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For a list of all reptiles, see list of reptiles and amphibians.

hydra DHydra.png
HP 47-96
HD 13
XP 976
Speed 10 (swim: 60%)
AC 0
EV 5
Will 60
Attack1 18 (bite: plain)

Type of Meat Inedible
Resistances rPois+
Vulnerabilities None
Habitat Amphibious
Intelligence Animal
Uses Uses nothing
Holiness Natural
Size Big
Type hydra, hydra
Flags Cold-blooded
A great and nightmarish lacertilian beast. It has many heads, and the potential to grow many more!

Hitting it with any bladed weapon bigger than a short blade risks lopping a head off, which, considering hydras' unique biology, is not what you want. Even a troll's claws are long enough to do the same. Only a weapon branded with flame will cauterize the wound and prevent more heads from growing.

“On the other hand, Confucius is made to say to his disciples, ‘I know how birds can fly, how fishes can swim, and how animals can run. But the runner may be snared, the swimmer may be hooked, and the flyer may be shot by the arrow. But there is the dragon. I cannot tell how he mounts on the wind through the clouds, and rises to heaven. Today I have seen Lao-tsze, and can only compare him to the dragon.’”
-Life of Confucius

“This Dragon had Two furious Wings
Each one upon each Shoulder;
With a Sting in his Tail as long as a Flail,
Which made him bolder and bolder.
He had long Claws, and in his Jaws
Four and forty Teeth of Iron;
With a Hide as tough, as any Buff,
Which did him round environ.”

-“An Excellent Ballad of a most dreadful Combat, fought between Moore of Moore-Hall, and the Dragon of Wantley”, retold by Ambrose Philips, _A Collection of Old Ballads. Corrected from the Best and Most Ancient Copies Extant. With Introductions Historical, Critical, Or Humorous_. 1723.

Useful Info

Hydras are notoriously dangerous melee monsters found most often in the Lair and the Swamp. They begin life with 4-8 heads, but grow two more and heal significantly whenever they lose one. This usually happens when someone deals slashing damage to it. Any such attack that deals 1-3 damage has a 50% chance of removing a head, while 4+ will always do so. Careless use of claws, axes, and long blades can result in prolonged and deadly combat.

Fortunately, there are ways to hurt them without them growing stronger. Blunt and piercing weapons injure them as normal, and flaming edged weapons will remove heads and cauterize the wound, preventing the normal regrowth. Ranged weapons and spells also function without issue. Note that the rules about edged weapons, flaming edged weapons, and blunt weapons apply to everyone who attacks a hydra, including summons and all other monsters.

Hydras cannot fly, but they swim quickly through water. Lava will effectively stop them, however.

While exploring the bottom floor of the Swamp, beware the Lernaean hydra. This unique hydra is much more lethal than normal.

Tips & Tricks

  • Hydras with additional heads only get more attacks per turn, not more HD, XP, or MR.
  • Hydras max out at 20 heads, at which point they get 20 individual melee attacks per turn. Don't let this happen.
  • If you manage to get a hydra to 0 heads, it dies instantly regardless of how much HP it had left.
  • The Summon Hydra spell lets you call a friendly 4-9 headed hydra to fight for you, but only for a brief time.
  • They have poison resistance, so poison and Mephitic Cloud won't work.
  • Hydras are cold-blooded, so cold damage (either from a weapon of freezing or Ice Magic) has a chance to slow them. Do not use an edged freezing weapon, however, as cold damage won't prevent head regrowth.
  • If attempting to escape, remember that hydras cannot open doors nor see invisible.
  • Here are some tips for edged-weapon users:
    • Use a flaming weapon to not only avoid regrowth and healing, but to reduce the hydra's damage output with each hit. Generally, faster weapons work better for this purpose, as they give they hydra less time to gnaw on you between swings. However, most characters are unlikely to have found multiple flaming weapons by the time they reach the Lair -- use whatever you have.
    • Use a non-edged weapon of the same skill, such as:
    • Invocations:
      • Makhleb: Greater Servants can easily kill hydras.
      • Beogh: Smite works, but it costs piety.
      • Elyvilon: Hydras are natural beasts, and can be pacified easily.
      • Lugonu: With high Invocations, you may be able to send hydras to the Abyss.
      • Qazlal: Blasting hydras with Upheaval works, though it chews through piety quickly.
      • Trog/Berserker: Summoning one or two Ogres to pound them to a pulp is a perfectly viable option, and even the high HD Trolls can usually kill them in a few shots regardless of their heads.
    • Spells:
      • Conjurations: Most level 3+ Conjurations can kill a hydra in 3-6 hits, and even level 2's can soften them up significantly with enough time.
      • Summonings: 4-7 ice beasts can easily kill a hydra, though a hydra with a high number of heads may require more.
      • Transmutations: Use Ice Form or unarmed Statue Form. Spider Form also does not remove heads, but is generally less effective than Ice or Statue Form.
    • Attack wands: Even at low Evocations, a wand of iceblast or wand of acid can usually kill a hydra in 2-5 hits. This is a safe course of action for most characters.

The following methods do not work:

  • Polymorph: Hydras have high HD, and often turn into even tougher monsters. Storm dragons are a particularly common result.
  • Low-Skill Ranged Weapons: Hydras regenerate quickly; any method which relies on whittling down its HP will likely fail.
  • Stair dancing: Climbing up or down stairs next to a hydra will give it a few free hits, which is possibly all it needs to kill you.
  • Berserk With an Edged Weapon: While you may be able to deal more damage than the hydra can heal per hit, its damage output will be growing, and ending your berserk slowed and wounded next to an even stronger hydra than you started with is not ideal.
  • Haste, when in the Swamps: Hydras' speed advantage in water will mean you probably cannot outrun them.

Undead Hydras

Hydra corpses that are raised as zombies, skeletons, or simulacra will have the same number of heads as the corpse; zero-headed corpses cannot be raised in this way. In any case, you can slice their heads off as with normal hydras, but they will never grow back, even if a non-flaming weapon is used. Note that hydra simulacra can have horrifyingly high damage output if you lack cold resistance (+13-38 cold damage per head).

Spectral hydras created with Death Channel will have the same number of heads as the hydra when it died, but these can't be cut off.

Any of these undead hydras can be found as enemies throughout the dungeon, especially in the pestilence ending of the Swamp.


See also