Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NetHack: From the Beginning

Fair warning: this character does not ascend.

NetHack involves so many quirks, vagaries, and complex gameplay elements that I've been having trouble organizing my thoughts. I thought it might be easier to describe a typical game and highlight those characteristics that I encounter along the way.

The game starts with a simple question: "Who are you?" This is the prompt to name the character. Next, the game offers to randomly choose your character class from among 12 types: archaeologist, barbarian, cave-man, elf, healer, knight, priest, rogue, samurai, tourist, valkyrie, and wizard. You also have the option to choose your own. For this illustration, I choose a barbarian.

I am sure that I will eventually explore all of their strengths and weaknesses.

The game then automatically rolls attributes for strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. These are mostly new; the last version I played, 2.3e, had only strength. The scores seem to be influenced by class, but with some randomness built in. You also get an alignment (again, I think based on class; I'm not yet sure what purpose it serves in the game) and a number of hit points. Each character class has a series of titles based on level; barbarians start as "plunderer."

Other statistics along the bottom include the dungeon level, gold, magic power, armor class, experience, and time elapsed. I'm not sure what the "S:" value at the end of the first line means.

The game starts in a dungeon room, which may be populated with monsters, items, or both. The rest of the map remains uncovered until I explore it. I start each game accompanied by a pet--a cat or a dog--which I can name. In this case, I have a kitten and have named her "Gatita." Both kinds of pets attack enemies and retrieve items. Supposedly, pets can be trained to do other things, but I haven't figured that out yet.

Each character has a starting inventory depending on class. Barbarians start with a two-handed sword, an axe, a ring mail, one food ration, and sometimes an additional item like a lamp. They have one of the most basic starting inventories; tourists and wizards start with so many items that you're overburdened at the outset.

Some aspects of the equipment--such as whether a weapon is "blessed"--seem to be random.
In this game, Adam the Barbarian soon encounters a jackal in the same room, which seems to be a low-level monster without any special attacks. Slaying him leaves a corpse; many monsters leave corpses which I can pick up and eat. I know from the last game that many of these corpses make the character sick, and some confer special benefits or curses. I don't remember what a jackal does, but since I'm not desperately hungry, I decide to forgo eating it.

I begin to explore the first level. The ostensible goal of each level is to find the stairway down to the next level, but of course you don't want to go charging down levels without building your character a bit first. I generally make it a policy to fully explore the level before moving onward. But each level features secret doors and passages that are only revealed with multiple searches and it's not really feasible to search every wall space multiple times, so the only ways you know for sure that there's a secret door is if you use a scroll of mapping or if you've explored the visible level and have not yet found the stairs.

As I explore, the game gives me occasional messages about the environment: "you hear some noises in the distance"; "you hear a door open and close"; "you hear bubbling water." I think these are supposed to clue you as to encounters to be found on the level (i.e., noises probably mean that there are more monsters somewhere). I soon come across a ruby potion on the floor. I have no idea what it does, and the only ways that I know to find out are to drink it or to find a scroll of identification. Since I don't have any conditions that I need a potion to cure, I decide to stuff it in my pack for now.

I come across a closed door. I don't believe the previous version of NetHack had doors at all. In this version, they can be opened or closed, and if closed they can be locked or booby-trapped. Locked doors respond to lock picks or just kicking them open. In this case, it wasn't locked, but it was booby-trapped. It blew up and I lost a couple of hit points and spent a few rounds stunned.

In the room beyond, I find 34 gold pieces and the stairway down. Unlike Rogue, where gold just affected your final score, NetHack has shops where you can spend your gold. I haven't been encountering them until dungeon level 3 or 4, however. The room also holds a food ration, which means I now have two. Given how often characters die of starvation in this game, having a good supply always makes me feel better.

A newt--another low-level creature without special attacks--wanders into the room. Fighting monsters with melee weapons simply involves moving into them. However, combat also offers the options of throwing items, zapping with wands, and casting spells (among others I'm sure I haven't discovered). I quickly dispatch the newt with my sword, and my cat eats its corpse. I'm not sure what the rules are governing pets eating corpses. I haven't seen a pet get sick or develop special abilities yet, but maybe that happens without any messages.

