[Let's Play] NetHack 3.6.1


God of Turnips
Validated User

Used 12 wishes. That's pretty amazing.
That's a quite high number for an ordinary ascension. My long term average is 6.8 wishes per ascension (discounting the deliberately wishless games, of course)

Tharg averaged 34.6 points per turn, while Jones averaged 55.5 points per turn. So clearly Jones was the more efficient ascender.
Playing carefully drops the point averages down quite a bit. I tend to play (well, tended to, haven't played a single came in a couple of years) really fast (median number of turns 30408), which both increased the death rate and keeps the score/turns figure high. My lowest figure for ordinary games has the average of 59.0 and the highest 135.8. (Median is at 80.6 points / turn). The one game where I went for deliberately getting as high score as possible before getting bored gave a result of 91555900 points in 82387 turns giving a ratio of 1111.3 points/turn. (It was a wizard who spent most of the turns making statues of nasties with the help of a handful of nice arch liches and then polypiling worthless glass into gems)

The other option is a chaotic orc wizard. "Wizard" because I have yet to play a cast-heavy class, and "orc" because I like oddball combos.

Feel free to chip in your thoughts here, or even to suggest something entirely.
It's a bit difficult to play an orc wizard as a cast-heavy class because it takes a lot of time to get magic points to manageable levels. Playing as elf lets you try casting more.

My favorite interesting class is tourist. It has a difficult start where a lot of care is necessary, but then turns into death-machine that downs the enemies faster than any other melee class in the endgame.


Remarkably expressive bandages
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Congrats on the ascension!
Congratulations, this was a fun read along :D
Thanks! And especially thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed the thread, Lafing Cat!

I'm sure you'll be on your way to winning every starting role shortly.
Unlikely that my attention span will last that long, sadly. But I should be able to get in another ascension or maybe even two before it gives out.

Definitely interested in playing Tourist, Priest, Healer, Wizard, and Ranger. Slightly intrigued by Rogue, Samurai, Knight, and Monk. Not really intrigued at all by Barbarian or Valkyrie. So if I ever get around to completing the set, those two will likely be last.

That's a quite high number for an ordinary ascension. My long term average is 6.8 wishes per ascension (discounting the deliberately wishless games, of course)
And I still had the Magic Lamp left. Could've been 13 wishes!


Validated User
Definitely interested in playing Tourist, Priest, Healer, Wizard, and Ranger. Slightly intrigued by Rogue, Samurai, Knight, and Monk. Not really intrigued at all by Barbarian or Valkyrie. So if I ever get around
The only real interesting thing about Knights is that they're the only class who can really take advantage of mounted combat and jousting.

Which isn't really cool as it's just hitting your enemies with a lance and hoping you don't fumble and break your main weapon. Still, keeping a vegetarian pet alive is enough of a challenge by itself so you're not in want of things to keep you busy


Validated User
The only real interesting thing about Knights is that they're the only class who can really take advantage of mounted combat and jousting.

Which isn't really cool as it's just hitting your enemies with a lance and hoping you don't fumble and break your main weapon. Still, keeping a vegetarian pet alive is enough of a challenge by itself so you're not in want of things to keep you busy
No? Getting to actually use a polearm is a pretty neat change from standard melee, to my mind. It opens up some neat tactics, especially with the knights' ability to jump. They also get to splash in a smidgeon of casting, with their quest artifact. Not a huge amount, but it's another neat tool that's not generally available to melee.

I just like the toolbox they develop as they go through things.


Validated User
No? Getting to actually use a polearm is a pretty neat change from standard melee, to my mind. It opens up some neat tactics, especially with the knights' ability to jump. They also get to splash in a smidgeon of casting, with their quest artifact. Not a huge amount, but it's another neat tool that's not generally available to melee.

I just like the toolbox they develop as they go through things.
Priests also can use polearms, though they're quite a bit squishier.

And while the mirror does help with casting, you're going to have to forgo metal armor, get a robe and try to get your Int as high as possible, which isn't going to be easy at all, or hope you only cast Magic Missile.

I personally find that tiresome, but YMMV. Had I wanted a caster I'd just play a wizard or priest


Remarkably expressive bandages
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Okay! Time for some more NetHackery!

Meet Fortescue. Fortescue was not like all the other orcs in his tribe. While all the other orcs were out playing Kick the Gnome and playing catch with severed dwarf heads, Fortescue liked to spend his time inside reading.

Of course, as he belonged to a tribe of illiterate orcs, the only thing Fortescue had to read was a fragment of a wooden sign that he'd found on the ground near some crossroads in one of the human parts of the realm.

