28 March 2019

My NetHack Anniversary

I don't have any screenshots of my own, so the
pictures here are some random NetHack stuff.

Today is the fourth anniversary of my first NetHack win in 2015, and about eight years since I started to play the game*. Since then, I won three times more, so I sit at a comfortable one win per year. I should probably start to try getting a new character through the dungeon soon if I want to meet my quota of wins in 2019, because I'm an extraordinarily slow player of NetHack.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, NetHack is the greatest game you will ever play. Much has been written about it.

It's old and has a huge fanbase. It was inspired by the original D&D, one of the first attempts to take a tabletop RPG and make a computer game out of it. Its direct predecessor Hack was first released in 1982 and since then, NetHack never stopped growing and evolving. The last version, 3.6.1, was released on the 27th April 2018.

It has a public github repository. It can be played in browser. It has a very good Android port. It has many variants and some even have great let's plays.

Android port by Gurr.
It is surprisingly easy to play on your phone.

It has many, many faults, but it's still an incredible game and one of the really big names among roguelikes. And so I thought - why not post the story of my first winning character, this being an anniversary and all?

For the nit-pickers, I actually won UnNetHack, a variant that fixed a few bugs, reworked the most glaring issues and added some minor features, making the game a bit harder. I never won vanilla NetHack, even though I played it quite a bit, mostly because death-by-inattention in the more boring parts of Gehennom. I also played dNetHack and a little bit of SLEX and GruntHack, though never even getting close to a win.

But I digress...

Starting is always fun. Killing lichens and running from cats,
because cats will murder you without breaking a sweat.

I was playing a female orcish barbarian and reached the Minetown in Gnomish Mines without trouble, but also without anything exciting in the shops. Returning to the main Dungeon, I found Sokoban and messed it up. I eventually had to squeeze onto the boulders to fix the puzzle and get to the rewards. Then I got crowned with Cleaver after some sacrificing on a conveniently placed altar, but refrained from using it as I already had +5 two-handed sword.

Final Sokoban level with a monster zoo.

I returned to Gnomish Mines and got the luckstone from the Mine's End, then started clearing deeper Dungeon and arrived on the Nymph Level. Here I was nearly killed due to stupidly letting Aphrodite close enough for her to steal my wand of lightning. I barely survived her zapping and blinding me, but survive I did, and then proceeded to kill all the nymphs with extreme prejudice. I hate nymphs.

Gnomish Mines in all their glory.

I used a wand of cold to get to the Town and robbed its ring shop blind, finding a ring of levitation. I also found entrance to Moria. Durin's Bane put up quite a bit of fight, but I managed to beat it to death, then ascended to the halls of Moria. Funnily, all the starting orcs were hostile, but all the respawns were peaceful to my orcish PC, so I killed them anyway and took their wands, potions and scrolls.

The last level of Moria had an altar of Set and an ice box full of monsters, so I sacrificed a bit. I got the Frost Brand from my god and then sacrificed some fellow orcs, summoning peaceful Juiblex and Yeenoghu. I let them rot in there, never to be a bother again, and returned to the Dungeon. I didn't mess with the Watcher in the Water, because I have a very bad track record of being drowned by various monsters...


I decided to try the Quest and it was surprisingly easy, so I took the Bell of Opening and the Heart of Ahriman, and discarded my old luckstone. As the Heart gives displacement instead of stealth in UnNetHack, this was the first time in all of my games I was invisible and displaced at the same time. Later, it actually proved quite nice to have for all the monsters with see invisible in Gehennom.

Medusa has a nice lake-view house full of statues.

Medusa was a piece of cake, but only now I realise I never found the Black Market. I was wondering why I had so much gold and nowhere to spend it.

I got to the Castle and with my brand new ring of conflict got it cleared. Only two wishes for me, as in UnNetHack the wand of wishing is already recharged and with random amount of charges. Still, I got a cloak of magic resistance and a magic marker, so I was rather satisfied.

The Castle

Valley of the Dead was a pain in the arse with the sheer amount of monsters, plus dark angels constantly summoning more. Even with conflict it took ages to more or less clear. This time, I remembered to take off the ring of conflict before entering the Temple of Moloch, as that was how my last character died.

