From NetHackWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A werejackal, @ / d, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. The werejackal is an omnivorous human werecreature that can shift between human and canine form - in both forms, they possess enhanced regeneration and can be seen via infravision. In human form, werejackals will seek out and pick up items.

A werejackal in human form has a weapon attack, and in jackal form it has a bite that can cause lycanthropy and the ability to summon other jackals and canines on nearby squares when in melee range of a character. Werejackals possess poison resistance and drain resistance, and are weak to silver.

A werejackal corpse is poisonous to eat, and eating a werejackal corpse or tin will confer lycanthropy - monsters cannot catch lycanthropy this way.


Randomly-generated werejackals are always created hostile and in human form. They are not a valid form for normal polymorph.

A werejackal summoning help has a 67 chance of generating a hostile jackal, a 221 chance of generating a hostile coyote, and a 121 chance of generating a hostile fox on each applicable square[1] - characters that get lycanthropy from a werejackal can summon the above monsters as pets by using the #monster extended command with at least 10 power.


Main article: Lycanthropy

Werejackals are often the first type of lycanthrope a character can encounter - they are somewhat weak, with both forms having poor AC and an unimpressive MR score of 10, but their regeneration makes them somewhat tricky to kill if an early character cannot damage them consistently. Contracting lycanthropy from one will eventually cause a character to shift to a much weaker jackal form, shrink out of their armor and drop most of their inventory unless cured. When encountering werejackals, take them out as quickly as possible: Being pinned on all sides, even by the weaker canines they summon, can lead to death fairly quickly unless you can engrave Elbereth.

A character that finds a silver weapon early on will want to keep it on hand until they can reliably take out werecreatures with little trouble, since the silver damage alone can dispatch them quickly, even with a restricted weapon skill. Pets can help deal with wererats, since they cannot catch lycanthropy and werecreatures only summon help while attacking you in animal form. Pulling a werejackal into a hallway is also viable: summoning in hallways makes it easier for a character to be completely surrounded, but can significantly limit the amount of monsters they have to fight simultaneously.

If possible, avoid engaging werejackals and other lycanthropes in melee while they are in animal form, unless you can cure any infections - eating sprigs of wolfsbane or quaffing holy water will cure lycanthropy, as will successful prayer. A ring of protection from shape changers will outright prevent them from summoning monsters or infecting you.


The werejackal first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. From this version to NetHack 3.0.10, their animal forms are referred to as jackalweres - a monster known as the jackalwere also appears in SLASH 6.

The ability of werejackals to summon allied coyotes and foxes is introduced in NetHack 3.6.0. In NetHack 3.4.3 and previous versions, including some variants based on those versions, werejackals summoning help will only generate hostile jackals on each applicable square.


The concept of humans shapeshifting into animals has been a common concept in folklore among various human eras and cultures, while "therianthropy" and related terms as a means of describing specific forms of human-animal shapeshifting have been in use since the early 20th century.

Werejackals are a much less common form of therianthrope in fantasy media, appearing much more rarely compared to mainstays such as werewolves and even wererats - they do appear alongside them and other therianthropes in Dungeons & Dragons, with their debut being much later in comparison. Werejackals are first mentioned in the 1994 Monstrous Compendium titled "Ravenloft Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness". More common in the franchise is their "opposite" number, the jackalwere: jackals that are able to assume the form of a human, and are innately linked to a trickster deity. This meant that jackalweres were not only natural-born deceivers, but that any attempt to be truthful would cause one literal pain.

Jackalweres are not especially strong in humanoid form, which prevents them from using their claws as effective weapons and limits them to biting and using whatever weapons they can find - this was rarely a problem, considering that like most other lycanthropes they were immune to weaponry that was not magic, silvered or cold iron. Jackalweres still possess a dangerous gaze ability that is capable of lulling unsuspecting victims into a ten-minute-long trance, though it had several major limitations: for example, the gaze only worked on beings that were in a state of calm, and could not affect other jackalweres or any charm-resistant beings. Even so, jackalweres are still treacherous and should be treated with caution, as they often use their humanoid forms to appear outwardly helplessness, lowering their victim's guard before using their gaze or otherwise attacking.


You hear a jackal howling at the moon.
A werejackal shifted into animal form on the current level.


Variants based on NetHack 3.4.3 and previous versions may not include the ability for werejackals to summon other canines, as in later versions.


In SLASH'EM, werejackals can only summon other jackals, but hit monsters as +1 weapons. Like other polymorphed monsters, they can revert to human form if they are killed in animal form, making them much more dangerous; they also have a chance of undergoing system shock, typically when killed in human form.


In GruntHack, werejackals can only summon other jackals. They and other lycanthropes are also generated as racial monsters.


In UnNetHack, werejackals can summon other canines, with the ability to generate foxes and coyotes as in vanilla NetHack.


In dNetHack, werejackals can only summon other jackals, and are the only vanilla werecreature that is not buffed in dNetHack. They also do not generate randomly, and can only be summoned by anubites: the anubite is a much stronger type of werejackal that can take the form of an anuban jackal, and can confer werejackal lycanthropy by biting a character in jackal form.

Encyclopedia entry

In 1573, the Parliament of Dole published a decree, permitting the inhabitants of the Franche-Comte to pursue and kill a were-wolf or loup-garou, which infested that province, "notwithstanding the existing laws concerning the chase." The people were empowered to "assemble with javelins, halberds, pikes, arquebuses and clubs, to hunt and pursue the said were-wolf in all places where they could find it, and to take, burn, and kill it, without incurring any fine or other penalty." The hunt seems to have been successful, if we may judge from the fact that the same tribunal in the following year condemned to be burned a man named Giles Garnier, who ran on all fours in the forest and fields and devoured little children, "even on Friday." The poor lycanthrope, it appears, had as slight respect for ecclesiastical feasts as the French pig, which was not restrained by any feeling of piety from eating infants on a fast day.

[ The History of Vampires, by Dudley Wright ]