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A variant (also sometimes known as a fork, mod, or patchset) is a copy of NetHack to which substantial code changes have been made.

Most variants make changes to the gameplay, but this isn't a requirement: NitroHack, for instance, is a variant which makes huge code changes but does not change gameplay at all.

The NetHack General Public License allows anyone to create a variant, provided that they use the same license. Then, features from that variant may be reused in other variants!

Variants are distinct from patches. A variant typically contains a large amount of changes and usually has a broader focus, whereas a patch does one specific thing and contains only the changes required to make it work.

A variant is either distributed as a very large patch against vanilla NetHack, or as a separate source code distribution such as a public Git repository.

Actively-developed variants

Variant Description

dNethack is a variant of NetHack 3.4.3 maintained by Chris-plus-alphanumericgibberish a.k.a. Chris. It that does five main things: it greatly increases the number of artifacts, implements new monsters, re-organizes and expands the dungeon, attempts to re-balance armors, item appearances, and intrinsics to make more choices viable in the late game, and replaces the Elbereth mechanic with warding signs. It also incorporates the Pirate and Convict patches, and makes a few minor changes in existing classes and items.

Most new artifacts have custom effects and/or invocations. Most new monsters have new attacks or other code support. Dungeon changes include: multi-level alignment “quest” branches, additional side branches off the main dungeon, and a shortened Gehennom, with demon lairs randomly drawn from a small pool and fewer straight-up maze levels.

dNethack incorporates code from many other variants and patches, such as SLASH'EM, and implements many YANIs from this wiki and from

Discuss the variant at irc://freenode/dnethack. It is playable at a specifically dNetHack server ( or, more commonly, via ssh (USA) or the server.

DNHslex is a variant of dnethack maintained by AmyBSOD. It adds more variety by enabling all role/race/gender/alignment combos for playing, allowing many more monsters and items to be randomly generated, and adding new monsters from other NetHack variants as well. Apart from a bunch of monster shoes from SLASH'EM it tries to remain true to the spirit of dnethack.

It is playable on the server.

FIQHack is a variant of NetHack 4 maintained by [1] a.k.a. FIQ. It has 3 main focuses: improving convenience and quality of life, improving monster AI and behaviour, and improving monster/player symmetry (i.e. making things behave the same for both). Aside from this, there has also been various other gameplay tweaks, as well as improvement of code quality.

A comprehensive changelog of every notable change in FIQHack can be found in its article.

Discuss the variant at irc://freenode/nethack4. It is playable at ssh (USA) or ssh (EU).

GruntHack is a variant of NetHack 3.4.3 which was maintained by Grunt a.k.a. SGrunt, now updated community members K2 and Tangles, intended to extend and enhance the game's existing behavior rather than altering it in any thoroughly substantial way, such as objects of the same object type being made from different materials and occasionally possessing non-standard powers, monsters having different races and using more tactics when fighting other monsters, and more intelligent pet behavior.

There are public servers at, ssh (USA) and ssh

iNetHack2 is an update by Jeff King of iNetHack, originally ported in 2009 by Dirk Zimmermann, to work on newer devices. Contains all the features of iNetHack, as well as 10 tilesets (including ASCII mode) and iOS 7+ functionality.

  • NetHack 4
  • Home page
  • Source repository: web access (by default, shows the most recently developed branch, use ais523/master for the mainline), or git clone for command-line access
  • Last update 2 April 2015
  • current version 4.3-beta2 (includes a Windows installer for 64-bit systems)
  • merge of AceHack and NitroHack

NetHack 4 is an unofficial variant of NetHack maintained by Alex Smith a.k.a. ais523, who is also an admin of this wiki. It aims to continue its development. As a merge of AceHack and NitroHack and official successor to both projects, it aims for gameplay similar to NetHack but with an improved interface. It combines the interface improvements and gameplay changes of AceHack (see its section) with the persistent inventory, larger message box, new status display, new options interface, fully remappable keys, new main menu and other features of NitroHack.

