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Nymphs are monsters that appear in NetHack. There are three distinct types - the water nymph, wood nymph and mountain nymph. All three types of nymph compose the nymph monster class, and they are almost entirely identical to each other.


Nymphs all share the same base attributes. They have a high AC of 9 and move at the same base speed as an unburdened and unhasted player character, but will teleport randomly while moving. Nymphs have no damaging attacks and will instead try to charm you into removing your armor, followed by an attempt to steal items before trying to teleport away. They are capable of using items they pick up or steal - putting on armor and amulets, zapping wands and quaffing potions. Eating a nymph's corpse has a chance of giving you teleportitis.

The water nymph shares the same qualities and attributes as her other counterparts, but can also swim and freely cross water.


In addition to random generation, nymphs are the first quest enemy class for Rogues, with a 14% chance of being generated in the quest branch. The Rogue quest home level also has nine guaranteed water nymphs, and each of the filler levels has two water nymphs.

Ringing a cursed bell (including a cursed uncharged Bell of Opening) has a 14 chance of summoning a random type of nymph, unless any type of nymph is genocided or extinct.[1] When dipping an item into a fountain or quaffing from one, there is a 130 chance of summoning a water nymph.

Nymphs are always generated hostile, and will also be generated asleep 45 of the time unless you have the Amulet of Yendor or summoned one via a fountain.[2] Unless summoned via bell, a nymph has a 12 chance of being generated with a mirror, and an independent 12 chance of generating with a potion of object detection.[3][1]


Despite lacking damage-dealing attacks and having poor AC, nymphs are nevertheless very dangerous monsters - they should not be approached unless you can dispatch them before they close in and steal any items. It may be advisable to leave the items you least want stolen in a chest or other container elsewhere before nearing or pursuing a nymph; in most cases, it is preferable to leave them asleep if possible.

Elbereth can ward off awakened nymphs and give you some valuable space, while applying a mirror at a nymph will cause her to steal the mirror and teleport away, leaving your other items alone. It is also ideal to keep your pet nearby, especially if you are an early-game Wizard - a pet can hold the nymph at bay and hopefully kill her for you, but the nymph can still steal any items they are carrying, including saddles. Nymphs can be tamed using a wooden harp, but in practice this requires an impractically high dexterity and/or experience level.

Ranged attacks and spells are the most ideal for killing nymphs before they can close in on you - the exception to this is the force bolt spell or wand of striking, which can easily kill the nymph but will also break any fragile items she was carrying, including potions and mirrors. Breaking mirrors results in a −2 Luck penalty, which reduces your to-hit and prevents successful prayer if your total Luck is negative.

Wands are also useful against nymphs, but can be stolen and potentially used against you - a wand of teleportation or digging all but ensures that she will escape you several times before you can retrieve it or any other stolen goods. The wand of sleep can stop a nymph long enough for you to kill her before she reawakens, while a wand of slow monster can give you additional turns to deal damage; a wand of cancellation will make the nymph "plain", which renders her harmless, but she will still teleport away after unsuccessfully attempting to steal from you. Polearms or lances can also be effective for mounted players, who will ideally have a decently fast steed to maintain their one-square pounding distance.

Removing unwanted items

Nymphs and their theft attacks can be used to get rid of cursed items, usually by stashing or dropping every other item besides the offending objects; you can optionally retrieve the items if you want to uncurse them later. Punished players can use this to untether themselves from their heavy iron ball.

As a polyform

Nymphs can wear all armor, and water nymphs can additionally cross water; polyself into a nymph grants you these traits along with two unique abilities:

Making a bare-handed attack will initiate the theft; if you are wielding a weapon, you will attack with that weapon and also make a theft attempt. If the theft attack hits a monster, you will steal an item from them—this does not anger peaceful monsters. If the attack misses, the monster will treat it like any other missed attack, and peaceful monsters will become angry. If you are invisible and the monster cannot see invisible, the seduction attack will not trigger after the theft, and you will perform a regular attack instead, which can also anger monsters.[4] Be sure to check the AC of pets or peaceful monsters before stealing from them.

