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ZAPM is not a true variant of NetHack, but it had importance in the 2008 /dev/null/nethack tournament.

ZAPM is a sci-fi roguelike game by Cyrus Dolph. From the homepage: "It's my humble attempt to create "the sci-fi NetHack". It is very much a work in progress."

The latest unstable version 0.8.2 was released 2010-06-06. The source code of version 0.8.3 can be downloaded here from the /dev/null/nethack page. A continuation of ZAPM named PRIME has been started in March 2011.

The aim of ZAPM is to explore a derelict space hulk in search of the fabled "Bizarro Orgasmatron", rumored to be the most powerful artifact in the galaxy and the only hope of saving the universe from an unknown doom.

Differences and similarities

Being roguelike, ZAPM has some things that are familiar, some that are different:

NetHack ZAPM
Scrolls Floppy disks - requires a computer to "run", can sometimes be reused
Potions Canisters don't have effects when thrown at monsters
Rings You may have up to five bionic implants installed in your brain
Wands Ray guns are not tied to particular energy ray type but can be reloaded with something else when empty
Launchers Guns of many descriptions, bearing distant similarity to SLASH'EM's firearms
Projectiles Gun ammunition and grenades which need to be identified
Shirts Jumpsuits usually have single AC point and may give resistances
Suits Various body armor pieces like flak jackets and stormtrooper suits
Dragon Suits Marine power armor are somewhat similar because being self-powered they do not encumber the character; no special resistances granted though
Helms Some headgear pieces may grant air filtering - an extrinsic unique to helms
Boots, Gloves, Cloaks, Shields Not present
no equivalent Belts (actually just one type is implemented)
Lenses, Blindfold Blindfold is available but instead of lenses there are several types of goggles
Tools Equivalently broad category; its items quite similar in use to NetHacks
Doors Automatic opening doors, locked doors with key cards of several colors, faulty doors that slam on the player
Traps Only (acid/sewage) pits, holes and radiation traps
Spellcasting Mutant powers - cost temporary Charisma rather than Pw
Monsters of almost all ASCII letters Monsters of many letters of alphabet. Some are yet unused
Corpses Only droids and bots leave disabled versions once dead, unable to be eaten

There are no races and roles, only professions.

ZAPM is a refreshing jaunt with plenty of differences to vanilla and is quite enjoyable.

Sample screenshot

                                                 #########     Kevin
       ######                      ##### #########.......#     Odd Ball
       #.....                      #...###...+...'.......#     XL  1:88
       #....                       #...'.+...#####.......#
       #....                       #...###...#   #####'###     Str  7  Int 15
       #...                 ###    #...# #...#       #.#       Con  9  Wis 15
       #...                 #?#    #...# #####       #.#       Agi 12  Cha 16
       #..             ######'######=>.#             #.#       Dex  8
       #w.             #!'.....+...'...#             #.#
       #'#             ###.....#########             #.#       Fast    +5
  ######'#################.....###################+# #$#       Armor   13
  #.....@'...............'.....'......+............# #.#       HitPts   4/  7
  #......#################F....########............# #.#       Energy 175/  0
  #......#               #.....#      #......(.....# #'####    $9
  ########               #+#####      ############## #....#
                                                     #....#    Space Base 1
You smash the lock as you kick the door open!


ZAPM has five playable classes: Psion, Quarterback, Space Marine, Software Engineer and Janitor.


Psions are mutants, using their supercharged DNA to survive the hostile space hulk. They are guaranteed to start with at least 14 Charisma.

Starting equipment:

  • debugged +1 laser pistol
  • debugged +1 ordinary jumpsuit
  • debugged pair of sunglasses
  • 200 energy cells
  • 2 debugged canisters of Nano Cola
  • 1 debugged canister of healing
  • 1 debugged canister of Rad-Away
  • 2d10 buckazoids


  • Restricted: Programming
  • Improvable by 1 point every 4 levels: Thrown Weapons, Light Guns, Heavy Guns, Unarmed Combat, Basic Melee Weapons, Pick Locks, Repair
  • Improvable by 2 points every 4 levels: Handguns, Spot
  • Improvable by 3 points every 4 levels: Search
  • Improvable by 4 points every 4 levels: all Mutant Powers, Swords, Concentration

Starting skills:

  • First random mutant power - 2
  • Second random mutant power - 2

Common opening strategy is to drink from sludge vats hoping for more mutant powers. This is especially important if the Psion starts with utility mutant abilities.


Quarterbacks are strong athletes, looking to take on a new challenge but with the physical strength to survive - hopefully.

Starting equipment:

  • debugged +0 set of football pads
  • debugged +0 football helmet
  • debugged +3 football
  • 200 energy cells
  • 6 debugged canisters of beer


  • Restricted: all Mutant Powers, Pick Locks, Repair, Programming
  • Improvable by 1 point every 4 levels: none
  • Improvable by 2 points every 4 levels: Light Guns, Heavy Guns, Swords, Concentration, Search
  • Improvable by 3 points every 4 levels: Basic Melee Weapons
  • Improvable by 4 points every 4 levels: Thrown Weapons, Unarmed Combat, Spot

Starting skills:

  • Thrown weapons - 2
  • Spot - 2

Since the quarterback starts without a gun he should destroy fuel barrels by throwing the football. When space goblins with pea shooters appear it is wise to let them shoot a few times at you to see if their weapon is buggy.

