Xan

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The xan, x, is a monster in NetHack. Xans are capable of flight, and their corpse is poisonous to eat.

It has a unique attack targets your legs, resulting in wounded legs if the attack succeeds. A canceled xan cannot injure your legs, and instead "nuzzles" them.

Strategy

Boots can protect your legs from the xan's attacks - worn iron shoes or low boots protect you 40% of the time, and any other boots protect you 80% of the time.[1] As indicated above, cancelling a xan can render it harmless.

History

Before NetHack 3.6.3, riding, flying, or levitating would prevent a xan from wounding your legs. As xans themselves fly, this was considered a bug and fixed.

Mythology

The xan is based on a mythical Mayan mosquito from Popol Vuh, a Mayan book.

Encyclopedia entry

They sent their friend the mosquito [xan] ahead of them to find out what lay ahead. "Since you are the one who sucks the blood of men walking along paths," they told the mosquito, "go and sting the men of Xibalba." The mosquito flew down the dark road to the Underworld. Entering the house of the Lords of Death, he stung the first person that he saw...
 
The mosquito stung this man as well, and when he yelled, the man next to him asked, "Gathered Blood, what's wrong?" So he flew along the row stinging all the seated men until he knew the names of all twelve.

[ Popul Vuh, as translated by Ralph Nelson ]

References