Keeping And Training Pets In Nethack And Slash'EM
This spoiler on pets was written by Eva Myers, with helpful
contributions from Jules Bean and Tina Hall. For general information
on acquiring pets and the different types of tame monster, see my
spoiler on how
to acquire pets in Nethack and Slash'EM. If you have any
comments, additions or corrections, please feel free to email me.
Tameness And Apport
A pet has two important properties: its tameness, which is a general
measure of how resistant it is to going wild, and its apport, which
measures how well trained it is to fetch. A pet hatched from a
non-dragon egg in the hero's inventory starts with a tameness of 20
(dragons hatched from eggs only have a tameness of 5). In Slash'EM,
pets summoned by invoking artifacts (the Hand of Vecna, the Candle of
Eternal Flame or the Storm Whistle) start with a tameness of 30, and
minions and spell beings start with a tameness of 10. Otherwise, pets
start off with a tameness of 10 if they are a domestic animal (dog,
cat or horse) and 5 if not, and an apport of 10. If a pet which rises
from the dead comes back tame, its tameness and apport will remain
The higher your pet's apport is, the better it is at stealing from
shops. A pet with high apport has a greater tendency to pick up and
drop objects, and also favours dropping objects close to the hero over
dropping them anywhere else. Apport is reduced by 1 each time the pet
drops an object, and can be increased by rewarding the pet with food
it likes (tripe or meatballs for a cat or dog, apples or carrots for a
horse) as soon as possible after it has dropped something. The reward
must be a treat (corpses do not count) and the hero must have picked
it up at some point, but it is not necessary to throw the treat to the
pet. When the hero rewards the pet, its apport is increased by
|Dropdist + time since pet dropped something|
where ``dropdist'' is the distance from you to your pet last time it
dropped something. Thus the best-case scenario is when your pet drops
an item at your feet and you reward it immediately, in which case its
apport goes up by 100. In practice, when your pet's apport is very
low, it is generally quicker to reward it as soon as possible after it
drops an item anywhere. This will raise its apport and hence its
tendency to drop items at your feet, and you can reward it again when
it does so.
A pet's tameness is changed in the following circumstances. If its
tameness falls to zero, it will no longer be tame, but will remain
peaceful unless otherwise stated.
- Increased by 1 point up to a maximum of 20 whenever the pet eats.
- Reading the blessed Book of the Dead will tame nearby undead of your
alignment, or if they were already tame, will increase their
tameness by 1, up to a maximum of 20.
- When hero abuses pet by attacking it, displacing it into a trap or
unsuccessfully trying to release it from a bear trap, halved if hero
is aggravating monsters or causing conflict, and otherwise decreased
by 1 point.
- Decreased by 1 point for every 150 moves spent on a different level
from the hero. (In Slash'EM, only werecreatures, mindless
creatures, undead, demons and animals will go feral when abandoned.)
If this decreases tameness to zero or less, the pet is no longer
tame and may be hostile. Also, if the pet would have starved to
death while away from the hero, it becomes hostile instead.
- A steed's tameness is decreased by 1 point when the hero kicks or
whips it. Unless you are a Knight, mounting a pet also decreases
its tameness by 1 point.
- Decreased by 1 point when the pet becomes unleashed because it hit a
trap which sent it to another level.
- May be decreased by 1 point when the pet chokes on a cursed
leash. The chance of this not happening is 1 in its
tameness, so a pet will never go wild as a result.
- A pet displaced out of a trap may become hostile, with a chance of 1
in its tameness.
In Slash'EM, the following types of pet can rebel (spontaneously turn
hostile): migo drone, migo warrior, assassin bug, death dog, rabid
wolf, shadow wolf, displacer beast, hellcat, gremlin, gargoyle, winged
gargoyle, dwarf thief, deep one, deeper one, deepest one, mind flayer,
master mind flayer, dretch, rutterkin, nupperibo, blood imp, all
kobolds, quickling, all orcs, mangler, harpy, byakhee, nightgaunt,
forest centaur, mountain centaur, deep dragon, red dragon, white
dragon, orange dragon, black dragon, blue dragon, stalker, gnome
thief, Ruggo the Gnome King, all gnolls, the Largest Giant, Father
Dagon, Mother Hydra, all liches, all ogres, shoggoth, giant shoggoth,
disenchanter, all trolls, all vampires, ghoul mages, ghoul queens,
gugs, gibberlings, grimlocks, drow, mugger, gypsy, all demons except
water demons, erinys and sandestins. This will only happen when the
pet has at least as many HP as you do and is three or fewer squares
away. Pets with high tameness or which haven't been abused much are
less likely to rebel. Abusing your pet is likely to trigger a
rebellion, but there is also a small chance that the pet will rebel at
Tameness affects your chance of successfully saddling or riding a
steed, but does not have any other effect on a pet's behaviour.
Things A Pet Eats
The foods that a pet will eat can be divided into three categories:
- Treats, which the pet really likes and which can be used as rewards
to train it.
- Good food which doesn't count as a treat but which the pet will eat
even when not hungry.
- Acceptable food which the pet will only eat when hungry.
