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 unchanged.

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). Peter Snelling, Boudewijn Wayers and Bryan Butler have written a detailed spoiler on training pets to steal.

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.

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:

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, all D, all H except titans, the Cyclops and Lord Surtur, (vorpal) jabberwocks, ogres, ogre lords, ogre kings, ogre mages, disenchanters, displacer beasts, all snakes, all trolls, all U, all vampires, all Y except monkeys, apes and sasquatches, ghouls, ghasts, piranhas, giant eels, sharks, electric eels, kraken, all ``:'' except salamanders, all evil food, all evil coins.
Mumakil, titanotheres, baluchitheria, mastodons, Jumbo the Elephant, juggernauts, catoblepases, (rabid) rabbits, all u except Pegasus, koalas, wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, the Grand Master, abbots.
Gelatinous cubes, hobbits, dwarves, bugbears, dwarf lords, dwarf kings, dwarf thieves, (master) mind flayers, clear jellies, yellow jellies, orange jellies, rancid jellies, all kobolds, all orcs, rothes, leocrottas, wumpuses, Tasmanian devils, all centaurs, all gnomes, titans, all P, all Q, monkeys, apes, sasquatches, all ``@'' except the Grand Master, Count Dracula and abbots, the Cyclops, Lord Surtur.
Rock moles, rust monsters, xorns.
Killer bees, tsetse flies, queen bees, yellow jackets, black wasps, giant wasps, all b except gelatinous cubes, all c, all e, all g, gnolls, duergars, all i, blue jellies, spotted jellies, ochre jellies, all l, all nymphs, woodchucks, Pegasus, all v, larvae, all x, all y, all A, all E, all F, all Kops, all liches, all mummies, all nagas, shadow ogres, all W, all Z except ghouls and ghasts, 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.)

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:

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 pet.

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, will whine.
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 yowl.
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, will moan.
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.)