User:Umbire the Phantom/The Guide to NetHack 1.3d for Junethack Players and Other Determined Daredevils

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I know this is userspace, but feel free to edit as you like, just don't be a jerk.

So, you wanna play 1.3d.

If you're here, you're clearly seeking advice on making any amount of progress in NetHack 1.3d, which is a version of the NetHack we all know and love - it's both old enough to run for President (and would legitimately be a better candidate than the current-at-time-of-writing crop but I digress), and its age definitely shows accordingly, for better and worse.

Given that most of the information documented on this wiki prioritizes current vanilla and in general requires a lot of leg work to get and keep up-to-date, the usefulness of the information that follows is subject to constant shifts - as I and others actually play this game more and see what's up, we'll fill out this guide (and ideally the wiki) appropriately.

How much use you in particular will get out of this guide is also contingent on your answer to the following question...

Is it currently June?

For context, see Junethack.

No

Then what are you doing here?

...no, but really. Hardfought folks tend to glom to vanilla a fair bit, though a few variants are still decently represented - even among the "lesser-known" versions and variants, this one isn't exactly played too often. so if you've found this page, and you're not playing 1.3d specifically for June reasons, you have to be:

  1. Someone like me who'll try damn near anything once;
  2. Someone on a random wiki binge which, whom among us and all;
  3. Someone who's actually working on this guide as well;[1]
  4. The vanishingly rare Actual 1.3d Player™, or;
  5. Some secret fifth thing I haven't accounted for above.

In any event, proceed to "Yes" below if you're genuinely interested in knowing more.

Yes

Okay so here's the June trophies and some of the prerequisites needed for them:

I have now officially ascended 1.3d while doing all of the above! Minus crowning. Fuck. That'll have to be a whole other mission. But I'm proud regardless!

Anyway, this space below, we'll get into the meat and potatoes of accomplishing said goals and doing so with some level of consistency, insofar as 1.3d permits.

Just tell me how to beat the game!

Alright, alright, you're no fun...

A super-consistent means of beating the game is to have the following:

So the tl;dr, as helpfully recited to me by amateurhour, is to level teleport to the bottom, be strong enough get the Amulet from under the Wizard's hellhound (ideally without waking Rodney), level teleport back to dungeon level 1 because the Amulet doesn't block any teleporting yet, and... leave. That's it. You win.

...That's it!?

That's yer lot.

NetHack 1.3d!

Now, are you not solely interested in a quick and easy win, but truly want to know the ins and outs of this wonderfully weird early installment?[2]

Then keep on readin'.

A 1.3d Primer

Assuming you haven't read the article on NetHack 1.3d, or (much more likely) can't be bothered to tab repeatedly between pages, we'll cover the relative basics in this section. We're working with Hardfought's version of the game, so everything below this line assumes you are playing 1.3d specifically on Hardfought - i.e. none of the hard mode stuff is active, contributions from Ken Arromdee[3] are enabled, and there's some necessary fixes and other stuff backported.

Controls and options

Probably the most important section, given the help commands in-game are... a bit obtuse about what you can and can't do. Work-in-progress (even by the standards of an already-WIP guide).

Some of the most important things to remember:

