Yendorian army

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"Sergeant" redirects here. For other uses of the term, see Sergeant (disambiguation).

The Yendorian army, sometimes referred to as mercenaries, is a group of humans encountered in NetHack. According to their encyclopedia entry, they are employed and often trained directly by the Wizard of Yendor himself. The Yendorian army is composed of:

  • @ soldiers
  • @ sergeants
  • @ lieutenants
  • @ captains

All Yendorian Army members are chaotic, cannot be polymorphed into, do not respect Elbereth, and can follow the player to other levels. They have low monster magic resistance, and possess at least one weapon attack per turn; lieutenants and captains are capable of two per turn.


Yendorian army soldiers and sergeants are frequently generated in small groups. Barracks are special rooms populated entirely by mercenaries; very large contingents of mercenaries and barracks are guaranteed to appear in the castle and Fort Ludios.

All members are generated with weaponry varying from short swords to silver sabers and armor varying from leather armor to crystal plate mail; most can also be generated with gloves, boots, helmets, shields, wands, and C- or K-rations. The exact contents of each troop's inventory is dependent on their experience and rank.


Ordinary soldiers have a 13 chance of being generated with a random weapon from the set of all polearms, plus lances and mattocks. If this is the case, they will always get a secondary weapon: either a knife or a dagger (50% chance each).[1] Otherwise, a plain soldier's primary weapon will be either an ordinary spear or an ordinary short sword, with equal probability. These soldiers have a 34 chance of taking a knife as a secondary weapon, or else have no secondary weapon at all.

Higher-ranked soldiers randomly take one of two primary weapons, with equal probability. Sergeants choose either a flail or a mace. Lieutenants choose either an ordinary broadsword or a long sword. Captains choose either a long sword or a silver saber. All of these higher-ranked soldiers also have a 34 chance of taking a knife as a secondary weapon.

Like many other monsters, soldiers of all ranks are eligible to be given a random offensive item, such as an attack wand or an offensive potion. This will occur if the monster's level is greater than or equal to the roll of a d75.[2]


Each rank of soldier has a particular target AC as follows:

Rank Target AC
soldier 3
sergeant 0
lieutenant −2
captain −3

The game uses a complicated procedure to outfit each soldier with a selection of armor giving roughly the target AC. If the soldier is unlucky, they might be given less armor; if they are lucky, they might be given enchanted armor that takes them beyond the target.

Each soldier is generated with one suit of body armor. Lieutenants and captains are eligible for (but not guaranteed) plate mail or crystal plate mail. Sergeants and above are eligible for splint mail or banded mail. All ranks are eligible for ring mail or studded leather armor. Soldiers of all ranks are guaranteed to receive at least leather armor.

In addition, soldiers of all ranks can be randomly generated with zero or more items from the following list: helmet, dented pot, small shield, large shield, low boots, high boots, leather gloves, leather cloak. There is no guarantee that any particular slot will be filled, and soldiers will be given multiple items for any slot.

Other equipment

Soldiers of all ranks have a 13 chance of being generated with a K-ration, and an independent 12 chance of being generated with a C-ration. Sergeants and above also have a 13 chance of being generated with a bugle.[3] Unlike all other monster types, ordinary soldiers have a 1213 chance of missing all of the rolls for being generated with random defensive items, miscellaneous items, and gold.[4] Other ranks are unaffected.


The usual tactics for handling groups of monsters applies; drawing them into a corridor is effective for both reducing vulnerability and thinning their ranks, especially since they will likely be caught in the path of their allies' attack wands. However, said wands also make them potentially dangerous to face without reflection or magic resistance in later levels, especially Fort Ludios; on the other hand, a strong enough player can also use them as a source of such wands if so desired. As a majority of soldiers normally wear gloves, they can wield cockatrice corpses against you; be wary of this if you kill one in their presence.

Due to the potential frequency of barracks outside of the guaranteed set in the Castle, soldiers may become extinct in a game where you reach Fort Ludios.

In addition to wands, the armor, weapons and items dropped from killing Yendorian army fighters are a good source of polyfodder and can also replace your own eroded or lower-enchantment armor. In addition, their corpses will keep you carnivorous pet full, and are plentiful food sources; you can stash the C-rations and K-rations for later use, since they take only one turn to eat. Additionally, non-humans and human Cavemen can get half a food ration's worth of nutrition from eating their corpses without worrying about cannibalism.


Mercenaries can be bribed by throwing a certain amount of gold at them, turning them peaceful. The amount of gold necessary for this is as follows:

x + \frac{G + 1d5 \times {\mathit XL}}{{\mathit Cha}}

G is the total gold in your open inventory and x varies depending on the exact type of monster: 150 for soldiers, 250 for sergeants, 500 for lieutenants, and 750 for captains. Mercenaries only have a two in three chance of accepting the offer.[5]

Strategically, bribing a soldier can be used to block off a hallway in areas such as the Castle; hostile monsters will not route their movement past peaceful ones.[6] This can be used to herd and eliminate groups of monsters with other crowd control strategies—a knight can pound away at foes with a lance without disturbing the peaceful merc between them, and wizards can cast skilled fireball or cone of cold with impunity. This will not stop teleporting or covetous foes, and the soldier can still die from enemy ranged attacks - a human shield won't do much good against a black dragon's disintegration breath.



In SLASH'EM, mercenaries always wield firearms of some kind.

Encyclopedia entry

The soldiers of Yendor are well-trained in the art of war,
many trained by the Wizard himself. Some say the soldiers
are explorers who were unfortunate enough to be captured,
and put under the Wizard's spell. Those who have survived
encounters with soldiers say they travel together in platoons,
and are fierce fighters. Because of the load of their combat
gear, however, one can usually run away from them, and doing
so is considered a wise thing.