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This page threw me a little... I thought I'd wandered into a different wiki by accident :-O GreyKnight 22:44, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Yep, it was a bit off-tone. I've done a complete rewrite. --Jayt 23:48, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Monster templates

I think this was one of the few articles still lacking the standard monster template, so I've provided them. One thing I didn't do was add the "attributes" section, since that seems to be formatted rather than free-text, and darned if I could find a description of how the formatting is supposed to work. So I just added the line in the article:

Riders can fly/float, are humanoid, can regenerate themselves, can see invisible creatures, and have teleport control.

If anyone wants to work out how that goes in the template, fantastic!--Ckbryant 11:40, 15 February 2008 (EST)

Seven deadly sins patch is dead so the patch is no longer available. --Kahran042 13:14, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

Can Anyone Explain This?

Randomly spawned Famine? Can anyone explain how this happened? --Daniel Draco 00:14, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Wait, nevermind, I figured it out...leftover bones from messing around in wizard mode. --Daniel Draco 02:42, 23 November 2008 (UTC)


What happens when riders are engulfed? Can a purple worm take care of them for good since no corpse is left? DemonDoll 19:21, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I've done the purple worm thing, but mine have never been strong enough to attack the Riders. You'd probably have to level drain the Riders to bejeezus and back (so you could only do this to Famine and Pestilence in any event). I've honestly been kind of underwhelmed by what worms can do for you on Astral, though it is fun to do once.--Ckbryant 15:10, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
You mean you'd have to level drain them simply because a pet won't attack something much more powerful than itself? What are the rules on that anyway? And can someone confirm that sacrificing riders gets rid of them for good? DemonDoll 15:18, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Your purple worm will die instantly (there is even a special message for that). You cannot sacrifice the riders because you have to hold stuff to sacrifice it on the astral plane, and their corpses will revive if you try to pick them up. -Tjr 15:39, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
@ Tjr: But what if you kill one of them while they're standing on an altar tile, then sacrifice the corpse directly from the ground? That doesn't require picking up, so it might work.
That specifically doesn't work on the high altars on Astral; you have to have the object in your inventory to sacrifice it. Since the Riders' corpses will always revive if you pick them up, you can't have them in your inventory, so you can't sacrifice them. The only ways to to permanently get rid of them I know of are to fill the whole level with monsters and kill them so they have nowhere to revive, slime them, or for Famine and Pestilence, level-drain and tame them. -Ion frigate 10:41, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
You can also have their corpses eaten by a non-tame gelatinous cube, or let them live in a jail of boulder or sessile monsters. There are no other ways to get rid of the riders. Tjr 10:53, May 20, 2010 (UTC)
Is it really possible to have a gelatinous cube engulf the riders? I recall trying that once; the cube "ate" the corpse, but a few turns later it revived, giving a message like if the cube had simply picked up the corpse and didn't digest it. The same message as if a nymph picks up the corpse and it revives while she's carrying it. -- Qazmlpok 15:21, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
Congrats, you catch every time I don't wizmode-test things. What happens if you kill and eat the cube after it engulfs the rider? At least, there shouldn't be any object around to carry the corpse-reviving counter. Tjr 18:11, June 9, 2010 (UTC)

Nothing. Again, when a gelatinous cube engulfs something (i.e. doesn't eat it), it really just picks it up. Although engulfing the corpse at all should be considered fatal/impossible (I believe this is the bug), the corpse still isn't considered organic and just gets picked up. Killing the cube will simply result in the corpse being dropped, like any other object in the cube's inventory. Digesting the cube has the same effect; the rider corpse will simply appear on the ground as if the monster had died normally with no corpse. However, what you can do is steal the corpse - the rider corpse will revive if you pick it up, but not if a cube picks it up. I've seen nymphs pick up corpses, but I haven't been able to confirm that a nymph will pick up a rider corpse. Stealing the corpse does not revive it, so you can then sacrifice the corpse from your inventory on the high altar. Of course this will require polymorph, killing the rider and quickly getting a cube to engulf it, and carrying the 1450 corpse to the co-aligned high altar. I believe this should be another method to permanently get rid of the riders, although it certainly won't be easy to do outside of wizard mode. -- Qazmlpok 20:10, June 9, 2010 (UTC)

Ambiguity of source comment

I am a novice C++ programmer, and I think that the source comment does add a bit of ambiguity because the double equal sign is the comparison operator, as in "if (foo == 8)", so it may mean, "Is the player war?"

