- $10,234, AC -5, Str 18/98, Exp 13
- +2 long sword, +1 bow, +5 splint mail, +3 shield, 30 +0 arrows
- Ring of poison resistance
- Ring of +2 increase damage
- Wand of digging, 2 wands of fire
- Potion of monster detection, 2 potions of levitation, potion of object detection
- 2 scrolls of remove curse, scroll of genocide
- 12 food rations
Attempt 1:Finally - I killed a demon! Shortly after this feat, a trapdoor dumped me down to level 26, where my luck didn't quite repeat itself - a xan pricked me, forcing me to juggle around my inventory to be combat effective again, and as I did this, two demons spawned on either side of me. I beat them - barely - and the xan, presumably laughing its thorax off, pricked me again and finished me off.
A solo demon went down without too much trouble yet again. I decided to press my luck and keep descending without saving or exploring the levels.
On level 26, I found a wand that turned out to be a wand of polymorph! I struggled to find the exit, and wasted a bunch of wand of digging charges looking for it. But eventually I found the stairs - hidden underneath a small pile of gems that I couldn't lift.
On level 27, the maze, I drank my potion of object detection.
Up in the right-hand corner - an amulet! Could it be?
Monster detection showed what I was in for:
No demons - yet anyway.
Sadly, my wand of digging only had one charge, so I had to explore the majority of the maze before finding the amulet. There's a lot of stuff in here too - some of the stuff that occurred:
- A scroll of enchant armor vaporized my already over-enchanted splint mail. Thankfully, I found some more splint mail soon after, but still, this was a blow.
- A scroll of enchant weapon finally upgraded my sword a bit.
- I found a wand of sleep, though for the time being I used my wand of fire to deal with the tougher monsters.
- A nymph stole my ring of +2 damage.
- Multiple teleport traps took me in weird directions and I am pretty sure I skipped some of the maze this way. One boulder got teleported this way too.
- I discovered that with my ring of poison resistance, I could eat poisonous corpses.
Eventually, I made my way to the amulet's location.
Well, damn. What do I do? Polymorphing the boulder didn't work, and I was out of digging charges. Nothing I tried worked, not even stripping down, dropping everything and squeezing through, which the wiki said works in Nethack. So I quit and reloaded back to level 25.
The random maze generator was on my side as I quickly descended to the maze on level 27.
Seeing dragons with my potion of monster detection, I genocided them right away, and dealt with a handful of weak monsters as I mapped out enough maze to get to the amulet, and also picked up a normal helmet along the way. Sure enough, it was underneath a boulder again.
This time I was prepared with a mostly full wand of digging. I moved around to the north, dug south, and pushed.
Yes! Except - immediately after taking it, a boulder fell on my head.
|Great, but what if I hadn't found one at the last moment?
I made my way back to the surface, using the rest of the charges on the wand of digging to create shortcuts as much as possible - why take chances now? I didn't stop to fight, I didn't bother picking up any valuables from my stash - I just kept going. Nothing particularly noteworthy happened as I climbed up the 27 staircases to freedom.
|Nor after it, really.
GAB rating: Above average. This already feels a lot more like a Nethack prototype than Fenlason's Hack, which was basically Rogue with more stuff in it, though the seeds of Nethack's persistent levels and complex gameplay were already planted. Where I reached the end of Fenlason's Hack feeling like I saw just about everything, I finished Brouwer's feeling like I could keep playing for months and still not discover all of its depths.
But Brouwers' Hack, at least at this version, feels unfair. Granted, Rogue wasn't fair, but Rogue was simple enough that you could play fairly quickly and get enjoyment out of launching a new game and seeing how deep you can get before you die. Hack is slower, more complex, and you really don't want to die and start over, which makes it all the more frustrating when you do and feel like there wasn't anything you could have done about it.
Maybe I'm the one being unfair. After all, I openly savescummed - perhaps I just never learned to play properly. Maybe if you don't have that crutch, you learn how to get out of jams or avoid them altogether. That's how Nethack is supposed to work, as I understand it. But Brouwer's Hack just feels disinclined to give you things - I didn't even find a store until I was 19 levels deep - and then you die because you didn't have stuff. Starvation was a big problem early on, putting you at the mercy of the dungeon generator's willingness to spawn edible food and/or nutritious corpses, and throughout the whole run it really felt like so many of Hack's monsters can only be out-muscled or beaten/evaded with very specific magic toys, and if the game spawns something you aren't equipped to fight or flee from, you die. Starvation wasn't nearly as big a problem in Fenlason's where you can buy food, and although combat was unforgiving, Fenlason's Hack was far more generous with strength-boosting and level-boosting opportunities and magic tricks, and magic seemed more effective in general as well (e.g. scrolls of confusion actually worked).
Interestingly, there are a number of features in Fenlason's Hack that did not make their way to Hack 1.01. I should re-iterate that what I played, "hack121," is not completely authentic; Fenlason's original is lost, and we just have it on NetHack Wiki's word that the "hack121" DOS port, which may have been compiled as late as 2001, is as close as we'll get.
- A shop at the beginning of the game where you can buy starting gear, including cheap food. If nothing else, this greatly eases the initial problem of hunger.
- Torches and lanterns, which you must keep lit with oil and tinderboxes or be effectively blind, as in Moria.
- Mirror items for defeating cockatrices
- Cross items, though I never found out their purpose
- Commands to view items in the room, to query your weight carried/limit, and hunger levels.
- Magic detection of monsters/gold/objects persists. In Hack 1.01 the effect goes away as soon as you make a move.
- Multi-use scrolls.
- Rooms painted in strange, mood-affecting colors. I could not figure out what gameplay purpose they serve.
- Rooms with flammable gas traps and rooms with crushing wall traps.
- A whole assortment of monsters that I never saw any equivalent of in Hack 1.01, like pickpockets, ghosts, floor fiends, guards, arguses, and energars.
- Non-permanent strength-draining effects
- An endgame where guards infinispawn after you collect the magic orb until you escape the dungeon or die.
Brouwer's Hack has too many new features to list, but the biggest are class selection, the pet dog, and necrophagia. But that there are so many mutually exclusive features makes me further question just how accurate hack121 is to the original. Were these features removed by Brouwer? Were they added into hack121 later? Maybe Brower's Hack was based on an incomplete build? Or maybe Kneller's DOS port is missing more than he admits? I may never know, but I think I will be revisiting Hack in the years to come.