Forum:Hunger and Poison

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Is this and that really the best tips there are for dealing with hunger and poison?

I feel like once every couple years I pick this game up, play it on and off for a month, lose repeatedly, then put it down until a couple years later I repeat the cycle. In the decades I've played this game, I think the farthest I've gotten is one time I made it to the knight's quest. If I make it to just the Sokoban, then that's a one in a hundred game for me. The wiki says it's not about luck, but the one time I got to the knight's quest was when I just decided "This is just a game of luck" and decided to just grind out hundreds of games until I got a pretty decent start. I've gotten to the point where I know I'll never beat this game in my lifetime. I've made my peace with the fact that it's impossible for me, but I'd like to at least once see the hell levels or maybe even get past the knight's artifact quest once.

I find I usually indirectly die of hunger or a lack of intrinsic resistance. Otherwise, in rare games where I don't face those issues I find I'll die--and this is why I've written off that I'm capable of beating this game--because when you have to play for tens of thousands of turns I'm _going_ to make a mistake.

Intrinsics--Poison Resistance Especially

According to the wiki, I have the following options to get poison resistance:

1 - Eating a safe corpse that grants poison resistance
2 - Getting a ring/amulet of poison resistance
3 - Getting an alchemy smock
4 - Getting a unicorn horn
5 - Getting a wish

In all of the games I've played over the years, I think I've come across a ring of poison resistance once, and I've never come across an alchemy smock. So scratch out #s 2 and 3.

By the time I'm strong enough to face a unicorn, I'll have needed to get poison resistance already. So, although possible and I've done it, I'd really rather not depend on #4. However, this leads to hunger issues, which I'll get down to below.

  1. possible. If I continually restart the game over and over going immediately to any fountains to get wishes from water demons. I have done this before, and it was why I was able to at least _get_ to the knight's artifact quest once. However, supposedly, this game shouldn't depend on "luck."

That leads to #1. However, I don't see how this isn't luck, either. First, I have to hit one of the safe corpses. This is already incredibly lucky for me. I can usually count on at least two or three spider, naga, shrieker, or molds in a playthrough. However, then I have to roll the dice that they drop a corpse. Then I have to roll a dice on top of that that I actually get that magical, mythical "You feel healthy." text to finally appear. I find I need to come across 10 such enemies to finally get poison resistance.

However, if I have to hunt 10 or so such creatures and not die from going too deep and hitting lots of creatures with actual poison or who'd just outright kill me, then I need to go back up and down multiple floors hunting for respawned creatures. However, if I'm just hunting for creatures then I'll have issues with...


I'm constantly running into issues of hunger. I find I almost always need to completely and utterly rely on prayer to survive. Because of this, my character is almost always in a 'Hungry' state because I find I need to use prayer so that I can save my unperishable food for when I need to actually go deeper or am otherwise on the wrong side of the prayer timeout.

The best games I've had are when the Mine Towns temple is co-aligned with me, because then I can get to the co-aligned altar, get holy water, reset my prayer timeout, etc., etc.. But the vast majority of my games I do not have a co-aligned altar at Mine Town and it's actually pretty hard for me to find a co-aligned altar most of the time.

If I avoid encumbrance, ride as much as possible, and avoid using rings as much as possible to try to minmax my hunger, it'll help; but _eventually_ my pet will die, and _eventually_ I need to drag a corpse I can't eat anyways to do a sacrifice to try to reset my prayer timer. Or, just in the midst of trying to accomplish my other goals I'll either have to stay on higher levels so much that I end up not finding enough food and starving, or rush to lower levels to find food that I end up meeting my demise. In other words, hunger is usually what makes me 'hurry' ("I have to go down now because there's only so much food left for me to dabble about and try to get stronger on these upper floors!") and lose.

If I don't die from hunger, I find I'll die because of decisions I make in desperation because I know I'm going to die of hunger because I'm starting to run out of my stockpile.


