King's Quest Omnipedia

Rumplestiltskin is true name of the old gnome who posed a riddle to Graham. Ifnkovhgroghprm is another name the gnome goes by. This is Rumplestiltskin spelled using a backwards alphabet, i.e. (A=Z, B=Y, C=X, etc.). [1]. He also has been known to go by the name Nikstlitselpmur.

He also been known to by a number of other variations of his name: Rumpelstilskin, Rumpelstiltskin, Rumplestilskin, Nikslitselpmur, Nikslitslepmur, Nikstlitslepmur, and Ifnkvohgroghprm.


Early days[]

Earlier in his life he was a little man who appeared before the miller's daughter in a kingdom and told her he could do the chore of turning straw into gold for the king--if she would give him a gift. He took her necklace, turned all of the straw into gold, and then disappeared. The king demanded she turn even more straw into gold, and if she did she would become his queen..

This time, she had nothing to give the little man, so he demanded she give him her firstborn child in return for saving her life. She agreed, but she planned never to have a child. The queen did have a child, however, and one night the little man came to claim it as his own. In tears the queen offered the man anything if he would not take her child. He replied that he would not, but only if she could guess his name within three days. For two days she guessed, but she was always wrong.  One servant had discovered the man dancing and laughing by a fire and learned his name. He called himself Rumplestiltskin.

When he came back that night to claim the child, the queen pretended still not to know the proper name. Reaching for the baby, the little man gave her one final guess. He was so mad when she told him "Rumplestiltskin" that he stomped his foot hard enough to send him right through the floor, and he was never seen again in those parts.[2]

Life in Daventry[]

He later had moved to the  Kingdom of Daventry. The old wizened Gnome became the only resident of the Gnome's Island. He received few visitors due to the troll (or family of trolls) that guarded and lived under the bridges to the island.[3] He was the same Rumplestiltskin from legend who would ask passers by whether they knew his name. He would reward whoever knew it. He claimed to be from a backwards part of the realm, so he asked that his name be spelled backwards usually using a backwards alphabet, and wouldn't accept anything else (probably because stories of his past had spread so far, and most already knew it).

When Graham met him, the gnome asked him to answer the riddle of his name and would give him something that would be very useful to him on his quest.[4][5][6] Graham guessed his name correctly (or rather the ones he had assumed) with help of a mysterious note he discovered in the Gingerbread House (it is rather unclear how the witch came across that note). At least when Graham got the answer right, the gnome was a more gracious loser. As a reward the gnome gave Graham the Magic Beans and seeded the Magic Beanstalk.[7] The gnome knew of Graham's mission to retrieve the missing treasures of Daventry, would have aided him even he had guessed wrong.[8][9], by giving him the key to open the Door into Mountain that lead to the Land of the Clouds. Following the adventure, the Gnome became a good friend of the realm and adviser.[10]

During the time of peace following Graham's coronation, Daventry town grew and prospered, rebuilt over what had once been the Mushroom Isle and Island of the Gnome, and other areas nearby the Raging River. Rumplestiltkin moved west of the isle into the dusty remains of what had once been the Raging River, where he built a new Gnome's House just outside of the town, just south of Castle Daventry.[11]

Alexander later encountered the gnome during his quest to save his sister; at the time the wizened one's house had become a disheveled shack. Alexander found him on his porch in a rocking chair, just outside the crumbling town of Daventry.[12] Being an old friend of the royal family of Daventry, and magical as well, he knew Alexander's true identity and explained what had gone on in kingdom since prince's disappearance, and what the boy had to do to save the kingdom. He sent the young prince into the ruined Door into Mountain, and explained that a three-headed dragon that had moved into the kingdom and taken over the Land of the Clouds, and that his twin sister was about to be sacrificed to it.[13] Alexander was told he had to somehow defeat the beast, save his sister, and save the kingdom.

Alexander succeeded and he and his sister made the long climb back down the mountain, and soon met up with the gnome. Rumplestiltskin congratulated Alexander for his noble deed, and said he would go on ahead and announce Alexander's return to his parents.

