Hydra

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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 972
Speed 10 (swim: 60%)
AC 0
EV 5
Will 60
Attack1 18 (bite: plain)


Type of Meat Inedible
Resistances rPois+
rDrown
Vulnerabilities None
Habitat Amphibious
Intelligence Animal
Uses Uses nothing
Holiness Natural
Size Big
Type hydra, hydra
Flags Cold-blooded
Regenerates
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 to slashing damage. Each head gives the hydra another attack (but not more HD, XP, or will). Axes, Long Blades, two-handed Polearms, lajatangs, and level 3 claws all cut off hydra heads.

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. If all of a hydra's heads are cut off, it dies instantly. 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. The Summon Hydra spell lets you call a friendly 4- to 12-headed hydra (depending on spell power) to fight for you, but for an extremely short time.

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

Tips & Tricks

  • Hydras max out at 20 heads, at which point they get 20 individual melee attacks per turn. Don't let this happen.
  • They have poison resistance, so poison, curare, 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 down. Do not use an edged freezing weapon, however, as heads will still grow back.
  • If attempting to escape, remember that hydras cannot open doors and do not see invisible.
  • Flaming edged weapons are obvious counters; they 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 the hydra less time to gnaw on you between swings. Just make sure you have the AC to survive a hydra's vicious attacks. 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: Polearms have access to spears, tridents, or demon tridents, while lajatang users can work with a quarterstaff. Axes and Long Blades users can use weapons they've cross-trained with.
    • Trolls, or other unarmed combatants who happen to get level 3 Claws, will have to find another way. A potion of lignification and many transformations will replace your claws with something else, but many alternate forms have low AC, which is a risky proposition when fighting hydras up close.
  • Even characters with only slashing weapons can use certain Invocations:
    • Makhleb: Greater Servants or multiple lesser servants can easily kill hydras.
    • Beogh: Smite works, but incurs a heavy piety cost.
    • Elyvilon: Hydras are natural beasts and can be pacified easily.
    • Lugonu: With high Invocations, you may be able to banish 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.
  • Failing that, ranged weaponry can work well. Other than launchers, the following are easily accessible:
  • Most spellcasters have an easier time with hydras. Level 3+ Conjurations of any school can kill a hydra in 3-6 hits. Enough uses of Summon Ice Beast will fell a hydra, though a hydra with a high number of heads may require more. Ice Form can slow hydras (though its AC is on the low side), while Statue Form gives you the strength and durability to fight back on even footing. However, lightly armoured casters will have a problem if a hydra comes too close; use the Blink spell, an escape item, or just run away.
  • Finally, remember that you don't have to kill everything in Crawl! Going down a different staircase, escaping with a scroll of teleport, or taking a detour into the Orcish Mines are all valid options if hydras prove too tough early on.

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 will be raised with one head. In any case, you can slice their heads off, but they will never grow back regardless of brand. Note that hydra simulacra can have horrifyingly high damage output if you lack cold resistance (+13-38 cold damage per head). Spectral hydras 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.

History

See also