- 1 The FAQ
- 1.1 NetHack: The game, the legend...
- 1.1.1 Q: What is NetHack?
- 1.1.2 Q: That sounds pretty good, where can I get it? How much does it cost?
- 1.1.3 Q: What computer is it playable on?
- 1.1.4 Q: I installed and ran NetHack, now what do all these symbols and stuff mean?
- 1.1.5 Q: All these letters and things confuse me! Is there a version of NetHack with graphics instead?
- 1.1.6 Q: Is there a multiplayer version of NetHack?
- 1.1.7 Q: Why is it called "Net"Hack if you can't play it online against other people?
- 1.1.8 Q: When will the next version be released?
- 1.2 rec.games.roguelike.nethack
- 1.2.1 Q: What is rec.games.roguelike.nethack?
- 1.2.2 Q: What's with the posts labeled "YAAP" or "YASD"?
- 1.2.3 Q: What's a "spoiler"?
- 1.2.4 Q: What's a "source diver"?
- 1.2.5 Q: I'm having trouble with my game, can I post my saved game file so someone can help me out?
- 1.2.6 Q: What's this "netiquette" that other posters keep mentioning?
- 1.2.7 Q: What topics should I be careful about discussing?
- 1.2.8 Q: Anything else I shouldn't post?
- 1.2.9 Q: I've won! I've won!
- 1.3 Gameplay and Spoilers
- 1.3.1 Q: This game is really hard! Does anyone win? How?
- 1.3.2 Q: How much damage does <weapon> do? What good is an <item>? How can I fix my armor when it gets rusty?
- 1.3.3 Q: Why are there TWO stairs leading down (or up)?
- 1.3.4 Q: I'm stuck! There doesn't seem to be any way down/up from the level I'm on!
- 1.3.5 Q: Why can't I successfully cast any spells? Why are all my failure rates 100%?
- 1.3.6 Q: Someone just told me to retrieve an artifact; where do I go now?
- 1.3.7 Q: I'm on a maze level with a sealed-off area in the middle. I've searched and searched, but can't find a secret door. I can't dig or teleport through the walls, how do I get in there?
- 1.3.8 Q: I'm trying to fight a monster that keeps teleporting away. How do I get it to stop doing that so I can kill it?
- 1.3.9 Q: I blocked up the trapdoors in this back corridor, and now I can't get down!
- 1.3.10 Q: There's a monster stuck behind a boulder I particularly want to push somewhere. How do I get rid of it?
- 1.4 Miscellaneous
- 1.4.1 Q: Did you guys know you can copy your save games and restore them after you die? This makes the game a LOT easier!
- 1.4.2 Q: How do I get into explore or wizard mode?
- 1.4.3 Q: What can I do in wizard mode that I can't do in a normal game?
- 1.4.4 Q: My game crashed and I lost my character! Is there anything I can do?
- 1.4.5 Q: I found a YAFMC! I found a bell on top of a grave and the headstone said "Saved by the bell." Quite a coincidence, huh?
- 1.4.6 Q: Who's Schroedinger, and why did this quantum mechanic have his cat in a box?
- 1.4.7 Q: Why are elves chaotic? The elves in "The Lord of the Rings" seem to be lawful.
- 1.4.8 Q: I think I found a bug in the game! What should I do?
- 1.4.9 Q: Has anyone ever written a program to play NetHack automatically (a NetHack "bot")?
- 1.4.10 Q: What is SLASH'EM?
- 1.4.11 Q: What is SporkHack?
- 1.4.12 Q: What is UnNetHack?
- 1.4.13 Q: What are patches, and how do I apply them?
- 1.4.14 Q: I killed a shopkeeper named Izchak, why is everyone so mad at me?
- 1.4.15 Q:What websites have general information about NetHack?
- 1.5 Copyright info and acknowledgements
- 1.1 NetHack: The game, the legend...