I might as well note this here. I've never found Elbereth to be consistently useful nor do I really understand how it can be. Either I have to use a wand to engrave it that I'm never going to have at the early stages in the game where I'd need to use Elbereth (it's _very_ hard for me to find wands in general), or I'm using my finger to write it in the dirt which has helped me a few times in desperation (but it's a 50/50 chance affair), or I'm ruining nearly all the weaponry I'm coming across to make engravings in random places, or it feels like all the monsters who happen to give me trouble just don't care about Elbereth. I just haven't really found it consistently useful.


What am I doing wrong here? Unmywhin (talk) 23:31, 19 May 2024 (UTC)

In my opinion, poison resistance is not such a crucial early-game property that you should derail the game looking for it. It's mostly useful for preventing instadeaths, but at that stage of the game you should be more concerned about HP loss. In particular, backtracking just to fight respawned monsters is a bad plan and probably contributes to your hunger issues. Just wait until you get a unicorn horn, then eat e.g. killer bee corpses until you get the resistance, curing the strength loss as you go -- poison from eating corpses is never an instadeath.
What roles are you playing? You mentioned Knight, but Knight can be a tricky role for inexperienced players due to the lack of substantial food or infravision, heavy starting gear, and necessity of managing several advanced game mechanics (jumping, riding, pounding). Stick with the basic noob roles for now -- Barbarian, Samurai, and Valkyrie. You could also try a Ranger or Rogue. Starting with a ranged attack lets you kill a lot of monsters before they can close to melee range. Orcish Rogues usually start with a decent amount of food (and poison resistance), and elven Rangers in particular can last for thousands of turns just on their lembas wafers.
If you're going to write Elbereth with your finger, make sure to give yourself enough time for several tries to account for smudges. You don't want to start when you're one turn away from dying. Engraving with a non-athame weapon is almost never worth it. If you must have a semi-permanent engraving, use a hard ring or gemstone.
Above all, keep in mind that NetHack is very random, and it's normal and expected that you'll die many, many times before your first ascension. Just keep trying new things and learning from your mistakes. Also, explore mode is an underrated tool for learning the game, as long as you think about why you died and don't just treat it as god mode. I played through the game in explore mode several times before my first "real" ascension.--Darth l33t (talk) 12:04, 20 May 2024 (UTC)

You forgot option zero: play a role or race that starts with poison resistance (or gains poison resistance by levelling up). The obvious choice is the Barbarian, since they are pretty easy to play. It shouldn’t be that hard to get to Sokoban as a Barbarian if you totally ignore the Mines. Orcs of any role have poison resistance - additionally, non-Wizard orcs start with some extra food. Other options include Monks and Healers, but they are more complicated to play due to their reliance on spellcasting.
Additionally, you can use a tinning kit to make poisonous corpses safe to eat, or a potion of restore ability to bring back stats lost from eating a poisonous corpse, or a ring of sustain ability to avoid the loss of stats in the first place. But safely eating a poisonous corpse is even more situational than the tactics you already tried. Better to play as a Barbarian. —-Aximili (talk) 07:15, 27 May 2024 (UTC)
Hunger isn't really an issue for most players, in fact DevTeam is going to reduce food drops in 3.7 because it's too easy now. Like Darth l33t wrote above, you problem is probably wandering around on empty levels until you're starving -- remember that experience levels do NOT make the game easier, because harder monster spawns outweigh more HP. You need to power up through loot instead. As long as you keep moving, there'll be more than enough corpses to keep fed, at least from Mines on (the first couple Dungeon levels can be lean, sometimes).
As for poison resistance, you'll be happy to know that in 3.7 they're removing the instadeath feature! As for now, killing unicorns is actually not hard at all, as they actively avoid hitting you, so you just need a wand of missiles, or a boomerang, or some other attack that eschews straight lines. It's not a question of overall character strength. Also, if you find a sink, pudding farming is still an option, although you won't get much besides resistances in 3.6. Finally, I remember deliberately eating bees at least once, because I already lost Str and needed to lose more so I could pray to restore it, but this was very situational. Tomsod (talk) 20:42, 30 May 2024 (UTC)