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In NetHack, ascension is the objective of every player character and the means by which the game is won.

A character ascends by retrieving the Amulet of Yendor from Moloch's Sanctum and bringing it to the Elemental Planes while avoiding the Wizard of Yendor, then reaching the Astral Plane and successfully offering the Amulet on their god's high altar. The ascension kit refers to a set of items that most characters seek out in order to achieve this goal, and the ascension run refers to the final segment of the game after obtaining the Amulet of Yendor.

There are players who claim to have played for decades without ascending, although their number has been reduced in recent years as the Internet has provided easy access to spoilers.


Offering the real Amulet of Yendor (rather than a cheap plastic imitation) on any high altar will immediately end the game in one of three ways:

  • If the character offers the Amulet on a cross-aligned high altar, that altar's god gains dominion over their god while allowing the character to escape the dungeon in celestial disgrace.[1]
  • If the character offers the Amulet on the high altar to Moloch in his Sanctum, Moloch retains dominion over their god and kills the character, and a character revived by life saving is then reduced to dust.[2] The only way to survive this is in explore mode or wizard mode, by declining when prompted if you want to die, though the game ends regardless since the character is then forced out of the dungeon.[3]
  • If the character offers the Amulet at the high altar of their god, they will ascend to demigod-hood, and the game is won.[4] This does not take any conversions into account, only checking to see that the character's alignment matches that of the high altar, so it is possible to ascend a character as their original alignment after permanent conversion by using a helm of opposite alignment. This applies a score multiplier of 2× if the character never converted from their starting alignment, or 1.5× if they converted and used the helm to change back.

As it is required to complete the game, offering the Amulet to any deity does not break atheist conduct.


In NetHack 2.3e and prior versions, winning the game was achieved simply by leaving the dungeon with the real Amulet of Yendor. NetHack 3.0.0 introduces the Endgame and the prospect of offering the Amulet on the altar of the character's deity - NetHack 3.1.0 introduces the Astral Plane proper along with the Elemental Planes.

From NetHack 3.0.0 to NetHack 3.4.3, including some variants based on those versions, ascending always resulted in a double score multiplier, and a slightly different message is used to signify ascension:

You offer the Amulet of Yendor to [your god]...
An invisible choir sings, and you are bathed in radiance...
The voice of [your god] [booms out/booms/thunders/rings out]: "Congratulations, mortal!"
"In return to thy service, I grant thee the gift of Immortality!"
You ascend to the status of Demigod[dess]...

In NetHack 3.6.0, commit 2adc83e1 introduces the lack of score multiplier if ascending while of a different alignment, as well as the lower score multiplier for a character ascending while converted back to their original alignment via helm of opposite alignment.


The following message occurs when a character successfully ascends:

You offer the Amulet of Yendor to [your god]...
An invisible choir sings, and you are bathed in radiance...
The voice of [your god] [booms out/booms/thunders/rings out]: "Mortal, thou hast done well!"
"In return to thy service, I grant thee the gift of Immortality!"
You ascend to the status of Demigod[dess]... 


Variants based on NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier versions may or may not apply a score multiplier change for ascending after converting to another alignment.

Though ascending by offering the Amulet of Yendor does not break atheist conduct in NetHack, some variants incorporate the Astral Escape patch - this treats offering the Amulet as breaking atheist conduct, and allows atheist characters to invoke the Amulet instead. Some variants may also offer new roles with alternate conditions for ascension, as well as changes to existing requirements for ascension.


GruntHack incorporates a significantly modified version of the Astral Escape patch, allowing a character to invoke the Amulet of Yendor on their god's high altar and escape with the Amulet of Yendor, which is given the same score as a "proper" ascension.


In SporkHack, if a character's alignment record is not positive after offering the Amulet of Yendor (which boosts your alignment record by 10), they are denied the status of demigod(ess) and forced to escape in celestial disgrace. This makes ascending using a helm of opposite alignment more difficult, especially for inattentive or unaware players.


UnNetHack also incorporates the Astral Escape patch: a character can invoke the Amulet of Yendor on the correct high altar instead, defying the gods and allowing them to escape with the Amulet and a "proper" ascension score as in GruntHack - this allows an atheist character to ascend without breaking the conduct. Doing so on a cross-aligned high altar is treated as escaping in celestial disgrace, with the character managing to return home but losing the Amulet in the process after it protects them from the gods' wrath. Invoking the Amulet on Moloch's high altar does not provoke a reaction from Moloch, but angers that character's god and applies other penalties.

The above information also applies to DynaHack.


In xNetHack, ascending using a helm of opposite alignment will always result in a dishonorable ascension.


In EvilHack, several mechanics related to ascension are changed:

  • If a character attempts to offer the Amulet to a different deity while converted from their original alignment using a helm of opposite alignment, there is a 13 chance of the character's original god noticing the deception, incurring many severe penalties: the original god is angered, a −5 penalty to alignment and luck is applied, and the helm is destroyed.
  • Successfully ascending while converted to a different alignment using the helm will be treated as an ascension "in dishonor", with a 13 score reduction; ascending while using the helm to convert back to the character's starting alignment grants a 1.5x score bonus, compared to the 2x bonus obtained from remaining loyal.
  • Most significantly, the Infidel is a role added to EvilHack that ascends in a manner inverse to other roles: they start with the real Amulet of Yendor and must make their way down to Moloch's Sanctum with the Amulet and their quest artifact, the Idol of Moloch. Once there, they must offer the Amulet on Moloch's high altar, where Moloch then imbues the Idol with the Amulet's power - the Infidel's goal then becomes invoking the imbued Idol on the weakest god's high altar, with the Archbishop of Moloch and the high priest of Moloch providing hints about which altars to avoid. An Infidel ascension consists of determining the correct high altar to invoke the imbued Idol on, then reaching the Astral Plane and dealing with the high priest(s) before securing Moloch's victory by invoking the Idol on that altar.

All of the above information applies to Hack'EM.

See also