Space Marine

Space Marines are well-equipped "badasses" that fight aliens for a living. A space hulk may not be too much of a challenge. They are guaranteed to start with at least 10 Strength.

Starting equipment:

  • debugged +1 flak jacket
  • debugged +0 pistol
  • debugged +0 pulse rifle (set to burst mode)
  • 99 bullets
  • 100 energy cells
  • debugged motion tracker
  • 2d10 buckazoids


  • Restricted: all Mutant Powers, Concentration, Programming
  • Improvable by 1 point every 4 levels: Swords
  • Improvable by 2 points every 4 levels: Pick Locks, Repair, Search, Spot
  • Improvable by 3 points every 4 levels: Thrown Weapons, Unarmed Combat, Basic Melee Weapons
  • Improvable by 4 points every 4 levels: Handguns, Light Guns, Heavy Guns

Starting skills:

  • Thrown weapons - 2
  • Handguns - 2
  • Light Weapons - 2
  • Heavy Weapons - 2

Marines have easy start. It is prudent to immediately switch the rifle to single fire by applying it. Weak creatures may be bashed with butt of the rifle since marines usually have very good strength.

Software engineer

Software engineers are physically weak but computer whizzes. They inherently know the ZAPM equivalent of BUC of items and can use technical items from the beginning of the game. They also do not suffer penalties for trying to write unidentified program.

Starting equipment:

  • debugged +0 pea shooter
  • debugged +0 ordinary jumpsuit
  • debugged mini computer
  • 4 random floppy disks
  • 1 or 2 debugged canisters of Nano Cola
  • 1 or 2 debugged rolls of duct tape
  • debugged restaining bolt
  • 200 energy cells
  • 2d100 buckazoids


  • Restricted: all Mutant Powers, Unarmed Combat
  • Improvable by 1 point every 4 levels: Light Weapons, Heavy Weapons, Basic Melee Weapons, Swords
  • Improvable by 2 points every 4 levels: Thrown Weapons, Concentration, Spot
  • Improvable by 3 points every 4 levels: Handguns, Programming
  • Improvable by 4 points every 4 levels: Pick Locks, Search, Repair

Starting skills:

  • Programming - 2

Painfully weak at the beginning the Software Engineer should make use of his sense bugginess innate ability to wear whatever he can as early as possible. Later on he is in perfect position to crack many floppy disks and have unlimited enhancements, identification, teleportation and many other utility powers. One should use the restraining bolt to force an early bot into service and repair it with duct tape whenever the need arises.


Janitors start with a mop and a master keycard allowing them to bypass almost any door. By striking the "I'm just cleaning here" pose a janitor can get into Robot Town without a fee.

Starting equipment:

  • debugged +1 mop
  • debugged +1 janitor uniform
  • debugged canister of super glue
  • optimized monkey wrench
  • debugged master keycard
  • debugged restraining bolt
  • 75 energy cells
  • 1d100 buckazoids


  • Restricted: all Mutant Powers, Programming
  • Improvable by 1 point every 4 levels: Thrown Weapons, Light Guns, Heavy Guns, Swords
  • Improvable by 2 points every 4 levels: Unarmed Combat, Concentration
  • Improvable by 3 points every 4 levels: Basic Melee Weapons
  • Improvable by 4 points every 4 levels: Pick Locks, Repair, Search, Spot

Starting skills:

  • Repair - 2
  • Search - 2
  • Spot - 2

Janitors often spot or find hidden niches generated in rooms which usually contain additional loot. In result have slightly more objects to choose from when assembling equipment. Janitors can hide from any monster behind a door by locking it with the master keycard. So far no monster can deal with locked doors.

Profession titles

Each class advancing in levels has appropriate rank titles.

Rank Psion Quarterback Space Marine Software Engineer Janitor
Beginning (XL 1-2) Odd Ball Towel Boy Private Summer Intern Toilet Scrubber
Rank 2 (XL 3-5) Weirdo Rookie Corporal Q/A Tester Mop Boy
Rank 3 (XL 6-8) Mind Reader Bench Warmer Sergeant Web Designer Janitor
Rank 4 (XL 9-11) Spoon Bender Starter Cadet Help Desk Jockey Housekeeper
Rank 5 (XL 12-14) Freakazoid Jock Lieutenant Jr. Programmer Custodian
Rank 6 (XL 15-17) Mutant Star Player Captain Sysadmin Maintenance Man
Rank 7 (XL 18-20) Empath Team Captain Major Programmer Sanitation Engineer
Rank 8 (XL 21-23) Psion MVP Lt. Colonel Lead Programmer Superintendent
Rank 9 (XL 24-26) Psyker Pro Bowler Colonel VP Engineering Property Manager
Rank 10 (XL 27-29) Farseer Hall of Famer General High Programmer Landlord

Reaching level 30 or higher results in segmentation fault but it is only possible to do so through use of debug mode.

