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A ghoul is a type of undead monster that appears in NetHack.

While ghouls are technically inediate, they are the only member of the zombie monster class that can eat any kind of food, preferring old corpses.[1] They are also the only humanoid-shaped monster in the game with sickness resistance.


In addition to random generation, a ghoul will be summoned if you engrave on a headstone.


Due to the paralysis, ghouls can be somewhat dangerous to an early character if multiple other monsters are nearby. However, the duration is quite low, and ghouls are are often too slow to be a major threat.

As a polyform, ghouls are one of the few ways a player can obtain sickness resistance - in practice, it is much more feasible to simply have a cure for sickness, such as a blessed unicorn horn or a potion of full healing, for illness-inflicting threats such as Pestilence or Demogorgon. However, the ghoul polyform does have use for illiterate conduct players that are throne farming and do not mind breaking polyselfless conduct - if using a cursed unicorn horn as their source of confusion, they can polymorph into a ghoul and put on an amulet of unchanging.


Ghouls first appear in NetHack 3.3.0. There was a bug which allowed the player to generate unlimited ghouls by engraving on the same headstone over and over again;[2][3] this bug was fixed in NetHack 3.4.0.


Ghouls are depicted as a type of undead creature; the word originates in the Arabic "ghūl" (غول), an evil spirit. Their depiction and properties vary - they may be portrayed as more sophisticated zombies, or as a type of humanoid monster that eats humans.



In SLASH'EM, ghouls have been made slightly more dangerous - their claw attack paralyzes for 1d6 turns and does 1d4 damage, and their base level is increased to 5. Ghoul mages and ghoul queens are also introduced.

Necromancers start the game with a tame ghoul.


In SlashTHEM, on top of the changes and additions from SLASH'EM, Ghouls can leave corpses upon death, and hostile ghouls will eat any old corpses they see.

Encyclopedia entry

The forces of the gloom know each other, and are strangely
balanced by each other. Teeth and claws fear what they cannot
grasp. Blood-drinking bestiality, voracious appetites, hunger
in search of prey, the armed instincts of nails and jaws which
have for source and aim the belly, glare and smell out
uneasily the impassive spectral forms straying beneath a
shroud, erect in its vague and shuddering robe, and which seem
to them to live with a dead and terrible life. These
brutalities, which are only matter, entertain a confused fear
of having to deal with the immense obscurity condensed into an
unknown being. A black figure barring the way stops the wild
beast short. That which emerges from the cemetery intimidates
and disconcerts that which emerges from the cave; the
ferocious fear the sinister; wolves recoil when they encounter
a ghoul.

[ Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo ]


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