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A shade,  , is a type of undead monster that appears in NetHack. They are capable of phasing and see invisible like other ghosts, and are incredibly dangerous due to their slowing attack removing intrinsic speed and (temporarily) extrinsic speed - it can also cause paralysis, leaving the player vulnerable to other more dangerous creatures.

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


Orcus-town is the only place where shades appear. Six shades are generated on the level upon entering in normal circumstances - two are placed next to Orcus, and the other four are placed randomly in the town.[2]


A silver weapon, MC3 and/or free action are highly recommended in the presence of shades - if you have made it this far without any of those available to you, or else you do not want to fight them (e.g. during a speed ascension), you can scare away the shades using an applicable instrument, such as a bugle or tooled horn.

Players who wish to fight them but lack a silver weapon can use the Bell of Opening or any other silver item against them - silver arrows will not work unless fired from a bow. 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.

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.


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It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

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