I found the Wyrm Caves and they proved to be quite rich, with the dragons generating tons of stuff for me as death drops. Then I took a look at Sheol, found out crystal ice golems are really badass and stayed the hell away from them. Still, I reached Vlad's Tower and this time, Vlad actually put up a fight, draining two levels from me. Good work, Vlad, I will still take your Candelabrum of Invocation.

The top of Vlad's Tower. Also pictured:
NetHack actually can be played with graphics!

I decided to go and see the Ice Palace at the bottom of Sheol and nearly died there, as I stupidly decided that the Executioner cannot be that bad and melee'd him. He punches through AC -36 as nothing! He got teleported and shot down with wands. I also found another magic marker in there, so not bad.

Sheol - the light blue floor means everything here is ice.

The whole of Gehennom wasn't really that bad, with most liches genocided and +7 Frost Brand dual-wielded with +6 long sword. I found the Wizard of Yendor, used up a charge of Orcus' wand of death and took the Book of the Dead. Invocation artifacts assembled!

The Sanctum was completely different from vanilla and had thrown hordes of monsters at me like crazy, plus there is Cthulhu in the High Temple of Moloch in UnNetHack, instead of the vanilla high priest of Moloch. The only bright side of this was that Cthulhu teleported to me and as it carries the Amulet of Yendor (aka MacGuffin), I didn't have to to traverse the whole level.

Moloch's Sanctum in UnNetHack is full of lava. The room
in the centre of the right half is the High Temple of Moloch.

I had to burn through one of my two wands of death escaping from the Sanctum; thanks Set that Cthulhu is not a demon in UnNetHack, thus being vulnerable to death rays. It hits like several trucks at once, plus it has mind flayer's brain-sucking attack. It actually got two melee attacks at me while I killed it five times total (no, it will never stay dead), and of course the grease on my helmet worn off and I got my memories erased. Stupid amnesia!

At least UnNetHack does not have
half the game made up of mazes.

Escaping from Gehennom and the Dungeon was rather smooth, even though I got surrounded by nasties several times. Conflict and two-weaponing took care of it. Actually, I was just bashing things to death so much I missed a vorpal jabberwock and let it take a swipe at me. So it beheaded me. Oops! That was my first death, thanks Set again that the amulet of life saving does not fall off the stump of your neck in NetHack like it does in IVAN (but IVAN is just brutal).

Anyway, I was so excited for the Elemental Planes that I forgot to stop at my stash, where I had Cleaver, Stormbringer, Werebane and Sunsword from sacrificing and lucky finds. Oh well, no bonus score from artifacts for me.

Don't worry about him, he got better. Repeatedly.

I got stuck a bit in the Elemental Planes, as confused scrolls of gold detection work in some mysterious way in UnNetHack, not actually detecting portals and traps. But they work just fine while cursed, so I found the portals after some struggle. Also, the Wizard depleted my second wand of death due to him constantly respawning.

By the way, the Plane of Water just plainly does not make any sense! How can I breathe on an elemental plane filled to the brim with water, wearing just a ring of levitation?

Elemental Plane of Air

And then the Astral Plane! My first time there! And I messed up terribly.

I fought Pestilence as the first Rider, killed it after a really annoying fight of being stranded by insects summoned by the horde of hostile priests and forced into melee, constantly infected with illness and stunned by spells. I hate illness (I hate quite a lot of things, don't I), but I still managed to kill the damned Rider. The altar was of Set, so I was so close to Ascension!

Than I fat-fingered and dropped the Amulet instead of offering it! And for some reason, dropped Amulet of Yendor in UnNetHack teleports elsewhere on the level! Yes, I was really pissed.

This is rather accurate depiction of how the win in NetHack feels.
Picture from here.

So, I had to massacre my way through the Astral Plane to find the Amulet. At least I had named it "real" beforehand, so it didn't end up mixed with all the fakes the other monsters are carrying. I eventually found it in the hands of a random tourist (Astral Plane, your best bet for unforgettable holiday!), but picking it up I let both Pestilence and Famine gang up on me and I was killed the second time. (I love amulets of life saving.) Then it was a mad rush for the altar and I threw the Amulet in the face of Set.


The Astral Plane with three temples of Law, Balance and Chaos.

