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The Undertaker first appeared in an early version of SLASH'EM (NetHack-- 3.0.10) but was dropped from the code at the time the quest branch was ported into that variant. The role was later revived and given a quest in SlashTHEM.
NetHack-- 3.0.10 was based on NetHack 3.0.10, which predated the skill system, so Undertakers could use any weapons. SlashTHEM gives the Undertaker a skill set closer to that of the Necromancer and Undead Slayer:
- SlashTHEM u_init.c line 2244 in v. 0.8
- XL 1: Turn undead
- SlashTHEM tech.c line 287 in v. 0.8
- A +2 scalpel
- A +0 or expensive suit (SlashTHEM)
- Two wands of undead turning
- A tinning kit
- A brass lantern (SlashTHEM)
- A pick axe (SlashTHEM)
In NetHack--, the Undertaker's starting armor was an expensive suit, which occupied the shirt slot. SLASHTHEM reintroduced the expensive suit as the starting shirt for the Undertaker.
- SLASHTHEM role.c line 245 in v. 0.8
- XL 1-2: Hearse Driver
- XL 3-5: Disposer
- XL 6-9: Grave Creator
- XL 10-13: Open Casketeer
- XL 14-17: Closed Casketeer
- XL 18-21: Dumper
- XL 22-25: Shoveler
- XL 26-29: Crematorist
- XL 30: Corpse Burner
SlashTHEM role.c line 1511 in v. 0.8
SlashTHEM gives the Undertaker a new quest artifact, the Pick of the Grave, a neutral pick axe which adds a life drain bonus to attacks and grants cold resistance while worn and regeneration, half physical damage and teleport control while carried. (Black Death is now an ordinary artifact halberd that can be given as a sacrifice gift or found randomly generated.) Invoking the Pick blesses it, repairs any damage and erodeproofs it, and, if its enchantment is less than +3, raises it to that value. This effect cannot be used while the Pick is equipped, however, so this is not a way to free your weapon hand if the Pick gets cursed while wielded.
- SlashTHEM artilist.h line 610 in v. 0.8
- SlashTHEM artifact.c line 2121 in v. 0.8
The Undertaker's pantheon combines death-related gods from Norse, Greek, and Roman mythology:
- Lawful: Hel
- Neutral: Pluto
- Chaotic: Orcus
The Undertaker's first appearance was in SLASH'EM precursor NetHack-- 3.0.10, as one of nine new roles in addition to the twelve in the contemporary version of NetHack. The discussion thread in which the authors first announced the variant suggests that some of the new roles were taken from a list proposing a role for every letter of the alphabet. See here for the relevant post.
After the release of NetHack 3.1.3 in 1993, NetHack-- was updated to NetHack-- 3.1.3 by porting some of the changes from NetHack-- 3.0.10 into a patch for the newest version. Due to some changes in the vanilla code, however, some content was removed to improve compatibility with NetHack. Most significantly, NetHack 3.1 had seen the addition of the Quest branch. To avoid the challenge of fitting full-length quests for the roles that had been added in NetHack-- 3.0.10 into the patch code, those roles were simply left out of the patch.
The Undertaker role, along with the other eight new roles in NetHack-- 3.0.10, made its reappearance in the variant SlashTHEM.
- NetHack-- 3.0.10 attrib.c line 104
- NetHack-- 3.0.10 u_init.c line 206