Quest

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In NetHack, the Quest is a great journey upon which all seekers of the Amulet must embark. It is the only way to obtain the Bell of Opening, which is in turn necessary in order to get the Amulet, so it is impossible to win NetHack without completing the Quest.

The Quest involves recovering a magic artifact stolen from your people by a powerful nemesis. Once this task is complete, you are ready to return to your mission to get the Amulet.

Access

Somewhere between the dungeon levels 11 and 16, 6 or 7 levels below the Oracle, you will receive a message from your quest leader, pleading for your help. On this level is a magic portal that, when found, leads to a new branch of the dungeon. You will find the quest leader in the first level of this branch, and must speak to them before proceeding to subsequent levels. You must be of your original alignment, have at least 20 alignment record, and have at least experience level 14 to receive permission; see the section on quest leaders below for some more detail.

The entrance to the quest proper will be a down stair on the same level as your quest leader. On the bottom level you will encounter your quest nemesis, with the artifact and a silver bell. You cannot go down or level teleport from the Quest home level, even with prior permission, if you are not of your original alignment. Unlike the initial permission requirement, this can be overcome with a helm of opposite alignment.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

You can gain access to the Quest by killing your Quest Leader. Doing so gives +7 to god anger and -20 to Luck, and causes your Luck to time out to -4. You also forfeit the alignment record bonus from killing your Quest Nemesis.

Quest branch

The exact composition and inhabitants of the Quest depend on your role, but all Quests share some common features. The Quest always takes place in a separate branch of the dungeon with five (sometimes more) levels:

  • Home level: The first level has a layout that is mostly the same in every game played as a given role. It contains your Quest leader (see below) and several Quest guardians, friendly monsters present to add flavor. From the home level, you can return to the Dungeons of Doom through a second magic portal, or you can embark on the Quest through a down staircase on the level. The home level prohibits teleporting, and the walls and floor are non-diggable.
  • Upper filler level: The second level is a randomly-generated filler level. Depending on your role, it may be a room-and-corridor level, a cavern, or a special type of level.
  • Locate level: The third level also has a layout that is mostly the same for your role, and a message will be displayed each time you enter it until the Quest nemesis is killed. The walls and floor are non-diggable. Other than that, there is nothing special about it.
  • Lower filler level(s): Below the Locate level are one to three more filler levels, which may be the same as or different from the upper filler level.
  • Goal level: The last level is the "Goal" level. Like the Home level, its layout is mostly fixed, and a message will be displayed each time you enter it until the Quest nemesis is killed. The nemesis is generated asleep or meditating, carrying the Bell of Opening, and the quest artifact is on the floor of the square the nemesis occupies. The walls and floor are non-diggable in all Goal levels; the Goal level in the Rogue and Samurai Quests is also no-teleport.

The locate and filler levels are eligible to leave bones; the home and goal levels are not.

Every time you enter the quest portal level, you'll get a purely cosmetic message about your leader needing your help. If you want to switch it off, #chat with your quest leader while you are carrying the Bell of Opening and the quest artifact.

Monsters

While monsters are still randomly-generated, monster generation in the Quest is biased toward monsters that fit its theme (i.e. "quest monsters"). See the following section for a list of quest-specific monsters. Internally, every role has two quest monsters and two quest monster classes; typically, these enemy classes are the classes of the enemy monster, but that is not mandatory (for example, the Rogue quest breaks this pattern). Monster generation in the Quest uses the following distribution:

  • 96/175 (55%) first specific quest monster
  • 24/175 (14%) first quest class
  • 24/175 (14%) second specific quest monster
  • 6/175 (3%) second quest class
  • 1/7 (14%) normal random monster

This "biased" part of monster generation is not subject to extinction where it specifies an individual species, as opposed to a monster class. If an individual monster has been genocided (or does not exist at all, such as in the Archaeologist quest), monsters of the associated class will be generated instead. If the class is also genocided or extinct, the quest monsters will be replaced with ordinary random monsters.[1] It is possible to make use of this mechanism by genociding a quest monster to increase the number of other monsters of the associated class; see the article on genocide for more details.