Technically yes, but when programmers say "==" they really do just mean "is". Similarly, you wouldn't interpret "coffee && milk" as "is there coffee and milk?" but rather as an statement "both coffee and also milk". The sentence is being asserted, not questioned.Blackcustard 17:50, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Deleted mythology notes

Some unregistered user deleted a big chunk of text from the Mythology section. I took the liberty of undoing it. While it's only tangentially related to NH, the Mythology section is really set aside for this sort of fluff. If you're going to delete this much content from an article, at least make a note in the discussion justifying your actions (and make the effort to register an account). --Darth l33t 06:23, January 6, 2010 (UTC)


Does it affect rider's attacks? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Newtkiller (talkcontribs)

As explicitly stated in cancellation, no. -- Qazmlpok 12:05, June 24, 2010 (UTC)

Rider corpses in inventories

What happens when a Rider corpse is in a gelatinous cube's inventory? Does it still have a chance to revive, or will it not revive until after the cube is killed? Also, I'm guessing you could also (semi-)permanently get rid of a Rider corpse by locking it in a chest, although that would require wishing for a chest. -Ion frigate 09:38, September 3, 2010 (UTC)

The corpse is considered a part of the cube's inventory, the same as if any other monster was carrying it. The corpse can still revive, and the cube will drop it, "startled". Also, confirmed that locking the corpse in a chest works. A non-locked chest/box can be escaped from (same as a troll), but a locked chest is permanent. It also generates the "You feel less hassled" message. -- Qazmlpok 13:05, September 3, 2010 (UTC)

I don't think we should enumerate all ways to destroy inventory items. That leads clutter. Just off the top of my head:

  1. Repeatedly loot a cursed bag of holding. Advantage: takes 0 turns.
  2. Sacrifice it at the coaligned altar.
  3. Polymorph the container it's in.
  4. Let it rot in a locked container or a bag of holding.
  5. Bury the container it's in, and let the container rot.
  6. Ascend with it in an ice box.
  7. Explode the bag of holding it's in. (tricks, cancellation, another holding)
  8. Place it in (a sack in) a locked chest, and #force it with a blunt weapon.

I propose we leave only the cursed bag of holding in the article because that is the safest and fastest method, and tell the reader there are a host of other ways. Tjr 13:27, September 3, 2010 (UTC)

  • Make a black dragon disintegrate the gelatinous cube carrying the corpse. This is conduct-proof.

Tjr 17:39, October 14, 2010 (UTC)

How many levels do you need to drain before you can charm the Pesistlence and Faimine? I am on the Astral Plane right now. I've never tried permanently ridding myself of them before. It has always been a mad race to the appropite alter. Also how do you put a rider into a containr if touching them automatically revives them? Ndwolfwood

You need to drain them to below your current level. For a level 30 character, that's only one level you need to drain them. Mind you, they'll resist your attempts to tame them ~99% of the time that way, so it's probably best to drain them all the way to level zero - then they'll only resist ~77% of your attempts (see magic resistance (monster), the riders have MR = 100 and base level 30). Draining them to zero has no ill effects on them, since their HP are determined specially and not from their level.
Putting rider corpses into containers is a real corner case, but if you read above, what you can do is kill a rider, let a gelatinous cube engulf its corpse, polyself into a nymph, steal the corpse, and put it in a container. Given that you have an average of 15 turns before the corpse revives, this is quite difficult outside of wizard mode.
Getting rid of the Riders permanently is mostly a bragging right: it doesn't make ascending any easier, since if you can get rid of them permanently, you are obviously quite capable of ascending. -Ion frigate 22:14, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. I polyed into a genetic egineer wielding a cockatrice corpse and I have tamed death as a gray ozze. I do't want to ascend wth any of them as my pet I want to kill them afte I've wiped out the astral plane. No good reason its just I never realized it was a possiblity. I'm goingto this method and see if it works. Whenever I get to this point in the game I am always kinda paranoid so it takes me several minutes for each move I make.