Almost all monsters can be classfied as carnivorous, herbivorous,
omnivorous, metallivorous or non-eating:
- Giant ants, giant ticks, giant fleas, soldier ants, fire ants,
snow ants, giant beetles, giant lice, spitting beetles, assassin bugs,
killer beetles, all d, all f, all mimics, all piercers, giant badgers,
scrampers, squealers, manglers, all rats, all s, all t, all w except
larvae, echnidae, platypuses, all B except vampire bats, byakhees and nightgaunts, all D, all H except titans, the
Cyclops, Lord Surtur, Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, (vorpal)
jabberwocks, black naga hatchlings, black nagas, all ogres, disenchanters, all snakes, all
trolls, all U, vampires, vampire lords, vampire mages, Vlad the
Impaler, all Y except monkeys, (ordinary) apes and
sasquatches, ghouls, ghasts, gugs, piranhas, giant eels, sharks, electric
eels, kraken, all ``:'' except salamanders, all evil food, all evil
- Chickens, cockatoos, parrots, lambs, sheep, goats, cows, bulls, mumakil, titanotheres, baluchitheria, mastodons, Jumbo the
Elephant, juggernauts, catoblepases, (rabid) rabbits, woodchucks, all u except
Pegasus, koalas, wombats, wallabies, wallaroos, kangaroos, the Grand Master,
Master Kaen, abbots, monks.
- Migo drones, migo warriors, migo queens, gelatinous cubes,
chickatrices, cockatrices, pyrolisks, hobbits, dwarves, bugbears, dwarf lords, dwarf
kings, dwarf thieves, (master) mind flayers, deep ones, deeper ones,
deepest ones, clear jellies, yellow
jellies, orange jellies, rancid jellies, all kobolds, all orcs,
rothes, leocrottas, wumpuses, Tasmanian devils, vampire bats,
byakhees, nightgaunts, all centaurs, disgusting molds, black molds, all
G, titans, all nagas except black nagas and black
naga hatchlings, all P, all Q, monkeys, apes, sasquatches, all ``@''
except the Grand Master, Master Kaen, monks and abbots, the Cyclops, Lord
Surtur, Father Dagon, Mother Hydra.
- Rock moles, (giant) shoggoths, rust monsters, xorns.
- Killer bees, tsetse flies, queen bees, yellow jackets, black
wasps, giant wasps, all b except gelatinous cubes, all e, all
g, gnolls, duergars, all i, blue jellies, spotted jellies, ochre
jellies, all l, all nymphs, Pegasus, all v, larvae, all x,
all y, all A, all E, all F except disgusting molds and black molds,
all Kops, all liches, all mummies, fire vampires, star
vampires, all W, all Z except ghouls, ghasts and gugs, all
golems, shadows, ghosts, shades, all ``&'', jellyfish, giant crabs,
salamanders, Count Dracula.
Pets will never eat anything which will do them harm. For example,
they will not eat acidic or poisonous corpses unless they have acid or
poison resistance. (Pets have resistances solely by virtue of their
species - unlike the hero, they do not gain resistances from eating.)
- For carnivorous pets, tripe rations and meat created with the stone
to flesh spell are treats, meaty corpses and eggs are good food, and
``people food'' other than fruits, vegetables and tins is acceptable
- For herbivorous pets, apples and carrots are treats, vegan corpses
are good food, and other fruits and vegetables are acceptable food.
Bananas are treats for monkeys and apes (anything represented by a
- Omnivores like everything which carnivores and herbivores like,
- Tripe rations, meat created with stone to flesh, apples and
carrots are treats.
- Corpses and eggs are good food.
- All other people food except tins is acceptable food.
- For metallivores, non-rustproofed iron is a treat, and anything else
metallic including tins is acceptable food.
- Ghouls and ghasts will only eat old corpses (at least 50 moves old),
which count as treats.
- For gelatinous cubes and Tasmanian devils, anything organic is
In Nethack 3.4.1, starving pets find a few more types of food
acceptable. Starving carnivores will eat fruits and vegetables, but
not vegan corpses. Starving herbivores will eat "people food" other
than tins, but not tripe, meat, meaty corpses or eggs.
In Slash'EM only:
- Koalas can only eat eucalyptus leaves, which are a treat.
- Vampires can only feed on blood from very fresh corpses, which
counts as a treat.
- Pets will not eat their own class unless they are starving, and even
then it only counts as acceptable food.
Chatting With Pets
When you chat with a pet or any other monster, there are many possible
responses, depending on the type of monster. This section covers only
the responses which will give you diagnostic information about your
Canines (anything represented by a ``d'')
(In Slash'EM, barking spiders and werespiders also do this.)
At night when there is a full moon, will howl.
If confused, fleeing, trapped, hungry, or with tameness less than 5,
If they will be hungry within 1000 moves, will bark (except for
dingoes, which will make no sound in this situation).
Otherwise, will yip.
Cats (only domestic cats)
If confused, fleeing, trapped, or with tameness less than 5, will
If hungry, will meow.
If they will be hungry within 1000 moves, will mew.
Otherwise, will purr.
Equines (unicorns, horses and ki-rin)
If tameness is less than 5, will neigh.
If hungry, will whinny.
Otherwise, will whicker.
Some humanoids (hobbits, dwarves, centaurs, quantum mechanics and
genetic engineers, elves and drow, giants, player monsters, muggers,
ninja and ronin)
If fleeing, will want nothing to do with you.
If at less than 1/4 of max HP,
If confused or stunned, will say ``Huh?'', ``What?'' or ``Eh?''
If blind, will say ``I can't see!''
If trapped, will say ``I'm trapped!''
If at less than 1/2 of max HP, will ask for a potion of healing.
If hungry, will say ``I'm hungry''.
Hobbits will complain about unpleasant dungeon conditions if they have
lost 10 or more HP, and otherwise ask about the One Ring.
If nothing particular is wrong, humanoids will discuss dungeon
exploration. (Some types of humanoid have other favourite subjects.)