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A werewolf, @ / d, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. The werewolf 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, werewolves will seek out and pick up items.

A werewolf in human form has a weapon attack, and in wolf form it has a bite that can cause lycanthropy and the ability to summon other wolves on adjacent and nearby squares when in melee range of a character. Werewolves possess poison resistance and drain resistance, and are weak to silver.

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


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

A werewolf summoning help has a 45 chance of generating a hostile wolf, a 110 chance of generating a hostile warg, and a 110 chance of generating a hostile winter wolf on each applicable square[1] - characters that get lycanthropy from a werewolf can summon the above monsters as pets by using the #monster extended command with at least 10 power.


Main article: Lycanthropy

Werewolves are the strongest form of lycanthrope a character can encounter - while their 4 AC and 20 MR score are far from stellar, their regeneration combined with decent damage and the ability to summon fairly bulky wolves can be very troublesome for characters that encounter them as they approach the mid-game. A werewolf summoning one or more winter wolves in an open area can unexpectedly turn the tables on decently-kitted characters unless they have cold resistance or reflection for the breath attack. Worse yet, contracting lycanthropy from one will eventually cause a character to shift to wolf form: while not nearly as weak as the other lycanthrope forms, turning into a wolf will destroy body armor rather than shrink out of it, on top of forcing them to drop other armor and much of their inventory.

Like other werecreatures, werewolves should be eliminated as quickly as possible before they can get into melee range and summon monsters or infect you: constraining them to hallways is less effective than in other cases, since summoned winter wolves can hit from behind other monsters with their cold breath and destroy potions in open inventory, though this has the benefit of softening up the werewolf and other wolves you are fighting off. A means to reliably engrave Elbereth may be needed to get some breathing room if you do not have a silver weapon or a solid enough weapon to bring the wolves down quickly. As always, keep sprigs of wolfsbane, holy water or other cures on hand, and consider wearing a ring of protection from shape changers if you identify one.


The werewolf first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. From this version to NetHack 3.0.10, their animal forms are referred to as wolfweres.

The ability of werewolves to summon allied wargs is introduced in NetHack 3.6.0. In NetHack 3.4.3 and previous versions, including some variants based on those versions, werewolves summoning help have a 45 chance of generating a hostile wolf and a 1e chance of generating a hostile winter wolf 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. The werewolf is the definitive example of such a being, and is also known as a "lycanthrope", which comes from the Ancient Greek (λυκάνθρωπος, lykánthrōpos, "wolf-human") and is the basis for the term "therianthrope" used to describe other werecreatures - their shapeshifting is either an intrinsic ability or the result of a curse or affliction, often resulting from a bite or scratch by another werewolf, with the transformations occurring on the night of a full moon. The folklore around this "lycanthropy" dates back as far as classical antiquity in ancient Greece, with sources dated as early as the first century of the Common Era, while the infectious properties of their bites is a relatively modern development in comparison.

Stories of humans turning into wolves are widespread elsewhere throughout much of pre-Christian European folklore, with Christian interpretations of the folklore developing during the medieval period and forming the motif of the devilish werewolf devouring human flesh. Werewolf beliefs also spread to the New World during the era of colonialism, and developed in parallel to the belief in witches during the Late Middle Ages and the early modern period: the trials of supposed witches and werewolves alike emerged in the early 15th century in what is now Switzerland, and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century. Despite this, there was only a marginal overlap between accusations of lycanthropy and those of witchcraft.

King Lycaon of Arcadia is a notable example of a werewolf in classical literature and folklore. In the version of the tale told by Greek geographer Pausanias, Lycaon was transformed into a wolf after sacrificing a child at the altar of Zeus Lycaeus, while in the version told in Ovid's Metamorphoses, Zeus visits Lycaon disguised as a common man, with Lycaon desiring to test if he is really a god; to that end, he kills a Molossian hostage and serves his entrails to Zeus, which disgusts the god enough to turn Lycaon into a wolf. Classical tales also feature a recurring motif of men that transform into wolves being able to turn back after nine years, provided they abstain from tasting human flesh while in wolf form - Pausanias asserts this to be a regular occurrence with those who sacrificed to Zeus Lycaeus after Lycaon, such as Damarchus of Parrhasia; Pliny the Elder also recounts a tale, quoted from Euanthes, that claims the Arcadians regularly chose a man from the clan of Anthus by lot to travel and undergo such a transformation once a year.

The werewolf has long since become a subject of interest in folklore studies, as well as a staple of the Gothic horror genre of media (with werewolf fiction having pre-modern precedents in medieval romances) and of most fantasy media in general. Most modern fiction describes werewolves as vulnerable to silver weapons and highly resistant to other injuries, which occurs fairly often in post-witch trial European literature. Bram Stoker's 1897 Dracula also attributes similar qualities to the vampiric Count Dracula, and many fictional vampires also independently display an ability to shift into wolven form and a weakness to silver.

The werewolf of Dungeons & Dragons is one of the oldest creatures to appear in the game, with artwork of a werewolf's face by Tom Keogh (a childhood friend of Gary Gygax) present in the original "white box" versions, and is also available in some forms as a playable character - the werewolf of NetHack pulls much of its statistics from the werewolf's entry in the 1st Edition Monster Manual. Werewolves are the most common type of lycanthropes in the game's settings: they organize in packs similar to those of actual wolves, and are said to be very difficult to detect in human form, unlike other lycanthropes such as the wiry and distinctly foul-smelling wererats. Though commonly depicted as evil, there are many non-evil werewolves as well, such as those who worship the goddess of the moon.


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


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

Wolven lycanthropes appear as playable characters in certain variants.


In SLASH'EM, the lycanthrope is a playable race that is essentially a human werewolf, and has a similar ability to switch between forms and summon other wolves. Unlike other werecreatures, player lycanthropes can also throw projectiles such as daggers in wolf form, and the form will have hit dice equal to their current level.

Werewolves hit monsters as +2 weapons, and 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.

Werewolves are the second quest monster for Yeomen, and make up 24175 of monsters randomly generated on the Yeoman quest. Some werewolves are also generated on various levels of the quest branch at level creation: one is generated on a particular square on the home level, and two each are generated on the filler levels and the goal level.


In GruntHack, werewolves and other lycanthropes are generated as racial monsters.


In dNetHack, werewolves are much stronger than in vanilla NetHack.

A werewolf inhabits the inner halls on the ground floor of the Windowless Tower. Werewolves may appear among the court of a throne room ruled by a vampire lord or vampire lady.


In EvilHack, several werewolves appear on certain levels of the Infidel quest at level creation: three are generated on the locate level, five each are generated on the lower filler level(s), and four are generated on the goal level.


Main article: Lunatic

In addition to SLASH'EM details, SlashTHEM also includes the Lunatic as a playable role that makes use of several defunct features tied to the lycanthrope starting race, such as their racial quest and the associated quest artifact.

A werewolf is generated among the "guard dogs" placed within the southwest tower on the village level of the Town branch at level creation.

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 ]