Attributes and basic character information

ZAPM has the following attributes as an indication of how developed a character is in certain areas:

Attribute Importance Effect
Strength High Increases all melee damage and is the only determinant of carrying capacity. Determines thrown weapons range. Is drained by poison attacks and having it low to begin with increases chances of getting burdened or worse in combat. In ZAPM there is no unicorn horn equivalent.
Constitution Medium Provides hit points modifier. At late levels it can be very substantial. Is drained during radiation sickness attacks making it imperative for surviving radiation exposure.
Agility High Besides affecting melee skills it modifies armor class and speed. The last is very useful to have since at high values it allows to outrun aliens.
Dexterity Low Affects gun skills and once player character gains a few levels advantages of high dexterity are easily offset by skill points.
Intelligence Near zero Only affects two skills of which one is only accessible to software engineers and the other is made obsolete by spot and greater perseverance at searching for hidden doors.
Wisdom Near zero Affects only a single non-essential skill and, in a minuscule way, the chance of resisting enemy mutant power attacks. Nearly useless attribute.
Charisma Medium for psykers, low for others Replaces power points from NetHack. Since shopkeepers are robots there is no haggling for prices with them, thus charisma does not influence shop prices in any way.

You get an increase to one of these every fourth experience level. In addition, there are properties of Experience (and a corresponding Experience Level and Title) Speed, Hit Points. Related and displayed as appropriate are also Energy, being the number of cells in your inventory, Buckazoids, being the currency of ZAPM, and if using a "traditional" projectile weapon, Ammo, being the number of bullets, shotgun shells or railgun slugs in your inventory.

Your locale and overall level is also displayed.


ZAPM has skills for a variety of aspects of gameplay. Each time the character gains a level, some skills can be increased. Psions, Janitors and Software Engineers receive three points to distribute while Space Marines and Quarterbacks get only two. Skills can be increased at varying paces, and certain skills are restricted for some classes. Each Skill is governed by a main Ability, determining the overall effectiveness of the Skill.

Skills fall in to three main groups: Combat Skills, Adventuring Skills and Mutant Power Skills.

Group Skill Ability Used by
Combat Skills Grenades Dexterity Thrown weapons (grenades, elven daggers and the football)
Handguns Dexterity Small, single handed projectile weapons (phaser, blaster)
Light Guns Dexterity Projectile weapons that are more advanced than handguns (sniper rifle, laser rifle, shotgun)
Heavy Guns Dexterity Large projectile weapons requiring the most skill to manipulate (pulse rifle, laser cannon, railgun, chaingun)
Unarmed Combat Agility Melee combat without any weapon
Basic Melee Weapons Agility Melee combat with clubs, mops or chainsaws and the like but not improvised weapons; bat'leth belongs here
Swords Agility Melee combat with sword or light saber
Adventuring Skills Concentration Constitution Decreases chance of losing control of ongoing mutant powers when stunned or confused
Pick Locks Dexterity Increases chance of picking locks when equipped with a lock pick kit
Repair Dexterity Increases chance of repair of disabled droids, bots and malfunctioning doors with a roll of duct tape or monkey wrench
Search Intelligence Increases chance of successfully searching around you
Programming Intelligence Determines chance of writing floppy disk programs and chances of cracking a floppy disk
Spot Wisdom Increases chance of spotting a trap, a secret door or a hidden monster from a distance, without searching
Mutant Power Skills Mutant Power Level Effect
Illumination 1 Lights an area around you.
Digestion 1 Allows you to consume inventory items. Primarily useful for getting rid of buggy items you cannot take off or unwield. It is said this power comes with extra flexibility required to devour stuck goggless off your head for example.
Hypnotize 1 Puts a single adjacent enemy to sleep.
Regeneration 1 Instantly boosts Hit Points.
Optic Blast 2 Sends forth a damaging ray from your eyes.
Haste 2 Increases speed while maintained.
Telepathy 2 Allows to sense creatures with mind from a quite long distance. Unlike NetHack it does not encompass to whole level.
Web 2 Briefly immobilizes a monster hit with this power.
Mental Blast 3 Short range power with targeting similar to stinking cloud. Often confuses monsters and does not require you to see your target.
Restoration 3 Very similar to restore ability spell.
Adrenaline Control 4 Increases Strength by four points if maintained.
X-Ray Vision 4 While on you can see a short distance through any obstacle. Similar to astral vision.
Teleport 5 Allows teleportation.

There is no way to improve fighting with improvised weapons but hitting with the butt of your pulse rifle might be beneficial to conserve ammo anyways.

