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YMMV / NetHack

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  • All There in the Manual: Or more specifically, it's all there in the various Spoilers and Wiki websites that contain detailed game information. The enjoyment of NetHack comes from discovering the sheer variety of ways you can interact with various objects in sometimes unusual ways. However, unlike many other roguelike games, there is no way to know exactly how much damage weapons do, which is usually considered to be a pretty basic piece of information to give the player. No item or spell in the game can show you what hit dice a weapon uses, and you can only get an estimate of how injured a monster is. Unless you look up spoiler info, it's difficult to know how much damage one weapon will do compared to another weapon, or to know that certain weapons are strictly better than others. Unlike armor which shows you the AC value when you wear it, the only way to know how strong a weapon you're wielding is to get a feel for how strong it is by using it. For instance, there's no real way to know that weapons use different hit dice depending on the size of the monster, or that katanas, the Samurai version of long swords), actually have +1 to hit over a standard long sword. Artifact weapons are a bit more obvious when they have visual effects when they hit a non-resisting monster such as the elemental weapons. However, there's nothing that suggests Grayswandir does double damage to all targets, even ones that don't take the extra silver damage, aside from seeing stuff die very quickly when you use it.
  • Anticlimax Boss: Lord Surtur, the Goblin King (in the days when Elf was a character class), the Master Assassin, the Dark One, and most infamously of all, Vlad the Impaler. Vlad has his own mini-dungeon, but he's only slightly more powerful than his own vampire mooks, and since you encounter him near the end of the game he's usually a total pushover. He's so anti-climatic that it's become a Running Gag to Cherry Tap him to death with -3 thoroughly corroded orcish daggers, thrown scrolls, and other such things, and name the object in question "Vladbane."
    • The Wizard of Yendor is this if you're properly prepared, since unlike the demonic bosses of Gehennom, he is not immune to death rays. During the final stage of the game, he will likely revive himself in front of you several times, shouting "So thou thought thou couldst kill me, fool," only to be immediately snuffed yet again by your Wand of Death. He occasionally curses your items or summons monsters while deceased, but the Wizard himself isn't much of a threat.
    • Medusa, despite getting her own special level, makes Vlad look like Demogorgon by comparison. Any kind of reflection will instantly kill her. If you have an amulet of reflection, she'll petrify herself when you walk into her room. If you don't have an amulet of reflection, a hand mirror will work just as well, provided you have a blindfold or towel. Alternately, smashing her in the face with a cream pie or flashing a camera at her will blind her.
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  • Breather Boss: Croesus.
  • Broken Base: Two of the major arguments in fandom have been:
    • Should the game be played using the graphical tile-sets or the original ASCII format?
    • Is it a legitimate tactic to exploit programming quirks which allow such things as "pudding farming" (see below)?
  • Demonic Spiders: There's at least two or three at any point:
    • On early levels, you have to deal with Floating Eyes which paralyze you, Gas Spores which do obscene damage by exploding when they die, and killer bees which are fast, appear in groups, and have a poisonous sting that can kill instantly if you're not resistant.
      • Floating Eyes can be avoided, killer bees can be Elberethed, but may The Lady help you when your pet decides to start attacking that gas spore that's adjacent to you.....
    • On early-middling levels, you have to deal with Soldier Ants — the most common enemy-based cause of death in the game (accounting for 1.75% of all deaths on Go team ant!), as well as mumaks, massive war elephants with a ridiculously powerful headbutt attack.
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    • On the middling levels, you have the infamous Cockatrices and many enemies who will swallow you and kill you, including Lurkers and Purple Worms (which can also be encountered on the earlier levels).
    • Then you must contend with Demon Lords and Princes, and should you actually survive them and get the Amulet of Yendor, you must face an infinite amount of more and more powerful Wizards of Yendor, and the consistently respawning Riders of the Apocalypse: Death, Pestilence, and Famine. You're War.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Various other games over the years have had the distinction of being "the other pretty popular traditional roguelike". Nowadays the honor probably goes to Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. Which is of similar age, still in active development, and has a diametrically opposed design philosophy to NetHack's. But candidates in the past have included everything from Angband to even briefly Red Rogue during its brief time in the sun.
