Stalker

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The stalker, E, is an elemental monster that appears in NetHack. As it is always generated invisible, the game always refers to them as invisible stalkers.

Eating stalker meat will stun the player and turn them temporarily invisible for 50-149 turns if they are not already invisible; if eaten while already invisible, the player will become permanently invisible and gain the see invisible intrinsic.[1] Wearing a mummy wrapping counts as being visible for this purpose.

Players that polymorph into stalkers are stunned as long as they maintain the polyform.

Generation

Stalkers are always generated invisible as indicated above, and will always be hostile.[2]

The stalker is the second quest monster for Samurai, and makes up 14% of the monsters randomly generated in the Samurai quest. Stalkers are also generated upon the initial creation of each quest level: one each on the home and upper filler levels, nine in the locate level, three in the lower filler level(s), and nine at the goal level. Stalkers are also part of the first quest monster class for Monks and the second quest class for Samurai.

Stalkers may be created by a hostile spellcaster casting the summon nasties monster spell.

Strategy

Stalkers can hit fairly hard with their single attack and move at the same speed as an unburdened, unhasted player - in addition to being invisible, their "stunned" effect causes them to move erratically, making them annoying to face or avoid unless you have a means of detecting them (e.g., see invisible or telepathy).

Stalker meat is one of the more reliable sources of the see invisible intrinsic, either through eating two separate servings in quick succession or else eating one with a worn source of invisibility. As eating stalkers stuns you, be sure to avoid doing so in the midst of battle unless you can cure it quickly (e.g., with a unicorn horn); keeping a mummy wrapping around is also advisable if you plan on shopping at any point afterward.

History

The stalker has been present in the game since PDP-11 Hack, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack. From this version and the first releases of Hack 1.0 until NetHack 3.3.0, the symbol I was used to represent the stalker (I meaning "invisible"). Starting with 3.3.1, the stalker was moved to the ​E class, and I instead indicates the last known position of any invisible monster.

Origin

The invisible stalker is a monster that appears in Dungeons & Dragons, which is a type of air elemental; this is likely the basis for making the stalker part of the elemental monster class, and may explain their ability of flight. As most versions of Hack and NetHack automatically prefix monster names with "invisible" when relaying actions referring to an invisible monster, the word "invisible" is dropped from the monster's name to avoid the redundant "invisible invisible stalker".

Messages

You feel hidden!
You permanently gained the invisibility and see invisible intrinsics by eating a stalker corpse while already (temporarily) invisible.

Variants

SLASH'EM

In SLASH'EM and its variants, the Cloud Bank of the Lawful Quest will always contain at least one stalker.

GruntHack

In GruntHack, stalkers that leave corpses will always leave invisible ones.

References