Another locked door responds to me kicking it open, and I find a room with several things on the other side. The first is a kobold zombie, which I kill quickly with my sword. There is also a statue of a goblin. I find statues like this everywhere, and I'm not sure what purpose they serve. Are they actual carved statues or beasts turned to stone by a medusa or something? The game lets me pick it up, but I don't see any purpose to that.

There is also a fountain in the room. I've found at least two things that fountains do: First, they can alleviate a little bit of hunger if you drink from them and nothing goes wrong. Second, dipping a weapon into them occasionally causes something good to happen, like the removal of a curse. In this case, nothing happens. My sword only "gets wet," and I find that "the tepid water is tasteless."

Finally, there is some more gold and a large box with a keyhole. This is the game's equivalent of a treasure chest, only I don't have anything to pick the lock with. I try to force the lock with my sword, but it doesn't work. I take the box hoping to find a way to open it later.

Another room has a pancake; my food stockpile is pretty good at this point, although any of the items could be rotten or poisoned and leave me worse off than if I hadn't eaten. I kill a kobold and take a gem from its body; I'm not sure if these serve any purpose except selling.

Another fountain, when I try to drink from it, produces a water nymph. I've only been playing this game for a few hours, but already I hate them. They hypnotize you and steal your stuff. Fortunately, I shrug off her charms this time and kill her in one blow. This brings Adam to level 2, but he only gains 1 extra hit point.

One of the hallways is blocked with a boulder. These appear all over the game and force you to push them out of the way, but sometimes you're blocked by doors, walls, or monsters. You can sometimes squeeze past them if you're not overloaded with inventory. I'm not sure if they serve any other purpose.

By the time I finish exploring the level to my satisfaction, I'm level 3. I have two food rations, a pancake, and a newt corpse in my backpack for food, and I've found three more potions of different colors, all of them still unidentified. I also have (from the water nymph) a mirror, but I'm not sure what it does. When I show it to my cat, she is "frightened by [her] reflection."

I head down to level 2, followed by Gatita. I fight several combats with giant bats and rats. Another bloody water nymph appears out of a fountain and this time steals my armor, my gem, my box, two potions, and my pancake, but Gatita kills it! I guess kittens do serve a useful purpose! I'm able to pick up all my stuff and put my armor back on. As I finish dressing, I finally get hungry. I know from experience that this hunger will transition to weakness, fainting, and finally death if I don't eat. I swallow the pancake and take the edge off.

The sound of someone counting money suggests that there's a shop on the level, but I've already explored everything and haven't found anything. That suggests a secret door somewhere. I have to weigh the length of time it will take me to search (and the consequent hunger I will have to sate) against the likelihood I'll find anything interesting in the shop.

I ultimately find a secret door at the end of a hallway, and behind it a room with a spellbook. Reading spellbooks is the only way to get spells into your inventory, so I decide to brave it and am rewarded with a cure sickness spell. This will come in handy when I eat some rotten food, although I think barbarians have a natural resistance to getting sick from food. (I can't remember why I have this idea; maybe it was a spoiler someone gave me last time.)

I never do find the likely shop, so after a few more combats, I head down to level 3. Hunger appears again, and after I eat, I'm down to only one food ration; all that searching on level 2 cost me dearly. 

A few fights with geckos and kobolds, and then I get caught in a bear trap. There are several types of traps in the game, and bear traps are the most annoying I've encountered so far. You have to spend round after round futilely trying to wrench your leg from them, while you get hungry and expose yourself to monsters. I finally get out and in the same room find a black ring mail. This poses a bit of a quandary. If it's a better suit of armor than my existing ring mail, I should put it on (along with the black cap I found on level 2), but there's always a chance it could be cursed. I decide to take the risk. It isn't cursed, but it's actually worse than the armor I already had, so I take it off.

Later, I come to a dark room, so I use my lamp to light it up. Dark rooms are the same as regular rooms except that the entire room isn't revealed the moment you step into them. I pick up a tin opener in the same room. I've yet to find a tin to open with it, and it doesn't seem to work on the box I'm still lugging around. I find another locked box in a room and break my sword trying to pry it open. Equipping myself with my axe, I vow to leave locked boxes alone from now on. I drop the one I've been carrying since level 1.

