In NetHack, a shopkeeper is a highly unstable individual who has some junk for sale. They always have weird names and are loaded with wands of striking so they can kill you quickly if you look at them the wrong way.

A shopkeeper will at first welcome you cordially to his place of purveyance. Things will get more unpleasant when you find out how much he is going to charge you for his wares (especially if you need food), and the encounter usually ends in bitterness and/or death. Shopkeepers are armed to the teeth with wands of striking and a lot of hit points. I imagine this was a measure to prevent players from simply wasting every shopkeeper they came across and winding up with tens of thousands of stolen zorkmids -- plus all the merchandise they can carry -- but in reality NetHack shopkeepers are much-feared by lower-level characters and should generally be avoided.

The typical shopkeeper is so unscrupulous an individual that he will charge you for the corpse of a monster you killed in his shop. This greatly exacerbates the already irritating fact that most shopkeepers seem to stock their shelves with mimics. Bargaining is out of the question, and he will leap to the attack at the slightest provocation. If you die in a shop, the shopkeeper will, of course, "gratefully inherit all your possessions." They can somehow see into your inventory, and refuse to allow you within unless you drop certain items they find threatening (notably a pickaxe).

Given all this, one of the most satisfying things you can do in NetHack is to rob a shopkeeper blind. Several methods are available which work as of NetHack 3.2:

  • You can pile all the items in the shop onto a single square, and then zap them with a wand of teleportation. The items will be scattered about on the level for you to go find.
  • Get your pet to steal stuff by walking around the shop with the pet following you. When it picks up an item, walk out of and away from the shop. Your pet will drop the item, which you can then grab. Give your pet some food to make it happier about this.
  • Grab everything in the shop and teleport out. With this method, the Keystone Kops and the shopkeeper will be after you. A variation on this is to push a boulder into the shop and then block the door with it before teleporting out. The Kops will still be after you, but the shopkeeper will be stuck inside.
Of course, the more obvious question is how a shop can be profitably operated at all in the midst of the Dungeons of Doom, and why, if shopkeepers are so powerful, they don't go after the Amulet of Yendor themselves?

Needless to say, I usually get my characters up to a high level (14 or so) and the go beat the crap out of every shopkeeper I can find. Those guys have dicked me over way too many times.

Shop"keep`er (?), n.

A trader who sells goods in a shop, or by retail; -- in distinction from one who sells by wholesale.



© Webster 1913.

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