It said "URGH".

Fortescue wasn't sure what "URGH" meant, nor why the end of the sign pointed away from the "URGH". But it was his "URGH", and he would stare at it for hours, trying to plumb its mysteries. Surely, he thought, there must be some meaning to this

Well, one thing lead to another, and by the time Fortescue was an adult orc, he was the only orc in his tribe that could read. His fellow orcs were amazed by his literacy, and frequently asked him for things like shopping lists and wedding registries. Fortescue was only too happy to help. But Fortescue knew he was destined for something more...

Anyhow, to make a long story short and spare the lot of you further improvisation from my fevered brow, Fortescue took a correspondence course and became the world's first fully licensed Orc Wizard. Which brings us to the present day.

First off, let's look at some of the options that you can twiddle to improve your NetHack experience. As you can see, I have switched tilesets. The tileset here is the DawnHack32 tileset. You can download the tileset from that link. (Download button is in the upper right-hand corner. Took me a while to find it.) It will come in a zip file with tilesets for different versions of the game, and different size tiles (16x16 tiles, 24x24 tiles, and 32x32 tiles).

To use the tileset, you need to do two things:

1) Put the tileset bitmap in whatever directory also contains the NetHackW.exe executable.
2) Edit the defaults.nh file and add the following line:


If you want to use a different tileset, just change the name of the tile_file and (if applicable) the tile_width and tile_height.

As it happens, I do want to use a slightly different tileset. I like the 48x48 pixel tile size from the Nethack Modern tileset we were using in Tharg's playthroughs. But the DawnHack tileset doesn't come with a 48x48 size. So I simply loaded up the 32x32 tileset bitmap in an image program (irfanview in my specific case), resized it so that the tiles are now 48x48, then saved it to a new bitmap named "DawnHack_48.bmp". Then I went into defaults.nh and changed the options to:



Other options you may want to tweak in defaults.nh:

# Message window settings

# Menu settings

# Text settings

# Status window settings
This is how I have the fonts set for my window. The default settings are smaller and use a different font.

Which reminds me! I was going to try and find a way to get more than one line of messages in the output window. Turns out you do that with this option:


"1" is the default, and produces one line of output. I am going to change it to "3".


Of course, now the main map area is a little cramped, so let me resize the window a bit to accommodate the new lines of text:

Okay! I think that's got it looking how we want it for now. On with the show!

Fortescue is, as mentioned, an orc wizard. Which means he will have to rely on his spells instead of raw combat ability.

Unfortunately, each spell you cast drains additional nutrition points over and above what you would normally lose from the mere passage of time. Casting spells will make you hungry more often.

Fortunately, wizards with an INT of 17 or higher don't experience this additional hunger penalty from spellcasting.

Unfortunately, Fortescue is an orc and his INT is capped at 16, which means he doesn't get the hunger-free casting.

Fortunately, his INT of 16 reduces the hunger cost of spellcasting to 25% of its normal value. So while Fortescue will suffer additional hunger from spellcasting, the effect will be small.

Fortescue can exceed his racial INT cap with a Helm of Brilliance, which confers an INT bonus equal to the helm's enchantment. Acquiring a Helm of Brilliance will be a priority, and will almost certainly be Fortescue's 2nd or 3rd wish.

A somewhat bigger problem is Fortescue's low WIS. While WIS doesn't play a direct role in Wizardly spellcasting (which relies on INT), it does govern how fast spellcasters regain power. Fortescue will want to find some way to get that WIS up. One way to improve WIS is to write Elbereth a lot, and given that Fortescue is a squishy dress-wearing finger-waggler, he is likely to do just that.

Here we have Fortescue's starting inventory. Nice starting stash. The nicest bit about all this stuff, though, is that it's stuff Fortescue doesn't have to ID.

To my mind, learning how to ID stuff in the absence of an Identify spell is pretty much the heart of the game and the key to eventual victory. Despite the fact that NetHack presents itself as a hack-and-slash D&D clone, it's really a survival game. There are three essential components to an ascension (reflection, magic resistance, and an AC of -20 or better), and the goal of the early game is to survive until you can acquire them. Being able to ID your loot in the absence of an ID scroll will go a long way towards helping you to survive. So the fact that Fortescue has all this stuff pre-identified is a big bonus.

(The other key to victory is abusing the crap out of Elbereth. It is generally not possible to engrave Elbereth too early, but it is certainly possible to engrave it too late.)

Since Fortescue is an orc, there is a much greater chance that orcs and goblins and similar creatures will be peaceful towards him. Dunno how universal this is, though. Tharg never had to worry about getting attacked by gnomes or dwarves aside from the Castle. I imagine orcs, being chaotic, are more likely to be hostile towards Fortescue. We'll find out soon enough.

