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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 attacks using 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 destroyed; armor is not affected. If either you or the pyrolisk are blind, the gaze has no effect; interestingly, the gaze attacks can work even if you are invisible, even though the pyrolisk cannot natuarally see invisible and it is still possible for them to miss.

Eating a pyrolisk corpse has a chance to convey fire resistance and poison resistance, with a 20% chance for each intrinsic.


Pyrolisks can be rendered completely harmless by blinding yourself, usually wearing 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 generally not worthwhile, but its gaze attack does have the unique property of not provoking counterattacks or wake up sleeping monsters; it will also not attack peaceful monsters with the gaze unless it is confused or under conflict.


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.