- 2 External links
The following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions for the newsgroup rec.games.roguelike.nethack (FAQ version 1.7p, last changed: 2010-11-09 (wiki site move)
Corrections and suggestions for new sections or new questions are appreciated; email me at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
NetHack: The game, the legend...
Q: What is NetHack?
"NetHack is a single player dungeon exploration game that runs on a wide variety of computer systems, with a variety of graphical and text interfaces all using the same game engine. Unlike many other Dungeons & Dragons-inspired games, the emphasis in NetHack is on discovering the detail of the dungeon and not simply killing everything in sight — in fact, killing everything in sight is a good way to die quickly. Each game presents a different landscape — the random number generator provides an essentially unlimited number of variations of the dungeon and its denizens to be discovered by the player in one of a number of characters: you can pick your race, your role, and your gender." [From: http://www.nethack.org/.]
"On the screen is kept a map of where you have been and what you have seen on the current dungeon level; as you explore more of the level, it appears on the screen in front of you. When NetHack's ancestor Rogue first appeared, its screen orientation was almost unique among computer fantasy games. Since then, screen orientation has become the norm rather than the exception; NetHack continues this fine tradition. Unlike text adventure games that accept commands in pseudo-English sentences and explain the results in words, NetHack commands are all one or two keystrokes and the results are displayed graphically on the screen." [From the NetHack Guidebook.]
Q: That sounds pretty good, where can I get it? How much does it cost?
NetHack is free software. That's right, FREE. Not shareware. Available to you at the price of $0, under a license that permits you to freely modify and distribute it. (Note, however, that NetHack is NOT in the public domain; see the file 'license' or 'license.txt' that comes with NetHack for details.)
<http://www.nethack.org/> always has the latest version available (currently 3.6.0).
Q: What computer is it playable on?
There are official binary releases for Amiga, Atari, Linux, Macintosh, MS-DOS, OS/2, and 32-bit Windows systems. The source code (written in C) is available as well, which should compile and run on just about every system imaginable (or at least every system that can run a C compiler). There are limitations, however; for example, no-one has yet succeeded in overcoming the difficulty of porting NetHack to the Palm, though other PDA implementations have been managed.
Q: I installed and ran NetHack, now what do all these symbols and stuff mean?
Consult the file "Guidebook.txt" (or something similar) that came with NetHack. It's the NetHack Guidebook, and should be able to answer any questions you have about the game display or controls. If you didn't get a copy of Guidebook.txt (or other documentation), download one from <http://www.nethack.org/common/info.html#Docs>. You can also gain information about symbols onscreen using the / or ; commands.
Q: All these letters and things confuse me! Is there a version of NetHack with graphics instead?
Depending on the system you are playing it on, yes. There are graphical (or "tiled") versions of NetHack that use graphics in place of the ASCII characters. Consult the readme file specific to your system for details. If there's no mention of a tiled version, your system probably does not support tiles.
There are also several "unofficial" versions of NetHack (meaning only that they were not released by the DevTeam) that use enhanced graphical interfaces, among which the more popular are:
- Vulture (development of Jaakko Peltonen's "Falcon's Eye"): <http://www.darkarts.co.za/vulture/>
- noeGNUd (supports a wide range of 2D and 3D character — and tile-based views and game playback): <http://www.darkarts.co.za/noegnud>
Q: Is there a multiplayer version of NetHack?
No. Nor is there likely to be, according to the DevTeam. "We think you can't do that playably without compromising the basic idea of being able to think as long as you want about what you're doing." [From <http://www.nethack.org/>.] The only player interaction in NetHack is that of bones files and the score list on a multiplayer system. However, the variant AceHack had a multiplayer patch made to it that is likely to be ported to NetHack4 at some point in the distant future.
Q: Why is it called "Net"Hack if you can't play it online against other people?
"The 'Net' in NetHack refers to the way the developers, many of whom have never met in person, organize the work on the program." [From <http://www.nethack.org/>.]
