Demons are a group of monsters mostly found in Gehennom. They are divided into two categories: minor demons and major demons. All minor demons are represented by i, and all major demons by &. (The & glyph is also shared by some monsters which are not considered demons, such as the riders.) There are also several unique and named major demons.
Types of demons
The imps and minor demons are represented by i. Internally, NetHack calls this symbol S_IMP. Monsters in this class:
The ordinary major demons are represented by &. Internally, NetHack calls this symbol S_DEMON. NetHack recognizes this class with the macro function is_demon defined in mondata.h on line 93, which simply checks whether or not the monster has the M2_DEMON attribute. Monsters in this class:
- & water demon
- & horned devil
- & succubus
- & incubus
- & erinys
- & barbed devil
- & marilith
- & vrock
- & hezrou
- & bone devil
- & ice devil
- & nalfeshnee
- & pit fiend
- & balrog
The named demons are divided into two ranks: the lower demon lords, and the higher demon princes. There are also two quest nemeses who happen to be demons.
The demon lords are:
The demon princes are:
Of these, Juiblex, Orcus, Baalzebub and Asmodeus have lairs within Gehennom, and are guaranteed to appear in every game. The others may be summoned, and will not necessarily appear in a given game.
The quest nemesis demons cannot be summoned by other demons. They can cast summon nasties, but since they are outside of Gehennom, the probability that they will summon other demons is low.
Although minor demons are rarely a significant threat, major demons are quite strong opponents and can summon other major demons and unique demons. (Foocubi and balrogs cannot summon, but other demons can summon them.) The unique demons are very strong and can be dangerous in some circumstances. For instance Asmodeus is lethal if you lack cold resistance, and Orcus carries a wand of death.
All major demons resist fire, poison, level drain, and death rays, although they are still considered living creatures. Major demons cannot be tamed unless you are polymorphed into a demon yourself. All demons except tengu can be burned by silver for an extra d20 damage.
Non-unique major demons generated at the time of level creation have an 80% chance of starting out asleep, unless you possess the Amulet of Yendor in which case they will always be awake. This does not apply to those generated after level creation.
Sacrificing your own race can summon a major demon or a demon lord (but not a demon prince), as can angering a chaotic god when on an altar (by praying with negative alignment, converting a chaotic altar, among other effects).
Demons summoning demons
Every major demon and unique demon has a 1⁄13 chance of summoning (sometimes called "gating in") another major demon or unique demon every time it acts when adjacent to you. The only exceptions among monsters recognized internally as demons are foocubi and balrogs. (They themselves are capable of being summoned by other demons, however.) The difference between demons, demon lords, and demon princes lies in which other demons they can summon, and how often. Quest nemesis demons can summon, but cannot be summoned. The flag "generated only in Gehennom" is ignored. Demons will never summon demons while attacking other monsters, therefore tame demons will not normally summon other demons (which would be hostile, anyway).
The following table shows the chance of a given & gating in another & of specific type according to M. Stage's demon-summoning spoiler.
|Non-unique major demon||Demon lord||Demon prince|
|Non-unique major demons
(except foocubi and balrogs)
Asmodeus, Baalzebub, Dispater,
Geryon, Demogorgon, Orcus
Summoned demons will always be the same alignment as the summoner—that is, summoners are only capable of summoning co-aligned demons. The Wizard of Yendor's summon nasties (remote or in person) is an exception: he can create any demon. Non-unique demons will summon demons of their own type 79% of the time.
According to the spoiler, if you are trying to summon Demogorgon (perhaps as an unofficial conduct) the quickest way to do it is with a hasted Orcus. If you are wearing speed boots the chance of getting Demogorgon per turn is 1 × 5 = 1 per turn. Your chance of having summoned Demogorgon after n turns is then:
|Number of turns n||Chance of Demogorgon|
Summoning while polymorphed
If you are polymorphed into a major demon that can summon, and you hit a monster with bare or gloved hands, there is a 1 in 13 chance of summoning a tame demon at your side, announced with the message "Some hell-p has arrived!" This chance occurs on each attack, so a demon with many attacks, such as a marilith, will be more likely to summon a demon.
When a demon is summoned, it will be of the same type as your current form 5⁄6 of the time and a random demon of the same alignment as you the rest of the time. You will never summon a unique demon.
SLASH'EM adds these imps and minor demons:
It also intoduces these major demons:
SLASH'EM gives every unique demon a lair, so all of them are guaranteed to appear in a game.
A shambling horror (represented by U) can be defined as a demon in certain games. If this happens, they can be summoned through demon gating, and they can summon other demons.
Angels and demons attack each other on sight, as part of Nephi's grudge patch.