  • There are notably fewer free actions, and even things as simple as checking your square or your wallet consumes a turn.
  • No autotravel or autofill.
  • You can't displace pets or other peaceful monsters, so movement is even more tedious.
Command Key/Extended Short Description
Name c Name an individual item (or item stack), or type-name an item.
Call shift + C Name a monster on the map. Only way to get a look at monster glyphs from afar. Also not a free action because "fuck you".
Engrave shift + E Write on the floor. You can ID-test wands this way, but you can't write afterward if the wand you test makes the engraving vanish or polymorphs it.
Check inventory i Peek at your inventory. No navigation between pages outside of "space to next page", unfortunately.
Inventory by type shift + I Checks inventory by an object type that you select by pressing its symbol.[4]
Move without pickup m Exactly what it says on the tin - move without acknowledging items. No difference between this and normal movement when moving into an adjacent monster.
Redraw Ctrl + R Redraws the screen. You'll need to do this fairly often, since it won't always auto-update for you.
Search s Searches around you. Same as modern NetHack.
Transcribe Shift + X Attempt to transcribe a book. Succeed and you learn a spell, fail and you get the usual bad effects - regardless, this will always use up the book. Yes, even if you're blind or confused at the time. This will also stop you in place if you successfully transcribe a book, so make sure no monsters are near.
List spells x Display all known spells.
Near look : Look on the square you currently occupy. Is a free action.
Pickup , Pick up stuff on that square. If multiple items are present, you get prompted for what object class you wanna pick up, then get [ynaq] for each item (y = yes, n = no, a = all, q = quit prompt). Cannot pick up part of an item stack - it's either all or nothing.
Count gold $ Counts your gold and uses up turns doing what you could've done by looking at the lower left corner of your interface.[4]
#cast Extended Yes, you need to type this out to actually cast your known spells, done by selecting that spell's corresponding letter (? lists known spells). Takes the amount of energy list in parenthesis, which means most spells are way more accessible to the character even before you consider there's no vanilla spell failure mechanics.
#dip Extended Lets you dip items into a potion or into a fountain on your square.
#pray Extended Pray to the gods, and then pray to the IRL gods that they actually answer what you were asking for in the first place.
#remove Extended Attempts to remove a heavy iron ball attached to your leg.
#sit Extended Sits down on your current square, roughly the same as modern NetHack.

You

You get to pick a role and a gender.

...and that's it. 1.3d was long before things like alignment or race were introduced by the <sarcasm>Woke Liberal NetHack DevTeam.</sarcasm> As such, character creation is pretty barebones and straightforward, with your choice of roles as follows:

All weapons and armor are at +0 unless specified, and none of your starting rings/wands/scrolls/potions are identified. Because "fuck you".

Your attributes

These here 're your stats:

Your pet

...is always a little dog at the start. You can make more via create familiar if you learn it successfully.

Pets'll eat damn near any corpse if it isn't poisonous, but aren't nearly as reliable for detecting cursed items or traps - there's no messages for reluctant movement, and traps they step on aren't highlighted, because you can't have nice things. Also, diets aren't a thing so if it's safely edible and not people food, your pet'll eat it.

...also if your pet's left behind for even a few moments they'll untame suddenly. Because "fuck you". Though it might be pet dependent and down to their hunger levels, I might just be grousing.

If a pet refuses to pick up an item even after moving over it, it's probably cursed. Similarly, if you get a message about them stepping on a trap, search that area to manually reveal it. As mentioned, you can't displace pets, and a tamed dog is the only pet that your character will "stop to avoid hitting" - other pets will pull up a "Really attack?" prompt instead, so while you really can't afford to mash and risk hitting y, you can at least decline attacking by hitting any other key.

Of note is that upper limits on pet HP like in modern NetHack aren't exactly established - don't be too surprised if your faithful companion that's lived 20+ levels turns out to have 100 HP at least!

Prayer

...is a crapshoot. Crowning is even more so.

The Dungeons of Doom

NetHack 1.3d's dungeon is a single-branch affair that's a maximum of 40 levels long, with the standard goal of "retrieve the Amulet of Yendor or die trying": go in, get as deep as you can, get the Amulet, get out with the Amulet, win. There's a basic suite of special rooms:

  • Vaults: Same as in vanilla, you can dig your way to them or use the "ad aerarium" vault teleporter, then dig or warp your way out.
  • Shops: With attendant shopkeeper as expected, though the mechanics are very unrefined compared to vanilla. More on them below.
  • Throne rooms: No special "ruler" yet, but has the expected court of monsters.
  • Treasure zoos: Pretty much the same as in vanilla.
  • Beehives
  • Crypts
  • Swamp

After roughly 25 or so levels of room-and-corridor maps, you'll find a level with no downstairs, which is the barrier between the main dungeon and the old-fashioned mazes: These levels are seemingly upstairs-only, meaning you can only access floors below them via level teleportation or by digging down - taking one stair also puts you on the upstair for the floor above because... well, that's actually pretty convenient. Also, on each maze level, an enormous rock in a dead-end square has a wand of wishing and yes, you can obtain multiple such wands.[5]

Dungeon levels 30+ also count as Hell, the conceptual ancestor to Gehennom - you also need to have fire resistance for those levels or you die. Lost that ring of fire resistance while in there? You die. Relying on a polyself that timed out? You die. Lose your intrinsic to a gremlin? Then you're clearly on a different version because 1.3d doesn't have those, so that's one less thing for you to fear. But one way or another, you need fire resistance. Of course, if you can get this far you also can grab at least one wand of wishing, and if you do you basically win the game.

