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A basilisk is a type of monster that appears in SLASH'EM, EvilHack, SlashTHEM and Hack'EM. Its exact traits vary depending on the variant, but it generally shares deadly stoning abilities with the cockatrice - basilisks in all variants possess attacks that cause delayed stoning much like those of cockatrices, and you or any other monster that makes bare skin contact with a live basilisk or its corpse will be immediately turned to stone.

The basilisk is one of many hallucinatory monsters whose name may be randomly used for real monsters while hallucinating in NetHack, and is still retained as such in variants of NetHack, even if it appears normally in that variant.

In SLASH'EM, the basilisk, :, is one of two non-unique monsters that share the cockatrice's petrification attacks without being a part of the cockatrice monster class. It is a large, oviparous lizard with a stronger bite that can cause delayed stoning like that of the cockatrice, and has poison resistance and stoning resistance.

Bare skin contact with a basilisk or its corpse will cause instadeath by stoning; the basilisk's eggs cause delayed stoning if eaten or thrown at you, and will instantly stone monsters without stoning resistance that are hit by the eggs. Eating the corpse without stoning resistance will turn you to stone, but if eaten with stoning resistance it has a 53% chance of conveying poison resistance.


In addition to random generation, basilisks can be created by the summon nasties monster spell.


While a basilisk is stronger and faster than a cockatrice, it is still slow-moving at 9 speed and relatively easy to hit - some form of ranged attack is advisable in order to avoid their stoning passive attack. The corpse of a basilisk can be used as a weapon similar to a cockatrice, but in practice is far too heavy to be realistically effective.

In addition, the presence of the basilisk as well as the asphynx ensure that players cannot solve their stoning problem with a single blessed scroll of genocide targeting c.

As a polyform

As a polyform, the basilisk is the superior monster for travel among monsters capable of stoning: while it is still slower than your base speed unless you have intrinsic speed, it is strong and weighs the same as a human. This grants much higher carrying capacity compared to the faster asphynx, which is much smaller and cannot pick up items.

Female characters can also polymorph into a basilisk to lay eggs, either to let them hatch into tame basilisks or to use as stoning weapons. Basilisks make relatively decent pets, though their lack of speed compared to an asphynx can make keeping them close to you somewhat tedious without a magic whistle.

In EvilHack, the basilisk, c, is a part of the cockatrice monster class, and is essentially a much faster, stronger and deadlier variant of the cockatrice. A basilisk has a bite attack, followed by two touch attacks and a claw attack that can induce delayed stoning, and it also has a passive attack that causes delayed stoning. It has poison resistance, sleep resistance and stoning resistance.

As in SLASH'EM and its variants, bare skin contact with a basilisk or its corpse will cause instadeath by stoning; unlike those variants, the basilisk is not oviparous and cannot lay eggs. Eating the corpse without stoning resistance will turn you to stone, but if eaten with stoning resistance it can convey a high percentage of poison resistance.


In addition to random generation, when the Wizard of Yendor clones himself via Double Trouble, his clone may appear in the guise of a basilisk.


With a staggering AC of -10, the basilisk is a vicious late-game threat that can prove difficult to dispatch unless you are well-prepared.
In SlashTHEM, the basilisk, :, is identical to its appearance in SLASH'EM.

In Hack'EM, the basilisk, c, is nearly-identical to its appearance in EvilHack, though it is now also oviparous and capable of laying eggs.


The basilisk first appears in SLASH'EM ancestor NetHack-- 3.0.10, where it uses the : glyph; in NetHack-- 3.1.3, it uses : instead. In SLASH 6, its glyph was changed to :, which is retained for its appearance in SLASH'EM and its variants.


A basilisk (from the Greek form βασιλίσκος, basilískos, Latin basiliscus, meaning "little king") is a mythological reptile first described in the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder. The basilisk was a small snake reputed to be so venomous that it leaves a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake, and its gaze was just as lethal. Basilisks have a 'mitre' or crown-shaped crest adorning their head, suggesting that their description was based on various cobras, particularly the spitting cobra and king cobra. The basilisk and cockatrice are often referred to interchangeably, as seen in the encyclopedia entry that both share in variants of NetHack - many languages still translate the term "cockatrice" as "basilisk" in some form.

The basilisk's reputed weakness was the the odor of the "weasel", which is likely based on mongooses (such as the Egyptian mongoose) that possess immunity to snake venom and prey on the king cobra and some other Asiatic snakes. The basilisk was also a popular subject in medieval-era European bestiaries, which attributed it chicken-like traits and popularized the idea that a basilisk resulted from a chicken hatching the egg of a serpent or toad (the reverse of the cockatrice). Modern incarnations of the basilisk and cockatrice, such as those seen in Dungeons & Dragons and various other fantasy media, portray them as distinct creatures: the modern basilisk is usually a vicious low-slung creature that is either lizard-like or serpentine, as opposed to the typically more bird-like cockatrice.

The basilisk of Dungeons & Dragons is an eight-legged reptilian with a single row of bony spines on its back, and occasionally has a curved horn on its nose - they come in a variety of dark colors, with the most common color being a dull brown body with a yellowish underbelly, and are the basis for the basilisk's glyph in SLASH'EM and SlashTHEM. Despite their multiple legs, basilisks are sluggish and clumsy, though they were still often shrewd hunters. Basilisks make their lairs in dark underground caves with ready and easily accessible supplies of food and water. A basilisk's eyes glow with a pale green light that can non-lethally petrify any non-gaseous creature that makes eye contact, including other basilisks and even themselves if their gaze is reflected; basilisks were more than capable of eating and digesting petrified prey. The gaze is so potent that it can affect victims with better eyesight at much further ranges, with multiple reports of basilisk victims from "arcane eye" spells, crystal balls, and eyes of the eagle - basilisk gazes could even penetrate into the astral or ethereal planes with concentration.

Encyclopedia entry

Once in a great while, when the positions of the stars are
just right, a seven-year-old rooster will lay an egg. Then,
along will come a snake, to coil around the egg, or a toad,
to squat upon the egg, keeping it warm and helping it to
hatch. When it hatches, out comes a creature called basilisk,
or cockatrice, the most deadly of all creatures. A single
glance from its yellow, piercing toad's eyes will kill both
man and beast. Its power of destruction is said to be so
great that sometimes simply to hear its hiss can prove fatal.
Its breath is so venomous that it causes all vegetation
to wither.

There is, however, one creature which can withstand the
basilisk's deadly gaze, and this is the weasel. No one knows
why this is so, but although the fierce weasel can slay the
basilisk, it will itself be killed in the struggle. Perhaps
the weasel knows the basilisk's fatal weakness: if it ever
sees its own reflection in a mirror it will perish instantly.
But even a dead basilisk is dangerous, for it is said that
merely touching its lifeless body can cause a person to
sicken and die.

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