Mutant powers

Mutant powers, accessed through the Z or m keys, allow the player to use mutations that the character has acquired. Psions start with two randomly chosen mutations, but all classes may gain them through drinking from a vat or a canister of mutagen. Mutations come in varying levels, with the chance of success and the magnitude of effect tied to the amount of enhancement each mutation has. Psions can put skill points in individual mutant powers to make them easier to use and more powerful.

The use of a mutation costs the character an equivalent number of Charisma points to its level. Charisma does regenerate slowly up to its unaltered maximum, but temporary boosts may be gained from canisters of nano cola. Nano cola may also boost the characters Charisma above the normal maximum, but the effect does wear off with the temporary Charisma boost slowly decreasing over time. Persistent mutant powers prevent amount of Charisma spent to use it as long as they are active.

Some items reduce the chances of using mutant powers when worn. Cranial bionic implants have the most effect but even heavy body armor may reduce the ability to employ powers. A psionic amplifier modifies the chances of using mutant powers by its enhancement thus it can be beneficial when enhancement is positive.


There are 80 monster types total in ZAPM 0.8.2. Level dictates when it will appear. There is generation algorithm for monsters similar to what NetHack uses. Monsters generated tend to be up to level which is average of your experience level and location depth level. HD is hit dice. Creatures get 1d8 hit points for every hit dice point. If it is zero monster gets 1d4 hits.

