NetHack 2.3e

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NetHack 2.3e is the fourth public release of NetHack and the last before the founding of the DevTeam. Mike Stephenson published it to the Usenet newsgroup (an unmoderated group, unlike in April 1988.


NetHack 2.3e first appears as a patch against NetHack 2.2a. Google Groups has the patch at:

There are thirteen parts, but the subject lines incorrectly say that there are twelve.

UUNet did not archive, but nonetheless provided a complete distribution of NetHack 2.3e. This is available at the Internet Archive. You can click on the links, but to get the complete archive, copy and paste to a script for wget.

Ali Harlow has a NetHack 2.3e distribution at his site; this is also available on NetHackWiki for browsing and annotation.

Significant changes

The adventurer

The player may choose from these roles:

All classes permit male and female adventurers, except the Valkyrie which must be female.

The adventurer has experience, hit points, magical energy, armor class, and strength. He may advance to experience level 14.

The initial pet is a little dog.

Dungeon features

The dungeon in NetHack 2.3e has no branches; there is one way up and one way down. The first 25 levels or so consist of rooms, and beyond that, the adventurer encounters mazes. The deepest dungeon level is 60.

Medusa appears as '8' on the down-stairs of the last level with rooms. She does not have a special level, and is thus a snare for the unwary adventurer.

Dungeon level 30 and deeper are designated as "Hell". Entering hell without fire resistance, or losing it once there, is an instadeath. This may happen by taking off one's ring of fire resistance or losing one's polymorph and not being otherwise fire resistant, or by being hit by a gremlin. These levels have only up-stairs, and the only way to enter is by level teleportation.

Special rooms are throne rooms, swamps, vaults, beehives, crypts, treasure zoos, barracks, and shops. Special features are pools, fountains, thrones, and sinks.

Traps are:

The Amulet of Yendor is found in the possession of the wizard of Yendor in a maze level. He is in a small room in the center of the maze, surrounded by water and accompanied by a hell hound.

Fake Wizard rooms contain a demon instead of the Wizard and a fake Amulet.

Other maze levels have wands of wishing tucked under a boulder in a dead-end square. Multiple wands of wishing are less likely than in previous versions, though one is guaranteed in the level immediately after Medusa; NetHack 3.0.0 moves this wand to the Castle, and starting in NetHack 3.1.0 the version of Medusa's Island with a titan has a random wand in a similar spot, commemorating the wand of wishing's former location.


New monsters are indicated in boldface.

The following monsters may be encountered:

Name Symbol Notes
acid blob a  
bat B  
centaur C  
chameleon :  
cockatrice c  
demon &  
demon lord & if HARD defined at compile time
demon prince & if HARD defined at compile time
djinni &  
dog d  
electric eel ; Formerly giant eel
grey dragon D  
red dragon D Not truly new; the 2.2a dragon breathes fire
orange dragon D  
white dragon D  
black dragon D Disintegration blast is an instadeath
blue dragon D  
green dragon D  
yellow dragon D  
ettin e  
floating eye E  
fog cloud f  
freezing sphere F  
gelatinous cube g  
ghost (space)  
giant 9  
giant ant A  
giant beetle b  
gnome G  
guard @  
hell hound d Does not have a breath weapon
hobgoblin H  
homunculus h  
imp i  
jackal J  
jaguar j  
killer bee k  
large dog d  
leocrotta l  
leprechaun L  
little dog d  
lurker above '  
mail daemon 2 if MAIL defined at compile time
medusa 8 if RPH defined at compile time
mimic M  
minotaur m  
nurse n  
nymph N  
orc O  
owlbear o  
piercer p  
purple worm P  
quivering blob q  
rust monster R Reduces enchantment rather than truly rusting
shopkeeper @  
snake S  
soldier 3 if SAC defined at compile time
stalker I  
tengu t  
trapper ,  
troll T  
umber hulk U  
unicorn u  
vampire V  
violet fungi v "violet fungus" if KAA defined at compile time
wizard of Yendor 1  
wraith W  
xan x  
xorn X  
yellow light y  
yeti Y  
zombie Z  
zruty z  
Moe @ if STOOGES defined at compile time (default)
Larry @ if STOOGES defined at compile time (default)
Curly @ if STOOGES defined at compile time (default)
Keystone Kop K if KOPS defined at compile time (default)
kobold K if KOPS not defined at compile time, or if KJSMODS is (KJSMODS is the default)
rock mole r if ROCKMOLE defined at compile time (default)
giant rat r if ROCKMOLE not defined at compile time, or if KJSMODS is (KJSMODS is the default)
quantum mechanic Q if KAA defined at compile time (default)
quasit Q if KAA not defined at compile time
giant spider s if SPIDERS defined at compile time (default)
scorpion s if SPIDERS not defined at compile time
long worm w if NOWORM not defined at compile time (default)
wumpus w if NOWORM defined at compile time

