Tuesday, March 5, 2024

NetHack [3.1]: Quest for Glory

Returning home for the elf quest.
This NetHack session saw me go back to the Gnomish Mines, all the way to the bottom, then back up and down the regular shaft to dungeon Level 18, then back up to to Level 8, then to my "home," then down to Level 5 of a special dungeon where I had a quest for the elves. It took about 6 hours. The total time I have with this character is approaching 10 hours, which is longer than it took me to win the previous versions of Hack and NetHack, which is making me rethink my overall approach to the game.
For now, Abastunagi the Elf is relatively blessed. I don't know whether this version is just a little easier than others, or whether I've just been lucky, but I wasn't seriously challenged by any enemy during this entire session. Only twice did my hit points dip below half of maximum, and both times I was being a bit careless. Once, I was fighting a blue jelly in melee range, forgetting that it has a massive cold-based attack. The second time, I got trapped in an energy vortex and came quite close to dying before a final attack against its walls killed it. I think I was down to 4 hit points. My Ring of Regeneration had me back up to full power within a few moves, though. That thing is definitely worth the extra food it consumes.
Otherwise, this session was mostly good news, with these things happening in roughly this order:

1. When I was heading back down the Gnomish Mines, I got attacked by a tengu on Level 7. Tengu, as I remember from previous games, can inflict Teleportitis when you eat their corpses. This disease causes you to teleport at random moments, which is a liability unless you also have Teleport Control, at which point it becomes a huge asset. You can jump across maps, escape from enemies, and access blocked locations. Since I was carrying a Ring of Teleport Control, I decided to go for it. I ate the corpse. "You feel in control of yourself," the game said. Apparently, tengu corpses can give you Teleport Control as well as Teleportitis. I had just gained the former, making the ring superfluous, but otherwise doing nothing for me until I gained Teleportitis.
What do I have to eat in real life to feel in control of myself?
2. At the town in the Gnomish Mines, I put my stack of Potions of Water on the altar, prayed, and got Potions of Holy Water. I had five of them at the time. I used them to bless other items and make copies of themselves. I also sacrificed several enemies on the altar but never got anything but hopeful feelings and four-leaf clovers. I spent most of this session with my +1 blessed very rusty elven shortsword as the primary weapon.
Yeah, I hope you'll give me a damned artifact.
3. I went back to Level 13 of the Gnomish Mines and searched it exhaustively based on intelligence that there were artifacts to find there. All I found were a Wand of Digging and a lamp. I wonder if the guaranteed artifacts aren't something from a later version.
4. The blue jelly encounter occurred on dungeon Level 8. After I backed off, regenerated, and killed it with darts, I ate its corpse. "You feel full of hot air," the game said, indicating that I'd gotten the "Resist Cold" intrinsic.
Check another one off the list.
5. Dungeon Level 16 was the famous Rogue level. Its graphics are meant to look like the ur-roguelike that NetHack is based on. Late in the level, I killed the ghost of Michael Toy, one of the creators of Rogue.
It's a fun homage, but it doesn't look notably "more primitive" than the typical NetHack level.
6. On Level 17, I found a room full of killer bees and a killer bee queen. They posed no danger to me. After I wiped them out, I picked up about 10 royal jellies. Not only are they a great source of food, every time you eat one, your strength goes up a bit. I'm already at 18, so all my increases are just nudging me incrementally toward 19.

7. Also on Level 17, I met a leprechaun. I killed him with a blast of a Wand of Cold before he could steal any of my gold. Then I ate his corpse. "You feel very jumpy," the game said. I had acquired Teleportitis. From this moment, I could deliberately jump anywhere on a level with CTRL-T or just wait for it to activate organically. (It subtracts from your "power," so you can't use it indefinitely.) It frankly feels almost too powerful.
It's admittedly kind of annoying when I don't want to teleport, but then I just specify my current position.
8. I didn't note where I got each one, but by the end of this session, I had the following spells: "Magic Missile," "Knock," "Remove Curse," "Create Monster," "Restore Ability," "Cure Blindness," "Slow Monster," and "Detect Food." I really would like to get "Identify" as a spell.
9. Late in the session, I grabbed a random long sword to replace my rusty elven shortsword. I pumped a few Scrolls of Enchant Weapon into it and got it up to +3. 

