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Thou art arrogant, mortal!: A million years ago, I made an offhand comment about the theology of Nethack. The thing I was thinking of was the weird conception Nethack has of atheism, which it doesn't distinguish from theism that doesn't want any divine intervention. But another part of it is a gameplay problem common to adventure games: your character has a powerful backer who has a lot invested in your success, yet who sometimes acts against that interest in the name of a less compelling interest, like greed or aggravation.

The stereotypical example of this is the shopkeeper who wrings his hands and says "You must save Freedonia!" and then tries to nickel-and-dime you on the beef jerky you're trying to buy so you can freaking save Freedonia! I've often felt Nethack deities were acting the same way: look, do you want me to get the Amulet of Yendor or not? Then give me a hand, stop me from turning to stone!

That's why I wrote this songgame: What Fools These Mortals. It lets you simulate being the deity in a game of Nethack. The unexpected thing was, while writing the game, I actually figured out why the Nethack gods are so capricious: it's a lot more fun to smite the player than to help them out, and they're probably just going to die anyway, so why not? This also explains the attitude of the shopkeeper: he's seen heroes come and go, and if he gave beef jerky discounts to everyone he'd go out of business (I don't know why the shopkeeper's financial affairs are persistent across games, when nothing else is, but maybe not all the heroes are you).

Anyway, try out the game; it's got some fun stuff. The code is a mess, but it should be easy to hack if you're so inclined.


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