Troll (monster class)

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The troll is a monster class that appears in NetHack, and is represented by the uppercase T glyph (T). Trolls are designated internally by the macro S_TROLL.[1]

The monster class contains the following monsters:[2]

Common characteristics

All trolls are chaotic. They are strong, carnivorous humanoid monsters that possess enhanced regeneration and infravision, can be seen via infravision, and can follow player characters that move to another level while adjacent to them.

Peaceful and tame trolls will grunt if you chat to them.


Trolls can revive from their corpse when killed: if a troll dies and leaves behind a corpse, a timer is set such that it has a 137 chance of reviving from that corpse per turn - this timer starts anywhere between 2 and 50 turns after death.[3] This results in an approximately 74% chance that a troll will revive within 50 turns. Wielding Trollsbane will prevent a troll from attempting to revive.[4] If a troll corpse is unable to revive when the timer expires, whether due to Trollsbane or e.g. being buried, it will not attempt to revive again and continue to rot as normal.[5]

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.

As of commit 328dc5bd, Trollsbane instead prevents the revival of all trolls that it kills.


Randomly generated monsters from the troll monster class are always generated hostile. The water troll is the only troll that is not generated randomly, excluding it from the class-based monster placement cases below.

The troll monster class is the second quest monster class for Barbarians, and makes up 6175 of the monsters that randomly generate on the Barbarian quest. Some random troll monsters are also placed on the lower levels of the quest branch at level creation: two are randomly placed on the locate level, one is randomly placed in each of the lower filler level(s), and another is placed on the goal level.

Trolls may appear among the hostile monsters generated in throne rooms at dungeon level 10 and below, and can also appear among the monsters randomly generated by looting a throne while confused and carrying gold (provided there is no chest on the level).[6] Trolls are usually placed among the monsters in the central room of the Castle at level creation.

Trolls have a 12 chance of being generated with a ranseur, partisan, glaive, or spetum, with an equal probability of each polearm.[7]


Most trolls move as fast as an unhasted and unburdened character, and hit decently hard for the point they can be encountered at, making them an annoyance at best. Even for a well-armed character that can handle a particular type of troll normally, disposing of them before they can revive is another matter: trolls always leave a corpse under most normal circumstances. While eating the corpse is not a bad idea, you have to finish the meal in time without the troll reviving midway to be rid of it completely - it is very possible to become quite satiated from eating a troll corpse without actually getting to finish it. A tinning kit circumvents both issues completely, both by removing the corpse when creating the tin, and the resulting tin giving much lower nutrition.

There are several ways to kill a troll without leaving a corpse behind at all: one of the easier methods is stoning, e.g. via a footrice corpse, egg or a live footrice attack (often via conflict). Disintegration rays and crushing via drawbridge will also leave no corpse behind, and killing the troll while on the Rogue level will also prevent corpse creation. Digestion attacks from a pet, polyform or conflicted monster will instantly kill a troll without leaving a corpse.

One of the most reliable means of eliminating a troll corpse is to let a meat-eating pet consume it: food eaten by pets disappears immediately, completely preventing revival from occurring. Sacrifice is also viable if the corpse is not too old. Another somewhat reliable method it is to throw the corpse into lava and instantly incinerate it; throwing a troll corpse into a pool of water will cause the troll to drown as soon as it revives, unless they are a water troll. A gelatinous cube can immediately digest a troll corpse by moving over it.

Polymorphing the corpse is viable as well, but often requires charges from a wand of polymorph that characters will want to save for other purposes - while polymorphing the live troll itself can also work, the non-troll monster it likely turns into can still be just as dangerous or worse. Sliming is similarly perilous, as it results in another slime that can inflict the condition on you or your pets in turn.

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.

As of commit fae75f59, cancelling a troll or its corpse will prevent it from reviving.

Containing troll corpses

One common method to dispose of a troll corpse is to place the corpse in a pit or container:

  • Placing a troll corpse in a chest or large box and then locking it will prevent the troll from reviving and climbing out, as will placing it in any container and nesting that container more than 2 levels, while placing it in a bag of holding prevents revival 3940 of the time.[8] A message is printed when a troll corpse stored in a container fails to revive.[9]
  • Placing the corpse in an ice box will pause the revival timer, leaving it to be dealt with at the character's own leisure.
  • Placing the corpse in a cursed bag of holding and repeatedly #looting the bag can cause it to disappear.
  • Finding or digging a pit and placing the corpse in, then filling it with a boulder, will prevent the corpse from reviving - this also works for filling squares of water, though there is a 110 chance of a boulder falling in and sinking without a trace. This is primarily applicable for water troll corpses, since water trolls can swim and will revive without drowning.

In all these cases, the corpse's weight is a major obstacle: carrying it often leaves a character at stressed levels of encumbrance or more, slowing them down enough that the troll corpse may revive while still in their grasp, unless the pit, container or other desired means of disposal is close by.

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.

As of commit 654b7d41, trolls can dig their way out of the ground if they revive while buried.

As pets

While not as powerful as some other pet candidates, higher-level trolls are still reasonably strong and can be worth keeping if a tame one is obtained: all trolls can make use of most weapons and unicorn horns, wear non-body armor, and are capable of reviving if killed. Though they do not always revive tame, the odds of a pet troll reviving as hostile are low as long as the character does not abuse or kill them.

As polymorph forms

Trolls are also decently strong polymorph forms, though they cannot wear body armor, making uncontrolled polymorph into one undesirable since it can break valuable armor. A troll's strength and regeneration make them solidly durable forms for combat, and most trolls can move at the same base speed as the character does normally. Players in troll polyforms should avoid attacking footrices in melee if at all possible, as the bite attack will result in instant stoning if it lands.