HD Lvl Name Notes
b 1 0 fuel barrel Surprisingly this is a monster you can blow for experience. It cannot be pushed around like a boulder. Attempting to do so will execute a normal melee attack possibly blowing it up in your face. For early characters this may prove fatal.
F 1 0 warp fungus Stationary enemy with corrosive sliming attack. You may prefer to kill it bare handed if your melee weapon can be corroded.
x 1 0 grid bug A straight tribute to NetHack, the grid bug has the same movement restrictions and is equally weak enemy. Spawns in group of 1k4 bugs.
w 1 0 bore worm Early slow enemy spawned in groups of 1k4 worms.
c 1 0 tribble Those monsters multiply and do it fast! Take care to control the population if your character cannot kill them quickly. On the other hand they can be easily farmed for experience but game flags them as never having any items generated, even the originals. They are rarely generated.
a 1 1 flying toaster Toasters may be difficult to hit due to their small size which grants them AC bonus. Appears in groups of 2k4 which early on may cause you to be swarmed. Retreat to corridor when fight does not go well.
m 1 1 mynock Pathetically weak attack with sub-par speed makes them hardly a threat.
i 1 1 giant cockroach While cockroaches are slow their attack takes half the usual time making up for their deficiency. Beware, cockroaches can hide under objects. A group of these can be hiding under merchandise in shop. Do not underestimate them.
t 3 1 man eating plant Tough sessile plant with very strong poisonous bite. Take down at range.
G 1 1 little grey alien Essentially a joke monster, the little grey alien starts equipped with an anal probe and is not afraid to use it ... on you! Successful hit will make you feel violated and inflict timed "Sore" (butt) status which carries -50 speed penalty. Be on guard if other monsters accompany the greys.
x 1 2 ratbot Small robotic monster with three bonus AC points. A respectable foe, its only weakness in early game are potentially low hit points.
t 1 2 green killer tomato Generated in groups of up to three. Generally puny.
h 1 2 mutant human Weak entity capable of hypnotizing you when adjacent, putting you to sleep if successful. Will happily pound on you while you snooze. Can use regeneration power.
g 1 2 space goblin Groups of those unimpressive humanoids can be the first entities to actually shoot at you. May be generated with pea shooters which are good to use if you did not start with a gun. Especially considering pea shooter does not require ammunition. Goblins very often have some cash with them.
S 4 2 tapioca pudding The pudding is tough, horribly slow and possesses a paralyzing attack. Can be easily whacked with hit and run tactics. Most probably it has been inspired by floating eye. If you get hit you can be paralyzed for 2k6 turns and without luck you can be paralysis-locked.
b 2 2 smart bomb Explodes when you come near it so just shoot it down if you want the experience.
x 2 3 catbot Agile bot with 3 points of AC, good hit points and respectable damage. Has 50% chance of being generated peaceful. Good early target for restraining bolts.
x 2 3 dogbot Very much like catbot but lower agility and higher strength and constitution. Unlike NetHack which makes cats and dogs equal in power dogbot is a little more preferable to catbot as a pet.
t 1 3 red killer tomato Generated in groups of up to three and killed almost as easily as their green counterparts.
h 1 3 redshirt One of first enemies with ranged weapon, easy to kill. Notable for having 5% chance of being generated with a tricorder.
O 2 3 space orc Can deal good damage in brawl and very likely to have one of a pistol, shotgun or pea shooter. Has a tiny chance of starting with a ray gun so make sure not to stay in long corridors when facing them. Created in groups of up to four.
o 1 3 alien egg Usually encountered in alien nests it stays harmless until it hatches. Do not risk coming near and preferably use strong ranged weapon because taking damage and surviving is strong impulse for hatching. Grenades are recommended way to clear alien nest of eggs if you have them.
S 3 3 vat slime Slow, has corrosive attack. May be generated by drinking from vats.
C 2 3 cylon centurion Gets a laser pistol. Thanks to it getting blinded it common. Not recommended as a pet because once it runs out of energy cells it becomes weak.
h 1 4 stormtrooper With so weak hit dice at his level and helmet which hurts accuracy the troopers are a pushover. They go down like flies. Their body armor can be sold in shops for considerable amount of buckazoids but is quite heavy. Their guns, blasters are not affected by reflection.
x 3 4 astromech droid Has a damaging zapping attack (beware - your implants may get jolted out) but is a bit slow. There it 80% chance for it to be generated peaceful. Makes fine pet.
X 3 4 protocol droid Has unique ability to translate chirps and beeps of other bots if restrained and in close proximity. Quite valuable trait. Like stromech droid it has 80% chance of being peaceful but is a slightly weaker pet. If you already have means of translation prefer other companions.
x 3 4 scrubbot Has 80 % chance of being generated peaceful. Judging by combat qualities alone it is strongest of the three bots.
c 2 4 crite It would be merely average combatant if not for its poisonous quill melee attack. Kill from afar if you can.
h 2 4 high ping bastard Somewhat slow but is usually generated with shotgun. Fortunately it does not have much ammo.
$ 3 4 creeping credits Mimics money in plain view. When you come near it steals some from your wallet and teleports away to lay ambush somewhere else, much like a leprechaun does. Becomes harmless when you drop all your buckazoids. Is generated with 4d100 buckazoids.
C 5 5 cylon command centurion Gets a laser pistol and same amount of cells as regular centurion. It is not stronger in combat either. However, it has lots of hit points so usually it manages to shoot his fill before you destroy him.
k 3 5 klingon One in five is generated with a bat'leth. This weapon packs a wallop in melee so beware. Situation can become bad if his buddies blind you with phasers while he is cutting you up to pieces.
@ 2 5 troubleshooter Dangerous because most will have suits of reflec armor which will render your laser weapons useless. They come with often buggy laser pistol and a large stack of energy cells. Sometimes they may get some grenades instead of the cells which is worse. If luck does not favor you the grenades may be radiation grenades. As if that was not enough they have a significant chance of getting a ray gun.
N 2 5 cheerleader ninja Has fast meele attacks, very otfen getting two kicks of punches in a turn. May start with katana in 10% cases which incidentally makes her a less dangerous.
B 2 5 borg Unimpressive by themselves newly generated Borg get +1 to AC for each previously killed Borg.
f 1 5 facehugger Quick and hard to hit the facehugger will implant you in close combat. Successful hit will cause you to get pregnant status. If left alone this will end in chestburster ripping your body open, killing you. When that happens death cause put in high score is "died during childbirth".
i 3 5 radbeetle Its bite is not too strong but is poisonous. Fairly common monster in sewers.
O 4 5 space orc boss Fairly strong and always gets a flak jacket. May start with shotgun (30% chance) or laser rifle (70% chance). Additionally, space orc bosses have a 10% chance of having a ray gun. If that was not enough he may get up to three buddies.