The Wizard of Yendor awaits in a small room in the center of the bottom-most maze level, surrounded by water and accompanied by a hell hound - the Amulet of Yendor is in there with them. Once you take it, make your way back up and out of the dungeon and escape with the Amulet to secure victory.

Shops

1.3d shops are... interesting, to say the least:

  • Prices are determined basically at random each time you pick up or drop an item, sure, why not, fuck you. It's not all bad - you can actually exploit this for profit using the old pet theft approach.
  • Normal random loot can generate in the room where a shop is made.
  • Multiple pieces of inventory can generate on a square.
  • Killed monster drops belong to the shop as usual except for their gold - this means no fear of killing leprechauns in a shop and losing the gold they stole.
  • The stuff randomly generated in the "open" row by the entrance wall may or may not also be counted as part of its inventory.
  • The game doesn't disclose actual prices (which, as mentioned, are random anyway because "fuck you"), but at least it tells you what is and isn't paid for.
  • Features and other stuff can generate in shops too, which also includes traps because "fuck you".

Shop types are the general store, liquor, used armor, weapons, wands, rings, bookstores, and food stores.

Dungeon features

  • Pools. Step in one and you drown unless you're in a monster form that can swim.
  • Fountains. They work pretty close to how they do in vanilla NetHack.
  • Thrones. Sit on them to work their magic.

Traps

Objects

Objects that debut in this version are indicated in boldface.

Artifacts

There's only two artifact weapons and nothing else, though this is before 3.0.0 - that means you can make multiple artifact weapons.

  • Orcrist can be created by naming any two-handed sword, and deals +d10 to orcs. Given the sheer amount of orcs that occur early on, this may be genuinely worth considering.
  • Excalibur is created vaguely similar to modern versions, but there are critical differences: you must first name a long sword Excalibur and then #dip it into a fountain, with a 215 chance of the Lady of the Lake blessing the sword.[6] Excalibur has no special properties of its own, but creating it this way enchants it to +5, uncurses it and rustproofs it - there's no weapon skills to faff with, and "really good long sword" is generally more than sufficient for pretty much everyone.

Amulets

...do not exist as a formal object class. There's only the two thus far:

Food

Eat or die. Partially eaten food doesn't exist yet.

  • Food ration: Probably the most reliable food in light of dead monsters being not-that-great for nutrition which, see below.
  • Tripe ration: Dog food.
  • Dead monster: There are two things that are very important to note about monster corpses in 1.3d.
  1. They confer their intrinsics silently. This is beyond annoying in the case of dead leprechauns, which fits with the annoying qualities of live ones.
  2. They are not nearly as reliable as they are in modern NetHack. In particular, you can end up feeling sick and losing HP from not eating a corpse immediately - this is ostensibly logical for the raw meat of a freshly-killed (and possibly sentient) being, but unfortunately also sets you back quite a bit when you're just trying to survive and gather permafood. You can still subsist on them, but keep this in mind, and check the bestiary below for notes on intrinsics.

Tin chart

Message Nutrition
It contains spinach - this makes you feel like Popeye! 600, increases strength
It contains salmon - not bad! 60, causes slippery fingers
It contains first quality peaches - what a surprise! 40
It contains apple juice - perhaps not what you hoped for. 20
It contains some nondescript substance, tasting awfully. 500
It contains rotten meat. You vomit. -50
It turns out to be empty. 0

Weapons

Armor

Potions

Magic in a bottle. Note that thrown potions only break if they successfully hit a monster, and their effects are applied on all adjacent squares to that monster - be careful throwing that paralysis potion at point blank range!

Scrolls

Wands

Zap, muhfucka. Can't apply wands to break them yet. Charges are displayed as a single number in parenthesis, since charging also doesn't exist yet.

Spellbooks

Spellbooks as an item class make their debut here. As mentioned above, you must transcribe them via shift + x to attempt learning the spell.

