Saturday, February 17, 2024

Game 504: NetHack [3.1 Series] (1993)

I love these moments in which my character is new and full of possibilities.
NetHack [3.1 Series]
United States
Independently developed and released in four versions between January and July 1993
Date Started: 11 February 2024
There was nearly a two-year gap after NetHack 3.0.10, the last release in the 3.0 series, which I covered--good lord--eleven years ago, in a series of entries that took 262 total hours. (Coverage starts here.) Version 3.1.0 was released in January 1993, and three bug-fix releases followed, culminating in 3.1.3 in July 1993. After that, it would be nearly three years before the next release, 3.2.0, in April 1996. Thus, the 3.1 series occupies a clear temporal pocket.
At this point, I've won Hack 1.0.3, NetHack 2.3e, and NetHack 3.0.10, none of which felt terribly different from the others. But from what I'm reading, NetHack 3.1.0 represents the most significant update in content and mechanics since Rogue. This is the first version to feature a branching dungeon, with multiple separate worlds such as the Gnomish Mines and the Elemental Planes. My understanding is that the Wizard of Yendor, now found in "Gehennom" rather than Hell, no longer has the Amulet of Yendor, but rather a book that you need to enact a ritual to get the Amulet of Yendor. There's a stronger mythology to the game, including a backstory. Mechanically, there are changes to the lighting and encumbrance systems. There are new objects, monsters, and artifacts.
A more detailed backstory distinguishes this latest edition of the long running series.
(If you're just joining us, NetHack is a freeware "roguelike" game, meaning that it adopts the conventions of Rogue [1980], including ASCII characters for graphics, randomly-generated dungeon levels, a wide variety of inventory items to identify and find, a large number of commands called by individual keyboard letters, and--most important--permadeath. When you die in the dungeon, your character is erased and you have to start over completely.)
At the outset, I'm going to tell you that I don't know if I have the stamina to replicate my "honest" win from 2013. My greater knowledge and experience with the game should mean that it doesn't take quite as long, but then again, that experience is over a decade old now. Moreover, it simply doesn't feel like a feat that I have to replicate. Thus, my current plan is to do my best with the first 10 characters to reach Level 3. After that, assuming it comes to it, I'll allow myself to save every couple of levels.
NetHack 3.1.3 opens the same way as the previous one. The game offers you the opportunity to play an archaeologist, barbarian, caveman, elf, healer, knight, priest, rogue, samurai, tourist, valkyrie, or wizard. Each has its own starting attributes and inventory. Other than "caveman" no longer being hyphenated, nothing has changed here. The game will also choose for you, which I'm going to do for the first 10 characters, so I get a sense of their strengths and weaknesses. In this case, the game chooses a samurai.
A new game begins.
But for the first time in the series, after character creation, we get a backstory:
After the Creation, the cruel god Moloch rebelled against the authority of Marduk the Creator. Moloch stole from Marduk the most powerful of all the artifacts of the gods, the Amulet of Yendor, and he hid it in the dark cavities of Gehennom, the Under World, where he now lurks, and bides his time.
The story goes on to say that I am a newly-trained Hatamoto, heralded from birth to be the instrument of my god, Amaterasu Omikami. I am destined to recover the amulet for my god. The name of the first level of the character and the name of the god differ by class. For rogues, it's Footpad and Kos; for healers, it's Rhizotomist and Hermes; for priests, it's Aspirant and Shan Lai Ching. The game mixes a lot of mythology: Marduk was the patron god of Babylon; Moloch is a Canaanite god in the Bible; Amaterasu is the goddess of the sun in Shinto mythology; and Hermes is of course Greek. As for "Shan Lai Ching," I'm guessing it's a play on Shan Hai Ching, the classic Chinese text also known as Classic of Mountains and Seas. NetHack has always been a bit of a melting pot that way. I'll cover other characters' gods as I get to them. I understand in future versions, they differ by the character's alignment.
As usual, the character begins on Level 1 of a randomly-generated dungeon, with the character represented by an @ symbol. I'll go ahead and recount Chester the Samurai's adventures in detail. I'm playing with NetHack version 3.0.10 open in an adjacent window so I can note the differences. I start by checking the command list to refresh my memory. The only difference I can see is that the new game has a "farlook" command (;), but it just seems to duplicate the existing "whatis" command (/), identifying an object by cursor.
Like its predecessors, the game benefits from exhaustive documentation, called up with the ? key.
I'm standing on a magenta potion when I start, which I pick up. Until I identify or swallow it, I won't know exactly what it does. Ditto the nearby scroll labeled PRIRUTSENIE. I find it's usually best just to read scrolls right away, at least early in the game, since it's the only way to find a Scroll of Identification, which you need to identify most other things. In this case, it turns out to be something else: "You feel like someone is helping you." The game prompts me to give it a name (for when I find the next one), so I put "helping." Eleven years ago, I would have remembered exactly what that message meant.