Fortescue finds this a real challenge to his hard-won literacy. He's not sure what a "flocr" is.

Much is made of BUC-testing (Blessed/Uncursed/Cursed) items. This goes back to my comments above about how the heart of the game is identifying stuff. Cursed items are almost universally bad. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many. Weapons, armor, and jewelry in particular should be BUC-tested before putting them on, because if they're cursed, you can't take them off.

Altars will accurately identify the BUC-status (also called "beatitude") of anything dropped on them as long as you're not blind. In the absence of an altar, you can use your pet. Pets are reluctant to occupy the same tile as a cursed object, and the game will tell you so with a message. So at the very least you can confirm whether or not an object is cursed.

You could just drop the item you want tested on the floor in a room and see if your pet will wander over it, but that takes time. A quicker way is to drop the item in a corridor, which constrains the random movement of your pet.

And there we have it. Akras (sorry, couldn't figure out how to get the umlauts into NetHack) has confirmed that the item is not cursed, as pets definitely won't pick up a cursed object.

(CAVEAT: If there is food on the same tile as the item, your pet will seek out the food and will ignore the item. If the item is cursed, you won't get the usual "your pet steps across the item reluctantly" message because your pet is focused on the food.)

We have determined that the dagger Fortescue picked up (as well as a scroll and a potion) are uncursed. It would be good to make a temporary note until we can properly identify them (or at least properly BUC-test them at an altar). Naming things is very useful, and goes hand-in-hand with identifying things. You can name things with either the Shift-C command or with the #name command. Both will bring up this menu.

In this case, we want to select i, because we just want to identify specific items in our inventory as "uncursed". If we used the o command instead, then EVERY orcish dagger we run across would be named "uncursed", whether it was cursed or not. This is not useful.
Last edited:


Remarkably expressive bandages
RPGnet Member
Validated User

And we're done with DLVL 1. Looks like there might be a secret room down in the lower left-hand corner of the map, but Fortescue couldn't find any secret doors which might lead to it.

For any newbies reading this: Your pet has to be adjacent to you to follow you up or down the stairs.

That said, let's...uh...

Huh. Looks like one of the tiles in the tileset is slightly off. You can see a faint network of lines. No clue why these tiles would even be "activated" by the game engine. Sec plz.

This tile appears to be the culprit. Covering it completely with a black square seems to correct the problem.

The venerable fountain. These things are all over most dungeons. There is a very small chance that you can get a wish by drinking from one. Some players will immediately drink from all the fountains they see as soon as they start the game, because they figure that if they get an early wish, they can roflstomp the rest of the dungeon, and if they get killed, well, they didn't lose anything except an easily-rerolled 1st level character and maybe 5 minutes of time.

I like to play a bit more cautiously, because for me the fun is in trying to ascend using what the game gives me. Every character can be ascended, the trick is figuring out how. So I usually hold off on messing with the fountains until I'm powerful enough to handle the bad outcomes.

And here we have our first stash. As soon as we #force the lock, at any rate. (That's why I wanted the dagger.)

If you read NetHack guides or other NetHack threads on this forum, you'll see a lot of advice on how to secure your stash. In the old days you wanted to write Elbereth underneath the box. These days people talk about using scrolls of Scare Monster or hiding them in closets or pushing boulders on top of them. (Which will make the chest inaccessible but won't damage it or the contents.)

Turns out, none of that is strictly necessary.

Monster AI cannot access the contents of a container. You could drop a sack containing 50 fully charged Wands of Death right in front of a hostile gnome, and have nothing whatsoever to fear from the contents of that sack if the gnome picks it up. Because the gnome will be unable to access the wands.

So as long as your stash is actually inside a container (as opposed to sitting around loose on the floor), you really only have to worry about two things:

1) A monster picking up the container itself. (It still won't be able to access the contents, but it might drop the chest someplace unfortunate.)
2) A gelatinous cube eating it. (It will only eat the chest itself, though. The contents will be unharmed and can be retrieved by the simple expedient of killing the gelatinous cube.)

In the old days an Elbereth would be sufficient to keep monsters off the tile containing the chest, but that doesn't work in v3.6.x. Now Elbereth only offers her protection to you, not your loot stash. Which is why people now suggest a Scroll of Scare Monster.

Uncursed Scrolls of Scare Monster will dissolve if you pick them up, so you have to bless them every time you put one down. (At least if you want to be able to pick it back up later.) And if you pick up a blessed Scroll of Scare Monster, it loses its blessed status and turns into an uncursed scroll, which you have to re-bless if you want to put it down again.

