Zombie (monster class)

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For the type of monster, see zombie.

The zombie is a monster class that appears in NetHack, and is represented by the uppercase Z glyph (Z). Zombies are designated internally by the macro S_ZOMBIE.[1]

The monster class contains the following monsters:[2]

Common traits

All monsters in the zombie monster class are chaotic, mindless humanoid undead that possess unbreathing and infravision - not all monsters in the monster class are zombies (i.e. specifically the ghoul and skeleton are not), though all zombies are a part of this monster class. Monsters in the zombie monster class have cold resistance, sleep resistance and poison resistance.

All monsters in the monster class are also inediate - the ghoul is special cased with the ability to eat old and tainted corpses and stale eggs, but will not starve for lack of sustenance. Engulfing and digesting a monster in the zombie monster class while in an appropriate polyform has a 45 chance of inflicting 1d8 points of damage, unless you have sickness resistance.[3]


All randomly-generated monsters from the zombie monster class will always be hostile - they also commonly populate graveyards, where they are always generated hostile and asleep. Digging up a grave has a 15 chance of generating a non-skeleton zombie monster.

The zombie monster class is the first quest monster class for Priests, and makes up 24175 of the monsters that are randomly generated on the Priest quest. Two random Z are generated on the goal level at level creation - though the remaining levels beyond the home level do not generate random Z at level creation, they will make up a majority of the graveyard inhabitants encountered on those levels.

Skeletons are the only exception to the above in terms of generation: they are not generated randomly, and are only placed on level creation in Orcus Town, which also contains graveyards with other Z. Monsters may polymorph into skeletons through various means, however.

Though all monsters in this class are designated as corpseless in monst.c, zombies are special-cased to leave an aged corpse of their living counterparts behind upon "death" if a corpse would be dropped normally (e.g. a gnome zombie leaves an old gnome corpse when "killed" by HP damage).[4][5] This means that listed nutritional values for zombies are only relevant to pets or polymorphed player characters that digest zombies - corpses left behind by zombies use their normal nutritional values, though they are usually too old to be eaten safely without a tinning kit.

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

Liches and other zombies can now raise monsters killed by them without a weapon as zombies, unless they are cancelled - the corpse will rise 5-20 turns after death if it has a corresponding zombie type, and you can also do this if polymorphed into a zombie or lich. Zombies and liches will grudge living monsters that can be turned into zombies.

The mausoleum themed room may have a randomly generated zombie sealed and meditating within its central subroom.

As of commit 852f8e4 and commit 98d2b0e, buried zombie corpses will revive if items land, are placed or are dropped on their square, with the response dependent on the weight of the item and the type of impact.


Early monsters in the zombie class are usually not as much of a threat to martial roles, but other characters will want to approach them with some caution, especially since proper zombies are capable of following adjacent characters between levels. Characters in certain roles will want to fight and kill early zombies to gain alignment and access to prayer as soon as possible, especially if they start with 0 alignment or are doing prayer-reliant conducts such as foodless.

Priests and Knights can use the #turn extended command to drive off zombies and even instantly destroy weaker ones while outside Gehennom; chaotic Priests and Knights using the command will instead pacify them.


The zombie first appears in Hack 1.21, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack, where is uses the z glyph; it also appears in Hack for PDP-11, where it first uses the current glyph, Z. The zombie is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0, and appears in the game from that version to NetHack 2.3e, using the same glyph throughout; in these versions, it is the equivalent of the modern human zombie.

In NetHack 3.0.0, most of the zombie monster class is introduced and differentiated, with the skeleton being added in NetHack 3.1.0 and the ghoul and dwarf zombie being added in NetHack 3.3.0.


A zombie is a form of reanimated corpse raised by magical means, such as witchcraft, or science fictional methods such as fungi or pathogens. First recorded in 1819, the word originates from the Hatian French zombi among other similar roots, and appears in various forms in cultural folklore as well as fantasy and horror media. One of the first books to expose Western culture to the concept of the voodoo zombie was W. B. Seabrook's 1929 novel The Magic Island, presented as the account of a narrator who encounters voodoo cults in Haiti and their resurrected thralls.

The modern zombie may have been codified by the George A. Romero film Night of the Living Dead, where the titular undead flesh-eaters were referred to as "zombies" by many film critics, though they were much closer to ghouls in mannerisms and are referred to as such in Romero's original scripts and the film itself. The film and its monsters are also partly inspired by 1954 Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend - despite considering them distinct from zombies (e.g. as seen in White Zombie starring Bela Lugosi), Romero came to use the term similarly in later interviews and eventually accepted the linkage between the concepts.

