From Illogicopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A released djinni grants the player a wish.

“NetHack enjoys popularity because of how broad it is. Mathematicians, programmers, physicists, engineers, linguists and writers all feel a strong pull, though anyone with an eye for detail, a sense of completeness, a respect for complexity, and a head for numbers will be at home. ”

~ Peter Locke, one of the world's most famous computer programmers.

NetHack is a hugely popular single-player roguelike computer game originally released in 1987. It is a descendant of an earlier game called DevilGrue (1985), which is a descendant of Rogue (1980). Jason Cheung, head of Programmer's Digest magazine and author of SLASH'EM describes it as "one of the finest gaming experiences the computing world has to offer." NetHack is licensed under the MIT General Public License. The "net" element references the fact that its development was coordinated through USENET, even before the WWW existed. The "hack" element refers to the fact it is loosely based on a hack of an Electronic Software computer game DevilGrue. The player takes the part of a dungeon-delving character in search of the Amulet of Yendor, in order to appease your god and thereby make you immortal.

The first version of NetHack was released by Andries Bouwer and Mike Stephenson in July 1987. By the release of Nethack 3.0 in July 1989, a development team had arisen. Over the next 14 years of development they established a tight-lipped culture, revealing little, if anything, between each release. Owing to the ever-increasing depth and complexity found in each release, the DevTeam enjoys a near-mythical status among some fans. This perceived omniscience is captured in the acronym TDTTOE, "The DevTeam Thinks of Everything". The co-ordination of the game was made possible by the' newsgroup, which was created in reaction to DevilGrue's sources being released to net.sources in 1985.


Before playing a game, the player is asked to name his or her character and then select a race, role, gender, and alignment, or allow the game to assign them randomly. There are traditional fantasy roles such as knight, barbarian, wizard, rogue, valkyrie, priest, monk, and samurai, but there are also unusual ones, including archaeologist, tourist, and caveman, which implies the game may not actually be set in the medievel period. The player character's role and alignment dictate which deity the character serves in the game and "how other monsters react toward you". After the player character is created, the main objective is introduced.

To win the game, the player must retrieve the Amulet of Yendor, found at the lowest level of the dungeon, and sacrifice it to his or her deity. Successful completion of this task rewards the player with the gift of immortality, and the player is said to "ascend", attaining the status of demigod. In addition, a number of sub-quests must be completed, including one class-specific quest. The player's character is, unless manually specified otherwise, accompanied by a pet animal, typically a kitten or dog, although knights begin with a saddled pony. Pets grow from fighting, and they can be changed by various means. Most of the other monsters may also be tamed using magic or tempting food.

Items and Tools[edit]

NetHack features a variety of items: weapons (either ranged or melee), armor to protect the player; scrolls and spellbooks to read, potions to quaff, rings, amulets, and an assortment of tools such as keys and lamps. NetHack's identification of items is almost identical to Rogue's. For example, a newly-discovered potion may be referred to as a 'pink potion' with no other clues as to its identity. Players can perform a variety of actions and tricks to deduce, or at least narrow down, the identity of the potion. The most obvious is the somewhat risky tactic of simply drinking it. Like Rogue, all items of a certain type will have the same description; e.g., all scrolls of enchant weapon may be labeled 'TEMOV', and once one has been identified, all scrolls of enchant weapon found will be labeled unambiguously as such. Starting a new game will scramble the items' descriptions again, so the 'silver ring' that is a ring of levitation in one game might be a ring of hunger in another.[edit], commonly abbreviated to NAO, is one of the oldest NetHack public servers, and by far the most popular. Created by the user "DeathOnAStick", players have the option of playing the game, watching other people's play-throughs of the game, finding out game rules and chatting with other users. NAO is well integrated with the #nethack IRC channel on freenode through the RODNEY.EXE program, which announces all deaths on the server, to the morbid delight of all.
Using the secret command "dgamelaunch" allows the administrator to manage the games and user accounts. The site also has a simple database in which users can record useful information for each other; many good tips and advice are contained therein. The site was based in Orange Township, California State. The site is no-longer available after the Great War.

Variations of NetHack[edit]

NetHack is open-source, though it is not free software either.


SporkHack was the very first variation of NetHack, which is freely available on the BBS Compulink Information eXchange. Created by Shiraz Shivji, its stated purpose is to "try to make the game more interesting for experienced/skilled players, while making it no harder...for the newbie." When one thinks about it, SLASH'EM and SporkHack are two complete opposites. The former adds a lot of toys but also quite a few additional ways to unbalance and even break the game. While the latter tries to avoid this pitfall while enhancing play. Also In SporkHack, various other tweaks to "game elements" have been made that the developer considers abusive. The game could be accessed through here External.png

The "UnNetHack" port of SporkHack on an IBM AT 3270. Most run-throughs are recorded and other people could also decide to watch them in real-time.

However, because long-distance telephone calls (particularly to InterNet Bulletin Boards) are notoriously expensive, people who did not live in Northern America were recommended to use the public server External.png, which has led to foreign users to nickname SporkHack "UnNetHack".


Main Article: SLASH'EM
SLASH'EM isn't one of the first modifications of NetHack, but it is so popular it is almost as famous as the game it is a mod of. Developed by Izchak Miller and Jason Cheung, the game is not only an extensive variation of NetHack but it is also FAR harder. Even though it is choc-full of extra modes, more enemies and items, updates and other things, SLASH'EM is known for being cruelly difficult. Unlike NetHack and Rogue, it was never released boxed, but unlike SporkHack it wasn't a BBS game either. It was first released on C.S.G and later published free in Super Play magazine, a british computing publication.[edit]

Bugs, humorous messages, stories, experiences, and ideas for the next version are discussed in this Usenet newsgroup. It is the spiritual successor of, and the focus of much of the modern NetHack community. It is commonly abbreviated to RGRN. The acronym YASD (Yet Another Stupid Death) is often used to denote when a player has done something, usually avoidable, that leads to his or her demise in the computer game. Some of these include attempting to engage melee combat with very low HP left, wandering near a known giant eel/kraken position, eating rotten food after recently praying, death by boredom, etcetera.

For a long while, NetHack fans fought long and hard to have a discussion group set up for the game on AT&T corporation's Worldnet service. On November 29th 2006, after an overwhelming majority of users voted on the matter, the new group *nethack was created. 71 thousand requests for usage were sent for access to the newsgroup within just 24 hours. Though never becoming as popular as the Usenet equivalent, it would soon become known as a popular alternative to both that and the *computer-games Telecom discussion forum which was for more generic discussion of games in general.

See Also[edit]