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The monk is one of the player roles in NetHack. Monks are always human, and can be lawful, neutral or chaotic. He is a martial-artist conforming to the "Shaolin Monk" stereotype. From the guidebook:

Monks are ascetics, who by rigorous practice of physical and
         mental disciplines have become capable of fighting as effectively
         without  weapons  as with.  They wear no armor but make up for it
         with increased mobility.

The Monk is a good choice for a player who wants to practice both magic and hand-to-hand combat, but isn't interested in using weapons. It is a good class with which to achieve conducts.

Monks know all nonmagical armors from the start. Their special spell is restore ability. When crowned they get a spellbook of restore ability instead of the standard crowning sword.

Starting EquipmentEdit

Intrinsics Edit

Monks start with the intrinsics See invisible, Sleep resistance and Speed.

Monks gain intrinsics at these experience levels:[1]

Code of conductEdit

The things that make a monk unique are the penalties imposed for non-Monkish behavior:


Monks feel guilty about eating non-vegetarian food, and suffer a small alignment penalty (-1 alignment) for doing so. As compensation for this, they gain intrinsics rapidly as they level up. Most players of this role keep vegetarian conduct simply to avoid the penalty, although the penalty can be considered a fair price for getting otherwise tricky to find intrinsics, such as telepathy or disintegration resistance.

No body armor, no shieldEdit

Monks are penalized for wearing body armor (all armors and mails; this doesn't include robes, cloaks and shirts) with a -20 to-hit penalty. For a low-level Monk it is virtually impossible to hit while wearing body armor. Some players however start using them when reaching high level, dexterity and Luck.

Wearing a shield makes a Monk incapable of dealing a "staggering blow" which reduces his abilities in martial-arts.


Monks are the only role other than Wizards that can achieve Basic skill in all magical schools. They can only attain Expert skill in the Healing school.

A robe is extremely useful for a Monk because it gives them a massive bonus to spellcasting, twice that of what any other role gets with a robe. Even when taking into account base spellcasting penalties, they will still have a better total bonus with a robe than even a Wizard would.


Monk skills
Max Skills
Grand Master

Quest Edit

Main article: Monk quest

Rank titlesEdit

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Candidate
  • XL 3-5: Novice
  • XL 6-9: Initiate
  • XL 10-13: Student of Stones
  • XL 14-17: Student of Waters
  • XL 18-21: Student of Metals
  • XL 22-25: Student of Winds
  • XL 26-29: Student of Fire
  • XL 30: Master



There is no actual penalty for using weapons; however, this can still be considered a restriction because Monks can attain proficiency in very few weapon skills, but can train up to Grand Master in martial arts. As a result, they deal more damage bare-handedly than using a weapon (with an exception for some powerful artifacts). Trying for a weaponless conduct is very popular for a monk. One good strategy would be to train the shuriken skill, as they are light and have damage comparable to daggers. Because they are rare, it may be worthwhile to spend an early wish on a large stack of them, and then bless them. Wielding them in order to increase their enchantment with a Scroll of Enchant Weapon will not break the weaponless conduct. If Shuriken are unavailable the next best option would be a blessed/enchanted crossbow with a large stack of blessed/enchanted bolts. The crossbow and bolts are generally abundant in the Mines, and you can train the skill while gathering the necessary supplies to improve the materials.

If you would rather have a weapon that can be used both in melee and range, opt for a dwarvish spear over a quarterstaff or javelin if you can get one. These are fairly reliably found in the lower levels of the mines and do more damage than the other weapon options available to a monk. An elven spear is a good second choice, as it is almost as good as a dwarvish one. When looking for a spear, be advised that javelins will appear as "throwing spears" when unidentified, but use the javelin skill and not the spear skill. If training the skill in preparation for a dwarvish spear, avoid javelins.


In Slash'EM, monks also have the largest number of techniques of any role. Most of these are martial arts-themed offensive moves that make the monk a more balanced role. {C}They recieve the Gauntlets of Defense as guaranteed first sacrifice gift, and afterwards the usual rules apply.

Encyclopedia entry Edit

One day, an army general invited the Buddhist monk I-Hsiu
(literally, "One Rest") to his military head office for a
dinner. I-Hsiu was not accustomed to wearing luxurious
clothings and so he just put on an old ordinary casual
robe to go to the military base. To him, "form is void".

As he approached the base, two soldiers appeared before him
and shouted, "Where does this beggar came from? Identify
yourself! You do not have permission to be around here!"

"My name is I-Hsiu Dharma Master. I am invited by your
general for a supper."

The two soldiers examined the monk closely and said, "You
liar. How come my general invites such a shabby monk to
dinner? He invites the very solemn venerable I-Hsiu to our
base for a great ceremony today, not you. Now, get out!"

I-Hsiu was unable to convince the soldiers that he was
indeed the invited guest, so he returned to the temple
and changed to a very formal solemn ceremonial robe for
the dinner. And as he returned to the military base, the
soldiers observed that he was such a great Buddhist monk,
let him in with honour.

At the dinner, I-Hsiu sat in front of the table full of
food but, instead of putting the food into his mouth, he
picked up the food with his chopsticks and put it into
his sleeves. The general was curious, and whispered to
him, "This is very embarrassing. Do you want to take
some food back to the temple? I will order the cook to
prepare some take out orders for you." "No" replied the
monk. "When I came here, I was not allowed into the
base by your soldiers until I wear this ceremonial robe.
You do not invite me for a dinner. You invite my robe.
Therefore, my robe is eating the food, not me."

[ Dining with a General - a Zen Buddhism Koan ]



External linksEdit

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