The homunculus, i, is a monster that appears in NetHack. It is one of the earliest members of the minor demon monster class that a player may encounter, as well as one of the earliest flying monsters. Its corpse is poisonous and has a small chance of conveying poison or sleep resistance.
Breaking an expensive camera has a 2⁄9 chance of creating a homunculus; this is a reference to Discworld novel "The Color of Magic", which reveals that the iconoscope (the Discworld equivalent of a camera) contains a "picture-painting demon". The homunculus will be peaceful unless the camera was cursed.
A homunculus can move as fast as an unburdened character at normal speed and is small enough to fit through iron bars - while their sole bite attack is not as dangerous as the floating eye's gaze, it can put unwary adventurers to sleep, making them a hazard. Despite this, it is not too remarkable otherwise, and can be brought down fairly quickly. Cautious players can use whatever ranged attacks they have at their disposal or the assistance of a pet - wand charges can usually be saved for much tougher enemies unless the situation is dire.
Sleep resistance makes it much safer to fight homunculi hand-to-hand, as they can only do 3 damage per hit at most - roles and races that start with early poison resistance can safely eat the corpse for a potential source.
The homunculus is an artificial being created in the shape of a miniature, fully formed human, and is often heavily associated with the practice of alchemy. First appearing in sixteenth-century writings attributed to German alchemist and philosopher Paracelsus, it has been compared to the golem of Jewish folklore and the mandrake, whose roots often resemble the human figure in shape - both are also related to each other through the theme of "man as divine". Carl Jung attributes the concept's origin to the 3rd-century work Visions of Zosimos, where the titular character encounters a priest who changes into "the opposite of himself, into a mutilated anthroparion" (Greek for a diminutive form of "person"); related to this is Takwin (Arabic: تكوين) in Islamic alchemy, which referred to the goal of artificially creating life, up to and including humans, in the laboratory.
The homunculus also figures in the theory of preformationism - the idea that animals, including humans, developed from miniature versions of themselves into fully formed beings - and was later used in the discussion of conception and birth as understanding of reproduction developed. It lends its name to the modern cortical homunculus, a distorted miniature scale model of the human body that represents the relative space each part occupies in the brain.
The homunculus is one of the earliest monsters to be featured in NetHack - its very first appearance is in the bestiary of "Hack for PDP-11", an early variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack based on a leaked early draft of Hack 1.0 by Andries Brouwer. Homunculi were represented by the h glyph until NetHack 3.0.0, where they would be made part of the minor demon class (represented by i).
In EvilHack, the lesser homunculus and greater homunculus are introduced, with the homunculus being an intermediate growth stage between them; the Infidel role will always start with a pet lesser homunculus.
A homunculus is a creature summoned by a mage to perform some
particular task. They are particularly good at spying. They
are smallish creatures, but very agile. They can put their
victims to sleep with a venomous bite, but due to their size,
the effect does not last long on humans.
"Tothapis cut him off. 'Be still and hearken. You will travel
aboard the sacred wingboat. Of it you may not have heard; but
it will bear you thither in a night and a day and a night.
With you will go a homunculus that can relay your words to me,
and mine to you, across the leagues between at the speed of