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A helm is a form of armor that appears in NetHack, and is one of seven armor slots available to the hero and certain monsters.


Wearing a metallic helm reduces damage from falling objects and monsters, such as:

However, metallic helms also increase the hero's spellcasting failure rates, with the exception of the helm of brilliance.

A greased helm may block the intelligence drain damage type from a mind flayer or master mind flayer[1] - a noncursed greased helm always blocks such an attack, while a cursed greased helm has only a 23 chance, and the grease has a 12 chance of wearing off after each blocked attack. Any helm (including a cursed greased helm that fails to provide grease protection) then has a 78 chance of blocking this attack.

Use by monsters

Any monster that can wear armor can wear a helm;[2] a monster with horns can only wear flimsy helms.[3] If the hero or a monster is polymorphed into a form with horns while wearing a non-flimsy helm, it will be pushed off.[4]

Aligned priests, high priests and minions will not wear a helm of opposite alignment.[5]

List of helms

Name Cost Weight AC Material Appearance Effect
Fedora 1 3 0 cloth
Dunce cap 1 4 0 cloth conical hat Autocursing. Sets Int and Wis to 6.
Cornuthaum 80 4 0 cloth conical hat MC1. Special benefits for wizards and penalties for non-wizards.
Elven leather helm 8 3 1 leather leather hat Can be enchanted to +7.
Orcish helm 10 30 1 iron iron skull cap
Dented pot 8 10 1 iron
Dwarvish iron helm 20 40 2 iron hard hat
Helmet (kabuto) 10 30 1 iron (randomized)
Helm of brilliance 50 50 1 iron (randomized) Enchantment adds to Int and Wis. No penalty to spellcasting.
Helm of opposite alignment 50 50 1 iron (randomized) Autocursing. Changes alignment of hero. No effect on a monster.
Helm of telepathy 50 50 1 iron (randomized) Grants telepathy.

The helms with randomized appearances share four descriptions: "plumed helmet", "etched helmet", "crested helmet", and "visored helmet". Helms with the appearance of "visored helmet" protect against the blinding claw attack of ravens and the blinding venom of cobras.[6]

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

The helm of brilliance has a fixed unidentified description of "crystal helm" and is made of glass material, which does not inhibit spellcasting. The helm of caution is a new helm with a randomized appearance that grants 1 AC and warning when worn.


Unidentified helms are dangerous to wear, as two types of helms are autocursing and will become cursed when a hero puts them on, even if they are noncursed. You can use price identification to distinguish a dunce cap from a cornuthaum, but three of the four helms with randomized appearances have the same cost, weight and AC, making it impossible to tell them apart this way.

In the early game, any metallic helm will protect against falling rock traps. In the later game, a greased helm protects against intelligence drain attacks; mind flayers and master mind flayers are common genocide targets, and removing them provides absolute protection.

For the ascension kit, popular choices are:

For a Wizard, a cornuthaum provides clairvoyance and can be safely enchanted to +7.

A helm of opposite alignment has a niche use for mitigating the mysterious force on the ascension run, and is more popularly used for reducing the number of altars to visit on the Astral Plane.



SporkHack adds three new helms in the gnomish helm, the helm of discovery and the helm of clarity, as well as three new appearances: "little red hat" (always used for gnomish helms), "viking helmet" (which is randomized and has no effect), and "tinfoil hat" (which is randomized and always blocks telepathy and psi bolts - this includes its own telepathy if it is the appearance for a helm of telepathy).


UnNetHack adds a single new helm in the tinfoil hat, which is represented as its own item rather than a randomized appearance as in SporkHack.