For other equipment, my character started with a +0 katana, a +0 wakizashi, a +0 yumi (bow), 27 +0 ya (arrows), an uncursed +0 splint mail, and 4 fortune cookies. The yumi and ya replace shurikens from the previous version, and I got one more fortune cookie than 3.0.10 allowed. It's soon joined by a cream pie, on the floor next to the scroll. There's nothing like eating a cream pie found on a dungeon floor.
Finally, a little dog is following me. NetHack always gives you a little pet to help at the beginning. I'm aware that there are ways to make the pet awesomely useful, but it's just a little more micromanaging than I want. I'll probably abandon him when I go down to the next level, if I don't accidentally kill him first.  
The samurai is not a stealth character. That's a ninja. Get your Japanese archetypes straight, gaijin.
I exit the room and take a hallway to another room, where I find a closed door and my first enemy: a newt, represented by a colon (:). I attack him with my katana by moving into him. He dies in a couple of hits but I lose 3 hit points in the process. These will regenerate at a rate of 1 per every 15 moves at my current level. The newt leaves no corpse.
A corridor leading from this room dead-ends. I hold down the S)earch key for a few seconds, but I do not find the door I suspect is there. I loop around to the other side, picking up a magic marker and 15 gold pieces. I k)ick open a nearby door which won't open with the O)pen command. The next couple of rooms are empty except for 7 gold pieces. On the way back to an earlier area, I kill another newt in the hallway, which leaves a corpse. I don't remember that newt corpses do anything for you, but neither do I remember that they do anything negative. I e)at it. The game says it "tastes terrible" but doesn't otherwise affect me. At worst, I just staved off hunger for another few rounds.