10. At some point, I identified a pair of boots that I'd grabbed god-knows-where, and they turned out to be a blessed pair of Speed Boots. When I put them on, I finally got rid of the last rusty item from the last session.
This entire time, I had been stuck on character Level 12. I had been carrying a Potion of Gain Level most of this session, but I didn't want to quaff it until I hit Level 13 organically. On Level 18 of the dungeon, though, I met my first wraith, killed it, and ate its corpse for an immediate jump to Level 13. At that point, I quaffed the potion and went directly to Level 14.
Not for the first time, I admire a character with the willpower to actually eat some of these corpses.
These level increases promoted me to "Arandur," so I hiked all the way back up to Level 8 and the portal to "Home 1." There, I returned to Earendil and finally got the quest.
In a full text screen, Earendil explained that a Uruk-hai Overlord has recently conquered the goblin tribes in the area, and the Goblin King currently serves as the overlord's puppet. Their raids against the elves have become more effective; on a recent one, they managed to steal the Palantir of Westernesse. ("Palantir" is, of course, named after the American software company that provides data services to intelligence organizations; "Westernesse" is just gibberish.) Earendil wanted me to go into the Goblins' Cave and retrieve it before the Goblin King could deliver it to the Uruk-hai Overlord. The entrance to the cave opened right there in the elves' circle.
Why don't I just go kill this Uruk-hai Overlord?
It was a pretty easy quest. The caves were five levels down, full of different types of orcs, ogres, uruk-hai, goblins, bugbears, and similar creatures, none of which remotely pose any sort of threat to me. I mowed through them, picking up a few useful items on the way, probably missing many others (orcs carry a ton of stuff). The Goblin King's castle was on Level 5. I arrived in a room west of a central room. My telepathy sensed monsters in a pattern that suggested that the central room was surrounded by rings of corridors, but I didn't get to experience those.
As I pushed my way towards the central throne room, the orcs killing each other in their attempts to hit me with various missile weapons, the Goblin King somehow ended up on the other side of me, between me and the stairs I'd come down. I hit him a few times, and he fled up the stairs. I followed him and didn't see him on the earlier level. I put on my blindfold, and he was already all the way across the dungeon next to the stairs up to Level 3. I teleported myself over there and blocked the stairs, then killed him. His corpse had the Palantir--which weighed me down significantly for the rest of my time in the caves--and a silver bell.
Fighting a line of orcs while the Goblin King somehow appeared behind me.
As he died, the Goblin King said, "You have defeated me, Arandur! But I curse you one final time, with my dying breath! You shall die before you leave my castle!" Since I had already left his castle, that threat was a little empty. I itched to go back and finish exploring the castle, but the game said: "You must now return [the Palantir] to Earendil without delay--their lives depend on your speed." I decided that messing around in the caves while overburdened and going back to a place where the king specifically said he'd planted a curse to kill me was one of those stupid decisions that veteran NetHack players don't make.
When I returned to the surface, Earendil expressed surprise that I survived. He told me to take the Palantir with me. I groaned, thinking of all the equipment I'd have to drop to accommodate its weight, but somehow it became lighter after the end of the quest. Also, at some point, the silver bell turned into a Bell of Opening.
My aura proclaims it, and the fact that I'm holding it here in my hands also proclaims it.
I tried using the Palantir a couple of times after getting it. It says, "You may look for an object or monster symbol" and prompts you to input a value. You can only type a single character. I've tried a few things, but it just says that the result is "unclear."
At this point, I ran into a problem: I can't figure out how to get back to the dungeon from the elf circle. The first time I visited, Earendil tossed me back automatically when I wasn't a high enough level, but he doesn't send me back automatically now. I know that I arrived on the western part of the map, but there doesn't seem to be any teleporter there. So I saved here to ask for help. I'm sure I'm overlooking something obvious.
