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For the monster class, see jabberwock (monster class).

A jabberwock, J, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is the only utilized monster in the jabberwock monster class - the vorpal jabberwock is also a part of the monster class, but is deferred.

Jabberwocks are strong carnivorous animals that are capable of flight, can be seen via infravision, and will pick up and collect items. A jabberwock will be instantly beheaded if hit by Vorpal Blade.

A jabberwock has two bite attacks and two claw attacks.


Randomly generated jabberwocks are always created hostile, and are generated asleep 45 of the time unless you have the Amulet of Yendor.[1]

Jabberwocks can be generated by the summon nasties monster spell.

Two jabberwocks are generated on the Plane of Air at level creation.


Jabberwocks hit hard and often enough to offset their -2 AC and 12 speed, which are decent but not remotely insurmountable, and it may occasionally be wiser to leave sleeping jabberwocks undisturbed. Unfortunately, by the time that a jabberwock can be encountered normally, most characters will already be encountering hostile spellcasters: they can either use the aggravate monster spell to wake sleeping monsters, or summon nasties and generate one directly adjacent to you. The jabberwock's MR score of 50 makes many spells and wands unreliable against it, though it thankfully has no elemental resistances.

In any event, even a stealthy character should be prepared to fight a jabberwock directly at some point, and should not count on jabberwocks that generate asleep to remain so for long. Polymorph traps and shapeshifters such as chameleons can present an unwelcome and possibly game-ending obstacle if a monster takes the form of a jabberwock while closing in on you, and both can occur well before they would generate normally. A character that has access to Vorpal Blade can easily dispatch any jabberwock they come across - other characters that are prepared for the lower dungeons can usually fight one off with some difficulty, and should take as much care as possible not to let it breach melee range.

As a polyform

The jabberwock is a very strong polyform due to its flight, strength, four attacks with high damage output, and the ability to wear all non-body armor.

As a pet

Jabberwocks are very strong pets, and are among the most powerful flying monsters that can serve as steeds. Relative to dragons, they are significantly faster and deal much more melee damage, but their lack of resistances and reflection leaves them vulnerable to a variety of instadeaths.

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.

Pets can gain resistances by eating corpses. A properly-fed and hasted jabberwock may have survivability comparable to the inediate ki-rin.


The jabberwock first appears in NetHack 3.0.5.


The jabberwock is a creature featured in Jabberwocky, a famous nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll, and its encyclopedia entry is an excerpt from the poem. Jabberwocky is first printed in Carroll's 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, the sequel to the 1865 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice finds herself in a looking-glass world and encounters the poem as part of a book written in a seemingly unintelligible language; she shortly discovers the text and the world at large is in fact inverted (or mirrored), and holds a mirror to the poem to read it, finding it as puzzling as the odd land she is now in. The poem is also the inspiration for the artifact weapon Vorpal Blade, based on the unnamed adventurer's weapon that is used to behead the jabberwock - this is also the basis for the jabberwock's weakness to Vorpal Blade.

The original illustrations by John Tenniel accompanying the poem (and the rest of the two novels) depict the titular jabberwock as a bipedal creature that vaguely resembles a dragon: It has bat-like wings, a long serpentine neck, a long tail, a weird head with rabbit-like teeth, hands with three long spidery talons, and a waistcoat. Some of the jabberwock's more particular traits may reflect the contemporary Victorian obsession with natural history and the then-fast-evolving sciences of paleontology and geology.


The jabberwock burbles.
You chatted to a jabberwock.


Many variants implement the vorpal jabberwock in some manner, while comparatively few make significant changes to the jabberwock itself.


In SLASH'EM, jabberwocks hit as +1 weapons.


In GruntHack, weapons with the vorpal object property can also instantly behead jabberwocks.


In dNetHack, jabberwocks have an increased base level and damage dice that matches those of the vorpal jabberwock in vanilla NetHack. A jabberwock can also follow you to other levels if it is adjacent, and will not generate in Gehennom.

A jabberwock may be one of the monsters generated within a magic item vault.

Encyclopedia entry

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

[ Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll ]


  1. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1262: chance of jabberwocks being generated asleep