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The ki-rin, A, is an angelic being in NetHack. It is often a candidate for a player's steed (if they manage to tame one—difficult due to its high magic resistance, making a wish for a figurine a more likely method) due to its high speed, power, and ability to fly. A ki-rin steed will never buck you because of conflict due to its high combined base level and monster magic resistance, unless it is level drained below 15.

Any non-Knight should count on a charmed ki-rin becoming non-tame after mounting, kicking, or whipping it five times.

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.


A ki-rin makes a superb steed for players that spend a lot of time riding. It is the only steed with a faster-than-normal movement rate that can fly. Because ki-rin are spellcasters, they will cast haste self, giving them an effective movement rate of 24, making them as fast as a non-fast warhorse or unicorn. Perhaps more importantly, their high hit points, damaging attacks, ability to heal self, and high magic resistance make them powerful enough to survive in Gehennom.

Once you have mounted a ki-rin, you should not dismount unless absolutely necessary. Since only Knights start with riding skill at Basic, other roles will not be able to pick up objects, #loot containers, drop items on altars, #dip items in fountains, and so forth initially. Because a ki-rin will go feral after five mount attempts, it is better to advance riding skill on a more traditional mount such as a horse first, then switch to your ki-rin once you reach basic skill. Roles which are restricted in riding will probably not have much use for them.

A Knight does not reduce tameness when mounting a steed. Thus, they are free to mount and dismount a ki-rin as many times as they wish without fear of it going feral as a result.


Prior to NetHack 3.6.0, ki-rin were able to wear amulets, boots, shields, and gloves despite being ridable. This was bug C341-18. Variants based on 3.4.3 that did not address this bug themselves will allow a ki-rin to wear additional equipment, including obtaining reflection from an amulet or shield.


In addition to all the benefits above, ki-rin in SLASH'EM require a +3 weapon to hit. This makes them better steeds; they are immune to most physical attacks, including powerful minotaurs and even some demon princes; it also makes them more dangerous should you encounter a hostile one. 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 the amulet slot. Ki-rin are also given as minions to lawful players, starting at level 13, though minions cannot be saddled or ridden.


The ki-rin originates from Chinese mythology, and it is considered benevolent. It resembles a horse- or deer-shaped Asian dragon with deer-like horns.

The name is more often romanized as "qilin".

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.

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It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.0. Information on this page may be out of date.

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