Headstone

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Not to be confused with the ASCII tombstone that the game prints when a character dies.

A headstone is a dungeon feature represented by |.

When the player character dies and leaves a corpse, a grave is created with the tombstone bearing the character's name and manner of death. The name of a previous character may also be used for random corpses.

Graves may also be randomly generated, in which case they may contain some randomly generated treasure, so grave-robbing may be worthwhile. Those in a graveyard are empty.

Graves can only occur on an open, non-trapped floor square.

If you attempt to pick up from a grave with no items on it, you will get a YAFM: "You don't need a gravestone. Yet."

Digging

Bad effects

Digging into a grave may result in an alignment penalty:[1]

Samurai −1 if lawful, +1 if chaotic "You disturb the honorable dead!"
Archeologist −3 if lawful, +3 if chaotic "You feel like a despicable grave-robber!"
Other −1 if lawful and alignment record > −10 "You have violated the sanctity of this grave!"

The owner of the grave may be:[2]

25 A very old corpse "You unearth a corpse."
15 A zombie "The grave's owner is very upset!" (if hallucinating: "Dude! The living dead!")
15 A mummy "You've disturbed a tomb!" (if hallucinating: "I want my mummy!")
15 Nothing "The grave seems unused. Strange...."

Treasure

Graves from dead players never contain treasure; the player's items are left on top of the grave.

Randomly generated graves may contain treasure if you dig for it. Treasure is generated this way in the same way as the rest of the level,[3] except it is cursed.[4]

  • 13 chance of a pile of gold (the gold is not buried which may be a bug)
  • 0–4 randomly generated objects

Engraving

You cannot engrave on a grave with your finger. Engraving with a hard object generates a ghoul (once per grave – "you disturb the undead!") and abuses wisdom.[5] Elbereth is ignored on headstones; this is to prevent cheeky players from naming themselves Elbereth to leave behind a permanently warded square when they die.

Inscriptions

Player graves are inscribed with the cause of death. Randomly generated grave inscriptions include various epitaphs, randomly selected from a list. Starting in NetHack 3.6.0, this list is found in dat/epitaph.txt, which is much too long to present in its entirety here. The 3.6.0 epitaphs come from the custom epitaphs used on NAO.

The epitaphs in 3.4.3 are all present in 3.6.0, and are listed here:

  • Saved by the bell. (There is also a bell on top of the grave.)[6][7]
  • Go away!
  • 1994-1995. The Longest-Lived Hacker Ever
  • Be careful, or this could happen to you!
  • Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice
  • Beware of Electric Third Rail
  • Caution! This grave contains toxic waste
  • Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up and no place to go. (Thurmont, Maryland)
  • Here lies Ezekiel, age 102. The good die young. (East Dalhousie, Nova Scotia)
  • Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon me for not rising. (Ruidoso, New Mexico)
  • Here lies my wife: Here let her lie! Now she's at rest and so am I. (John Dryden's epitaph for his wife)
  • Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake. Stepped on the gas instead of the brake. (Uniontown, Pennsylvania)
  • I made an ash of myself. (Julian Skaggs of West Virginia, who was cremated)
  • Look out below!
  • Made in Taiwan
  • Note -- there are NO valuable items in this grave
  • Og friend. Og good dude. Og died. Og now food (possibly a reference to Internet Oracle lore, or to Cavemen's ability to commit cannibalism without penalty)
  • He always lied while on the earth and now he's lying in it
  • Please don't dig me up. I'm perfectly happy down here. -- Resident
  • Postman, please note forwarding address: Gehennom, Asmodeus's Fortress, fifth lemure on the left
  • Mary had a little lamb/Its fleece was white as snow/When Mary was in trouble/The lamb was first to go
  • Rest in peace
  • Rest In Pieces
  • R.I.P.
  • Soon ripe. Soon rotten. Soon gone. But not forgotten.
  • Soon you'll join this fellow in hell! -- the Wizard of Yendor
  • Sum quod eris (Latin: "I am what you will be"—dead.)
  • The Grave of the Unknown Hacker
  • We weren't sure who this was, but we buried him here anyway

Some 3.6.0 additions include:

