Usage fee

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A usage fee is incurred when the player uses an item which has limited uses and belongs to a shopkeeper whose shop you are in.[1] This includes items with charges, spellbooks, and light sources.

Messages associated with usage fees

Message Item Type
"This is no free library, cad!" spellbook
"That will cost you (n) zorkmids (Yendorian Fuel Tax)."

"That's in addition to the cost of the potion, of course."

potion of oil
"Usage fee, (n) zorkmids." all other items

Each of these messages has a one-in-three chance of being prefaced with "Hey!" or "Ahem."


Usage fees are a percentage of the item's normal cost, rounded down:

Item class Usage fee Notes
Magic lamp See below See below
Magic marker 50% No matter how many charges are used, or even if the use was successful
Bag of tricks
Horn of plenty
Can of grease
Tinning kit
Expensive camera
All other chargeable tools
25% Only if the item had any charges
Spellbook 80%
Potion of oil 20% In addition to the usage fee, you must pay for the potion.

The usage fee of a magic lamp depends on how it is used:

  • When applied, the usage fee is the same as if it were an oil lamp.
  • When rubbed, if a djinni is released, the usage fee is 133%.


In general, it is preferable to buy the item first, even if you plan to sell it back immediately after using it. One exception might be low-level spellbooks; by the time the spell expires, your character will likely have found another spellbook of the same type, enough gold to buy the first, or else met an untimely demise. However, it is rarely difficult to find the 20 or 40 gold which makes the difference between buying and paying for the use of the spellbook. Another possible exception might be for an early wand of wishing; a paranoid character might choose to use the wand to first wish for scrolls of charging, and then wish for sufficient gold (up to 5000 is guaranteed) to pay for the wand and usage fees. This wastes a wish, but for players with high mortality rates it may be worthwhile. Again, it is rare that this will be necessary; between selling items and finding gold on the ground, most characters should be able to scrounge up 500–1000 zorkmids to buy a wand of wishing. Alternatively, one may wish for something to kill the shopkeeper with.


This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

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 Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.