Pudding farming involves finding a black pudding (or occasionally brown pudding) and dividing it repeatedly before killing any of the puddings. Players do this to generate large numbers of death drops and corpses (for sacrifice); expert pudding farmers can actually fill entire levels with the divided puddings and obtain several hundred pages of items from the result. Farming is sometimes called "divide & conquer" or "divide & ascend" tactic.
Pudding farming is slow
Pudding farming is a slow process, especially at the start. The wielding of a weapon that deals any significant amount of damage tends to kill the puddings faster than they can divide. Pudding farmers prefer weapons that deal low damage (or even non-weapon iron items) when splitting puddings. A weapon used in this manner is often named a "Puddingbane". A typical Puddingbane is dull from engraving and thoroughly corroded by the black puddings themselves.
Critics decry the act as scumming because it allows one to (relatively) quickly obtain all of the possible benefits of sacrifices and causing items that were normally extremely rare to be common. For example, amulets of life saving could become as common as the player would like them to be.
- Farm over an altar, the corpses can be sacrificed without moving them.
- Consider naming Puddings. This will cause them to form separate piles which is especially important if some of the puddings are too old to be sacrificed.
- The ideal spot is a level with an altar and a sink.
- Since the ideal isn't always found, you can also lead them down stairs to a lower altar.
- Or, you can tame one, take it anywhere in the dungeon, then un-tame it at a nearby trap.
- Use Elbereth squares (ideally with the word burned) to control Pudding movement.
Intention of the DevTeam?
Some in RGRN have requested that the DevTeam put some cap against the process of pudding farming. There are a few different ways that this might be done; for example the RGRN thread Is Nethack too easy? (spoilers) from January 2006. Ideas included having puddings become more powerful as you kill them, preventing cloned puddings from dropping corpses and items, and forcing pudding division to respect extinction.
Pudding farming is not a modern invention; this post from 1993 talks about farming brown puddings. Several NetHack versions later, the game still allows pudding farms.
At 16 October 2006, the Shrewd Dude posted a guide, How to Raise the Perfect Pudding. In 13 years, players have invented many strategies for more effective pudding farms, but they have also become bored. Jove stated in reply, "The DevTeam has arranged an automatic and savage punishment for pudding farming. It's called pudding farming."
Pudding farming in SLASH'EM is a lot less productive than in Vanilla, reducing its use and/or scumming ability greatly. First, the puddings will never drop items, so they can only be used for their corpses: Getting resistances and sacrifice gifts is still a big help, however. Thus, brown puddings are actually much better than their black cousins, since they are infinitely safer, and provide the same benefits. Also note that since your god will often send you minions, you must deal with those, or else have your entire crop of pudding killed. Thus, while it might be useful for sacrifice gifts and resistances, pudding farming is no longer potentially game-breaking, as it is in vanilla.
- Strangely enough, all monsters with no hands will never have death drops in SLASH'EM, see SLASH'EM 0.0.7E7F2/mon.c#line2095