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[Comments] (14) Addicted to Nethack: Actually, addicted to Slash'EM, the Nethack variant. There are two main reasons. The first is that Slash'EM doesn't have nearly as much of Nethack's insane, dull near-endgame slog through the mazes of hell (literally). The second is the Doppleganger, a wondrous player-choosable species which has the ability to (expensively) self-polymorph at will and which gets intrinsic polymorph control at level 9. Thus making it more or less affordable for me to live out my ultimate Nethack fantasy of spending most of the game polymorphed into a xorn. "Walls? Where we're going we won't need... walls." Wheeeee!

Slash'Em also has a basilisk, which is a dream self-polymorph animal because it has the stoning powers of a cockatrice but it can also carry things. I don't know how they justify having a "basilisk" and a "cockatrice" be two different things, but I'm not complaining. There are other changes made to Slash'EM to balance out the ability to turn into a powerful monster more or less whenever you want, but I can deal with them. My point is, Slash'EM is a lot of fun.

I realize that I have two disjoint readerships of my weblog and that this entry makes absolutely no sense to one of them. Sorry.

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Posted by Jarno Virtanen at Sun Dec 05 2004 02:08

Slash'EM seemed, when I last played it, a bit rought at edges and more unbalanced than Nethack. I remember that the final battles were sort-of psychedelic and weird. Nethack somehow manages to stay "realistic" to the very end. But Slash'EM did have some thing to it, unique from Nethack, that was strangely addictive. (But, of course, Nethack is extremely addictive too.)

Posted by Ian Bicking at Sun Dec 05 2004 03:47

You need to write a program to make tasty basilisk recipes. For basilisks, or using basilisks? Either way, you are required to satisfy your readership thusly. Required, I say!

Posted by Brendan at Sun Dec 05 2004 10:09

Dude, basilisk and cockatrice have been separate entities since 1st Ed AD&D. Basiliks paralyze by gaze and look like big old lizards, and cockatrices are chicken/lizard hybrids that paralyze with a touch of the feathers on then ends of their long, flexible tails.

Posted by Leonard at Sun Dec 05 2004 11:24

What? I never saw a cockatrice in AD&D. [Goes to check] Huh, you're right, and I remember that weird medieval-looking cockatrice graphic. I was thinking of the quote in the Nethack (and Slash'EM) monster manual that calls them by the same name: "When it hatches, out comes a creature called basilisk, or cockatrice, the most deadly of all creatures."

Recipes made from basilisks would be difficult because you would have to be a basilisk yourself to survive eating them, which would be cannibalism. That said, I envision a crispy Kentucky Fried Basilisk. Recipes for basilisks would work as long as you made sure everything was dead, but I think basilisks just want to eat insects like other lizards.

Slash'EM does have some jarring aspects (there should never be a lightsaber in a non-sci-fi Roguelike), but not as much as the old Nethack--. I haven't gotten to the final battles yet. If it turns out you have to fight Darth Vader then that'll be over the line.

Posted by Susie at Sun Dec 05 2004 16:33

Which disjoint am I in?

Posted by Leonard at Sun Dec 05 2004 21:01

My guess would be the one that thinks it makes no sense.

Posted by Zack at Sun Dec 05 2004 21:21

At one point I was very fond of the Lethe patch, which directly addresses the problem of the near-endgame slog through the mazes of hell (literally) but does not add nearly as much other weird stuff as Slash'EM. It wasn't without its annoying bits, though. (A lot of the new monsters didn't add much of anything, and there were far too many ways to lose your memory or your armor/weapon enchantments.)

Since I never got good enough at Nethack (any variant) to reliably get to the endgame, and after some years of not playing it much at all I now can't even reliably survive the class quest, I resorted to source-diving ... and I don't see what it is Slash'EM did to make it more fun to play through hell. Could you elucidate?

Posted by Leonard at Sun Dec 05 2004 21:54

Slash'EM makes hell significantly shorter. Hell starts at about level 45 in Slash'EM versus level 25 in Nethack. I haven't made it all the way through hell yet so I don't know how deep it is. Ah, starting up in wizard mode shows that hell goes down to level 60 (versus 50 in Nethack), but that's still 5 fewer hell levels; and there are more special hell levels than in Nethack.

Posted by Zack at Sun Dec 05 2004 22:15

That's a perfectly sensible game-designer response to something being boring, but somehow it still feels like cheating to me. I approve, though. Those mazes were no fun. (When I was half-decent, I used to play wizards and make sure I knew magic mapping and detect treasure spells, and had both teleportitis and teleport control, before entering hell. Cast cast cast, blip blip pick up all the treasure, descend. Still boring but not tedious.)

Posted by Rachel at Mon Dec 06 2004 00:13

basilisk! it's just like in the chamber of secrets...

Posted by Factitious at Mon Dec 06 2004 01:03

The mazes don't bother me too much. I just dig through them. On some levels of it, I don't even bother checking to get all the treasure - once I find the stairs down, and dig a wide path to them, I'm done with the level.

Posted by Jarno Virtanen at Tue Dec 07 2004 00:00

Argh. I mixed up Slash'EM and ADOM in my mind. I have played Slash'EM too, of course, but what I had in my mind writing the comment was ADOM. I think.

Posted by Seth Schoen at Tue Dec 07 2004 13:43

I have never tried playing any non-vanilla NetHack -- nor ever ascended in vanilla NetHack. I guess I must implicitly subscribe to the cult of the Dev Team. I only hope that one day the Dev Team may accept some conceptual suggestion from me. Actually, I'm very keen on the thought of creating more NetHack encyclopedia entries. It feels like fewer than half of the entities in the game have their own encyclopedia entry, and that's a shame, because the encyclopedia is one of the most NetHack-like parts of NetHack.

I have only gotten into Gehennom twice and only gotten through it once. It was boring, but also scary. (Mysterious and ooky.) I think it's there to prevent things from getting too easy. If you are prone to carelessness, there are lots of traps for the unwary (and not just ^ traps). I would probably have liked it better if I had been playing a character that could cast a magic mapping spell, however.

Posted by Leonard at Tue Dec 07 2004 13:56

A lot of the newer Nethack features come from Slash'EM, so you might think of it as the farm team for Nethack features. If I wrote a Nethack feature I think I'd rather try to get it into Nethack via promotion in Slash'EM than just send it into the inscrutable inbox of the Dev Team.

It would be awesome to have a project to fill in the gaps in the Nethack database. The database reminds me a lot of the library in Degeneracy, except in Degeneracy I could just make everything up instead of finding quotes.

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