Lycanthrope (starting race)
Lycanthropes are a race available in certain variants, including SLASH'EM and SpliceHack. In SLASH'EM, lycanthropes are always chaotic and can play as a Barbarian, Ranger, Rogue, or Undead Slayer. Lycanthrope characters offer a very different play experience from the other races. According to the guidebook:
Lycanthropes are wild beasts who draw their strength from the phases of the moon, and can transform into wolves when they channel their magical energies. Even unarmed, a Lycanthrope is a savage fighter, as many scarred by their deadly claws can attest.
Lycanthropes start with the following attributes:
Any silver weapons that may be generated in a lycanthrope's starting inventory are reverted to their non-silver counterpart.
Lycanthropic characters generally have excellent physical stats, but poor mental ones. The following table contains the maximum initial attributes for a lycanthropic character.
Regeneration and nutrition
Starting as a lycanthropic character can be exceptionally difficult, especially early in the game, as all lycanthropic characters begin with the regeneration intrinsic and the extra hunger it induces. On the one hand, this can make many early fights significantly easier. On the other hand, the small nutritional value of the corpses typical for the first few levels puts lycanthropic characters at risk of starving. Often it is better to make for the Gnomish Mines or Sokoban than to stay near the first few levels of the dungeon, at least until you have a good stockpile of rations.
Lycanthropic characters, as the name suggests, have intrinsic and incurable lycanthropy. Specifically, they are werewolves. This comes with all the benefits and downsides this intrinsic has, with a few exceptions:
- A lycanthropic character will only change form about once per 100 × XL turns. At higher levels, this will be indicated by "You feel less in control of yourself".
- A natural lycanthrope, like a doppelganger, will remove non-cursed body armor when they change form. Cursed armor will still be destroyed as normal.
- A lycanthropic character in wolf form will have hit dice equal to their current level. This is more than acquired lycantropy gives.
- If killed in wolf form, you transform back into your humanoid form with half of your base HP missing. This includes deaths by food poisoning.
- You can exercise and increase your stats.
- Your AC is significantly lower while transformed. As your HP increases, your AC will drop even further.
- You are poison resistant while transformed.
There are particular downsides of being transformed:
- You cannot wear armor (but you can wear accessories).
- You cannot engrave.
- You cannot open doors. (You can still kick them down, however.)
- You cannot apply items.
- You cannot force locks.
- Your carrying capacity is significantly reduced.
It is possible to throw items, such as daggers or potions, while transformed.
Lycanthropes start with the ability to change between humanoid and wolf form; using this ability requires 20 power. All polymorph effects simply switch them between humanoid and wolf forms.
When in wolf form, you can spend 10 power to summon a few tame wolves or winter wolf cubs to aid you in battle. Winter wolf cubs are quite advantageous, as they eventually grow into fairly potent winter wolves.
Early on, it pays significantly to become familiar with the ins and outs of the limitations of your wolf form. Often it is best to simply dump your primary weapon and armor right when you begin, to save both space and time when the first transformation occurs. Body armor is weighty and nearly worthless until you have the ability to freely control when you transform. Keep any daggers you start with, and save up as many others as you can safely carry in a single stack. Every one of the lycanthropic classes bar Barbarian can reach expert skill in daggers, and they can be fired even in wolf form. Do this to soften up enemies at range before they come close enough to hit you in melee. If you get in trouble, the techniques eviscerate and berserk can be used in a pinch to prevent an untimely death against a stronger foe (for example, a single soldier ant or yeti when you are level 7). Feel free to #monster a few times to get a small pack of wolves.
Your first major challenge as a lycanthrope is to find enough non-perishable food. Otherwise, you would starve due to your innate regeneration. This is normally best done by either rushing for the first half of the Gnomish Mines or Sokoban, depending on your play style. The Gnomish Mines are much easier to reach as a low-level character, and the resulting gnome and dwarf corpses there can keep you fed while you collect rations and other food. Sokoban is harder to reach, but it's guaranteed to have at least five ration items and either an amulet of reflection or a bag of holding (both especially useful to a lycanthrope), as well as a number of wands, potions, and rings.
Mid to late game
Once you have a steady food supply, your main goal should be to find a ring of polymorph control to gain full control over your were-changes so you can wear your ascension kit. Ideally, you should stash anything you can't carry or use in wolf form, and simply stay a wolf unless you need to use your hands (e.g. to open a door or bag).
Once you have a ring of polymorph control, your game will play pretty much like any other race except for the lycanthrope benefits. Fast regeneration, guaranteed pets including winter wolves, #youpoly to remove cursed armor, innately high physical stats, and two race-specific techniques can lead to a very potent character from the midgame on.