Baby dragon

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Baby dragons are a subset of dragons that appear in NetHack. All baby dragons are neutral, huge-sized, strong, and capable of flight. They have an AC of 2 and possess intrinsic resistances similar to their adult forms, but lack the adults' scales (along with the AC and resistances those would convey),[1] their ability to use breath weapons, and the ability to see invisible. They are also intelligent and can pick up gold and gems, but have no hands.

Baby dragons are eligible choices for steeds. Despite their strength and size, they cannot easily tear through webs.[2]

The baby dragons present in NetHack are:

The baby shimmering dragon, D, exists in the game's code, but is commented out.

Generation

Baby dragons are only generated randomly and at level creation on floors that they are eligible for, i.e., the neutral-biased Oracle and Sokoban levels and the lawful-biased Gnomish mines; they are excluded from the selection of random D in levels that place them during initial creation. Like all baby monsters, they can also be hatched from dragon eggs, and grow up into their scaled adult forms.

Baby yellow dragons and yellow dragon eggs appear on the fourth variant of Medusa's Island, under the care of a mother yellow dragon.

Strategy

Baby dragons have decent AC and a somewhat nasty bite, but are otherwise not much threat for a prepared player encountering them.

Obtaining pet baby dragons can easily be accomplished via controlled polymorph for female characters: all dragons are oviparous, and baby dragons that hatch from your laid eggs will always be tame. A male character can use an amulet of change to swap genders, or he can repeatedly polymorph into a dragon using the spell or ring until he changes sex.[3]

As pets

Pet baby dragons are decent fighters, but can take quite a while to raise due to their low speed. They can be used as steeds, with the advantages of flight, fighting strength, and carnivorousness, which makes them easy to feed. However, their lack of speed ensures they will spend most of their time either catching up with you or eating corpses; even after making them fast (e.g., by zapping a wand of speed monster at them) and raising them to adulthood, their movement speed still pales in comparison to many other available steeds, though the flight and the breath weapon they gain may still make them a worthwhile choice. Players planning to make frequent use of dragon pets or steeds may want to carry a magic whistle.

While baby dragons do not confer scales and/or resistances of any kind, tame baby dragons will eventually grow up into their adult forms, which can then be killed (possibly via conflict or by rendering them non-tame through abuse) for their scales and intrinsics.

History

NetHack 3.0.0 introduces baby dragons and distinguishes between and their corpses by color, as well as those of the adult forms.

NetHack 3.3.0 adds the baby silver dragon and its adult form, along with silver dragon scales.

Encyclopedia entry

In the West the dragon was the natural enemy of man. Although
preferring to live in bleak and desolate regions, whenever it
was seen among men it left in its wake a trail of destruction
and disease. Yet any attempt to slay this beast was a perilous
undertaking. For the dragon's assailant had to contend
not only with clouds of sulphurous fumes pouring from its fire
breathing nostrils, but also with the thrashings of its tail,
the most deadly part of its serpent-like body.

[ Mythical Beasts by Deirdre Headon (The Leprechaun Library) ]


"One whom the dragons will speak with," he said, "that is a
dragonlord, or at least that is the center of the matter. It's
not a trick of mastering the dragons, as most people think.
Dragons have no masters. The question is always the same, with
a dragon: will he talk to you or will he eat you? If you can
count upon his doing the former, and not doing the latter, why
then you're a dragonlord."

[ The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. Le Guin ]

References

  1. muse.c in NetHack 3.6.1, line 2141
  2. trap.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 2039: extra_nasty() discerns adult dragons from baby dragons to let them tear through webs
  3. polyself.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 488