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A goblin, o, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is the most basic type of orc, and likely one of the first monsters you will encounter overall.

A goblin is a small, omnivorous humanoid monster that possesses infravision and can be seen via infravision, and will pick up items they come across. They are the only orcs that do not have the strong monster attribute. A goblin possesses a single weapon attack.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

As of commit b6a3d4b9, orc shamans also lack the "strong" monster attribute, and poison resistance is given to all orcs except the goblin and hobgoblin to distinguish them from the others.


Some goblins may generate peaceful towards chaotic, non-elven player characters.[1]

Goblins may appear among the hostile o that generate in throne rooms, as well the monsters randomly generated by looting a throne while confused and carrying gold (provided there is no chest on the level), and can appear separately as well as among the o generated in both cases.[2]

In a game that has Orcish Town, several named goblins will appear around and within the town walls.[3]

A goblin has a 12 chance of being generated with an orcish helm like other orcish monsters, and a separate 12 chance of receiving an orcish dagger.[4][5]


While fairly weak overall, goblins can be a threat to a starting character if their randomly generated helm and/or dagger turn out to be decently enchanted, or else they come across a wand that they can zap at you. Thankfully, goblins are too small to take advantage of body armor, and their HP is generally low enough that one or two hits will dispatch them easily. Their leftover orcish daggers can be used as early weapons to train the dagger skill, and can also serve as a way to force open containers until an unlocking tool is found.

Neutral players should make sure to kill goblins themselves rather than leaving them to pets - as an early chaotic spawn, the alignment record gain ensures that successful prayer is possible after turn 300. This is essential for strategies like the protection racket (which relies on gaining alignment while avoiding killing coaligned monsters and keeping experience low) and conducts that require frequent prayer (like foodless).

If there are altars nearby, orcish characters can kill hostile goblins or sic pets on peaceful ones and use their corpses to convert them (if necessary), then raise Luck and generate peaceful foocubi from further sacrifices. The altar to Moloch in Orcish Town is a good candidate for this, though be sure to convert it with a non-orcish corpse first - same-race sacrifice will not convert an unaligned altar, and you will take a -2 Luck penalty.


The goblin first appears in Hack 1.21, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack, where it uses the g glyph. It makes its vanilla debut in NetHack 3.0.0; in previous versions, the hobgoblin generally occupies the niche of the "weaker orc".

From NetHack 3.1.0 to NetHack 3.2.3, several goblins can be encountered in the Elf quest branch, including the Elf's quest nemesis, the Goblin King. Many goblins also appear in the Hobbit quest as well.


The goblin has its origins in the folklore of multiple European cultures, first appearing in stories from the Middle Ages; their abilities, temperaments and appearances depend entirely on the story and country of origin. Goblins are almost always portrayed as small and grotesque, varying from mischievous to outright malicious, and are usually greedy (especially for gold and jewelry). Many folkloric goblins have magical abilities similar to a fairy or demon.

In Dungeons & Dragons and other modern fantasy fiction, "goblinoids" refer to goblins and related creatures such as bugbears and hobgoblins, the latter of which are also orcish monsters in NetHack; their goblins are also derived from the orcs of J. R. R. Tolkien, who in his Middle-earth works used "orc" and "goblin" for the same race of creatures. Most fantasy-based role-playing games also employ goblins as standard beginner-level enemies for the player.



SporkHack adds the goblin shaman, a stronger type of goblin that is similar to the kobold shaman.


In dNetHack, the defunct Elf quest is retooled as the Elvish Racial Quest, which has several goblins on the home, locate and lower filler levels.

The Chaos Temple Quest has twelve goblins randomly generated in the grassy forest of the Ruined Temple map at level creation, and half of the randomly generated monsters on that level will be goblins.

Goblins may appear in the court of a throne room ruled by an orc-captain.


In xNetHack, goblins have poison resistance like all orcish monsters.


In EvilHack, goblins have poison resistance like other orcish monsters. EvilHack also adds three stronger types of goblin: the goblin shaman, the goblin outrider, and the goblin-captain.

Encyclopedia entry

Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make
no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They
can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled
dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually
untidy and dirty. Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes,
tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well,
or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and
slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and

[ The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien ]


  1. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1267
  2. src/mkroom.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 749: orcs and throne rooms
  3. dat/mines.des in NetHack 3.6.7, line 179
  4. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 397: default orcish armor
  5. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 426: default orcish weapons - goblins will always receive an orcish dagger if given a weapon