You can play NetHack online, just not directly against other people. <http://www.nicolaas.net/erebus/index.php?scat=04servers> lists several public servers you could try. Try doing a search for "NetHack Servers" in your favorite search engine, and connect to one of the many available.
There are also ways to add the "bones files" of other adventures to your local copy of NetHack, such as with the "Hearse" program <http://hearse.krollmark.com/>. Hearse currently supports the official DOS and Windows binary versions, the official Linux non-Qt binary version and compatibly-compiled Unix installations, as well as the unofficial Psion port, the latest SLASH'EM stable and (currently) development versions, and Philipp Lucas' distribution of PatchHack 5.0 (with and without the Hell Patch enabled). Support for other versions may be added if sufficient demand exists.
Q: When will the next version be released?
According to the DevTeam, "when it's ready". Details of core NetHack development have always been closely held, and though minor aspects have been leaked (see Next version for a collation), the only real visible signs of progress are occasional updates to the public buglist. In the meantime, several NetHack variants are in active development, and many third-party patches are available: see 1.4.10 through 1.4.13 for details.
Q: What is rec.games.roguelike.nethack?
rec.games.roguelike.nethack, often abbreviated to "rgrn", is a newsgroup "concerned with NetHack and related games" (from the group charter). It's the successor to the groups net.games.hack and rec.games.hack, and lives in the rec.games.roguelike.* hierarchy, where roguelike games other than NetHack and its variants either have their own groups or fall by default into rec.games.roguelike.misc. Readers of rgrn may also want to read rec.games.roguelike.announce, a moderated group where postings of significant general interest for roguelike players are made.
Q: What's with the posts labeled "YAAP" or "YASD"?
rgrn uses some terminology that can be confusing to the uninitiated. For a fairly complete list, please see <http://www.spod-central.org/~psmith/nh/abbr-343.txt>, but here is a list of the more common abbreviations:
- YAAP: Yet Another Ascension Post
- YAFAP: Yet Another First Ascension Post. Someone has completed a game of NetHack (possibly for the first time) and wants to brag/show off. Finishing NetHack is not a trivial accomplishment, so some bragging is probably called for (see 1.2.9).
- YASD: Yet Another Stupid Death.
- YAAD: Yet Another Annoying Death. Get used to this phenomenon if you're going to play NetHack. Someone has died in a particularly amusing or annoying way, and wants pity for his or her stupidity or a shoulder to cry on.
- YAFM: Yet Another Funny Message.
- YAFMC: Yet Another Funny Message Combination
- YAFP: Yet Another Funny Prompt Sometimes, the messages NetHack gives you are amusing, or have a strange juxtaposition of several messages or an odd mix of inventory letters. Someone has found a message or combination that they liked.
- YANI: Yet Another New (Nifty) Idea (Item). Someone has an idea for an improvement or addition to the game.
- DYWYPI?: Do You Want Your Possessions Identified? The first question NetHack asks you if you are killed. Many posters use it as shorthand for "And then the <monster/trap/stupid move/typo> killed me."
- The DevTeam: The DevTeam is the group of programmers responsible for the maintenance and development of NetHack. Remember: The DevTeam Think of Everything! (TDTTOE!)
- The RNG: Random Number Generator -or- Random NetHack God. Every game of NetHack is different, thanks to the effects of the random numbers used in the creation of the dungeon. Sometimes it seems like the random numbers have a malicious will of their own and are therefore personified, as in "The RNG was especially cruel to me today."
As well as abbreviations, rgrn (like any community) has developed its own jargon for frequently-discussed concepts and strategies, for example "pudding farming" and the "protection racket"; Eva Myers has a discussion of these at <http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~eva/nethack/rgrnterms.html>.
Q: What's a "spoiler"?
