Pyrolisk

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The pyrolisk, c, is a monster in NetHack. It is closely related to the cockatrice, and is the only member of the cockatrice monster class to lack any stoning-related properties or any form of dangerous touch.

The pyrolisk uses a special fiery gaze attack: if you meet the pyrolisk's gaze, you take 2d6 damage unless you have fire resistance, and any potions, scrolls, and spellbooks in your inventory may be burned and destroyed; armor is not affected. If either you or the pyrolisk are blind, the gaze has no effect; interestingly, the gaze attacks can target you if you are invisible, even though the pyrolisk cannot naturally see invisible (though it is still possible for them to miss).

Eating a pyrolisk corpse has a chance of conveying fire resistance or poison resistance. The probability of gaining each intrinsic is 20%.

Strategy

Pyrolisks can be rendered completely harmless by blinding yourself (e.g., usually a blindfold or towel), allowing you to dispatch them with ease. If you notice a pyrolisk in the area and have no means to blind yourself, stash your potions, scrolls and spellbooks in a sack or other container; if all else fails, drop them on the ground and be sure not to step too far away in case other monsters are nearby.

As a pet, the pyrolisk is somewhat unique in that its gaze attack does not provoke counterattacks or wake up sleeping monsters, unless the counterattack is ranged in nature (e.g. the monster can fire arrows from a bow). It will also not target peacefuls unless it is strong enough to overcome them. This can be exploited to kill shopkeepers or the Watch without the pet being attacked, although this will also burn up applicable items in their inventory - you will also need to keep pyrolisks far away from shops and temples that you wish to buy from.

Messages

The pyrolisk attacks you with a fiery gaze!
The pyrolisk is directing its gaze attack at you.
The pyrolisk gazes at <foo>...
A pyrolisk directed its gaze at another monster.

Origin

The pyrolisk's name is a contraction of pyr (Greek word πῦρ "fire") and basilisk, a mythical snake-like monster closely related to the cockatrice. Pyrolisks come from Dungeons & Dragons, where they are depicted as very similar in physical appearance to the cockatrice, with a rooster-like body, a reptilian tail and bat wings; pyrolisks have red tail feathers distinct from those of cockatrices.

Encyclopedia entry

At first glance around the corner, I thought it was another cockatrice. I had encountered the wretched creatures two or three times since leaving the open area. I quickly ducked my head back and considered what to do next. My heart had begun to thump audibly as I patted my pack to make sure I still had the dead lizards at close reach. A check of my attire showed no obvious holes or damage. I had to keep moving. One deep breath, and a count of three, two, one, and around the corner I bolted. But it was no cockatrice! I felt a sudden intense searing of the skin around my face, and flames began to leap from my pack. I tossed it to the ground, and quickly retreated back, around that corner, desperately striving to get out of its sight.