Clay golem

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A clay golem, ', is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is a thick-skinned golem that is one of the stronger varities a character can encounter, but is slightly weaker than the stone golem.

A clay golem has a single claw attack, and possesses sleep resistance and poison resistance.

Clay golems subjected to cancellation, e.g. from the wand of cancellation or a gremlin attack, will be instantly destroyed - this includes you if you are polymorphed into a clay golem, and reverts you back to your base form unless you have the unchanging property, in which case you die.[1]


Randomly generated clay golems are always created hostile. Clay golems are always generated with 50 hit points.[2]

In addition to random generation, clay golems can generate as a result of polypiling if there are enough objects made of copper, silver, platinum, gemstone, or mineral in a given pile of items.[3]

Clay golems leave behind several rocks as a special death drop instead of a corpse.[4]


Clay golems hit decently hard, but like many golems they are also very slow at 7 speed - a clay golem is not too difficult to defeat if you can maintain your distance long enough or else have enough AC to reduce their damage.


The clay golem first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. From this version to NetHack 3.6.1, including some variants based on those versions, a character being cancelled while in clay golem form would always rehumanize, even if they have unchanging - this is fixed in NetHack 3.6.2 via commit 89237fc9.


The gōlem, originating from Jewish folklore, is an animate, anthropomorphic being usually created entirely from clay (or mud). One of the oldest Talmudic stories describes Adam as a golem, initially created when his mud (or "dust") was "kneaded into a shapeless husk" - similar tales and motifs of the creation of the first man and/or humankind from clay exist in several world religions and mythologies.

The most famous golem narrative, "The Golem of Prague", is generally believed to be a product of early 19th-century German literature: in the late 16th century, the rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel reportedly created a golem from clay gathered at the banks of the Vltava River, and brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations to defend the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks and pogroms. Golems in these and various other tales are inscribed with Hebrew words that animate them; one particular example is the word emét (אמת, "truth" in Hebrew), which could be used to deactivate the golem by removing the aleph (א) from the word, changing the inscription to mét (מת, "dead") - cancellation has this same effect on the clay golems of NetHack, destroying them instantly.

Clay golems appear in the early monster manuals of Dungeons & Dragons. In the 1st Edition, a clay golem can be created by a lawful good cleric of 17th or higher level through the use of several spells on a man-shaped clay statue; lower-level clerics additionally required a magical tome to do so. The clay golem is under the command of that cleric while animated - these golems were only vulnerable to blunt magical weapons and very specific (usually earth-based) spells. However, similar to some of the classic golem tales that inspired it, there is a 1% cumulative chance each round that the golem is imbued by a chaotic evil spirit, causing it to attack any and every living thing until it is destroyed.


Some writing vanishes from the clay golem's head!
A clay golem was hit with a cancellation spell, beam or attack - this instantly destroys it.
Some writing vanishes from your head!
You were polymorphed into a clay golem and hit with one of the above effects. This will return you to your original form, even with unchanging.
You have a strangely sad feeling for a moment, then it passes.
Your pet clay golem was canceled and destroyed by a gremlin.



In SLASH'EM, clay golems are always generated with 150 HP.[5]


In dNetHack, the Chaos Temple variant of the Chaos Quest generates six clay golems within the exterior of the 'past' Temple of Chaos at level creation.

Encyclopedia entry

It was a warm spring night when a fist knocked at the door so
hard that the hinges bent.
A man opened it and peered out into the street. There was
mist coming off the river and it was a cloudy night. He might
as well have tried to see through white velvet.
But he thought afterwards that there had been shapes out
there, just beyond the light spilling out into the road. A
lot of shapes, watching him carefully. He thought maybe
there'd been very faint points of light...
There was no mistaking the shape right in front of him,
though. It was big and dark red and looked like a child's
clay model of a man. Its eyes were two embers.

[ Feet of Clay, by Terry Pratchett ]