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A shade,  , is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. Shades are undead that possess a paralysis attack and a slowing attack that removes both intrinsic and temporary speed. They are capable of phasing and can see invisible like other ghosts, and have the standard poison resistance, cold resistance, sleep resistance, and stoning resistance along with disintegration resistance.

Shades can only be harmed with blessed weapons, silver objects, certain artifact weapons, and magic. Mirrors count as silver objects for this purpose, but will only deal 1 point of damage and break if used to attack them.[1][2]


Shades are not randomly generated, and are ineligible for offensive, defensive and miscellaneous items. A shade is always generated hostile - it is not a valid form for polymorph, and will never leave a corpse upon death.

Six shades are generated in Orcus-town at level creation outside of bones: two are placed next to Orcus, and the other four are placed randomly in the town.[3] Shades are among the undead that can be created by reading the cursed Book of the Dead.


Silver weapons and Sunsword are the only weapons that will do their full damage to shades, including damage bonuses against undead[4] - other weapons that are not silver will have their base damage reduced to zero, not counting the +d4 damage bonus from a blessed weapon.[5][6][7] Spells and wands deal normal damage as with other monsters.

Any relevant artifact weapon bonuses, such as the double damage from artifacts like Fire Brand and a cross-aligned Sceptre of Might, is applied after the base and enchantment is zeroed.[8][9][10] Attacks that deal non-zero damage can also have that damage boosted from strength and skill bonuses as well as any bonuses from a ring of increase damage.[11] Note that [12] Mjollnir does most of its bonus damage as additive shock damage, which is effective against shades.

In addition to any of the above sources of damage, MC3 and free action are highly recommended in the presence of shades - while their attacks are not especially strong, their ability to freeze you and sap your speed will leave you at the mercy of skeletons and far more lethal monsters that are also present in Orcus-Town. A backup source of speed, such as a tin of quantum mechanic meat or a wand of speed monster, is ideal in the event you lose the intrinsic to a shade.

Players who wish to fight them but lack any effective attack can use the Bell of Opening or any other silver item against them. Unarmed combat with blessed gloves or a silver ring and no gloves can also work, as does wielding the silver ring, though this is comparatively much slower; a non-weapon silver object will not break weaponless conduct. If you have made it this far without any damage sources available to you, or else you do not want to fight them (e.g. during a speed ascension), you can scare away the shades - their MR score of 0 makes it easy to do so using instruments such as a bugle or tooled horn.


The shade first appears in NetHack 3.1.0.



In SLASH'EM two squares within the maze portion of the Lawful Quest each have a 12 chance of a shade being generated there. This also applies to SlashTHEM and Hack'EM.


In AceHack, the shade is moved to the wraith monster class, W, to make them more visible to players. This is also applicable to Nethack 4, NetHack Fourk and FIQhack.


Main article: Shade (monster class)

In dNetHack, the shade is part of its own monster class separate from the ghosts, and uses the same glyph as it does in vanilla NetHack.

The presence of a Nazgul will cause monsters that are killed to raise from the dead as shades.

Various shades appear within the Elven Forest level of the Mordor Ruins Quest, with the River Ford and Forest Edge populated by shades at level creation. Sixteen peaceful shades are generated throughout the home level of the Binder quest at level creation.


In xNetHack, the shade is moved to the wraith monster class, W, to reduce the number of punctuation-based glyphs and make them more visible to players.

Bone weapons, gloves and boots are capable of dealing normal damage to shades.

Encyclopedia entry

Shades are undead creatures. They differ from zombies in
that a zombie is an undead animation of a corpse, while a
shade is an undead creature magically created by the use
of black magic.


  1. src/uhitm.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1353
  2. src/uhitm.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 880
  3. dat/gehennom.des in NetHack 3.6.7, line 398
  4. src/artifact.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 332: Sunsword is the only non-silver artifact with a damage bonus specifically against undead
  5. src/weapon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 301
  6. src/weapon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 321: In dmgval(), this damage bonus comes after zeroing the base damage and enchantment
  7. src/weapon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 389: non-weapon damage
  8. src/uhitm.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 816: bonus damage from artifact_hit() is applied after dmgval()
  9. src/artifact.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1174: adding the artifact bonus
  10. src/artifact.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 752: whether artifact special damage applies; shades are affected by "generalist" artifacts
  11. src/uhitm.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1096
  12. src/artifact.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 859