After Graham had been saved by Rosella after her trip to Tamir, the Gnome, the wise old fellow continued to spend hours in Daventry enjoying conversing with the king and others who came to visit him, and those the king introduced to him.[14]

Encounter in Serenia[]

It is rumored he later moved to Serenia, the following year. Graham met the gnome there (or at least a close relative), playing with his grandson. He was able to return the magic spindle (Rumplestiltskin's one-of-a-kind heirloom) to the family. While there is no doubt that the gnome who helped Graham in his quest for the throne of Daventry was Rumplestiltskin, there is much confusion as to the identity of the gnome he met in Serenia. He was an old gnome to be sure, and while he looked familiar to Graham, he acted as if he had never seen the monarch before in his life. However, the spinning wheel which Graham returned to him could turn straw to gold and this could only belong to one gnome. Perhaps the years had clouded both Graham and Rumplestiltskin's memories and they merely didn't recognize each other.

This is possible, but the king is fabled for his memory. Was it then that the gnome did not want to be recognized and had cast a mild befuddlement spell over Graham? Finally, mayhaps the gnome was the son (or even the grandson) of Rumplestiltskin himself; The spinning wheel having been handed down to him. Gnomes are known to live ancient lives and it does not stretch possibility too far for this to be the case. Family resemblance alone might account Graham's sense of familiarity with the gnome.[15]

Another possibility is that some form of time warp must be considered in this matter because anything seems possible in that magical land. In that case, Graham's second meeting with the gnome could very well have been the gnome's first meeting with Graham. This is a paradox of a high order.[16]

Whatever the case, it is a mystery still in wait of a solution.[17] Never the less it is confirmed that Graham really had encountered Rumplestiltskin in Serenia.[18]

Personality and traits[]

He is the most famous gnome of all time.[19] He likes helping adventurers and posing puzzles, apparently puzzles often are a play on his actual name (so no one can guess the 'obvious').[20] The gnome is old and bent under the weight of years, but a playful wisdom brightens his eyes.[21]

Titles and nicknames[]

  • The Gnome
  • Old Gnome
  • Mr. R
  • Rumplestiltskin
  • Rumplestilskin
  • Rumpelstilskin
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • Rumplestilskin
  • Ifnkovhgroghprm
  • Ifnkvohgroghprm
  • Nikstlitselpmur
  • Nikstlitslepmur
  • Nikslitslepmur
  • Nikslitselpmur


  • The old grandfather gnome and his young grandson lived in the woods just south of the weeping willow. The marrionette that the young one played with captured Graham's attention. Graham had to find a way to obtain it.[22]
  • The true name of the gnome who posed the riddle to Graham is Rumplestiltskin, although why he insisted on it being spelled Ifnkovhgroghprm is anybody's guess[23]. Some say it may be because he was living in a backwards part of the realm.[24] Gnomes are not normally known to be pranksters, and his subsequent behaviors suggests that there were motives behind the incident with Graham that may never be known.[25] It is suggested in the KQ1 remake that he enjoyed testing and helping adventurers, and would have helped even if Graham had not answered his name correctly. Note: For any confusion 'backwards' is an insult often meaning 'old fashioned', "dull", "unsophisticated", "insignificant" or 'uncivilized' (much like the term "Podunk").[26] Here its also being used as a 'pun' to offer a clue to solving the Gnome's puzzle.
  • Gnomes using 'backwards' languages may be part of the 'gnomish' language. See Sage Gnome's Book.
  • Rumplestiltskin had been angered when the miller's daughter had guessed his name correctly, he stamped his foot through the floor and was never seen in those parts again. At least when Graham got the answer right, the gnome was a more gracious loser.[27]
  • The narrator in KQ3 suggests he looks like he is around a hundred years old (but as a gnome he is probably much older). SNW suggests that gnomes can be 10x the age of their appearance, thus if he looks 100, he could be up to 1000 years old.
  • In KQC, Graham while in Serenia, notices the gnome looks familiar, and asked if they had met before. The gnome claims they didn't. He asks the gnome its name, the gnome says its much too difficult to pronounce. Graham was still sure they had met. This is a reference to Graham having met the gnome previously in KQ1, with the unpronounceable backwards names.
  • While not explicitely confirmed but partially implied, the miller's daughter may have been Coignice, and the king may have been Prince Cedric, and the child may have been Valanice.
  • The hints section of the Companion goes right to the point and states that the gnome in KQ5 is Rumplestiltskin without all the unnecessary theorizing
  • Rumpelstiltskin appears in the parser as well but leads to same commentary as Rumplestitlskin if used as answer.
  • This is noted as being the most infamous puzzle in the original version.