A "spoiler" is an explanation of something in the game. That explanation may spoil the fun of discovering that something for yourself. Since some people would rather figure things out for themselves, they don't want the answer blurted out. For this reason, if you do post a spoiler, you may wish to buffer it with some blank space (20 lines or so, or a formfeed character) so no one reads it accidentally. Alternatively, and (given the wide variety of newsreader displays) preferably, you can ROT13 encipher the spoiler (a simple cipher where a->n, b->o, ... z->m; see <http://www.rot13.com/> if your newsreader doesn't support it natively). If you're starting a spoilersome thread, consider putting "(spoilers)" in the Subject header.
However, if you read this newsgroup you should accept that you're probably going to come across spoilers whether you want to or not.
Q: What's a "source diver"?
The computer code for NetHack is publicly available, unlike that for most games. Someone with programming skill can look through the code (or "source") to get the answers to questions about how the game works. This is called "source diving". For the curious, NetHack is written in C.
Q: I'm having trouble with my game, can I post my saved game file so someone can help me out?
No. The posting of binaries (this includes screenshots) to non-binary newsgroups such as rgrn is frowned upon. If you feel you need a map to explain your problem, use an ASCII "screenshot" instead. Besides, saved games won't work across platforms, and depending on the variables set when the game was compiled, may not even work if they are from the same platform. Describe your situation/problem as best you can, and we'll help you out as best we can.
Q: What's this "netiquette" that other posters keep mentioning?
"Netiquette" refers to InterNET etIQUETTE, or the polite way of doing things online. Following these conventions is not only polite, but will make your articles much easier to read, and therefore more people are likely to read them. With specific regard to the newsgroup rgrn, there are a few things you should keep in mind when posting:
"Top posting" refers to putting your response before the quoted material you are responding to. When you respond to an article, put your response below the text you quote. (If you're responding to several separate points in the same article, put your response below each individually.) This ensures that the later responses stay in proper chronological order, making reading both easier and more logical. Unfortunately, top posting is the default for some newsreaders (notably Microsoft Outlook Express). This doesn't make it correct. (A longer article on good Usenet quoting style can be found at <http://www.anta.net/misc/nnq/nquote.shtml>.)
Quote appropriate context. Usenet is an asynchronous medium, and you can't be sure that everyone's received, read, or remembered the article you're responding to, so your message should make sense in isolation. Only quote the relevant parts of the article, and cut the rest (including signatures). This keeps articles relatively short, and easy to read. In the same vein, don't cut so much that it's hard to determine who or what you are responding to. Pay particular attention to the attributions, which indicate who said what; if you quote someone's text, attribute it, otherwise remove their attribution. (Again, see the article referred to in the previous paragraph.)
Set your newsreader for line lengths around 70 characters to avoid other newsreaders mangling your post when displayed or quoted.
Signatures should only be a few lines long; the "standard" maximum is 4 lines of 80 characters. Make sure that your signature, if you have one, is preceded by a proper sig separator: i.e. "--", two hyphens and a space, with nothing else on the line.
Make your subject specific ("Are kobolds poisonous?" is much better than "Question" or "Help") without trying to stuff your entire article into it. Even if the question you're asking or point you're making is in your subject header, repeat it in the body of the message; and ensure that the article is comprehensible without depending on the subject for crucial context. Many newsreaders' displays make reading subject headers in direct conjunction with article text awkward, and having all the relevant content in the body will make quoting for response easier.
Usenet is a text medium, and as such many newsreaders render HTML messages as practically unreadable gibberish. Plain text only, please.
rgrn is a non-binary newsgroup. If you have a binary file that you feel the group would like access to, upload it somewhere and provide a URL.
Personal attacks and flames
Personal attacks have no place in a public forum; if you feel you must flame someone, take it to email.
Your best bet, as with most newsgroups, is to read the newsgroup for a while and get a feeling for the place before you post.
Q: What topics should I be careful about discussing?
Apart from obviously "controversial" things which wouldn't generally be on-topic for rgrn anyway, there are several subjects which you should be cautious about raising. These fall into three main categories:
People are unlikely to change their minds on these; argument just tends to lead to bickering and flaming. A by no means comprehensive list:
- vi-keys (hjkl) versus number_pad.