I find a scroll labeled XIXAXA XOXAXA XUXAXA. Like potions, the only ways that I know to identify scrolls are to use them or find a Scroll of Identification. I decide to read it and see what it does. All it does is give me a "strange feeling." The game then gives me the option to name the scroll. I call it "Strange Feeling" so that every time I encounter a similar scroll later, I'll know what it did (not that I really know).

A fight with a jackalwere leaves me feeling "feverish" as I prepare to decend to level 4. Moments later, I turn into a jackalwere myself! This causes all my armor to fall off, and for me to become unable to equip weapons.

I decide to see if I can wait out the transformation. It works, but the moment that I return to human form, a gnome lord attacks me and kills me just as I get my weapon in my hand again.

As with every death, the game offers to identify my possessions, I guess just to screw with me and show me what I didn't get a chance to use. It turns out my potions included hallucination, levitation, confusion, and object detection (both cursed and uncursed versions). 

The game taunts me.

What I experienced in this game only scratches the surface of the gameplay elements in NetHack, but it should give you some idea of the game's complexity and major characteristics. I'll probably do my next posting on Galdregon's Domain, but I'll keep popping into NetHack periodically as the year goes on.


  1. Dear CRPG Addict,

    That was a very concise and informative review of Net Hack. I checked the website you linked to in the last post so I had some knowledge before reading, but you really helped me to understand this one more. I will check it out. I wonder how a tourist is supposed to cope with water nymphs and jacklwares - take pictures?

    1. It amuses me to think of the person who finds that camera later.

    2. Taking pictures of monsters is a good idea.

    3. Because it blinds them? I figured that out early on. I assumed the camera had some kind of deeper use, though.

  2. I am not a NetHack player, outside of about a dozen attempts that ended in starvation. But I have read some of the wiki's on it in prep for eventually trying again.

    My understanding is that items are randomized on every new game- to prevent pre-knowledge of what things are. Within a game, every item with the same description and statistics will be identical- i.e. ruby potion, black ring armor. There are some secondary and less obvious things you can learn about items that can help identify them- without getting into spoilers I'll mention item weight. Certain items interact with each other differently in ways similar to real life- if you find unidentified gems you could try writing with one on stone to see if it is a diamond(much harder stone). It also helps to experiment and figure out safe ways to test things.

    If you start building a list of the properties of items you have seen, and fill in based on the identified item data when you die, you can start to build a more educated guess on unidentified items that are safe or dangerous.

    The problem is the sheer size of list of possible items, enchantments, and curses.

    On pets- what I remember is that they can get stuck on a different floor from you if they are not adjacent when you go down a stairwell. There are certain harmful things they will automatically avoid doing. I believe there are pet biscuits; if not then you can try feeding wild animals corpses or other food you have around to tame them, with risk. You can accumulate a menagerie of pets. Food is used as a reward for training pets, but I don't know how you would go about getting them to do behavior you want to reinforce.

    JJ- on the tourist, try it and see :)

    1. Thanks--good examples of light hints. I understood about the randomization of item descriptions, but you've got me thinking about other ways I could "test" the items.

    2. Pet biscuits are known as tripe. You can tame animals with them as well. There is only one behaviour you can train, and you don't have to reinforce it, the more you feed them tripe, the better trained they are. Any tripe you pick up then drop counts towards training.

  3. On the topic of food, the effects of consuming monster corpses in nethack don't change from game to game. That is, if a jackal is safe to eat in one game, it's safe to eat in all games, unlike the mapping between potions and colors for example.

    There are enough monsters that are safe to eat that starvation is actually a pretty uncommon cause of death in nethack (quite the opposite sometimes!). I'd suggest investing a few games in learning which corpses are safe and which are not, rather than waiting until you're out of food rations and potentially destroying a winnable game.

    1. Good tip at the end, except that the monsters change as you advance.

      I'm finding that I'm still struggling with food despite the corpses.

    2. Here's an important tip for learning whether monsters are safe to eat: watch your pet. He always knows what's safe to eat and what isn't. If your pet eats a corpse type like a jackal, all jackals are safe to eat. And once you learn a jackal is safe, all jackals across all games are safe, they do not change like potions.

