First played PC Hack way back in the mid-80's. Got nowhere. In 2007, I decided it was time to really learn this game, and I ascended my first character after dying and dying and dying and dying. I never would have done it without NetHackWiki, so perhaps I can help out the next adventurer just a little bit.
To date, I've Ascended...
Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic alignments. Male and Female genders. Human, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome and Orc starting races. Valkyrie, Barbarian, Wizard, Samurai, Caveman, Monk, Tourist, Rogue and Ranger roles.
Had a lot of fun with my Orcish Rogue, though the game was definitely in "easy mode" for me. I got a wand of cold on level 1, a huge armor shop on level 2 that gave me the shield of reflection, boots of speed and oilskin cloak that I ascended in, and found a wand of wishing dropped on a humble rothe's corpse about 15000 turns into the game.
It makes a nice note to end on, for now. Perhaps I'll treat myself to another NetHack weekend next year or something.
I don't know where to put this in the wiki, but if I've learned one thing since my first ascensions, it is this: DON'T LEVEL UP. You have to reach XL 14 for the quest, and you want that fast regeneration that comes from being XL 10, but what else does gaining levels get you? Max your luck and you'll always hit. Get HP from nurses or potions. Play carefully so you don't need to spend lots of skill points on different weapons. All gaining levels does for you is make the dungeon produce stronger monsters. I try to ascend at around XL 15 or 16 (I haven't yet gone so far as to intentionally level drain myself), and I see maybe one Archon per game. Maybe zero. Even my last wizard I only took to XL 18, which was plenty of skill slots for what I needed to do. My magic missiles were plenty strong to cut through the crowds.
Ascended a Monk and a Tourist over a holiday weekend that perhaps could have included more yard work and less NetHack, and I'll see if I can't contribute to a couple of the relevant articles. Monks are interesting, but Master Kaen seems overrated. I hit him with a sleep spell and unloaded a wand of lightning into him. He went down without a squeak. Perhaps I got lucky?
The Tourist was the first game I ever finished without a Bag of Holding, which really squeezes your inventory. On the Astral Plane, I tried the trick with reverse genociding, taming and teleporting Purple Worms. Got 11 tame worms out there. It was kind of fun, but very random--and of course they won't fight any of the real big opponents. On the whole, not worth it unless the game just throws scrolls and markers at you. I prefer a chickatrice corpse to almost anything on Astral.
I've got a couple of "ascension posts" below; hope someone finds them useful or interesting!
66 Zorkmids for that polished silver shield? Allow me to make a counter-offer.
Boring conversation anyway...
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Gnome with the Wand of Death
Good thing I hit Sokoban first and got the amulet! Otherwise, there would have been some real pucker factor here.
Oh, well, these things do happen...
Just cruising down through the mines; got a bag of holding full of loot to curse-test when I hit Minetown, and all the cute little gnomes are training up that new silver spear (which is going to look great buried in the side of the Chromatic Dragon some day soon). What's this? You hear a nearby zap! The sleep ray hits you!
Pity that it wasn't a wand of death. That would have been worth it just for the story.
But, happlily, a slightly younger cousin of that Captain Caveman (with the same name) just offered the Amulet and ascended to immortality this morning. Cavemen: The combat specialists who aren't actually very good at combat! --Ckbryant 20:30, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Farewell, Lothar of the Hill People...
I've now ascended a Barbarian as well as a couple of Valkyries. The Barbarian was easily my luckiest game ever: I got a wand of wishing (0:3) in the middle of Sokoban, a magic lamp in Minetown, and another magic lamp sitting around in the dungeon. It was almost like being in wizard mode. Oh, and of course the Minetown temple was my alignment, and, what really brought a tear to my eye: seventeen candles at Izchak's. (Please bear in mind that my last two Valkyrie ascension games gave me four and three candles in the shop, respectively. Even after polypiling for tools, in one of those games, I used a wish for "a blessed candle." ONE candle, friends! And my only wishes in that game were from the castle wand at 0:1. But I digress.)
So anyway, I come out of Sokoban with GDSM, Bag of Holding, Amulet of Reflection, The Orb of Fate, Frost Brand, Speed Boots...it was fun, but hard to say if it really taught me much about how to play a Barbarian. I never even got Cleaver, you know...just sacrificed when I wanted to make sure I could pray, and I only prayed a couple of times. I'd gotten intrinsic sleep resistance from an obliging elf corpse, and used a wish on a ring of free action, just to be extra safe. I had also found two levitation rings in the course of my explorations. Shield from Perseus, so I switched out to Amulet of Life Saving, because I know a lot of ways to die by now, but not all of them. (Last ascension, I burned one AoLS when I walked blind and gloveless over a c corpse. I want to play a Wizard, but the thought of the Eye taking up my amulet vs. YASD slot just gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies. But I digress.)