How do I get out of here?
Other than the last bit above, things I don't understand:
  • Occasionally, a monster is roaming around. If I move to attack it, the game will ask, "Really attack the (whatever)?" I always say no in these cases. I think it's because those monsters are the same alignment as I am, but sometimes I'll find other versions of the same creature that are hostile. Can monsters have individual alignments? 
  • Is there anything worth doing with non-aligned altars? I found one on Level 14, but I didn't know if it would be worth messing with it.
  • I have over 6,000 gold pieces and I haven't seen a shop since the early levels. Is there any benefit to picking up gold at this point in the game? I feel like there was a way to sacrifice it at an altar in a previous version, but I couldn't figure out how to do it here.
  • I realized during this session that earlier versions of NetHack showed your experience, not just your current level. Is that a setting I'm missing?
  • What do other players do when chasing the Goblin King? Can he actually get away?
Finally, because it doesn't come through in the narrative above, I thought I'd cover all the things I do on a regular basis to keep myself alive. I learned all these strategies the hard way from previous games of NetHack:
  • I frequently don and remove my blindfold so that I can use my ESP to see what monsters are in the area. I do it every time I arrive on a level and just about every time I enter a corridor. 
  • I identify each enemy I'm not sure about to remind myself of their strengths and weaknesses. 
Checking things out on the killer bee level.
  • I force myself to take a beat between movements, scanning the area and my hit point total.
  • I mostly don't try unidentified scrolls and potions, at least not now that I'm so far into the game.
  • I shoot enemies at range when I can. I haven't found a good permanent missile weapon, so the specific items that I used for ranged attacks come and go frequently depending on my encumbrance. There are times that I get down to darts or wands.
  • I engrave ELBERETH on the floor when I'm particularly afraid of an enemy, though that didn't come up during this session.
Still, I realize that there are entire parts of the game for which I have no idea what I'm doing. I abandoned my pet on Level 1, for instance, and I know there's a whole science to leveling pets, using pets in combat, getting pets to help you test things, and probably lots of other stuff. I have also never seriously tried to use the game's self-polymorph mechanic, which lets you turn into a variety of monsters and use their strengths and weaknesses, including (I think) eating magic rings to gain intrinsics.
But the real gap in my knowledge is what happens next. In previous versions of NetHack, what I would do now is go to Level 30, the castle level, find the Wand of Wishing, finish my ascension kit, and then enter Hell looking for the Wizard of Yendor. Once I found him, I would kill him, claim the Amulet of Yendor, and make my way back to the surface. I thought that was complicated enough, but I guess this version makes it even more complicated, but I don't know the specific steps. I'll consider looking at spoilers at some point. In the meantime, my question is: what else do I need before I hit the lower levels? What items or intrinsics would you not move on without?
Finally, I have to tell you that when I finished this session, I backed up the game files. Partly this is to prevent me from losing the character by doing something idiotic, which I nearly did while writing this entry. I fired up the game to remind myself about some inventory items and then, having answered my questions, nearly killed the emulator without saving the game. Since the game deletes your character file when you start up, that would have been the end of my character.
But there's another reason, too: I'm not sure that I can go with my original plan to field 10 characters while adhering to permadeath. This is only Character #3 (I said I wouldn't count quick deaths on the early levels), and I've already got 16 hours into the game. I think it would make more sense to back up Abastunagi periodically (my standard with other versions was every two dungeon levels), try my best not to need them, but to otherwise win the game by using those backups first, then try it again with a couple more characters, adhering to permadeath on subsequent runs.
I'll give it some thought and I'm happy to take opinions. I really enjoy NetHack, but I can't have it stopping all progress through 1993.
Time so far: 17 hours