c 3 5 chestburster A prelude to aliens chestburster is fairly scary when you let it come near you. When killed splashes acid blood around. Gets 4 points of bonus AC.
A 5 6 alien princess Much tougher version of chestburster with faster clawing speed. Also gets 4 more AC. Beware!
R 8 6 recognizer Slow but tough with powerful melee attack.
i 4 6 radspider Getting bitten delivers poison but also may grant you shoot web mutant power in 10% cases, unless all of the poison damage was resisted. Unlike most of those kind of monsters radspiders are always generated alone.
k 6 6 klingon captain Gets a flak jacket, phaser with some ammo seven out of ten also carry bat'leth. There is a 15% chance of getting a ray gun on top of that. Fortunately the captain is solitary creature.
d 6 6 pink horror Tough beast with quick and strong bite. Contrary to Warhammer lore it does not split into two blue horrors in ZAPM. Comes in groups of up to three.
F 4 6 mi-go Mi-go will try to operate on your brain in combat. First they need to remove implants from your frontal, parietal and occipital lobes if you have any. This costs them a turn for each. When they make an incision into your brain next hit will prove fatal. Mi-go will extract your brain.
b 4 7 smart missile A mobile smart bomb.
k 7 7 klingon commander His or her flak jacket and phaser are always enhanced to +2. Sometimes gets a bat'leth (30% chance) but if it is granted then the weapon also is +2. 25% chance for ray gun.
T 6 7 usenet troll Guaranteed to carry a computer and very likely to have several floppies, perhaps even a cracked one.
h 7 7 low ping bastard Somewhat fast and likely to carry a railgun. One railgun shot deals 3d10 damage. Fortunately it does not have much ammo like its counterpart the high ping bastard. Often has enhanced armor.
E 6 7 space elf Space elves only get a laser pistol and wooden dagger making them incongruously weak for their danger level. They are likely to get a ray gun though so be on your guard.
N 8 8 mutant ninja turtle Tough with good melee attack. May get a katana of a pair of nunchucks. Chance for ray gun (15%).
N 7 8 cyborg ninja Fast and strong. Gets a chameleon suit katana or a light saber (10% chance). In the latter case cyborg ninja has very high damage potential.
i 6 8 radscorpion Has a fast clawing attacks but may also use its highly poisonous stinger.
q 6 8 killer rabbit Boss monster! Is very fast, has strong bite and can terrify from afar. Additionally it appears in wide open area allowing it to stay out of your line of fire easily.
A 7 8 alien warrior Dubbed death-on-a-stick, the alien warrior has very fast claw attacks and awesomely high strength allowing it to deal copious amounts of damage up close. Has enough hit points to enable it to close distance to player without dying. Additionally it splashes acid everywhere on death and can hide under objects. To make matters worse it is generated in groups of 1k4 warriors. Also, it is usually present in alien nests. In NetHack terms think about hasted minotaur with gas spore explosion causing equipment erosion thrown in. To make matters worse it is common monster for its depth.
G 6 8 tall grey alien Spawns with anal probe, regenerates and can hypnotize you. It uses all those to put you to sleep, then probe to slow you (this generates message "you have an unpleasant dream") and regenerate from wounds you dealt earlier. Given they spawn in groups this has possibility to essentially sleep-lock you until something nasty comes for the kill.
E 7 9 space elf lord Slightly better equipped than ordinary space elf the lord is still easy prey compared to most monsters generated at its depth. The only potentially threatening factors is 25% chance for ray gun and 15% for light saber.
@ 7 9 aquamarine marine Their armor has great AC and does not encumber when worn, being self-powered. Usually they get weak assault pistol and chainsaw but occasionally might be generated with pulse rifle.
M 10 9 monolith Being unable to move monolith mostly sits quietly in center of a room. If angered they can terrify, regenerate and hit hard in melee. The trick is to touch them bare handed while they are still peaceful.
L 7 9 lawyer Lawyer is somewhat similar to lich. Having telepathy and teleportation it can teleport to you, harass you and when wounded teleport away. Their powers include reading a cease and desist letter to you (paralyzes you in fear), suing for damages (steals money), seizing evidence (steals computer and pirated floppies) and summoning witnesses.
X 10 10 clerkbot All shops in ZAPM are attended by these. One in four has energy shield equipped. Weapon employed is zapper which can stun you. Has up to six thousand buckazoids in initial possession.
X 10 10 docbot Having no zapper docbot can smash into you for some damage of use built-in anal probe. The only docbot is offering its services on Robot Town clinic, making it unlikey you want to destroy it. However if you do you can find a bunch of beneficial canisters on it. Has up to two thousand buckazoids in initial possession.
@ 9 11 mean green marine Their armor has great AC and does not encumber when worn, being self-powered. Unlike aquamarine marines they have good chances to get pulse rifle. Additionally they regularly get a restoration canister and/or healing canister.
H 10 11 50 foot woman Can deal significant hurt in melee due to enormous damage bonus from strength but is slow.
E 8 11 space elf queen Has a 50% chance of being generated with light saber, making her dangerous in melee. She often gets good rare equipment like energy dome and is guaranteed to have elven space suit. Can use several mutant powers: hypnosis, terror, regeneration, teleport, telepathy.
A 12 13 alien queen Not as fast as alien warrior and cannot hide under objects but has stronger bite. Otherwise this is tougher alien warrior.
D 10 13 dalek Comes with energy shield and a hundred energy cells to power it allowing it to survive even disintegration rays. Offensively it uses powerful laser which needs no ammunition.
X 12 14 warbot Powerful, fast bot with laser cannon and two hundred energy cells. Guaranteed ray gun.
X 12 14 security droid A copy of warbot by another name. Never randomly generated. It appears only on activating door alarm on later levels.
X 14 14 guardbot Stronger warbot who guards entrance to Robot Town. Gets 400 cells but "only" an 80% chance of receiving a ray gun.
H 14 14 giant ape Essentially a stronger version of 50 foot woman.
@ 14 15 Bastard Operator From Hell Boss monster who waits at deepest level of Gamma Caves. He has several mutant powers including teleport, optic blast and unique to him darkness power. BOFH always receives ray gun, pea shooter, +2 ordinary jumpsuit and +1 set of reflec armor. He also carries computer with guaranteed cracked floppy disk and up to two other disks. It is not recommended to deal fire damage to him for this reason. He is not very dangerous at this point.
U 12 16 mail daemon Unix daemon with ability to breathe viruses. Getting hit sickens you
U 12 16 bind daemon Unix daemon with ability to breathe bugs. Getting hit degrades beatitude of your items.
U 13 17 nntp daemon Unix daemon breathing fire.
U 13 17 ftp daemon Unix daemon breathing megabytes. Getting hit hoses you which is powerful slow effect (-100, equivalent of being strained).


