NetHack is a display oriented Dungeons & Dragons(tm) - like game.
The standard tty display and command structure resemble rogue.
Other, more graphical display options exist if you are using either a PC,
or an X11 interface.
To get started you really only need to know two commands. The command
? will give you a list of the available commands (as well as other information)
and the command
/ will identify the things you see on the screen.
To win the game (as opposed to merely playing to beat other peoples high
scores) you must locate the Amulet of Yendor which is somewhere below
the 20th level of the dungeon and get it out.
Nobody has achieved this yet; anybody who does will probably go down
in history as a hero among heros.
When the game ends, whether by your dying, quitting, or escaping
from the caves,
NetHack will give you (a fragment of) the list of top scorers.
The scoring is based on many aspects of your behavior, but a rough estimate
is obtained by taking the amount of gold youve found in the cave plus four
times your (real) experience.
Precious stones may be worth a lot of gold when brought to the exit.
There is a 10% penalty for getting yourself killed.
The environment variable NETHACKOPTIONS can be used to initialize many
The ? command provides a description of these options and syntax.
-ibm command line options are equivalent to the
ibmgraphics run-time options described there,
and are provided purely for convenience on systems
supporting multiple types of terminals.)
Because the option list can be very long (particularly when specifying
graphics characters), options may also be included in a configuration
The default is located in your home directory and
named .nethackrc on Unix systems. On other systems, the default may be
different, usually NetHack.cnf. On DOS the name is defaults.nh, while
on the Macintosh or BeOS, it is NetHack Defaults.
The configuration files location may be specified by setting NETHACKOPTIONS
to a string consisting of an @ character followed by the filename.
playername option supplies the answer to the question "Who are you?".
It overrides any name from the options or configuration file, USER, LOGNAME,
or getlogin(), which will otherwise be tried in order.
If none of these provides a useful name, the player will be asked for one.
Player names (in conjunction with uids) are used to identify save files,
so you can have several saved games under different names.
Conversely, you must use the appropriate player name to restore a saved game.
playername suffix or a separate option,
profession can be used to determine the character role. You can specify either the
male or female name for the character role, or the first three characters
of the role as an abbreviation.
-p has been retained to explicitly request that a random role be chosen.
It may need to be quoted with a backslash (\@) if @
is the "kill" character (see "stty") for the terminal, in order
to prevent the current input line from being cleared.
race can be used to explicitly request that a race be chosen.
Leaving out either of these will result in you being prompted during
the game startup for the information.
-s option alone will print out the list of your scores on the current version.
An immediately following
-v reports on all versions present in the score file.
-s may also be followed by arguments
-r to print the scores of particular roles and races only.
It may also be followed by one or more player names to print the scores of the
players mentioned, by all to print out all scores, or by a number to print
that many top scores.
-n option suppresses printing of any news from the game administrator.
-X option will start the game in a special non-scoring discovery mode.
-D will, if the player is the game administrator, start in debugging (wizard)
-d option, which must be the first argument if it appears,
supplies a directory which is to serve as the playground.
It overrides the value from NETHACKDIR, HACKDIR,
or the directory specified by the game administrator during compilation
This option is usually only useful to the game administrator.
The playground must contain several auxiliary files such as help files,
the list of top scorers, and a subdirectory
save where games are saved.
Jay Fenlason (+ Kenny Woodland, Mike Thome and Jon Payne) wrote the
original hack, very much like rogue (but full of bugs).
Andries Brouwer continuously deformed their sources into an entirely
Mike Stephenson has continued the perversion of sources, adding various
warped character classes and sadistic traps with the help of many strange
people who reside in that place between the worlds, the Usenet Zone.
A number of these miscreants are immortalized in the historical
roll of dishonor and various other places.
The resulting mess is now called NetHack, to denote its
development by the Usenet. Andries Brouwer has made this request for the
distinction, as he may eventually release a new version of his own.