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A hobgoblin, o, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is a type of orc that is strong and generally tougher than a goblin, but a bit weaker than a hill orc.

A hobgoblin has 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 part of resolving issue #679 regarding congruence between non-player monsters and their player counterparts, commit b6a3d4b9 caps all strong orcs at 18/50 strength for purposes of polyself, with the exception of Uruk-hai (and orc-captains as of commit 651a5b21), and gives poison resistance to all orcs except the goblin and hobgoblin to distinguish them from the others.


Some hobgoblins may generate as peaceful towards orcish player characters.

Hobgoblins may appear among the hostile monsters 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.[1][2] Hobgoblin generation in throne rooms ignores extinction.

A hobgoblin has a 12 chance of generating with an orcish helm, and a separate 12 chance of generating with an orcish dagger or a scimitar, with an equal chance of each weapon.[3][4]


Hobgoblins are relatively weak and slow, and are usually not a significant threat - they can provide a good source of various offensive and defensive items once you are capable of reliably killing them in one hit.

As orcish monsters, they are especially useful as sacrifice fodder for player orcs to convert altars with, especially if a throne room occurs on the same floor.


The hobgoblin first appear in Hack for PDP-11, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is among the initial bestiary featured in Hack 1.0. From this version to NetHack 2.3e, hobgoblins used the H glyph; in NetHack 3.0.0, they were made a part of the orc monster class, o.


The hobgoblin was originally a helpful spirit of the hearth in folklore once considered helpful, but the spread of Christianity gave it a reputation as a mischievous prankster.

NetHack hobgoblins are borrowed from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, where the name is used to describe a larger kind of orc. In the preface to The Hobbit, Tolkien states that "Orc is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds)".



In SLASH'EM, Grund's Stronghold generates a hobgoblin with a wand of fire in its open area at level creation.


In dNetHack, hobgoblins may appear in the court of a throne room ruled by an orc-captain.

In the Chaos Temple Quest, 110 of randomly generated monsters on the Ruined Temple level will be hobgoblins, and three hobgoblins are randomly placed in the grassy forest outside of the temple at level creation.


In EvilHack, hobgoblins have poison resistance like player orcs do.

Encyclopedia entry

Hobgoblin. Used by the Puritans and in later times for
wicked goblin spirits, as in Bunyan's "Hobgoblin nor foul
friend", but its more correct use is for the friendly spirits
of the brownie type. In "A midsummer night's dream" a
fairy says to Shakespeare's Puck:
        Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
        You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
        Are you not he?
and obviously Puck would not wish to be called a hobgoblin
if that was an ill-omened word.
Hobgoblins are on the whole, good-humoured and ready to be
helpful, but fond of practical joking, and like most of the
fairies rather nasty people to annoy. Boggarts hover on the
verge of hobgoblindom. Bogles are just over the edge.
One Hob mentioned by Henderson, was Hob Headless who haunted
the road between Hurworth and Neasham, but could not cross
the little river Kent, which flowed into the Tess. He was
exorcised and laid under a large stone by the roadside for
ninety-nine years and a day. If anyone was so unwary as to
sit on that stone, he would be unable to quit it for ever.
The ninety-nine years is nearly up, so trouble may soon be
heard of on the road between Hurworth and Neasham.

[ A Dictionary of Fairies, by Katharine Briggs ]


  1. src/mkroom.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 749: orcs and throne rooms
  2. src/mkroom.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 753: hobgoblins also have their own case for throne rooms
  3. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 397: default orcish armor
  4. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 426: default orcish weapons