If you're playing SLASH'EM, the riders are trivial if you're willing to selfpoly. Just turn into a genetic engineer (and you already have) and hit them until they turn into something that doesn't resist stoning. Hit them with the cockatrice corpse and they're permanently a statue. Disintegration will probably work as well so long as they aren't in their natural form. -- Qazmlpok 22:44, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

I just realized this and petrifid one of the riders. My wand of wishing has no charges left. So I am going towait until I've cleared the level. I want to wish for a spellbook of stone to flesh. I'd like to break the riders statue and then cast stone to flesh to make meatballs. Will this work or will the rider comeback and/or I will die from eatng the meatballs? I kinda want to kill them off permanently for all the misery they've caused me over the years. Obviously I suppose I could see if my pet necrmancer will at them but I'd rater to it myself.

Success, I killed everybody but the High Priest of Offler. The I smashed all the riders stautues and cast stone to flesh. Before I ascended me and my pet dog and pet necromancer divied up a pile of rider meatballs and then achieved immortality. Thanks for he help guys. Ndwolfwood

...Pet necromancer?--Kahran042 22:18, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Tamed player monster using the polymorph exploit. -- Qazmlpok 22:54, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Riders Corpes After Recieving Message You Feel Less Hassled

I just locked Famine into a box via the gelatinous cube method. After I recieved the message you feel less hassled I unlocked the box as a experiment. Famine will not come back from the dead and you can pick up his corpse. I ate his corpse after experiementing for a while to see if he would come back. It made me deathly ill (I was wearing a amulet of life saving to be safe) but that was cured with a unicorn horn. I am pretty sure that the riders corpes act like a normal corpse after you have recieved the message you feel less hassled. Does anyone know how many rounds it takes for the corpse to rot away?Ndwolfwood 06:57, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Actually, that seems to be somewhat of a bug. I just tested it in wizard mode, and this is what I found:
  • If you eat the corpse shortly after the "less hassled" message, you get the typical "instantly fatal" message, die, and the corpse revives (in a real game, if you had an "oLS).
  • If you wait a while after the "less hassled" message, eating it will cause food poisoning, instantly removing the corpse.
  • But disturbing that corpse (i.e. by dropping it and picking it up) still revives it.
My guess? Probably, eat.c first checks if the corpse is tainted, then if it's a rider corpse. The standard procedure is to remove it immediately if it is tainted, and so it does that. Of course it's rather a small bug, given that if you have a rider corpse that's rotting away, it will rot away entirely before too long, so eating it to get rid of it gains you little benefit. -Ion frigate 10:37, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
That does seem to be the case. Another example that would occur more often in-game would be eating a tainted green slime corpse; the corpse is removed and you get food poisoning but not sliming. Interestingly this does not work with a cockatrie; trying it in wizmode gave me "You feel sick" "You turn to stone...", even if I tried shortly before the corpse rotted away entirely. -- Qazmlpok 14:35, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I noticed that actually. Looking at eat.c#line1258, it seems that petrifying corpses are special-cased, along with acid blobs, to never cause food poisoning.
I guess "petrifying" corpses never "putrify"?
Which makes sense, as when I wiztested that last night I kept noticing that petrifying corpses were never tainted, even if I was polymorphed into a stoning-resistant form. The "you feel sick" is handled elsewhere, which is why you will see it for cockatrice corpses. -Ion frigate 21:06, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I had just tried it myself by polying into a xorn with a 200-turn old cockatrice corpse. It did still give me food sickness. stonable in the code you referenced is true if: The monster petrifies on touch, you are not stone resistanct, and you do not polymorph when stoned (i.e. you are a non-stone golem). The wizmode test did seem to confirm that; I 'felt sick' but didn't get food poisoning when I ate the corpse as a human, and I still got sickness when I ate it as a xorn. That special case must be there to prevent the less-harmful food poisoning instead of stoning, and the devteam just didn't bother to add an is_rider or is_green_slime check when checking for tainted meat.
Interestingly, this mean false rumor #7 is actually true in most cases - cockatrice corpses won't be tainted! -- Qazmlpok 21:16, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Whoops, my bad. I must have just missed the range for food poisoning a lot (and should have looked at stoneable more carefully). -Ion frigate 00:12, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Does the you feel less hassled allow you to take the rider out of the box with it ressurecting? Or is it the fact that the rider is in a box which allows you to place it in your inventory and the you feel less hassled message only indiactes the rider will not ressurect unless it is dropped and then disturbed? Its odd you can take it out of the box, drop it and the rider will still rot away. I wonder what the logic is behind that?Ndwolfwood 20:18, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

