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A minotaur, H, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. Minotaurs are carnivorous, humanoid animals that are the strongest of the giant humanoid monster class - they are strong and endowed with horns and infravision, and can be seen via infravision. Minotaurs are among the small handful of monsters that can ignore Elbereth.

A minotaur has two strong claw attacks and a headbutt attack.


Minotaurs are not randomly generated; one or two minotaurs may be generated on a normal floor that contains a maze at level creation.[1]

Minotaurs are eligible forms for polymorph, and can also be summoned by the summon nasties monster spell.

A sleeping minotaur is generated on the home level of the Ranger quest at level creation.[2]

Two minotaurs are generated on the Plane of Earth at level creation, including one in the entrance cavern.[3][4] A minotaur is generated on the Plane of Fire at level creation.[5]

A minotaur has a 13 chance of generating with a wand of digging, and the minotaurs on the Plane of Earth are guaranteed to generate with one.[6]


Minotaurs are slightly faster than an unhasted hero at 15 speed, and have a base AC of 0; their three attacks combined also have the highest damage ceiling in the game, short of the Riders themselves. They are especially deadly and notoriously difficult to fight, leading to many deaths at their hands from even experienced players. Minotaurs represent such a gigantic physical threat that there is an entire section of the article on armor class dedicated to estimating how badly a minotaur can stomp a player at a given AC threshold. If facing a minotaur, remember their ability to ignore Elbereth, be ready to employ some of the strategies listed below, and be sure to double-check inventory thoroughly when making last-ditch efforts in a worst-case scenario.

Thankfully, unless a hostile monster gets polymorphed into one, minotaurs are unlikely to be encountered until past Medusa's Island, not counting the one Rangers encounter on their quest. Minotaurs are not intelligent and cannot make use of weapons, armor or various other items, including the wand of digging they often generate with - they also have no MR score and lack any intrinsic resistances, making them very vulnerable to magic and other effects. One of the quickest ways to "handle" a hostile minotaur is to use a scroll of taming or other similar item; see the section below for more information on that. Minotaurs are also extremely susceptible to conflict, which can turn their fearsome strength on other hostile monsters in the area, possibly including an unwitting summoner that generated one nearby.

Defeating minotaurs

A very fast spellcaster should be able to keep at a safe distance and wear the minotaur down, and other roles that can reach Expert skill in daggers and/or bows are capable of the same - the jumping spell or jumping boots can aid you in either case, though be careful not to get backed into a corner. While any strong enough player can outdamage a minotaur in melee, it is generally a bad idea to rely on raw damage alone - a minotaur can kill even highly-armored melee characters, including Valkyries carrying the Orb of Fate, if they are particularly unfortunate.

Attack wands can weaken or impair a minotaur efficiently, especially if you have a wand of slow monster to reduce its speed (and thus its damage) or a wand of sleep to immobilize it; the wand of lightning can blind the minotaur as well as damaging it, and most wands can be made more effective by rebounding their rays off maze walls. Minotaurs are even a worthy candidate for a wand of death or finger of death charge - be careful where you aim, as without magic resistance or reflection a rebound may inadvertently solve the problem harder than intended. If all else fails, slow monster and sleep wands can also make it easier to escape, as can a wand of digging.

Tools such as an expensive camera or a tooled horn are capable of scaring minotaurs, and the camera can additionally blind them - a blind minotaur is much less likely to hit a character, significantly increasing their chances of surviving against one. Standing on a scroll of scare monster can also keep non-blinded minotaurs away, though be sure not to have other monsters burn it away from underneath. Boulder forts and acid blob formations can reliably keep a minotaur away and grant a character time to prepare other counter-measures.

A potion of paralysis can buy characters that wield it with free action or throw it with high dexterity enough time to either kill a minotaur, run away or else prepare some of the other options mentioned. If all else fails, they can zap themselves or the minotaur with a wand of teleportation and hope to avoid encountering it down the line before they are ready to take it on.

Beware of running into a minotaur during a dig for victory, especially in the undiggable Castle maze.

As pets

Due to their lack of monster MR, minotaurs can easily be tamed; their high damage and HP make them formidable fighters and somewhat popular pets. However, minotaurs lack resistances and most other properties, and their inability to wear equipment leaves them vulnerable to various monsters and traps, especially in the late game. Even so, their high damage can usually batter other monsters into submission before they can get a swing in, and keeping them fed is relatively easier in Gehennom, where you usually have most or all of the resistances you need at that point. Keeping them alive on the Planes, on the other hand, is a fairly tall order, especially on the poison cloud-laden Plane of Fire.

A minotaur's strength makes them a tempting candidate for credit cloning in shops, though they are much likelier to try and kill the shopkeeper unless you are careful or have a magic whistle on hand.

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

Monsters can now gain intrinsics from eating corpses, making it possible for a minotaur to obtain poison resistance and fire resistance among others and increase their survivability.

As polyforms

Minotaurs are sometimes chosen as polyforms for their high speed and strength, though they can only wear gloves, shields and non-rigid helms (e.g. elven leather helms), and lack other utilities such as flight or regeneration. This means they are often passed over in favor of fellow nasties such as the master mind flayer, who shares their natural base AC of 0.


