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A gremlin, g, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. Its corpse is poisonous to eat, but has a 33% chance of conveying poison resistance. The gremlin (or gargoyle) monster class, g, is named after them.


In addition to random generation, a gremlin always appears within the entrance hall in the second variant of Medusa's Island. More gremlins can be created via division if they make contact with water (explained in detail below).

Gremlins may be generated peaceful towards chaotic players.


Gremlins are small humanoid creatures that have several unique traits among NetHack monsters:

Gremlins and water

A gremlin that makes any contact with water - e.g., a fountain, moat or even a potion of water hitting them - will divide into two gremlins with half the maximum HP of the original. Gremlins can swim, and will actively seek out moats and fountains for this purpose, which may dry up said fountains. Gremlins cannot divide if their max HP is too low for them to do so (i.e., if their max HP is 1). This division does not respect extinction.

Intrinsic theft

At night (22:00 - 05:59 server/client time), gremlins have the ability to steal intrinsics with their claw attack. Each successful hit with the attack during this period has a 1/10 chance of removing an intrinsic from the following list:[1][2]

A property is chosen from the list at random, without reference to your current intrinsics. If you don't have the one selected, the game steps down the list until it finds one you do have, or steps off the end of the list, in which case you don't lose any intrinsic.

The game tracks intrinsics (from corpses, altar work, potions, wands, experience levels) and extrinsics (from jewelry, armor, artifacts) separately: e.g., if a gremlin steals poison resistance from a hero in an alchemy smock, the hero will still resist poison as long as they do not remove the smock. In vanilla, the only other method of intrinsic loss that follows this ruleset is to eat the corpse of a disenchanter. Note that innate intrinsics (from your role or race) can also be stolen;[3] in addition to the normal methods of gaining intrinsics, lost innate intrinsics can be regained by level draining below the level they are gained, then regaining that level - starting intrinsics cannot be re-obtained this way, since draining below level 1 is instadeath.

The attack is not affected by magic cancellation, though it can still be prevented by canceling the gremlin. A player polymorphed into a clay golem that is hit by this attack will revert to their original form, even if they have unchanging. When successfully used against other monsters, the special attack cancels them instead; clay golems are instantly destroyed as with other cancellation attacks.

Gremlins and light

Gremlins are harmed by bursts of light, as well as light-based weaponry.

  • 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.[4]
  • A lit Sunsword does an extra d8 damage to gremlins (on top of the weapon's regular damage).[5]


If you find any gremlins around a significant amount of water, kill them quickly before they can flood the level. This is especially bad for chaotics, who may have gremlins generate as peaceful - killing them yourself may seriously lower your alignment record, requiring the use of a pet. Gremlins that have split enough times can be easily killed en masse using a scroll, wand, or spell of light. However, be careful if they are peaceful: light does not anger them before killing them, so you may also be subject to multiple Luck penalties on top of the alignment penalties.

Pets with multiple attacks like vrocks have the most chance of hitting and killing low-HP divided gremlins before they can retaliate; a magic whistle is also ideal for maneuvering pets around to clear gremlins out of levels like Medusa's Island and Juiblex's Swamp. Conflict can also be a useful way to mop up a crowd of peaceful gremlins if there are far stronger monsters around them—beware if the gremlins manage to score any kills, as this increases their hit point maximum and allows them to divide again.[6]

Gremlins are generally unremarkable as pets outside of their ability to cancel other monsters. However, their division can be put to potentially good use for farming, even without taming them.


Main article: Farming

If you find yourself with a tame gremlin, but don't particularly want one and have a means of polymorphing handy (e.g., a polymorph trap), consider allowing it to split a few times so you can polymorph the resulting gremlins into more powerful pets. If you let them divide as much as possible, you will end up with a legion of 1 HP pets that die once anything lands a damaging hit on them - however, there will be more than enough left over to ensure that you can turn at least some of them into useful allies.

While gremlins normally stop dividing once their maximum HP falls to 1, they can divide almost indefinitely if made to kill something via conflict; as mentioned above, this increases their max HP enough to divide further. Provided that non-tame gremlins are given enough time to heal and divide, they can be farmed somewhat like puddings. While cloned monsters do not leave death drops at all and give diminishing experience returns, gremlin corpses can still be used for sacrifice;[7][8] it is also worth noting that gremlins are followers, and can thus be brought to levels with water via level teleport or branchport. See the farming section on gremlins for additional information.


Originally, gremlins were conceived of as 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.


The gremlin chuckles.
It is night, and the gremlin may have stolen an intrinsic from you, destroyed your clay golem form, or used its intrinsic stealing attacking on another monster. 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 the 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!
You saw a gremlin destroy 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.


In games and variants with the Lethe patch applied, gremlins multiply normally in Lethe water.


In SLASH'EM, a chaotic character that is XL 3 or lower may receive a gremlin as a gifted minion from their god.

The galltrit, a deferred monster, is a type of gremlin that has a similar intrinsic-stealing attack.


In FIQHack, gremlins can always steal intrinsics, regardless of the time of day; instead of simply removing the intrinsic from your character, 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 ]