Quest leaders and nemeses

The quest leader is the non-player character who verifies that you are ready to undertake the quest and assigns you the mission. If you are not XL 14, but otherwise fulfill the requirements for the quest, you are simply teleported back to the main branch, and can re-enter the quest portal later on. However, if you attack the quest leader,[2] have converted your alignment,[3] or fail the alignment test more than seven times,[4] you will be expelled from the quest and the magic portal will be removed. At this point, if you can branchport back in, you can still pacify them and obtain permission to do the quest; otherwise, the game is unwinnable.

All quest leaders are generated meditating, and those of some roles sit on a throne. To make them move away before you can get permission, you need to become at least fast, move next to them on a free turn, and either #chat to them or say no at the prompt for whether to melee them. Once you are teleported out and then re-enter the level, they will move around the area like any other NPC.

The quest nemesis is the non-player character you must defeat to reclaim your quest artifact and the Bell of Opening. It's possible to ascend without killing your quest nemesis, but this is exceedingly rare. Every quest nemesis resists stoning; nemeses represented by @ do not respect Elbereth, but those belonging to other classes do.

Quest Leader Nemesis Monsters Classes
Archeologist @ Lord Carnarvon & The Minion of Huhetotl M human mummy S snake, M mummy
Barbarian @ Pelias @ Thoth Amon O ogre, T troll O ogre, T troll
Caveman @ Shaman Karnov D The Chromatic Dragon h bugbear, H hill giant h humanoid, H giant humanoid
Healer @ Hippocrates H The Cyclops r giant rat, S snake r rodent, Y apelike creature
Knight @ King Arthur D Ixoth i quasit, j ochre jelly i imp or minor demon, j jelly
Monk @ The Grand Master @ Master Kaen E earth elemental, X xorn E elemental, X xorn
Priest @ The Arch Priest & Nalzok Z human zombie, W wraith Z zombie, W wraith
Ranger @ Orion s Scorpius C forest centaur, s scorpion C centaur, s arachnid or centipede
Rogue @ The Master of Thieves @ The Master Assassin l leprechaun, N guardian naga n nymph, N naga
Samurai @ Lord Sato @ Ashikaga Takauji d wolf, E stalker d dog or other canine, E elemental
Tourist @ Twoflower @ The Master of Thieves s giant spider, C forest centaur s arachnid or centipede, C centaur
Valkyrie @ The Norn H Lord Surtur a fire ant, H fire giant a ant or other insect, H giant humanoid
Wizard @ Neferet the Green @ The Dark One B vampire bat, X xorn B bat or bird, W wraith

Quest difficulty statistics

The following table is an attempt to quantify quest difficulty by role based on statistics from nethack.alt.org, as of June 21, 2013. The count of players who died in the quest does not include players who completed the quest first.

Role Completed quest Died in quest Total Completion rate (%)
Wizard 3941 323 4264 92.42
Knight 765 80 845 90.53
Tourist 1110 129 1239 89.59
Caveman 604 78 682 88.56
Archeologist 806 122 928 86.85
Rogue 646 99 745 86.71
Ranger 772 176 948 81.43
Priest 920 213 1133 81.20
Samurai 1155 296 1451 79.60
Healer 736 242 978 75.26
Valkyrie 2822 941 3763 74.99
Barbarian 1022 471 1493 68.45
Monk 849 549 1398 60.73

Variants

SLASH'EM

In addition to the quests above, SLASH'EM also has quests for the new roles of SLASH'EM and for the different alignments. For a general overview, see SLASH'EM quests and alignment quest. For individual quests, see:

Also, the quest entry level can be deeper.

UnNetHack

UnNetHack adds the Convict quest, and allows all roles to enter the quest at experience level 10.

dNetHack

In addition to quests for the new roles in dNetHack, there are also alternative quests for some role/race combinations, as well as alignment quests accessible to all players.