      Also, a barbarian is a great beginner class because they start the game with poison resistance, so they can eat any non-rotted corpse without suffering the penalty. Any other class that gains poison resistance can similarly eat with abandon.

      In later versions of Nethack, your strength is always raised so that you start the game unburdened.

      Finally, I highly recommend NOT interacting with fountains when your character is low-level. If you think about it, there are only a few good things that can happen, and a lot of bad ones, especially in later version of Nethack. My survival rates went way up once I realized I was risking a lot to gain a little.

    3. The snakes aren't in older versions I take it? That is why I avoid them.

  4. My problem with Nethack (and most of the roguelikes, though this applies mostly to the older ones) is that the odds are SO stacked against you that even if you play perfectly and don't make a single mistake you'll probably fail anyway through no fault of your own. And while I understand that losing is supposed to be part of the fun, winning should also be part of the fun. Playing perfectly five games in a row and losing each time through starving, beartraps, et al, removes so much fun it leaves me cold cold cold.

    And I try. I like most roguelikes and a lot of the newer ones are wonderful.

    And yes, I also play and enjoy DCSS but it too has a lot of the same problems as nethack- play perfectly but get bent over a bench sans lubrication way too often.

    1. Crawl is like that, but Nethack has a lot of ways that really empower the player unless you gimp yourself by choice. There is one really powerful ward you can use, but you would never know about it unless you are spoiled. It raises your chances of survival infinitely, but I don't want to spoil it here.

    2. Perfect play in a roguelike is like perfect play at a blackjack table. Aside from bending the rules, they're the best way to improve the odds of walking away a winner, but it's far too easy to become complacent and loosen your playing style when you're ahead and before you know it you're busted.

    3. That's a good analogy. It would drive me crazy if, say, Skyrim behaved this way, but you play roguelikes knowing what you're getting into.

    4. I found POWDER to be more of my kind of rogue-like. It has far fewer options than NetHack and significantly more forgiving.

    5. Playing NetHack perfectly, with the thorough knowledge of the game, is almost guaranteed to end
      with a win. On the NetHack alt.org server, there are people who ascended more than 20 times in a row. In DCSS, the situation is similar (except the game is less quirky - the Crawl lore is more structured): on the crawl.akrasiac.org server some people have winning streaks 20 of games or more.

    6. To be fair, Elbereth is in the Nethack manual, so I wouldn't count that as spoiling. Figuring out HOW to use it, and the best uses of it, on the other hand...

    7. Okay, the spoiling is already getting out of hand, in my opinion. I've always considered the E word to be an unnecessarily powerful obscure "win button" (sort of like a command line cheat code), although many people disagree. The game is consistently winnable without it.

    8. And I quote the manual:

      Engrave a message on the floor. Engraving the word ``Elbereth'' will cause most monsters to not attack you hand-to-hand (but if you attack, you will rub it out); this is often useful to give yourself a breather. (This feature may be compiled out of the game, so your version might not have it.)

      E- - write in the dust with your fingers. "

      Not exactly the most secret feature of the game. It is LISTED UNDER THE DESCRIPTION FOR THE ENGRAVE COMMAND.

    9. I checked; That statement is unchanged as far back as the Nethack 3.2.3 manual, the oldest hosted on the site (Which I had to pull out of the sourcecode, as the binary download links died). The notes indicate it was last rewritten for v3.0. SO yeah, Things in the manual? Not spoilers.

      So we can also openly tell him food spoils over time for;
      7.4. Food (`%')

      Food is necessary to survive. If you go too long without eating you will faint, and eventually die of starvation. Some types of food will spoil, and become unhealthy to eat, if not protected. Food stored in ice boxes or tins (``cans'') will usually stay fresh, but ice boxes are heavy, and tins take a while
      to open.
      When you kill monsters, they usually leave corpses which are also ``food.'' Many, but not all, of these are edible; some also give you special powers when you eat them. A good rule of thumb is ``you are what you eat.''

      You can name one food item after something you like to eat with the fruit option, if your dungeon has it."

