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Insight is a feature specific to dNethack. It represents the player's ability to see "beyond the veil": Players with a high insight will encounter creatures they would otherwise never see.

The Veil

The 'veil' refers to a perception of reality that is permanently altered by the following actions:

While the 'veil' is intact, the PC has a +10 bonus to sanity regeneration. Once the 'veil' has been pierced, insight can be accrued and reduced.

Methods of changing insight

Change Method
+1 Successfully reading the Necronomicon
Successfully reading the Book of Lost Names
Gaining telepathy from a corpse while hallucinating
Drinking a cursed potion of enlightenment
Drinking a cursed potion of see invisible (1 in insight chance)
Seeing an insight-granting monster up close for the first time
+X Killing an insight-granting monster for the first time. X is the monster's difficulty/10 - 1.
-1 Drinking a cursed potion of hallucination
-X% insight Amnesia (X is typically 10)

Insight creatures

There are a number of creatures that the character will be unable to perceive until they have accrued sufficient Insight. While a creature is unseen, the character will be unable to harm it in any way. However, many of these monsters will still be able to affect the character while unseen.

Creature Insight to see creature Effects while unseen
Bright walker 10
Lurking One 20 - 40
Blasphemous Lurker 40
Blessed 40 Hostile Blessed will periodically spawn monsters while unseen.
Mouth of the Goat 60 Mouth will consume any corpses in its space. The character can use the mouth's space to interact with the Black Mother.
The Good Neighbor 40 The Good Neighbor will wander around the level, spawning monsters and aiding witches. If she shares the character's square she will drain the character's luck.
Hmnyw Pharaoh 40 The Pharaoh will interact with Nitocris and spawn monsters.
Polypoid being 40 The being will pick up any masks on its square and put them on, becoming visible in the process.
Parasitized Doll 1 - 20
Living Doll 1 - 20
Kuker 20 - 40

Insight templates

Template Insight to encounter Notes
Dark daughter 10 - 20 The creature's head is replaced with a mass of writing tentacles, granting it extra tentacle attacks at the cost of any head-dependent attacks.
Pseudonatural 1+
Tomb herd 1+
Yithian 1+
Cranium rat 1+

Insight merchants

In the Gulf of N'Kai on the Neutral Quest, you can encounter a number of peaceful merchants. If you chat to them while wielding an artifact in your main hand, they will offer to take it from you, giving you a "thought" in return.[1] Giving away a gifted artifact will anger the god that gave it to you.

You may have up to three thoughts in your head at once. Thoughts cannot be involuntarily removed, but are only active when you have sufficiently high insight (equal to the lowest possible value that could be required to see the corresponding merchant). Thoughts can be voluntarily removed with a trephination kit, the aid of a nurse, or the aid of a veil render. Removing a thought results in a glyph, which can be read to return the thought to your head, as long as the character meets the minimum insight requirement.

Thoughts may also be obtained directly via glyphs. Glyphs may be wished for, found in bones files left by characters with thoughts, or, in the case of beast's embrace glyphs, left as treasure by monsters. Characters must still meet the minimum insight requirement in order to read the glyph.

Merchant Symbol Insight to See Merchant Related Glyph Thought's Effect
Bestial dervish X 20 - 29 clockwise metamorphosis glyph +30% maxhp
Ethereal dervish X 20 - 29 anti-clockwise metamorphosis glyph +3 speed (+25% of normal speed), applied after all other speed bonuses
Sparkling lake P 18 - 26 sparkling lake glyph intrinsic magic resistance
Flashing lake P 16 - 23 fading lake glyph intrinsic shock resistance
Smouldering lake P 11 - 16 smoking lake glyph intrinsic fire resistance
Frosted lake P 12 - 17 frosted lake glyph intrinsic cold resistance
Blood shower v 14 - 20 rapturous eye glyph heal 30 hp on sneak attacks
Many taloned thing U 16 - 23 clawmark glyph +30% increased sneak attack damage
Deep blue cube b 10 - 14 clear sea glyph intrinsic poison resistance
Pitch black cube b 22 - 32 deep sea glyph +3 DR to all slots
Perfectly clear cube b 30 - 40 hidden sea glyph +30 to sanity regeneration (sanity will regenerate to 100% in most cases)
Prayerful thing U 25 - 37 communion glyph +25% carrying capacity
Hemorrhagic thing U 15 - 23 corruption glyph Fast healing (+1 HP per turn) when injured below 30% hp.
Many eyed seeker e 17 - 25 eye glyph 2x death drop frequency
Voice in the dark (blank) 19 - 28 formless voice glyph +30% max power
Tiny being of light y 13 - 19 guidance glyph heal when attacking those that hurt you
Man faced millipede s 5 - 7 impurity glyph +3 DR to all slots for all pets
Mirrored moonflower { 10 - 14 moon glyph +30% XP gain
Crimson writher w 14 - 20 writhe glyph sneak attacks restore 30 energy
Radiant pyramid p 12 - 17 radiance glyph +30% healing from any healing effect
Grotesque peeper g 16 - 23 orrery glyph +30% base attack bonus, plus an additional +1d20 to-hit vs. targets you can see.

