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A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"This article confuses major demons (the monster class) and demons (defined by a flag). Minor demons are neither. Some of this information should probably be split, or at least organized more clearly."

Demons are a class of monster mostly found in Gehennom. The class is not synonymous with the monsters represented by the & symbol: the riders and djinn are not demons (although NetHack itself is inconsistent on this point; asking for information on a rider will identify it as a "Major Demon"), and the i class is comprised of minor demons. The mail daemon is technically a member of this class, but is not generally viewed as an actual monster. Sandestins share the & symbol with major demons in their natural form. There are also several unique and named major demons.

Types of demons

The imps and minor demons are represented by i. Internally, NetHack calls this symbol S_IMP. Monsters in this class:

SLASH'EM adds these imps and minor demons

UnNetHack adds uranium imps as a new minor demon.

The ordinary major demons are represented by &. Internally, NetHack calls this symbol S_DEMON. NetHack recognizes this class with the macro function is_demon defined in mondata.h on line 93, which simply checks whether or not the monster has the M2_DEMON attribute. Monsters in this class

SLASH'EM adds these major demons

In UnNetHack, a Shambling horror (represented by U) can be defined as a demon in certain games. If this happens, they can be summoned through demon gating, and a can summon other demons.

There are several more monsters represented by & that are NOT considered major demons, i.e. they lack the M2_DEMON attribute. These monsters are

Unique demons

The named demons are divided into two ranks: the lower demon lords, and the higher demon princes. There are also two quest nemeses who happen to be demons.

The demon lords are

The demon princes are

Of these, Juiblex, Orcus, Baalzebub and Asmodeus have lairs within Gehennom, and are guaranteed to appear in every game (SLASH'EM gives every unique demon a lair). The others may be summoned, and will not necessarily appear in a given game.

The quest nemesis demons cannot be summoned by other demons. They can cast summon nasties, but since they are outside of Gehennom, the probability that they will summon other demons is low.

Characteristics of demons

Although minor demons are not a significant threat, major demons are quite strong opponents, and can summon other major demons and unique demons. (Foocubi and balrogs cannot summon, but other demons can summon them.) The unique demons are very strong and can be dangerous in some circumstances. For instance Asmodeus is lethal if you lack cold resistance and Orcus carries a wand of Death.

All major demons resist fire, poison, level drain, and death rays, although they are still considered living creatures. Major demons cannot be tamed unless you are polymorphed into a demon yourself. Most demons can be burnt by silver for an extra d20 damage (exceptions: tengu, the riders, sandestins, mail daemons, and djinni).

Non-unique major demons generated at the time of level creation have an 80% chance of starting out asleep, unless you possess the Amulet of Yendor in which case they will always be awake.[1] This does not apply to those generated after level creation.

Demon summoning

Sacrificing your own race can summon a major demon or a demon lord (but not a demon prince), as can angering a chaotic god when on an altar (by praying with negative alignment, converting a chaotic altar, amongst other effects).

Demons summoning demons

This section of the page is based on a spoiler by M. Stage which can now be accessed on the web archive or on's mirror of

Every major demon and unique demon has a 1/13 chance of summoning (sometimes called "gating in") another major demon or unique demon for each attack that hits you. The only exceptions among monsters recognized internally as demons are Foocubi and balrogs; they are demons proper, as opposed to some non-demon monsters who are represented by the & symbol, yet they do not have this demon-summoning property. (They themselves are capable of being summoned by summoning attacks, however.) The difference between demons, demon lords, and demon princes lies in which other demons they can summon, and how often. Quest nemesis demons can summon, but cannot be summoned. The flag "generated only in Gehennom" is ignored. Demons will never summon demons while attacking other monsters, therefore tame demons will not normally summon other demons (which would be hostile, anyway).[2]

The following table shows the chance of a given & gating in another & of specific type according to M. Stage's demon-summoning spoiler.

Summoner Chance of Non-unique Major Demon Chance of Demon Lord Chance of Demon Prince
Non-unique Major Demons
(except Foocubi and balrogs)
95% 5% 0%
Demon Lords
Juiblex, Yeenoghu
93.1% 4.9% 2%
Demon Princes
Asmodeus, Baalzebub, Dispater,
Geryon, Demogorgon, Orcus
71.75% 23.75% 5%

Summoned demons will always be the same alignment as the summoner - that is, summoners are only capable of summoning co-aligned demons. The Wizard of Yendor's summon nasties (remote or in person) is an exception: he can create any demon.

According to the spoiler, if you are trying to summon Demogorgon (perhaps as an unofficial conduct) the quickest way to do it is with a hasted Orcus. If you are wearing speed boots the chance of getting Demogorgon per turn is (1/13) * (5/100) = 5/1300 per turn. Your chance of having summoned Demogorgon after n turns is then

Number of turns n Chance of Demogorgon
1 0.38%
50 17.5%
100 32.0%
200 53.7%
500 85.4%
1000 97.9%

Incubi are slightly more common than succubi.

Summoning while polymorphed

If you are polymorphed into a major demon that can summon, and you hit a monster with bare or gloved hands, there is a 1 in 13 chance of summoning a tame demon at your side, announced with the message "Some hell-p has arrived!"[3]. This chance obtains on each attack, so a demon with many attacks, such as a marilith, will be more likely to summon a demon. You will never summon a unique demon.


In UnNetHack Angels will attack any Demons they see, (and vice versa) as part of Nephi's grudge patch.


  1. makemon.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1035
  2. Mhitu.c#line482, Wizard.c#line432, Minion.c#msummon,Minion.c#ndemon,Makemon.c#mkclass
  3. demonpet in uhitm.c

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

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 {{nethack-360}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.