  1. Arthurdawg here... the palantir were the seeing stones in LOTR and the Numenoreans were often referred to as the men of westernesse! I think you might be joshing with us however!

  2. "Palantir" is, of course, named after the American software company [...]

    Well played, well played indeed ;)

    1. AlphabeticalAnonymousMarch 5, 2024 at 2:44 PM

      My own personal 'fan fiction' theory is that CB is an utter savant of the legendarium, steeped in the lore of all things Tolkien. All his comments to the contrary are just to throw us off from ever uncovering his true identity.

    2. I bet even Tolkien would have been amused reading Chester's line.

  3. Well, I'm not familiar enough with NetHack (especially with ascension!) to answer most of your questions, but I *can* answer the one about non-aligned altars: If you sacrifice on them, there is a chance of converting them to your god. However, there are also chances of less-good things happening—like converting *you* to the god the altar is to.

    I also suspect that the "Really attack X?" prompts are when the monster is generated as "peaceful". Some monsters generate as peaceful sometimes, some always if you have a certain race or alignment, and some never, I believe. (For instance, if you are an elf, supposedly elves will always generate peaceful.) If you attack a peaceful creature, it can turn them hostile and...I think make your god less happy with you? But don't quote me on the last part (especially when there are definitely more knowledgeable players here).

    1. > there are also chances of less-good things happening—like converting *you* to the god the altar is to.

      That can only happen if your Alignment is negative - for example if you have been killing Peaceful monsters. If your alignment is positive, trying to convert altars is perfectly safe, even if the attempt fails you only lose a little bit of luck, which is fine.

    2. IIRC that's only true for randomly-generated (and I think unattended) altars. Those with priests or the special ones on various levels may not be safe.

    3. Early game altars in Adom were useful for changing your own alignment, as small sacrifices (eg 1 gold) would nudge your alignment towards an altar’s. Large sacrifices (eg monsters) did the reverse, ala Nethack.

      Adom also has the hostile/non-hostile/friendly tags. Attacking a monster that isn’t hostile nudges you towards evil, but the ‘really attack?’ only triggers on friendly creatures. To avoid attacking non-hostiles you have to observe their movement (they don’t beeline towards you) or use the ‘?’ command.

      I’ve never played Nethack and am surprised how closely Adom hews to it. For some reason I was under the impression that Adom was derived from Angband.

    4. @codrus: I'm not quite sure about whether there's a risk to your alignment from converting an altar with a priest attending it, but the priest will definitely not be happy!

      Priests at altars give an answer to another question Chester asked (at least in 3.4.3):

      Lbh pna gel punggvat gb gur cevrfg, jub jvyy nfx sbe n qbangvba. Rira vs gur cevrfg vf abg bs lbhe nyvtazrag, lbh pna fpber na rkgen pbhcyr cbvagf bs nezbe pynff ol tvivat rabhtu zbarl. Gur nzbhag bs zbarl erdhverq ng yrnfg va yngre irefvbaf vf 400 gb 600 gvzrf lbhe pheerag rkcrevrapr yriry, fb lbh'yy unir fbzr hfr sbe nyy gung tbyq rira vs lbh qba'g svaq nal zber fubcf.

    5. Thanks, Matt. I had forgotten that the priest was the key. I thought I had to #offer it on the altar itself.

  4. Hmm, I've never done this quest but... speaking from a game design perspective, maybe you need to ask the Palantir where to find the '<' or the '#'? (or whatever the teleport symbol is) as a 'tutorial' for how to use the Palantir? (so the game won't let you leave until you've shown you can use it. This seems unlikely but possible)

  5. I've answered some of your questions, ROT13'd them in case you don't want spoilers.

    I can't figure out how to get back to the dungeon from the elf circle.
    Cerggl fher gur 'genc' va gur hccre yrsg vf gur zntvp cbegny onpx gb gur erthyne qhatrba.

    Occasionally, a monster is roaming around. If I move to attack it, the game will ask, "Really attack the (whatever)?" I always say no in these cases. I think it's because those monsters are the same alignment as I am, but sometimes I'll find other versions of the same creature that are hostile. Can monsters have individual alignments?
    Gurfr zbafgref jrer trarengrq 'crnprshy', gurl jba'g nggnpx hayrff lbh qb. V qba'g guvax gurer'f nal artngvir rssrpg sebz xvyyvat gurz; ohg V'z abg fher.