A kobold zombie (Z) randomly spawns as I pass through a room, and I destroy it in one hit. Another newt falls to my katana in a corridor. I miss a message and try using ALT-P to bring it back, forgetting that the appropriate command is CTRL-P. The game says that I pray to my god, who is displeased with me, probably for praying when I didn't need it. Praying can get you out of some sticky situations, but I don't remember the specifics.
Another room has a sewer rat, killed in one hit, and a "grid bug," which I don't remember from previous versions. My dog manages to get that one. I find a purple-red potion, get caught in a bear trap for a few turns, and find some more gold. One of the rooms I explore is dark, meaning I can only see a few squares around me. I have no lighting source, so I just have to deal with it. I find a gunyoki, which is what the game calls a food ration for a samurai. I don't think the previous version gave special terms for the samurai. Anyway, I'm good on food for a while, which makes me feel less worried about holding down S)earch to get the last couple of rooms.
My dog experience-jacks me.
I keep accidentally not picking up stuff because the last roguelike I played (Crypt) did it automatically. There's a way to set automatic pickups in NetHack, but I don't want to do it because at some point it becomes annoying.
As I wrap up the first level (minus an area I can't access because of a boulder blocking the corridor), I get hungry already. I e)at my cream pie.
I had hoped to find some more useful stuff on Level 1 and make it to character Level 2. It's not an auspicious beginning as I head down, leaving the dog behind me. I can always go back for him; NetHack doesn't delete the stairways like Rogue does.
Beginning Level 2.
Level 2 begins in a room with a spiked wand, some gold, and another newt, which I swiftly kill. There's also a statue of a kobold; I seem to remember that you can't really do much with statues. I get hungry again within a few minutes, so I eat a goblin corpse. Killing the goblin gets me to character Level 2, which raises my maximum hit points by 6 and my maximum power (spell energy) by 5. 
I find a bronze plate mail, which overloads me. I risk that possibility that it's cursed by trying it on. Oddly, it affords no better armor class than my splint mail (which I think means it must be -1), so I drop it. 
In further rooms on Level 2, I pick up a brown gem, a red gem, and a few more piles of gold. I kill two jackals and another newt and trip a trap that causes a rock to fall on my head. When I've finished exploring the level, I haven't found the stairs down, so I have to start searching every wall multiple times. This accelerates hunger, to alleviate which I eat the dead newt, which is rotten, which causes me to go blind for about a dozen turns. Eventually, I find the hidden room I missed, kill two more grid bugs, and pick up two spellbooks in the same room. The books turn out to have "Cause Fear" and "Detect Unseen," both of which could be useful. I typically don't rely too much on spells in NetHack, but maybe I'll try harder this time.
If something is unseen, how do I know to cast "Detect Unseen"?
Since I make it to Level 3, this first character is going to "count" against the first 10. I thus start walking more slowly and considering things more carefully. This means searching for traps occasionally, switching to my bow to shoot enemies from afar when they're more than a few squares away, and not taking unnecessary chances like kicking doors (which can injure you). Unfortunately, I still blunder into a water trap and my katana rusts; I switch it for my wakizashi. A chest has a dagger, some gold, and another wand.
Hunger reasserts itself as a problem. I blow through all of my fortune cookies, which have the following hints:
  • They say that greased objects will slip out of monsters' hands.
  • Extra staircases lead to extra levels
  • Eat your carrots. They're good for your eyes.
  • Ever tried reading while confused?
But soon I'm starving and fainting because I'm starving. In desperation, I try the two potions. One causes me to levitate; the other paralyzes me for a few rounds. I run up against a floating eye, who can paralyze, so I stand away and shoot arrows at him. Killing him gets me to Level 4, but I won't be able to enjoy it long if I can't find any food. In desperation, I eat an acid blob, which causes me to lose 10 hit points, but I don't think it does anything for my hunger. Neither does the corpse of a giant rat that I kill in the hallway. I pray to Amaterasu, but it says he's displeased.
This is always a bad message.
I manage to get from "Fainting" to just "Hungry" by eating some more rats and a floating eye corpse. I got lucky with the floating eye. They can paralyze, but I killed him in one hit. I ate his corpse, too, and the game said I felt a "strange mental acuity." This indicates that I gained the ability to detect monsters if my eyes are closed; I believe I need a bandana or another way to blind myself to activate it. Anyway, it's one of the many things on the long "ascension kit" list.
I enjoy that good fortune for about 5 seconds before I run into another floating eye, get paralyzed for about five turns, then awaken to find a giant rat on the other side of me. In desperation, I use one of my unidentified wands. It turns the floating eye into a Mordor orc, which promptly kills me when I faint again. Identifying my equipment shows that the dagger was a blessed +1 elven dagger, my ring was a cursed Ring of Polymorph, and my wands were of Cancellation and Polymorph. After I see my intrinsics, the game asks if I want an "account of foes vanquished." That's new to this version. I killed 28 creatures during my brief foray. 
A new post-game option gives you an account of your conquests.
That's Character #1. What lessons can I take from the experience? I'm not sure I did anything "wrong"; I just got unlucky with the availability of food.
I start again with Aamanz the Caveman, a Troglodyte of the god Anu (Mesopotamian god of the sky). He begins with a +1 club, a +1 bow, 15 +0 arrows, and a +0 leather armor. I seem to recall they suffer fewer penalties for eating bad things. We'll see how he turns out.
Time so far: 2 hours


  1. Food -- and the need to memorize an incredibly long list of which corpses are bad to eat, which are safe to eat, and which are mandatory to eat -- are a major reason why I've never been able to get into NetHack. I resign myself to dozens of hours of trial and error, but then get impatient and check spoilers, at which point my motivation to actually play the game craters because it feels like the whole point of NetHack is the discovery.

    (This is a major reason I prefer Angband, at least in its more modern incarnations -- the store helps mitigate against the risk of inadequate basic loot in the first few floors, albeit that usually means light rather than food, and you can just turn on a setting that gives you complete monster stats for every baddy you encounter so you don't have to be surprised by an out-of-nowhere death if you don't want to be. Vanilla Angband is a very long game by default, which can make the permadeath feel harsher, I suppose, but it's also very very rare that simple bad luck leads to a death).

    1. for a type of game that randomises things like scrolls, potions and such, having such specific things to memorize (or just look up on a guide/wiki) makes me lose interest too. As soon as I see terms like "ascension list" it just makes me feel like it's not worth me trying to trial and error my way through, because there is a "solved" way to do it and to not follow that you're making it too hard for yourself.

      That said, I do like the early game in many roguelikes, wandering around and seeing interesting things before I inevitably die.

    2. Yeah most of these oldschool roguelikes are made to be played with spoilers. Its like mountaineering, its still hard even if you didnt come up with the route yourself.

    3. I'm excited for the addict to try DCSS eventually. It keeps the good points from the genre, but isn't a 'wiki game' - more of a focus on positioning and developing basic skills.

    4. Interestingly, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup did completely away with food a few years ago. Their reasoning, I believe, was that it really only effected the beginning of the game, since it was trivial to find or buy various sources of food mid to late game. I think it was pretty controversial at the time, but I like it. I don't feel the game is any easier, but maybe I just suck at it 😀

    5. Aside from the items required for the rituals, most of the things in an "ascension kit" are not strictly required. It's better thought of as a set of guidelines for building a character powerful enough to have a good chance of surviving the challenges on the way to ascension.