- ASCII versus tiles.
- Arguments from realism versus "NetHack Is Not Real Life".
- The morality of savescumming (see 1.4.1) and rerolling starting characters.
- Whether NetHack's license is more or less "free" than some other program's license.
Fine in themselves, these subjects come up often enough that there's little new to say about them. Some examples:
- What background music to play NetHack to.
- What letters to assign inventory to.
- Age/location surveys.
- The succubi/chains/bullwhips/BDSM jokes.
Cans of worms
Some suggestions for new features or changes to gameplay are recurrently made, but open up large-scale problems of implementation feasibility or game balance; as a result, they're more or less at the status "show us a working patch that doesn't break the game, then we'll talk". A few examples:
- Potions leaving empty bottles when quaffed.
- Ettins wearing two helmets/amulets, mariliths six rings, etc.
- Arbitrary rather than straight-line targetting.
- Platform- or version-independent savefiles and bonesfiles.
Please research the archives (Google Groups should be handy here) beforehand and only post on these subjects if you think you have something particularly new to say; and try not to make it inflammatory.
Q: Anything else I shouldn't post?
While in general people will be happy to answer genuine queries, it's a good idea to do at least some basic reading before asking them, checking they're not covered in the Guidebook (see 1.1.4) or this FAQ first. Repeatedly asking questions that are easily answerable on your own falls into the "somewhat annoying" category.
Posting misinformation is also generally considered a bad idea; while it's not required that you have an in-depth knowledge of the game to be able to post here, if you're answering questions or asserting facts it's better to do so based on what you know or can test rather than half-remembered hearsay. In particular, there are a number of common misconceptions that you should be aware of and not perpetuate: Eva Myers documents many of these at her "Myths and Facts about NetHack" page, <http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~eva/nethack/>.
Q: I've won! I've won!
Congratulations! Feel free to tell us all about how it went; post a YAAP or YAFAP (see 1.2.2) with a description of the game. (If you're playing a modified version of the game, it's a good idea to make it clear what modifications have been applied.)
It's conventional for these posts to include some of the information from the endgame disclosure screens (though you'll want to be selective about this: how many monsters you killed in total is interesting, exactly how many giant beetles you killed usually isn't). If you're playing with a text-based interface, you can copy and paste the details from the terminal (under the Win32 tty interface, Edit|Mark from the console's system menu); be careful to only use straight ASCII for "screenshots", not IBMgraphics or DECgraphics. Alternatively, there is a "dump" patch available (see 1.4.13 for how to apply it, or for details on PatchHack which includes it), allowing you to automatically write out the endgame information to a file, available from Jukka Lahtinen's site: <http://www.netsonic.fi/~walker/nethack.html#dump>
Gameplay and Spoilers
Q: This game is really hard! Does anyone win? How?
Believe it or not, people can and do "win" NetHack! The main key to winning and not dying is patience. Nothing happens in the game if you don't hit a key; this lets you think each of your moves out carefully. Each time your character meets a grisly or stupid demise, use it as a learning experience, and try not to repeat your mistake the next time you play.
"The Complete Beginner's Guide to NetHack" contains a great deal of advice on playing NetHack. It's posted to the group frequently, or find it online at <http://www.melankolia.net/nethack/nethack.guide.html>. It does a good job of balancing advice against spoilers.
Q: How much damage does <weapon> do? What good is an <item>? How can I fix my armor when it gets rusty?
These questions (and many others like them) all fall under the heading of spoilers, and as such are outside the bounds of this FAQ list. There are numerous websites that will give you all the information you could want about the details of NetHack. Some of the recommended ones include:
- Yet Another NetHack Site (by Kate Nepveu): <http://www.steelypips.org/nethack/>
- Dylan O'Donnell's spoiler page: <http://www.spod-central.org/~psmith/nh/>
- NethackWiki, a publicly-editable wiki: <https://nethackwiki.com/>
Eva Myers has a useful overview index of available spoilers at: <http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~eva/nethack/spoilerlist.html>
Of course, if you don't (or can't) find the answer you seek, post your question and we'll do our best to answer it. (If your answer could be considered a "spoiler", see question 1.2.3).