    Is there anything worth doing with non-aligned altars? I found one on Level 14, but I didn't know if it would be worth messing with it.
    Nafjrerq nobir; lbh pna fnpevsvpr gurer gb gel naq pbaireg gb lbhe nyvtazrag, ohg nyfb n punapr lbh trg pbairegrq lbhefrys, naq gura lbhe tbq vf irel znq ng lbh!

    I have over 6,000 gold pieces and I haven't seen a shop since the early levels. Is there any benefit to picking up gold at this point in the game? I feel like there was a way to sacrifice it at an altar in a previous version, but I couldn't figure out how to do it here.
    Lbh pna #pung jvgu cevrfgf ng gurve nygnef naq qbangr gur tbyq gb vapernfr lbhe vagevafvp NP. Gur cevrfg pna or bs n qvssrerag nyvtazrag guna lbh.

    I realized during this session that earlier versions of NetHack showed your experience, not just your current level. Is that a setting I'm missing?
    Lrf, cerggl fher vg'f gur FUBJRKC frggvat va lbhe bcgvbaf svyr.

    1. Thank you for the tips, Jeff. I figured out the option. Unfortunately, the trap in the upper-left is just a trap. It shoots water at me.

  6. So how did you get past dungeon level 13 in the end?

    1. Ah, right. I hacked a hole in the floor as commenters suggested. I found the stairs up, and they came to a little 2 x 2 room in the lower-right corner of the level, where it didn't look to me like there was space for anything.

    2. Classic Nethack!

      Now that you have the Palantir, it's crystal ball ability solves this problem for you. Next time you can't find the downstairs use the Palantir to search for '>'.

  7. Nothing useful, just glad you're covering NetHack again. :) I love that game.

    I discovered it in 2008 or thereabouts. I played it a ton. I've never played anything but a Gnomish Wizard.

    I finally beat it for the first time in 2022, on an iOS version. That was around the fifth device I downloaded it on - the game defeated me through a desktop, two laptops and a work computer. Fourteen years. That has to be a record of some kind.

  8. > 3. I went back to Level 13 of the Gnomish Mines and searched it exhaustively based on intelligence that there were artifacts to find there. All I found were a Wand of Digging and a lamp. I wonder if the guaranteed artifacts aren't something from a later version.

    Well, not sure if the version is the problem, but i can tell you that the most important item you can find in Mine's end looks at first glance like an unssuming gray rock, so maybe you just missed that.

    1. Understanding the generation and retention of luck is your next significant step toward increasing your skill and chances of winning. Max luck will aid you immensely in all aspects of the late- and end-game.

  9. And in at least one version of mine's end, it's hidden in an small chamber 2x2 chamber you need to dig to reach through surrounded by many tiles of rock walls.

  10. > I have over 6,000 gold pieces and I haven't seen a shop since the early levels. Is there any benefit to picking up gold at this point in the game? I feel like there was a way to sacrifice it at an altar in a previous version, but I couldn't figure out how to do it here.

    You can donate it to a priest, (use the #chat command). Gold is actually pretty useful, if you can donate at least 400 gold per your current xp level.


  11. Ironically, the Elf class, and its corresponding quest and artifact, are removed from later versions of Nethack. Elf becomes a race, and the ranger class supplants it, but the Palantir of Westernesse is gone.

    Not rot13’ing stuff since you asked:

    The Palantir has some nice passives. It gives you ESP out to 6(?) spaces. Basically, you get telepathy without a blindfold for a short distance. It also gives regeneration, and halves incoming spell damage. It also has a fun ability when #Invoked: you can tame monsters and make them your pets. This is super useful as an “escape” when you are fighting something about to kill you (your enemy is now your friend!), but be careful, it has a reasonably long timeout.

    Starter pets (kittens and puppies) don’t usually last past dungeon level 10 or so. They max out on their experience level. Eventually they get too aggressive and take on something that kills them. Pets are mostly useful early for id’ing cursed items, and stealing from shops (you can teach them to fetch!). A pet, at this point, is not as useful except to help kill things. A pet baby dragon is an amusing and deadly side kick, however. A leash can help make pets less frustrating. The puppy you left on level 1 is probably still there and feral, btw.