      As far as food goes, once you figure out what corpses are safe to eat it's pretty rare to die from it in this version of NetHack. I would usually wind up with far more food rations than I could carry.

    6. Another thing about the "ascension kit" is that it's not something you have for the bulk of the game. Even if there's a "solved" list of things to ascend with,* most of the game you won't have that stuff and there's a lot of challenge in the early and the middle game. Then some of the later game, especially the part where you're ascending back with the amulet, is a reward for the suffering you experienced while assembling your ascension kit--even if it's not challenging, I found a lot of pleasure using my +7 Mjollnir etc to steamroller monsters that had given me fits before, if I felt like I'd earned it.

      *and there really isn't absolutely one way; some ascensions I didn't genocide anything, only one time did I use the trick of (rot13ing because I think this involves something that Chet will encounter for the first time this variant) hfvat n gryrcbeg jnaq naq obbgf bs whzcvat gb pyrne bhg cnguf va gur Nfgeny Cynar naq gura zbir qbja gurz erny snfg, and another couple things.

    7. codrus: Agreed, it's been a long time since I played nethack, and it wasn't this version, but fainting from hunger on level 4 seems very soon. One thing maybe is to eat things as soon as you kill them, if you aren't already satiated I don't think it has any ill effects. (But if you are satiated there's a risk of choking and dying, so don't do that.)

      Another thing about the scrolls is that I don't think you should have to read random scrolls to try to find scrolls of identification (rot13): fpebyyf bs vqragvsvpngvba ner gur purncrfg fpebyyf va gur tnzr ol sne, fb lbh pna svther bhg jung gurl ner ol gur cevpr jura lbh gel gb fryy be ohl bar. I'm not positive that holds true in 3.1.0 but I think it does.

    8. Reading unid’ed scrolls is a good way to die. Potions usually won’t kill you; but scrolls can really mess you up. There are some easy ways to figure out which scrolls are scrolls of ID. Discovering them is one of your first priorities.

      You can eat most corpses you find in the early levels. You will discover the few exceptions soon enough. Don’t let them rot; and carrying them is too heavy anyway.

    9. @matt w - I think you might be off on that one. Gur purncrfg fpebyy va (pheerag) Argunpx vf 'Yvtug', juvpu V'z cerggl fher vf va guvf bar.

      That said, I'm pro recklessness early on. You really need a great run to ascend, so taking a few risks early for potential high reward is advisable, IMO.

    10. @Aperama - Nppbeqvat gb gur argunpx jvxv, yvtug vf svsgl mbexzvqf naq vqragvsl vf bayl gjragl. Naq ybbxvat ng gur fbhepr pbqr ng uggcf://argunpxjvxv.pbz/jvxv/Fbhepr:ArgUnpx_3.1.0/bowrpgf.p, gung vf nyfb gehr va gur pheerag irefvba.

      I don't really agree about being pro recklessness, though maybe it'd make sense given what Chester is trying to do. A player who's figured out the food problem and a few other tricks should have a pretty good chance of getting through the early and middle game, to where there's enough resources to build your ascension kit. As long as they're not a healer maybe. It doesn't even require the horribly boring "spam Elbereth and let your pet fight" strategy a lot of people used to do. But for Chet's purposes maybe "read unIDed scrolls and wear the ball and chain if that's what happens" strategy is quicker.

    11. Holy cow, it really has been too long since I've played Nethack! :)

      Basically, pre Gnomish Mines I consider to be early enough that you're losing an extremely small amount of equity at worst. When you have either a key ascension kit item early, an early altar etc it's time to tighten up, but 10 minutes in I'm willing to risk it without those.

  2. Usually not a huge fan of Rogue narration, but I really liked this Man vs Hunger vs Floating Eyes story.
    If possible, I claim the next character after Aamanz: Scribe the Monk!

  3. I spent more hours of my adolescence than I care to admit to on PC-Hack and Umoria, as well as a gimped version of Moria that was unwinnable due to a lot of bugs. The Hack metaseries are still the best roguelikes ever made.

  4. The grid bugs are probably a reference to the same from the original Tron movie.

    This brings back a ton of memories of playing Hack back in the mid to late 80s... and dying repeatedly!

    1. Yes, because Tron is about (computer) hacking whereas this game is about (hack-n-slash) hacking.
      And just like in the movie, grid bugs can't move diagonally. That's a trove of geeky humor, isn't it? :)

    2. Thanks for this. I thought I'd heard of them somewhere but couldn't remember. It's been decades since I last watched Tron.

