Dungeons & Dragons

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Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D for short) was the first modern tabletop roleplaying game. The original edition was published in 1974, and NetHack draws from it a huge number of monsters, items and concepts, as well as the turn-based probabilistic gameplay style - core game concepts taken into NetHack from D&D include hit points, armor class, the six basic attributes, and alignment. While NetHack draws from many, many sources, the D&D games may well have been its biggest single influence.

Monsters and items

A number of monsters that were created for the D&D games also made their way into NetHack, such as gelatinous cubes and mind flayers. Much of the taxonomy of magical items is familiar to D&D players as well: potions with (mostly) temporary effects, scrolls that disappear when read, rings that modify statistics or give intrinsic powers when worn (and only one can be worn on a hand), wands with charges, and so forth.

D&D (and by extension NetHack) has always been wildly eclectic, drawing on ancient folklores, contemporary fantasy literature, and the occasional bad pun from our modern world. One example of this is Vorpal Blade, which is a magical item in D&D (with the same 5% probability of decapitation), but is a reference to the Lewis Carroll poem "Jabberwocky". D&D once featured a pair of published game adventures set in a world based on Carroll's works, with mad hatters and cheshire cats as well as jabberwocks.


Some of the key differences between D&D and NetHack deserve to be mentioned as well, and spell-casting is a primary source of such divergences: In D&D, spellcasters are able to learn a fixed number of spells each day, based on experience level, and must specify the spells in advance. For instance, a magic user might specify magic missile, wizard lock, knock, and lightning bolt, and that would be it for the day—no refunds, no exchanges. Class-based restrictions are much more of an issue in D&D as well - magic users (wizards) and clerics (priests) are the primary spellcasters, and other classes have little to no ability to do any casting at all (and can't even read most scrolls). On the other hand, magic users are not even permitted to wear armor or use all but a few weapons (notably dagger and staff), and clerics are not allowed to use pointed or edged weapons.

In current versions NetHack, spell-casting is based on a combination of magical energy points and occasional re-memorization of spells. In NetHack 3.2.3 and prior versions, spell-casting was closer to a "Vancian" system.


This list may be incomplete.


Multiple variants take varying amounts of additional inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons, depending on that variant's design philosophies.


SLASH'EM has additional monsters inspired by Dungeons & Dragons:


EvilHack draws heavily from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons for its updated bestiary, additional items, and existing item changes.


dNetHack draws heavily from both Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and the Cthulhu Mythos for its added monsters.

See also