    The Palantir is not strictly necessary to win, but the Bell is. Don’t lose it!

    Your strategy for killing the Goblin King was the right one. Other powerful monsters play that staircase game too. They never permanently go away until you kill them, though.

    Can’t remember if I ever tried to return to the quest. I think the quest leader will move off the stairs eventually. Maybe chat with him? I don’t think you missed anything in the Goblin Castle, but it’s been decades since I did that quest.

    How did you get past the level without a staircase?

    The powerful item at the bottom of the Gnomish Mines is hidden. You probably need a scroll of Magic Mapping to find it. One of the 3(?) versions of that level has it hidden in an area only reachable by tunneling with a pickaxe. The unID’d item is described as a gray stone, but be careful, finding a random gray stone can be deadly. Make sure you have a vial of holy water to get rid of the bad version before you pick up a random gray stone. The item you missed is not required to win; it just makes it a bit easier.

    Gold at this point is mostly useless except for a final score. The one remaining use for gold is the “protection” racket the priests run. Chat with a priest to find out more.

    You get a small alignment penalty for attacking peaceful monsters.

    You can convert non co-aligned altars by sacrificing on them. The chance to succeed is based on your level, so at this point, you have a high probability to succeed. The caveat is sacrificing unicorns and humans/elves - they have special rules.

    The next phase of the game is mostly unchanged - Medusa and the Castle. You are going to need levitation to get past Medusa. There is also an optional secret level that can be generated before the castle.

    Hell, renamed Gehennom, is significantly different in this version.. Your goal now is to complete the Castle, take stock of what your weaknesses are, and then solve them with the item guaranteed to be in the Castle’s vault. You’ll need fire resistance, magic resistance, and reflection for sure. Fireproof/Rustproof your important equipment. Genociding ‘L’iches with a blessed scroll of genocide is also a good idea. (I hate Liches!) A blessed silver saber will also make Gehennom significantly easier. Getting to max level (30), while not required, will also improve your chances. (Wraiths are your friends!) Increasing your HP via other methods obviously helps too.

    Good luck!

  12. > abandoned my pet on Level 1, for instance, and I know there's a whole science to leveling pets, using pets in combat, getting pets to help you test things

    If you want to learn to use pets, the Healer class is based around heavily use them, at least in the early game. Their starting weapon is awful (to the point that a kitten attacks are more dangerous), they start with a healing spell that they can use to keep their pet alive, and a stetheoscope that will inform you when your pet needs healing, and which helps with keeping track of the pet xp.

  13. I would happily read ascension stories for all the character classes, but sticking with Abastunagi (even with backups) seems reasonable enough. Still, even if Abastunagi makes it trying a few more characters--even just in Explore or Wizard mode--would help flesh out a look at the game. The quests and artifacts available are very different, for example.

    I suspect 3.1 is a bit easier than 3.0 but that Abastunagi has ALSO been lucky--that was an awful lot of early game wishes! Some good random drops, too. The Elf is also one of the easier classes, in my experience--some good starting stats and equipment, and one of the least dangerous quests.

    In terms of the journey down to the castle and Gehennom, I think Abastunagi is reasonably well prepared. The only big vulnerability that comes to mind is a lack of Reflection. An artifact weapon would be handy but the game is definitely winnable without, even with a melee class. (Though I'd really love to see Fgbezoevatre show up.) Do you have a reliable means of flight or levitation? Not strictly necessary but extremely handy. I'd want a bag of holding but I'm a hoarder.

  14. It's been a while since I compiled nethack, but IIRC showing XP as well as level is a compile-time option.

    Teleportitis is powerful, but later in the game there are a lot of places where it doesn't work.

    "really attack?" monsters are peaceful. If you are blindfolded or confused you may attack those monsters without getting the confirmation, which can be a cause of YASD for powerful monsters like shopkeepers.

