Water demon

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A water demon, &, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is a major demon that resides in fountains.

Water demons have a weapon attack, a claw attack, and a bite attack, along with the standard demonic resistances to fire, poison, draining attacks, and death magic.


Main article: Fountain

Water demons are not randomly generated, and are not a valid a target for genocide or polymorph.

A water demon only generates when quaffing from or dipping into a fountain, with both actions each having a 130 chance of generating one. The water demon will be hostile with a probability of (80 + LD)100, where LD is your current level difficulty (i.e. they are always hostile if a character is at 20 difficulty or has the Amulet of Yendor), and otherwise will generate peaceful and grant a wish.[1] Water demons can gate in other water demons with their melee attacks.

The Wizard of Yendor may create a clone of himself in the guise of a water demon via the Double Trouble monster spell.[2]

A water demon has a 512 chance of generating with any of the default weapon sets, with an equal probability of each: a two-handed sword, a long sword, a lucern hammer, a battle-axe, or a bow and 3-14 arrows.[3]

Water demons do not leave a corpse upon death.


Though one of the less powerful major demons, their AC of -4 and gating abilities make the water demon more than capable of destroying early-game characters - starting characters should ideally avoid using fountains as much as possible, at least until they have a solidly built kit of armor and weapons capable of standing against water demons and water moccasins. This danger is not at all limited to fresh characters and Bad Ideas: lawful characters that dip for Excalibur also face the threat of an unexpected water demon ruining their game. A tougher character who cannot dispatch one quickly may also find themselves overwhelmed if they gate in a second or third water demon, or even a demon lord.

The possibility of water demon swarms is the result of code governing demon gating that makes monsters with a monster difficulty greater than the current dungeon level exponentially unlikely to generate, meaning that a majority of the gated demons will be other water demons and foocubi.[4] Additionally, there is a 1260 chance of a water demon summoning Juiblex or Yeenoghu via demon gating. Death at the hands of a water demon also has the potential to create an early bones level that may be impassible for many characters, particularly who discover the presence of water demons (as well as one or both demon lords) far too late.

For characters confident enough to take chances with fountains, a kit of escape items and a source of speed is all but necessary to ensure the best odds. One approach for wish hunters in particular is to start from the topmost fountain in the main dungeon - if the only objective is to obtain a wish, then dipping is generally safer than quaffing, since at worst only the dipped item will be cursed rather than much of the open inventory.


Water demons first appear in NetHack 3.0.0. In previous versions, fountain quaffing and dipping have the same chance of generating a normal demon.


Water demons and/or water spirits are supernatural beings that occur in the folklore of many cultures. The encyclopedia entry is an excerpt from a Buddhist tale, The Monkey King and the Water Demon.

The titular monkey king had warned his nation of monkeys about water demons, which lurk in unfamiliar ponds and eat anything that enters, and thanks to his followers' attentiveness, none of the monkeys were eaten by any water demons. When the monkeys came across a pond, despite being tired and thirsty, not a one of them would approach, and instead sat in the trees and on the ground nearby. The monkey king sees his followers gathered around the pond and learns that none of them went into the water - he then walks along the bank and examines the footprints there, discovering that many animals had previously gone to drink and none had returned; the monkey king tells his followers that this was the work of a water demon.

When still none of the monkeys went in to drink, the water demon rises from the pond in the form of a frightening monster, but the monkey king remains calm and outwits the water demon by taking a young bamboo shoot and blowing through it to remove the knots: the monkey king uses it as a straw to sip water from the pond, then waved his hand and turned all the bamboo around that pond into the same kind of bamboo. The monkeys are able to drink from the pond safely, and the defeated water demon sinks back under the surface.


You unleash a water demon!
You summoned a water demon by quaffing from or dipping into a fountain.
You feel the presence of evil.
As above, while blind.
The fountain bubbles furiously for a moment, then calms.
As above, but water demons are extinct.
Grateful for <his/her> release, <he/she> grants you a wish!
The water demon is created peaceful and offers a wish.

Encyclopedia entry

[ The monkey king ] walked along the bank, around the pond. He examined the footprints of the animals that had gone into the water, and saw that none came out again! So he realized this pond must be possessed by a water demon. He said to the 80,000 monkeys, "This pond is possessed by a water demon. Do not let anybody go into it."

After a little while, the water demon saw that none of the monkeys went into the water to drink. So he rose out of the middle of the pond, taking the shape of a frightening monster. He had a big blue belly, a white face with bulging green eyes, and red claws and feet. He said, "Why are you just sitting around? Come into the pond and drink at once!"

The monkey king said to the horrible monster, "Are you the water demon who owns this pond?" "Yes, I am," said he. "Do you eat whoever goes into the water?" asked the king. "Yes, I do," he answered, "including even birds. I eat them all. And when you are forced by your thirst to come into the pond and drink, I will enjoy eating you, the biggest monkey, most of all!" He grinned, and saliva dripped down his hairy chin.

[ Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, Vol. 1 ]