It's hard to describe the feeling of winning a game such as NetHack for the first time. You keep hearing how hard the game is. You have been playing it for a while and know that it can be pretty unforgiving and that dying is easy.

And then a game comes where you find yourself farther then you have ever been and keep going, where you manage to survive against all odds and don't make too many mistakes. You start to believe that this could actually be the game, because you have overcome everything that killed you before. You are standing on the Astral Plane and still don't really believe it, because you have never came so close. You win and it's awesome and unreal, you're still nervous but also really, really happy.

This is the reason I love roguelikes, because only a few games reward your time and patience with such a feeling. It's a feeling of accomplishment, because you were not expected to win like in the modern games. Yes, the game is winnable, but many people give up before they learn enough tricks to survive. Many people keep dying. You have won.

by Dinosaur Comics

As a bonus here are three of my stupid deaths that make me the most proud (and salty):
  • Playing as a dwarven valkyrie, I conquered the Sanctum and was escaping Gehennom with the Amulet. I was strong enough that even the dreaded cockatrice was killed in a single hit, before it could touch me. However, NetHack monsters are clever and a yendorian soldier picked up the dead cockatrice and used it as a bludgeon, petrifying me.
  • As an orcish wizard, I survived the descent through the Dungeon and Gehennom, attained great arcane power and found Vlad's Tower. Funny thing, though - undead are immune to finger of death. To this day, I had no other character die to Vlad the Weak.
  • Demon lords in NetHack are not as awe-inspiring as in other games. By the time you fight them, you are well-equipped more than enough to handle them. Still, there is Demogorgon, but he is only very rarely summoned by other demons and never appears otherwise. Of course I had a game where my poor samurai fought Orcus and suddenly had Demogorgon appear behind her. She was torn to shreds.

This fanart is absolutely awesome. I can see the player, an elven wizard
wearing an elven mithril-coat, a robe, a pair of gauntlets of power,
a helmet (of brilliance?), a small shield, Magicbane and a pair of boots of
water walking. He's using magic missile to kill the clone of the Wizard
of Yendor, while the real Wizard is preparing to cast finger of death and has
the Book of the Dead floating in front of him. There is a vampire (lord?),
a gremlin, a cockatrice, a minotaur and a gold golem in the background.

*) Not the Game. You just lost it, by the way.

26 March 2019

d30 Drawbacks and Flaws

Being a wizard has its perks, but also its drawbacks. All wizards are a little off*, the massive conditioning required to hold spell-spirits in their brain ensures that. Sometimes it manifests as a strange quirk of personality, sometimes as a physical defect or deficiency. With great power comes great insanity.

And because by now your perks, cantrips and spells can all be randomised,  you can roll below for a random drawback, too.