It can be played online on its public server using telnet or ssh (password "nethack43") or via ssh (USA).

NetHack Fourk is an experimental fork of NetHack 4, which aims to test out changes needed to improve the game's balance. It also contains some new content and other changes: see the changelog for details.

It can be played online on the public server at or via ssh (USA).

Slash'EM Extended is a variant of SLASH'EM maintained by Bluescreenofdeath a.k.a. Amy, and is the official successor to SLASH'EM. The object of the game is the same: to fetch the Amulet of Yendor from the bottom of the Gehennom and offer it to your god.

Compared to SLASH'EM, Slash'EM Extended contains several new roles and races for the player to choose from, several new special levels, a lot of new monsters, and other changes (similar goals to the original SLASH'EM, which also aimed at adding lots of stuff, so this has even more). The main dungeon is a bit shorter in Slash'EM Extended than in SLASH'EM but the Gehennom is longer (making their lengths more like in vanilla NetHack), and the demon/devil lairs appear in a random order. And most importantly, Slash'EM Extended is hard as hell!!!

It can be played online on its public server using ssh or via ssh (USA) (discussion in #slashemextended or on Freenode).

SporkHack is a variant actively developed and tested until December 2011 by Derek S. Ray - development was started up again in July of 2017 by community members Tangles and K2. The stated purpose of the variant is to try to bring more challenge to the vanilla game for experienced players, as well as to make things less boring for all players. Derek Ray maintains a telnet server at so that players need not compile or install the game. A patch and a Windows binary are available from the home page; the patch can be applied to a standard NetHack 3.4.3 distribution. SporkHack contains "more interesting" Caveman and Knight roles, and a number of balance adjustments throughout the game to spells, monsters and items... as well as intangibles such as the "to hit" formula. There are also cosmetic changes, for example the master lich is a green L.

Latest development of SporkHack includes bugfixes and functionality enhancement; no changes affecting gameplay or the original authors intent have been made at this time. The repository for version 0.6.5 can be found on GitHub.

The latest developed version (0.6.5) can be played online at the public server via ssh (discussion in #hardfought on Freenode). The older version (0.6.3) can be played online on the public server using ssh

UnNetHack is a variant of NetHack 3.4.3, maintained by Patric Müller a.k.a. Bhaak and others. The main intent of this fork is to put more randomness, challenges and fun into NetHack. UnNetHack incorporates many changes from other variants and patches as well as its own to form a fun and balanced variant. It has been described as “how NetHack would look today if the DevTeam didn't stop releasing”. It is the most famous and popular of the actively developed variants, and frequently shares with and borrows from other variants.

Discuss the variant at irc://freenode/unnethack.

It features more levels, several UI improvements, and a lot of game play related changes. There are public servers via ssh (USA) and

xNetHack is the first variant to be created after the release of NetHack 3.6. It is maintained by aosdict aka Phol ende wodan.

Its main goals are to fix balance problems in vanilla and remove sources of frustration, as well as experimenting with YANIs from the community. It also follows a unique development model of remaining up-to-date with the latest code added to vanilla, rather than being based on a static release; as such, new features and improvements in vanilla always get included in xNetHack soon after they are added.

Some of its features include special rooms in maze levels, an overhauled spellcasting system, several new conducts, and several UI enhancements. It can be played on the Hardfought server.

SpliceHack is an actively developed variant of NetHack 3.6, unintentionally released only a few hours before 3.6.1. It is maintained by AntiGulp.

The main goal of SpliceHack is to make the game much more interesting and dynamic by adding additional content, while being as accessible as possible to those used to playing vanilla NetHack. A secondary goal is to maintain a level of balance and difficulty that is similar to vanilla. The variant is updated frequently, and YANIs are actively incorporated into the code.

SpliceHack features a large number of new monsters, items, locations, and effects. It also includes a number of extensible and dynamic features, such as monsters that are random fusions of other monsters and allowing pets to gain resistances through corpses. It can be played on the Hardfought server.