    3. If this is the same as version 3.1.4, that I grew up playing a ton of, there is a command somehwere in there to look at a monster and get a quote about it. Not exactly helpful, but it will tell you the source of a lot of them with a quote.

    4. Wait, no, I'm wrong; I grew up on 3.4.3, it has been to many years. I apologize.

    5. It's the Slash key, that brings up the "What is" function. You can move the cursor over an object on the screen to be told what it is, and even get a piece of writing about many monsters and game objects. Many times it's a quote from some literary work.

    6. Thanks Rodneylives. I can guess where your username comes from.

  5. BTW, the differences between character classes are moderately important in this version, I would suggest picking one class and sticking with it if you want to simplify the learning experiences. Valkyries and Barbarians are both good choices.

  6. "Ditto the nearby scroll labeled PRIRUTSENIE."
    That is curious, because its sounds awfully like Russian word "приручение" which means "taming".

    1. A scroll of Taming exists in NetHack. However, the game randomizes the scroll descriptions (and potion colors) for each new game.

    2. That is the origin of the scroll name, though; Hack 1.0 had "default" names for the scrolls and PRIRUTSENIE was taming, along with some other jokes. (These are default names in that the way the code works is that it defines the scrolls with these names along with their fixed attributes such as price and rarity, and then randomizes the name for each run.)

  7. Your pet can be a killing machine. It gains levels too! But it competes with you for food so caveat emptor. The pet works best with squishy class who need some help. (The initial pet is stronger than the spell casters for sure!) The martials need them less, but there’s usually more corpses for everyone since you can just kill everything with ease.

  8. Pets can be really helpful! They have lots of subtle abilities besides just killing monsters. One of which would be useful for you now! Crgf jba’g rng cbvfbabhf sbbq naq jba’g fgrc ba phefrq vgrzf.

  9. Wasn't this also the version where monsters first started to use objects (scrolls, wands, potions, etc) against you? I seem to remember there were sad stories on Usenet lamenting promising games cut short because some gnome had picked up a wand of death.

  10. Nethack 3.1, the first modern Nethack! The changes between 3.0 and 3.1 are way bigger than the changes between 3.1 and the current version, 3.6. Definitely worth playing through even if you are save scumming and using online spoilers. 3.1 is the first version with a branching dungeon, personal quests, and a new endgame, and the basic layout has stayed the same ever since.

    Different classes play very differently, especially at the start. Letting the RNG pick you class definitely makes it harder as you don't get a sense of your class's strengths and weaknesses until you die a few times. On the other hand, using the RNG lets you explore some of those quirks.

    Barbarians, Valkyries, and Samurai are good beginner classes. Tourists, Knights, and Archeologists not so much. Cavemen are just kinda all around meh. Wizards are easy, but only if you know all the tricks.

    As I mentioned anonymously, pets can be very helpful. The squishies (Wizards, Tourists, Healers) rely heavily on them early game, but even the melee classes can find them useful for the first few levels. Late game pets are a different story and can be super fun...

    I love Nethack for the emergent stories it generates. Decades later I can still remember some of my ridiculous exploits and share war stories with my friends who also play.

    1. Some light spoilers:
      -Crgf jba'g rng onq sbbq. Vs Svqb pna vg rng, zbfg yvxryl lbh pna gbb. Guebj sbbq ng lbhe crg naq frr vs ur rngf vg.

      - Oneonevnaf ner anghenyyl cbvfba erfvfgnag naq pna rng zber pbecfrf guna gur bgure pynffrf. Fgvyy pna'g rng sbbq gung'f tbar onq. (Mbzovr syrfu unf tbar onq.)

    2. And one tip:

      - Nethack has a built in lunar calendar. Playing during a full moon (in real life) gives you a luck bonus. Playing during a new moon leads to some interesting results. Playing between midnight and 1am makes the game harder.

    3. Oh, one more pet spoiler: crgf jba'g ibyhagnevyl fgrc ba n phefrq vgrz

    4. I appreciate the tips. You don't have to ROT-13 things that would have been true in versions I've already played and won.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. I played a LOT of Nethack in the 90s, and early 2000s, and even ran a server for my friends for a number of years. I fully believe that almost every game can be won, and all the unavoidable deaths (with a few deadly exceptions!) happen in the early game. Any deaths after you reach Minetown are probably an iteration of Yet Another Stupid Death (YASD) and avoidable with some forethought.

      The “ascension kit” is just building up fail safes to protect you from the really bad stuff. None of the items in the “kit” are absolutely required, and you probably won’t find them all, they just improve your odds in the late game. Though unlike earlier versions of Nethack there are a minimal number of items that are required to complete the quest. These items are guaranteed to be generated in a standard place, and finding them are mini quests.

