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An ettin, H, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. An ettin is a carnivorous giant humanoid that is close to a giant in many respects, but does not have the M2_GIANT flag and is considered an animal rather than an intelligent monster. Ettins possess two strong weapon attacks.

Due to their two heads, ettins ignore stealth 910 of the time.[1] Their anatomy does not affect decapitation by Vorpal Blade, which still functions as normal.


Randomly generated ettins are always generated hostile.

In addition to random generation, ettins may be also created by a hostile spellcaster casting the summon nasties monster spell.

An ettin is always generated with a club.[2]

Ettin zombies and ettin mummies leave behind ettin corpses upon death.


Ettins are strong and move as fast as an unhasted player, and their weapon attacks can deal significant damage - thankfully, they lack the boulder-hurling strength of their giant cousins, though they are capable of using other projectiles. An ettin's lack of MR score and inability to wear armor renders them quite vulnerable against a well-kitted player - most who encounter ettins have already dealt with their mummified and zombified kin, and should generally be able to fight live ones with little trouble.


The ettin first appears in Hack for PDP-11, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0. From both games to NetHack 2.3e, ettins use the e glyph; in NetHack 3.0.0, they are moved to the giant humanoid monster class and given their current glyph, and their undead forms are introduced as well.

There is a commented-out portion of code that would generate YAFM when using the #chat extended command and selecting yourself while in the form of an ettin. ("You discover that your other head makes boring conversation.") Based on the text accompanying it, this was excluded to avoid raising questions about ettins being able to wear multiple helms or amulets, as well as similar queries about multi-limbed monsters such as the marilith.[3]


The word "ettin" is an archaic English word, derived from the Old English Eoten and cognate to the Germanic/Old Norse Jötunn; each of these words has been used to mean "giant" in some fashion. Their portrayal as two-headed and giant-like may also be derived from J.R.R. Tolkien: the Ettenmoors are a region in Middle Earth inhabited by trolls, and Tolkien's Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings states the root to be the word eten which means “troll" or "ogre” - the second chapter of The Hobbit also has a character comment on trolls as being slovenly and lacking table manners, "even those with only one head each", implying that trolls are normally two-headed.

The ettins from Dungeons & Dragons, along with many later portrayals of ettin, are in turn likely patterned after the above - Dungeons & Dragons ettins are generally ugly and very unintelligent brutes that also possess some orcish traits, and are descended from giants through the lineage of the two-headed Julian and Arno, Annam the All-Father's weakest sons. Their names translate in-universe to "ugly giant" in ancient Common and "runt" in Jotun; they are chaotic-aligned and have even worse table manners than Tolkien's trolls. Giant two-headed trolls, or "fell trolls", also exist in the setting and are believed to be a cross between troll and ettin.

The first Monster Manual depicts ettins as nocturnal two-headed giants that dwell in remote places and live underground, and establishes the ettin's advantages against stealthy foes that are used in later editions. NetHack borrows these elements as well as their hit die (2-16 using the left arm and 3-18 using the right), with their lack of intelligence as the apparent rationale for the "animal" flag.



In SLASH'EM, ettins hit as a +2 weapon.


In GruntHack, ettins are among the various monster types that can be generated as racial monsters, including zombies, shamans and even Yendorian army fighters.


In dNetHack, ettins hate iron much like other giants.

NetHack Fourk

In NetHack Fourk, the ettin, X, is moved to the large deep-rock dweller monster class. It is also made a tunneling monster similar to a dwarf, and may generate with a pick-axe. Ettins have basic skill in wand usage.

Encyclopedia entry

The two-headed giant, or ettin, is a vicious and unpredictable hunter that stalks by night and eats any meat it can catch.