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Helms are one of the seven slots for armor. Their primary use is protecting your head and cranium, especially against mind flayers. The most popular helms to carry are helm of telepathy, helm of brilliance, and elven leather helm. Cornuthaums are occasionally used by wizards, and a helm of opposite alignment is often used on the ascension run.

The helm of telepathy grants extrinsic telepathy, similar to an amulet of ESP. The helm of brilliance will increase your intelligence and wisdom by its enchantment, so +5 HoB and 18 Int and 17 Wis will produce 23 Int and 22 Wis. Elven leather helms can take a higher enchantment than other items and weigh less than most other helms: 3 wt versus 50.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

The helm of brilliance now has a fixed unidentified description of "crystal helm", and is made of glass so does not inhibit spellcasting. A new helm has been added, the helm of caution, which conveys warning when worn.

List of helms

Name Cost Weight AC Material Appearance Effect
Fedora 1 3 0 Cloth
Dunce cap 1 4 0 Cloth Conical hat Autocurses when worn; Int and Wis set to 6
Cornuthaum 80 4 0 Cloth Conical hat MC1; wizards can enchant to +7; clairvoyance and Ch+1 for wizards; blocks clairvoyance and Ch−1 for non-wizards
Elven leather helm 8 3 1 Leather Leather hat Can be enchanted to +7
Orcish helm 10 30 1 Iron Iron skull cap
Dented pot 8 10 1 Iron
Dwarvish iron helm 20 40 2 Iron Hard hat
Helmet (kabuto) 10 30 1 Iron (randomized)
Helm of brilliance 50 50 1 Iron (randomized) Int and Wis +/− enchantment amount; doesn't hinder spellcasting
Helm of opposite alignment 50 50 1 Iron (randomized) Autocurses when worn; opposite alignment
Helm of telepathy 50 50 1 Iron (randomized) Grants telepathy

The helms marked (randomized) in the chart above have their appearances randomly chosen from:

   plumed    etched    crested    visored

Of these, the visored helmet is always special. It protects against the blinding attack of ravens and the venom-spitting attack of cobras.

Hard helms

Helms made of metal provide protection against falling objects, greatly reducing the damage taken from falling rock traps, iron balls, non-blessed scrolls of earth, and objects you throw upward. The helm of brilliance is the only item providing this benefit without increasing spell failure rates.

Polymorphed players or monsters with horns,[1] such as ki-rin or unicorns, cannot equip[2] or wear[3] metal helms. When you polymorph into a horned monster while wearing a soft helm, you receive the message "Your horn(s) pierce(s) through your <hat>." This does not damage or destroy your helm, though a comment in the source suggests that it someday might.[4] There is no special message for putting on a soft helm over horns.


In UnNetHack and SporkHack, a helm with the appearance tin foil hat blocks telepathy from all sources.


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.