Centaur (monster class)

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The centaur is a monster class that appears in NetHack, and is represented by the uppercase C glyph (C). Centaurs are designated internally by the macro S_CENTAUR.[1]

The class contains the following monsters:[2]

Common traits

Centaurs are strong and intelligent humanoid monsters that are omnivorous and can be seen via infravision. A centaur is a cross between a human and a horse: they possess the body and legs of the latter, with the upper body of the former situated where a horse's head would be. Centaurs can wield weapons and use magical items, and will seek out weapons, armor and gold to pick up - they are too large to wear any sort of torso armor, though they can still wear amulets and equip helms, gloves and shields.

Centaurs generally have high speed, moving fast enough enough to outpace an unburdened player character with intrinsic speed, and attack using weapons and kicks.

A peaceful or tame centaur "discusses hunting" if you #chat to them.

Generation

Randomly generated centaurs may be peaceful towards characters of the same alignment as them.

Various centaurs may appear among the hostile monsters that generate in throne rooms, as well the monsters randomly generated by looting a throne while confused and carrying gold (provided there is no chest on the level).[3]

The centaur is the first quest monster class for Rangers, and makes up 24175 of the monsters that are randomly generated on the Ranger quest. Random centaurs are also generated on the quest branch below the home floor at level creation: one each is generated on the upper and lower filler levels, and two are generated on the goal level. The centaur is also the second quest monster class for Tourists, and makes up 6175 of the monsters that are randomly generated on the Tourist quest. Random centaurs are also generated on some levels of the quest branch, with one each generated on the home level and the upper and lower filler levels.

Centaurs have a 12 chance of being generated with a launcher and missiles: the forest centaur will generate with a bow and 3–14 arrows, while other centaurs will generate with a crossbow and 3–14 bolts.[4] They also generate with some gold pieces.

Strategy

Centaurs can be quite fearsome and highly-damaging enemies in the early and mid-game: they often use their speed to maintain distance and shoot at you repeatedly, forcing you to close in and contend with their repeated melee attacks instead. Centaurs can also generate with wands, and their speed often allows them to get multiple zaps off between each of your turns. This also makes centaurs among the more difficult monsters to deal with in throne rooms as well.

Characters with viable ranged attacks should make use of them in return - magical options such as wands or spells are especially effective, since centaurs have generally low MR score, and a pet can also help weaken the centaur enough for you to finish them off. Centaur corpses are quite filling for meat-eating pets and players alike, with forest centaurs being the most nutritious at 600.

As pets

Tame centaurs make superb steeds: while not quite as fast as a unicorn or a warhorse, their ability to equip weapons and wear limited armor can make them more durable, even in Gehennom; they can use unicorn horns to stave off status problems; and they can also be given wraith corpses and potions of gain level to compensate for their normally-low HP caps. A potion of speed or wand of speed monster will boost their speed to a stellar 24 (or 27 for mountain centaurs), amulets and shields allow them to obtain reflection, and a "spare" co-aligned or unaligned artifact weapon is ideal to hand off to a centaur steed and drive up their damage output. Their diet also makes them much easier to keep fed, allowing non-Knights to offset the tameness decrease from each attempt to climb onto their steed.

Unfortunately, centaurs are quite vulnerable to polymorph traps and the like: they can only obtain magic resistance from Magicbane, and otherwise can only be protected by your own magic resistance if you ride them over the trap. Their armor limitations also prevent them from obtaining MC through any means other than a cornuthaum. Since centaurs can eat meat, they must be kept away from shapeshifter corpses if at all possible. Finally, as with all other non-flying steeds, move carefully around water and ice lest you or your steed drown.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Pets will no longer eat corpses that make them polymorph, unless they are starving or on the verge of becoming untame. Per commit 8d2407f8, they can also gain intrinsics from eating other corpses as well. Large humanoids such as giants and other similar monsters can now wear mummy wrappings, which also grant MC1; the amulet of guarding also boosts MC by 2, though you may prefer a different amulet for a centaur steed.

Riding while wearing an amulet of flying will cause the steed to fly as well—riding a mountain centaur with an amulet or shield of reflection paired with an artifact weapon can make them a somewhat viable competitor to the ki-rin. However, be sure to keep a wand of undead turning handy in case they die.

History

The centaur first appears as an individual monster in Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, which are based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0. In Hack 1.21, the centaur uses the c glyph, and uses its modern glyph in Hack for PDP-11 and Hack 1.0. NetHack 3.0.0 introduces the centaur monster class and phases out the centaur monster in favor of the three modern subtypes.