    10. If you keep dying in Crawl despite playing perfectly, you're not playing perfectly. There are really really good players that can win silly amounts of games in a row. I'm not one of them, but I can't recall a time when I died without a tactical or strategic mistake of my own. It can happen, but it's not as often as you make it sound to be. (sorry for jumping on an offtopic tangent, but I'm a DCSS dev and can't seem to let that slip away ;))


    11. I think my main problem may be, then, in trying to remember successfully all the insane things you have to do when faced with an insane situation. All the way down and then all the way back up. And there is so much than can happen, each with an insane thing to do, that there is no way I can possibly keep all this in my head. And any game that requires that is mad. Mad, I tell you.

      Maybe I'm just stupid. I dunno.

    12. @canageek

      I've finished Nethack something like 20 times and I've NEVER read the manual, so, there you go. If Elbereth is in the manual, then I recommend engraving it A LOT to see how it affects monster. Your finger engraving will rub away quickly, though, so remember you can use other items to engrave. Items that are harder will leave the message longer (don't use weapons) and other magical means can last forever.

    13. Really? First thing I did when trying it. I've never found it that useful, to be honest. 1 turn or more per letter? I mostly use it with my cache.

    14. Careful with the spoilers..


    15. I didn't say what I used it for. ^^.

      Actually, that is a good point: I recommend going into your options file (nethack.conf as I recall) and fiddling with it. There are some very useful things, like turing on a view of your XP, number of turns passed, things like that, at least in 3.4.3. I even wrote custom ASCII maps for 2 code pages. I can give you them if you want, and if Nethack 3.0 supports extended IBM graphics.

    16. Canageek is right about the manual, but it wasn't until I read this comment that there WAS a manual contained within the file package. It has a somewhat obscure name, and I figured that the in-game help was the "manual." So thanks for the heads-up. I haven't had much of a chance to try ELBERETH yet.

      But Dave, do keep policing. I have a lot of eager, helpful readers and I worry that after a few more postings, people will be giving me spoilers outright.

      William, I don't think there's anything wrong with just not liking roguelikes. I like some of them enough, but I would never play them exclusively. I like that there are plenty of "regular" CRPGs on my list in between them.

    17. Ah, probably as you aren't familiar with unix or linux, or at least not how files are organized on those systems. /doc/ always contains any documentation related to the game, so it was where I looked for files on how to get started. Also, I suspect that guidebook is the man page for the game; A help file associate with every commandline unix program, invoked by typing 'man nethack' on the command line for a unix system. Unix users (Whom would be the primary audience for this back then) would be innately familiar with that system.

      Documentation that comes with my version:
      README (Specific to the windows version; How to run the game on Windows, changes from Unix/Linux, FAQ)
      NetHack.txt (Manual page, instructions for running the game from the command line)
      Guidebook.txt (Manual on how to play the game)
      opthelp: Guide to editing defaults.nh, a bunch of options for Nethack, some of which cannot be set in the game.

      Version 3.2.2:
      dgn_comp.txt (man page for how to generate your own custom dungeons)
      dlb.txt (Man page for a compression utility that came with Nethack; you can ignore this)
      Guidebook.tex (Hook me up with this and I can make you a very pretty version of the manual)
      Guidebook.txt (Text version of the how-to-play manual.)
      lev_comp.txt (Man page for a level comiler, a tool to make custom levels)
      Nethack.txt (Manual for how to run the game)
      recover.txt (Manual for a tool to recover corrupted or crashed games)
      window.doc (Manual for the windows version of the game).

      Note: This is from the source code file, I don't know which came with the binaries. However, you might check up on any odd files lying around the nethack folder with a text editor (Wordpad should work, NOT notepad, which will strip out all the line breaks)

      I'm looking over the Nethack 3.2.2 source (The oldest I can find) and it has Guidebook.tex, which is a file I can compile into a much nicer looking PDF (When compared to the plain text manual at least); If your version has this version of the guidebook let me know, and I'll give you a nice PDF of the manual.

    18. I just have something called "Guideboo.K." There some other textfiles in here, but they seem to be ones that are called from within the game, like "ENDGAME" (I'm not even going to open it).

