Posted by: shatteredblog | January 10, 2013

Nethack Diaries: The Adventures of Tom (III), Unlucky

When last we left Tom the level 1 Digger, he was confused and running for his life from an invisible water demon. A scary situation to be in so early in the game.


Water demons are one of the weakest types of major demon, but bad news for a new player at only level 1. They have three attacks (claw and bite as well as a weapon swing), are intelligent enough to use scrolls and potions, and have a chance at summoning nasties while attacking (typically other demons). When this one threw a confusion potion at me, I thought it was game over, but I stumbled to the door.

Lucky the confusion only lasted three turns, during which I misstepped once… and luckier that this type of demon is afraid of Elbereth. The E word is a new player’s best friend when facing nasty monsters with powerful melee attacks, as engraving [E] it on the ground will cause them to become afraid and flee. To engrave you select an item or your fingers [-] and write on the floor, up to 10 characters instantly with a fast method (which fingers in the dust is). Finger engravings are easily smudged though, so do it a few times until you see “monster begins to flee!” to be sure it’s working. Using Elbereth I got a few steps ahead of the demon (important here, water demons can follow you on the stairs if they are next to you) and took one of the two stairs down that I had found exploring the level. It happened to lead to DL 3.

Two staircases on a level means a dungeon branch is there, and the first branch you find leads to the Gnomish mines. The mines are tough for a low level character too, so I’m glad to not be in them yet. Still being on DL 3 at level 1 with no pet isn’t a good feeling either, but backward is into the teeth of the demon so we are forging ahead. In the room with the stairs up is a fountain but this time I leave it alone. No use trying to outrun something when I don’t know where I’m running to.


A shop is here, but the shopkeeper has written in the dust “Closed for inventory” and the door is locked. Breaking in would only get me an angry shopkeeper and a quick zap with whatever offensive wand he was generated with as I have no money to pay for the broken door, so will come back later when an angry shopkeeper is not such a problem or I can enter without angering him. If I had access to a key, or a lockpick to unlock the door I could shop here normally.


Later in the level I find a wand, in the room with the downstairs. Wands can be useful items and an early offensive wand is a great weapon against mean monsters. So we will try to identify this one in a safe way, using a technique we already know… Engraving! The first step is to write something in the dust with our fingers again.


Once something is written on the ground already, engrave [E] again but this time with the wand. You may get a message that immediately identifies the wand or you may be prompted to continue with the engraving. Wands are fast engraving methods but just a single character addition is plenty. After engraving you may get another message that will help you identify the wand, or you will get no message. Unfortunately, I got no message for this wand, making it one of opening, locking, secret door detection, probing, undead turning or nothing. I’m not keen to keep using charges to identify it as it isn’t immediately useful so moving on after renaming it.


The rename command is a useful tool when trying to identify items the hard way. I use it a lot in the early game, the same as when the game prompted me to name the potion of confusion. This time I name the wand with it’s original description spiked, and a note that it had no engraving message.


The death of a goblin and a kobold zombie in this level mean I have raised to level 2 when I come to a room with a sink. It’s bad of me, but I’m feeling cheeky after the water demon back on DL 2 and think I may kick this one, to see if my luck is any better. It has to be after the demon right?


Kicking sinks is mostly more bad than good. You have the chance of finding a ring, or of wounding your leg from the kicking. An incubus or succubus can appear, the opposite of your sex. Or, a black pudding can ooze out of the drain and be a general pain due to it’s corrosion and splitting into multiple oozes.


The least useful result is the one I get, unlucky again. Puddings are slow, and I know I can’t kill this one at my level so I’m running once again. At least this time I don’t have to worry about it becoming invisible or throwing potions at me. I run off then continue exploring the level. A couple giant rats attack, and push me to low health before I best them. A nice feature of this port is that the highlight on your character changes color as your health falls, yellow around 50% and then red when low.


It’s a good reminder to wait and regain some health before wandering into trouble again. In the game you can regain health through spells if you are a spellcaster, or potions if you have identified healing potions (fruit juice also restores a bit of health). The most common way though is to wait, as health regenerates slowly every half dozen turns. The port has a button for searching you might have seen, the one labeled [20s] so I use that. The game stops you searching if a monster moves into view, or you hear something so it’s not terribly unsafe.

A room with a red mold sitting on a scroll is the last one I find on this level. Not finding anything else and worried about going further down at low levels I decide to head back up and then attempt the gnomish mines. Back on DL 2, I don’t see the demon (hah!) and make it to the stairs down without incident.

Tune in next time to hear about my travels among the little people, dark rooms and the joys of being an archaeologist. See you then!



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