Chain mail

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[   chain mail   Chain mail.png
Appearance chain mail
Slot body armor
AC 5
Base price 75 zm
Weight 300
Material iron

Chain mail is a type of body armor that appears in NetHack. It is made of iron.


Orcish characters in a role that starts with chain mail receive orcish chain mail instead[1] - currently, there are no roles that make use of this substitution, as no roles start with chain mail.

In addition to random generation, general stores, used armor dealerships and antique weapon outlets can sell chain mail.

Chieftains, pages, roshi, and warriors have a 23 chance of generating with chain mail.[2]

Player monster barbarians, knights, priests, and valkyries have an effective 18155 chance (roughly ~11.61%) of forcing chain mail in place of their initial body armor.[3][4][5][6]

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 part of commit 20cbadcf - which strengthens quest leaders and makes it so that killing them no longer makes the game unwinnable - the Barbarian quest leader Pelias generates with +5 chain mail.


While worn, chain mail provides 5 base AC and MC1.


Chain mail is a decent set of armor, though it is heavy and blocks spellcasting. Roles looking to shore up their AC early can make good use of a set of chain mail until they can obtain dragon scale mail or else find other armor that is lighter (e.g., dwarvish mithril-coat and elven mithril-coat) or more conducive to spellcasting (e.g., studded leather armor).


Chain mail first appears in Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, which are based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial list of armor for Hack 1.0. From this version to NetHack 3.2.3, the Priest role starts with +0 chain mail - NetHack 3.3.0 and later versions replace this with the robe.


Chain mail is made of small metal rings interlocked to form a mesh, and was widely used in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, from pre-Roman times until as late as the 19th century. In medieval sources, this type of armor was described simply as "mail" - the use of the term to describe other types of armor (and the invention of "chain mail" to distinguish it from those) began in 19th-century historical fiction.

The stats for chain mail in NetHack are derived from its appearance in Dungeons & Dragons.



In SLASH'EM, the Undead Slayer has a 14 chance of starting with chain mail as their body armor. Orcish Undead Slayers that would start with chain mail as their body armor receive orcish chain mail instead, making use of the existing substitution.

A set of chain mail appears on the goal level of the Yeoman quest, placed on the altar of the lawful temple.

Upgrading orcish chain mail will produce regular chain mail, and vice versa.


In dNetHack, chain mail grants 2 base AC, 3 DR and MC1 while worn, and its weight is reduced to 150 aum.

Dwarven Binders always start with thoroughly rusty chain mail, while Dwarven and female half-dragon Nobles will always start with standard chain mail. All non-Incantifier Knights start the game with chain mail - incantifier Knights are given a robe instead.

Soldier ants and queen bees generated on the Lawful Quest have an effective 325 chance of generating with chain mail.


In xNetHack, Croesus has a 78 chance of generating with gold chain mail.


In EvilHack, aligned champions and ronin have a 13 chance of generating with chain mail. Chain mail may also be generated as part of various kits for player monsters, including centaurs.

Chain mail can be created at a forge by combining two sets of ring mail. Chain mail can be used to forge a few items:


In Hack'EM, giant Undead Slayers that would start with chain mail start with low boots instead, while tortle Undead Slayers receive leather gloves in place of chain mail.

In addition to EvilHack forging recipes, upgrading orcish chain mail will produce regular chain mail and vice versa, as in SLASH'EM.


  1. src/u_init.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 221
  2. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 288
  3. src/mplayer.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 174: 12 for barbarians and other mentioned roles to get random body armor within the range of objects from plate mail to chain mail in objects.c, using normal generation odds
  4. src/mplayer.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 201: body armor for knights
  5. src/mplayer.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 215: body armor for priests
  6. src/mplayer.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 242: body armor for valkyries