The Three Stooges

Screenshot of NetHack 2.3e showing the Three Stooges.

The Three Stooges were three monsters, appearing as @ and named Moe, Larry, and Curly. They appeared on a particular level in the upper dungeon. They occasionally killed monsters, but mostly they just whacked each other and said things associated with the Stooges on film.

The Stooges were a frequent cause of YASD, as a confused or hallucinating adventurer often hit one by mistake and had to fight him; even if they prevailed, they incurred the penalty for murder since the Stooge was a peaceful human.

The Stooges were removed in NetHack 3.0.0, but their passing is still noted in a false rumor:

The crowd was so tough, the Stooges won't play the Dungeon anymore, nyuk nyuk.


New objects are indicated in boldface.


NetHack 2.3e has four artifacts. Multiple copies of each may exist.

Any two handed sword may be named Orcrist and will do d10 extra points damage to orcs.

Excalibur is obtained in the modern fashion, with alignment not yet implemented. It gets +5 to hit and does d10 extra damage to all monsters. Wielding Excalibur makes demon lords and demon princes angry instead of them asking for a bribe, and can call the attention of certain monsters. Excalibur may now be granted by crowning. The player cannot name any object "Excalibur".

Any katana may be named Snickersnee and will do d5 extra points damage to all monsters.[1]

Sting is new to 2.3e. Any short sword or dagger may be named Sting and will do d5 extra damage to all monsters (not just orcs).


Only the Amulet of Yendor and the cheap plastic imitation exist in NetHack 2.3e.


Food items in NetHack 2.3e are:

The tin did not contain the remains of monsters, but rather a randomly-chosen food such as peaches or, if the adventurer is lucky, spinach.

The dead lizard is a found object rather than a corpse; live lizards do not exist in NetHack 2.3e. It otherwise has its modern properties in this version.


Weapons in NetHack 2.3e are:


Tools in NetHack 2.3e are:

The ice box is the only container. Then as now, it preserved corpses, and was generally too heavy (and too rare) to be useful for inventory management. Shopkeepers prevent players with an ice box from entering.

The badge is dropped when a Keystone Kop is killed. The hero may wear it, and shopkeepers will call him "Officer" and react to theft with YAFM[2], but it is otherwise a junk item. The badge appears only in NetHack 2.3e.


Armor items in NetHack 2.3e are:


Potions in NetHack 2.3e are:


Scrolls in NetHack 2.3e are:

The scroll of damage weapon acts as the modern scroll of enchant weapon does when cursed. The scroll of genocide acts, in all cases, as the modern blessed scroll; but most symbols refer to only one monster anyway.


Wands in NetHack 2.3e are:


Spellbooks in NetHack 2.3e are:


Rings in NetHack 2.3e are:

Because charisma does not exist in NetHack 2.3e, the ring of adornment is a useless item.


Gems in NetHack 2.3e are:

and worthless pieces of white, blue, red, yellowish brown (formerly yellow), and green glass.

The tourmaline, agate, and onyx stones are removed.

Other items

Other items not appearing in the above categories are:

It is not possible to pick up an iron chain, nor can they be generated from iron golems, because these do not exist in NetHack 2.3e.