Hell is the name of the netherworld in versions of Hack and NetHack from Hack 1.0.2 through NetHack 3.0.10. To win the game, the adventurer must enter Hell, take the Amulet of Yendor from the Wizard, and then return to the surface; starting with NetHack 3.0.0, s/he must then face the Astral Plane.
Location of Hell
In Hack 1.0.2 through NetHack 2.3e, Hell begins at dungeon level 30. There may be several mazes before that level, but they have no special properties (except that the first one has a guaranteed wand of wishing).
Prerequisites for entering and surviving in Hell
You arrive at the center of the earth...--More-- Unfortunately, it is here that hell is located.--More-- You burn to a crisp.
But if you are fire resistant:
But the fire doesn't seem to harm you.
All levels in Hell have only up-stairs (contrary to the Christian version of Hell, which may be entered but not escaped). Through NetHack 2.3e, the mazes between Medusa and Hell also have only up-stairs; thus Hell can only be entered by controlled level teleportation. Starting in NetHack 3.0.0, the topmost level of Hell may be entered directly from the Castle, as the Valley of the Dead is in modern versions; thus the trap-doors can be deathtraps. Level teleportation is still necessary to proceed further than the topmost level.
If fire resistance is lost for any reason, the adventurer immediately dies, burnt to a crisp (except in Hack 1.0.2, which does not check for the removal of the ring of fire resistance in Hell; this is a bug, and was fixed in Hack 1.0.3).
All the modern methods of acquiring and losing fire resistance are possible, subject to the existence of relevant features:
- Fire resistance may be acquired intrinsically by eating certain corpses.
- Self-polymorph first appears in NetHack 1.3d. One can enter Hell while polymorphed into, say, a dragon (equivalent to red dragon in this version); but when the polymorph ends, or is superseded by another polymorph to a non-fire-resistant form, you are exposed to the flames.
- Gremlins first appear in NetHack 2.3e and can kill instantly by removing intrinsic fire resistance, unless also conferred by other means.
- Red dragon scale mail first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. Nurse dancing is not advisable if this is your only source of fire resistance.
The amulet of life saving first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. It can prevent many deaths in Hell: it can block the level teleport, or you find yourself still wearing your ring. It is not known at this time how it would respond to lost polymorph, stolen items, or gremlin attacks.
Features of Hell
All levels in Hell are mazes. Some have a room in the center, surrounded by a moat; this may be where the Wizard of Yendor lives, or it may contain a demon and a fake Amulet. Starting with NetHack 3.0.0, this demon will be a demon prince if possible, or a demon lord if no demon princes are available. Named demons will not teleport out of the room to attack the adventurer.
An early version of Vlad's Tower first appears in NetHack 3.0.0. This has the floor plan of the modern Tower, but is not in a separate branch; rather each of its levels is embedded in a maze level. The lowermost one connects to the maze through a corridor extending to the right from the door. Its contents are the same as in the modern game, save that Vlad the Impaler does not have a Candelabrum of Invocation. Fighting Vlad is strictly optional in these versions, and an adventurer on the run from the Wizard of Yendor might be wise to pass him up.
Escaping from Hell
Since it is difficult to descend in Hell, most players will want to level-teleport to the deepest level: 40 through NetHack 1.4f, 60 in NetHack 2.2a and NetHack 2.3e, and 50 thereafter. (Attempted teleport to a deeper level is safe; you just end up on the deepest permitted level.)
Through NetHack 2.3e, one ascends an up-stairs and finds himself on the up-stairs of the next level. Thus ascent is rapid, and with telepathy one can see whether the Wizard of Yendor is on this level -- his symbol is 1, distinct from all other monsters -- and decide whether to stay and fight or to proceed to the next level.
Starting in NetHack 3.0.0, ascent by up-stairs in Hell no longer places you on the next up-stairs, but rather on a random spot in the next level. This can make escape difficult when the Wizard is after you, as you'll have to teleport against the inhibition caused by the Amulet, or dig through probably unknown parts of the maze -- possibly not even knowing (save by magic mapping) where the stairs are. It might be wise, if available equipment permits, to find the stairs on all levels and then zap back down to fight the Wizard.
The mysterious force makes its debut in NetHack 3.0.0. It is harder on lawful adventurers and easier on chaotic ones than the modern version. If you are chaotic, it does not transport you below the level you were trying to climb from; it just dumps you back on that level in a random location.