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Fastest game of Nethack
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Date: 12/30/07 05:12
Game Type: Other
Labels:Rare game(1)
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Report Rating: 6.7, # of Ratings: 3, Max: 8, Min: 5
Lifetime Rating for moletrap: 6.6667
For those of you that haven't heard of it, and that's probably most if not all of you... Nethack is a very old dungeon crawling game.  In it's primary form, it is actually still an ANSI game, with your character represented by an @, and monsters and loot represented by various letters and symbols.  I happen to play a version with some sprites added on, so that instead of an o there is a little picture of an orc, and instead of a $ there is a picture of a pile of gold.  The game play is still exactly the same though.

For those of you that would like a much fuller explanation of the game, I happened to find an extensive report here:

This report would be inappropriate if it were that long, since what makes this game special is it's.. succinctness.

Nethack is known for being RIDICULOUSLY difficult to beat, and moreso for being extremely frustrating.  Just when you think you are doing well, the game knows and does something ridiculous to kill you.  It is most excruciating when the game simply gives you the opportunity to screw up, and then hit you hard when you do.  Then it feels even worse because it's your fault and not the games.  For instance, you are doing fine so you start romping through the dungeon a little to quickly and you accidentally attack a floating eye.  Well of course it's your own fault for attacking the eye, but it's gaze attack paralyzes you, and while you are paralyzed a newt, one of the weakest creatures in the game, runs up and attacks you 40 times, slowly killing you before you come out of your paralysis.
If you expect to do badly, the game will give you good luck to encourage you.... so it feels worse when you inevitably die.

So there are a number of silly ways to die very quickly in Nethack, but in my game the other day, I managed to die in exactly 1 turn.

Now there are a couple ways that this could happen in a normal game.  Your first step could be onto a hidden trap which kills you, or you could spawn next to a monster which kills you in one hit.  Or, if you spawned with poison in your inventory you could theoretically drink it and die in one turn.  Any of those fast games wouldn't be very spectacular, though.

Now, I have actually beaten Nethack several times, which I don't mind saying is no easy feat.  To put it in perspective, I had to spend about a year dying probably over a thousand times, and regularly consult strategy spoilers to do it.  Occasionally you can get "wishes" from items or strange circumstances, which let you magically attain any piece of equipment in the game out of thin air, and I always got at least a few of these each time I beat it.  So ironically in this game I was trying to actually beat it without using any wishes.

I decided to spawn randomly, and I ended up as a healer, which is a class that spawns with a few healing potions and a couple heal spells.  Nope, no spawning with poison.  But one of the random ways to get a wish is to drink a smoky potion, which will contain a genie 1/13 times.  If the potion is "blessed" you have a good chance the genie will give you a wish (he can also attack you, though, and genies are high level).  Well, even though I was trying not to use wishes, I figured what the heck, and I chugged the blessed smoky potion that I had spawned with.  The very first turn, I got a wish!!  The combination of events was statistically close to impossible, but here it had happened.  Again, we see the game knowing what I was trying to do and spiting me.

Well, the obvious thing to do would be to wish for the best weapon in the game, or the best armor.  But I knew that those were a little easier to get later on, but that artifacts get statistically less likely to appear the more that have already appeared in your game.  If there have been a couple artifacts already and you even wish for one, it may not happen and you may waste your wish.  So I figured the best way to go would be to wish for the most difficult to get item first, and wished for the Eye of the Aethiopica, a powerful item that would regenerate my mana by ridiculous amounts and automatically cut in half any damage I took.  As a healer, the mana regeneration meant that I could heal myself almost infinitely.  Perfect!  So I typed in the name of the key to my success and told the genie what I wished for!

Well.... here's where my plan ran into a bit of a snag.  Some artifacts are considered "sentient" and if you touch them when you are not the same class or alignment as them, they might be too powerful for you to use.  The Eye is a wizard artifact, not a healer artifact, so this is exactly what happened.  Just as the Eye was manifesting in my hands, my little 12hp healer barely beginning to feel pangs of joy, I was dealt 4d10 damage and was fried on the spot.

If this were all real the narrative would basically be.... a gnome in a white robe descends some stairs into an eerily lit dungeon, having been commanded by his god to delve deep into the dungeon and attain the coveted Amulet of Yendor.  Preparing himself for the epic journey ahead, the young man peers into his napsack and checks his potions.  Feeling nervous already, and being a bit of a hypocondriac, the gnome preemptively chugs his best healing potion before taking another step.

I will let the alert text of the game tell the rest of the story..

Screenshot of the alert text from the quickest and most epic Nethack death.

There are a hundred ways to die quickly in Nethack, and I have died hundreds of times..  But this is probably the best headstone I have ever resulted in.  Here is the ending screen in all its glory...

Ending headstone from Nethack game

If there are actually any Nethack fans around, I might post something about my best triumphs, too.

Quick word of warning... Nethack may sound interesting, but it will eat your soul.  You have been warned.

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