Dunce cap

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[   dunce cap   Conical hat.png
Appearance conical hat
Slot helm
AC 0
Base price 1 zm
Weight 4
Material cloth

A dunce cap 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 cornuthaum.


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


While worn, the dunce cap sets a character's intelligence and wisdom to 6 each and autocurses, autoidentifying the dunce cap; dunce caps prevent any further changes to intelligence or wisdom while worn.[1] Removing the dunce cap will restore your character's intelligence and wisdom to their original values.

If shopping while wearing a dunce cap, the shopkeeper will add an additional 13 markup to the price of each item when buying, and only gives 13 of the base price in gold or credit when selling items.[2][3] This does not stack with the penalty for being a low-level Tourist or having a visible shirt.[4][5]

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 dunce cap will be labeled "DUNCE". Reading a dunce cap autoidentifies it.


The dunce cap only exists to entrap careless Wizards looking for a cornuthaum - the INT penalty will be devastating to their spellcasting success rates, making it difficult to cast the spell of remove curse. As the cornuthaum is only useful for Wizards or pets, non-Wizards can freely ignore unidentified conical hats and completely avoid the risk of donning a dunce cap.

One marginal use of the dunce cap is that it prevents instadeath from a mind flayer's intelligence drain - it does not prevent amnesia from the same attack, however. Beyond this, its best use is as fodder for polypiling into other magical armor.


As the dunce cap and the cornuthaum are both conical hats, picking up and wearing a conical hat at random is a Bad Idea. They can easily be distinguished by price identification, with the dunce cap having a base cost of only 1 zorkmid.


The dunce first appears in NetHack 3.2.0.


The dunce cap is a conical paper hat with the word "dunce" or just a "D" written on it. It served as a form of punishment for schools in the English-speaking world, where a student seen as misbehaving, stupid or lazy was made to wear it in front of the classroom for a set amount of time.

The notion of a "thinking cap" such as the cornuthaum may derive from ceremonial conical hats or even true thinking hats - in this context, the dunce cap is an "anti-thinking cap".


You feel like sitting in a corner.
You put on a dunce cap.
Your cap constricts briefly, then relaxes again.
Your wisdom or intelligence would have changed, but a worn dunce cap prevented this.


Some variants give dunce cap additional and sometimes-niche uses.


In dNetHack, a dunce cap is one of the best defenses against the intelligence-draining powers of an ancient of thought.


In SpliceHack, a tinfoil hat can be created at a furnace by combining a dunce cap and a dented pot.

Encyclopedia entry

A dunce cap, also variously known as a dunce hat, dunce's
cap, or dunce's hat, is a tall conical hat. In popular
culture, it is typically made of paper and often marked with
a D, and given to schoolchildren to wear as punishment for
being stupid or lazy. While this is now a rare practice,
it is frequently depicted in popular culture such as
children's cartoons.

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