue contains items.[13]
The <monster> appears to be in extraordinary health for a statue.
As above, but you are a Healer and the statue is on a statue trap.[14]
You hear a voice say, "You're both stoned, Jim."
You applied a stethoscope to a statue while hallucinating.[15]
You hear nothing special.
You applied a stethoscope to something else (such as a boulder).


In SporkHack, UnNetHack, and EvilHack, a stethoscope can be used to open an iron safe.

In EvilHack and xNetHack, a stethoscope may be used to identify an egg.

Advent calendar

In variants that incorporate the advent calendar patch, a stethoscope is one of the possible "Christmas present" tools.


SLASH'EM additionally displays the traitor attribute if used on a formerly tame monster that has turned on you.


In ZAPM, the tricorder is the game's analogue to the stethoscope, and functions similarly.