Pyrolisk

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The pyrolisk, c, is a monster that uses a special fire-based gaze attack that may burn up your potions, scrolls, and spellbooks. Armor is not affected, and engaging it does not run the risk of petrification like its cockatrice brethren.

Its attack is useless if either one of you is blind, so the easiest solution is to wear a blindfold, then treat it like any other monster. Another good practice when encountering fiery monsters is to stash your scrolls, potions, and spellbooks in some kind of container, like a sack or bag of holding, or on the ground if lacking such tools and desperate. Having fire resistance prevents damage, but the pyrolisk's attacks can still affect your items. A pyrolisk corpse is safe to eat, making it a good source of both fire and poison resistance.

As a pet

A pet pyrolisk has the unique advantage that its gaze attack will not provoke counterattack or wake up sleeping monsters. Since its 2d6 damage is insignificant, though, any good general-purpose pet is better.

Origin

This monster comes from Dungeons & Dragons. It is very similar in physical appearance to the cockatrice, that is like a rooster with a reptilian tail and bat wings. The difference is its red tail feathers. This is why it's represented by "c", for "cockatrice".

The name is a contraction of pyr (Greek word πῦρ "fire") and basilisk (a monster not found in vanilla NetHack). The basilisk is closely related to the cockatrice.

Encyclopaedia 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.