See also[]

Behind the scenes[]

The gnome is based on the fairy tale Rumpelstiltzkin/Rumpelstiltskin/Rumplestiltskin (various spellings appear throughout history, and in various sources), which was about a dwarf or gnome that spun straw into gold for a queen to give to her husband, in exchange for her first born child. When her first child was born, Rumplestiltskin returned to the take the child, but gave the queen the chance to keep the child if she could guess his name in three tries. Discovering his name, Rumplestiltskin, she answered correctly answered on the third try, causing the gnome to leave angrily. She kept the gold that was spun for the king, as well as her child.

The name Rumpelstilzchen in means literally "little rattle stilt". (A stilt is a post or pole which provides support for a structure.) A rumpelstilt or rumpelstilz was the name of a type of goblin, also called a pophart or poppart that makes noises by rattling posts and rapping on planks. The meaning is similar to rumpelgeist ("rattle ghost") or , a mischievous spirit that clatters and moves household objects. (Other related concepts are mummarts or and that are mischievous household spirits that disguise themselves.) The ending -chen is a German diminutive cognate to English -kin.

The gnome of Daventry quite a bit friendlier and nicer than the gnome of the original fairy tale, and considered one of the "Good Guys" in King's Quest 1, according to original KQ1AGI Hintbook.

The KQ1AGI Hintbook also specifically states this about the character (confirming its original identity):

Who's the most famous gnome of all time? Remember your fairy tales! The gnome's name is RUMPLESTILTSKIN. The name in retrograde is IFNKOVHGROGPRM.

In fact in the King's Quest Companion, 2nd Edition, this story is told as part of Rumplestiltskin's backstory (before the time Graham met him in Daventry), and its suggested that Rumplestiltskin was a bit more gracious with Graham, than he had been with the miller's daughter. Could it be that Coignice, the miller's daughter is the same person who encountered Rumplestiltskin so many years before, and that Valanice was that child?

The gnome in KQ3 is the same gnome from King's Quest I,

This is your old friend, the gnome, from the original King's Quest game. You will find him friendly. He will tell you what's been happening in Daventry, and what you have to do."-Roberta Williams[28]

This is also confirmed in the An Encyclopedia of Daventry in the King's Quest Companion, 2nd Edition, and The Official Book of King's Quest.

Note: the gnome wants you to spell his name backwards. Rumplestiltskin is spelled backward Nikstlitselpmur. When you spell the alphabet backwards and pick the original places of the letters in the original alphabet, you will get ifnkovhgroghprm.

The KQ1 Hintbook, King's Questions, The King's Quest Companion 2nd edition and The Official Book of King's Quest 2nd and 3rd Editions confirms that he is Rumplestiltskin (the third edition of the Official Book of King's Quest also confirms that it is Rumplestiltskin in KQ5, and offers a few interesting facts concerning the fate of the town of Daventry during the timeframe of KQ3). The pronunciation guide mentions Rumplestiltskin is in KQ1, 3, and 5.

The Official Book of King's Quest, Third Edition has this to say about the character;

Does the gnome look familiar? He has been around from the very beginning. It was from him that you got the beanstalk beans in King's Quest I when you correctly guessed his name. And he appeared in King's Quest IV [sic] sitting on his porch outside the crumbling town of Daventry.[29]

In the hintbooks for KQ1, KQ2, and KQ3, this character is usually listed as the 'Gnome' or 'Old Gnome'. It is sometimes described as the 'old gnome' in the game and other sources. In all three games he is generally described as the 'old gnome'.