      Personally, I don’t like wasting potions or scrolls by attempting to use them without ID’ing them first. Even the dangerous ones are too useful. And you really don’t want to read, drink or wear anything that’s cursed. That’s a surefire YASD. (Though using cursed potions or scrolls is usually some combination of hilarious/useful/deadly. Hallucination and Punishment are both worth trying for the blog!) ID’ing wands via Engraving is mostly fine, however. Use (rot13)Ryorergu as your test word!

      @Eugene is absolutely correct. Only praying when you are weak solves the early game hunger problem.

    8. My early game strategy is to reach level 10 in the main branch of the dungeon, and then backtrack to the Gnomish Mines. Heading into the mines too early usually ends in death, as they are significantly harder than the main branch. (Beware Gnomes wielding wands!) If you can brave the Mines, and descend to Minetown, congrats, you’ve finished the early game, and need to start preparing for the midgame!

      Things you want to achieve before or at Minetown:
      1 - Get a good weapon. (Barbarians/Samurai/Valkyries/Knights start with good weapons.)
      2 - Get some armor. (Knights/Barbarians/Samurai/Valkyries start with fair armor.)
      3 - Get a ranged weapon. Daggers do a fair bit of damage, especially if you have high Strength, and don’t break. Bows do more damage but are a pain in this version, and arrows have a break chance on hit. Rocks work in a pinch.
      4 - Create a stash of all the magic items you’ve found. Preferably in a one room closet, behind a locked door or boulder, guarded by (rot13)Ryorergu, or in a chest.
      5 - Identify the ID scroll.
      6 - Find an altar to ID blessed/cursed items. (Priests start with this ability.)
      7 - Get Poison Resistance. (Barbarians start with this.)
      8 - Eat floating eye for telepathy.
      9 - Make a bunch of holy water.
      10 - Use a blessed Scroll of ID while holding all your unidentified stuff in the cache. You have a good chance of ID’ing everything you are holding.

      Because of their innate Poison Resistance, good starting armor and weapons, and their Chaotic alignment, Barbarians are the easiest class.

    9. Early Game Spoilers:

      Ratenivat Ryorergu ba gur sybbe fpnerf zbafgref njnl! Ohg gur ratenivat jvyy qrtenqr bire gvzr onfrq ba lbhe zrgubq bs ratenivat. Jevgvat va gur qhfg jvgu lbhe svatre ynfgf n ghea ng orfg, hfvat n uneq trz ynfgf ybatre, naq na ratenivat jvgu n jnaq bs sver vf creznarag. Ratenivat jvgu trzf naq jnaqf nyfb urycf vqragvsl gurz.

      Ratenivat jvyy ehva lbhe jrncbaf, rkprcg sbe na ngunzr, juvpu pna ratenir vafgnagyl naq jvgubhg qnzntvat vg. Jvmneqf fgneg jvgu na ngunzr juvpu tvirf gurz na rneyl qrsrafvir nqinagntr.

      Zheqrevat lbhe crg vf onq yhpx. Rngvat be fnpevsvpvat lbhe crg vf rira jbefr. Artyrpgvat lbhe crg vf svar, ubjrire.

      Pyrne cbgvbaf ner nyjnlf jngre. Qvc unezshy cbgvbaf vagb n sbhagnva gb ghea gurz vagb jngre. Oyrff n fgnpx bs jngre cbgvbaf ol qebccvat gurz ba na nygne bs lbhe tbq, naq cenlvat. Gelvat guvf ba na nygne bs na rarzl tbq yrnqf gb haubyl jngre naq cvffvat bss lbhe tbq. Qvc n fgnpx bs jngre cbgvbaf vagb n oyrffrq jngre cbgvba (nxn ubyl jngre) gb znxr rira zber ubyl jngre.

      Qvc unezshy fpebyyf vagb n sbhagnva gb znxr gurz oynax. Gura hfr n zntvp znexre gb perngr n fpebyy bs lbhe pubvpr.

      Lbh pna fnpevsvpr pbecfrf ba pb-nyvtarq nygnef gb znxr lbhe tbq yvxr lbh zber. Riraghnyyl gurl jvyy fgneg tvivat lbh cbjreshy tvsgf. Lbh pna fnpevsvpr pbecfrf ba aba-nyvtarq nygnef gb pbaireg gur nygne gb lbhe tbq, ohg gurer vf n punapr vg jba’g fhpprrq. Vg’f nyzbfg nyjnlf jbegu gur evfx. Uhzna fnpevsvpr vf n onq vqrn hayrff lbh ner Punbgvp. Vs lbh ner Punbgvp, vg’f zber naablvat guna qnatrebhf.

