Elf (starting race)

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For other uses, see elf.

You can play NetHack as an elf @. Elves are always chaotic. They can be Priests, Rangers, or Wizards. Playing as a random elf is a good way to focus on a small number of roles.

Racial benefits and restrictionsEdit

Elves have intrinsic infravision and they receive sleep resistance at experience level 4. From an attribute perspective, elves excel mentally, with the highest intelligence and wisdom of all races. Their strength is capped at 18, the lowest of all races. They also have the lowest constitution of all races, capped at 16. The following table outlines their maximum (unaided) attribute levels.

Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
Elf 18 18 16 20 20 18

Elven items Edit

Main article: Elven item

Regular items in an elf's starting inventory are replaced with equivalent elven items as follows:[1]

Regular item Substitute Affected roles
dagger elven dagger Ranger
spear elven spear none currently
short sword elven short sword none currently
bow elven bow Ranger
arrow elven arrow Ranger
helmet elven leather helm none currently
cloak of displacement elven cloak Ranger
cram ration lembas wafer Ranger

Of the classes Elves can pick, only Rangers are currently affected.

Note elves do not receive elven shields – Elven Priests receive a small shield.

The elven cloak is noted in the source as an intentional downgrade.[1]

Also note that Elven Wizards still receive a cloak of magic resistance instead of an elven cloak.


Elves' low strength and constitution can make them more difficult to play than other races; these restrictions limit both their carrying capacity and their damage bonus.

Long after an elf reaches his cap, other players will be eating giant corpses and otherwise raising their strength far above 18, toward 18/50 or 18/**. Meanwhile, the weight limit will force the elf to make difficult decisions regarding inventory management, and which items to keep in his bag of holding, or leave behind altogether in a stash.

Therefore it is beneficial to have gauntlets of power. They boost strength to 25, and might make a good wish, but they are not an option for those who like to wear gauntlets of dexterity, such as some elf Wizards.


In older versions of NetHack, the elf was actually a separate role. All other roles belonged to humans. The quest artifact of an elf was a crystal ball called the Palantir of Westernesse; it does not exist in the current version.


In SLASH'EM, elves are always lawful or neutral, and they have access to far more roles than in vanilla. If you want a chaotic version of the Elf, you play as a different race, the drow.

Encyclopedia entryEdit

The Elves sat round the fire upon the grass or upon the sawn
rings of old trunks. Some went to and fro bearing cups and
pouring drinks; others brought food on heaped plates and
"This is poor fare," they said to the hobbits; "for we are
lodging in the greenwood far from our halls. If ever you are
our guests at home, we will treat you better."
"It seems to me good enough for a birthday-party," said Frodo.
Pippin afterwards recalled little of either food or drink, for
his mind was filled with the light upon the elf-faces, and the
sound of voices so various and so beautiful that he felt in a
waking dream. [...]
Sam could never describe in words, nor picture clearly to
himself, what he felt or thought that night, though it remained
in his memory as one of the chief events of his life. The
nearest he ever got was to say: "Well, sir, if I could grow
apples like that, I would call myself a gardener. But it was
the singing that went to my heart, if you know what I mean."

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

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Race-based substitutions for initial inventory in u_init.c

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