    "taking a beat between movements" is an excellent strategy. IMHO there are two keys to ascending Nethack. The first is learning the quirks of the game (what to eat, what is safe to risk, what isn't), but the second is to play it slowly and carefully. It's a turn-based game, you have plenty of time to think about what to do next, but many people get caught up in it and just pound keys.

    1. I’m a key pounder :(

      Does Nethack ever have mimics in shops? My ‘favourite’ death involves being critically hit by a mimic in a shop, which confused me, causing to swing at a shopkeeper ~_~

    2. It's rare that I find a shop WITHOUT at least one mimic.

  15. Folks have answered most of your questions; I'd chime in that you don't have to worry about pets at this stage, and also that polymorphing yourself is very optional. I wouldn't worry about that.

    For prepping for Gehennom and the castle, again you seem pretty well prepared (though I haven't played for a long time so I could be missing something!) It'd be good to have reflection; what you really need it for is to protect against black dragons' disintegration breath. Disintegration resistance would also work there, but the way to get disintegration resistance is by eating a black dragon corpse... you can see the issue.

    The spell of magic missile is far more powerful than wands of magic missile, by the way... they scale with your level so you can wind up doing a lot of damage, particularly if you find more ways to level up.

    I don't know if you had teleport control yet, but I think you could've teleported out of the energy vortex if you did. There's another item you have that could help you out in a similar situation though not in this one, in a way that's logical but not expected: Vs lbh mnc n jnaq bs qvttvat jura lbh'er rathysrq ol n fbyvq zbafgre, vg qnzntrf gur zbafgre qbja gb bar uvg cbvag naq lbh pna xvyy vg jvgu lbhe arkg nggnpx. Ibegvprf nera'g fbyvq gubhtu.

  16. Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Goblin King's talk about cursing his castle is pure smack talk, for flavor only. The message about needing to get the Palantir back to Earendil quickly was also flavor. But I don't know that there's anything amazing on the castle level. I guess there's a chest and a throne, and the throne can be useful in ways you've already discovered?

    As Jeff said above (de-rot13ing since you asked), the portal back shows up as a trap in the upper left. In the versions I remember, magic portals were purple traps, but all the traps on that level look the same shed of red to me, so this isn't even an FYC color scheme? Anyway, try far-looking at the traps.

    1. It wasn't that trap in the upper left. It was a random unmarked square in the far left column, about 1/3 up from the bottom.

    2. Sorry for the misinfo! Portals are traps but I guess going through the portal from one side doesn't identify it for you on the other. And perhaps this one was purple after all.

  17. "It's a fun homage, but it doesn't look notably 'more primitive' than the typical NetHack level."

    If you were playing with graphical tiles rather than ASCII characters, the switch to letters and symbols would be more noticeable. And even when playing without tiles, I think some versions of the game use a different graphics mode or something for the Rogue level, so the font is wider than on other levels.

    1. Chet is using the IBM graphics mode (Which I strongly recommend!) In some versions of the game, the Rogue level will switch back to using ASCII graphics and so the paths will be made of #### instead of the drawing characters. Basically making it look exactly like Rogue.

  18. the Goblin King somehow appeared behind me
    There's a lot of that teleportitis going around.

  19. > My Ring of Regeneration had me back up to full power within a few moves, though.

    So, here is a little secret that even a lot of veteran nethack players may miss. (Less an spoiler than deep mechanical trivia):

    Gur guvat urnyvat lbh snfg vfa'g lbhe evat bs ertrarengvba - vg'f whfg lbhe angheny urnyvat! Urnyvat fèrq va argunpx vapernfrf jvgu yriry, naq va cnegvphyne vg orpbzrf penml snfg jura lbh ernpu kY 10 - lbh urny 1qpbafgvghgvba rnpu 3 gheaf, fb va lbhe pnfr, lbh urny 1q17 rnpu 3 gheaf.

    Gur evat bs ertra urnyf lbh bar uc rnpu ghea lbhe angheny urnyvat qbrfa'g gevttre fb onfvpnyyl vg vapernfrf lbhe urnyvat sebz 1q17 gb 1q17+2 rnpu 3 gheaf - uneqyl n qenzngvp vapernfr!

