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The goblin, o, is a common monster that appears in NetHack. It is likely to be among the very first orcish monsters you meet, if not one of the first monsters overall.

Goblins are the only orcish monster not marked as strong.


Goblins will be generated from practically the start of the game, and often generate peaceful towards chaotic player characters, particularly orcs. They have a 50% chance to be generated with an orcish helm like other orcish monsters[1] - however, the only other orcish item they can generate with is an orcish dagger, which they have a separate 50% chance to receive.[2]

Various named goblins may appear in Minetown and other branches of the dungeon in a game where Orcish Town is generated.


Goblins are generally insignificant to all but the weakest characters, unless their randomly generated helm and/or dagger turn out to be decently enchanted, or else they come across an attack wand. They are usually worth killing or siccing pets on for orcish players if there are altars nearby, since their corpses can be sacrificed to convert non-chaotic altars or summon peaceful demon princes and other major demons from chaotic ones. Their orcish daggers can be used as early weapons to train in dagger, or serve as a way to force open locked containers.

Neutral players should make sure to kill goblins themselves - as a 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).


The goblin has its origins in the folklore of multiple European cultures, first appearing in Middle Ages-era stories. Their abilities, temperaments and appearances depend entirely on the story and country of origin. They are almost always small and grotesque, vary 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.


The goblin was first introduced in NetHack 3.0.0; however, long before that it was included in the bestiary for hack121, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack. The hobgoblin generally occupied the niche of the "weaker orc" in versions prior to 3.0.0.

From versions 3.1.0 to 3.2.3, several goblins could 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.



EvilHack adds three stronger types of goblin: the goblin shaman, the goblin outrider, and the goblin-captain.


dNetHack revives the elf quest as the Elvish Racial Quest - the quest nemesis is now the Necromancer, but goblins are still a significant presence on the home, locate and lower filler levels.

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 ]