So while Scrolls of Scare Monster do work for this purpose, they're kind of a pain, and they consume valuable holy water, and there's probably a better use for the things in any case.

Fortunately, there's an alternative. Simply make the stash container too heavy to lift.

The strongest monster in the game, carrying-capacity-wise, is the dragon. A dragon can lift 3103 weight units. So if you put 310 rocks in your stash container, no monster in the game will be able to pick it up.

Of course, the chances of a dragon spawning on DLVL 2 even in the late game are pretty low. So we can probably get away with fewer rocks. After that you only have to worry about gelatinous cubes. And since monsters don't spawn or move if you're not actually on the level, you should generally be able to protect your stash unless a gelatinous cube happens to spawn right on top of it.

Right now, of course, we don't have any rocks. So we're just going to have to trust the whims of fate that there won't be a monster strong enough to lift the chest plus its contents until we can load it down further with gratuitous weight.

Stashes are important for the cautious player primarily because you shouldn't be carrying around anything you don't strictly need. Especially scrolls, rings, wands, and potions if you don't have a sack or a bag to put them in. Those things can be damaged or destroyed if they're in your open inventory, and can damage or kill you in the process.

Part of the reason Tharg took over 130k turns to ascend was because I made a lot of trips to the stash and spent many turns tweaking my inventory.

Ran into another peaceful goblin that Akras was only too happy to kill. Akras further confirmed that this helmet is uncursed, so that's useful.

Armor affects a wizard's ability to cast spells. Body armor has a significant impact, but peripherial armor doesn't. So Fortescue can still cast Force Bolt even while wearing this helmet.

Duskfire mentioned this upthread, but it bears repeating for newbies: Whenever you find the down stairs, go down immediately.

1) Levels do not exist prior to your first visit. Levels are created the first time you visit them. All the rooms and initial monsters and floor loot are generated at that point. And monsters are generated based on a combination of your experience level and the dungeon level. Fortescue is XL 2. So if he goes down these stairs, the initial monsters will be generated based on his XL 2. If he postpones going down the stairs until later, he might gain a level. And then the monsters on the next level down will potentially be tougher.

2) There are traps which will drop you to the level below. When that happens, it's always nice to already know where the stairs up are.


Remarkably expressive bandages
RPGnet Member
Validated User

In NetHack, when you walk over a single object, you just get a message in the output window telling you what it is. And if you walk over several objects, you get a message telling you "There are several/many/lots of items here". And then you can use the : key or the , key to see what's in the pile.

However, the number of items it takes to trigger the UI to just report "There are several items here" is configurable in the options. And it defaults to 5.

So if you walk over a pile of 2, 3, or 4 items, you will automatically get this popup. And the popup has to be cleared with ENTER or ESC before you can continue. And that can get pretty damned annoying when you start running into monsters that leave piles of useless loot everywhere.

The way to fix this is to hit Shift-O and bring up the options screen, then find the pile_limit setting. Changing the setting from "5" to "2" will disable the automatic stop-and-throw-up-a-popup-list behavior. You'll just get a message in the output window saying "there are a few items here".

I tried setting this option in defaults.nh, but it didn't work. Not sure why. I know it's persistent across character sessions, because I set it once for Tharg and never had to set it again. But apparently I have to reset it for Fortescue.

Oh how I love the DevTeam when they throw in little easter eggs like this.

For you kids who weren't around in the '80s, this is a line from the coin-op video game Gauntlet.

"The Wizard needs food, badly!"
"The Elf shot the food!"
"The Warrior is about to die!"

Good times.

Anyhow, since Fortescue isn't going for an atheist conduct and since he hasn't prayed yet, a quick prayer solved his hunger pangs for the moment and allowed him to conserve his food rations.

Learning which corpses to eat and which corpses to avoid is also a key component of NetHack success.

Some corpses are "poisonous", such as this kobold corpse here. Poisonous corpses will do damage to you immediately when you eat it. They are not innately fatal, but they can sometimes do enough damage to a low-level character to be fatal anyways. They may also damage one or more attributes. If you have poison resistance, you will not be affected by the poison.

Other corpses are "tainted". Tainted corpses give you food poisoning if you eat them, and food poisoning will kill you within about 6 turns if you don't cure it. Corpses become tainted once they become too old to safely eat. "Too old" is a random number for each corpse, ranging from 60-174 turns. Zombie corpses are pre-aged and are already considered to be 100 turns old when they first hit the ground. So if you eat a fresh zombie corpse, there's a 35% chance it'll be tainted. The moral of this story: Only eat fresh corpses and never eat zombie corpses unless you have a unicorn horn.