  • Fridge Horror: There are lots of "used armor" shops scattered throughout the dungeons. Sometimes these shops contain cursed armor, which can't be removed, except by uncursing it or if the original owner dies wearing it. The horror comes when you realize where the shopkeeper gets his inventory.
    • And if you die in a shop, the game flat-out tells you that the shopkeeper takes all your possessions.
    • If you somehow directly steal from the shop (Teleporting with unpaid items, digging out,....), the shop owner will chase you. When you die, guess who comes for the loot?
  • Game-Breaker: A very controversial thing to do in Nethack is "Pudding Farming", causing an enemy that splits into two whenever you attack it to split multiple times to abuse the game's prayer and sacrifice systems. A similar thing is to repeatedly kill a boss that is on the last level of the game. This boss reincarnates an infinite number of times, but gives a full score each time, meaning with the proper setup, hitting the max score is trivial (but that's OK, since in Nethack, it's generally considered a sign of skill to ascend with a lower score rather than a higher one).
    • The devteam implemented an immediate and savage punishment for pudding farmers. It's called Pudding Farming.
      • Also, nearly anything you'd accomplish with Pudding Farming won't help you on the astral plane.
      • As of 3.6.0, puddings (and green slimes) leave behind "globs" rather than corpses, which cannot be sacrificed, making pudding farming basically worthless.
    • A programming oversight with the purple worm allows you to take one as a pet, let it eat wraith corpses, and break its level cap. If you can do so, either by letting it loose in a graveyard or repeatedly reverse-genociding wraiths, you can send its level through the roof. Hit it with a wand of speed monster, keep it away from cockatrices, and it will One-Hit Kill anything that gets close. You'll have to do some work to get it through a few of the special levels, though.
  • Genius Bonus: Many things in Nethack, including some of its Shout Outs, are very subtle. For example, there is an enemy named the "quantum mechanic" which sometimes carries a box. Inside the box is a cat named Schrodinger's cat, which has a 50/50 chance of being either alive or dead. If you examine the game's source code, you will learn that the state of the cat is not determined until you open the box. Some fantasy items benefit you if you know the myths without even having read a spoiler: Unicorn horns heal, clay Golems can be destroyed by erasing their writing, amethysts (which literally means "not drunk") convert booze to water.
    • Since the game has strong Unix origins, there's also plenty of jokes only a Unix/Linux geek would understand.
  • Goddamned Bats: Nymphs, Floating Eyes, and Leprechauns, to name a few.
    • Vampires are this in a literal sense. From 3.6.0 onwards, almost every vampire bat you come across is actually a polymorphed vampire or vampire lord, which essentially means you're up against a fast-moving mook with two health bars and an annoying level drain ability. This change also seems to have introduced the unintended side effect of making vampires appear much more frequently than before.
  • Good Bad Bugs: If you let a tame purple worm eat wraith corpses, it will break its level cap. Exploiting this can send a purple worm's level skyrocketing.
  • Nightmare Fuel: For a game that uses ASCII graphics, this game has its fair share.
    • Abandoned temples. Upon entry, there's a random chance you'll be paralyzed by a massive ghost.
    • Beehives can make those who are fatally allergic to bee stings extremely uneasy.
    • Green slimes that cause your body to decay and transform into a green slime. The process is described in Brain Bleach-inducing detail as you slowly turn into slime.
  • Scrub: Don't get caught using any movement key configuration other than HJKLYUBN. Or maybe numpad. Don't admit to using the tile graphics, either.
  • That One Boss: Master Kaen (the Monk quest nemesis) and Demogorgon both qualify, as (due to his propensity for coming back with more hit points and a higher caster level than before) does the Wizard of Yendor.
  • That One Level: The "vanilla" version of Gehennom is often disparaged not because it is hard, but because it consists of numerous levels of tedious, twisting mazes. Variants such as Slash EM, SporkHack and UnNetHack all attempt to mitigate this by making Gehennom shorter/more varied/more deadly.

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