    19. Nevermind: I found Nethack 3.0.10's source:

      There is a README file, though minimalistic.
      Back then the options file was called Nethack.cnf not Nethack.nh.

      There is indeed a Nethack.tex file in this version: I've compiled it into a PDF: http://www.scribd.com/doc/98607948 is what you want. Looks a bit nicer then the raw text, doesn't it?

      There is also a 'help' file you might want to read, just basic how to run stuff.

      Also 'opthelp' will help you with your options, and customizing the game. Related: while the option aren't identical, they are close enough I could set up my custom character maps for you, if you tell me what codepage your computer is using.

  5. The squishier classes in the early game (Tourist, Healer, Archaeologists) end up being complete beasts in the end game and vice versa. Experiment with all your commands more (especially dip, you can wield anything as a weapon, and #apply different items such as your Tourists's camera to see what happens) and remember you can eat until you are satiated to be safe so you don't need to lug around corpses (don't let them go bad). I don't want to spoil you too much, so I'll just give you one general non-spoiler tip:

    It is helpful to go down any downstairs immediately as the entire level is generated and the monsters generated are based on your current level. If you gain 2 levels before going down, you'll have a tougher time. It's pretty rare that deadly monsters are gathered around the stairs when you descend. It can happen, of course.

    1. Wow. That IS a great tip, and one I wouldn't have thought of. Thank you.

      Is it possible to tell me without spoilers what MAKES the tourist, etc. "complete beasts" by the endgame? Is it their equipment? Their attributes?

    2. This is hopefully a mild enough spoiler that it won't upset you, but there are certain items that are only usable by specific classes. The 'easier' classes tend to have less useful class-specific items.

      A few more bits of info:

      BacklogKiller already mentioned it, but you really need to be eating corpses more often! If you're not at least satiated, chow down on a monster as soon as you kill it. That will give you extra time to find food when it becomes scarce.

      There are certain monsters that it's bad to eat, but if you take notes, you'll soon figure out which ones they are. It's worth noting that certain classes can eat things other classes can't, but that should be documented in the manual.

      The "S:" in your statistics area is score. I don't remember how it's calculated, but I do know you take a slight penalty if you die.

      Just because an action fails the first time doesn't mean it will always fail. You already know this from searching, but things like forcing chests fall under that too.

      As you've discovered, snapping your weapon is one of the ways you can fail to force a chest. It only applies to edged weapons, though. If you have a blunt weapon, you can use it to bash a chest open, though this carries its own risks (which should be obvious if you think about it).

    3. Healers have a particular attribute that makes them powerful late game, but tourists and archaeologist don't have too much that makes them stand out.

    4. They aren't bad early game either; Decent starting weapon, good spells and a food source. If you find some good attack spells they are pretty sweet.

    5. I have to start tracking how far I get with each character to determine if there are any clear correlations.

    6. Certain classes have more affinity for spellcasting due to higher intelligence and wisdom. But spell failure rates increase dramatically with almost all armor types, and it's completely possible to ascend without over casting a spell. Healer, tourist, and archaeologist are probably the hardest for a new player since they lack good offensive capabilities in the early game.

    7. Dave said it. Once you get some better equipment, things really even out. Then those classes are able to gain expert proficiency in some unique items that are the best weapons in the game. They also become good spell casters whereas this skill is markedly missing in other classes considered "easier" in the game like Barbarians or Valkyries.

      Also, people talk about Tourists being really tough early on, but if you let your pet kill dangerous things and USE YOUR DARTS (People really discount these weapons) you can do pretty well until you get your hands on better equipment. And, luckily, literally anything you pick up is better than what you have at the beginning (nothing).

    8. There should be a log file listing what level you get to with each character.

    9. The big things that makes Tourists great to have in the endgame aren't added until at least Nethack 3.1. We're still in the time when they're considered to be a challenge class. Although a longstanding problem with Nethack is that classes that might seem very different from each other in the early game all end up looking pretty much the same towards the end.

      I could be posting dozens of spoilers right now, but I don't know how much you want so have been keeping my mouth shut. Some guidance concerning how much you want would be nice.

