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( Bugle.png
Name bugle
Appearance bugle
Base price 15 zm
Weight 10
Material copper
Monster use May be used defensively by monsters.

A bugle is a type of musical instrument that appears in NetHack. It is made of copper.

The bugle is the only non-magical tonal instrument that lacks a magical equivalent.


Elven Priests and Wizards have a 16 chance of starting the game with a bugle.[1]

Yendorian Army sergeants, lieutenants, and captains have a 13 chance of being generated with a bugle.


Applying a bugle will allow you to play it. Improvising can awaken or scare nearby monsters, as with a tooled horn[2] - however, it will also awaken, anger, and unparalyze all soldiers and watchmen on the level.[3] Improvising abuses your wisdom.[4]

Yendorian Army fighters with bugles are capable of using them to the same effect, and will do so if there is another soldier sleeping or otherwise immobile in a 7×7 square around them, awakening other monsters and potentially scaring any pets as well.[5][6]

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.

Per this commit, bugles work against fewer monsters, and some are completely immune.


A bugle can be a good substitute for a tooled horn - they are lighter and have a good chance of scaring most monsters outside of the Yendorian Army. However, they cannot be safely used in Minetown unless you can neutralize or pacify the watch, and it is best to look for barracks before using your bugle on later levels, including the Castle. Bugles are also a reason to tread carefully when clearing out any barracks, as one of the higher-ranked fighters may carry one and will wake up their sleeping comrades the first chance they get, spoiling any sleep- or stealth-based approach you were employing at that point.

Bugles are very useful tools for the late game on, since you are likely to obtain one that you can play the passtune with before you reach the Castle; they can also keep hostile priests from surrounding you in the Sanctum, and drive away air elementals on the Plane of Air.

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.

As a consequence of the above commit, priests and Angels are no longer scared by bugles.


The bugle first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. Its ability to scare monsters was introduced in NetHack 3.6.0; variants based on previous versions are likely to not include this feature.


You extract a loud noise from <your bugle>.
You applied a bugle and improvised.
You extract a strange sound from the bugle!
You applied a bugle and played a specific melody with it.
You blow into the bugle.
As above, while deaf.
You hear a bugle playing reveille!
A soldier played a bugle.
<The soldier> is now ready for battle!
One or more soldiers were awakened, unparalyzed and made hostile.
You hear the rattle of battle gear being readied.
As above while outside your range of vision.


Some variants based on NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions may not add the bugle's scaring properties introduced in later versions.


In dNetHack, orcish Troubadours have a 12 chance of their starting tonal instrument being a bugle.

The bugle is the preferred instrument for playing Rally, Charge and Inspire Courage via the Troubadour's musicalize spell skill, and is an alternate instrument for playing Disruption.


In SlashTHEM, orcish Bards have a 12 chance of starting with a bugle, as in dNetHack.

The bugle is the preferred instrument for playing Inspire Courage via the musicalize spell skill.

Encyclopedia entry

'I read you by your bugle horn
And by your palfrey good,
I read you for a Ranger sworn
To keep the King's green-wood.'
'A Ranger, Lady, winds his horn,
And 'tis at peep of light;
His blast is heard at merry morn,
And mine at dead of night.'

[ Brignall Banks, by Sir Walter Scott ]