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The elemental monster class is represented by the symbol E and consists of five monster types:

The stalker is quite unlike the others, and so the term “elemental” usually refers only to the four proper elementals.

Stalkers are genocidable but the proper elementals are not, so using a blessed genocide on the E class will only wipe out stalkers.

Air elemental

The air elemental is by far the fastest of elementals and, indeed, the fastest monster of any sort in the entire game.

Unlike other elementals, air elementals can engulf players. Their main attack is to pummel the player with debris; this can be quite deadly to unprepared characters due to their extreme speed and because, unlike against other whirly monsters, one cannot acquire a resistance against the physical damage. Air elementals are not genocidable. They are also immune to petrification and poison. They cannot deal much damage to players polymorphed into a huge monster, e.g. a titan.


They appear both on the Plane of Air (guaranteed) and in the main dungeon (random). On the Plane of Air, they have a lot more hit points.



They make surprisingly bad fighter forms to polymorph into, though they are good for travel. E.g. hunting the vibrating square, or crossing the Plane of Air. They are less good for the Plane of Fire because a boulder-throwing, lava-splashing giant might rehumanize you right over lava, and outright bad for the Plane of Water where you cannot see the portal move. Once polymorphed, you cannot use your hands, including to put on or remove rings or operate a bag. Since they are blind, you might want to pack a wand of probing to make picked-up items seen, or wear the Eyes of the Overworld (if you have them).


If you are engulfed by an air elemental, you can escape by either teleporting yourself out if the level allows teleport, or zapping in any direction with a wand of teleportation if you are on a non-teleport level (such as the Plane of Air). Casting slow monster or zapping in any direction with a wand of slow monster will "disrupt" the air elemental and you will be immediately expelled. It is also susceptible to a wand or spell of sleep, allowing plenty of time to give it your own pummeling.


In previous versions of NetHack, the air elemental's pummel attack dealt twice as much damage as currently; this was changed in version 3.4.0.

See also

Earth elemental

Earth elementals are slow and thus easily dealt with, although you may find yourself overwhelmed by large numbers of them as they can phase through walls.

Fire elemental

Fire elementals are not fast and not hard to fight, especially if you have fire resistance, in which case they can do you no damage.

Water elemental

Water elementals may be summoned by drinking from a sink and can easily kill an early character should they hit. Unlike the air elemental, water elementals are slow and easy to run away from.

Encyclopedia entry

Elementals are manifestations of the basic nature of the
universe. There are four known forms of elementals: air, fire,
water, and earth. Some mystics have postulated the necessity
for a fifth type, the spirit elemental, but none have ever
been encountered, at least on this plane of existence.

This page is based on a spoiler by J. Ali Harlow.

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

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

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.