Dwarf (monster)

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A dwarf, h, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. They are the most basic type of dwarf, and may be among the first humanoids that you encounter.

A dwarf is a strong, omnivorous humanoid monster with infravision that is capable of tunneling around a level if they have a digging tool - hostile dwarves will also pick up gold, jewels and other items. A dwarf has a single weapon attack.


Randomly-generated dwarves are always peaceful towards dwarven and gnomish characters, and will mostly be peaceful towards other lawful characters. Dwarves are not a valid form for polymorph, and do not appear in Gehennom due to being lawful. A dwarf can grow up into a dwarf lord.

In addition to random generation, dwarves are especially easy to find in the Gnomish Mines:

  • Two dwarves are generated on each of its filler levels at level creation.
  • At least one dwarf is generated in all variants of Minetown at level creation, minus Orcish Town:
    • One dwarf is generated outside of the main area in Town Square, Alley Town, College Town, and Bazaar Town at level creation.
    • Three dwarves are randomly placed on the level in Grotto Town and Bustling Town at level creation.
  • At least three dwarves are generated in The Mimic of the Mines and The Gnome King's Wine Cellar variants of Mines' End at level creation.
  • Some of the above monsters may be replaced with random monsters for dwarven and gnomish characters.

A dwarf zombie or dwarf mummy will leave an aged dwarf corpse behind upon death;[1][2] player dwarves that are killed and leave bones will have a dwarf corpse atop their grave, unless they were killed by certain monsters or else stoned or disintegrated. Dwarves can be generated by zapping a wand of undead turning at a dwarf corpse not left by a mummy or zombie, or selecting dwarves when reading a cursed scroll of genocide.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

A dwarf will grow up into a dwarf leader of the appropriate gender, rather than always becoming a male dwarf lord regardless of gender.

As of commit cb5e93e9, dwarves are eligible forms for polymorph.

Monster starting inventory

A dwarf can be generated with each of the following items:[3]


A dwarf is generally much slower than an unburdened character, but has the potential to be well-equipped. For early characters that are lawful, dwarven or gnomish, this can make dwarves difficult to kill using pets, especially when they are peaceful - doing so also carries no direct consequences for you, but the pet may be killed in the attempt. Conversely, angering and killing them directly may be worthwhile, but puts you more directly at risk: on top of the dwarf being sufficiently-armored or carrying a strong enchanted weapon, attacking a peaceful dwarf will anger every peaceful monster that witnesses it, which is particularly dangerous in Minetown, and incurs alignment penalties that an early character may not be able to afford.

Hostile dwarves are a serious danger for very early or underprepared characters that opt to traverse an unfriendly Mines, and can be a major deciding factor that diverts characters towards Sokoban instead: as of January 2024, dwarves are ranked at the top on the nethack.alt.org list of top death causes. Even so, it may sometimes be worth this risk in order to obtain a digging tool and some solid early weapons and armor, including the prized dwarvish mithril-coat that grants 6 base AC and MC2 on its own. When on the lookout for dwarves' armor, pay particular attention to which weapons they use: dwarves using a dwarvish short sword, axe, mattock, or dwarvish spear tend to have better armor on average.


The dwarf first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. From this version to NetHack 3.0.3, the dwarf uses the h glyph; in NetHack 3.0.4, when color was introduced, it was given the h glyph. The dwarf is given its current glyph color in NetHack 3.0.7.


Some variants grant dwarves and other monsters AC bonuses for wearing racial equipment, and may additionally generate them with a potion of booze. They may also make adjustments so that female dwarves do not change gender when growing up and are given a properly named form.


In SLASH'EM, dwarves have two weapon attacks, each with half the die size of their vanilla weapon attack; this generally increases their damage output in most cases.

In the Gnomish Mines, if the player is a gnome or a dwarf, most peaceful dwarves are replaced with hostile dwarf zombies at level creation with the exception of bones, ensuring that they will have to deal with hostile monsters like other races.[4]


In UnNetHack, several dwarves appear in some manner within the Ruins of Moria branch:

  • 2-8 dwarf corpses are scattered across the second floor at level creation.
  • The barracks on the fifth floor each contain half a dozen dwarf prisoners.
  • The "intact" variant of the sixth floor map, Doors of Durin, has four dwarf statues within The Chamber of Mazarbul.

Dwarves generated outside of the Gnomish Mines have a 67 chance of being generated with a potion of booze. They also gain +1 bonus AC for each piece of worn dwarven armor.


In dNetHack, dwarves that are randomly generated outside of the Gnomish Mines are always generated with a potion of booze.

Female dwarves will grow up into dwarf clerics, which are distinct monsters from dwarf lords rather than simple female counterparts.

Dwarves may appear in the court of a throne room ruled by a gnome king, gnome queen, dwarf king or dwarf queen.


In EvilHack, the basic dwarf is known as a mountain dwarf, making them distinct from the dwarf monster used for player and undead corpses. Mountain dwarves gain +1 bonus AC for each piece of worn dwarven armor.


In Hack'EM, the basic dwarf is also known as a mountian dwarf as in EvilHack. Mountain dwarves gain +1 bonus AC for each piece of worn dwarven armor.

Mountain dwarves generated outside of the Gnomish Mines have a 67 chance of being generated with a potion of booze, as in UnNetHack.

Encyclopedia entry

Dwarfs have faces like men (ugly men, with wrinkled, leathery skins), but are generally either flat-footed, duck-footed, or have feet pointing backwards. They are of the earth, earthy, living in the darkest of caverns and venturing forth only with the cloaks by which they can make themselves invisible, and others disguised as toads. Miners often come across them, and sometimes establish reasonably close relations with them.... The miners of Cornwall were always delighted to hear a bucca busily mining away, for all dwarfs have an infallible nose for precious metals.
Among other things, dwarfs are rightly valued for their skill as blacksmiths and jewellers: they made Odin his famous spear Gungnir, and Thor his hammer; for Freya they designed a magnificent necklace, and for Frey a golden boar. And in their spare time they are excellent bakers. Ironically, despite their odd feet, they are particularly fond of dancing. They can also see into the future, and consequently are excellent meteorologists. They can be free with presents to people they like, and a dwarvish gift is likely to turn to gold in the hand. But on the whole they are a snappish lot.

[ The Immortals, by Derek and Julia Parker ]


  1. src/mon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 147: Converting monster index of undead to corpses of their living counterparts
  2. src/mon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 372: Undead corpses and their ages are handled with other "special" death drops
  3. src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 367
  4. sp_lev.c in SLASH'EM 0.0.7E7F2, line 854