Sacked the castle going in the back door--Level 13 by now, and the castle fight moved me up to 14. Got a Wand of Death off one of those soldiers. Yay! That just about completes my package. I'd never used conflict, and left several pets back in Minetown rather than get them killed (tripe rations for everyone whenever I got back that way), but I still couldn't go on the quest until the castle was cleared. The game was stingy in terms of wraith corpses, and I was saving my potions of gain level to curse them for the AR.
The quest was more of a nuisance than anything, although I did pick up lots of scrolls and potions for raw materials. The trolls were a pain in the butt, since I had never found a tinning kit--not actually dangerous, but they wouln't stay dead. Luckily, someone threw an egg at me--missed--and the egg hatched into a chickatrice! (I didn't know monsters could do that! Always carry a lizard corpse.) So I rubber chickened my way through the rest of the quest with its corpse; much less annoying.
The Heart of Ahriman might as well have been a cheap plastic imitation for all the good it does. Mostly, I goofed around with levitating with it, then throwing it at something and floating to the ground, that sort of thing. I guess, if you were really hard up for a way to levitate...or averse to getting the Mine's end stone on account of traps and no MR...but I'm glad I wished up that Orb of Fate.
Never found Ludios...used all my spare items and all the charges in the Orb, dug out some vaults, but never hit paydirt. I did not mount a comprehensive search, since I was right at the borderline for assembling my kit, and didn't want to have to go chasing off through Gehennom for a few more potions that I wasted on a wild goose chase for the Fort. So I sacked the Valley, lugged all the stuff upstairs, and settled down for housekeeping.
So, alchemize, wish, polypile (limited--only one wand with like three shots in it), buff, polish and grease at the castle. Tedious as always, but it's how you win the game. By now, I'd genocided L, h, and ;, plus disenchaters (from a throne). With all my wishes (I used 14 total in the game), I was very strong, but was I strong enough to bypass exploring Gehennom, just write magic map scrolls, dig out between the stairs, and drop down? My hit points were only about 220, but I had the Orb, and I decided to chance it. I just couldn't face the prospect of exploring the Gehennom mazes and scrounging for loot.
It was a good bet. Tore through Gehennom, using exactly one full magic marker to map the entire place. I had to carry lots of blank scrolls, which made me burdened most of the time, but I figured I could drop my sack if trouble turned up. It didn't, really, although Baalzebub (I think) had a wand of digging and he fled almost to the bottom of the dungeon before I got him. I used that magic lamp from way at the beginning of the game to wish up one last magic marker and polish my armor down to about -31. Good enough. I had two full Wands of Death and two blessed charging scrolls for them, a good two dozen shots of teleport wands, about a dozen holy waters, five blessed scrolls of remove curse, a set of gold detect scrolls and booze potions for the planes, and a massive stack of digging wands. I checked the clasp on my amulet, cursed the three gain level potions I'd accumulated over the course of the game, and set off for my date with Rodney.
It turns out that I'm a terrible shot with the Wand of Death--it seems like it was two or three shots every time I met the Wizard. So I'm glad I'm so paranoid about having lots of charging scrolls. The high priest had a cloak of magic resistance, so that took a minute to sort out, but the long climb is so much better when you're playing a Neutral character that I can't complain. Had to kill Rodney something like five or six times, and I have this little ritual of picking up his corpse and #name-ing it something obscenely insulting every time. It's the twelve-year-old in me.
The planes were no worry, although Water took FOREVER--long enough that Rodney showed up one last time. I'd gotten a ring of conflict by now and was able to sneak around the air elementals without getting engulfed once. On Astral, I just kept zapping and moving. First altar: no good. Second: a hit! Pestilence was making me sick, but I didn't want to stop. I let the Amulet save my life, and offered the AoY on the next turn.
A fun game, and very fast by my standards (just shy of 50,000 turns). My only real regret is that I'd taken the trouble to lug a sling all the way up to the Astral Plane, with the intent of slinging the Heart of Ahriman right in one of the Rider's faces (for double damage: whoopee!) and, in the heat of action, I never remembered to do it. Oh, well.
So, I think I've probably had my fun with this game, at least for a while. I've ascended "for real" three times now, and, when I think about trying again, I find myself dwelling on the negatives (fiddling with inventory, mapping mazes) more than the positives. I've chipped in on a few articles here to try to pay a bit back to the community that made it possible for me to ascend, and now I'm ready for a break. Maybe I'll come back for NetHack 4.0? I already know that my next character will be a Chaotic Elven Wizard, because I've never done any of that stuff, and I want to have the fun of killing shopkeepers and things like that.
In fact, in those three "for real" ascensions, I never cast a single spell. I only bothered to read a spell book one time (it was cure blindness, and I never needed it). So that's a whole aspect of the game for me to explore, whenever the time comes.
See you all next year, maybe?