ZAPM provides only a few intrinsics of its own. Most resistances unlike NetHack are treated as flat numeric damage reduction. Some intrinsics like scent, breathless and can swim are unobtainable by player character.

  • Air supply
Found exclusively on two helmets (space helmet and stormtrooper helmet) it allows to traverse sewers without getting sick.
  • Auto regeneration
Causes you to restore at least one hit point every turn.
  • Blind
Distinct from the timed blindness effect caused most often by being shot at with laser weaponry. Granted by blindfold.
  • Brain shielded
Wearing brain shield will protect against hypnosis, mental blasts, lawyer's cease and desist power and monolith induced fear. All are uncommon threats but quite nasty.
  • Bug sensing
Innate ability of Software Engineers unattainable by other means. Instantly reveals beatitude of all encountered items.
  • Crazy Ivan
This pointless user interface degradation is bestowed only by cortex crossover. Having it swaps your movement commands - e.g. north becomes south. It is interesting to note this intrinsic is being xored internally. Gaining it twice (or any even number of times) effectively cancels it. This is the most compelling argument not to install-test implants in ZAPM, besides the narcoleptor.
  • Health monitoring
A health monitor implant will color hit point display and cause game to emit low hit point warnings.
  • Light-saber deflection
This is not present as true intrinsic but is handled by item-specific check. Light saber besides granting "regular" reflection can also deflect shots of force damage. Those are only used by blasters and pea shooters.
  • Lucky
Possession of the rabbit's foot item grants this. It applies to many rolls and hence has a greater effect than luck in NetHack does.
  • Motion detection
Active motion tracker will detect nearby creatures. Monsters having ability to stay perfectly still (typically robots, aliens, programs) do not register unless they moved last turn.
  • Narcolepsy
Provided by narcoleptor which is an amulet of restful sleep by another name.
  • Night vision
Wearing pair of night vision goggles allows to see monsters in dark places. It does not do anything else.
  • Peril sensing
Another intrinsic brought by only a single item in game - the pair of peril-sensitive sunglasses. Whenever your character is in any situation in peril, which is defined as any monster or trap existing in your view, your glasses will darken in effort to prevent you from seeing anything that could upset you. Note that trap condition is triggered regardless whether it is known to you or not - this is intentionally exploitable.
If one has X-ray vision then nonetheless one can still see the surroundings.
  • Radiation detection
Carrying active Geiger counter will give clicking messages when radiation intensity changes.
  • Radiation processing
Significantly speeds up treatment of radiation intake which happens very slowly naturally. Granted by radiation processor.
Causes laser damage attacks to bounce off without dealing any harm, possibly hitting other targets or the attacker itself. Granted by wearing brain shield, suit of reflec armor of wielding light saber. Since laser damage is common in ZAPM this is very useful.
  • Shielded
Can be gained by wearing shield belt and Daleks have it "naturally". While it is active any energy sources you have will be used for absorbing damage on point for point basis.
  • Telepathic
Allows to sense monsters with minds within a certain distance. Unlike NetHack telepathy it does not require being blind to take advantage of. Activate a mutant power to get this intrinsic.
  • Translation
A babel fish will translate "beeps and chirps" used by robots into human language.
  • X-ray vision
Wearing pair of X-ray goggles or activating appropriate mutant power enables sight through walls and other solid objects, including some worn ones.


ZAPM has only three obtainable resistances.

Name Use Granted by
Blinding Protects against loss of sight usually caused by laser weapons. Pair of sunglasses, pair of peril-sensitive sunglasses and any goggles except night vision goggles. Also by blindfold.
Radiological Prevents getting irradiated. Radiation suit ensures practical immunity.
Poisonous Neutralizes monster's poisonous attacks which normally drain strength. Poison resistor is the only source of this.


There are four branches in ZAPM. These are: the Space Base, the Gamma Caves, the Sewers and the Mainframe.

There are also three special locations.

  • Robot Town is placed at eight level of the Base. There you may continue down or enter the Sewers.
  • Rabbit Hole is just below the last Space Base level. It contains boss monster and entrance to the Mainframe.
  • Sewer Plant is at the end of Sewers. It contains guaranteed radiation suit and power plant.

Space Base

You start every game at the Space Base which is 12 levels deep. It is the only place vats of sludge are generated and new monsters are spawned according to player character level and depth just like in NetHack. Each level except the first and Robot Town may contain a single shop.

Robot Town

Robot Town is protected by guardbot asking for a toll of 300 buckazoids. There are three guaranteed shops, hospital with docbot and three sludge vats. The stores are always hardware store, software store and general store. The town is initially populated with bots and droids. Any spawned creature has only one third chance not to be robotic.

Rabbit Hole

It is a rectangular room with a retina scanner door on one end. No monsters spawn on this level except for the killer rabbit. To pass the door one has to be very good at lock picking or have the Eye of the BOFH artifact equipped.