Rings

Tools

Gems

Other items

Bestiary

Monsters that debut in this version are in boldface, while monsters backported to this version are in italics. Of note is that percentage chances for corpse intrinsics are seemingly not yet a thing - you eat something, you get its intrinsic, good or bad. Also hidden monsters are totally invisible.

Notes not yet complete, so proceed with caution.

Name Symbol Level Hit dice Speed AC MR Notes
acid blob a Roughly the same as vanilla, including the acid passive - weapon corrosion is just disenchantment, so that can actually suck quite a bit. Poisonous to eat rather than acidic - avoid doing so if possible.
bat B  
centaur C  
chameleon : The ever-shifting annoyance of ages old.
cockatrice c Same statue-making threat as ever - grab as many dead lizards as you can. Does NOT kill your dog on contact when they pick it up.
demon & Late-game enemies that double on-call kill squad when the gods are especially angry.
dog d What little dogs grow up into.
dragon D Basically the ancestor of the modern red dragon, and probably your ideal fire resistance corpse (poisonous to eat, though). You don't have reflection in this game and they will use their fire breath at melee range, so have good AC and try to not get toasted. Their corpse doesn't seem to be as much of an over-satiation hazard.
ettin e Big guy(s) what hits hard.
floating eye E Roughly the same as vanilla, except pets are somehow immune - let them do the killing and snap up the corpse for yourself. Conveys telepathy.
fog cloud f Mostly non-threatening and unremarkable outside of the fact they can leave corpses.
freezing sphere F Blows up and tries to frost you.
flaming sphere F Blows up and tries to flambé you.
gelatinous cube g Not acidic, paralyzing or poisonous.
ghost   Usually the result of finding bones, so expect many or most of them to be from June. Basically the same as vanilla - not too lethal themselves, but hard to hit with fewer things that can reliably hit them, so there's no shame in just leaving one alone until later. Mind your surroundings while swinging away so you don't trap yourself, and be sure to leave an escape route.
giant 9  
giant ant A The ancestor of Team a, roughly equivalent to the modern soldier ant - they move rather skittishly, their stings can lower your strength, and dead ones are poisonous to eat.
giant beetle b Bites a lot. Poisonous to eat.
giant eel ;  
giant spider s (if SPIDERS defined at compile time; default)
They move pretty fast and can actually hide under stuff. Poisonous to eat.
gnome G Appear in smaller groups than orcs.
guard @  
hell hound d Rodney's guard dog for the Amulet. Doesn't have a breath weapon. Leaves a normal dog corpse.
hobgoblin H Fly solo unlike orcs, as in vanilla.
homunculus h  
imp i Appears as early as the first floors, and their AC and speed mean they can and will likely dumpster weaker or unfortunate characters.
jackal J Early-game foe that's not much different from vanilla, though likely tougher for non-melee roles because of how much you don't have.
jaguar j  
Keystone Kop K if KOPS defined at compile time (default)
killer bee k Poisonous like always and likely to appear in frequent swarms - good luck identifying and obtaining a source of poison res with how info-sparse the game is.
kobold K if KOPS not defined at compile time
large dog d What normal dogs grow up into.
leocrotta l Strangely skittish compared to the vanilla leocrotta.
leprechaun L Very annoying: they move to avoid you and attack you for your gold as usual, but with the caveat that they'll still attack even in the former cases. They're also more common, you can't force fight in this game, and there's no bags - they do beeline towards any gold on the floor, so in addition to just dropping your gold before engaging and using ranged weapons, you can drop your gold strategically to trap one or restrict its movements. Dead leprechauns convey teleportitis as usual.
little dog d Your only choice of starting pet. Has three growth stages as in modern NetHack, all of which can appear randomly very rarely.
long worm w (if NOWORM not defined at compile time; default)
Can bite a lot but come with as many segments as usual. Thankfully not the Alaskan Bull kind.
lurker above '  
mail daemon 2 if MAIL defined at compile time
mimic M Disguises itself as items like usual, including "strange objects" (]) and even doorways embedded in a wall - telepathy displays it in its disguised form. Eating dead mimics causes you to mimic a treasure chest for a while much like vanilla.
minotaur m Got the small 'm' for some reason, but is still a very big deal. Only appears in mazes at level creation.
nurse n Cannibalism to eat. Don't be tempted.
nymph N Same as the modern nymphs, though they just hit your pets rather than try to charm them, and probably do the same to you if you also have nothing to steal.
orc O The quintessential horde monster. Try not to get overwhelmed, and aim to funnel them into hallways. Good source of spare projectiles and other such junk.
owlbear o Growly McGrabsyou. Bearhugging hurts a lot. Dead owlbear can be pretty filling.
piercer p Hides on the ceiling and drops to try and hit you, and can be found out by searching.
purple worm P  
quantum mechanic Q Teleport you with their attacks as usual. Their corpses are NOT poisonous, surprisingly, but give you teleportitis so you may wanna avoid them anyway unless you have tele control.
quivering blob q Not much of a threat, but their corpse is a potential poison resistance source you'll want ASAP.
rust monster R More like a disenchanter since erosion isn't a formal mechanic. Unless your weapon is rustproofed, you might want some wands, spells or spare projectiles for them.
rock mole r Very annoying - digs through walls and stuff as ever, but you still can't walk diagonally through the doorways this creates in rooms because "fuck you". Doesn't seem to eat gold at least.
scorpion s if SPIDERS not defined at compile time
shopkeeper @ No shirt, no shoes, no problem. Don't rob or anger them unless you have a unique death wish or you really think you can tangle.
snake S Venomous bite, hides under objects.
stalker I  
tengu t Fairly fast, and will use hit-and-run with controlled teleports similar to vanilla.
trapper ,  
troll T  
umber hulk U As likely to look at you funny as ever.
unicorn u Complete with horn and gem attraction. Your primary source of Luck.
vampire V Bleh. Drop their own corpses, poisonous to eat.
violet fungus v Very slow.
wizard of Yendor 1 The big man himself. Leaves the Amulet with his hell hound right next to him - even if you grab it and don't wake him, he'll notice soon enough, and harassment will ensue. Good luck.
wraith W The ghost who giveth levels and also taketh away. Eating a dead wraith raises your level as expected.
wumpus w if NOWORM defined at compile time
xan x Very annoying - hates your legs and hates you. Injured legs take a while to heal and impact your carrycap for the duration.
xorn X  
yellow light y Blindy McBlastyou. Hope you got telepathy!
yeti Y  
zombie Z Generic undead monster. Eating a dead zombie doesn't always sicken you, amazingly, but it's not all that nutritious (might even be a flat zero).
zruty z  