Night of the Living Dead, as well as two of Romero's later films, the 1978 Dawn of the Dead and the 1985 The Return of the Living Dead, helped to further establish the image of the zombie in popular culture, further assisted by the release of break-out franchise-starting video games Resident Evil and The House of the Dead in the mid-1990s; the "zombie apocalypse" concept, in which the civilized world is brought low by a global zombie infestation, has since become a staple of modern popular art, seen in such media as The Walking Dead. Still-later portrayals would come to humanize and even romanticize the zombie

The zombies of Dungeons & Dragons are introduced in the first editions as magically animated corpses commanded by an evil spellcaster or cleric that animated them, and are typically found near graveyards, in dungeons, and in similar. Zombies obey simple commands and are slow-moving, but always deal damage when they hit and will fight until they are either destroyed or turned back by a cleric. They are immune to magic that induces sleep, charming, holding, and cold, but are especially vulnerable to holy water.


You smell rotting flesh.
A shapeshifter turned into a zombie.



SLASH'EM adds a few new monsters to the monster class:

Zombies can be generated by using the raise zombies technique near compatible corpses.

Player gnomes and dwarves in the Gnomish Mines will find most of the ordinarily peaceful denizens from NetHack replaced with zombies and mummies, ensuring that all player roles and races must contend with a dangerous descent through the branch.[6] The following substitutions can generate zombies:

The Temple of Moloch generates several zombies in the midst of its main hall at level creation, and the Chaotic Quest generates 14 random zombies across the floor at level creation. The Lost Tomb is a single-level branch that contains nineteen random zombies at level creation, and several of the monsters randomly generated in the branch will be either mummies or zombies.


Main article: Zombie (GruntHack)

GruntHack adds one new monster to the monster class:

GruntHack replaces most of the zombies in the monster class with the zombie racial monster - the zombie can be any of the playable races in GruntHack, and all racial zombies and the dragon zombie have a mutual grudge with living monsters. The zombies in the monster class (i.e. all except the ghoul and skeleton) can revive from their corpses, and have an additional bite attack that inflicts a unique form of terminal illness, turning its victims into zombies; eating their corpses also causes this illness, in addition to the usual possible effects of eating an aged corpse. See the linked article for complete details.


Main article: Zombie (dNetHack)

In dNetHack, several living monsters have zombified forms as the result of monster templates, including the standard NetHack zombies as well as those for the new playable living races such as drow and half-dragons. Zombies and zombified monsters in dNetHack also have more distinct characteristics compared to NetHack - in addition to taking extra damage from blessed weapons and being slower than their living counterparts, they can rise from the dead similar to GruntHack zombies, and similarly have a mutual grudge against non-undead. See the linked article for more complete details.

dNetHack also adds the following distinct monsters to the zombie monster class:

Any monster that is hit by a zombified monster (or by a skeletal monster on 120 of hits) will be considered "infected", and will revive as a zombie if killed; players killed by zombies will revive as a zombie in bones. Dread seraphs cause corpses on the same level as them to animate as zombies with their mere presence, even if they are asleep or sepulchered.


Main article: Zombie (FIQHack)

FIQHack does not add any new monsters to the zombie monster class, but makes several of the zombie monsters from NetHack much more dangerous: they can revive nearby corpses and will either turn them into zombies of the same type, or revive them as an enslaved "normal" monster under their command (e.g. "an enslaved kitten"). Zombies and other undead have a mutual grudge against living monsters.

Additionally, every hit from a zombie will inflict zombification on the victim, and worsens zombification in targets that are already afflicted.[7] Zombification is implemented as a delayed instadeath starting at 100, and prevents passive HP regeneration; each successful hit reduces the timer by 10[8] - minor zombification (e.g. timer value above 50) will eventually vanish over time without harm, while major zombification (timer below 50) does not vanish passively and will kill the player if the timer reaches 0, as indicated by status messages.[9] Zombification can be cured similarly to other forms of illness, e.g. a unicorn horn or prayer (as it is considered a major trouble).


SpliceHack adds a few new monsters to the monster class:


Main article: Zombie (EvilHack)

EvilHack adds a few new monsters to the monster class:

The 'standard' zombies, i.e. all minus the ghoul, skeleton and revenant, are reworked to behave similarly to those in GruntHack, though they have their own entries in monst.c (with adjusted difficulty and statistics) rather than racial templates. Several modifications are made to keep them distinct and less overwhelmingly difficult while still being quite challenging: zombies can more consistently cause illness (e.g. zombie corpses always rot away and cause illness when eaten, rather than being a "normal" old corpse that also causes illness), but they revive less often, and there are more methods available to cure it and/or dispose of the zombie. See the linked article for complete details.

Sunsword can vaporize zombies it kills permanently, including a chance of instantly destroying them similar to other Bane-style weapons in EvilHack.


Hack'EM adds several new monsters to the monster class from SLASH'EM and other variants:

Encyclopedia entry

The zombi ... is a soulless human corpse, still dead, but taken from the grave and endowed by sorcery with a mechanical semblance of life, -- it is a dead body which is made to walk and act and move as if it were alive.

[ W. B. Seabrook ]

See also