A Wizard Ascends
Well, I didn't wait as long as I thought I would--just ascended my Chaotic Elven Wizard. A very different game! I lost several promising characters to silly things like rothes and leocrottas before finally developing a healthy respect for my own fragility. In fact, even my final character died--killed by a quasit in the Mines while misspelling Elbereth three times. It's just that he was wearing an unidentified (uncursed) amulet, and what do you know? Turned out to be life saving. Talk about a lucky break--I actually had two amulets to choose from for wear-testing. The other was ESP, and I probably wouldn't have taken it off once I found that out.
Anyway, once I got to Minetown, my game turned around--I found a magic lamp (cursed, of course, but no complaints) and a bag of holding in the shops, and I scored a magic marker just lying around. Cross-aligned temple, though, so I had to keep exploring. Just below the oracle, I found the sweetest little bachelor apartment: a room with a chaotic altar and a sink, just adjacent to the Sokoban upstairs. That was some wonderful luck--I made holy water, blessed the lamp, and whistled up SDSM, then moved into Sokoban and finally got over my chronic food shortages (prayed two or thre times while weak prior to this).
I collected (and lost) a good number of pets in the early game; they saved my skin so many times it's not even funny, taking out unicorns and all manner of stuff while I stood very still on an Elbereth and cheered them on. At one point, I tamed Schrodinger's Cat, which was kind of cool. I magic markered for a spellbook of magic missile, and finally found a spellbook of identify--man, does that ever change the game--and worked my way down in the usual manner. Managed to buy a cornuthaum in a shop, and found the portal to Fort Ludios. I went in there with a c corpse and invisibility, and it was just awful. I mean, I felt kind of dirty after, breaking open statue after statue after statue.
The quest was next, and it was a breeze--I was really getting up on the power curve here, and mostly just used my +5 dagger on opponents. The Eye...was wonderful. It turns you from a spellcasting sniper to a machine-gunner, with a Star Trek transporter to boot. I had great fun sucking wraiths out of graveyards to leave corpses...all the usual tricks. I also got a Succubus in my lair on Soko1, and let her "trap" me in a corridor for a couple thousand turns, picking up any number of levels and maxing my Wis. I set up the room on Soko 3 for nurse dancing, and did that three times. Like everything else, it's wildly variable. I only got 6HP from one scroll, but I got nearly 80 from another.
The one thing I didn't have at this stage was a sacrifice gift. I had gotten so many four-leafed clovers I lost count, but no Magicbane...and bear in mind, the Eye was the only other artifact in the game. Finally, after I made experience level 23 and had cleared out everything almost as far as Medusa, I did get it. 51,952 turns into the game.
Medusa was complicated, as that damn Titan was there and kept swarming me with monsters. But I had his number, as I'd found a cockatrice nest ten levels back, and wisely locked them all behind a door. I went back there a couple of times for fresh corpses, dropping through the floors with a wand of digging (of course the corpse was in a bag for this). A statue of a titan--very nice. Named my mirror Medusabane, as is my custom, and cleared the castle out with magic missiles, which were starting to be very potent by now. I made a few trips to the Valley to gather wraiths for transport, and reached XL 30.
You know the song by heart now: back to the stash for polypiling, wishing, magic marking, alchemy and so forth. I was over 300 HP, AC -38, and I got a special treat at the altar--Anhur crowned me and gave me finger of death, and then I got Stormbringer just a few turns later! So that more than made up for the stinginess with Magicbane. I enchanted Stormy to +7, Magicbane to +2, and went off to dig out fast corridors all through the dungeon and buy up Izchack's stock of candles, so as to forget most of my spells and have them fresh for my run through Gehennom. I decided I was through with slow and cautious play at this point--a wanted to learn my spells fresh, tear through Gehennom, and win the game. So it was magic map, dig, dig, dig, magic map, dig, dig, dig, for twenty levels. Named demons were very little trouble--I used the trick of running to the downstairs, waiting for them to move adjacent, and then going down and luring them after me. About half the time, you end up on the upstairs and they have no place to run. The other half, just bang on them until they retreat back up, rinse, and repeat.
For the first time, I was feeling cocky enough to toy around with Vlad the Impotent, rather than killing him expeditiously. So I beat him to death with a tin of nurse meat, that being the most absurd item I could find in my inventory to wield.
The AR was the usual, although I did save a couple of wishes until the end, and I used one of them on the Astral plane for a blessed chickatrice corpse. On the whole, that's much nicer than relying on teleport wands to thin the crowds, as the crowds don't come back for more once you stone them. I needed the third altar, naturally, but it wasn't too bad. Pesty made me sick before I remembered he was stoning resistant and death rayed him. Death only took a couple of XL 30 magic missiles before going down. I chatted to my priest before ascending, and, as I had no gold, he gave me the "two bits for an ale," which I always think is kind of sweet.
Fun game! Wizards are just remarkable once they get strong--so many more options. Don't know what I'll do next--or when--but I might move on to something different again, like the Monk. Or I might try to play a gnome or something. What a big game it is!