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 burned and be destroyed; armor is not affected. If either you or the pyrolisk are blind, the gaze has no effect. Interestingly, the gaze attacks can damage you even if you are invisible, though the pyrolisk cannot naturally see invisible - it is also possible for the gaze to miss in this circumstance.
The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.
From commit 3eb2192, the fiery gaze attack of the pyrolisk now matches other fire attacks in terms of effects: it can burn cloth or leather armor, and will also heal you if you are polymorphed into an iron golem. Per commit e3712db, the gaze will also unhide monsters that it targets.As of commit 83f8ec1 pyrolisks have an additional 1d6 bite attack, allowing them to deal damage even without their gaze. Per commit 0a3d02b, the pyrolisk will also not use its fiery gaze if it sees that you resist it.
Pyrolisks are generally slow and weak, but their gaze covers a far wider range than most other attacks in the game - it can also be rendered completely harmless by blinding yourself, allowing you to dispatch it with ease. You can also blind the pyrolisk in question, though blinding yourself is typically easier and more convenient; telepathy lets you track the pyrolisk while blind, and aids in spotting and warding off other potential threats that may be nearby. Infravision can help spot a pyrolisk quickly in low-lit areas such as the Gnomish Mines.
If you notice a pyrolisk in the vicinity 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. If you are confident in your speed and have an item such as a wand of lightning or expensive camera, you may consider trying to line up with the pyrolisk and blind them using it, then finish them off quickly.
As a pet
A pyrolisk is not a particularly amazing pet, but its gaze attack does not provoke counterattacks unless they are ranged in nature (e.g. the monster can fire arrows from a bow); it will also not wake up sleeping monsters, and does not target peacefuls unless the pyrolisk is strong enough to attack them. This can be exploited to kill shopkeepers or the Watch without the pyrolisk being attacked, although this will also burn flammable items in their inventory - you will also need to keep pyrolisks far away from shops and temples that you wish to make purchases from.
Pyrolisks are derived from Dungeons & Dragons, where they first appear in the game's 2nd edition. 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.
In Dungeons & Dragons, pyrolisks are depicted as very similar in physical appearance to the cockatrice, with a rooster-like body, a reptilian tail and bat wings - among the few differentiating details are a red tint to the wings and a single red tail feather. Pyrolisks also live in similar temperate and tropical areas as cockatrices, and take over termite pits to make their nesting sites. Much like cockatrice corpses are still dangerous to the touch, pyrolisk bones radiate heat even after the pyrolisk is dead.
A pyrolisk is malevolent and actively spreads mayhem, attacking most other creatures they come across; they have a particular enmity towards the phoenix. Anyone meeting the gaze of a pyrolisk will burst into flame unless they are immune to fire or else can resist through force of will; this may be based on the deadly gaze that is often attributed to the cockatrice and basilisk in folklore. Pyrolisks can also cause nearby fires to burst into fireworks.
- 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.
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.