When a rider/troll is killed (or, rather, when the corpse is generated), a timer is attached to the corpse that basically says "in x turns, revive the corpse". If this fails for some reason, then start a 2nd timer that will remove the corpse in 250-x turns (i.e. 250 turns after the corpse was first generated). And, if the corpse is a rider corpse, additionally print the message "You feel less hassled". So the rider corpse will only try to automatically revive once, and if that fails then the corpse will just rot away entirely. However any of the other methods of reviving the riders, e.g. teleportation, tinning, eating, picking up, will still revive the corpse as that has nothing to do with the timer.
The reason you can take it out of the box without it reviving is because there's no reason for the corpse to ever be in the box, so the devteam didn't bother to account for that action. The fact that a gelatinous cube can pick up a rider corpse at all is a bug, and without that you wouldn't be able to place it into a box in the first place. -- Qazmlpok 21:03, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Polying Famine and Pestilence

In vanilla, is there any reason you couldn't drain and then polymorph Famine and Pestilence? I realize if you could do that you might as well tame them, but I was wondering if it was at all possible. -Ion frigate 20:42, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

It should work just as well. -- Qazmlpok 20:56, 8 December 2011 (UTC)


There are a number of famous and now-public domain images of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. In particular, I was thinking of this image, which shows (left to right) Death, Famine, War, and Pestilence. It's free enough to be used on a Wikipedia page, so it should be good enough for here.

The question, of course, is do people think this article would benefit from an image? The importance of the Riders in the game combined with their well-known mythology makes me think they would, but I'd definitely like others' opinions before I do anything. -Ion frigate 06:08, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

I think it's a good idea, though personally I prefer the image at the top of that article [1] because it's far more legible. Arguably that's a poor choice because it depicts the rider we call pestilence as conquest, but I don't think that really matters. I also like that this author chose to depict famine as emaciated, instead of fat. Both make sense but emaciated is more intuitive. And the skeletal death is clearly death, whereas the black and white woodcut's emaciated death comes out looking like famine. Blackcustard 05:46, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Hmm, you're right that the Durer image doesn't reduce very well; I guess that's kind of a general problem with woodcuts. I like the other image; I was a little worried because the guy only died in 1926, so it technically could still be under copyright in some countries. But it seems like Wikipedia trusts it enough, so we probably can as well. If there are no objections I say we add that image. -Ion frigate 23:02, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Everybody knows that riders look like &! What silliness! :-) --TPGreyKnight (talk) 16:50, 24 June 2012 (UTC)


A lot of strategy on this page needs to be redone. Monsters can't block the riders from getting to you anymore (tame, peaceful, or hostile, it doesn't matter), so things like jelly forts, taming lots of monsters, acid blob spam (No idea if this can stop their revival or not) etc aren't usable strategies anymore. Boulders will block the riders, and they use doors normally. I don't know of any other methods of blocking them. I don't think displacement slows them down any, but I'm not certain. I think it functions just like normal movement, and works 100% of the time (unlike players displacing pets). As an aside, there is code to allow tame monsters to displace others, as far as I can tell, but it doesn't actually work, and a tame rider won't ever try to displace a monster. -- Qazmlpok (talk) 03:01, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

Rider vs steed: no damage?

