User:Flag On The Moon/Firefighter

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Firefighters are search and rescue professionals who enter the dungeons 
with expertise in navigating hazardous environments.  Unfortunately, their 
starting equipment provides more protection from accidents than from
intelligent foes.

This is a concept for a Firefighter role as a patch for NetHack 3.6.0. The Firefighter was one of nine roles added in the variant NetHack-- 3.0.10, but does not seem to have been used in any other variants until it was revived for Slash'EM Extended. I feel the firefighting profession has some features that would translate well into navigating the dangers of the Mazes of Menace, so this is my interpretation of what the Firefighter would look like as a role for vanilla.


My concept for the Firefighter as a role emphasizes the firefighter's training in navigating dangerous environments for search and rescue purposes. Important themes:

  • A strong melee combat style, adapted from the tools they use; they hack through enemies just as they hack through obstructions.
  • Expertise at dealing with environmental hazards. Firefighters gain intrinsic speed. They excel at disarming traps and can chop through doors faster than other roles; they are also more likely to succeed in helping monsters out of traps. They can reach some proficiency in matter and escape spells.
  • Alertness to threats from their surroundings. Firefighters gain intrinsic searching and can reach skilled in divination spells.
  • A special proficiency against fire. Firefighters start with intrinsic fire resistance and get a +2 to-hit bonus against monsters that are on fire (flaming spheres, fire vortices, salamanders, fire elementals).

The Firefighter's gameplay niche can be summarized as "hazard specialist". As melee fighters with a specific elemental immunity, Firefighters resemble Valkyries, but their way of interacting with their environment makes them similar to Archeologists.

Firefighters can be lawful or neutral, and can be humans, dwarves, or gnomes.


  • Expert: Axe, Quarterstaff, Spear, Flail
  • Skilled: Two-handed Sword, Trident, Polearms, Unicorn Horn, Knife, Pick-axe, Hammer; Attack, Divination, Escape spells; Two-weapon combat and Bare hands
  • Basic: Whip, Long sword, Saber, Bow, Dart; Matter spells; Riding

Firefighters are a melee role, and their weapon selection emphasizes weapons that are tools or can be used analogous to tools. They excel at axes and reach a respectable Skilled level with pick-axes, and they are unrestricted in all two-handed weapons, as well as the useful long sword and saber. Their ranged options are very limited: they are unrestricted in dart, spear, knife (which can be thrown), and their only unrestricted launcher is the bow. (This increases their benefit from disarming dart and arrow traps.) They reach expert in flail so they can use grappling hooks. They can also reach Basic in whips, nominally so they can use rubber hoses.

Firefighters have modest spellcasting abilities; they can reach Skilled in attack, divination, and escape magic, and Basic in matter.

Starting equipment

The Firefighter starts with the following items:

  • +1 axe
  • +0 rustproof helmet
  • +0 fireproof leather cloak
  • +0 iron boots
  • 5 uncursed potions of water
  • Wand of fire
  • +0 grappling hook

This is adapted from the SLASHTHEM starting package. The original NetHack-- Firefighter had an axe, potions of water, a wand of fire, and scrolls of fire. SLASHTHEM added a fire helmet (from SLASH) and cloak of quenching (from Slash'EM Extended), each of which grants fire resistance. I replaced these with an ordinary (but erodeproof) helmet and cloak, because this version of the role is intended for regular NetHack and I do not feel that it is necessary to add either item as part of the patch, and because the fire resistance would have been redundant with the role's starting intrinsic resistance. I also added iron boots, as part of the occupational safety gear.

The axe was given a small enchantment to make it a slightly better weapon in the very early game. I removed the scrolls of fire but not the wand of fire, because that can be justified as a way to make firebreaks. (Nevertheless, Firefighters start off able to recognize scrolls of fire, so they shouldn't have to identify them by read-testing, unless they suffer memory loss.) Finally, I added a grappling hook as a utility item that the Firefighter can use to aid escaping from traps, or to snatch items from tiles they don't want to enter.

The helmet, cloak, and iron boots give the Firefighter a starting AC of 6. Body armor should be picked up as soon as possible.

The Firefighter's starting pet is a little dog with the default name of Pongo. (In the modern day dalmatians don't make very good service dogs, because they tend to suffer from deafness. But they look good as mascots.)