The minotaur first appears in Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, which are based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is also included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0. From this version of Hack to NetHack 2.3e, minotaurs use the m glyph; NetHack 3.0.0 moves the minotaur to the H glyph with the other giant humanoids.

NetHack 3.0.5 is the first version that makes minotaurs immune to Elbereth, and from this version to NetHack 3.4.3, including some variants based on these versions, minotaurs are also not affected by the scroll of scare monster. This behavior is explained in the following comment from the source code:[7]

 /* Note: minotaurs must be immune to scare monster
  * to avoid abuse from creating them and taking
  * their wands, then polymorphing 60 or so
  * wands to get wishing...

As of NetHack 3.0.8, it is impossible to produce a wand of wishing by polypiling, and the note is removed in NetHack 3.1.0. NetHack 3.6.0 makes minotaurs vulnerable to the scroll of scare monster while the player is standing on the scroll.

In NetHack 3.6.0 and previous versions, including some variants based on these versions, minotaurs are capable of being generated in the mazes within some versions of the Big Room, as well as the Catacombs variant of Mines' End - both instances often constitute severely out-of-depth monster generation. This is fixed in NetHack 3.6.1 via commit 32305ace.


As indicated by the excerpt from Edith Hamilton's Mythology, the minotaur originates in ancient Greek folklore from the punishment of King Minos of Crete. The word "minotaur" derives from the Ancient Greek Μῑνώταυρος, a compound of the name Μίνως (Minos) and the noun ταῦρος "bull", translated as "(the) Bull of Minos"; the word was originally a proper noun in reference to this mythical figure, and only became a common noun in 20th century fantasy works to refer to members of a generic "species" of bull-headed creatures.

After ascending the throne of the island, Minos prayed to the sea god Poseidon to send him a beautiful snow-white bull as a sign of favour; Minos was to sacrifice the bull to honor Poseidon, but then decided to substitute a different bull and keep the original as his own. Poseidon retaliated by cursing Pasiphaë, Minos' wife, with a mad passion for the bull; Daedalus built her a wooden cow that she climbed inside in order to mate with the bull. The result of this union was the Minotaur, also known as Asterion or Asterius, born with the body of a human and the head of a bull. Following advice from the oracle at Delphi, Minos had Daedalus construct a gigantic Labyrinth to hold the Minotaur located near his palace in Knossos (hence the tendency of NetHack minotaurs to appear in mazes); Daedalus and his son Icarus were then imprisoned to ensure no one would ever know the secret of the Minotaur or how to escape the Labyrinth.

The most famous story of the Minotaur outside of his origin is likely the tale of Theseus and his encounter with the beast-man, a subject of many classical artworks and media. As the Minotaur had no natural source of nourishment beyond nursing from his mother, he became ferocious as he grew older, devouring humans for sustenance. Minos required that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens, drawn by lots, be sacrificed every seventh or ninth year (or every year in some accounts) to be sent into the Labyrinth and devoured by the Minotaur. On the third such occasion, Theseus volunteered to stop this horror, taking the place of one of the youths; in Crete, Minos' daughter Ariadne fell madly in love with Theseus and helped him navigate the labyrinth, usually with a ball of thread that allowed him to retrace his path. Theseus found the Minotaur at the heart of the labyrinth and (depending on the source) slew it with his bare hands, his club, or a sword. He then led the young Athenians out of the labyrinth, and managed to escape with them and Ariadne.


You notice a bovine smell.
A shapeshifter or other monster has turned into a minotaur (or rothe), and you cannot see them.



In SLASH'EM, the minotaur hits monsters as a +2 weapon and gains intrinsic resistance to death magic, removing the wand of death as an option against them.


GruntHack introduces the elder minotaur in version 0.2.3, a much stronger minotaur that also appears in Gehennom and replaces the minotaurs found on the Planes. Elder minotaurs have more powerful claw and headbutt attacks alongside a crushing bearhug that prevents escape; they cannot be tamed or pacified.


In UnNetHack, minotaurs respect Elbereth as of version 4.0.0.[7]


In dNetHack, notdNetHack, and notdNetHack, a tame minotaur may turn traitor, and the minotaur priestess is introduced as a minotaur that uses clerical monster spells in lieu of claw attacks, but is still not considered intelligent.

A minotaur and a minotaur priestess are always generated in the shrouded dispensary inhabited by Illurien of the Myriad Glimpses.


In FIQHack, minotaurs are intelligent enough to use wands and cast spells.


In EvilHack, minotaurs can inflict knockback with their headbutt attacks. EvilHack also adds the elder minotaur from GruntHack and gives their headbutt attacks the same ability, along with a similar chance of generate with a wand of digging.

Monster stats by variant

Encyclopedia entry

The Minotaur was a monster, half bull, half human, the offspring of Minos' wife Pasiphae and a wonderfully beautiful bull.... When the Minotaur was born Minos did not kill him. He had Daedalus, a great architect and inventor, construct a place of confinement for him from which escape was impossible. Daedalus built the Labyrinth, famous throughout the world. Once inside, one would go endlessly along its twisting paths without ever finding the exit.
[ Mythology, by Edith Hamilton ]