Deferred features

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The NetHack source contains code for several currently unimplemented features. Some of them are marked deferred, so they may or may not make it into the next version. Many of the following features are included in SLASH'EM.


The beholder (e):[1] a type of floating eye (in fact many eyes on stalks coming out of an even bigger eye; derived from Dungeons & Dragons) with 5 gaze attacks: slowing, sleep, disintegration, stoning, and cancellation.

Depending on how the gaze attacks work (none of them are coded yet), the beholder could be an exceptionally nasty enemy.

The shimmering dragon (D):[2] This would leave shimmering dragon scales and let you create shimmering dragon scale mail, which would confer displacement. Monster displacement is not yet implemented (though Nethack 3.7 will likely contain displacer beasts), which may be why this dragon is not yet present. There would be corresponding baby shimmering dragons.

The vorpal jabberwock (J):[3] A tougher type of jabberwock (level 20 vs level 15), enabled in UnNetHack.

The vampire mage (V):[4] The next step up from a vampire lord, with spellcasting abilities.


Charon (@) and Cerberus are present in the source code[5][6] if CHARON is defined, but even if it is, they are both unique monsters which are not placed by any current map. Charon is a very high level peaceful human who, if true to his name's mythology, will ferry the player across the also-yet-to-be-implemented river Acheron/Styx for a fee.

Cerberus is a very high level dog who is tangentially related to Charon in Greek mythology, as the guardian of the gates to Hades. In the SLethe patch, he appears on the final level of the Lethe Gorge.


The spellbook of flame sphere[7] and spellbook of freeze sphere[8]: creates a tame flaming/freezing sphere which will eventually explode at hostile monsters. These spells are fully implemented in SLASH'EM. Flame mages start with the spellbook of flame sphere; Ice mages start with the spellbook of freeze sphere.

Reading a cursed spellbook could curse random inventory items [9] if it were of level 8 or higher. No such spellbooks currently exist.

There are comments in the source hinting at copper coins and silver coins.[10][11][12]

A special artifact attack of magic missiles (analogous to Fire Brand's fire, Frost Brand's cold, and Mjollnir's lightning), has been implemented.[13] The weapon's description, most likely a placeholder, is "imaginary widget".


There is code for "burying" both you and monsters ("The floor opens up and swallows <monster>!"). You can be buried, and stay alive for a while (eventually suffocating), and you have the opportunity to tunnel out.[14]

Other features

There is code that gives a 1 in 25 chance of applied bullwhips yanking a monster's weapon away from it, and it hitting you.[15]

There is code that lets monsters use scrolls of fire as a last-resort offense.[16]

There is code for creating force fields over an area of the map.[17]

There is a hint that randomising the order of the elemental planes is a possibility.[18] Some variants implement this, including UnNetHack and GruntHack.

There is code to give elves a luck penalty for wielding cold iron.[19]

There is a hero attribute nv_range which suggest intrinsic night vision may be implemented one day.[20]

The code for snagging shop inventory from outside the shop (currently requires a grappling hook) has a comment mentioning the possibility of telekinesis.[21] This is partially coded in several functions to do with picking up items.[22] [23][24]

There is a comment when using a stethoscope to make sure you have ears and are not deaf.[25] The ears check is not implemented.

There is code regarding invisible objects.[26]

According to definition in monst.c eating footrice and some other monsters should convey stoning resistance, but this is not implemented.[27]

There is code for enlightenment to report that you are "warned of undead", but there is no other reference to that property anywhere else in the game.[28]

The bonus for a role's special spell is defined in the role definition, rather than hard-coded in the spellcasting code, so its value could be higher or lower for different roles. All roles currently have the same -4 bonus.

There is code to prevent wished-for magic lamps from being lit, to prevent players from wishing for an unlimited light source and (probably) keeping the wish. This code goes unused because magic lamps can't successfully be wished for in vanilla NetHack.[29]

There is code for a ray-type fire-branded magic attack[30], but no monster has this attack, specifically with AT_MAGC and AD_FIRE. Fire vampires in SLASH'EM have such an attack.

See also

  • Defunct features: Features that have been present in some previous version of NetHack but have since been removed.


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.