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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.

Monsters in this class:

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.


Dextrous players can sometimes dodge the explosions partially or completely, while players with the correct resistance might not be harmed by the blast.

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 and items in your inventory are not damaged. The explosion does not affect other nearby creatures.

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.

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.

Spheres now create actual explosions with their attacks. These affect a 3×3 area around their target and can hit other monsters, as well as eroding or destroying carried and dropped items within the blast radius. If you polymorph into a sphere and explode, the explosion will not affect your own inventory.

As of commit 9942b65, resistances from worn or wielded items have a 99% chance of protecting your inventory, and as of commit 67295bc wearing non-metallic gloves will protect worn rings. Shocking spheres are now considered a target for genocide due to the item destruction threat. As of commit ef6a88e, chargeable rings hit by shocking spheres and other forms of shock damage may be charged rather than destroyed.

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.


NetHack 3.4.3 was subject to bug C343-138 which allowed some spheres to pick up objects, but prevented others from doing so.


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.

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 ]


This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.0. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-360}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.