Role quests

Role Leader Nemesis
Anachrononaut @ Sara, the Last Oracle None
Binder M Strange corpse L Acererak
Convict @ Robert the Lifer @ Warden Arianna
Noble (default/human) @ old Gypsy woman @@@@ Rebel leaders
Pirate @ Mayor Cummerbund . Blackbeard's Ghost
Troubadour (Bard) @ Pindar n Aglaope

Racial quests

Some role/race combinations in dNetHack get special alternative quests with unique quest artifacts:

Race+Role Leader Nemesis
Dwarf Noble h Dain II Ironfoot & Durin's Bane
Dwarf Knight h Thorin II Oakenshield Do Smaug and Bolg
Gnomish Ranger Å Damaged arcadian avenger k Great High Shaman of Kurtulmak
Elf Noble, Priest, Ranger, or Wizard @ Galadriel W Necromancer (Quest Nemesis)
Female Drow Priest, Ranger, Rogue, or Wizard @ Eclavdra (possible nemesis) @ Seyll Auzkovyn (possible leader)
Male Drow Priest, Ranger, Rogue, or Wizard @ Eclavdra (possible nemesis) @ Daruth Xaxox (possible leader)
Female Drow Noble @ Mother U Elder brain
Male Drow Noble @ Drow novice @ A'salom

Anachrononauts, Binders, Convicts, Pirates, and Troubadours do not get racial quests.

See here for a table of combinations that indicates which ones have special quests.

The Drow racial quests are interesting in that they give the player the option of changing sides after meeting their nemesis, and killing their original quest leader to get a different quest artifact. Either the original or the traitor's quest artifact can then be traded for another artifact, so male and female drow each have a total of four options for their quest artifact. The Drow Noble quests are an exception; nobles cannot change sides.

Alignment quests

The dNetHack alignment quests are similar to those in SLASH'EM: three branches connected to the main dungeon by portals, which all players can enter regardless of alignment, with unique enemies carrying alignment keys and useful artifacts. However, the dNetHack alignment quests are much longer than those in SLASH'EM, consisting of multiple levels instead of a single one. Instead of just one artifact key per alignment, each dNetHack quest has three associated alignment keys, for a total of nine. Three alignment keys are needed in order to access Gehennom. These can be any of the nine, so players can explore one quest in its entirety or try out portions of more than one quest. There is a special Junethack trophy for those who manage to find all nine keys.

The Silver Key, an artifact found at the end of the Neutrality Quest, can be used instead of the Bell of Opening to perform the invocation. Therefore, it is possible for characters to ascend even if they are expelled from their role quests, if they are able to survive the Neutrality Quest. Binders are an exception: they will never be permanently expelled from their role quest, but will find the Hand Mirror of Cthylla (which cannot be used for the invocation) in place of the Silver Key. Anachrononauts are also special: due to the lack of their quest artifact, they will be unable perform a full-scoring ascension if they fail their role quest, but they can still perform a half-score ascension by using the Silver Key to complete the invocation ritual.

Other variants

Similarly to UnNetHack, in FIQHack and xNetHack the quest becomes available at XL10, not XL14.

In FIQHack killing your quest leader will open the portal to the quest[5].

Encyclopaedia entry

Many, possibly most, Tours are organized as a Quest. This
is like a large-scale treasure hunt, with clues scattered
all over the continent, a few false leads, Mystical Masters
as game-show hosts, and the Dark Lord and the Terrain to
make the Quest interestingly difficult. [...]
In order to be assured of your future custom, the Management
has a further Rule: Tourists, far from being rewarded for
achieving their Quest Object, must then go on to conquer
the Dark Lord or set about Saving the World, or both. And
why not? By then you will have had a lot of practice in
that sort of thing and, besides, the Quest Object is usually
designed to help you do it.

[ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, by Diana Wynne Jones ]

References

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.2. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-362}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.