Devil's snare

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The devil's snare is a monster that appears, in slightly different forms, in UnNetHack and dNetHack.

UnNetHack

In UnNetHack, the Devil's Snare (note capitalization) belongs to the X monster class, which is now defined as "xorns and harmful vegetation".

As in the source (see "Origin"), the Devil's Snare is repelled by bright lights. A flash of light (from an expensive camera or broken wand of light) will paralyze, harm, and possibly even kill the plant ("The Devil's Snare shrivels"). Compare gremlins. If the plant is holding the player, the flash will force it to release you ("The Devil's Snare falls away from you") [2].

dNetHack

In dNetHack, the devil's snare belongs to the new "plant" class of monsters, which uses the { glyph.

The dNetHack version of the devil's snare is faster than its UnNetHack counterpart and has the added threat of being able to conceal itself. This makes it a sort of living trap that unsuspecting players can step into.

Origin

The fictional Devil's Snare comes from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. In the series, the Devil's Snare is a sentient plant that attacks those who touch it, by wrapping its vines around them in an attempt to strangle them. It prefers a damp, dark environment and is repelled by fire or bright light, so those caught in Devil's Snare can use spells that produce light or fire to force the plant to release them.

In the book (and adaptations) the Devil's Snare's strangling attack is stimulated by struggling; it is actually possible to escape from the plant simply by relaxing, which causes the plant to release its victim. This feature of the plant does not seem to have been incorporated into any of its NetHack versions.

Interestingly, there is a real plant, Datura stramonium, that is sometimes called "Devil's snare". It is also known as "Jimson weed". It lacks the fictional plant's strangling ability, but it is still dangerous to humans because of its toxicity.

Encyclopedia entry

"Stop moving!" Hermione ordered them. "I know what this is --
it's Devil's Snare!"
"Oh, I'm so glad we know what it's called, that's a great help,"
snarled Ron, leaning back, trying to stop the plant from curling
around his neck.
"Shut up, I'm trying to remember how to kill it!" said Hermione.
"Well, hurry up, I can't breathe!" Harry gasped, wrestling with
it as it curled around his chest.
"Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare . . . what did Professor Sprout
say? -- it likes the dark and the damp --"
"So light a fire!" Harry choked.
"Yes -- of course -- but there's no wood!" Hermione cried,
wringing her hands.
"HAVE YOU GONE MAD?" Ron bellowed. "ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"

[ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by J. K. Rowling ]

References

  1. src/monst.c in UnNetHack revision 1986, line 3898
  2. src/uhitm.c in UnNetHack revision 1986, line 2839