d30 Drawbacks
  1. You are allergic to (d6): 1) dairy products, 2) gold, 3) moulds and fungi, 4) music, 5) feathers, 6) moonlight. You take 1d4 damage per round of exposure due to allergic reaction.
  2. You must Save vs Fear in (d6): 1) the presence of sheep, 2) darkness, 3) a crowd, 4) small spaces, 5) any heated argument, 6) deep water.
  3. You sneeze loudly if magical creatures are nearby.
  4. You are incapable of tying any knot. Knots on any ropes you touch will come loose within a few minutes. Shoes with shoelaces are out, as are safety ropes.
  5. You don't believe in the existence of (d6): 1) magical beasts, 2) people with evil intentions, 3) people who care about you, 4) the Sun, 5) anything you cannot touch or see, 6) laws and regulations. You cannot be convinced otherwise and rationalise any evidence as an illusion, trick, or any barely believable "explanation".
  6. You must Save vs Distraction by shiny things. This can break your concentration, make you forget what you were doing or saying, or anything appropriate.
  7. You have very small bladder that is highly active at inopportune moments. Save or pee.
  8. You are illiterate. Your spellbook is something that does not require you to read.
  9. Your face was numbed in a freak magical accident and you always have the same facial expression. Roll d6: 1) anger, 2) boredom, 3) disgust, 4) lust, 5) pain, 6) terror.
  10. You believe everything is about you. You cannot be convinced otherwise. ("Oh, I feel so terrible that the orcs we never met attacked this village just to get at me!")
  11. You have a phobia about casting spells with strangers watching. Save or be unable to do so.
  12. You mindlessly obey any one-word command shouted at you. It takes you just a second to gather yourself, so only commands that take a second to carry out are actually effective against you. ("Kneel!" yes, but not "Come here.")
  13. You are under a compulsion to speak all your thoughts out loud.
  14. You follow d6 obscure and/or weird foreign customs, such as disrobing before entering someone's home, never eating before the host grants you signed permission, or bowing to a foe (even animals) before combat.
  15. You are paranoid. Everyone except your closest friends is out to get you! You may not accept help or assistance.
  16. You only ever feel welcome around monsters and have trouble fighting with them. You will always try to talk to them and would never ambush one.
  17. You cannot tell the living, the dead and the undead apart, no matter what.
  18. You think you are a different race than you really are, and cannot be convinced otherwise. You cannot use your racial abilities.
  19. You are a cannibal and don't understand it can be appalling to some.
  20. You love cats. No, really, you would do anything for them! You also start with 3d6 pet cats.
  21. You are addicted to (d6) 1) a random magical drug, 2) alcohol, 3) fresh milk, 4) bathing, 6) sex. You cannot recover MD unless you get your fix.
  22. You are completely invisible to domesticated animals, and they to you.
  23. You are sleepwalking. Save each night or roll for what happened in your sleep (you can use a Carousing table or anything appropriate), unless restrained.
  24. You cannot stop yourself from over-the-top boasts and constant dares and wagers. You may never refuse or go back on a bet.
  25. You are afraid of sleeping alone. Crawl into the bunk of a comrade after they're asleep (roll Stealth), or gain half the effects of sleep.
  26. You have no sense of direction and constantly get lost. You cannot follow a map nor travel instructions unless somebody leads the way.
  27. You cannot tell a direct lie. Misleading and lies of omission are fine.
  28. You are mute around the other gender unless tipsy.
  29. You refuse to take off your clothes and armour, even for sleeping or washing.
  30. Pick one medium-term goal. You are obsessed with it to the detriment of everything else. You may not change it until you achieve it, even if it later becomes unfeasible. You have disadvantage on anything that would conflict with your goal. 

*) Yes, even those orthodox pricks. They will tell you how composed they are and how controlled their magic is, and then blow your shoes off with a fireball because they cast first, ask questions later.

24 March 2019

Class: Paladin of the Void

He's not human; he's an empty space disguised as a human.
- John Fowles

The world is a dark, diminished place ruled by cruel gods. The only constant in this and every other universe is violence. Life is an accident, born from muck, filled with suffering and hatred, and ending in rot and grief. Even worse, death is not the end, for existence is cyclic - there will be another beginning leading to ever more pain.

Unlike the monks of the Void, who strive for selfish self-annihilation, leaving the rest of the world behind in their path to non-existence, paladins of the Void are the selfless few who stood at the very brink of nothingness and turned back - not out of fear or doubt, but because they believe that everyone deserves the chance to find true unbeing. They are teachers and saviours, bringers of enlightenment. They work towards the End of Everything, so that all may find the serenity of the true Void.

The End is nigh, finally.

If you should meet a god on the road... kill him.

A: +1 MD, Autolobotomy, Void Space
B: +1 MD
C: +1 MD
D: +1 MD, Telefrag

You gain +2 to Save vs mind-affecting effects (charm, pain, all emotions) for each Paladin template you possess.

Starting Items:
  • khakkhara (as staff),
  • mendicant bowl,
  • simple robes.

You scoop out a chunk of your own brain and replace it with a shard of Void.

You lose half of your Charisma. Nothing can lower your Charisma further. Your mind cannot be read and you cannot be scryed upon. Should you be possessed, the spirit will be helplessly imprisoned in the Void in your head and cannot escape without your consent.

Void Space
You can cast teleport (see below), but your spell is unlike wizardly spells. You do not prepare spells, you cannot read scrolls or spellbooks, and you cannot write down any of the "spells" you know. Otherwise, you use Magic Dice (MD) as a wizard. You do not generate Mishaps or Dooms.

You may channel your spell through your khakkhara.

You may attempt to teleport an object or creature into another object or creature. Both targets take [sum] + [dice] damage. If either of the targets is a creature and survives the telefragging, they are shunted to the nearest empty space. Otherwise, the targets are fused together.

