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Mimics are a class of monsters whose main defense is to imitate an item or dungeon feature. Mimics can be small, large, or giant, and all three kinds are often located in shops and Sokoban. They are slow but powerful hitters, making them a common cause of death early in the game; small mimics rank #6 on the list of top deaths on NAO.

Large and giant mimics have a sticking attack, which prevents the player from escaping the confrontation. Walking into a concealed large or giant mimic, or finding it by searching when adjacent, will automatically stick you. The sticking attack can be protected against with magic cancellation.

Eating a mimic's corpse makes you imitate a pile of gold for a short time; if hallucinating, you will mimic an orange instead.[1] This lasts for 20 turns in the case of a small mimic, 40 for a large one, and 50 for a giant mimic; in all three cases, the nutritional value is 10 times the time spent, so it's a net gain. Turning into gold is a weak form of polymorph: you won't polymorph if you have unchanging, and you'll fall off your steed if you are riding. However, armor and such is not affected and your stats are unchanged. This breaks polyselfless conduct[2].

A mimic is uncloaked when wearing a ring of protection from shape changers.


There is a (Dungeon level)% chance that a square in a shop that would normally have an item will instead get a mimic imitating a shop item.

Two giant mimics, imitating boulders, always appear on the final level of Sokoban.

Of course, mimics can be randomly generated like most monsters can. Mimics can be items (in rooms), boulders, unaligned altars (in temples), and even closed doors (in doorways) or staircases (in rooms) in the dungeon. For example, the Rogue quest home level has four staircase locations, but three of these (chosen at random) are actually mimics.



Mimics sometimes display as "mimic or strange object" (],Strange object.png). In shops, the chance of this happening is 10 × (10 − dungeon level)% on dungeon levels 1–9, and is 217 otherwise. You should not attempt to walk onto such objects, as they are always mimics. It is dangerous but not unusual to confuse these with the armor symbol, which is [ outside the Rogue level, or with a chest (Chest.png) in the tiles interface.

If you have warning, anything that is an item when you can see it and a warning when you can't may be a mimic. If you are warned of a monster, and then see an item where the warning was, it is probably a mimic (or a snake or insect hiding under the object). Do not walk onto the mimic to discover it, however, as doing so will cause you to stick to it. Throw a rock or piece of gold at it, instead.

Priests and others with a healing spell can cast it at an object; this will produce a message such as "The wand seems a more vivid white than before," if directed at a mimic.

If you have telepathy, a mimic will be readily visible as such, unless you are hallucinating, in which case the mimic will appear as a random monster that does not move, assuming it is still asleep.

A method of checking shops for the presence of mimics is to throw 1 gold piece across the shop, as it is not lost but added to your store credit—but be careful that you don't anger the shopkeeper by hitting them with the coin.

Another method is the "One of these things is not like the others" method; if you walk into a shop that sells specific items and notice something that doesn't quite fit, chances are it's a mimic. This goes especially for chest- or armor-like "strange objects".

Applying a stethoscope on a cloaked mimic will also reveal it and wake it.


If you find yourself fighting a mimic, one way to avoid being stuck is to take advantage of its slow speed by using projectiles. Even rocks can be sufficient given enough time, and if you run out, you can walk around the mimic and pick up your projectiles to throw them again. An aklys is probably the best option, being almost infinitely reusable; a polearm also works if you have one.

If you do become stuck, one way to extricate yourself is to engrave Elbereth. Due to the mimic's slow speed, you should have several chances to write successfully. Once you have a correct engraving (which you can confirm with near look), rest until the mimic flees to avoid smudging it. Note that you can't fall down a hole or go up or down stairs while stuck.

While mimics can be dangerous, they are exceedingly slow and are worth a fairly large amount of experience. It is recommended that you wake up the mimic from a range (throw a gold piece or rock at it) to ensure that you don't get hit by it. Remember that mimics can be worth enough experience points to make you advance a level; therefore, to take best profit of them it is usually best to wait till you are level 3 or more before dispatching them.

When fighting a mimic in a shop, beware of using ranged attacks; any missiles will automatically become the store's property, if the store buys that type of item. Spells of force bolt can destroy fragile items like potions, which you will have to pay for, and of course will hit the shopkeeper if he/she is standing behind the mimic.


Mimics are a surprising candidate for early genocide or extinction. Since mimics are sometimes generated in place of shop items, preventing the game from generating more will make future shops better-stocked. This is a relatively small effect except in Orcus-town, where it will greatly increase the number of real items in the abandoned shops.


Being polymorphed into a mimic (for instance, by a polymorph trap), is a rather bad situation. Mimics are not fast, do not have a lot of strength, and the large and giant versions even make you tear out of your armor and/or cloak. Furthermore, mimics do not have limbs, and are therefore unable to wield a weapon. The only thing which may help is attempt to hide via the #monster command. This will make you mimic an object, and is not particularly useful, since monsters are able to easily find you. Returning to your original form is the best option.


In NetHack 3.4.3, earlier versions and some variants based on those versions, the speed system functions differently, and an unhasted, unburdened player character always got four moves to the mimic's one. This allows for 'hit and run' tactics that can consistently and reliably dispose of mimics with enough care - while characters with relatively high starting HP and AC can attack them more safely, skilled play means that even weaker roles can defeat mimics this way without taking a single hit. Eating a mimic corpse also didn't break polyselfless conduct.

Encyclopedia entry


The ancestors of the modern day chameleon, these creatures can assume the form of anything in their surroundings. They may assume the shape of objects or dungeon features. Unlike the chameleon though, which assumes the shape of another creature and goes in hunt of food, the mimic waits patiently for its meals to come in search of it.

Strange object

He walked for some time through a long narrow corridor without finding anyone and was just going to call out, when suddenly in a dark corner between an old cupboard and the door he caught sight of a strange object which seemed to be alive.

[ Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky ]

Translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett.


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