Firefighters on the Astral Plane have traded in their starting axe for a well-enchanted battle-axe (50%).


The Firefighter starts with a base HP of 13, with a racial bonus of +2 for humans, +4 for dwarves, +1 for gnomes, and a base power of 1, with a racial bonus of +2 for gnomes and +1 for humans. Firefighters gain +d8 HP each time they level up until level 10, then afterward gain +1 per level. There is no cutoff level for energy gain; the Firefighter's role modifier is always +1 (as for an Archeologist).

There is no spell failure bonus for emergency spells, a +2 penalty for wearing a shield, and a +9 penalty for wearing metallic body armor. The Firefighter's spellcasting attribute is intelligence, and special spell is teleport away.

Firefighters have the following base attributes:

  • Str: 13 (30%)
  • Int: 7 (10%)
  • Wis: 7 (10%)
  • Dex: 8 (20%)
  • Con: 10 (20%)
  • Cha: 10 (10%)

This leaves 20 attribute points to be assigned. Typical starting attributes are 18/01 / 9 / 9 / 12 / 14 / 12. A Firefighter with these attributes will start with a carrying capacity of 875.


Firefighters gain the following intrinsics upon reaching the specified experience levels:

  • XL 1: Fire resistance
  • XL 7: Speed
  • XL 10: Searching

Unique bonuses

  • Firefighters get a bonus to disarming traps and helping monsters out of traps. For them, the probability of freeing a monster from a trap is determined by rnl(4) instead of rnl(5). They can get an alignment bonus for it even if they are not lawfully aligned, and are three times more likely to get the bonus than other roles (they bypass the usual !rn2(3) roll[1]). This is especially helpful since Firefighters have a starting alignment record of zero.
  • Firefighters can break down doors twice as quickly as other roles. This is not cumulative with the racial bonus to digging speed for dwarves.
  • Firefighters get a small to-hit bonus versus monsters that like fire: fire vortices, flaming spheres, salamanders, fire elementals.

Rank titles

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Water Boy/Girl
  • XL 3-5: Fire Cadet
  • XL 6-9: Pumper
  • XL 10-13: Extinguisher
  • XL 14-17: Smoke-eater
  • XL 18-21: Fire Captain
  • XL 22-25: Platoon Chief
  • XL 26-29: Division Commander
  • XL 30: Fire Chief

These are the rank titles used in SLASHTHEM, with some modifications.


The pantheon for this version of the Firefighter role is taken from Pacific Northwest mythology, the folklore of the First Peoples living along the Pacific coast of the US and Canada.

  • Lawful: Kanigyilak
  • Neutral: Omeatl
  • Chaotic: Tleselagyila

Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Kuste Amerikas (Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America) by Franz Boas (1858-1942) was used as a reference. These are influential beings that appear in the myths of multiple cultures under different names, but I use the Kwak'wala language names (spoken by the Kwakwaka'wakw or "Kwakiutl") as representative examples.

K'anigyilak (also spelled: Q!a'neqe lak):

While Raven is essentially a shaper of the world, the Wanderer 
in the south appears distinctly as cultural deity and, in
addition, as creator of animals and strangely-formed rocks. [...] 
But what gives the Wanderer legend its character in this area
is the strict division of the cultural deity and the trickster.
Neither Cikla of the Chinook, nor Qals of the Coast Selisch,
Kumsno'otl of the Comox, the two Wanderers of the Nutka, or
K'anigyilak of the Newettee perpetrates tricks in addition to
their cultural mission, as is done by Raven in northern British 
Columbia[...]  These tricks are not absent by any means, but have
been transferred to different animals or other beings: to Bluejay
with the Chinook; to Mink and Raven with the Coast Selisch,
Comox and Newettee; to Kwotiath, Mink and Raven with the Nutka.
	[ The Development of the Mythologies of the
	   North Pacific Coast Indians, by Franz Boas,
	   translated by Dietrich Bertz ]