  • Don't be daft, they couldn't hit an elephant at this dist- (Alleged last words of General John Sedgwick, killed at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, May 9, 1864; in fact he completed the sentence)
  • Audi Partem Alteram (Latin: "Listen to the other side")
  • Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (Horace: "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country"; quoted as "the old Lie" by Wilfred Owen in "Dulce et Decorum Est)
  • Auri sacra fames (Latin: "Accursed hunger for gold")
  • Auribus teneo lupum (Latin: "I hold a wolf by the ears", or a tiger by the tail)
  • Obesa Cantavit (Latin: "The fat lady has sung")

UnNetHack

UnNetHack includes a large number of new headstone messages, including the following:

  • Apres moi, le deluge. ("After me, the flood"; attributed to Louis XV, also the motto of 617 Squadron, RAF "The Dam Busters"). This grave will always have a scroll of flood on top of it.
  • It must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
  • If a man's deeds do not outlive him, of what value is a mark in stone?
  • Nobody believed her when she said her feet were killing her.
  • On the whole, I'd rather be in Minetown.
  • Game over, man. Game over.
  • Attempted suicide.
  • Always attack a floating eye from behind!
  • Killed by a black dragon -- This grave is empty.
  • This was actually just a pit, but since there was a corpse, we filled it.
  • Confusion will be my epitaph.
  • The reports of my demise are completely accurate.
  • Do not open until Christmas.
  • Go away! I'm trying to take a nap in here! Bloody adventurers...
  • Sparky -- he was a very good dog.
  • Tu quoque, Brute? (Latin - "You too, Brutus?")
  • At last... a nice long sleep.
  • I'd rather be sailing.
  • I'm gonna make it!
  • R2D2 -- Rest, Tin Piece.
  • Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. (Latin - "It is sweet and honorable to die for your country").
  • Go Team Ant!
  • Brains... Brains... Fresh human brains…
  • ...for famous men have the whole earth as their memorial.
  • NetHack 1987-2003?
  • Et in Arcadia ego. (Latin - "And in Arcadia I am").
  • And they said it couldn't be done!
  • Don't let this happen to you!
  • SOLD.
  • Wish you were here!
  • Lookin' good, Medusa.
  • Taking a year dead for tax reasons.
  • ...but the blood has stopped pumping and I am left to decay…
  • Applaud, my friends, the comedy is finished.
  • Beware the ...
  • It wasn't a fair fight.
  • You should see the other guy.
  • ...and they made me engrave my own headstone too!
  • Are we all being disintegrated, or is it just me?
  • I'll be back!
  • Don't forget to stop and smell the roses.
  • VACANCY.
  • Take my stuff, I don't need it anymore.
  • Beware of Discordians bearing answers.
  • Hodie mihi, cras tibi. (Latin - Today me, tomorrow for you).
  • I took both pills!
  • American Democracy 1776-2016.
  • Burninated.
  • And so it ends?
  • Hack 1984-1985.
  • Adventure, hah! Excitement, hah!
  • I was killed by <illegible scrawl>
  • SLASH'EM 1997-2006.
  • (This space for sale)
  • This way to the crypt.
  • Out to Lunch.
  • All's well that end well
  • Algernon
  • <Expletive Deleted>
  • Here lies a programmer. Killed by a fatal error.
  • He farmed his way here
  • One corpse, sans head
  • Forget Disney World, I'm going to Hell!
  • I will survive!
  • SporkHack 2007-2010
  • For sale: One soul, slightly used. Asking for 3 wishes.
  • Res omnia mea culpa est
  • Basil, assaulted by bears
  • Not again!

On one of the variations of the top level of the Ruins of Moria, there will be a grave with the message (Balin, Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria).

Additionally, if you kick a headstone, you have a 15 chance of kicking it over (destroying it).

Internals

  • make_grave generates a headstone with a (random or given) epitaph. Graveyards and bones files call this function directly.
  • mkgrave may generate treasure and the "saved by the bell" grave. Randomly generated headstones call this function.

Encyclopedia entry

"Who'd care to dig 'em," said the old, old man,
"Those six feet marked in chalk?
Much I talk, more I walk;
Time I were buried," said the old, old man.

[ Three Songs to the Same Tune, by W.B. Yeats ]

References