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This article is about gold-containing vaults. For the UnNetHack feature, see Random vault (UnNetHack)..

Vaults are 2-by-2 sealed rooms that appear in NetHack, and are randomly generated in the Dungeons of Doom. The vaults are owned by Croesus, and his guards patrol them regularly.

One true rumor and one of the Oracle's major consultations refers to them as Magic Memory Vaults.


A vault has a 12 chance of being generated on any level that has at least 6 rooms, with the exception of the Rogue level. The level must also have room for the 4x4 space that the vault occupies, making the number even lower in practice. There is a 23 chance that a level with a vault contains a closet with a one-use teleportation trap keyed to the vault's location, marked by the engraving "ad aerarium"[1] in the dust in front of it. On deeper levels, you may also encounter closets with the same engravings that house a level teleporter instead - these appear independently of actual vault teleporters, and both may be found on the same level.[1]

On each square of a vault is 50+d(100*level) gold pieces, where level is the dungeon level.[2] Between level 11 and Medusa's Island, each vault that appears also has a 13 chance of containing a magic portal that takes you to Fort Ludios if it has not yet been generated, with the exception of the level containing the Quest portal. As such, it may not be accessible in a given game.

On levels that contain a vault, messages indicating their presence will be printed occasionally.


Main article: Guard

If you linger within a vault for 30 turns, one of the guards will enter and ask for your name;[3] blowing a cursed tin whistle while inside a vault will immediately summon a guard.[4] Replying to their query with "Croesus" (or "Kroisos"/"Creosote") will cause them to leave - if the real Croesus is dead, the guard will immediately become hostile. Responding with any other name will have the guard request that you to drop all your gold (including gold within containers in your inventory) and follow them out. Complying will have them lead you out of the vault, and the guard will create a temporary path for this purpose; refusing to drop your gold, leaving with it via teleportation, or else trying to retrieve it while the guard is present will anger them.

This can be a nuisance, especially if something else interferes with you looting the vault and leaving promptly - however, guards can also be useful if you end up trapped in one without a means of escape, which usually occurs early in the game. You can also safely double back to retrieve the gold after the guard is gone. Note that once the guard disappears, the temporary path will usually disappear soon after, which can potentially trap you if you are still inside; pets caught in the reforming rock will be teleported elsewhere on the level and have their tameness reduced. See the linked article above for more details on interactions with guards.

Finding vaults

Vaults can be discovered or located through various means:

  • Reading a noncursed scroll of magic mapping or casting the magic mapping spell will detail the entire level and reveal the vault's location directly.
  • Reading a scroll of gold detection, quaffing a potion of object detection or casting the detect treasure spell can reveal the location of the gold that a vault contains.
  • Telepathy can reveal the location of monsters that may have randomly generated within a vault at some point - watch for monsters that move in a tight 2x2 square and/or appear isolated from the rest of the level.
  • While unreliable, falling through a hole or trap door from a higher dungeon level may drop you in a vault on the level you land in.
  • Finding the closet containing the vault teleporter and stepping on it will take you directly to the vault.

Once you locate a vault or its teleporter, you can enter the vault using one of the following methods:

Monsters and vaults

Tunneling monsters such as dwarves may dig their way to the vault, leaving a path; digging monsters such as rock moles or umber hulks may also open a path to vaults. If there is a dwarf wandering around on a vault level, they may find the vault while tunneling and pick up the gold - hostile dwarves may bring the gold to you while seeking out a fight.


In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions, along with most variants based on them, it is possible to steal from a still-closed vault using a pet. First, you must have both the pet and yourself in the vault. This can be done by blocking the pet in the doorway to the vault teleporter closet - as it cannot leave the doorway diagonally, the pet will eventually take the teleporter even if it is aware of the trap. This will not use up the trap, allowing you to follow it in.

Once you are in the vault with your pet, pick up all the money and then drop it and your gold in a single stack. Once the guard appears and you respond with your real name (or any other name if you are named Croesus or one of its equivalents), follow them out as slowly as possible, making sure your pet follows and brings the money with it. Be caureful not to exit the guard's path while the pet is still inside!

Starting in NetHack 3.6.0, the standard domestic pets - dogs, cats and horses - will only pick up a single gold piece at a time, making this strategy much less useful early on. NetHack 3.6.0 also introduces the ability to summon a guard via cursed tin whistle.


You hear the footsteps of a guard on patrol.
There is a vault on the level.
You hear Ebenezer Scrooge!
As above, while you are hallucinating.
You hear someone counting money.
The level's vault has not been looted.
You hear Ebenezer Scrooge!
As above, while hallucinating.
You hear someone searching
The vault has been looted.



In UnNetHack, Fort Ludios is guaranteed to be accessible: the portal is in the first vault that is generated below level 10, provided that floor does not contain the Quest portal, and can otherwise be found on Medusa's Island.

UnNetHack also has a level generation feature called "random vaults", which have no relation to the standard gold vaults.


In addition to normal gold vaults, dNetHack also has magic item vaults and hell vaults with much more valuable treasures, but far more dangerous monsters guarding them. dNetHack will also generate the portal to Fort Ludios on the earliest eligible floor when possible.


xNetHack will generate the portal to Fort Ludios in the first eligible vault.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "ad aerarium" is a Latin phrase meaning "to the vault." The source code claims a pun on a purported secondary meaning of "aerarium" as "sky". (This appears to be in error, as no evidence has been found for this secondary meaning.)
  2. src/sp_lev.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 2447
  3. include/hack.h in NetHack 3.6.7, line 35
  4. src/apply.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 469