Variants not actively developed (but still played)

Variant Description, commonly abbreviated to NAO, is one of the oldest NetHack public servers, and by far the most popular. For many years, they maintained their own variant of NetHack, based on NetHack 3.4.3. The primary maintainer was Paxed. It is meant to provide identical gameplay to vanilla 3.4.3. The changes they do include are bugfixes, interface improvements, removal of exploits, changes to allow tracking more statistics, a few popular patches, and minor miscellaneous improvements. It was long regarded as the best one to use if you wanted something as similar as possible to vanilla NetHack 3.4.3 but with the bugs fixed. However, it has largely been displaced by NetHack 3.6.1, which incorporates all of the bugfixes and nearly all of the quality-of-life improvements.

After the release of 3.6.1, stopped hosting and updating this variant. It can still be played on The source, for the time being, remains available at

AceHack is a variant of NetHack maintained by Alex Smith a.k.a. ais523, who is also an admin of this wiki. It has similar gameplay but an improved interface, e.g. walking into doors opens them automatically, background colors to distinguish tame/peaceful/hostile monsters and stairs under items, describing what's under the cursor while moving it in farlook, and warning before moving into lava. It also includes gameplay changes such as rerolling for items and attributes during character generation, auto-identifying some items under circumstances where the identity is unambiguous, making floating eyes unhittable instead of paralyzing, replacing Stormbringer's disabling of the peaceful attack warning prompt with aggravate monster when wielded, and replacing map and item identity amnesia with draining of skill and spell training.

Development of AceHack has stopped in favor of NetHack 4, itself a merge of AceHack and NitroHack.

The biodiversity patch by Nicholas Aodhagan Webb adds several monsters to the game, adjusts some monster behaviors and adds a few other features. This patch is about populating the dungeon with monsters, not about changing the dungeon. It even adds more trees.

Some of the changes have a basis in reality (like echolocation for bats), but there are also some serious nasties, including the disintegrator and the goldbug.

DynaHack is an experimental variant of NetHack maintained by Tung Nguyen a.k.a. Tungtn. It mainly merges the new content and challenges of UnNetHack (up to version 4.1.1) onto NitroHack as a base, with its new resizable ASCII interface. It also includes the save system, many bug fixes and selected interface changes from NetHack 4, magical equipment from GruntHack, changes from other variants, and some original changes to add variety and fairness to the gameplay.

It can be played online via ssh (USA) or on the public server (discussion in #hardfought on Freenode).

iNetHack is a port of NetHack 3.4.3 to iOS 3.0, by Dirk Zimmermann a.k.a. Dirkz. It runs on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It features Hearse integration, has several bug fixes, and a Graphical user interface with touch-screen controls. It was available for free on the App Store but was removed for unknown reasons (most likely because Apple doesn't like copyleft licenses). However, it's been moved to GitHub on April 19, 2014 along with an updated copyright notice that says some of the content is copyright 2014, perhaps indicating there might be future development. It can still be compiled and run on an iOS device for free if you jailbreak it, although jailbreaking voids the warranty from Apple. However, this variant has been updated by Jeff King and reuploaded on the iOS App Store as iNetHack2, with 10 tilesets (including ASCII mode) and iOS 7+ functionality.

The Lethe patch by Michael Clarke seems to be only a minor change to the game, before you reach Medusa. There you find the River Lethe which leads you into a very different Gehennom.

There are many new scares down there. If you are sufficiently powerful, then you can fight through it all, but it will be far more difficult than the boring and relatively benign mazes of vanilla. Type carefully, and do not step into the river that causes amnesia. At Moloch's Sanctum, the high priest of Moloch is Cthulhu...

