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Recently, while I was playing Nethack, I drank from a fountain and it created a water nymph, which then paralyzed my and stole almost all of my items. I followed it further into the dungeon, but, when attempting to attack it, it simply stole another item and teleported away.

So, how should I deal with a water nymph? Are there any optimal ways of killing her or escaping from her?

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Each time you attack, as long as you actually hit you are doing damage and so it will eventually die if you just followed it around.

However, there's a few other things you can try - sometimes the Nymph might attack a floating eye and be frozen, allowing you to attack it freely.

  • If you have a pet, and they attack first, this can sometimes allow you to do enough damage before they then manage to freeze you too.

  • Wands with projectile attacks allow you to attack from a distance, meaning it can't freeze you, or you could polymorph/teleport the nymph away too.

  • If you're carrying a mirror (?) then the nymph will always take this first and depending how quickly you unfreeze then you maybe able to kill it immediately after it takes this.

  • Also you could go extreme and just genocide all the nymphs, tho I believe they do drop some useful items.

The most obvious tip tho, is to not drink from fountains, until you're ready to take on everything that can spawn from them...

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I like to zap them with a spell or wand of sleep and then kill them safely. Another good option is a poisoned projectile weapon. Besides, nymphs are weak, so a cat or dog can actually finish them off alone, you just wait and watch from a distance. As a side note, I think if you can it's best to leave them alive, just avoid them, because they may become handy to steal a cursed item you accidentally wear or wield (not in this case though, since she already stole some useful items from you).

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