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The ki-rin, A, is a monster that appears in NetHack. They are capable of seeing invisible, flight, and spellcasting, and are the second strongest angelic beings after Archons.

Ki-rin are not eligible forms for polymorph.


Ki-rin appear very rarely, and may first show up within the Castle - they can also appear as minions of lawful gods, and will not generate in Gehennom. As a result, they are frequently first seen on the ascension run. Ki-rin will generate as peaceful for a lawful character with a good alignment record,


Hostile ki-rin are quite dangerous to face - AC of -5, a repertoire of mage monster spells and high monster magic resistance can render them a serious nuisance, especially if they are high enough level to summon nasties or even employ a touch of death. Furthermore, as angelic beings they do not respect sanctuary or Elbereth. Fortunately, they also lack any actual resistances and can potentially be brought down from afar before getting into casting range - interestingly, an applied mirror can still scare them 80% of the time.

As pets

Ki-rin are highly sought-after pets for their flight, base 18 speed, fighting power, and 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 on the Plane of Fire. Furthermore, they are inediate and thus cannot have their tameness raised - any non-Knight riding a charmed or tamed ki-rin will inevitably have it untame after mounting, kicking, or whipping it five times. As such, Knights are the only role that can reliably keep a tame ki-rin for long amounts of time - non-Knights should not dismount their ki-rin steed unless absolutely necessary, and should ideally have Basic in riding skill prior to 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.

Ki-rin now have poison resistance, and are no longer considered animals. They also now have the ability to cure themselves using their horns, like unicorn horns. As they do not leave corpses, they do not drop their horns either. 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, though its poison resistance can aid it somewhat in surviving the Plane of Fire's gas plumes.


The ki-rin is introduced alongside other angelic beings in NetHack 3.1.0. Before that, the ki-rin, u, appeared in NetHack-- 3.0.10, where it was a part of the quadruped monster class. Its glyph was changed to A for its debut in vanilla, and it retains this glyph for its appearance in NetHack-- 3.1.3.

In NetHack 3.4.3, ki-rin were able to wear amulets, boots, shields, and gloves despite being animals - this was bug C341-18.


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. That said, both the qilin and unicorn are often given similar traits in contemporary and modern portrayals.


Variants based on 3.4.3 that did not fix bug C341-18 may allow a ki-rin to wear additional equipment, including obtaining reflection from an amulet or shield.


In SLASH'EM, ki-rin can wear amulets and non-body armor and 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. Ki-rin can also be given as minions to lawful players from experience levels 13 to 19, though minions cannot be saddled or ridden.

Ki-rin are not level-drain or stoning resistant, so an amulet of drain resistance or an amulet versus stone is a good option for their amulet slot.


EvilHack introduces the eldritch ki-rin, a "fallen" ki-rin that serves as a chaotic counterpart. As such, they can appear in Gehennom and cannot be tamed by lawful Knights, but are an excellent steed choice for chaotic Knights (who can tame them, but not standard ki-rin).

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.