Alternately, you may teleport only a part of a creature or object, effectively severing that part.

Both options count as teleporting to a dangerous location.
from Once Upon a Time

R: touch; T: object or creature; D: 0

You teleport the target up to 10 x [sum]', to an empty space you have previously seen*. Unwilling creatures and magic items can Save to resist the effects, while attended objects are immune to this spell (but see below).

You can teleport the target to a dangerous location (such as to mid-air, into flames, etc.), but this causes all MD used in the casting to be burnt instead of spent.

For each [die] after the first one, you can also select one of the following options:
  • The spell affects one more target. This option can be picked multiple times.
  • Range of the spell increases to 30'. This option can be picked multiple times, each time adding 30' of range.
  • You can target creatures or objects larger than a human. Extremely large creatures or objects may require multiple [dice] invested into this option to be affected.
  • You can target items wielded, equipped, or binding a creature. Alternately, you can omit such items from the effects of the spell, leaving them behind.
  • You can suspend teleportation. Instead of re-appearing instantly, the target will be left in non-existence for a minute/hour/day at 2/3/4 [dice] before appearing.

*) This could also be through scrying or supernatural senses, but not based on a map or description.

from Charmed

9 March 2019

I Finished My First 7DRL

Endless Descent Into the Dark and Dangerous Dungeons of the Most Reprehensible Alphabetical Overlord: Quest for Gore and Vengeance is my contribution to the Seven Day Roguelike Challenge 2019, and also the first 7DRL I made. It is a simple, silly terminal-based roguelike where you slay letters and try not to get swarmed to death.

It can be found here. Windows release will be added once I persuade mingw to cooperate with ncurses.
Descend into the terrific - no, wait - terrifying Vault of Writing and use your ancient sword and mighty magic to avenge your beloved potted plant and destroy the Dark Alphabetical Overlord. You will probably just die, though...

I wanted to finally take part in 7DRL this year, but come this Tuesday, I didn't have any good idea for a game and knew I won't have much time anyway. I also never worked with ncurses, so this game became a little experiment in what can I learn in the time I had available.

It actually turned out quite well, if I may say so. The player is given several spells to work with against the hordes of enemies, and because you only gain mana by killing monsters, you will have to be clever and use the spell wisely to survive. Monsters have multiple special attacks, but they are dumb by design to prevent them from easily swarming you to death. I rather like the gameplay, and hopefully you will too.

8 March 2019

Weird Weapons

This is the final table of random weapons, encompassing both hand-to-hand weapons and weapons that simply do not fit into any category. If you want a really unique, foreign, or plain dumb weapon, try rolling here.

No, that's tiny bit too much.

d20 Strange Weapons
  1. bagh nakh
  2. bladed gauntlet
  3. crescent moon knife
  4. emeici
  5. finger knife
  6. garrote
  7. katar
  8. kpinga
  9. lantern shield
  10. maduvu
  11. meat hook
  12. nightblade
  13. nyepel (punching shield)
  14. push dagger
  15. razor claw
  16. scizore
  17. shoe knife
  18. war fan
  19. wind-and-fire wheel
  20. wristblade

I don't even...

Bagh nakh, a tiger claw.

Razor claw.

Bladed gauntlet.

Finger knife.

Shoe knife.

Crescent moon knife.


Like nightstick, but with more cuts.

Assassins would be proud.

Nyepel, a punching shield.

Lantern shield.
The Swiss knife of medieval weapons.


7 March 2019

Daggers, Knives, Swords and Sickles

This is the penultimate post in the line of random weapon tables. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find enough different knives, daggers, and swords both straight and curved to fill a whole d200, but we are slowly getting there! If you notice any kind of sword-ish weapon missing from this table, please let me know.