    10. From the previous post: "I understand that these aspects of the game have been exhaustively documented on various fan sites, and people are still discovering them today. Many readers have encouraged me to read these "spoilers." I might eventually. For now, though, I intend to try it clean, which means I'd ask you not to give me any spoilers in the comments, save perhaps some light hints, unless I specifically ask for them. In all cases, please comment only on things that I specifically mention in my postings. My biggest mystery right now is what I'm supposed to do with a kitten--but I'm not asking for help yet."


    11. Fred, thanks for the tips. I wouldn't call those outright spoilers. I appreciate the hints.

      John, thanks for your willingness to help out, but Eino has it right. Please, everyone, offer hints on things that I specificially ask for or that you see me doing wrong in my descriptions.

    12. I have seen evktalo, napkin and maybe a few others I recognize from the dcss dev IRC room so When you get around to crawl they should be helpful in any questions you have. I still think you should also do crawl in the same manner you are playing nethack because to me the different major versions feel like completely different games.

    13. Ooh, what fun it will be to determine what versions to play. The downside is the waiting.. Crawl's not a very good game at the state is was around 1997. 3.30 comes in 2000, and 4.0.0b26 was released in 2002. There's also the unplayable (balance-wise) 4.1 alpha released in 2005. And you don't get to Stone Soup's interface improvements until 2006. You could also argue that even Stone Soup should be pieced into separate releases. Oh well, these all are still years ahead in the future. Who knows how many Crawl versions there will be in the meantime. There's at least one playable fork (Crawl Light) and another, based on 4.1a, on the way.


  6. I haven't played NetHack before, but I'd guess corpses (and other food maybe) can spoil after a time, so the best time to eat them is right away unless you can cook them or something.

    1. Let's just say that he's already stumbled over a hint of what you can do to corpses ;)

  7. it seems 3.0 is pretty close from the last version. If I remember Galdragon's domain well ( sort of a bastardized action rpg with adventure feel) it is far below the 3.0. I wish I knew Nethack back in the day.

  8. Based on your post:

    Jackals are good too eat, as long as they are fresh. Most monsters are, and the ones that aren't are pretty obvious (If they hurt you to touch it, don't eat it). For the most part. Cannibalism might be a bad idea.

    Abvfrf va gur qvfgnapr = pbzong ba guvf yriry
    Ohooyvat jngre = sbhagnva be fvax (Sbetrg juvpu, be obgu)
    Qbbe bcra be pybfr vf frys-rkcynargbel

    Your pet will not eat dangerous food. This is a good way to tell if you can eat something.

    Statues are made of stone. They can also be smashed. These two things are both important, but unrelated.

    Minor hint regarding best Forcing practices:
    Or pnershy sbepvat ybpxf, lbhe jrncba pna oernx. Nyfb hfvat oyhag jrncbaf vf n onq vqrn, vg pna fznfu gur pbagragf. Nyfb, lbh pna gel nf znal gvzrf nf lbh jnag.

    Water nymphs are great foes, due to na vgrz gurl fbzrgvzrf unir. I prefer taking them on with ranged weapons. You can after all, throw anything.

    Boulders are made of stone.

    Pbhagvat zbarl zrnaf gurer vf n inhyg; Lbh arrq gb qvt gb trg gb bar.

    Hint on cursed items:
    Crgf qba'g yvxr gb jnyx ba phefrq vgrzf. Gurl jvyy arire cvpx gurz hc.

    Have you found an alter yet? Those are amazingly useful.

    Also: Have they not added IBM or DEC graphics yet? Those make it look so much nicer.

    1. Thanks for the help, C. I appreciate the ROT-13, but just a warning to everyone: I don't want any explicit spoilers, even in ROT-13.

      I've started to create a detailed spreadsheet on items, monsters, and events, which I'll share soon.

    2. Ah, sorry. I'll be more careful in future. I'll post all spoilers in a new encryption scheme, and then not tell you want it is. ^^ Wait....

    3. Now I suddenly understand your comment a post back about Healer having a special spell that does something. How gruesome!

