Dudley's dungeon is a NetHack-themed webcomic about the adventures of a player character named Dudley.
The first run of Dudley's dungeon was launched on February 2, 2004, created by Dion Nicolaas and hosted at his personal website - it would finish on the last day of 2008, and the code used to create the comics would be made available to whoever mailed the author.
From there, two separate continuations appeared:
- The first, hosted at sadowl.com, began on January 12th, 2009, and uses the same code and title as the original version; unfortunately, it has not updated since January 2013, and the site is now defunct. An archive can be viewed here at the Wayback Machine.
- The second continuation, hosted at alt.org and created by paxed, has several differences, most notably colors and a graphical editor. The source code for this comic is available at github, and is active as recently as June 2022.
Dudley's dungeon is set in the world of NetHack, where Dudley is the player character seeking the Amulet of Yendor. The webcomic is in ASCII, like NetHack in tty mode, so you can read it even if your web browser does not load graphics; anyone may design and submit their own version of a Dudley comic to the alt.org site for it to be commented and voted upon when published. However, do not forget to set proper options when reading it from a text browser (such as w3m or lynx), since otherwise popup explanations will interfere with the text of the comic.
Over the years, the comic has developed many characters recurring and otherwise.
Dudley, @ is the main character of the webcomic. He is introduced in the first strip as a chaotic male human Rogue, and uses various other role-race combinations throughout. Dudley gets himself into many of the terrible situations that can also be found in NetHack and brings out the humor in them - Dudley has a strong aversion to newts, developed from often meeting a comical end at the feet of one.
Dudley has owned several pets throughout the comic, most notably Fido and Dogley. Other pets have included a horse named Horseley, a long worm named MyDoom, seven baby black dragons that were promptly separated from Dudley when he fell through a trap door.
The two Dudleys of the continuation comics are considered separate characters and are aware of each other's worlds, but have yet to meet face-to-face (as of October 2009).
Fido, d, is one of Dudley's recurring pets, and first appears in the February 12, 2004 strip. Fido is a normal dog, with roughly the intelligence of one - while not a particularly good or bad pet, even he has trouble with newts sometimes.
Dogley, d, is another of Dudley's recurring pets, and is likely named as a mix of "Dudley" and "dog" (possibly influenced by Dilbert's dog, Dogbert). He first appears in the strip for August 19, 2005, and appears somewhat less often than Fido. Dogley is far more intelligent than a normal dog - certainly moreso than his owner. He is also more competent in combat than Dudley, similar to other pet dogs in many NetHack games; he is often turned into a dragon via polymorph, and has saved Dudley many times while in dragon form.
Dogley discovered and named the Dogley Dimension, also known as an "infinite void" that exists between dungeon levels, via wizard mode. The Dogley Dimension is responsible for monster generation, caused by the collisions of floating hash mark symbols, and is what causes each hole to drop monsters and objects that fall through them into random squares on the same level. According to Dogley, the Wizard of Yendor uses wormholes through this space to connect staircases.
Cherry is an explorer who is on an adventure of her own in the dungeon, and is a neutral female chickatrice warrior that seeks the Seed of Life. Dudley regards Cherry as yet another monster, and as a result she tends to be a victim of his usual shenanigans and/or the misfortune that he attracts.
Cherry debuts in a story arc (beginning with the strip for August 17, 2006) where Dudley frequently plays a chaotic male elven wizard. When Dudley hesitates to use a blessed scroll of genocide on a cockatrice nest, Cherry appears and announces her quest for the Seed of Life. This causes Dudley to panic and go through with it, wiping Cherry out along with the cockatrices - her headstone reads, "killed by an unrelated plotline".
Cherry re-appears in the strip for September 25, 2006, having started another game, and locates a "human rogue called Dudley". Before she can attack him in retaliation, a mail daemon rushes to deliver a message to Dudley, shoving Cherry into a fountain and killing her - her headstone reads, "drowned in a deluge of mail".
Cherry starts a third game in the February 23, 2007 strip, prepared to solve her Dudley problem by using a blessed scroll of genocide against @. Unfortunately for her, Dudley kills Cherry and takes her corpse to use against some weak monsters, though she still complains all the while. Cherry gets the last laugh when Dudley falls into a pit while holding her corpse and is turned to stone.
The February 7, 2008 strip shows Cherry in the middle of another game, suddenly meeting Dudley in a corridor. Cherry has an uncursed scroll of genocide, and uses it to genocide humans. The showrace option then reveals that Dudley is currently a dwarf, and he attacks Cherry.
Cherry's last appearance in the original comic is the August 7, 2008 strip, where Dudley finds a tin of Cherry's meat; he eats it, mistaking the "Cherry" in the tin for fruit, and is turned to stone.
The Gnome With the Wand of Death (GWTWOD) is a recurring character that first appears in the May 31, 2005 strip. As implied by the name, the gnome's primary motive is to kill Dudley at inconvenient and unexpected moments.
- Newts: The punchlines of earlier strips frequently involved Dudley dying at the hands of incredibly weak monsters, with newts becoming the most common by far - this strip features the very first newt death. Around the time of the continuations, the joke was eventually criticized as overused, and most strips featuring newts killing Dudley are usually rated poorly and referred to as "newt jokes" or YANC ("Yet Another Newt Comic"). Comments posted by L keep track of the various newt comics from the first run with a decent level of accuracy.
- Yet another meta strip - a strip whose humor relies on commentary about the comic's jokes or other meta-comic tropes, Many of these strips also involve newts in some manner.
- YASD: The primary source of humor in the comic is Dudley (and sometimes other monsters) dying in all sorts of inexplicable manners.