And we're finally done! Many thanks to Ezra Bloom for their help with this table.
d200 Blades
  1. akinaka
  2. akrafena
  3. anelace
  4. arakh
  5. arming sword
  6. athame
  7. ayda katti
  8. backsword
  9. baguadao
  10. balisong
  11. balisword
  12. ballock dagger
  13. baselard
  14. bastard sword
  15. bat'leth
  16. bauernwehr
  17. bayonet
  18. belawa
  19. bichawa
  20. bokken
  21. boline
  22. bolo
  23. boot knife
  24. bowie knife
  25. broad sword
  26. butterfly sword
  27. cane knife
  28. carp's tongue sword
  29. cavalry sabre
  30. celurit
  31. cinquedea
  32. claybeg
  33. claymore
  34. colichemarde
  35. combat knife
  36. corvo
  37. courtblade
  38. crescent blade
  39. crysknife
  40. curved sword
  41. cutlass
  42. dadao
  43. dahong palay
  44. deba bocho
  45. dha
  46. dirk
  47. d'k tahg
  48. double-bladed sword
  49. dusack
  50. ear dagger
  51. epee
  52. estoc
  53. executioner's sword
  54. falchion
  55. falx
  56. fencing sabre
  57. firangi
  58. flambard (two-handed sword)
  59. flamberge (type of rapier)
  60. flyssa
  61. foil
  62. gladius
  63. golok
  64. great dagger
  65. great sickle
  66. great sword
  67. griffzungenschwert
  68. grip-tongue sword
  69. gun sword
  70. gunong
  71. gwyhyr
  72. hachiwari
  73. haudegen
  74. hook sword
  75. hunting knife
  76. hunting sword
  77. hwandudaedo
  78. changdao
  79. chopping sword
  80. jacksword
  81. janbiya
  82. jian
  83. jile
  84. kaiken
  85. kalis
  86. kampilan
  87. karabela
  88. karambit
  89. kard
  90. kaskara
  91. kastane
  92. katana
  93. katzbalger
  94. khanda
  95. khanjar
  96. kilij
  97. kinzhal
  98. kirpan
  99. kitchen knife
  100. klewang
  101. knight sword
  102. kodachi
  103. kopesh
  104. kopis
  105. krabi-krabong
  106. kriegsmesser
  107. kris
  108. kujang
  109. kukri
  110. kunai
  111. kut'luch
  112. long sword
  113. luwuk
  114. machete
  115. main gauche
  116. makhaira 
  117. makraka
  118. mambele
  119. mandau
  120. mek'leth
  121. messer
  122. mezzaluna
  123. misericorde
  124. mora knife
  125. mortuary sword
  126. nagamaki
  127. nandao
  128. navaja
  129. neck knife
  130. nimcha
  131. ninjato
  132. nodachi
  133. panabas
  134. paramerion
  135. parang
  136. patag
  137. patta
  138. phurba
  139. piandao
  140. pichangatti
  141. pinuti
  142. pocket knife
  143. poignard
  144. pugio
  145. pulwar
  146. qama
  147. rakuyo
  148. ram-dao
  149. rampuri
  150. rapier
  151. razor blade
  152. resolza
  153. rondel dagger
  154. runesword
  155. sami knife
  156. santoku
  157. scalpel
  158. schiavona
  159. scimitar
  160. scissor sword
  161. scythe sword
  162. seax
  163. seme dagger
  164. sgian-dubh
  165. shamshir
  166. shinai
  167. shiv
  168. short sword
  169. shotel
  170. sica
  171. sihill
  172. sinclair hilt sword
  173. small sword
  174. spadroon
  175. spatha
  176. stiletto
  177. straight sword
  178. survival knife
  179. tachi
  180. takoba
  181. talwar
  182. tanto
  183. tecpatl
  184. terbutje
  185. thinblade
  186. trench knife
  187. triple sword
  188. tsurugi
  189. tumi
  190. uchigatana
  191. ulfberht
  192. urumi
  193. wakizashi
  194. war sickle
  195. wodao
  196. xiphos
  197. yatagan
  198. yoroi-doshi
  199. zhanmadao
  200. zweihander
Gladius, short sword, long sword and knight sword.

Several different ayda katti.

Bayonet knife.
I actually have a very similar one at home.

Twin butterfly swords.

Daisho of katana and wakizashi.

This is flambard, a huge two-hander...

...and this is flamberge. Don't mix them up.

Hachiwari, a knife.

Kopis, a sword.

Kukri, another knife.

You may have heard of them in A Red & Pleasant Land.


Crescent blade.
Definitely not stolen from an obscure video game.

Patta, a gauntlet-sword.

Scissor sword!