Body parts

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The body parts of NetHack characters are used during the game in many ways. If polymorphed into a monster, you may lack a body part and be unable to perform some task. Such tasks include wearing armor, so if you polymorph into a handless monster, your gloves will fall off.

Messages for different body parts are changed as appropriate, for example if you don't have toes in a particular form, it may refer to your "pseudopod extremities" instead. These descriptions are grouped by a number of different overall body types.[1]

List of body parts

All body parts are defined[2] for all monsters, although some are "empty"—for example, a headless monster still needs to reference a head for some messages. Included in the body parts are special areas for particular effects—for example, how to describe a light-headed monster with no head, or the "blood" of a being composed of pure energy. The body parts defined are:

  • Arm
  • Eye
  • Face
  • Finger
  • Fingertip
  • Foot
  • Hand
  • Handed (a generic description of the "hands"; for instance, if you have tentacles rather than hands, you are "tentacled")
  • Head
  • Leg
  • Light headed (if you are headless, you may be "played out" or "addled" instead)
  • Neck
  • Spine
  • Toe
  • Hair
  • Blood (if not blood, you could be losing "life force")
  • Lung
  • Nose
  • Stomach

There are definitions for all groups of these body parts. In addition to being groups, the above are also the names of the body parts used for humanoids.

Default (humanoid) form


You have two hands and can wear gloves on them. The right hand is primarily used for wielding a weapon; the left can wear a shield or wield a second weapon. Some weapons are two-handed, requiring both hands to wield one.

If not wielding a weapon, you fight with your bare (or gloved) hands. Fighting cockatrices or chickatrices bare-handed is fatal.

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.

As of commit e4e8eea4, characters may be right-handed (90%) or left-handed (10%). One-handed primary weapons are wielded in the dominant hand, and shields are worn on the off-hand. This is mainly relevant in the case of a cursed one-handed weapon, in which case rings cannot be put on or removed from the dominant hand. It also affects boomerang trajectory.


A ring can be worn on each of your two ring fingers. There is little difference between your left and right ring fingers; one difference is that, because all characters are right-handed, a cursed wielded weapon makes it impossible to put on or remove a ring from that hand's finger.

If you encounter an incubus or succubus, the ring of adornment is a special case. Incubi like to put one onto a female character's left hand, replacing whatever ring there currently is. This may be fatal if you are, for example, floating over some water with a ring of levitation.

You cannot put on or remove rings when wearing cursed gloves.


Your head can be fitted with a helm, which offers limited protection against falling objects and mind flayer tentacles. Creatures with more than one head may still wear only one helm.


There is also room on your head for something around your eyes: a blindfold, towel, pair of lenses, or the Eyes of the Overworld.

Your eyes can be blinded in a number of ways, such as putting on a blindfold or being attacked by a yellow light. If your eyes are covered by a cream pie or blinding venom, you can use a towel or #wipe to clear it away.


Creatures with a head also have room on the neck for an amulet.


On your body you can wear a shirt (T-shirt or Hawaiian shirt), body armor, and a cloak, in that order. You must take them off in reverse order.


Your feet can wear a pair of boots. They are otherwise bare, so are subject to the same dangers as bare hands.

Monster bodies

The bodies of monsters are defined in some detail. Humanoid monsters generally have all of the above features, and hence can wear armor, wield weapons, and manipulate objects. Other monsters might lack hands or a head, or even a shape of any kind. The grouped body types are as follows:[3]


Some monsters have horns, and hence cannot wear hard helms. Unicorns and ki-rin have a single horn, while horned devils, minotaurs, balrogs, and Asmodeus have two.[4]


Floating eyes and the Cyclops have only one eye, while eyeless monsters naturally have none; all others have two.[5]


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.