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Nymphs are a class of monsters in NetHack represented by n. The class contains the three nymph species: water nymph, wood nymph, and mountain nymph.


When you dip an item into or quaff from a fountain, there is a 130 chance of summoning a water nymph.

Nymphs are the first quest enemy class for Rogues, with a 14% chance of being generated in the quest branch. The Rogue quest home level also has nine guaranteed water nymphs, and each of the filler levels has two water nymphs.

Nymphs have a 50% chance of being generated with a mirror and an independent 50% chance of carrying a potion of object detection.[1] Nymphs are generated asleep 80% of the time; however, if you have the Amulet of Yendor or summon one via a fountain, they are guaranteed to be generated awake.[2]


Nymphs all share the same base attributes. They are not strong attackers and have poor AC, but are nevertheless very dangerous monsters that teleport frequently while moving. While they cannot directly inflict damage, nymphs are capable of charming you into removing your armor and stealing it or other items before attempting to teleport away. They are also capable of using said items, putting on armor and amulets as well as zapping wands and quaffing potions. Eating a nymph's corpse has a chance of giving you teleportitis.

A water nymph shares the same qualities and attributes as her other counterparts, but can also swim and freely cross water.


Nymphs generally should not be approached unless you can reliably dispatch them before they steal any items; in most cases, it is preferable to leave them asleep if possible and avoid them. It may be advisable to leave the items you least want stolen in a chest or other container elsewhere before nearing or pursuing a nymph. When dealing with an awake nymph, remember that she is as fast as your unburdened character at base speed.

In a situation where a nymph nearby is awakened, Elbereth can ward her off and give you some valuable space. Applying a mirror at a nymph will cause her to steal the mirror and teleport away, which can preserve your more valuable or dangerous items. Nymphs also have a chance of being tamed using a wooden harp, but in practice this requires impractically high dexterity and experience level. It is also ideal to keep your pet nearby and use them to hold the nymph at bay and hopefully kill her for you, though they can still steal items if your pet is holding any. Early Wizards in particular will want to go this route unless they have access to magic missile or an attack wand that can reliably kill or immobilize her.

Ranged attacks are the most ideal for killing nymphs before they can close in on you; the exception to this is the force bolt spell or wand of striking, which can kill the nymph but will break fragile items it was carrying, such as its mirror. Breaking mirrors results in a −2 Luck penalty, which can be dangerous because it reduces accuracy and prevents prayer from being successful until the negative Luck times out.

A wand of sleep can stop a nymph long enough for you to kill her, hopefully before the combat awakens her; a wand of cancellation will make the nymph "plain", which renders her harmless, but she will still teleport away after unsuccessfully attempting to steal from you. However, wands in general are risky due to the chance that they can be stolen and potentially used against you; worse, a wand of teleportation or digging all but ensures that she will escape you several times. Polearms or lances can be effective, but you will likely need at least fast speed to consistently keep them one square away while you attack.

Removing unwanted items

Nymphs and their theft attacks can be used to get rid of cursed items, usually by stashing or dropping every other item besides the ones you want removed. You can then let the nymph steal them, and optionally retrieve the items if you want to uncurse them later. Punished players can also use this to untether themselves from their heavy iron ball.


As a polymorph form, becoming a nymph will not affect your armor, and grants two unique abilities:

  • You can remove an iron chain with the #monster command.
  • You can steal gear from monsters without killing them.

To steal, attack the monster; if you are wielding a weapon, you will attack with that weapon and also make a steal attempt, but you will not attack bare-handed if not wielding a weapon. If the theft attack hits, you will steal from them—this does not anger peaceful monsters. ("You smile at <monster> seductively.") If the attack misses, the monster will treat it like any other missed attack, and peaceful monsters will likely become angry. ("You pretend to be friendly.") Be sure to check the AC of pets or peaceful monsters before stealing from them.

If you are invisible and the monster cannot see you, the seduction attack will not work;[3] you will still steal items, but also make a regular attack even without a weapon, possibly angering the monster.


You smile at <monster> seductively.
The monster can see you (has eyes and is not blind), and it is of the opposite gender.
You talk to <monster> seductively.
The monster cannot see you and is of the opposite gender.
You smile at <monster> engagingly.
The monster can see you and is not of the opposite gender.
You talk to <monster> engagingly.
The monster cannot see you and is not of the opposite gender.
You pretend to be friendly to <monster>.
You missed on your stealing attack.

As pets

A tame nymph is not a particularly good pet due to her weak attributes, especially in a no-teleport level; one is very occasionally used to steal items from other monsters, though this can often fail. When a nymph attempts to steal from a peaceful monster, it will attack her; since nymphs are incapable of attacking, she will just keep attempting to steal until successful, then teleport away. After teleporting away, she will quickly drop whatever she stole, requiring you to find her new location and retrieve the items; you may have to fight the monster in question regardless.


In xNetHack, nymphs hate the touch of iron and take an additional d6 damage when struck with an iron item. Players polymorphed into nymphs take d3 damage when handling iron items. Also, nymphs introduce themselves before charming you; they have classical Greek-style names.

Encyclopedia entry

A female creature from Roman and Greek mythology, the nymph
occupied rivers, forests, ponds, etc. A nymph's beauty is
beyond words: an ever-young woman with sleek figure and
long, thick hair, radiant skin and perfect teeth, full lips
and gentle eyes. A nymph's scent is delightful, and her
long robe glows, hemmed with golden threads and embroidered
with rainbow hues of unearthly magnificence. A nymph's
demeanour is graceful and charming, her mind quick and witty.

"Theseus felt her voice pulling him down into fathoms of
sleep. The song was the skeleton of his dream, and the dream
was full of terror. Demon girls were after him, and a bull-
man was goring him. Everywhere there was blood. There was
pain. There was fear. But his head was in the nymph's lap
and her musk was about him, her voice weaving the dream. He
knew then that she had been sent to tell him of something
dreadful that was to happen to him later. Her song was a
warning. But she had brought him a new kind of joy, one that
made him see everything differently. The boy, who was to
become a hero, suddenly knew then what most heroes learn
later -- and some too late -- that joy blots suffering and
that the road to nymphs is beset by monsters."

[ The Minotaur by Bernard Evslin ]


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