Sewers are filled with foul stench which will make the hero sickened unless he wears a helmet granting air filtering. Being sickened suppresses natural hit points regeneration and may quickly lead to death. Monsters spawned in sewers are mutants, insects, vermin, oozes and aberrations. As an exception ratbots also may appear. There are five sewer levels. Each has a 50% chance of being unlit.

Sewer Plant

In the Plant there is guaranteed fusion power plant and radiation suit. There is also garbage compactor with some random items generated inside but stepping in triggers the mechanism giving limited time for escape. Getting squished by the moving walls is an instant death.

Gamma Caves

The Caves are dangerous because of constant background radiation. It is necessary to have some means of dealing with this threat while wandering through this location. Radiation suit suffices, so does radiation processor. Monsters present here are oozes, aliens, aberrations, insects, mutants, eggs, beasts and half as likely bots. Two third cavern levels are unlit.

On the sixth and last level of Gamma Caves resides Bastard Operator from Hell. Among his possessions he carries a computer and floppy disks of which one is guaranteed to be cracked. His artifact Eye of the BOFH grants passage to the Mainframe.


Final area of the game contains only program type monsters. The most dangerous of these are Unix Daemons represented by 'U' character. On the top (because this location is ascending like the Wizard's Tower) lies the Bizarro Orgasmatron, the goal of the game. Unlike NetHack one has just to use it in order to win ZAPM. Note that the Bizarro Orgasmatron only exists in the top level of the Mainframe; there are, however, various devices scattered throughout all three levels of the area that are misspellings of "Bizarro Orgasmatron", such as the "Bizaaro Orgasmatron" and the "Bazaaro Orgasmatron", which will produce messages with no effect when used. "Bizarre Orgasmatron" is only one fake item with an actual effect besides message - it teleports player randomly for 15 energy.

In the Mainframe teleportation is imprecise. Character typically lands a few squares off the mark.

Strategy Notes

The Space Marine role is the ZAPM equivalent of the Dwarvish Valkyrie, being strong enough and having enough starting resources to get through the early game.

Resource management is important. Ammunition should be saved until needed; if you don't have a melee weapon yet you can hit things with the butt of your rifle (or whatever) which is enough to take out the weaker monsters. Energy cells are also precious. Try to get your hands on a couple of power plants as soon as you can. It's a good idea to have a "badass" projectile weapon (e.g., pulse rifle) and an energy weapon (e.g., laser cannon) so you can alternate them according to what resources you have.

There are numerous hidden closets which often contain loot scattered throughout the Space Base. It's worth searching blank walls and training the search and spot skills to find them.

Locked doors can be kicked down, but watch your hitpoints. They can be unlocked using a matching keycard. If you find a lockpick consider training lockpicking skill, but don't bother unless you have one as they are rare. A purple keycard is a master key- apply it to a locked door and you will subsequently be prompted to use it for all regular doors.

Kicking doors or picking locks has a chance of sounding an alarm, which causes a party of redshirts, stormtroopers or troubleshooters to appear somewhere on the level.

A computer is essential equipment; you can't use floppy disks without one. There are two kinds: mega (1000 buckazoids) and mini (500 buckazoids.) If you find one in a shop but can't afford it, you can use it in the shop with no penalty. There will usually be at least one computer in one of the shops in Robot Town.

Reflection is very useful, and reflec suits (shiny armour) will usually be found pretty early. A light sabre (energy sword) also grants reflection when wielded which is slightly better than the suit, as it also deflects energy weapons.

If you have reflection and a way of dealing decent damage, the guardbot in robot town is defeatable. Bear in mind that he might have a nasty ray gun in addition to his laser cannon. You can refuse to pay, but he won't actually get angry until you walk past him without paying. Of course he'll also get angry if you attack him. You'll want to keep the laser cannon.

Shopkeeperbots are not hard to kill if you have reflection and a way of dealing decent damage. They provide you with a lot of buckazoids. These can be used to purchase medical treatment.

You need a space helmet or stormtrooper helmet in order to survive the sewers. Usually you'll find one before Robot Town.

Radiation exposure management is key. Radiation Sickness is delayed instadeath. You can be exposed to radiation by carrying unidentified grenades, potions or ray guns. The PRIME Radiation spoiler is worth reading; it is accurate for ZAPM except for a few minor details.

Ray guns will always self-identify by zapping. Some have good effects like healing or restoration.

A babel fish (yellow fish) lets you understand what the bots are saying. This is most useful in the infirmary, but of limited use elsewhere. They still work if buggy, so if you find one there's no downside to implanting it.

Price ID is of limited use. Sell prices are always 1/10 of base price; buy prices are always base price. Charisma doesn't modify prices. Floppy Disks of Identify are 25 buckazoids; so are Floppy Disks of Spam. Drop your gold before use-test (it's ok to drop gold in a shop.)

Do touch peaceful monoliths with your bare hands (make sure you clear the area first.)


Guidebook - proclaiming itself "an incomplete guide to an incomplete game"

The following spoilers are for PRIME, a successor of ZAPM. They are still useful for ZAPM, bearing in mind that some features described are not implemented in ZAPM.