Living doll merchants

Living dolls appear randomly in the Depths within the Neutral Quest. Before reaching their insight threshold, they appear as "lifeless dolls", an object that functions as a living doll corpse. Each doll has an independent threshold of rnd(20) insight. Their corpses can be transported to a more convenient location. After reaching their insight threshold, they will wake up and appear as peaceful ' that sell a variety of dolls when you #chat to them. [2]

If a doll or an android given a doll tear is killed, it will drop its items on the ground and leave a lifeless doll corpse. This corpse will revive again, following the same rules as the first awakening.

Living dolls will always sell doll tears and 9 to 11 random other dolls from the below table. For the dolls that grant an effect for a certain number of turns, they will always add to a pre-existing timer. Each doll costs 800 zorkmids regardless of charisma; a doll tear costs 8000 zm.

Doll Unidentified appearance Effect
Effigy Effigy When applied, acts as a blessed scroll of remove curse regardless of its own beatitude.
Doll of jumping Pole-vaulter doll When applied, lets you jump immediately and gives you the ability to jump intrinsically for 100 turns.
Doll of friendship Bard doll When applied, attempts to tame an adjacent monster in the given direction.
Doll of chastity Priest doll When applied, makes you intrinsically immune to seduction attacks for 100 turns.
Doll of cleaving Berserker doll When applied, grants intrinsic cleaving for 100 turns. While cleaving is active, weapon attacks also attack monsters to the left and right of the target.
Doll of satiation Chef Doll When applied, fills your stomach to full.
Doll of good health Healer Doll When applied, cures slime, petrification, sickness, and blindness with no failure chance. Will not cure confusion, hallucination, stunning, or any other status effect not listed.
Doll of full healing Nurse doll When applied, grants rapid healing for 5 turns. While rapid healing is active, heal 1/5 of max health per turn.
Doll of destruction Dancer doll When applied, grants destruction for 8 turns. While destruction is active, all adjacent monsters take 6d6 cold, fire, or shock damage per turn. Non-adjacent monsters in line of sight have a 1/4 chance to take 4d4 elemental damage).
Doll of memory Scholar doll When applied, fully restores the memory of a chosen known spell.
Doll of binding Heretic doll When applied, refreshes the binding timeout of a chosen bound spirit.
Doll of preservation Umbrella Doll When applied, grants intrinsic preservation for 1000 turns. While preservation is active, your inventory is immune to being damaged.
Doll of quick-drawing Archaeologist doll When applied, grants quickdraw for 100 turns. While quickdraw is active, wand zaps are a free action (like stethoscope usage).
Doll of wand-charging Wandsman doll When applied, fully refreshes a single chosen wand. The recharge count is set to 0, and the charges are set to 8 for direction and 15 for non-directional wands.
Doll of stealing Thief doll When applied, steal all items, even cursed or equipped ones, from the inventory of an adjacent target monster.
Doll of mollification High priest doll When applied, mollifies your god fully, setting anger to 0. Also sets luck to 0 if it was below 0.
Doll of clear-thinking Madman doll When applied, grants clear thinking for 100 turns. While clear thinking is active, passive madnesses are suppressed and active madness effects will never trigger.
Doll of mind-blasting Squid-parasitized doll When applied, grants mind-blasting for 8 turns. While mind-blasting is active, you emanate 3d15 psychic blasts that can hit all monsters on the level. Most monsters have a 1/10 chance to be affected. Mindless monsters are immune. Telepathic monsters have a 2/3 chance of being affected, or always if they are currently blinded. The monster's study count is set to the damage taken if it is greater than its current study.
Doll tear milky gemstone Can be applied to turn an android into a doll. This android will sell all the same dolls that the living doll used to, and they will revive just like living dolls. Purchasing this returns the living doll to a lifeless doll, but one that will never revive. Androids, gynoids, operators, and commanders can be given doll abilities like this, in addition to a lifeless doll to bring the living doll back.