In the KQ Collection Series Readme:

FYI: Normally we don't give answers to puzzles in the README, but this time
we'd like to make an exception. The gnome's name is a form of
In KQ1NEW, it's spelled backwards: "NIKSTLITSELPMUR"
In KQ1OLD, it's a lot tougher to get the correct answer. You need to "think
backwards". There was a vague reference to this in the game (the note next
to the witch's bed read "Sometimes it is wise to think backwards." Old word
puzzles used a "backwards" or "retrograde" alphabet. We want you to take
the alphabet backwards and spell out the gnome's name.
This meant A became Z, B became Y, C became X, etc. So.....
"ABC" becomes "ZYX"
"EYE" becomes "VBV".
"BALL" becomes "YZOO"
"SIERRA" becomes "HRVIIZ"
"RUMPLESTILTSKIN" becomes "IFNKOVHGROGHPRM". That's the answer to the gnome's name in KQ1OLD.

Old Gnome (unofficial)[]

The old gnome appears in fan fiction, including fan games, see Old Gnome (unofficial).


  1. KQC2E, pg
  2. KQC2E, pg
  3. Gnome (KQ1SCI):"It's been delightful chatting with you Sir Graham. I get so few visitors... Perhaps it's the fault of that thickheaded troll."
  4. Narrator (KQ1AGI): "The old gnome tells you he has something that may be very useful to you. Your task is to guess his name in three guesses and his gift will be yours. Good luck! What is your first guess?", Gnome (KQ1SCI): "That's right!!! You've guessed it!!! Here's some magic beans for your outstanding accomplishment!"
  5. "Narrator (KQ1SMS): "There is a crotchety old gnome. Guess his name and he will give you a gift."
  6. The wizened old Gnome (KQ1SCI): "Welcome, Sir Graham. I have been expecting you. I have something that will be of great use to you. But first Sir Graham, you must answer this riddle. I'll give you three guesses. What is my name?", "Here you are. Good luck on your quest."
  7. Gnome (KQ1): As a reward for your sharp intellect, here are some beans. They're no ordinary beans, but it's up to you to find out why."
  8. Narrator (KQ1AGI): "You didn't guess the gnome's name, but he left you a gold key anyway. Better luck next time! Gnome (KQ1SCI): "You didn't guess my name, but I'm still going to help you, Sir Graham. Take this golden key. It will aid you on your quest, Sir Graham, but it's up to you to find out how!"
  9. Narrator(KQ1SMS): "Sorry, your three guesses are used up. however, the gnome is giving you a gold key just for guessing."
  10. Graham (Hoyle I)"...Or introduce you to the Gnome, that wise old fellow., " I am certain that you and the Gnome would probably be able to spend many hours conversing."
  11. TOBOKQ3E, 178
  12. TOBOKQ3E, pg 178
  13. Old gnome (KQ3):"It's about time you got here, lad... I mean, Prince Alexander. Welcome home! Heaven knows, we need you. Daventry's been suffering for years now, since that despicable dragon came. That monster demanded the sacrifice of your poor sister, Princess Rosella, and I'm afraid time is running out.""Your parents, the King and Queen, are suffering such grief they have locked themselves in yon castle and refuse to see anyone. It's up to you, Alexander. Your country and family need you. It's written in the wind."
  14. Hoyle I
  15. KQC2E, 505
  16. KQC2E, 513
  17. KQC2E, 505
  18. TOBOKQ3E, pg 178
  19. KQ1HB, pg
  20. Gnome(KQ1SCI):"Er, pardon me, Sir Graham, but you're blocking my home. I have other adventurers to help and other puzzles to solve."
  21. Narrator (KQ1AGI)
  22. KQ5 Hintbook, pg 17
  23. KQC2E, pg503
  24. KQC2E, pg
  25. KQC2E, pg503
  27. KQC2E, 505
  28. KQ3 Hintbook, pg. 33
  29. TOBOKQ, pg 178