      Havpbeaf ner irel pbzcyvpngrq ornfgf, naq unir gurve bja fcbvyre cntrf. Qba’g uheg pb-nyvtarq havpbeaf. Rarzl havpbeaf ner snve tnzr, znxr rkpryyrag fnpevsvprf, naq gurve ubeaf ner tbbq jrncbaf naq pna rira urny fvpxarff jura nccyvrq. Gurl unir bgure hfrf nf jryy.

      Trggvat gbhpurq ol n jenvgu qenvaf lbhe yriry, ohg rngvat n jenvgu pbecfr vapernfrf lbhe yriry.

      Rngvat cbvfbabhf perngherf jvyy cbvfba lbh, ohg nyfb unf n punapr bs tvivat lbh cbvfba erfvfgnapr. Lbh fgvyy pna’g rng ebggra sbbq be xbobyqf.

      Hfr gvaavat xvgf ba zbafgre pbecfrf gb fnir gurz sbe yngre.

      Lbh pna eho oenff ynzcf, ohg whfg or fher gurl ner oyrffrq!

    10. These tips were a big help. Just out of curiosity, why does a chaotic character have an easier time than a lawful one?

  11. "I pray to Amaterasu, but it says he's displeased."

    Does NetHack generically refer to all gods with male pronouns?

    1. No. Each class has it's own set of three gods (Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic) based on a different pantheon. Not all are male, and they get the pronouns right.

      For example, the Healer uses Greek mythology, and the Lawful goddess is Athena.

    2. I think the message NetHack gives in those circumstances is "You feel that Amaterasu Omikami is displeased"; Chet probably supplied the pronoun.

    3. Amaterasu is the Shinto goddess of the sun, so should be feminine, yes. Aside from that, I was very amused by the Japanese references in this post, especially the caption about samurai vs. ninja.

    4. Also, Priests get a random god of their alignment.

  12. I read this entry right after watching an episode of Delicious in Dungeon ( So much eating of monster corpses today! I don't think the anime's monster meat bestow any special abilities though (I'm still early in the series).

    I could never get into NetHack, but I definitely appreciate the appeal. Good luck!

    1. Don't know much about the anime adaptation (seems fine, but a bit hyper as usual with anime), but the original manga 'Delicious in Dungeon' is the best comic/manga I know of which displays some of the down-to-earth nitty-gritty of dungeon crawling.

      (And lots of monster cuisine.)

      It starts with a slow, unassuming pace and laid-back, idiosyncratic humor. Later on both the story and the art build up into something surprisingly great. I think CRPG Addict readers might like it.

    2. Regarding your question, I don't remember everything but there were magical monsters which specifically replenish mana when eaten.

      Whoa, here's a very interesting summary of an interview with the manga author, Ryōko Kui:

      "Her first memory of video games was watching her father playing Wizardry on Famicom, also Dragon Quest, Ultima, and Fire Emblem among others."

      "One of the first games she studied was the Legend of Grimrock. Originally, she wanted Dungeon Master (FTL Games) which was famous for "RPG with meals" but hunting down the game and machine was too much."

      "The biggest inspiration for Dungeon Meshi was the Cosmic Forge pen from Wizardry VI."

      ...and a lot more interesting tidbits.

    3. Nice find! So even more connections to CRPG Addict readers than I had thought.

  13. I hate to mention this, but Nethack 3.1 added so much that it should be considered a completely different game for your list. Versions since it have not changed nearly as much. Even the current version, 3.6.7, is by and large the same game, just with some minor additions like a controversial extra dungeon branch, splitting apart race and class, and giving you skills that can be improved. The shape of the quest is the same in 3.1.3 and now.

    Someone above suggested that Nethack was meant to be played with spoilers. I feel this is not really true: Nethack does contain, in the game, all the information you need to win. However, a lot of this information has to be learned over many games, and even mentioning where it can be learned is, itself, a minor spoiler:

    Snveyl rneyl va gur qhatrba vf gur Benpyr Yriry, juvpu pbagnvaf gur Benpyr bs Qrycuv. Cnlvat gur Benpyr sbe n "zvabe pbafhygngvba" tvirf lbh gvcf nybat gur fnzr yvarf nf gubfr tvira ol sbeghar pbbxvrf (nygubhtu nyjnlf hfrshy). Cnlvat sbe n znwbe pbafhygngvba tvirf lbh n fhofgnagvir gvc, naq gur arprffnel fgrcf gb jva, cyhf n tbbq ovg orfvqrf, pna or yrnearq gung jnl. Gur znva pngpu vf gung znwbe pbafhygngvbaf ner irel rkcrafvir. Vg jvyy gnxr znal tnzrf gb yrnea rabhtu gb jva gung jnl.

