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Typically I'm a human lawful valk (good starting class as I can't really get past mid-game yet), and I'm curious if I should consider switching (or adding) pets.

I'll usually level my cat/dog up decently well...letting them take the majority of the kills and so on to support me in the early game. When I get to the mid-game (sokoban, lower mines, quest, etc) I seem to die...quite often, and I'm wondering if a change of pet would be beneficial for me.

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I find it hard not to have at least two pets by then, often more. –  Mark Hurd Oct 17 '12 at 6:07
    
Just your typical cat/dog though? –  espais Oct 17 '12 at 13:39
    
A useful non-cat/dog pet is a horse. They need a good source of vegetables to eat though. –  Mark Hurd Oct 17 '12 at 23:31
    
add an answer and i'll accept...no activity here –  espais Oct 21 '12 at 20:50
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@Justin As I imply in my answer, if the animal is a pet-like creature and not actively hostile, you befriend it by offering (throwing) it food it likes. There may be alignment issues too, but I don't know them. Once it becomes a pet your other pet(s) stop attacking it (unless there's other magic going on). –  Mark Hurd Oct 23 '12 at 2:09
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Once you are strong enough to venture the lowest levels of Gnomish Mines and preferably have a magic whistle, find a polymorph trap and push Fido right into it by either magic whistle or displacing. Chances are you'll end up with something lame like a pet hobbit, but polymorph traps will stay right where they are until you step into it yourself so you can keep doing it until you get something nice.

A few great pets:

  • A mind flayer has a psychic attack that damages all enemies on the level.
  • Dragons of all colors are powerful fighters and can be saddled and ridden.
  • Angelic beings (esp. Archons), vampires and liches hit very hard and can use weapons and armor.
  • Purple worms are my favorite. They engulf enemies whole.

Cool sounding pets that you will regret:

  • A cockatrice stones enemies - and their master who tries to displace them without gloves.
  • A gremlin that touches water will soon be 150 gremlins. Good luck getting them to follow you.
  • A green slime turns enemies to hostile green slime.
  • Any hard hitting monster once you don your ring of conflict.
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I'm no expert, but I have on several occasions used a wand of polymorph on my initial cat/dog/horse. Sometimes I had to hit them several times before they changed into something fearsome-sounding. I eventually ended up with a pet black dragon. This could still be leashed, and instantly destroyed other monsters that I regard as powerful, such as shopkeepers.

There are presumably downsides to this. Does the polymorph have a chance of causing your pet to become not-tame? And presumably, if it becomes not-tame through some other means later on, then you have to deal with a dragon instead of just a grumpy dog.

My memory is hazy, but perhaps my dragon's reflecting beam/breath/whatever attacks might be hazardous too? I don't seem to recall it being a problem though. Perhaps pets don't use their beam attack?

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Using a wand of polymorph on a weak pet has a fairly good chance of killing it outright from system shock (same deal with zapping yourself at lv 1), and it's usually better to save the charges for polymorphing items (or maybe a strong pet that can handle the polymorph). Repeatedly displacing a pet onto a polytrap is usually a better way to get a strong pet (no chance of system shock, plus you don't waste a finite resource). –  Wooble Nov 6 '12 at 11:18
    
Makes sense, thanks @Wooble –  Jonathan Hartley Nov 6 '12 at 11:40
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A useful non-cat/dog pet is a horse. They need a good source of vegetables to eat though.

I often find I have at least a couple of pets by the time you get to sokoban -- not that I have to have them though. I suppose this is because I'm dying a lot around those levels, leaving ex-pets which are fairly aggressive to me although my current pets kill them fairly easily if I don't feed them.

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