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For the monster class, see wraith (monster class).

A wraith, W, is a type of monster that appears in Nethack. Eating a fresh wraith corpse causes the player character to gain an experience level - however, wraiths may also drain levels from player characters.


In addition to normal generation and graveyards, if a player is slain by a member of the wraith monster class, which also includes barrow wights and Nazguls, that player rises from the grave as a wraith rather than a traditional ghost if bones are left.[1].


The level gained from eating a wraith's corpse makes them a popular choice for reverse genocide, and the corpses provide zero nutrition, reducing the risk of overeating. However, an oversatiated character can still choke on them. There is a 17 chance the corpse will "rot away completely" and provide no experience - dipping it in holy water has no effect on this probability. It isn't possible to tin wraith corpses, but they can be kept fresh in an ice box.

Those discovering the bones of a player killed by a W will have to contend with the tougher spirit of the former player, as wraiths can use wands and read scrolls - on top of using the former inventory, the wraith can still drain levels as well.

Like all undead, wraiths killed on a level with a graveyard (or the Castle, which counts as a graveyard level for this purpose) are much less likely to leave a corpse, with 1/9 of the normal 50% chance if killed by the player, or 1/3 of the normal chance if killed by anything else.[2] To get around this, a player may lure the wraith up or down a stairway before dispatching it, or branch-/level teleport while the wraith is adjacent. Alternatively, graveyard wraiths can be saved for a pet purple worm; their engulfing attack is not subject to corpse-leaving odds. Polymorphed players do not gain levels from swallowing live wraiths, though.

Either magic cancellation level 3 or drain resistance is highly recommended for a player transporting wraiths. Magic cancellation will not completely prevent level drain, but decreases the odds of being drained of a second level before one can gain a single experience point (e.g. by killing the wraith) and regain the previously drained one.


In SLASH'EM, wraiths need a +1 weapon to hit. They also frequently wear robes.

SLASH'EM's wraith corpses have different effects if eaten:

Possibility Effect Message
10% You lose experience. "You feel that was a bad idea."
10% Your maximum HP and Pw decreases. "You don't feel so good ..."
20% Nothing happens. "You feel something strange for a moment."
10% Your maximum HP and Pw increases. "You feel physically and mentally stronger!"
50% You gain experience. "You feel that was a smart thing to do."


Nethack's incarnation of wraiths originate from Dungeons and Dragons. They appear incorporeal, with a hooded robe and glowing red eyes. The name comes from the Scottish, meaning "ghost".

Encyclopedia entry

Immediately, though everything else remained as before, dim
and dark, the shapes became terribly clear. He was able to
see beneath their black wrappings. There were five tall
figures: two standing on the lip of the dell, three advancing.
In their white faces burned keen and merciless eyes; under
their mantles were long grey robes; upon their grey hairs
were helms of silver; in their haggard hands were swords of
steel. Their eyes fell on him and pierced him, as they
rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and
it seemed to him that it flickered red, as if it was a
firebrand. Two of the figures halted. The third was taller
than the others: his hair was long and gleaming and on his
helm was a crown. In one hand he held a long sword, and in
the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it
glowed with a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down
on Frodo.

[ The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien ]


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