Origin

A centaur (Ancient Greek κένταυρος romanized "kéntauros", Latin centaurus), is a creature from Greek mythology with the upper body of a human and the lower body and legs of a horse that was said to live in the mountains of Thessaly. In one version of the myth, the centaurs were named after Centaurus, and were relatives of the legendary tribe of the Lapiths through his brother Lapithes. They are also occasionally referred to as "hippocentaurs" or as "Ixionidae" (Ancient Greek Ἰξιονίδαι romanized Ixionídai, lit. "sons of Ixion"). Female centaurs are called "centaurides", and occur more often in later antiquity. Centaurs are thought of in many Greek myths as being as wild as untamed horses, and were said to have inhabited the region of Magnesia and Mount Pelion in Thessaly, the Foloi oak forest in Elis, and the Malean peninsula in southern Laconia.

The most common theory holds that the idea came from the first reaction of a non-riding culture (such as the Minoan and Aegeans) to nomads mounted on horses who would appear as half-man, half-animal to the uninitiated; the Aztecs are said to have had a similar misapprehension about Spanish cavalrymen. The Lapith tribe of Thessaly, who were the kinsmen of the Centaurs in myth, were described as the inventors of horse-riding by Greek writers, and the Thessalian tribes also claimed their horse breeds were descended from the centaurs. The most well known Greek centaurs are Pholus and Chiron, who are notably much more civilized than most centaurs.

Centaurs feature in Roman mythology and were familiar figures in medieval art, bestiaries and heraldry; the work of Georges Dumézil argues for tracing centaurs back to the Indian gandharva, and centaur-like beings also appear in Indian and Russian folklore. The centaur eventually became a staple of modern fantasy literature and other similar media, naturally including Dungeons & Dragons. The centaur of Dungeons & Dragons is part of the original 1974 set, and also appears in the 1st Edition Monster Manual. The "sylvan" centaur is the most common, and lives in temperate forests either alone or in small tribes, while the "nomadic" centaur was more likely to be encountered in plains and steppes, where they roamed in clans.

Centaurs are generally strong and proud, with nomadic centaurs being more aloof and introverted - they typically strive to find peace and balance with nature, but could act with violence when the need arose. Centaurs must eat a lot to fuel their large bodies and are known to overindulge, especially with wine and ale: a drunken centaur was much more prone to aggressive and violent behavior. Centaurs that feel a sense of wanderlust make excellent companions and occasionally even offer a ride to allies, but treat the suggestion of being used as a pack animal with derision. Sylvan centaurs are likelier to be friendly towards outsiders: as fellow forest-dwewllers, they have good relations with elves, tolerate gnomes and halflings, and generally despise humans and dwarves, though they are not actively hostile to the latter two. Conversely, nomadic centaurs much prefer the company of their own kind. Sylvan centaurs typically fight using weapons and their front hooves, while nomadic centaurs favor distance attacks and very rarely use their hooves (if ever).

Variants

UnNetHack

In UnNetHack, several centaurs appear in the third drawbridge-populated map of Fort Ludios. Five centaurs guard the trapped hallway in the second island-based map of the Castle.

EvilHack

EvilHack adds centaurs as a playable race, and makes player and non-player centaurs capable of wearing all armor except boots.

Several centaurs appear in the third drawbridge-populated map of Fort Ludios, and five centaurs guard the trapped hallway in the second island-based map of the Castle, both of which are adapted from UnNetHack.

Centaurs have a 14 chance of generating with an elven helm.

Encyclopedia entry

Of all the monsters put together by the Greek imagination
the Centaurs (Kentauroi) constituted a class in themselves.
Despite a strong streak of sensuality, in their make-up,
their normal behaviour was moral, and they took a kindly
thought of man's welfare. The attempted outrage of Nessos on
Deianeira, and that of the whole tribe of Centaurs on the
Lapith women, are more than offset by the hospitality of
Pholos and by the wisdom of Cheiron, physician, prophet,
lyrist, and the instructor of Achilles. Further, the
Centaurs were peculiar in that their nature, which united the
body of a horse with the trunk and head of a man, involved
an unthinkable duplication of vital organs and important
members. So grotesque a combination seems almost un-Greek.
These strange creatures were said to live in the caves and
clefts of the mountains, myths associating them especially
with the hills of Thessaly and the range of Erymanthos.

[ Mythology of all races, Vol. 1, pp. 270-271 ]

References