    Abjnqnlf guvf vf pbafvqrerq xvaq bs evqvphybhf, juvpu vf jul raqtnzr urnyvat fcrrq vf trggvat aresrq va gur hcpbzvat 3.7 irefvba. (Ohg vg ohssf rneyl tnzr urny fcrrq, juvpu unf nyjnlf orra evqvphybhfyl fybj).

    1. I did not know this! Thank you!

      Does anyone know if the regeneration from the ring and the Palantir stack?

    2. That's interesting. I'll have to experiment. I certainly wouldn't mind a finger free for a different ring.

    3. Joshwitz: I think regeneration is a property, which means it wouldn't stack. And the Palantir's regeneration would not give you hunger, I think; though as the nethack wiki points out, hunger can be beneficial if you want to eat more corpses in the late game.

  20. Nethack monsters all turn into candy when they die.

  21. Count me among those who always really enjoy these NetHack narratives, while finding it hard to imagine ever having the dedication necessary to learn the rules of this tough and punitive world...

    I'm sure you've gotten into this before in the character-development and equipment GIMLET categories, but it seems like part of the secret sauce here is that this texty, densely-coded system of so many interacting variables really expands that fundamental CRPG payoff of feeling like your character is getting more powerful as the game progresses. Here that's not just a few stats that increase the ease with which you dispatch enemeis, it's all this wonderfully baroque stuff like gaining both "teleportitis" and "teleport control." What fun! By the end you're not just someone with the best dice rolls in all the dungeon, you're this walking deity with a whole pantheon's worth of superpowers. And yet, it seems, you're always one bad blunder away from losing it all. Maybe when I retire I'll finally fire one of these things up.

    1. The "walking deity" thing really comes to fruition in the endgame of this version. (Massive, massive endgame spoilers, and not the ones that you're going to need to read in order to get to the endgame. Don't reveal this rot13 yet, Chet!)

      Gur fcrpvny obffrf ba gur svany yriry (abg creznaragyl xvyynoyr rkprcg guebhtu evqvphybhf furanavtnaf) ner gur Evqref bs gur Ncbpnylcfr: Crfgvyrapr, Snzvar, naq Qrngu. Ovoyvpnyyl, gurer ner sbhe evqref, ohg gur fgehpgher bs gur yriry bayl erdhverf guerr. Fb jurer'f gur sbhegu evqre, Jne? N pbzzrag va gur fbhepr pbqr, naq gur zrffntr lbh trg vs lbh pung gb n Evqre, erirnyf gung ol guvf fgntr bs gur tnzr Jne vf *lbh*. (Nyfb qba'g jnfgr n ghea punggvat gb n Evqre, gung vf fhvpvqny.)

    2. Whoah! I had no idea! Thank you for sharing!

    3. doctorcasino, your second paragraph perfectly encapsulates what it's like to play the game. Nicely written.

    4. Aw, thanks! Take it as a sign that your own writing has successfully conveyed the experience to a layperson.

  22. Re: missile weapons - have you been disarming arrow and dart traps? Arrow traps are the best source of ammo, you get like 25 per trap. Disarming also exercises your Dex as an added bonus.

  23. Chet: it sounds like you'd benefit from checking out the nethack config file(s). What is in there changes on the version, but you can customize things that can't be changed while the game is running, and bonus, if you do lose a character and start over, all your settings will be kept (though they might be anyway?)

    I recall always changing the fruit from 'slime mold' to 'yarpik nut' a fruit that was culturally important to my region in Living Greyhawk.

  24. >What do I have to eat in real life to feel in control of myself? Welllll.....maybe you should ask Mr. Clapton about that...."She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie....."

  25. On your particular question on roguelikes plus interactive fiction, I think the main hidden gem in the genre is Legerdemain (https://youtu.be/7T9HnQ__QMI?si=LTCtJLan8RHpcBmo&t=148) , which has a decent bit of text exposition and has a really original and creative setup.


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