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(Note: I wrote this YANI before I knew about Nephi's Pirate patch, which is better in many ways - not least of which, it actually exists as more than a mental concept. Nevertheless, I thought I would put this up here anyway.)

The pirate is one of the player roles in NetHack. All pirates are chaotic and can be either humans or orcs.

Pirates can get expert in dagger, scimitar (known to the pirate as a cutlass), saber, and whip, and also in two-weapon combat.

Guidebook entry: Pirates are the scourge of the seven seas. They will stop at nothing to satisfy their unquenchable lust for gold and treasure, seeking riches even in the perilous subterranean dungeons.

Starting equipment

Orcish pirates get orcish daggers instead of daggers.

A pirate has a 75% chance of starting with the normal cat or dog, and a 25% chance of starting with an exotic pet, which is equally likely to be a rat, a monkey, or a baby crocodile.



The pirate's pantheon is drawn from the spirits of Haitian Vodou (voodoo) - Erzulie Freda (lawful), the Marassa Jumeaux (neutral), and Papa Legba (chaotic).

Pirates start with the ability to use vodou magic - by first #naming a figurine in your inventory and then #naming a monster of the same species with exactly the same name, the game prompts you "Do you want to bind the soul of this creature to your figurine of a <monster type>?" If yes, then the monster will suffer effects based on what you do to the figurine, as follows:

Action Effect
place into container blind (if monster is of a type that can be blinded)
remove from container unblind, unless the monster would still be blinded from some other reason
dip into potion same as if the monster were hit by that potion (uses up the potion, even if no effect); exception: potions of water. holy or unholy water change the BUC status of the figurine as usual, with no effect on the monster or its inventory (uses up the potion as usual). Uncursed potions of water are also used up, causing items in the monster’s inventory get wet.
dip into water (pool, moat, fountain etc) items in the monster’s inventory have a chance to be affected by water (potions dilute, scrolls blank, items rust, etc)
drop into water (pool, moat, fountain etc) if the monster breathes air, it drowns (instadeath); items in the monster’s inventory have a chance to be affected by water (potions dilute, scrolls blank, items rust, etc)
dip or drop into lava if monster is not fire-resistant, it is destroyed (along with any inventory); if fire-resistant, it is freed from the magical binding (either way, the figurine is destroyed as usual)
drop or throw against a wall monster fumbles, takes 1d4 damage and has a 25% chance of dropping any wielded weapons; if it does drop its weapon then there is a further 25% chance the weapon hits the monster
kick monster takes 1d6 damage and is moved in a random direction (number of squares depends on its size)
figurine is destroyed (e.g. by dropping a ring of hunger down a sink, looting a cursed bag of holding, polymorphing a container with the figurine inside, etc) or reanimated by a spell of stone to flesh the magical binding is severed
rub monster is confused
wield, and monster can see you monster is scared
#apply instead of creating a new individual of that species, the #named monster is teleported to your side, and its attitude toward you is changed with the same BUC-dependent probabilities of normal figurine usage (same rules apply if the (cursed) figurine "self-animates")

If you #name another monster of the same species with the same name, or if you and the monster are ever not on the same level, then the magical binding is severed (a message informs you of this). You can re-create it at any time by re-#naming the monster, as long as it is the only member of its species on the level with that name. Note that you are not able to #name unique monsters, and that you must #name the monster AFTER #naming the figurine. It is the act of naming the monster that creates the magical binding; for example, if it falls down a trapdoor (severing the binding) and you follow it, the binding is not re-established even though you are now again on the same level and carrying a figurine with the same name as the monster. You need to find the monster again and change its name to the same string as the name of the figurine.


The pirate's special spell is cause fear. Pirates can achieve Basic proficiency in divination spells and Skilled in attack spells.


Main article: Korsair quest

The quest sees you fighting Leviathan (a unique kraken) for The Pearl of Wisdom, an artifact ring. When carried in open inventory, the quest artifact provides magical breathing, half physical damage, brings your Wisdom to your racial maximum, and protects items in your inventory (though not inside any containers you are carrying) from water damage (including rust monster attacks). When #invoked, it acts as a blessed scroll of magic mapping. In addition, when worn it provides whatever effect pearl rings have in your game.

The quest leader is Blackbeard, whom you meet on his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge. As a former member of his crew, he needs your aid to recover the Pearl of Wisdom, a powerful artifact which was lost in a fight with the legendary giant kraken Leviathan. On the way to the Grotto of Souls, you pass through a graveyard level and fight many sea creatures and zombies. After killing Leviathan, you must find a way to retrieve the Pearl of Wisdom and Bell of Opening from underwater.

Rank titles

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Lubber
  • XL 3-5: Swabby
  • XL 6-9: Deckhand
  • XL 10-13: Bilge Rat
  • XL 14-17: Helms(wo)man
  • XL 18-21: Navigator
  • XL 22-25: Bosun
  • XL 26-29: Mate
  • XL 30: Commodore


Pirates start with Basic skill in dagger and longsword. They can reach Basic in pick-axe, short sword, and dart; Skilled in longsword, knife, axe, polearms, spear, and trident; and Expert in cutlass, dagger, whip, and saber. In addition, they can advance barehanded skill to Skilled and two-weapon to Expert, and can reach Basic in divination spells.

Encyclopedia entry

"You're either my ship's cook - and then you were treated handsome - or Cap'n Silver, a common mutineer and pirate, and then you can go hang!"

[ Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson ]