Auton

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Autons are a type of monster added in dNetHack. They belong to the e monster class, along with eyes and spheres, but have a hierarchical society that sets them apart from those solitary creatures.

Overview

Autons exist in five ranks—monoton, duton, triton, quaton, and quinon—with monoton being the lowest and quinon the highest. An auton's difficulty and attack strength increase with its rank. Monotons have only a paralyzing gaze attack, similar to a floating eye, but dutons and tritons have melee attacks, quatons can cast spells, and quinons have a sleep-inducing breath attack.

Autons are generated in groups of varying sizes, with those of a higher rank often appearing with an escort of lower-ranking autons. Autons try to preserve the numbers of their higher ranks, and whenever a higher ranking auton is destroyed, an auton of a lower rank on the same level may be "promoted" to take its place, transforming immediately into an auton of the same rank.

Autons are randomly generated, but they appear in large numbers in the first part of the Lawful Quest branch. Their ruler, the entity Axus, resides in the Library of Law, and generates new monotons to replace any autons destroyed on that level. Killing Axus angers all autons on the level, and makes all autons generated afterward hostile.

Auton castes

Monoton

Since monotons lack a direct attack, they are dangerous only in combination with other monsters.

If a duton is killed, a monoton on the same level will be promoted to replace it.

Single function laborers, they can carry out only
one command at a time, passed down to them by their
duton superiors.

Duton

Dutons are usually generated in small groups, with an escort of monotons.

If a triton is killed, a duton on the same level will be promoted to replace it.

Bi-functional laborers, they may interpret and
carrying out two commands at once. If given only one
task at a time, it shows a limited ability to react
to unexpected stimuli.

Triton

Tritons can deal a surprising amount of damage in melee, and their kick can make you unable to fight back. They are usually generated in small groups, accompanied by dutons and monotons.

Low level overseers, typically, they receive a general
order, which they then divide into smaller tasks that
can be completed by the lower castes. They are capable
of reporting actions and observations, as well as
actually planning limited objectives on the battlefield.

Quaton

The addition of spellcasting and the considerable number of attacks make quatons something of a threat.

Unlike monotons, dutons, and tritons, groups of quatons are not usually generated, but single quatons are created with an escort of lesser autons.

Upper level managers, quatons report actions and
observations, make plans, react to unexpected
occurrences, and act to remedy them. They are thus
the first of the auton castes that can be truly
described as sapient.

Quinon

Like quatons, quinons are usually found singly, accompanied by groups of autons of lower ranks. They can be very dangerous, as they can stun you and put you to sleep, preventing you from fighting back. And the passive paralysis attack can be even more deadly than sleep, since only free action can prevent it.

Auditors of the lower castes, quinons monitor the
quatons as they carry out their duties, seeing
that the will of the One is reflected in all
matters.

Axus

Axus, lord of the autons and guardian of the First Key of Law, dwells on the fourth level of the Law Quest, at the center of the Library of Law. It is likely to be generated peaceful for lawful-aligned players. Attacking Axus will anger all autons on the level, as well as all autons generated in the future.

Axus is immobile and has no melee attacks; however, it has ranged attacks that can harm adventurers from a distance, making it difficult for cross-aligned players (for whom it will be hostile) even to approach it. Though it counter-attacks anyone who engages it in melee combat, it can easily be killed with ranged attacks, and is not immune to death rays, though it does resist stoning and disintegration. Axus cannot be killed permanently; it will always leave a corpse when slain, and will rise from the dead after only a few turns, like a Rider. Eating the corpse will kill you instantly.

In addition, any time an auton is killed or promoted on his level, a new monoton will be created near Axus, meaning that while Axus lives the total number of autons on the level can't be decreased. Since new autons spawn at a rapid rate in the Library of Law, slow players can be overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers.

Ruling over the castes is Primus, the One and the
Prime. It and the plane are one in thought and deed; as
Primus turns, so do the wheels of Mechanus.
[ Planescape Monstrous Suplement, by David Cook ]

Origin

The encyclopedia entries for the autons indicate that they are modeled on a Dungeons & Dragons creature called the modron. Modrons are creatures that resemble geometric shapes with humanoid limbs, and inhabit Mechanus, one of the "outer planes" of the D&D universe. As the name of their home plane suggests, they are mechanistic beings, unquestioningly serving the cause of law.

Like the autons, modron society is divided into a functional hierarchy. When one of the ruling modrons is destroyed, a series of promotions occurs to maintain the same number of members in each class, and a new modron is generated to maintain the total population number. This is the origin of the auton promotion system, although the immediate creation of a new monoton to maintain the total population is only seen in the Library of Law, in the presence of Axus. As ruler of the autons, Axus corresponds to Primus, the supreme ruler of the modrons.

Encyclopedia entry

auton / modron

The most omnipresent of the beings living on
Mechanus (bar none) are the modrons. There's not
much known about the geometrical and mathematical
constructs, including their goals, their functions, and
their minds.
The short of it is that modrons are largely
unknowable by humans.
[ Planes of Law, by Colin McComb ]

auton caste / modron caste

Modrons are strictly divided into fourteen castes,
five common castes and nine ruling castes.
Castes are hardly unique, but the modron approach to
them is. Not only does each rank have its own functions,
but each also has its own body shape, so the rank
of any modron can be readily identified by the creature's
appearance.
[ Planescape Monstrous Suplement, by David Cook ]