Q: Why are there TWO stairs leading down (or up)?
You've discovered a "branch" off the main dungeon. There are several side trips you can make on your way to the bottom of the Dungeons of Doom. Some of them aren't needed to finish the game, but can garner you useful items and experience.
Q: I'm stuck! There doesn't seem to be any way down/up from the level I'm on!
There's always a way onwards. If you're in the main Dungeon, there will be a way down, and a way to reach it; search every wall for secret doors (especially where the walls are near blank areas of the map). Check to make sure the stairs aren't hidden under an item. Move or smash any boulders or statues. If you're still stuck, find (or dig) a hole or trap door and drop down to the next level.
If you're not in the main dungeon, you may have reached the end of the current branch; time to retrace your steps and carry on by the other route.
Q: Why can't I successfully cast any spells? Why are all my failure rates 100%?
"Casting a spell also requires flexible movement, and wearing various types of armor may interfere with that." [From The NetHack Guidebook.] Metal items in particular are very inflexible.
Q: Someone just told me to retrieve an artifact; where do I go now?
Downstairs from where you are. If you can't find the staircase, it's probably behind a secret door. It's no use going back through the magic portal to look for it, because that's not where it is.
Q: I'm on a maze level with a sealed-off area in the middle. I've searched and searched, but can't find a secret door. I can't dig or teleport through the walls, how do I get in there?
There is a way in, just not from the level you are on. Keep exploring, and on some lower level you'll find a portal that will take you where you want to go.
Q: I'm trying to fight a monster that keeps teleporting away. How do I get it to stop doing that so I can kill it?
Two types of monsters do this; lowish-level ones that teleport randomly every so often (and it's just a case of trying to get the kill in while they're in one spot for long enough) or after performing their attack on you (try not to let them), and higher-level boss monsters that teleport away to heal up. In the latter case, find out where the monster goes (it's always the same spot), and get there first. You may need to use teleport yourself to get ahead of it.
Q: I blocked up the trapdoors in this back corridor, and now I can't get down!
Those trapdoors were the only way down from that particular special level, and once filled you can't dig through them again. However, you can use level teleport to get to the level immediately beneath; teleport control would be useful here.
Q: There's a monster stuck behind a boulder I particularly want to push somewhere. How do I get rid of it?
You can try to kill the monster: thrown or fired weapons will go past the boulder, as will zapped wands or spells (though striking or force bolt will break the boulder, which may not be what you want). Dropping all (or nearly all) your inventory will allow you to squeeze into the same space as the boulder and attack the monster directly; but this leaves you mostly defenceless, probably bare-handed, and can have other undesirable side-effects. Or you can teleport both away in one zap, though you won't be able to control where they end up.
Q: Did you guys know you can copy your save games and restore them after you die? This makes the game a LOT easier!
Yes, it does make it easier, but that's not the point. The game is SUPPOSED to be hard. Diabolically hard, as a matter of fact. This tactic is known as "savescumming" around these parts, and will garner you no respect; indeed, the best you can hope for is polite scorn.
The DevTeam has added a mode to allow you to play without dying, "explore mode" (see question 1.4.2), but the downside is that your score won't be recorded. How you play is your decision, just don't come here posting YAAP if you did it by savescumming. You should be aware, however, that there is a general consensus that savescumming is actually detrimental to the development of proper playing skills; being able to circumvent the required caution and tough strategic decisions of NetHack may mean never learning to handle them well.
Q: How do I get into explore or wizard mode?
To enter explore mode use the "-X" switch on the command line (ie, type "nethack -X" on the command line) or use the "X" command in the game. Be warned that once you switch to Explore mode, there is no returning to a regular game. Starting explore mode from the command line will also grant you a wand of wishing. If you die in explore mode, you can easily revive and try again, but as noted above, your score will not be recorded.
