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A homunculus, i, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. The homunculus is one of the earliest minor demons that a player character can encounter, as well as one of the earliest flying monsters. Homunculi are tiny monsters that have infravision, can be seen via infravision, can follow the player character to other levels if they are adjacent, and can move through iron bars due to their size.

A homunculus has a sleep-inducing bite and possesses sleep resistance and poison resistance.

A homunculus corpse is poisonous to eat, but eating a homunculus corpse or tin has a roughly 115 chance each of conveying poison resistance or sleep resistance.


Randomly-generated homunculi may be created as peaceful for chaotic characters.

Breaking an expensive camera has a 29 chance of creating a homunculus, which will be peaceful unless the camera was cursed.[1]

Homunculi appear among the random i that are part of the first quest monster class for Knights and make up 24175 of the monsters that are randomly generated on the Knight quest. They also appear among the random i that are generated on each floor of the Wizard quest at level creation.


Homunculi are fairly hazardous to meet early on: their sole bite attack is not as dangerous as the floating eye's gaze, but being put to sleep can be similarly lethal. Thankfully, the homunculus is not particularly strong and can be brought down fairly quickly. Cautious players can use whatever ranged attacks they have at their disposal or the assistance of a pet; wand charges can usually be saved for much tougher enemies unless the situation is dire. Sleep resistance makes it much safer to fight homunculi hand-to-hand; roles and races that start with or obtain early poison resistance can safely eat the corpse for a potential source of the intrinsic.


The homunculus first appears in Hack for PDP-11, which is based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0.

From Hack for PDP-11 and Hack 1.0 to NetHack 2.3e, homunculi are represented by the h glyph; in NetHack 3.0.0, homunculi are moved to their current glyph.


In folklore, the homunculus is an artificial being created in the shape of a miniature fully-formed human, and is often heavily associated with the practice of alchemy. They first appear in sixteenth-century writings attributed to German alchemist and philosopher Paracelsus, and have been compared to the golem of Jewish folklore as well as the mandrake, whose roots often resemble the human figure in shape. In the theory of preformationism, humans and other animals are said to have developed from "homunculi" of themselves into fully formed beings; homunculus-like figures also appeared in discussions of conception and birth as human understanding of reproduction developed. The homunculus also lends its name to the modern cortical homunculus, a distorted miniature scale model of the human body that represents the relative space each part occupies in the brain.

In Dungeons & Dragons, a homunculus (misspelled "homonculous" in early sources) is a construct created and animated via a special process that takes the combined efforts of a magic-user and an alchemist. A homunculus is a bipedal, winged imp-like creature that does not need to breathe, eat or sleep, and is telepathically linked to the magic-user from the use of their blood in its creation: it cannot speak, but shares the knowledge of its creator, and the telepathic link allows it to transmit what it sees and hear back to its creator. A homunculus is a loyal servant to its creator and can be used as a spy; they are not especially strong in combat, but possess a venomous bite that can put a victim to sleep temporarily. Killing the homunculus causes damage to the magic-user that created it.

The idea of a homunculus inhabiting a camera is derived from the Discworld novel "The Color of Magic", where the iconoscope (the Discworld equivalent of a camera) is revealed to contain a "picture-painting demon".



In SLASH'EM, the homunculus hits as a +1 weapon.

Homunculi appear among the random i that are part of the second quest monster class for Necromancers and make up 6175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Necromancer quest.

All of the above information also applies to SlashTHEM.


In dNetHack, homunculi can appear in the court of a throne room ruled by a gnome king or gnome queen.


In xNetHack, homunculi and other minor demons that leave corpses are carnivorous. Homunculi also take +d6 damage from being hit with iron weapons and items.


In EvilHack, the lesser homunculus and greater homunculus are introduced, with the homunculus being an intermediate growth stage between them; the Infidel role starts with a pet lesser homunculus.


In Hack'EM, homunculi have three growth stages as in EvilHack, and are carnivorous as in xNetHack. As in SLASH'EM, they appear among the random i that are part of the second quest monster class for Necromancers and make up 6175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Necromancer quest.

Encyclopedia entry

A homunculus is a creature summoned by a mage to perform some particular task. They are particularly good at spying. They are smallish creatures, but very agile. They can put their victims to sleep with a venomous bite, but due to their size, the effect does not last long on humans.

"Tothapis cut him off. 'Be still and hearken. You will travel aboard the sacred wingboat. Of it you may not have heard; but it will bear you thither in a night and a day and a night. With you will go a homunculus that can relay your words to me, and mine to you, across the leagues between at the speed of thought.'"

[ Conan the Rebel, by Poul Anderson ]