These days, more players choose SLASH'EM 0.0.7E7, which has most of the new items and monsters from this patch, but not the changed levels. Until the levels are integrated, one can play SLethe which includes the new levels. There is a 0.0.7E7F3 SLethe playground on

Coming from Japan, NetHack brass (developed by 紅茶羊羹 a.k.a. Kōcha Yōkan, which roughly translates to "tea-flavored gelatinous cube") is lesser known among NetHack players who do not speak Japanese. The game is in English but most of the community uses Japanese. NetHack brass adds no new races or roles, but it has a few new items and a redesigned Gehennom. Its major features include the new #skills system and tweaks to how heroes gain experience levels and attributes. Minetown is now filled with shops, while the top of Sokoban offers prizes but permits the player to choose one and only one.

Despite the many changes in this variant, they do not feel so drastic, and NetHack brass feels more like vanilla than the other variants.

The NetHack iOS port by Gandreas Software is a port of NetHack 3.4.3 to iOS 2.2, by Glenn Andreas. It runs on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It has a Graphical user interface and a gesture-based system. It's currently a free download from Apple's app store.

NetHack: The Next Generation, by Sebastian Klein and Bill Foust, was a variant that has mostly fallen into disuse. TNG contains several strange new monsters and items, but is mostly remembered for the Geek class and the Douglas Adams themed monsters.

NitroHack is a variant of NetHack 3.4.3, developed by Daniel Thaler a.k.a. DanielT. It aims to be a modern, network-capable fork of the classic game.

It features native netplay via its client (connect to, and can support any client that can speak its new JSON-based protocol; a web client is planned. It uses an enhanced version of the Curses interface, has fully remappable key controls and character display, dungeon overview, and UI improvements from AceHack. It also records full play logs, allowing players to view interactive replays of current and finished games. Its savegame code is notoriously buggy, though.

Development of NitroHack has stopped in favor of NetHack 4, itself a merge of AceHack and NitroHack. NitroHack also lives on in DynaHack, another modern variant that is based on NitroHack. Both NetHack 4 and DynaHack thankfully fix the buggy savegame code of NitroHack.

Slash'EM or SLASH'EM, officially SuperLotsaAddedStuffHack - Extended Magic, is the most famous variant, created by Warren Cheung a.k.a. wacko. This game and its ancestor variants are now part of vanilla NetHack's game history, because of the reuse of certain SLASH'EM code in NetHack 3.3.0. Perhaps because of this, and because so many players busy themselves with vanilla, SLASH'EM and other variants may have less attention than they had previously.

SLASH'EM puts more effort (than vanilla) into killing the hero; plenty of games end at Dlvl1. There are more than plenty of new monsters, items and magic. The dungeon features several new one-level dungeon branches for the hero to die in. Three new portals lead to quests for artifact keys. The player also has a larger choice of races and roles than in vanilla, and that alone is enough to make an experienced NetHack player rethink strategy.

SLASH'EM started as a combination of two other variants, SLASH and the Wizard Patch. In turn, SLASH was a merger of and addition to NetHack Plus and NetHack--.

Although SLASH'EM itself is no longer developed, there are at least two newer variants of it, which are actively developed (q.v. above).

There is a public server at

SLASHTHEM (github page) is a variant of Slash'EM Extended version 75 currently maintained and developed by Soviet5lo. It's name is short for “Super Lotsa Added Stuff Hack—The Heavily Extended Mod”. SLASHTHEM is much easier to play then Slash'EM Extended, and one of its goals, is to be as easy as Slash'EM.

UnNetHackPlus is a variant forked from UnNetHack, which was maintained by Bulwersator a.k.a. mkoniecz. The main intent of this fork was to put more randomness, challenges and fun into UnNetHack (i.e. the same intent as UnNetHack). UnNetHackPlus incorporates many changes from other variants and patches as well as its own to form into a fun and balanced variant. It is the only known variant that outright removes Sokoban. Its biggest improvements live on, having been implemented in UnNetHack and DynaHack.

There are some Japanese variants and 2 German variants missing from the above list. You can also look at GitHub's fork list for vanilla NetHack to see a partial list of variants.

You can also mix multiple patches, large or small, to form your own variant. You can select patches from the Patch Database or L's collection – beware of conflicts and rejected hunks if you apply multiple patches!