With Special Thanks

I would like to close this as-of-yet unfinished guide by giving a non-exhaustive shoutout to the following folks:

  • Mike Stephenson, who released this first version of the game to Usenet and changed thousands of lives forever.
  • Patric Mueller, who introduced this version to the Junethack tournament and by extension Hardfought, and who I hope doesn't mind the full name here.
  • Keith Simpson, Hardfought owner and EvilHack dev whose work I thoroughly enjoy (and who I also hope doesn't mind the full name here, haha)
  • amateurhour, one of the few IRC users I know who took to playing 1.3d and is responsible for much of the strategy above.
  • And you, for spending your time reading this, whoever the hell you are. <3

References

  1. In which case, hit me up @ Umbire on Discord or IRC (primarily on Libera nethack channels) so we can collab if you like!
  2. Though, you might also want a quick win for speedplay purposes, personal achievement or bragging rights. No judgment, really.
  3. Or "KAA", if you've gone source diving here or in NetHack repos elsewhere.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fun fact - if you do either of these commands (assuming you selected gold for "inventory by type") and have a significant amount of gold on you, you will physically sit to count your gold and use up multiple turns! Because "fuck you"! there likely wasn't room to do anything that'd require another status line, and unfortunately for 1987 computers were... limited. So yeah - be careful doing this or you could die.
  5. Because this game can let you have nice things sometimes.
  6. fountain.c in NetHack 1.3d, line 242
  7. ...buddy.
    If you thought current identify was busted... well you'd be correct, but you'd also never be prepared for what this version of the spell does. Potential mass identification of inventory by object type, maybe even just the whole thing. It's vanilla But More™ and it just slurps all the item-testing agony right out. It feels... illegal almost.