  9. Another light hint: Pet's are also averse to curses... watch what they do around those types of things.

  10. Realms of QuestJune 27, 2012 5:28 AM

    I've made my retro RPG game "Realms of Quest III" for the Commodore VIC-20 publicly available. I figured that after sales of it tapered off at around 50 physical copies sold (yes, you could actually buy a disk copy with jewel case and 36-page printed manual), that I pretty much reached the maximum potential audience of VIC-20 users who happen to have 32KB of memory expansion.

    You can download a digital copy here:

    Realms of Quest III now freely available

    You don't actually need a Commodore VIC-20 to run this, I include an emulator with the download, and you can run the game by double clicking on the appropriate .bat file (so it works in Windows). Also included are Realms I+II and other games.

    I don't know what the chances are of having the CRPG Addict review it and put it through the rigors of the GIMLET scale (it's not a PC game). I suspect I know what the score would be, especially considering that it's a game that embraces dungeon crawling and level grinding just for the sake of it.

    Video of Realms of Quest III

    1. I am checking that out right now, me is. I just some internet guy but I tell you what I think anyway.

    2. I don't want to promise anything I don't have time to deliver, but I'll try to get to it. You've been a valuable commenter, and I'd certainly like to support your efforts.

    3. Thank you. Take your time, I understand that committing yourself to playing an RPG is quite time consuming.

  11. Giauz

    Was that me CA? If so I'm flattered (to be a mighty barbarian, YEAH!), and I know you tried to get us the amulet and scram, ha ha.....ha... :*(

    1. Ha! No, sorry. I have to make so many characters in the game, I've just been going through names in the Bible, in the order that they appear. I'm on Magog now.

    2. That's a brilliant naming scheme. At one point, I was bored with making up names and began with "Groo I" the Barbarian. By "Groo XXI" it started feeling a little bleak.


    3. Whoops! That is a neat idea, though. Many of those early named people are never expanded on. Huzzah! a conclave of men (some unknown but mentioned none the less)and the more famed men on a quest to... mostly die for an amulet with a name that's realy just Rodney spelled backwards? Well, one of them is bound to prove that they are the most dangerous monster in the dungeon (though the Bible is not short on names, not to mention that some branches of Christianity have a few more to add to the list, I'll be surprised if you don't burn through them all before winning the game as extensive and hard as it has been reputed to be). Wish you luck!

      PS. That DnD pack got to you right? Just think maybe ten years from now you can name your Baalspawn "Tron."

    4. Reading through the bible would be too annoying for me. I might get a list of famous scientists off Wikipedia next time I play though.

  12. I've never played a Roguelike, and probably never will, but I do find your descriptions of learning the game fascinating. After reading through the posts and comments, it seems to me that one needs a very scientific approach to the game, as a big part of success is figuring out, through trial & error, what different commands can do, what special attacks monsters can have, which items are useful in which ways, etc. To my mind then, you're actually making it *harder* on yourself by letting the game randomly choose a class for you each time you play. You should be *reducing* the number of variables, instead of increasing them. If you're playing the tourist and figure out what the camera does, that's progress. But later, if you're playing a barbarian, knowing what the camera does may be useless and thus represents no progress. On the other hand, figuring out that the barbarian has a better chance of eating corpses without getting sick is progress, unless you're playing another class. This idea would apply even more if there are class-specific items/abilities later in the game--figuring out a way to overcome a potential threat or obstacle once with one class is of less usefulness if you then play other classes that may not have that special item/ability. In other words, as I take it, the goal is to ascend (once), not ascend with every class.

    The hard part, I admit, is how do you pick which class to stick with, especially if some are easier than others to win with :)

    1. It's not quite as hard as you make it out, since every time you die the game tells you what intrinsics your character had. All you have to do is lose a character of each class on an early level to know that barbarians have poison resistance, elves have stealth, and so forth. Other class differences simply boil down to starting equipment. By mid-game, everyone has pretty much the same stuff and the class distinctions largely disappear except perhaps in spellcasting.

      You wouldn't know any of this from this post, of course. I didn't figure it out until much later in my NH experience.

      As you'll see if you keep reading my NH entries, I ultimately did look at spoilers to help me win the game. While I'm glad I did--I never would have won otherwise--I'm also glad that I spent some time at least TRYING to learn things on my own.


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