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While not a strong attacker, the nymph is nevertheless a very dangerous monster. The main danger of nymphs is that they will charm/seduce you and steal items. Once they steal an item, they will attempt to teleport away. They can and will use the most powerful items against you. Nymphs have a 50% chance of carrying a mirror and an independent 50% chance of carrying a potion of object detection.[1]

The three nymph species are water nymph, wood nymph, and mountain nymph. Together they form the n nymph monster class.

Dealing with nymphs

You shouldn't attack a nymph in melee unless you are strong enough to kill her in one hit, or fast enough to score multiple hits before she can react. If you end up with one near you, e.g. because of drinking from a fountain, use Elbereth to ward her off. Polearms or lances may be effective if you are fast enough to keep them always one square away while you attack, but you will need to find a way to increase your speed, as nymphs have the same speed as an unburdened, unhasted hero. Ranged attacks are the best choices against nymphs, as well as spells and wands. Another way to deal with an annoying nymph is, if your pet happens to be near you (like on a leash), as you run away it can engage and kill her. Beware, if your pet has weapons or armor the nymph may try to steal them. Because they carry mirrors, it is not a good idea to zap them with a wand of striking or a spell of force bolt because the mirrors will often break, resulting in a Luck penalty. Therefore, early game wizards will want to have their pet kill nymphs. Finally, you can put nymphs to sleep with a spell or wand and hopefully kill them before they wake up. Besides attacking them, you can also use cancellation, which would make them harmless, although they do still retain their irritating ability to teleport away after unsuccessfully attempting to steal from you.

You may want not to keep attack wands in your open inventory if you cannot resist them when a nymph is nearby as she may steal a wand, using it against you. The same applies to potions/scrolls you don't want to be used up, although these are often not as deadly as wands.

Similarly, if a nymph steals a wand of digging she may use the wand to escape by digging a hole in the floor.

As a wizard, do not let them steal your cloak of magic resistance, as they will happily put it on and become immune to the majority of attack spells and wands, including polymorph.

A good tactic if there are no other monsters on the level is to drop everything or to put it in a chest before going after a nymph. If nothing dangerous was stolen and there is nothing dangerous on your person, a nymph can't hurt you. Kill her using your fists and remember to reclaim your things once you're done. This is a very bad Idea if there are any other creatures on the level.

If you apply a mirror to a nymph she will steal that without taking anything else.

It is possible to use a wooden harp to pacify a nymph.

Nymphs are generated asleep 80% of the time unless you have the Amulet of Yendor in which case they are guaranteed to be generated awake.[2] If you don't have a perfectly safe way to deal with one, the best idea is just to leave her asleep.

Polymorphing into a nymph

You can polymorph into any species of nymph. The polymorph is safe for your armor. This gives you two unique abilities:

  • You can remove an iron chain with the #monster command.
  • You can steal gear from monsters without killing them.

To steal, attack the monster. If you are wielding a weapon, you will attack with that weapon and also make a steal attempt, but you will not attack bare handed if not wielding a weapon. If the theft attack hits ("You smile at <monster> seductively"), you will steal from it - this does not anger peaceful monsters. If the attack misses ("You pretend to be friendly"), the monster will treat it like any other missed attack, meaning that it will probably get angry. Check the AC of pets or peaceful monsters before stealing from them.

Message Reason
"You smile at <monster> seductively" The monster has eyes, is not blind, and is of the opposite gender
"You talk to <monster> seductively" The monster is blind or does not have eyes, and is of the opposite gender
"You smile at <monster> engagingly" The monster has eyes and is not blind, and is not of the opposite gender
"You talk to <monster> engagingly" The monster is blind or does not have eyes, and is not of the opposite gender
"You pretend to be friendly to <monster>" You missed on your stealing attack.

Other uses

Nymphs can be put to your need as well. When cursed items are worn or wielded, you can allow a nymph to take these items deliberately. This is done by firstly removing and dropping every item in your inventory (or put them in a stash, whatever fits the situation). The nymph will attempt to charm you, and steal the cursed worn or wielded item.

This also works to remove the heavy iron ball when punished.

Individual information

Water nymph

Water nymphs can traverse water. Sometimes a water nymph is summoned when you dip an item into, or quaff from a fountain. The chance of summoning a water nymph is 1/30 for both methods.

Wood nymphs and mountain nymphs

There is no real difference between wood nymphs and mountain nymphs. Their attributes are identical, and neither is generated specifically in any quest, unlike water nymphs, which are guaranteed during the Rogue quest.

Eating nymphs

Eating nymphs can give you teleportitis. While there are some benefits to this, it should generally not be attempted without a means of teleport control.

Nymphs as pets

A tame nymph can attempt to steal an item from a monster, but often fails. When a nymph attempts to steal from a peaceful monster, it will become angry and attack her, but since nymphs are incapable of attacking, she will just keep attempting to steal until successful, then teleport away.

After teleporting away, she will quickly drop whatever she stole so that you can take it. You only need to find wherever she teleported to. Meanwhile, you might need to fight and kill the monster in question anyway, due to the fact that the nymph has not harmed it.

A pet nymph is almost guaranteed to die, especially if you bring her to a no-teleport level.

Encyclopedia entry

A female creature from Roman and Greek mythology, the nymph
occupied rivers, forests, ponds, etc. A nymph's beauty is
beyond words: an ever-young woman with sleek figure and
long, thick hair, radiant skin and perfect teeth, full lips
and gentle eyes. A nymph's scent is delightful, and her
long robe glows, hemmed with golden threads and embroidered
with rainbow hues of unearthly magnificence. A nymph's
demeanour is graceful and charming, her mind quick and witty.

"Theseus felt her voice pulling him down into fathoms of
sleep. The song was the skeleton of his dream, and the dream
was full of terror. Demon girls were after him, and a bull-
man was goring him. Everywhere there was blood. There was
pain. There was fear. But his head was in the nymph's lap
and her musk was about him, her voice weaving the dream. He
knew then that she had been sent to tell him of something
dreadful that was to happen to him later. Her song was a
warning. But she had brought him a new kind of joy, one that
made him see everything differently. The boy, who was to
become a hero, suddenly knew then what most heroes learn
later -- and some too late -- that joy blots suffering and
that the road to nymphs is beset by monsters."

[ The Minotaur by Bernard Evslin ]


  1. makemon.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 636
  2. makemon.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1179: chance of nymphs being generated asleep

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