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The gremlin, g, is a NetHack monster. Getting them wet will cause them to divide into two gremlins with half the maximum HP as the original; they will actively seek moats and fountains to promote this process. Fountains will sometimes dry up when used by gremlins. In addition, at night they have the ability to steal intrinsics. They are vulnerable to light, and their flesh is poisonous.

Steal intrinsic attack

Each successful hit at night with the intrinsic-stealing attack has a 1/10 chance[1] of picking a random intrinsic from the following list.[2] The first intrinsic you have from the chosen one downward will be lost. If you have none of the intrinsics from the chosen one downward, nothing will be lost.

The game separately tracks intrinsics (from corpses, altar work, potions, wands) and extrinsics (from jewelry, armor, artifacts) and role/race properties. For example, if a gremlin steals poison resistance from a high-level monk or a hero in an alchemy smock, the hero will still resist poison as long as they do not drain levels or remove the smock.

Additionally, players that are polymorphed into clay golems are turned back to their original form. This occurs even if they have the unchanging property.

The attack is not affected by magic cancellation, though it can still be prevented by canceling the monster.

When successfully used against other monsters, the special attack cancels them instead of stealing instrinsics. Clay golems are destroyed.

Night is 22:00 - 05:59 server time.


The gremlin chuckles.
It is night, and the gremlin may have stolen an intrinsic from you, or you were a clay golem and your clay golem form has been destroyed, or the gremlin has used its intrinsic stealing attacking on another monster, potentially destroying a clay golem. You still hear a chuckle if the attack chose intrinsics you didn't have.
You hear laughter.
It is night, and the gremlin has stolen an intrinsic from you or destroyed your clay golem form while you were blind. Also produced if a gremlin uses its intrinsic stealing attack on another monster outside your vision.
Some writing vanishes from your head!
You were polymorphed into a clay golem. This will return you to your original form, even with unchanging.
Some writing vanishes from <its> head!
A gremlin just destroyed a clay golem with its intrinsic stealing attack.
You feel warmer.
You lost intrinsic fire resistance.
You feel less jumpy.
You lost intrinsic teleportitis.
You feel a little sick!
You lost intrinsic poison resistance.
Your senses fail!
You lost intrinsic telepathy.
You feel cooler.
You lost intrinsic cold resistance.
You feel paranoid.
You lost intrinsic invisibility.
You thought you saw something!
You lost the see invisible intrinsic while not hallucinating.
You tawt you taw a puttie tat!
You lost the see invisible intrinsic while hallucinating.
You feel slower.
You lost intrinsic speed.
You feel clumsy.
You lost intrinsic stealth.
You feel vulnerable.
You lost intrinsic protection.
You feel less attractive.
You lost the aggravate monster intrinsic.
The gremlin cries out in pain!
A gremlin was hit by light and took damage.
The gremlin wails in agony!
A gremlin was hit by light and took damage greater than half its current HP.

Gremlins and light

Gremlins, uniquely among NetHack monsters, are harmed by sources of light:

  • Zapping a wand of light, reading a scroll of light, or casting the light spell will do d5 damage to gremlins in the light radius.
  • Breaking a wand of light will do (1 + charges)d4 damage to gremlins in the blast radius.
  • Flashing an expensive camera will do d4 damage to gremlins caught in the flash.[3]
  • Lit Sunsword does an extra d8 damage to gremlins (on top of the weapon's regular damage).[4]


Originally, gremlins were mischievous creatures blamed for mechanical failures in aircraft in the RAF in the 1920s; they were popularized by children's author Roald Dahl and a related Disney animated short. The concept of gremlins that multiply in water and have a vulnerability to light comes from the 1984 movie, Gremlins.


If you find a Gremlin in a level with water or a fountain with telepathy, kill it quickly, or chances are you will end up having about 50 of them running around. This is especially bad for chaotics: the herd of gremlins will sometimes be generated peaceful, thus killing them inflicts a large hit on your alignment record.

On the other hand, if you find yourself with a tame gremlin but don't particularly want one, and have a polymorph trap handy, consider allowing it to split a few times so you can get more useful pets by polymorphing them. You will get a legion of 1HP pets that will mostly die as something (anything) lands a hit on them, but if you have enough of them, chances are some of them will survive and earn enough experience to become useful.

For ease of transit, levels with both water and lots of peaceful gremlins may need clearing. Pets with multiple attacks (such as a vrock created by polymorph or figurine) can be used to control the gremlin population without too much risk to the pet, especially if you have a magic whistle for levels with islands like Medusa's Island and Juiblex's Swamp.


Lethe patch

Gremlins multiply normally in lethe water present in the lethe patch at the Lethe Gorge.


Gremlins multiply normally in lethe water. SLASH'EM has lethe water at the castle only.

Slash'EM Extended

Here, gremlins are capable of stealing intrinsics always, but at night the chance is much higher.


In FIQHack gremlins can always steal intrinsics, regardless of the time of day. They also acquire the intrinsic for themselves.

Encyclopedia entry

The gremlin is a highly intelligent and completely evil
creature. It lives to torment other creatures and will go
to great lengths to inflict pain or cause injury.
Suddenly, Wilson thought about war, about the newspaper
stories which recounted the alleged existence of creatures in
the sky who plagued the Allied pilots in their duties. They
called them gremlins, he remembered. Were there, actually,
such beings? Did they, truly, exist up here, never falling,
riding on the wind, apparently of bulk and weight, yet
impervious to gravity?
He was thinking that when the man appeared again.

[ Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, by Richard Matheson ]


  1. src/mhitu.c in NetHack 3.6.1, line 1476: Intrinsic-stealing
  2. attrcurse in sit.c in NetHack 3.6.1: Possible stolen intrinsics
  3. light_hits_gremlin in src/uhitm.c in NetHack 3.6.1: Gremlins take damage from light
  4. src/weapon.c in NetHack 3.6.2, line 328

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It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.1. Information on this page may be out of date.

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