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Spheres, e, are a class of monster in NetHack. This class is made up of monsters that act like "living mines", with the ability to self-destruct and cause damage. Dextrous players can sometimes dodge the explosions partially or completely, while players with the correct resistance might not be harmed by the blast.

Monsters in this class:

Flaming, freezing, and shocking spheres will actively seek you out and explode when next to you. If you manage to kill them before they can do this, they will not explode. The explosion does not affect other nearby creatures. Items in your inventory are not damaged.

Gas spores (e) are different in that they will never attack you and explode only if killed. However, gas spores explosions cover 3-by-3 square, thus even if a character survives the blast, other monsters might be killed. If you caused the explosion, it will count as you attacking them, so caution is advised in the case of pets. As a result of that, peaceful creatures caught in the blast become hostile, and monsters killed by the blast give you experience.

e Floating eyes are represented by the same character as spheres, but their behavior is significantly different. Floating eyes do not self-destruct.

y Black lights and y yellow lights are not spheres, but they self-destruct in a similar manner.

Some spheres pick up objects, others do not. At least so the bug list claims.

In SLASH'EM, tame flame and freezing spheres can be summoned by spells of flame sphere and freeze sphere respectively. A monster attacked by one of your spheres is treated as if you had attacked it directly: peaceful monsters are angered, XP is awarded to you for a kill, etc. They are, of course, useless if the opposing monsters resist fire or cold. Too much use can also cause swift extinction of the species.

Body parts

Sphere also refers to the grouping of body parts for the forms of bulbous entities. It affects the messages referring to the appropriate body parts as follows:[1]

Bodypart[2] Description
Arm Appendage
Eye Optic nerve (cornea for floating eyes)
Face Body
Finger Tentacle
Fingertip Tentacle tip
Foot Lower appendage
Hand Tentacle
Handed Tentacled
Head Body
Leg Lower tentacle
Light Headed Rotational
Neck Equator
Spine Body
Toe Lower tentacle tip
Hair Cilia
Blood Life force
Lung Retina
Nose Olfactory nerve
Stomach Interior

From these descriptions, spheres are almost perfectly round (references to geometric properties of spheres) but have long tentacles as "limbs", small cilia as hair and rather than internal organs, they refer to retina and nerves alone. Strange creatures indeed.

Encyclopedia entry

The attack by those who want to die -- this is the attack
against which you cannot prepare a perfect defense.
                              --Human aphorism

[ The Dosadi Experiment, by Frank Herbert ]