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A holding attack prevents the player from moving away from a monster. If you try to move away, you waste that turn and get the message "You cannot escape from the <monster>!". There are three types of holding attacks:
The grabbing attack is most famously possessed by owlbears. This is reflected by the messages "<monster> grabs you!" or "You are being crushed.". In the case of rope golems, the message is "You are being choked.". Apart from the inability to move (and extra damage from being crushed) there are no additional ill effects.
The following monsters possess a grabbing attack:
The drowning attack is a two-move instadeath possessed by some sea monsters, which is deadly even to high level characters. It occurs when the player is held by a monster, and pulled into a moat or pool, effectively causing death by drowning. It is impossible for a drowning attack to succeed if you are wearing an uncursed or blessed oilskin cloak or if your outermost item is greased; this is part of the reason why items of armour are largely wished for greased. If you can cancel the drowning monster before it swings itself around you, its drowning attack is prevented.
If you see the message "<Monster> swings itself around you!" (or The python grabs you!), you usually have only one turn to escape death by drowning (except if the monster is a kraken, which is very slow and will not get its next attack for at least three turns). On this turn, you can:
- Engrave Elbereth, if you are on land (couatl ignore Elbereth).
- Otherwise scare the monster (e.g. mirror, tooled horn, expensive camera)
- Try to kill the monster in one turn, or put it to sleep (this can be risky unless the method is guaranteed, e.g. magic flute, guaranteed hit with already-wielded potion of sleeping)
- Teleport it away
- Freeze or otherwise alter the terrain the monster is on so that it is no longer liquid water.
- Wear an amulet of magical breathing (you will still be held by the creature)
- If you are levitating in a controlled fashion over dry land, stop levitating and the monster will become startled, releasing you. Note that this will only work if your source of levitation can be removed in one turn (e.g. you can still be drowned even if you attempt to remove levitation boots)
- Read an uncursed or blessed scroll of earth, which will turn all the water around you into land. You will still drown reading a cursed scroll as it only drops a boulder on your own head, and does not interrupt the attack coming from the adjacent square. This does not work on the Plane of Water, and has a 10% chance of failure anywhere else, as the boulder may sink without a trace.
- Tame it with a scroll of taming or spell of charm monster. Most drowning monsters have no MR, but couatl have a 30% chance to resist, and of course the spell is dependent on your power and casting success rate.
The following monsters possess a drowning attack:
- Couatl (note that the couatl is a land monster, and it must be encountered near water for the drowning attack to work)
- Electric eel
- Giant eel
A sticky attack is a silent holding attack that differs from grabbing attacks and drowning attacks because it is preventable by having high magic cancellation. The large and giant mimics use the sticking attack, and they have the additional property of sticking to you if you stumble upon them while they are mimicking an object. Note that you will still stick to the mimic, even if you use a wand of digging to create a hole underneath you.
The following monsters possess a sticky attack: