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Werecreature (or lycanthrope) is the collective name for wererats (@ / r), werejackals (@ / d), and werewolves (@ / d), a group of monsters which change back and forth between animal and human form.

While in animal form, they can bite you which has a chance of conferring lycanthropy, indicated by a fever. Lycanthropy is the condition that makes monsters change form; you will become the same kind of werecreature as the one that infected you. Additionally, eating a werecreature's corpse will always infect you.[1] In human form, they can wield weapons and wear armor, but will shed their armor and drop such items upon shifting to animal form. Werecreatures are considered human for the purposes of sacrificing and consumption; if you are a human, eating the corpse of a werecreature counts as cannibalism. Werecreatures respect Elbereth only while in animal form, and have drain resistance. They are particularly vulnerable to silver weapons.

Werecreatures can summon their brethren for help - rats, jackals, or various kinds of wolves, depending on the monster. This will give a message based on whether or not said monsters spawn in your character's sight. If you are a werecreature, you can summon such monsters with the #monster extended command. The summoned monsters appear as [[pets and will remain tame if your lycanthropy is cured.


Werecreatures are always generated starting in human form, and start with a dagger, spear, or knife.


Once you find a silver weapon, it is a good idea to keep it on you at all times; the silver damage alone can usually dispatch of a werecreature quickly, and you will want to do so before you are surrounded. Being pinned on all sides, even by rats, can lead to death fairly quickly without Elbereth. Pets can assist in dealing with were creatures, as they will only call for help when attacking you; additionally, summoning is less immediately dangerous in hallways, as you can deal with the monsters one at a time while only having to fight two or three simultaneously. Even then, early characters will still want to kill the werecreature as soon as possible before finishing off their companions.

Most of the time, lycanthropy is unwanted, so don't engage in melee combat unless you have an effective way of removing the affliction. It makes your character unable to carry any kind of load, wield weapons, use hand operated things (such as open doors), and wear armor. While in animal form, your HP is generally considerably lower, as are many of your other attributes. To remove the affliction, one may pray (the effectiveness of which is dependent on the usual factors), eat a sprig of wolfsbane, or quaff holy water. See the article for more methods of curing lycanthropy and strategic applications (e.g. summoning tame monsters).

Summonable monsters

When a werecreature summons help, 1d5 monsters of the appropriate type are created about the werecreature. The monsters will be created with the probabilities in the following table:[2]

Werecreature Summonable monsters Probability
Wererat Sewer rat 67%
Giant rat 22%
Rabid rat 11%
Werejackal Jackal 86%
Coyote 10%
Fox 5%
Werewolf Wolf 80%
Warg 10%
Winter wolf 10%

This second table displays the rates for the SLASH'EM specific werecreatures:[3]

Werecreature Summonable monsters Probability
Werepanther Jaguar 80%
Panther 20%
Weretiger Jaguar 80%
Tiger 20%
Weresnake Snake 80%
Pit viper 20%
Werespider Cave spider 80%
Recluse spider 20%


In SLASH'EM, Lycanthrope is a playable race, starting with (not hungerless) regeneration and lycanthropy (always a werewolf) which cannot be removed, but can eventually be controlled. They may only be chaotic. Also, any silver weapons in one's starting inventory (such as with Undead Slayers) will be reverted to their non-silver counterpart. See Lycanthrope (starting race)

Additionally, there are several new lycanthrope monsters in SLASH'EM: werepanthers, weretigers, werespiders, and weresnakes.

A werecreature summoning help in SLASH'EM will generate 1d2 monsters, rather than the 1d5 in vanilla.


You may hear the message "You hear a jackal howling at the moon" or "You hear a wolf howling at the moon". If so, a werejackal or werewolf is on the dungeon level somewhere.

If you chat to a creature (while blind or hallucinating, for example) and it mumbles inaudibly, so that all you hear is "moon", then it may be a werewolf.

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 ]


In the NetHack 3.0.0 days, lycanthropes in their animal forms were called ratweres, jackalweres, and wolfweres. The -were suffix indicates animals that can take on human and sometimes hybrid forms, e.g. a wolfwere can shift from the base form of a wolf to that of a human or a "wolf man".


You feel feverish.
The player was bitten by a werecreature and infected with lycanthropy.
The werecreature summons help!
The werecreature summoned monsters of the same class to assist it.
You feel hemmed in.
As above, except the new monsters spawned outside of the player's sight, e.g. due to blindness.
You hear a <jackal/wolf> howling at the moon.
A werejackal or werewolf is present on the current level, and has shifted form out of your sight.


See Also