To enter wizard (or debug; no relation to the Wizard role) mode type "nethack -uwizard -D" on the command line. If this doesn't work, then you might have to enter a different name, be logged in as a different user, or in your copy of the game wizard mode may be disabled. Ask the person who compiled or installed the game about this.
Q: What can I do in wizard mode that I can't do in a normal game?
In addition to the ability to continue after death as in explore mode, the following is a list of wizard mode-specific commands:
- ctrl + E: Detect secret doors and traps
- ctrl + F: Do magic mapping
- ctrl + G: Create monster
- ctrl + I: Identify items in pack
- ctrl + O: Tell locations of special levels
- ctrl + T: Do intra-level teleport
- ctrl + V: Do trans-level teleport
- ctrl + W: Make a wish
- ctrl + X: Show attributes including intrinsic abilities
There are also a number of additional extended (#) commands, most producing highly technical state information only useful for debugging purposes.
Q: My game crashed and I lost my character! Is there anything I can do?
Maybe. There is a program that comes with NetHack called "recover" that may be able to restore a crashed game, depending on how NetHack was compiled. Check for a file called "recover.txt" for an explanation. On some platforms, "recover" may have been incorporated into the game itself, and restarting the game using the same character name will work (if the crash was recoverable from to start with).
Q: I found a YAFMC! I found a bell on top of a grave and the headstone said "Saved by the bell." Quite a coincidence, huh?
No, it's not. If the headstone generated for a grave reads "Saved by the bell," then a bell is generated for the grave as well.
Q: Who's Schroedinger, and why did this quantum mechanic have his cat in a box?
Erwin Schroedinger (1887-1961) was a physicist who devised a famous thought experiment to translate quantum superposition into the macroscopic classical-mechanical world. It involved an impenetrable box (and, in NetHack, the box shows as empty until it's opened) containing a cat that would be killed by a 50/50 radioactive-decay trigger; the resulting state of the cat, and how it is resolved when the box is opened, depends on the particular school of quantum theory you subscribe to, but one interpretation is that it is both alive and dead until observed.
Q: Why are elves chaotic? The elves in "The Lord of the Rings" seem to be lawful.
NetHack draws on more than one source, and there are more elves than Tolkien's (who weren't always as lawful as all that themselves, if you read the "Silmarillion"). Consider, by way of example, Michael Moorcock's Melniboneans (and remember that Stormbringer is also in the game), and Steven Brust's Dragaerans. In addition to these, there's hundreds of years of tradition of the land of Faerie being one where human concepts of law simply do not apply (though it's sometimes divided explicitly into a Seelie and Unseelie Court). For a modern treatment of this concept, read Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions"; or Terry Pratchett's "Lords and Ladies", for that matter.
Q: I think I found a bug in the game! What should I do?
Quite possibly you have. If you're playing the latest version (3.4.3) you may want to check the DevTeam's list of known bugs (available at <http://www.nethack.org/v343/bugs.html>) to make sure it's a new one. If it's not a new one, the DevTeam may suggest a workaround. If it is a bug that hasn't been caught yet, please contact the DevTeam about it at <http://www.nethack.org/common/contact.html>, or directly by e-mail at <email@example.com>. They appreciate knowing about bugs so they can fix them in the next release.
As well, please do post about it! Chances are, someone will put together a patch pretty quickly if it's really serious. To help work out where exactly the bug might lie, please give all the information you can, including the exact text of any error messages the game produced.
Q: Has anyone ever written a program to play NetHack automatically (a NetHack "bot")?
Not successfully. People have written "bots", or programs that will play the game by themselves, for some other roguelikes. These bots usually play pretty successfully.
However, no one has yet written a well-functioning one for NetHack, and the commonly held opinion is that NetHack is too complex for a "bot" that functions well to be currently practicable. If you're not dissuaded by this, you might want to address your efforts to NetHack's predecessor Hack first, as a rather simpler stepping-stone.
