Posted by: shatteredblog | January 15, 2013

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


It’s dark. So dark I can’t see beyond arms length in any direction. Stumbling around in the dark is always fun of course, but in the mines you have to worry about the short people hiding in the shadows… and they have infravision so they can see you just fine!

I wander slowly a few paces from the stairs up and let the gnomes come. A pack of them gains me another level, and after a bit more wandering I get a most welcome message.


NetHack is an RPG at heart, and weapons and spellcasting all use skills to judge how effective and likely you are to use them correctly. Each class is proficient in a different set of skills, and can never become proficient  in others. I mentioned before that Archaeologists are able to advance pickaxe to Expert making the dwarven mattock a very useful weapon for a long while, and seeing this message is the first step toward that. As you use a weapon or class of spell you gain experience with it, and crossing a threshold means you can advance the skill to the next level, from Unskilled -> Basic -> Skilled -> Expert. Monks have an additional two levels beyond expert for their martial arts skill. You use the command Enhance to advance these.


Here I’ve already advanced my pickaxe skill to Skilled. The reason this doesn’t happen automatically is because each time you advance a skill it consumes a number of skill slots, which you gain one per level as you level. When a skill is available to be advanced it will be highlighted, and skills you’ve reached the maximum level for your class will be marked with a *.

Continuing my wanderings around the dark cavern, I bump into an orc mummy. The undead is no great challenge thanks to my swift mattock skills.

T2271The mummy dropped a corpse and his wrapping as you can see. Corpses dropped by undead monsters are not good for eating, as they are already old and rotten when you kill the monster. There is one type of undead that is an exception to this rule; the wraith, whose corpse will level you up if you can manage to eat it quickly before it disappears completely. In general though, remember which corpses are undead monsters and don’t eat or tin them. The mummy wrapping is a cloak item, and is useful if you happen to be invisible and need to go shopping. A shopkeeper will not allow an invisible character into the shop normally, but wearing a mummy wrapping will render you visible “Invisible Man” style. They aren’t rare though, and I have a cloak so I’m leaving this one here.

Further wanderings and more monsters. I have a bit of trouble with a raven that blinds me with its attacks, and my already rusty cursed helmet is hit by a rust trap and becomes very rusty. The traps in the upper levels of the mines tend to not be as bad as in lower levels, but corroded equipment is never a welcome sight. Wish I had a can of grease to protect things with.


Eventually the stairs down come into view. Perhaps on the next floor there will be a light source I can use to make a level like this one less painful. I take the stairs, and starting in a room with a corridor is a giveaway that I’ve found the town in the mines.

Minetown is the only guaranteed source of shops in the game, and in many (including this one) the first altar you will find. It’s a boon to reach the level but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a safe haven, as complacency will lead to tragedy. I wander to the next room and am confronted by yet another dwarf.


Watching monsters is a good way to find out about the dungeon. We’ve already seen monsters using potions and how you can find out what they are from watching the effects. You can also easily see if a weapon is cursed by watching a monster wield it. I kill him for his trouble, but not before thanking him for the lesson.


Minetown has its own set of rules and a patrol of watchmen led by a captain to enforce them. You can’t break down or lockpick doors without angering the guards, and if you dip or quaff from the fountains here they will also attack. They aren’t here to protect you for monsters, and a misstep means they will join in the monsters in putting an end to your adventuring career.

Next time, I’ll continue exploring Minetown, see what shops I was lucky enough to get and talk a little about item identifying. Might even be a monster or two. See you then!


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