As pets

Tame nymphs are not particularly worthwhile due to their weak attributes, especially on a no-teleport level - there are very occasional situations where one can be used to steal items from other monsters, though this can often fail and the monster will retaliate. After successfully stealing an item, the nymph will teleport away as normal, and due to being tame will soon drop whatever she stole; this often requires you to find her and retrieve those items unless you have a magic whistle. In a scenario where you are trying to avoid and rob a hostile monster this way, you may end up having to fight them while locating the nymph pet.


Nymphs are first introduced in Hack for PDP-11, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack.

From Hack 1.0 to NetHack 2.3e, nymphs used the N glyph. The three distinct subtypes of nymph are introduced in NetHack 3.0.0, and all three were moved to the n glyph.


A nymph is a minor female nature deity in ancient Greek folklore, and belief in nymphs survived in many parts of Greece up to as recently as the early 20th century. Usually depicted as beautiful maidens, they were not necessarily immortal, but lived much longer than humans. Nymphs are generally regarded as personifications of nature and typically tied to a specific place or landform.

They are often divided into various broad subgroups, such as the Meliae (ash tree nymphs), the Naiads (freshwater nymphs), the Nereids (sea nymphs), and the Oreads (mountain nymphs) - the three types of nymph in NetHack (wood, water and mountain) may be a rough analogue to this. Nymphs generating asleep may also be based on the common motif of a sleeping nymph in a grotto or spring, which became prominent in European sculpture during the Renaissance; these sculptures were based off a report in the 15th century of a similar Roman statue at a fountain near the Danube, which is now widely considered forged.

In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, nymphs had no offensive capabilities of their own, but displayed the ability to charm and immobilize onlookers to much more severe degrees than displayed in NetHack - looking at one could cause permanent blindness, and the sight of a disrobing nymph could kill an onlooker outright. Nymphs were able to teleport short distances via a dimension door spell, hence their teleporting abilities in NetHack.


Nymph polyself

You smile at <monster> seductively.
You attacked a monster that can see you, and it is of the opposite gender.
You talk to <monster> seductively.
As above, but the monster cannot see you.
You smile at <monster> engagingly.
You attacked a monster that can see you, and is not of the opposite gender.
You talk to <monster> engagingly.
As above, but the monster cannot see you.
You pretend to be friendly to <monster>.
You missed on your stealing attack.



In SpliceHack, nymphs hate iron and take bonus damage from iron weapons, and they introduce themselves with classical Greek-style names while charming you.


In xNetHack, nymphs also hate the touch of iron and take an additional d6 damage when struck with an iron item - players polymorphed into nymphs take d3 damage when handling iron items. xNetHack nymphs also introduce themselves with classical Greek-style names before charming you.


In SlashTHEM, polymorphing into a mountain, water or wood nymph sets your carrying capacity at 4000 and sets your charisma to 18. Nymphs are also made into a playable race as well, with a corresponding "plain" nymph used for their corpses.

Encyclopedia entry

A female creature from Roman and Greek mythology, the nymph occupied rivers, forests, ponds, etc. A nymph's beauty is beyond words: an ever-young woman with sleek figure and long, thick hair, radiant skin and perfect teeth, full lipsand gentle eyes. A nymph's scent is delightful, and her long robe glows, hemmed with golden threads and embroidered with rainbow hues of unearthly magnificence. A nymph's demeanour is graceful and charming, her mind quick and witty.

"Theseus felt her voice pulling him down into fathoms of sleep. The song was the skeleton of his dream, and the dream was full of terror. Demon girls were after him, and a bull-man was goring him. Everywhere there was blood. There was pain. There was fear. But his head was in the nymph's lap and her musk was about him, her voice weaving the dream. He knew then that she had been sent to tell him of something dreadful that was to happen to him later. Her song was a warning. But she had brought him a new kind of joy, one that made him see everything differently. The boy, who was to become a hero, suddenly knew then what most heroes learn later -- and some too late -- that joy blots suffering and that the road to nymphs is beset by monsters."

[ The Minotaur by Bernard Evslin ]