Gnome (monster)

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A gnome, G, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. They are the most basic monster in the gnome monster class, and are typically among the first type of gnome you will encounter. They also serve as the base monster for gnomish characters.

A gnome is a small, omnivorous humanoid monster that has infravision and can be seen with infravision. Hostile gnomes will also collect weapons, armor and other items. A gnome possesses a single weapon attack.


Randomly generated gnomes may appear in small groups. They are always peaceful towards gnomish and dwarvish characters, and will be hostile towards the other playable races. Gnomes are not a valid form for normal polymorph. A gnome can grow up into a gnome lord.

Several gnomes are generated within the Gnomish Mines at level creation:

  • Seven gnomes are generated on each of the filler levels for the Mines.
  • Many gnomes are generated in most maps of Minetown:
    • Three gnomes are generated in ordinary rooms on the Town Square map, with three other rooms that each have a 34 chance of containing a gnome.
    • Three gnomes are generated in ordinary rooms on the Alley Town and College Town maps.
    • Six gnomes are generated across the Grotto Town map.
    • Eight gnomes are generated across the Bustling Town map.
    • Six gnomes are generated in ordinary rooms on the Bazaar Town map, with another room that has a 34 chance of containing a gnome.
  • Nine gnomes each are generated in The Gnome King's Wine Cellar and The Mimic of the Mines maps of Mines' End.
  • For a dwarvish or gnomish character, two-thirds of the gnomes and other peaceful monsters will instead be replaced with random monsters.

Gnomes may appear among the hostile G that generate in throne rooms, as well the monsters randomly generated by looting a throne while confused and carrying gold (provided there is no chest on the level).[1]

A gnome zombie or gnome mummy will leave an aged gnome corpse behind upon death;[2][3] player gnomes that are killed and leave bones will have a gnome corpse atop their grave, unless they were killed by certain monsters or else stoned or disintegrated. Gnomes can be generated by zapping a wand of undead turning at a gnome corpse not left by a mummy or zombie, or selecting gnomes 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 gnome will grow up into a gnome leader of the appropriate gender, rather than always becoming a male gnome lord regardless of gender.

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

Starting inventory

A gnome placed at level creation has a chance of being generated with a single candle: the chance is 120 if they are in the Gnomish Mines, and 160 otherwise.[4] The candle has a 34 chance of being tallow and a 14 chance of being wax, and will be lit if the gnome is generated in a dark area.

Gnomes that are not generated on the Rogue level have a 514 chance of being generated with one of the five default weapon sets: 3-14 darts, a crossbow and 3-14 crossbow bolts, a bow and 3-14 arrows, a stack of 3-5 daggers, or an aklys.[5]

Gnomes are eligible for offensive items, defensive items, and miscellaneous items.


Gnomes are generally slow and weak opponents overall. Competent melee fighters should be able to defeat them with ease, and they provide a decent source of nutrition and experience early on. Their tendency to spawn with different types of ranged weapons can make them dangerous if you get swarmed in the open; luring them into close combat through use of hallways or corners makes them significantly less of a threat. Also note that they are capable of reading scrolls and zapping wands, making them potentially lethal if you are caught by surprise, even if you don't encounter the literal Gnome With the Wand of Death.


The gnome first appears in Hack for PDP-11, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0.


Some variants make adjustments so that female gnomes do not change gender when growing up and are given a properly named form.


In SLASH'EM, if the player character is a gnome or a dwarf, most peaceful gnomes in the Gnomish Mines are replaced with hostile gnome zombies at level creation with the exception of bones, ensuring that they will have to deal with hostile monsters like other races.[6]


In dNetHack, female gnomes will grow up into gnome ladies, which are distinct monsters from gnome lords rather than simple female counterparts.


In EvilHack, the basic gnome is known as a rock gnome, making them distinct from the gnome monster used for player and undead corpses.


In Hack'EM, the basic gnome is also known as a rock gnome, as in EvilHack.

Encyclopedia entry

... And then a gnome came by, carrying a bundle, an old fellow three times as large as an imp and wearing clothes of a sort, especially a hat. And he was clearly just as frightened as the imps though he could not go so fast. Ramon Alonzo saw that there must be some great trouble that was vexing magical things; and, since gnomes speak the language of men, and will answer if spoken to gently, he raised his hat, and asked of the gnome his name. The gnome did not stop his hasty shuffle a moment as he answered 'Alaraba' and grabbed the rim of his hat but forgot to doff it.
'What is the trouble, Alaraba?' said Ramon Alonzo.
'White magic. Run!' said the gnome ..
                        [ The Charwoman's Shadow, by Lord Dunsany ]
"Muggles have garden gnomes, too, you know," Harry told Ron as they crossed the lawn.
"Yeah, I've seen those things they think are gnomes," said Ron, bent double with his head in a peony bush, "like fat little Santa Clauses with fishing rods..."
There was a violent scuffling noise, the peony bush shuddered, and Ron straightened up. "This is a gnome," he said grimly.
"Geroff me! Gerroff me!" squealed the gnome.
It was certainly nothing like Santa Claus. It was small and leathery looking, with a large, knobby, bald head exactly like a potato. Ron held it at arm's length as it kicked out at him with its horny little feet; he grasped it around the ankles and turned it upside down.

[ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J. K. Rowling ]