Werecreature (or lycanthrope) is the collective name for a group of monsters which change back and forth between animal and human form.
The werecreatures in NetHack are:
- @ / r wererat
- @ / d werejackals
- @ / d werewolves
Werecreatures are considered human for the purposes of sacrificing and consumption; if you are a human, eating the corpse of a werecreature counts as cannibalism. All werecreatures have drain resistance, and are particularly vulnerable to silver weapons.
While in animal form, their bite has a chance of conferring lycanthropy, indicated by a fever. Lycanthropy is the condition that makes werecreatures change form at random intervals; you will become the same kind of werecreature as the one that infected you. Additionally, eating a werecreature's corpse will always infect you. Werecreatures respect Elbereth only while in animal form; in human form, they can ignore Elbereth and will also wield weapons and wear armor, but are forced to shed and drop their armor and weapons upon shifting to animal form.
Werecreatures can summon their brethren for help - rats, jackals, or various kinds of wolves, depending on the monster. This will give a message based on whether or not said monsters spawn in your character's sight. If you are a werecreature, you can also summon such monsters with the #monster extended command; they are generated as pets and will remain tame even if your lycanthropy is cured.
Once you find a silver weapon, it is a good idea to keep it on you at all times; even with restricted weapons the silver damage alone can usually dispatch of a werecreature quickly, and you will want to do so before you are surrounded. Being pinned on all sides, even by rats, can lead to death fairly quickly without Elbereth. Pets can assist in dealing with werecreatures, as they will only call for help when attacking you; additionally, summoning is less immediately dangerous in hallways, as you can deal with the monsters one at a time while only having to fight two or three simultaneously. Even then, early characters will still want to kill the werecreature as soon as possible before finishing off their companions.
Most of the time lycanthropy is unwanted, so avoid engaging in melee combat with a werecreature in animal form where possible unless you have an effective way of removing the affliction. The eventual shift to animal form makes your character unable to carry any kind of load, wield weapons, use hand operated things (such as open doors), and wear armor; while in animal form, your HP is also generally considerably lower, as are many of your other attributes.
To remove lycanthropy, one may pray (the effectiveness of which is dependent on the usual factors), eat a sprig of wolfsbane, or quaff holy water. See that article for more methods of curing lycanthropy and strategic applications for actually utilizing it (e.g. summoning tame monsters)
When a werecreature summons help, 1d5 monsters of the appropriate type are created about the werecreature. The monsters will be created with the probabilities in the following table:
- You feel feverish.
- The player was bitten by a werecreature and infected with lycanthropy.
- The werecreature summons help!
- The werecreature summoned monsters of the same class to assist it.
- You feel hemmed in.
- As above, except one or more of the new monsters spawned outside of the player's sight, e.g. due to blindness.
- You hear a <jackal/wolf> howling at the moon.
- A werejackal or werewolf is present on the current level, and has shifted form out of your sight.
- The <werecreature> whispers inaudibly. All you can make out is "moon".
- You chatted to a werecreature.
In NetHack 3.0.0, lycanthropes in their animal forms were called ratweres, jackalweres, and wolfweres. The -were suffix indicates animals that can take on human and sometimes hybrid forms, e.g. a wolfwere can shift from the base form of a wolf to that of a human or a "wolf man".
In SLASH'EM, the Lycanthrope is a playable race, starting with (not hungerless) regeneration and lycanthropy (always a werewolf) which cannot be removed, but can eventually be controlled. They may only be chaotic, and any silver weapons in one's starting inventory (such as with Undead Slayers) will be reverted to their non-silver counterpart.
Additionally, there are several new lycanthrope monsters in SLASH'EM: werepanthers, weretigers, werespiders, and weresnakes.
In 1573, the Parliament of Dole published a decree, permitting
the inhabitants of the Franche-Comte to pursue and kill a
were-wolf or loup-garou, which infested that province,
"notwithstanding the existing laws concerning the chase."
The people were empowered to "assemble with javelins,
halberds, pikes, arquebuses and clubs, to hunt and pursue the
said were-wolf in all places where they could find it, and to
take, burn, and kill it, without incurring any fine or other
penalty." The hunt seems to have been successful, if we may
judge from the fact that the same tribunal in the following
year condemned to be burned a man named Giles Garnier, who
ran on all fours in the forest and fields and devoured little
children, "even on Friday." The poor lycanthrope, it appears,
had as slight respect for ecclesiastical feasts as the French
pig, which was not restrained by any feeling of piety from
eating infants on a fast day.