The troll first appears in Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, both based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0. The other trolls are introduced in NetHack 3.0.0.


A troll is a being that appears in Norse mythology and later Scandinavian folklore. In Old Norse sources, beings described as trolls dwell in isolated areas of rock, mountains, or caves, living together in small family units, and were rarely helpful to human beings - the Old Norse nouns troll and trǫll are variously used to mean "fiend", "demon", "werewolf", and "jötunn". Trolls in later Scandinavian folklore are a more distinct, non-Christianized being that live far from humanity and are considered dangerous to human beings. A troll's appearance varies greatly depending on the source: they may be ugly and slow-witted, or look and behave exactly like a human without any especially grotesque traits. Numerous tales are recorded that frequently depict trolls as being extremely old and very strong, and some are described as man-eaters that turn to stone upon contact with sunlight - this is used to explain their association with particular Scandanavian landmarks.

Trolls are depicted in a variety of forms in modern popular culture and media, with some of the most popular portrayals - the works of J.R.R. Tolkien set in Middle-earth, the works of Sir Terry Pratchett set in Discworld, and the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game - drawing from the original folklore. Discworld trolls draw the most heavily from Norse folklore and resemble a form of "living rock": they are composed of silicon with carbon, survive on minerals and are named after geology - a troll's intelligence is temperature-dependent due to their composition, possessing Einstein-level smarts in cold temperatures while becoming much less smart at higher temperatures. Those that live long enough (typically several centuries) head to the mountains to sit down, think deep thoughts, and eventually merge into the landscape.

Conversely, the trolls of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth are monstrous, ogre-like large humanoids of great strength that spoke very little if at all, and were darker and far more bestial due to being bred by Sauron and Melkor for evil purposes - they were also vulnerable to sunlight, with the Olog-hai being notable for their relative intelligence and lack of this weakness. Tolkien's portrayal of trolls in The Hobbit is a notable exception compared to later stories: they are depicted as more "human" and have English working-class names, speak in Cockney vulgar table manners, and constantly fight among themselves. The conflicting portrayals lend themselves to the well-known dilemma that Tolkien, a devout Roman Catholic, faced in regards to whether or not Middle-Earth's evil beings had souls (and thus were redeemable).

The trolls of Dungeons & Dragons are the basis for the ones featured in NetHack: they are partly inspired by the troll in Poul Anderson novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, with the same ability to rapidly heal wounds and even animate disembodied parts of itself, as well as a weakness to fire. D&D trolls are typically nine feet tall on average, with rubbery green or gray hide, gaunt and deceptively-thin builds, and long arms that drag across the ground and dangle when running. A troll's hunched posture and uneven gait masks its great physical strength and agility: they are fearless fighters that rarely use weapons in favor of attacking relentlessly with their claws and teeth, hunt most other living creatures for prey, and have no natural predators - however, they do respect humans and other groups that are known to wield fire, which is one of the few ways of counteracting a troll's regenerative abilities.


You feel less hassled.
A troll corpse in a container failed to revive.


Some variants may include an additional troll monster attribute for troll-related monsters outside the monster class, typically undead ones - the attribute can govern common traits, such as their revival ability.


SLASH'EM adds two new monsters to the monster class:

While not technically part of the monster class, the M troll mummy leaves behind an aged troll corpse on death, which can revive back into a troll mummy.


In UnNetHack, 1-3 random trolls are generated on the fourth floor of the Ruins of Moria at level creation.

Targeting any troll monster for a dungeon-wide genocide (i.e., by any means other than a non-blessed scroll of genocide) produces some unique messages. The message for genocide uses "plonk", a term that originated as Usenet jargon for adding another user (typically an Internet "troll") to a "kill file" that completely ignores the future posts of anyone listed - the word is meant to simulate the sound of the ignored user hitting the bottom of the file. The reverse genocide messages use "leetspeek", a form of Internet vernacular.


You genocided a type of troll and removed it from the dungeon.
S3n7 1n s0m3 7r0llz!!!
You read a cursed scroll of genocide and generated trolls.
S3n7 1n 4 7r0ll!!!
As above, but only one was generated.


dNetHack adds one new monster to the monster class:

Since trolls are chaotic, any Silver Flame weapon will automatically sacrifice their corpses.


In xNetHack, trolls will not revive if cancelled or beheaded, and eating any troll corpse or tin grants temporary intrinsic regeneration.


SpliceHack adds two monsters to the monster class:


Main article: Troll (starting race)

In addition to SLASH'EM details, SlashTHEM adds the troll as a playable race.


Hack'EM adds some new monsters to the monster class from other variants:

Eating a troll corpse or tin grants temporary intrinsic regeneration, as in xNetHack.

Encyclopedia entry

The troll shambled closer. He was perhaps eight feet tall,
perhaps more. His forward stoop, with arms dangling past
thick claw-footed legs to the ground, made it hard to tell.
The hairless green skin moved upon his body. His head was a
gash of a mouth, a yard-long nose, and two eyes which drank
the feeble torchlight and never gave back a gleam.
Like a huge green spider, the troll's severed hand ran on its
fingers. Across the mounded floor, up onto a log with one
taloned forefinger to hook it over the bark, down again it
 scrambled, until it found the cut wrist. And there it grew
fast. The troll's smashed head seethed and knit together.
He clambered back on his feet and grinned at them. The
waning faggot cast red light over his fangs.

[ Three Hearts and Three Lions, by Poul Anderson ]