Kuker are peaceful angelic creatures that spawn in the Neutral Quest once your insight is high enough. They offer several services in exchange for exorbitant amounts of money. They also grudge on any undead creatures on the level they are found on, and are often not strong enough to fight too many of them. So come prepared to buy anything you want, and don't dally when going to reach them.

Service Cost Effect
Drive out curses 7 gold Uncurses all cursed items in your open inventory, and unpunishes you.
Blessing of good fortune 70 Fully maximizes your innate luck.
Bless wielded item 700 Blesses your currently wielded weapon. If the weapon's enchantment is under 3, it will be set to 3. You must be wielding a weapon.
Lift sterility curse 7000 Makes you fertile again. You must be sterile.
Sanctify your weapon 70000 Blesses your current weapon. If the weapon's enchantment is under 3, it will be set to 3. Adds the holy property, removing the consecrated property in the process. You must be wielding a weapon.

Insight weapons

Insight weapons are unusual weapons that gain additional to-hit and damage dice when used by Madmen or Ose binders. Many insight weapons also gain additional effects once the PC passes certain insight thresholds; any PC can benefit from these effects. There are at least two thresholds for extra effects, with the exact amount and thresholds depending on the weapon, and the weapon's appearance will often have adjectives added to indicate which thresholds have been passed.

The Madman and Ose-binder bonus to-hit die's size is determined by the lower of the PC's Insight score and their level. Therefore, the maximum to-hit bonus is +1d30, for a PC of 30th level with at least 30 points of insight.

The Madman and Ose-binder bonus damage die's size is determined by halving the lower of the PC's Insight score and their level. When using a two-handed weapon, the PC's effective level is doubled. Therefore, for a one-handed weapon the maximum damage bonus is +1d15, for a PC of 30th level with at least 30 points of insight. For a two-handed weapon the maximum damage bonus is +1d30, for a PC of 30th level with at least 60 points of insight.

Insight weapon list

Weapon Notes
Bestial Claw Grants an offhand claw attack that scales with Insanity. Only the Bestial Claw weapon benefits from insight. Wishable, and found in the inventories of werewolves in the Lost Cities.
Blade of Mercy/Grace/Pity Grants extra effects. Blades of Mercy are wishable and may be found randomly.
Bloodletter (artifact) Wishable artifact.
Diskos Grants extra effects. Diskos are wishable and may be found randomly.
Gith-silver sword Not wishable.
Holy Moonlight Sword (artifact) The PC must have pierced the veil in order to ignite the sword. Wishable artifact.
Isamusei Grants extra effects. Isamusei are wishable and may be found randomly.
Lash of the Cold Waste Wishable artifact.
Lurking-one arm (huge bone club) Grants extra effects. Not wishable, found in the inventories of Lurking Ones in the Lost Cities.
Mercurial (material) Not wishable.
Rakuyo (property) Grants extra effects. Typically found on rakuyo, yuki-onna madwomen can find a katana and wakizashi with this property in the quest. Rakuyos are wishable and are found in deep one village inclusions, unusual instances like the rakuyo-katana are not wishable.

