Earth elemental

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An earth elemental, E, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is a strong, thick-skinned elemental that is capable of phasing through walls.

An earth elemental has a single claw attack, and possesses poison resistance, fire resistance, cold resistance, and stoning resistance.

Weapons that use the pick-axe skill gain a +2 to-hit bonus against earth elementals.


Randomly generated earth elementals may be peaceful towards neutral characters. Earth elementals generated on the Plane of Earth will have three times as many hit points.[1][2][3]

In addition to random generation, an earth elemental may be generated as a minion of a neutral god.

Earth elementals are the first quest monster for Monks, making up 96175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Monk quest. Several earth elementals are generated on each floor of the quest branch at level creation: eight on the home level, three on the upper filler level, fourteen on the locate level, two on the lower filler level(s), and nine on the goal level. They also appear among the random E that are part of the first quest monster class for Monks, and make up 24175 of the monsters randomly generated there. Earth elementals additionally appear among the the random E that are part of the second quest class for Samurai, and make up 6175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Samurai quest.

Twenty-seven hostile earth elementals are generated across the various caverns on the Plane of Earth at level creation.[4] Digging with a pick-axe or dwarvish mattock has an effective 16 chance of generating an earth elemental on each adjacent square.[5]

Earth elementals are not a valid target for genocide. An earth elemental does not leave a corpse upon death.


Individually, earth elementals are slow and hard-hitting monsters that can be dealt with relatively easily at the point you encounter them, though their phasing can make them quite annoying. Large groups of earth elementals can be quite dangerous, since their phasing allows them to surround you quite easily and cut off some of the usual escape routes - this is a particular hazard on the Monk quest, where every level pairs them with xorns that can also phase and hit similarly hard, and both can move effortlessly through the boulder forts some Monks employ as a defense against Master Kaen.

As a polymorph form

Earth elementals are sometimes used as a polyself form for travel purposes - while they move at half the base speed of a normal character, they are one of only two monsters capable of phasing normally (with the other being the xorn), and there are fewer areas with unphaseable walls than undiggable ones. In this regard, the earth elemental is an inferior polyform to the xorn, since it cannot wear any armor while xorns can at least wear non-torso armor; one of their few advantages is that they cannot be genocided, which keeps phasing attainable in the rare cases where xorns are wiped out (e.g., by a Wizard attempting to farm wraiths on the Wizard quest).


The earth elemental first appears in NetHack 3.0.0.


The debris from your digging comes to life!
Earth elementals were generated from digging using a pick-axe or dwarvish mattock.


In variants that incorporate the Convict role, one or two earth elementals are generated on the lower filler level(s) of the Convict quest at level creation.


In SLASH'EM, zapping an earth elemental with a wand of digging will halve its current HP.[6]

Earth elementals appear among the random E that are part of the first quest monster class for Flame Mages, and make up 24175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Flame Mage quest.

At least one earth elemental is generated within the Cloud Bank of the Lawful Quest at level creation, with a 35 chance of a second one being placed nearby.


In dNetHack, 110 of the monsters randomly generated on the Earth Temple level of the Chaos Temple Quest will be earth elementals.


In SpliceHack, ten earth elementals are generated on the Gemstone Array at level creation.


In EvilHack, earth elementals are given an additional engulfing attack.


In addition to SLASH'EM details, SlashTHEM adds the greater earth elemental, though earth elementals cannot grow up into them.

The Acid Mage quest artifact, The Flute of Slime, can be invoked to summon tame earth elementals, and has a 34 chance of generating a standard one and a 14 chance of generating a greater one.