Q: What is SLASH'EM?
SLASH'EM (Super Lotsa Added Stuff Hack — Extended Magic) is a variant of NetHack with more races, classes and generally just more stuff. Learn more about it at <http://www.slashem.org/>. Please mark questions about SLASH'EM in rgrn with an "[S]" or "[SLASH'EM]" in the subject line (at the end is best, as some newsreaders strip initial square brackets), so people who only play regular ("vanilla") NetHack can more easily recognize or filter your article.
Q: What is SporkHack?
SporkHack is a variant of NetHack with a number of significant gameplay changes. Unlike SLASH'EM, its focus is less on adding new stuff, and more on improving balance and providing challenge and variety for experienced players. Learn more about it, and play online, at <http://sporkhack.nineball.org/>. Please mark questions about SporkHack in rgrn with a "[Spork] or "[SPORK]" in the subject line (at the end is best, as some newsreaders strip initial square brackets), so people who only play regular ("vanilla") NetHack can more easily recognize or filter your article.
Q: What is UnNetHack?
UnNetHack is a variant of NetHack, aimed at reducing predictability and increasing player challenge, along with adding more stuff. Its homepage is at <http://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/unnethack/>. Please mark questions about UnNetHack in rgrn with a "[U] or "[UnNetHack]" in the subject line (at the end is best, as some newsreaders strip initial square brackets), so people who only play regular ("vanilla") NetHack can more easily recognize or filter your article.
Q: What are patches, and how do I apply them?
There are many "patches" or code changes that people have written to alter or fix something about how NetHack works. These aren't "official" changes to the game, but may include such things as new magic items or different levels for the "Hell" area of NH. Pasi Kallinen maintains a database of published patches at <http://bilious.alt.org/>; there is also <http://www.juiblex.co.uk/nethack/patches.html>, maintained by Ali Harlow, which is no longer updated but contains some patches Pasi's doesn't.
To use these patches, you need to be able to compile them into your NetHack executable using a C compiler. First, you need to be able to compile the basic game itself: download the source (see 1.1.3), read the installation instructions for your platform in the appropriate sys/ subdirectory, acquire one of the C compilers those recommend if necessary, and follow the steps for compilation and installation.
Once this is working, you need a patch utility to apply the patch to the source. For DOS or Windows, you can use the patch program from the djgpp distribution available at <http://www.delorie.com/>. Use this utility to patch the base code and recompile the game.
Q: I killed a shopkeeper named Izchak, why is everyone so mad at me?
Izchak Miller, one of the founding members of the DevTeam, passed away on April 1, 1994 from complications due to cancer. As he was responsible for, among other things, much of the shopkeeper logic, the owner of the lighting shop was named for him as a tribute. The DevTeam dedicated version 3.2 of NetHack to the memory of Izchak Miller. Many players who will happily slay everything else that moves will spare Izchak's life as a sign of respect.
For a little more info, including a post from Izchak's daughter, check out the following thread from 1996 in rgrn: <http://tinyurl.com/r7l23>
Q:What websites have general information about NetHack?
In addition to the sites mentioned in section 1.3.2 above, there are several excellent starting places for looking for NetHack web resources.
- The DevTeam's links page: <http://www.nethack.org/common/links.html>
- Dion Nicolaas' NetHack Index: <http://www.nicolaas.net/erebus/>
- Ali Harlow's NetHack Page (particularly good for SLASH'EM): <http://www.juiblex.co.uk/nethack.html>
Almost any NetHack webpage of value will be linked to by at least one of these sites.
Copyright info and acknowledgements
This document is Copyright 2000-2010 Stephen W. Churchill (original FAQ) and Dylan O'Donnell (later revisions). Permission is hereby given to copy, post, or otherwise distribute it, so long as it remains intact (including this copyright information).
Please contact <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you find any errors, or feel something needs to be added.
Assembled, corrected and adjusted with the assistance of the rgrn community. You know who you are!