Insight weapon extra effects

Weapon Insight Name Effect
Blade of Mercy/Grace/Pity 1-50 Sparkling (later Sidereal) Gains +2% magic damage per point of insight in this range (capping out at +1x magic damage at 50 insight). This damage is resisted by player-type magic resistance, but not by monster-type magic resistance.
25 Sidereal (replaces "sparkling") Gains an additional +2% magic damage per two points of insight over 25, limited by your charisma score (and so capping out at +.5x at 75 insight and 25 charisma). Additionally discourages the target, inflicting 1 point of discouragement per 5 points of charisma. Discouragement from multiple hits stacks, capping out at your charisma score plus the blade's enchantment value.
50 Sticky Causes the target to attack a nearby enemy of the blade's wielder. The target gains a bonus to-hit and damage for this attack equal to 1 point per 5 points of charisma and insight. If a monster kills an ally, it may go insane. If the player kills a pet, their god may become angry as normal. Monsters receive a magic resistance roll to resist this effect, unless the blow from the blade dealt enough damage to kill them. The player is always affected.
Diskos 5-40 Spinning As insight increases the diskos spins faster and faster, dealing increased physical damage as a result. A medium-sized diskos will do 4d6+6/4d8+8 physical damage at 40 insight.
5 +1/2 diesize flat physical damage
10 +1 die physical damage
25 +1/4 diesize flat physical damage (+3/4 total)
30 +1 die physical damage (+2 dice total)
35 +1/4 diesize flat physical damage (+1 total)
40 +1 die physical damage (+3 dice total)
15-50 light/shadow/energy-wrapped As insight increases the diskos is wrapped in holy (or unholy) energy, dealing bonus damage as a result. Holy energy ("light wrapped diskos") deals 2x damage vs. holy-hating enemies. Unholy energy ("shadow-wrapped diskos") deals 2x damage vs. unholy-hating enemies. A medium-sized diskos will deal 2d6+6/2d8+8 energy damage at 50 insight.
15 +1/2 diesize flat energy damage
20 +1 die energy damage
45 +1/2 diesize flat energy damage (+1 diesize total)
50 +1 die energy damage (+2 dice total)
Isamusei 22 Twisting The isamusei strikes behind the attacker.
45 Circular The isamusei strikes to the left and right of the attacker as well as behind (resulting in a +-shaped or x-shaped pattern).
10-70 The weapon's color changes. Intense gravity deals percentage-based damage to creatures that fail a monster-resistance check. The extra damage is calculated before the damage from the weapon is applied.
10 Yellow The target's current HP is reduced by 5%.
22 Bright green The target's current HP is reduced by 10%.
33 Bright cyan The target's current HP is reduced by 12.5%.
45 Bright blue The target's current HP is reduced by 16.6%.
57 Bright magenta The target's current HP is reduced by 20%.
70 Yellow-magenta The target's current HP is reduced by 25%.
Lash of the Cold Waste (artifact) 11-20 Grants an extra point of AC per point of insight over 10 when wielded, to a maximum of 10 AC at 20 insight.
22-40 Grants an extra point of DR per two points of insight over 20 when wielded, to a maximum of 5 DR at 40 insight.
1-30 Adds an extra die of damage. The die size is the lower of your insight and your level (so 1d30 max with 30+ insight at level 30).
Lurking-one arm (huge bone club) 15 Severed arm The club temporarily turns into a clawed hand and hits an enemy behind the primary target. The clawed hand deals piercing/slashing damage, and has a larger base die (+6 faces/+3 faces). Starting at this stage, the weapon can be applied like a polearm. When used as a polearm, the clawed hand hits the target but no additional attacks are made.
30 Thrashing arm The clawed hand hits enemies to the right and left of the primary target (resulting in a Y-shaped pattern if swung diagonally and a T-shaped pattern if swung orthogonally).
Ibite arm (artifact) 15-30 Severed/Thrashing arm The Ibite arm behaves like a lurking one arm. The hand deals blunt damage rather than piercing/slashing.
40 The arm begins attacking nearby monsters of its own accord. If wielded, it may choose to attack any enemy within 2 squares. If it is in the swap weapon slot, it may choose to attack any adjacent enemy.
50 The arm begins casting spells of its own accord. Any enemy within 8 squares may be targeted. It chooses from Plague, Acid Rain, Geyser, Open Wounds, and Psi Bolt. During gibbous moons it can also cast Fire Pillar.
60 The arm will summon an army of ibite ghosts when #invoked. Summons 6d6 beings of Ib and 3d3 priests of Ib at random locations across the level. Beings of Ib are a kind of ghost with a 6d6 acid touch, and Priests of Ib are similar but level 15 vs. level 10 and have clerical spellcasting instead. They are summoned for a duration scaling with charisma, enchantment, and your missing sanity.
Rakuyo (property) 20 Blood-drenched The rakuyo also strikes one square behind the original target with a blade of rotted blood. The player can force-attack empty squares to trigger the effect.
40 Burning A flaming explosion also erupts one square behind the original target. The player can force-attack empty squares to trigger the effect.