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[   cornuthaum   Conical hat.png
Appearance conical hat
Slot helm
AC 0
Base price 80 zm
Weight 4
Material cloth

A cornuthaum is a type of magical helm that appears in NetHack. It is made of cloth, and appears as a conical hat when unidentified, an appearance that it shares with the dunce cap.


In addition to random generation, general stores and used armor dealerships can sell cornuthaums.


While worn, a cornuthaum provides MC1 but no base AC. Wizards wearing a cornuthaum gain 1 point of charisma and extrinsic clairvoyance; non-Wizards lose 1 point of charisma and have all sources of clairvoyance blocked (whether from the intrinsic or the spell). Wizards alone can safely enchant a cornuthaum from +5 or lower, while other roles risk destroying one if it is enchanted while above +3.


Cornuthaums are among the best helms for Wizards, being the only permanent source of clairvoyance outside of the Amulet of Yendor. They are are often overlooked in favor of the helm of brilliance, since a potential +4 or +5 bonus to intelligence and wisdom has far more applications in most situations than the cornuthaum's +1 charisma bonus. Wizards finding a cornuthaum close to the start of the game may even prefer an orcish helm for protection from falling rock traps, at least until they can gain a few levels and raise their HP.

From the point that most Wizards are prepared to delve deeper into the dungeon, a cornuthaum is generally preferable by far for navigating the Gnomish Mines and other dark areas, even for races with infravision - most Wizards start with more than enough innate intelligence to cast low-level spells often (especially elven Wizards), and can raise their intelligence via alchemized potions of gain ability if necessary. Orcish Wizards may occasionally prefer the helm of brilliance for fully hungerless casting, but their normal cap of 16 Int will suffice for a majority of standard scenarios.

While Wizards can safely enchant a cornuthaum to +7 similar to an elven leather helm, the scrolls of enchant armor required are better spent elsewhere in their mid-to-late game, especially once they obtain The Eye of the Aethiopica and gain the power regeneration necessary to make frequent use of higher-level spells. A +5 helm of brilliance can provide the benefits of boosted intelligence and wisdom at only 1 less point of AC than a +7 cornuthaum; patient Wizards can also polypile their way to a +6 or +7 helm of brilliance using the aforementioned scrolls and readily-available elven armor.

The cornuthaum is the only MC-granting armor that is not worn on the torso, and is the only source of MC for an intelligent humanoid pet that is too large to wear body armor, e.g. a titan or centaur - monsters such as Archons that inherently have MC1 gain no further protection from a cornuthaum outside of its enchantment.

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.

Large humanoids such as giants and other similar monsters can now wear mummy wrappings, which also grant MC1.


As the cornuthaum and the autocursing dunce cap are both conical hats, picking up and wear-testing a conical hat at random is a Bad Idea. They can easily be distinguished by price: the cornuthaum has a base cost of 80 zorkmids.

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.

For a Tourist, 13 of conical hats can be read. A cornuthaum will be labeled "WIZZARD".


The cornuthaum first appears in NetHack 3.2.0. From this version to NetHack 3.4.3, including variants derived from those versions, cornuthaums grant MC2 while worn, making them more useful as MC sources for pets and as Archon hats in particular.


"Cornuthaum" is a term coined by NetHack DevTeam member Janet Walz to describe the stereotypical conical, pointed hat associated with traditional depictions of wizards and other magicians in fictional media[1][2] - cornu is Latin for "horn", and thauma (θαῦμα) is Greek for "miracle, wonder".

Among the most common forms of wizard hat is the conical blue hat covered with yellow stars and crescent moons; their shape and decoration are likely based on golden hats found during archeological digs in Europe that are adorned with astronomical sequences, and have been speculated as being worn by ancient wizards. Most other types of headwear that wizards and other magicians are depicted with will be at least conical in shape, and may even resemble a witch hat. The notion of a thinking hat may also derive from ceremonial conical hats, or even "true" thinking hats.


You sense a pointy hat on top of your head.
You cast the spell of clairvoyance while wearing a cornuthaum, but you are not a Wizard.


Some variants based on NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions retain the cornuthaum's MC2.


In SLASH'EM, upgrading a cornuthaum produces a dunce cap and vice versa.


In dNetHack and notdNetHack, the cornuthaum grants 0 base AC, 0 DR and MC2 while worn.

Incantifiers can gain the same positive effects from a worn cornuthaum as Wizards.


In EvilHack, the Dark One has a 14 chance of generating with a cornuthaum, and Neferet the Green and the Wizard of Yendor always generate with a cornuthaum. One of the preset kits for a level 20 player monster includes a cornuthaum as the helm.

A uncursed cornuthaum is generated atop a wizard corpse on the second level of the Ice Queen's Realm.


In SlashTHEM, in addition to SLASH'EM changes, the Flame Mage, Ice Mage, Electric Mage, and Acid Mage roles gain a +1 bonus to charisma when wearing a cornuthaum, though clairvoyance is still blocked for non-Wizards; Wizards gain a +2 bonus instead.


In Hack'EM, upgrading a cornuthaum can produce a dunce cap and vice versa, as in SLASH'EM.

Encyclopedia entry

He was dressed in a flowing gown with fur tippets which had
the signs of the zodiac embroidered over it, with various
cabalistic signs, such as triangles with eyes in them, queer
crosses, leaves of trees, bones of birds and animals, and a
planetarium whose stars shone like bits of looking-glass with
the sun on them. He had a pointed hat like a dunce's cap, or
like the headgear worn by ladies of that time, except that
the ladies were accustomed to have a bit of veil floating
from the top of it.

[ The Once and Future King, by T.H. White ]

         "A wizard!" Dooley exclaimed, astounded.
         "At your service, sirs," said the wizard. "How
perceptive of you to notice. I suppose my hat rather gives me
away. Something of a beacon, I don't doubt." His hat was
pretty much that, tall and cone-shaped with stars and crescent
moons all over it. All in all, it couldn't have been more

[ The Elfin Ship, James P. Blaylock ]


  1. src/objects.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 349
  2. Commit c155d23 names the specific DevTeam member that coined the term.