Nymph

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The nymph, n, is a monster class in NetHack. The class contains the three nymph species: water nymph, wood nymph, and mountain nymph.

Generation

Nymphs have a 50% chance of carrying a mirror and an independent 50% chance of carrying a potion of object detection.[1]

Nymphs are generated asleep 80% of the time; if you have the Amulet of Yendor, they are guaranteed to be generated awake.[2]

Common traits

While nymphs not strong attackers and have a weak base AC, they are nevertheless very dangerous monsters that teleport frequently while moving. Nymphs are capable of charming you into removing your armor and stealing items before attempting to teleport away. They are also capable of using said items, including putting on armor and amulets as well as zapping wands and quaffing potions. Eating a nymph's corpse has a chance of giving you teleportitis.

The water nymph shares the same qualities and attributes as her other counterparts, but can also cross water; they are also guaranteed to appear in the Rogue quest, and may be summoned with a 1/30 chance if you dip an item into or quaff from a fountain.

Strategy

Nymphs generally should not be approached unless you can reliably dispatch them before they steal any items; in most cases, it is preferable to leave them asleep if possible and avoid them. It may be advisable to place the items you least want stolen in a container such as a chest before nearing or pursuing a nymph. In the event you awaken one, e.g. due to a pet or spawning one from a fountain, a general point to remember is that that your unburdened character and a nymph move at the same rate without intrinsic speed. In a situation where a nymph nearby is awakened, Elbereth can ward her off and give you some valuable space. Applying a mirror at a nymph will cause her to steal it and nothing else, which can preserve your more valuable or dangerous items; nymphs also have a chance of being tamed using a wooden harp, but this is not reliable.

Ranged attacks are the most ideal for killing nymphs before they can close in on you. The exception to this is the force bolt spell or wand of striking; these can kill the nymph, but will also affect the inventory she drops, including any stolen potions and especially the mirror they are often generated with. Breaking mirrors results in a -2 Luck penalty, which most characters cannot afford at the point they first encounter one. It is also ideal to keep your pet nearby and use them to hold the nymph at bay and hopefully kill her for you, though they can still steal items if your pet is holding any; early Wizards in particular will want to go this route unless they have access to magic missile or an attack wand that can reliable kill or immobilize her.

A wand of sleep can stop a nymph long enough for you to kill them, hopefully before the combat awakens then; a wand of cancellation will render the nymph "plain", which renders them harmless, but they will still teleport away after unsuccessfully attempting to steal from you. However, wands in general are risky due to the chance that they can be stolen, if not used against you; worse, a wand of teleportation or digging all but ensures that she will escape you several times. Polearms or lances can be effective, but you will likely need fast speed or better to consistently keep them one square away while you attack.

Removing unwanted items

Nymphs and their theft attacks can be used to get rid of cursed items, usually by stashing or dropping every other item besides the ones you want removed. You can then let the nymph steal them, and optionally retrieve the items if you want to uncurse it later. Punished players can also use this to untether themselves from their heavy iron ball.

Polymorphing

As a polymorph form, becoming a nymph will not affect your armor, and grants two unique abilities:

  • You can remove an iron chain with the #monster command.
  • You can steal gear from monsters without killing them.

To steal, attack the monster: if you are wielding a weapon, you will attack with that weapon and also make a steal attempt, but you will not attack bare handed if not wielding a weapon. If the theft attack hits, you will steal from it - this does not anger peaceful monsters. ("You smile at <monster> seductively".) If the attack misses, the monster will treat it like any other missed attack, meaning that peacefuls will likely become angry. ("You pretend to be friendly".) Be sure to check the AC of pets or peaceful monsters before stealing from them.

If you are invisible and the monster cannot see you, the seduction attack will not work;[3] you will still steal items, but also make a regular attack even without a weapon, possibly angering the monster.

Messages

Message Reason
"You smile at <monster> seductively" The monster has eyes, is not blind, and is of the opposite gender
"You talk to <monster> seductively" The monster is blind or does not have eyes, and is of the opposite gender
"You smile at <monster> engagingly" The monster has eyes and is not blind, and is not of the opposite gender
"You talk to <monster> engagingly" The monster is blind or does not have eyes, and is not of the opposite gender
"You pretend to be friendly to <monster>" You missed on your stealing attack.

As pets

A tame nymph is not a particularly good pet due to her weak attributes, especially in a no-teleport level, but is very occasionally used to steal items from other monsters, though this can often fail. When a nymph attempts to steal from a peaceful monster, it will attack her; since nymphs are incapable of attacking, she will just keep attempting to steal until successful, then teleport away. After teleporting away, she will quickly drop whatever she stole, requiring you to find her new location and retrieve the items; you may have to fight the monster in question regardless.

Encyclopedia entry

A female creature from Roman and Greek mythology, the nymph
occupied rivers, forests, ponds, etc. A nymph's beauty is
beyond words: an ever-young woman with sleek figure and
long, thick hair, radiant skin and perfect teeth, full lips
and gentle eyes. A nymph's scent is delightful, and her
long robe glows, hemmed with golden threads and embroidered
with rainbow hues of unearthly magnificence. A nymph's
demeanour is graceful and charming, her mind quick and witty.

"Theseus felt her voice pulling him down into fathoms of
sleep. The song was the skeleton of his dream, and the dream
was full of terror. Demon girls were after him, and a bull-
man was goring him. Everywhere there was blood. There was
pain. There was fear. But his head was in the nymph's lap
and her musk was about him, her voice weaving the dream. He
knew then that she had been sent to tell him of something
dreadful that was to happen to him later. Her song was a
warning. But she had brought him a new kind of joy, one that
made him see everything differently. The boy, who was to
become a hero, suddenly knew then what most heroes learn
later -- and some too late -- that joy blots suffering and
that the road to nymphs is beset by monsters."

[ The Minotaur by Bernard Evslin ]

References