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The pick-axe is classified as a Tool in the inventory, while the dwarvish mattock is classified as a weapon.
A pick-axe can be (a)pplied to dig into walls, through the floor, or to smash doors, boulders and statues. If you apply it upward, a rock will fall from the ceiling and bonk you on the head. For those aiming for the weaponless conduct, a common accident is to break the conduct by hitting a monster immediately after digging with a pick-axe.
Digging through the dungeon has all kinds of uses. Most levels have gems embedded in the walls, and you can mine for them. You can also access vaults. You can smash statues in search of spellbooks, and you can smash boulders if they happen to get in your way.
You can steal from a shop with the help of a pick-axe: Pick up all the shop's merchandise, then escape from the shop by digging downward through the floor. Be cautious when using this technique, however, as shopkeepers are capable of stealing everything you are not wearing or wielding as you fall through the floor. This may also result in an angry shopkeeper and a horde of Keystone Kops, so be careful. Shopkeepers will preempt this theft by blocking you from entering their shop with a pick-axe or mattock in your main inventory, although you may still sneak it inside in a container.
Dwarves with pick-axesEdit
Dwarves are often generated with pick-axes (or dwarvish mattocks) in their inventory. A dwarf with a pick-axe will automatically dig through the walls of its dungeon level and will pick up any gems it happens across. If you spend a lot of time on this level, the dwarf will eventually tear up a good portion of it.
Killing dwarves is an easy way to find a pick-axe. (If your character is dwarven, make sure not to eat or sacrifice their corpses!) Players often head towards the Gnomish mines, where many dwarves are auto-generated, with the specific purpose of obtaining a pick-axe.