    1. "I hate to mention this, but Nethack 3.1 added so much that it should be considered a completely different game for your list."

      It has its own entry in the list and a new number. How much more different can it get? He can't rename the game (without confusing lots of people).

    2. Fully explaining everything that changed would fill this comment with spoilers. Trying to be vague enough to avoid spoiling things yet specific enough that the differences can be discerned--

      The introduction of dungeon branches changes the game a lot. A number of new places could only exist in 3.1 because they need dungeon branches to house them. That's a great many things all by itself.

      3.1 continued to build upon 3.0's improvements to the game world. I forget if blessing as an object state began in 3.0 or 3.1, but the Nethack Wiki would probably know.

      The whole endgame, from the process of getting the Amulet and escaping with it, and what follows from there, is new.

      Again, the Nethack Wiki maintains a detailed history of Nethack and what features were introduced and when.

    3. I missed this little thread when it was new, and it's pretty funny. Rodneylives seems to have misunderstood some things about my blog and list, which Buck tried to clarify, and then Anonymous came along and misunderstood Buck's reply.

  14. As someone who spend a good portion of college ascending all the classes in Nethack 3.1 without save-scumming, your biggest mistake in this game was accidentally praying before your timeout expired. Doing so pisses off your god (they think you are calling on them too much) and prevents them from helping you when you really need it. The best way to mitigate bad luck with food drops is to pray when you are weak (not hungry), or starving. The timeout expires before you become weak, so if you have trouble finding food, just move around until you're weak, and pray only then. If you only pray for food, you will never have food problems (but then you can't pray for other help like when you get low on HP), so it's still important to learn how to manage your food supply. But using prayers to manage food is a good starting point until you learn which monster corpses are safe to eat and which are not.

    Also, IIRC priests are the only class in the game that can start as any alignment, so the starting god for them is the Chinese mythos god tied to their alignment, not necessarily Shan Lai Ching. All other classes have a fixed starting alignment so Amaterasu is always the starting Samurai goddess.

    I also echo the comments saying that 3.1 is a big difference from 3.0. The quest and endgame sequences in particular feel blog-worthy.

    1. Yep, what you say about alignments and gods is true in 3.1. Looks like one of the bigger changes between 3.1 and 3.3 was giving the PC separate races and classes. Since the races are restricted in alignments, this meant that some classes had to allow multiple alignments in order to allow multiple races (for instance, dwarves are always lawful, so in 3.3+ Valkyries can be lawful to allow for dwarven Valkyries). And the Priest pantheon got moved over to the new Monk role, while Priests became a total wildcard--not only could they be any alignment they could be any pantheon, so you could get Priests of Amaterasu or even Susanowo, even though you couldn't get any other character to worship Susanowo.

      Long-winded way of saying, yes, in 3.1 every class but Priest has one fixed god while the dungeon can have priests and altars for two other gods in the pantheon, and it gets more complicated later! (But not enough to justify a new play for later editions, unless the Addict really wants to check out the new spell system in 3.3.)

    2. Oh, interesting. I figured that Chet just hadn't seen the alignment choice because of the random start.

  15. I last commented on Nethack 3.0 so it's been a while. ;)

    Nethack 3.1 is MUCH more fun than 3.0, mostly because it is less random. Ascenscion in 3.0 is a tremendous feat in part because a massive pack of orcs or soldiers can spawn on your head and kill you at any time. But 3.1 has deeper algorithms that make it equally deadly but less random.

    Specifically, when you get a clear understanding of how LUCK and PRAYER TIMEOUTs function then you will be playing the game from a position of strength. That knowledge will also then carry over intact to future versions. If you're going to actually play 3.1 then read spoilers on acquiring and retaining luck (altars, gems, luckstones), and then using the SPOILER's blessed horn to cure yourself.

    Keeping your deity very happy with you is also extremely important. Unsurprisingly, altars are important for that and understanding the prayer timeout will make it possible to pray safely without upsetting your deity.

    Over a decade is a Herculean feat. Well done from an OG reader!

  16. I picked a really good time to come back! I played a lot of Nethack 3.4.3 in high school, and some of the newer versions in grad school after not touching it for many, many years (I had a lot of time on the IR Spectrometer, hours of swapping a sample every 2 minutes. That computer ran Windows 95 (Yes, in 2020 we were still using Win95) and Nethack was the perfect game for it: it would fit on the USB key we used to move files onto and off it, I could leave it at a moment's notice, and it ran on Windows 95 (Even the newest version!)


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