- plains centaur
- forest centaur
- mountain centaur
A centaur is a monster that is a particular cross between a human and a horse; it has the body and legs of a horse, but where the horse's head would be, it instead has the upper body, arms, head and face of a human. Centaurs can wield weapons and use magic items, but unlike many other intelligent monsters, centaurs can also move fast and they can kick you. Forest centaurs are generated with a bow and 3-14 arrows, the other varieties get a crossbow and 3-14 bolts.
Thus centaurs are dangerous in melee; their rapid and repeated use of wielded weapons (or bare-handed combat) combined with kicking can quickly harm or kill your character. A centaur with ranged weapons may shoot you. Shoot back or send your pet.
Some centaurs may start peaceful, so you need not worry about each one that you encounter.
As a pet
Centaurs can use:
Centaurs make superb steeds; while not quite as fast as a unicorn or a warhorse, a centaur is still very fast - a mountain centaur has a base speed of 20 and when zapped with a wand of speed monster is even faster than a player in speed boots. And unlike a unicorn or warhorse, a well-equipped centaur can take quite a beating, even in Gehennom. They can return quite a beating too: a centaur is the only steed that can wield a weapon, and given a powerful weapon (perhaps a throwaway artifact weapon from sacrificing) can easily match the damage dealt by a dragon or a jabberwock.
Centaurs are very easy to keep fed, which is of particular importance where steeds are concerned. Every time you attempt to ride a steed, its tameness is decreased by one (except for knights). While ki-rin are sometimes regarded as the "best" steeds, they do not eat, and thus they are notoriously difficult for non-knights to keep tame. Just take care if you kill a shapeshifter: unless you dismount first and dispose of the corpse, your centaur is very likely to get to the corpse first if you ride over it.
Centaurs cannot fly, so as with all land-based steeds, take care around water, and ice too for that matter - it is very easy to slip off the steed on water you've frozen and then displace your steed into the unfrozen water, drowning it. Polymorph traps are not a problem for the centaur if the player has magic resistance: this will protect the steed too while you are riding it. The player's reflection will not transfer to the steed, but a centaur can wear a shield of reflection.
In SLASH'EM, a character with an amulet of flying will cause his steed to fly as well, which makes a mountain centaur a viable competitor to the ki-rin for steed of choice; both can wear amulets of reflection, and a centaur can use an artifact weapon and shield, giving it strong damage without the likelihood of going feral. Due to the nature of SLASH'EM's late game, however, be sure to keep a wand of undead turning handy as you will probably have to revive your pet centaur frequently. For this reason, they make better mounts for spellcasters with charm monster rather than for those relying on a scroll of taming or magic harp to re-tame.
Of all the monsters put together by the Greek imagination
the Centaurs (Kentauroi) constituted a class in themselves.
Despite a strong streak of sensuality, in their make-up,
their normal behaviour was moral, and they took a kindly
thought of man's welfare. The attempted outrage of Nessos on
Deianeira, and that of the whole tribe of Centaurs on the
Lapith women, are more than offset by the hospitality of
Pholos and by the wisdom of Cheiron, physician, prophet,
lyrist, and the instructor of Achilles. Further, the
Centaurs were peculiar in that their nature, which united the
body of a horse with the trunk and head of a man, involved
an unthinkable duplication of vital organs and important
members. So grotesque a combination seems almost un-Greek.
These strange creatures were said to live in the caves and
clefts of the mountains, myths associating them especially
with the hills of Thessaly and the range of Erymanthos.
This page is based on a spoiler by J. Ali Harlow.