- For pet displacement, see Pet § Speed
Displacement causes your image to appear a tile or two away from where you actually are. This makes it very difficult for monsters to hit you. The cloak of displacement, which is currently the only way this property can be obtained, is prized in the early game for it.
Displacement will make any given monster think you are at a random square within a 5×5 area centered on the player; in other words, the monster will think you are 0–2 squares away from where you are. If you do not have a clear line of sight to the monster, it will only generate the image in a 3×3 square around you. This is presumably to prevent monsters being alerted to your presence from well around corners, or from the other side of a closed door.
Shopkeepers and aligned priests are not fooled by displacement if you are generating conflict, and they won't hesitate to attack you.
As the observant reader will have figured out from the last paragraph, displacement is done per-monster, so your displaced image will generally be in two different locations for two different monsters. This means it is possible for one monster to see your image in the square of another monster. This will not cause the monsters to damage each other in melee—such attacks still produces the "wild miss" message—but they may still harm each other with breath weapons, ranged weapons, and the like.
If a monster knows where you are, displacement has no effect, unlike invisibility which still grants a −2 to-hit bonus when a monster knows your location. However, when a monster does not know your location, it only has a 1⁄4 chance per turn of figuring out where you actually are, as opposed to 1⁄3 for invisibility. Like invisibility, each time you move, you must be "found" again by the monster in question. This makes having displacement or invisibility invaluable when you are running from a fight you are ill-equipped for.
Displacement vs invisibility
For those trying to decide whether to use a cloak of displacement or invisibility, important points have been outlined below:
- Displacement is not invisibility. Unlike invisibility, displacement still allows monsters to see you, and cannot be used as a tool for sneaking past monsters.
- Invisibility provides a −2 to-hit bonus if your adversary cannot see invisible. This is equivalent to 2 points of AC without any damage reduction.
- Invisible players will not be let into shops, but this is a minor inconvenience if the source of your invisibility is your cloak, as you may simply take it off.
- As noted above, your displaced image will not cause one monster to attack another in melee. This is most likely a result of the difficulties inherent in implementing a "hostile state" between two monsters, the equivalent to "It gets angry!" for the player.
- Moving while invisible will cause monsters to attack the square you once occupied. Displacement generates your image somewhere within two squares to either side, meaning there is a very small chance of the monster moving in the wrong direction entirely. This chance is, however, very small: from 0% to 28%, depending on your surroundings and movement, but it will generally be 8.7% in an open room if you're moving away from the monster; which you probably are if you're hoping it will run away from you.
- While invisible, each turn, a given monster will have a 1 in 3 chance of discovering your position. With displacement, this chance is only 1 in 4 (non-stacking), making it easier to survive when fleeing. This "chance of discovery" is per monster turn, so fast monsters like soldier ants will find you a lot faster no matter which you are using.
- Plenty of things can see invisible; very few can see through displacement.
- There are many ways to become invisible (cloak of invisibility, spellbook of invisibility, ring of invisibility, potion of invisibility, wand of make invisible, and stalker meat), whereas displacement may only be gained with the cloak.
In summary, the biggest advantage of invisibility and displacement are the 66% and 75% chances respectively that a monster will not know where you are if you have moved. For this reason, displacement and invisibility are quite evenly matched. However, the other advantages, like the to-hit penalty for invisibility, are trivial. Furthermore, if you have both displacement and invisibility, invisibility's lesser stay-hidden chance of 66% will be used instead of displacement's 75%, and invisibility will nullify the effects of displacement. Therefore, having both displacement and invisibility simultaneously is just invisibility unless you are fighting monsters that can see invisible.
Generally speaking, in variants, the cloak grants MC2 instead of MC1, being based on NetHack 3.4.3.
In SLASH'EM, monster displacement exists. Therefore, monsters can be displaced, resulting in amusing remarks such as
- "You displace the displacer beast."
Only displacer beasts have displacement; (baby) shimmering dragons, whose scales give displacement, merely have a much lower AC than other dragons, making them harder to hit (thus simulating "displacement").
GruntHack implements proper displacement for monsters. Monsters can appear in a different location from where they actually are, including inside walls, or on another monster's location. Only vision is fooled by displacement—telepathy or monster detection will see the true location. This means that if you can see the monster both ways, you see the monster in 2 locations. Trying to walk onto a displaced monster will not attack it. Adult shimmering dragons have intrinsic displacement, and their scales confer displacement.
In FIQHack, the cloak of displacement provides MC3 instead of MC2.
In addition, FIQHack implements monster displacement. It works somewhat similar to in GruntHack with the following differences:
- If you can sense the monster with telepathy, monster detection or similar, the displaced image will never be shown, avoiding showing 2 images in that case.
- The displaced image will never appear in a spot the monster couldn't normally be on (such as inside walls).
- If you can't see the displaced image, but would be able to see the true location, you will see the monster's true location.
- You will (try to) attack displaced images if moving onto them. If there is another monster there, you will attack it. The same thing now happens if a monster tries to attack your (or another monster's) displaced image that is on another monster.
- Unlike in GruntHack, baby shimmering dragons also have intrinsic displacement.
In Dungeons & Dragons, a displacer beast appears several feet away from where it truly stands.