For most of the game, Dread Seraphs will lie dormant in their sepulchers, though there presence on a level causes corpses to rise from the dead as zombies or skeletons. Once the character kills the Wizard of Yendor or picks up the Amulet for the first time, the Dread Seraphs will wake up. When the character next visits a level containing a Dread Seraph in a sepulcher, and earthquake will occur and a chasm will open, freeing the Seraph.
Most of the interesting properties of Dread Seraphs come from their 'songs'; they use one of them every several turns:
- All creatures on the level are affected by a kind of death magic. Players who resist take 1d(m_lev) damage.
- Revives all corpses on the level.
- Confuses, stuns, and berserks all monsters on the level. Players are confused, stunned, and hallucinating.
- Causes an earthquake, creating pits which contain newly generated monsters
- Locks all doors and containers on the level, and creates new locked doors in doorways.
If a Seraph drops below 1/4 hp or becomes crazed, it will begin to pray. After 5 moves, it will be restored to full health, and will be cured of any status ailments. At the same time, it will apply a studied debuff to you, equal to its monster level (typically 54). Unlike players, the Seraph is not invulnerable while praying.
Dread Seraphs have significant health pools (1500+) and take 1/4 damage from weapon attacks, so it is usually a better idea to leave the level than to try to kill one.
Players killed by a Dread Seraph appear as skeletons in bones files.