Version: vanilla 3.4.3 on ubuntu laptop

I was playing a Valkyrie riding Carroll, a Jabberwock steed, through the end game. I was fighting Famine on the Astral Plane. Every so often, Famine would attack my Carroll. I noticed that Carroll was not dying, and I was not getting messages about hunger damage to Carroll. Looking more closely with my stethoscope, Carroll was not even losing hit points! (Famine was, though, and Carroll actually killed Famine.)

Looking at the 3.4.3 source:

When the hero is riding a steed, mattacku redirects some portion of monster attacks towards the steed. mattacku calls mattackm. mattackm switches on attack type. case AT_TUCH calls hitmm. hitmm calls mdamagem. mdamagem switches on attack damage. case AD_FAMN does not exist. mdamagem takes a default case, and assigns "tmp = 0"!

I verified this in wizard mode with a Jabberwock steed and again with a pet Archon (created from a figurine and allowed to pick up 10 blessed potions of gain level).

Similar code still in 3.6.1 source. I don't actually play 3.6.1 so I did not test that in wizard mode, though.

I don't know if making Riders harmless to other monsters is intentional.

Changing this behavior would likely make astral plane even harder for characters with steeds or pacifist characters.

Furey (talk) 02:28, 28 May 2019 (UTC)


Why would you add a whole 'nother sentence to the page, that just reiterates existing information and, when clicked, simply causes the reader to scroll down? Testbutt (talk)

For posterity, this is referring to the sentence "The Fourth Horseman is War." in the top section of the page. Three other people have disagreed with adding it, for various reasons; my personal disagreement is that I think it's a cool little secret in the game and this is a little too in-your-face about revealing it. Though I also agree with Testbutt. --Phol ende wodan (talk) 11:56, 1 February 2021 (UTC)
Yes, no one wants to spoil it. Here's my TLDR: Keep the phrase "The Fourth Horseman is War" as it sets up the secret. Remove the section on War which explains "You are war."--which blatantly gives it away.
Details of why I added the sentence: 1. There is no cultural consensus on the "names" of the Four Horsemen--or that there are only four. Read the Apocalypse (Revelation); you'll see what I mean. Nethack implements a unique version of the story, so no one is wondering "That's three horsemen, but where is War?" Only the source code states that "War" is the fourth "Rider". 2. The term "Rider" itself is also peculiar to NetHack; by the time someone knows the term, they've probably been playing for years as it only appears in the source code. 3. No one necessarily would assume that the three named demons on the astral plane are the related to the Four Horsemen or connect that to the term "Rider" without extra knowledge from the source code, the NH community members, or the wiki.
Based on these factors, someone reading the T-shirt that says "...I'm War", or tinning a Rider "War does not preserve it's enemies", or getting a Rider's ambiguous response "Who do you think you are, War?" (Which almost seems to say you are NOT War), won't get the joke. Furthermore, 0.0001% of players will ever accidentally generate those messages let alone consider them meaningful without more context. So, it is not clear in the game and there is no big in-game reveal to spoil. I only learned the term Rider, and the idea War=player after playing for 20 years from a spoiler.
Summary: Make it clear that "War" is the name of the Fourth Horseman, then decide how in-your-face to be about revealing that it's the player...and whether there's a certain point at which player becomes the incarnation of War (i.e. upon gaining the AoY or entering the Astral Plane).--Thidwick (talk) 03:04, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
How about making the 3 Riders + War subsections of a section called "The Four Horsemen"? It's more subtle than directly stating it in a sentence. -Actual-nh (talk) 03:23, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
Inclined to agree. --Umbire the Phantom (talk) 04:24, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
Nobody objected, so done. -Actual-nh (talk) 16:50, 13 February 2021 (UTC)