(Sometimes you will eat a corpse and will get the message that it is "rotten". This may confer the Stunned and/or Confused status effects for a few turns, but will not hurt you otherwise.)

Fortescue, being an orc, gets poison resistance as an innate characteristic. So he can chow down on poisonous corpses with impunity.

Continuing the policy of going down the stairs as soon as you find them, Fortescue discovers the Gnomish Mines.

Tharg found the Gnomish Mines quite pleasant, because Tharg was a gnome and so all the gnomes and d0rfs in the Mines were peaceful towards him.

Fortescue, being an orc, cannot expect the same reception. So he's just gonna snag this potion and this scroll and head back upstairs. We'll come back later, probably after Sokoban.

Woohoo! A general store! The best kind of shop for price IDing stuff, because they will buy all your crap.

Shops are guaranteed to be on DLVL 2 and DLVL 3, except when they're not. They were not in this game. First shop is on DLVL 4. (The chance of a shop appearing on a level is 3/DLVL, for all levels from 2 to Medusa's Island. However, that roll isn't determined until after the rest of the level is generated. If the roll succeeds, the game engine looks to see if the level allows one of the rooms to be transformed into a shop (room with only one door, no stairs). If none of the rooms fit the criteria, the shop doesn't appear, even if the roll succeeded.)

I have closed the door to keep Akras out. Not that I don't eventually want him to rob this place blind, but I don't want him to do it just yet. Not until I have completed my price identifying.

Thanks to the internet, price identification is simple.

1) Visit the Price Identification article over on the NetHack Wiki.
2) Drop items in your possession to see how much the vendor will offer you. Cross-reference it with the selling price for items of that type.
3) Walk over items in the shop and cross-reference the buying price with your CHA and the item type.

Your CHA doesn't affect how much the vendor will pay you for your loot. It only affects how much the vendor will charge you for his wares.

In some instances, the price will uniquely identify an item. If Fortescue drops a scroll and the shopkeeper offers him 8 or 10 zorkmids for it, it's an Identify scroll. There are no other scrolls with that sell-to-the-vendor price.

In most instances, however, the price will simply narrow it down to one option out of several. But even this is useful information, because you can eventually eliminate some of the options. For example, Fortescue can already ID Potions of Monster Detection. So if he runs into another unidentified potion at the same price, it will either be blindness, gain energy, invisibility, or object detection. If a nymph drops it, it's probably object detection. If it's blindness, a unicorn horn will turn it into water. If it's neither one, then Fortescue can quaff it and identify it that way because the only other two choices (gain energy and invisibility) aren't harmful.

I also note that mimics look mostly like chests in this tileset. The two chests in column 2 and 3 of the room are mimics, while the chest on the far end of the room is an actual chest.

As foretold by prophecy, we have uniquely ID'd the ID scroll. Amusingly, the VENZAR BORGAVVE scroll was identify in Tharg's game, too. As far as I know, that's sheer coincidence.

And back we go to the #name command. This time we're using the o option. We want to name the VENZAR BORGAVVE type. Type-naming it will ensure that every VENZAR BORGAVVE scroll we see in the future will be already labelled "Identify".

I mean, we could just remember that VENZAR BORGAVVE is "Identify" without having to do these tricks with the #name command, but that's a young person's game. I'm an old man and I forget shit.

It's called "Identify" but it's named "uncursed".

It's all starting to come together rather neatly, I think!

I'll spare you further details of my price ID session. TUNE IN NEXT TIME when hopefully I'll get around to doing something more exciting.


Remarkably expressive bandages
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Well, NEXT TIME came much sooner than anticipated...


Fortescue got hungry, so he ate a food ration.

Unfortunately, he was standing on a tile with a food ration, so instead of eating the one in his inventory, he ate the one on the floor. And now he doesn't have enough gold to pay for it. Looks like he'll be selling something after all.

After selling a wand and a ring, Fortescue pays for his meal. Then he waits patiently for Akras to steal the items back. Akras seems uninterested in stealing anything else, alas, and Fortescue doesn't have any treats to train him.

The first tile inside the shop, just past the door, is not considered part of the shop. So if Akras drops anything there, Fortescue can pick it up for free.


Man, one Rothe, one round of combat, Fortescue is toast. Full health to DED just like *snaps fingers* THAT!

Clearly I need to get used to being a dress-wearing finger-waggler.

Fortunately, Fortescue Jr. is ready to take up the mantle...
Top Bottom