In those days it was still dark on earth.  So O'meatl [Raven] 
decided to steal the sun.  To this end, he hid in a piece of 
driftwood and let himself be carried to the land of Na'lanuk 
(= Owner of Daylight), who kept the daylight.  When Na'lanuk 
saw the wood drift onto the beach, he said to his daughter, 
"Please go and bring the wood up to the house." [...]
The woman carried him about in her arms, and already that night
he was able to speak.  The boy wanted to play with the sun box 
and take it for a ride in a canoe.  He kept crying until at
last his grandfather gave him permission.  Then he was glad.  
The canoe was tied to a peg, so he now made it rock until the 
water ran in, then he cut the rope which tied it to the land.  
He dipped his paddle three times into the water and thereupon 
the canoe went far away.  Then he called, "Don't you know me?  
I am O'meatl."  So Na'lanuk warned him, "Don't open the chest. 
You know that it contains Daylight."  But O'meatl had scarcely
reached home when he opened the box and released Daylight.
    [Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast 
	of America, "Legends of the Tlatlasikwala", 
	recorded by Franz Boas, translated by Dietrich Bertz]


Thereupon they said, "You have no father," in order to 
insult him.  At this, Tle'selagyila (= Sunmaker), Mink, 
became sad and ran weeping to his mother to ask her whether 
it was true that he had no father.  She consoled her son 
and said, "Just let them shout; your father is in the sky.
His name is Toatusela'kilis and he causes the sun to shine."  
So Mink resolved to visit him. [...] In the evening, when it 
grew dark, his father came home, and the woman said to him, 
"Your son has come and wants to stay with you.  Let him lead 
the sun now in your place."  Toatusela'kilis was very glad 
and awakened his son early in the morning.  He gave his 
clothing to him and told him to rise slowly behind the 
mountains and warned him not to walk too quickly because then 
everything would burn up.  Mink took his father's clothing 
and climbed up slowly as he had been told.  But when it was 
almost noon, he became more impatient, began to run and thus 
set the whole world on fire. [...] But the woman in the sky 
called her husband and told him to throw Tle'selagyila down to 
the earth before he burned everything.  Toatusela'kilis 
hurried up, tore off Mink's clothes and threw him down to the 
earth, saying, "If you had gone properly you could have led 
the sun for all time."
    [Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast 
	of America, "Legends of the Oowekeeno", recorded by
	Franz Boas, translated by Dietrich Bertz]

Role overview


  • Intrinsic fire resistance
  • Good starting strength, fair charisma (Firefighters need to inspire confidence)
  • Starting axe (for breaking down doors), grappling hook (for retrieving items), and hard hat (for protection from falling rocks)
  • Erodeproof starting armor
  • Superior trap disarming and door-breaking skills
  • Unrestricted access to useful weapon skills like long sword, saber, two-handed sword, axe, making them able to use good lawful- and neutral-aligned artifacts
  • Unrestricted two-weapon combat
  • Can recognize scrolls of fire and mundane helmets from the start of the game
  • Starting potions of water can be blessed at the first coaligned or converted altar they find


  • Weak starting weapon
  • Poor starting AC
  • Limited ranged abilities
  • Start with alignment record of zero

Racial and alignment considerations

  • Dwarves can eat and sacrifice human corpses and use genocide without a penalty, but suffer from dwarves' usual penalties to spellcasting.
  • Gnomes can better use Firefighters' spellcasting options, but have lower hit points.
  • Lawful Firefighters can use good weapons like Excalibur, Grayswandir (basic), and the Tsurugi of Muramasa (skilled).
  • Neutral Firefighters can use Cleaver (expert) without getting blasted and get Vorpal Blade (basic) as their crowning gift.

Other ideas

These are other ideas that may not apply or be in the spirit of vanilla NetHack, but I thought I'd list them anyway.

  • Firefighters gain intrinsic infravision, regardless of their starting race. This enables them to spot burning creatures from a distance. Alternately, infravision is a property of their quest artifact.
  • Firefighters' first sacrifice gift is Frost Brand, one of the most popular choices for Gehennom. The problem with this is that the weapon is unaligned, and currently all other guaranteed sacrifice gifts are aligned. (An axe would be a better choice, but the only artifact (battle-)axe is the special property of Barbarians.)
  • Dwarven Firefighters start with one of their race's mining helmets, giving them an extra point of AC.
  • In SLASH'EM, where fire traps can be disarmed, Firefighters are able to do so with 100% success.