From NetHackWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A ki-rin, A, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. Ki-rin are quadrupedal, animalistic angelic beings that are strong, capable of flight, possess infravision, can be seen via infravision, and can see invisible. They are the second-strongest angelic beings after Archons.

A ki-rin has two kick attacks, a headbutt attack, and will attempt to cast one mage monster spell during each of its turns.

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.

Ki-rin have poison resistance, and are no longer considered animals. They also have the ability to cure themselves using their horns, like unicorn horns - as they do not leave corpses, their horns will not drop.


Randomly generated ki-rin may generate as peaceful for a lawful character with a good alignment record. They are not eligible forms for polymorph, and will not randomly generate in Gehennom.

A hostile ki-rin can be generated as the minion of a lawful god.

Ki-rin cannot be targeted for genocide.


Hostile ki-rin are quite dangerous to face: a repertoire of mage monster spells, 18 speed, an AC of -5, and a high MR score of 90 can all make the ki-rin a serious nuisance at best, especially if they generate at a high enough level to summon nasties or even employ the touch of death. Furthermore, as angelic beings they do not respect sanctuary or Elbereth. Fortunately, they are randomly generated very rarely, and will only ever be seen around the Castle or on the ascension run.

Well-prepared characters fighting a hostile ki-rin can take advantage of their lack of actual resistances and weaken or even kill them from a distance before they can get into casting range, though this will still prove difficult with their base speed and ability to haste self. A character's best options include high-enchantment missile weapons or a high-damage attack spell such as magic missile. Magic resistance, good AC and a well-enchanted weapon (typically an artifact weapon at the stage you encounter them) are highly recommended when facing a ki-rin. As ki-rin are animals, an applied mirror can scare them 45 of the time.

As pets

Ki-rin are highly sought-after pets for their flight, base 18 speed, fighting power, and -5 AC, to the point that some players will use a wish for a blessed figurine of one. Their MR of 90 makes them very difficult to tame normally, but also ensures they will never buck you off a saddle due to conflict unless they are level drained below 15. Additionally, ki-rin will cast haste self, giving them the same speed as an unhasted warhorse or unicorn.

Ki-rin also also among the best choice of steed for Knights and other roles capable of advancing the riding skill - they are also among the most likely to survive a trip through Gehennom. However, even a ki-rin will have trouble surviving the Elemental Planes, and their lack of resistances often spells doom if they are caught in poison clouds on the Plane of Fire. Furthermore, they are inediate and cannot have their tameness raised with food – a tame ki-rin ridden by any non-Knight will inevitably be untamed after being mounted, kicked, or whipped five times. Knights are the only role that can reliably keep a tame ki-rin for long amounts of time due to their special role quality - non-Knights should not dismount their ki-rin steed unless absolutely necessary, and should ideally have Basic riding skill before obtaining one.

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 that eat corpses can also gain intrinsics from them, making the inediate ki-rin a slightly weaker choice for a pet in the long term; fortunately, a ki-rin's survival chances are buffed due to their poison resistance, and the horn can aid them in surviving the Plane of Fire's gas plumes.

Conflict has also undergone several changes - among other things, it works based on the player's charisma and the levels of them and the affected monsters, making it possible that a character with conflict can be bucked off their ki-rin.


The ki-rin, u, first appears in NetHack-- 3.0.10, where it is part of the quadruped monster class. The ki-rin is introduced to vanilla NetHack alongside the other angelic beings in NetHack 3.1.0, and its glyph is changed to A; it retains this glyph for its appearance in NetHack-- 3.1.3.

From NetHack 3.4.1 to NetHack 3.4.3, including many variants based on these versions, ki-rin are able to wear amulets, boots, shields, and gloves despite being non-humanoid - this is bug C341-18, and is fixed in NetHack 3.6.0. Outfitting a ki-rin with an amulet or shield of reflection is a popular choice for pet-keeping players in these versions, both to augment their already-formidable AC and protect against rays from a wand of death.


The qilin or kirin is a chimerical quadruped creature that appears in Chinese folklore, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler. The earliest references to the qilin occur in the 5th century BCE - its legendary image became associated with the image of the giraffe in the Ming dynasty after Zheng He's 15th-century voyage to East Africa. Qilin are described as quiet-hooved herbivores with a reputed ability to "walk on grass without disturbing it", which may be related to the giraffe's long, thin legs. The qilin is also described as having antlers like a deer and scales like a dragon or fish.

In modern times, "qilin" is sometimes translated into English as "unicorn" due to the qilin sometimes having a single horn. This can be misleading, as a number of different Chinese mythical creatures can be depicted with a single horn, and such a qilin would be called a "one-horned qilin" in Chinese. With this in mind, the qilin and unicorn are often given similar traits in contemporary and modern portrayals.


Variants based on 3.4.3 that intentionally leave bug C341-18 intact may allow a ki-rin to wear additional equipment.


In SLASH'EM, tame ki-rin can be given as sacrifice gifts or prayer boons to lawful players from experience levels 13 to 19, though minions cannot be saddled or ridden. Ki-rin require a +3 weapon to hit, while their attacks hit as +3 weapons. This makes them even better as pets and steeds, rendering them immune to physical attacks from powerful minotaurs and even some demon princes - but it also makes them far more dangerous should you encounter a hostile one.

SLASH'EM incorporates bug C341-18 as a feature, allowing ki-rin to wear amulets and non-body armor. Ki-rin can obtain reflection from an amulet or shield of reflection - they are not level-drain or stoning resistant, however, so an amulet of drain resistance or an amulet versus stone is also a good option for their amulet slot.


EvilHack introduces the eldritch ki-rin, a "fallen angel" ki-rin that serves as a chaotic counterpart: they can appear in Gehennom and can only be tamed by chaotic Knights, for whom they are an excellent steed choice.

Encyclopedia entry

The ki-rin is a strange-looking flying creature. It has
scales, a mane like a lion, a tail, hooves, and a horn. It
is brightly colored, and can usually be found flying in the
sky looking for good deeds to reward.