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Basic Information

What is NetHack?
NetHack is a single player dungeon exploration game that runs on a wide variety of computer systems, with a variety of graphical and text interfaces all using the same game engine. Unlike many other Dungeons & Dragons-inspired games, the emphasis in NetHack is on discovering the detail of the dungeon and not simply killing everything in sight - in fact, killing everything in sight is a good way to die quickly. Each game presents a different landscape - the random number generator provides an essentially unlimited number of variations of the dungeon and its denizens to be discovered by the player in one of a number of characters: you can pick your race, your role, and your gender.

For information on running the program see the README that comes with each copy.

For details on the game itself, see the Guidebook.

When will the next version be released?
When it's ready. We don't announce schedules so we don't miss deadlines :-)
Where do I find out about new versions?
Here, or on USENET:
Read rec.games.roguelike.announce on your local news server.
For more information, see our USENET information page.
What is the current version?
3.4.3
Where do I get it?
NetHack 3.4.3 can be obtained from our downloads page or by ftp from in .
What does it cost?
Nothing - NetHack is free software. While there is no monetary cost associated with it, NetHack is not in the public domain. Please see our license for details.
Where can we discuss NetHack?
The best place to discuss NetHack is on USENET:
Read rec.games.roguelike.nethack on your local news server.
The newsgroup has a FAQ maintained by Dylan O'Donnell.
How do I contact the developers?
See our contacts page.

Common Questions

Can I use my old save files and bones files with the new version?
Almost always no, but see the release information for each version to be sure. These files contain information from the internal structures of the game, and these almost always change between versions.

You can use save and bones files from 3.4.0, 3.4.1 and 3.4.2 with 3.4.3 (details are in the release notes).
(This information applies to 3.4.2 as well as 3.4.1 and 3.4.0.)

You cannot use save or bones files from any previous version with 3.4.x.

Can I share my bones files with my friends?
Maybe. If you are using the same version of NetHack, compiled with the same options, on the same kind of operating system, with the same compiler, it will probably work; if any of these differ, it definitely won't.

My game crashed and I've got all these files ending in a number lying around. Can I get my game back?
Maybe. See the documentation for your version and look for either a recover program or a recover option to NetHack.
Why is it called NetHack if it's a single player game that doesn't use the net?
The "Net" in NetHack refers to the way the developers, many of whom have never met in person, organize the work on the program.
How about a multi-player version?
See Things we are NOT doing.
I kicked a chest, and "heard a muffled shatter" but didn't find any broken glass. What happened?
We don't keep track of dungeon rubbish.
How do I get a "-" in a player name?
Sorry, you can't.
I changed alignment and saved the game. When I restored I was greeted with my original alignment but the status line shows the new alignment.
This is not a bug.

MacOS Information

Will NetHack continue to be supported for Classic MacOS?
Yes.

Things we are NOT doing

Are you porting NetHack to Android?
No. Someone apparently has, but we have nothing to do with it.
Are you porting NetHack to Java?
No. "Porting" to Java would actually be a complete rewrite, and we have no interest in that. There is no Java applet window port either.
Are you porting NetHack to Palms?
No. Other people who've written in with information about them lead us to believe that it won't work on most models, but the largest ones *might* be able to run it, if someone wrote bridge code adapting some major NetHack assumptions. The UI would actually be the easy part -- that's split off from the rest of the code anyway. The hard part is that Palms have only memory (no disk) and a very limited heap, while NetHack is designed to run in low memory conditions by writing everything not used to disk and likes to keep those varying-but- often-large numbers of monsters and objects in the heap. A couple people have gone off to look at the exact constraints, but we haven't heard anything to suggest that actual porting has started, let alone successfully finished. Aside from advising such people on NetHack internals, and merging their port code back in should such ever appear, we have no plans in that area. Some people may be making progress.
Has anyone ever thought that multiplayer NetHack would be a neat idea?
(Sigh.) Yes, at least a couple hundred people. We think you can't do that in a playable way without compromising the basic idea of being able to think as long as you want about what you're doing, but many people have made many different suggestions as to the one obvious way to handle things. If you still like the idea, you can try Crossfire, a multiplayer roguelike for UNIX/X11. Other games to check out are MAngband and Diablo.
Why don't you add Glamdring/Mournblade/etc.? After all, you have Orcrist/Stormbringer/etc., so you must have just overlooked the others!
Yes, but the new names would be just like the old ones, and wouldn't add anything new to the game. We try to make new things add new choices instead of adding absolutely everything we can find. (Believe it or not. :-)
Why don't you add this new role? I've come up with ideas for a leader, nemesis, and artifact, so it should be trivial for you to name all their experience levels and implement the new abilities and design appropriate quest levels for them and write pages of new quest text to cover every situation and then manage to differentiate the new role from the existing ones when outside the quest levels.
We're still trying to get the existing roles differentiated.
Could you include an "easy" option?
That's what explore mode is for!
How about prompting the player before they break a #conduct?
No. The whole point of #conduct is that you are avoiding the kinds of actions that lead to violations.
Why don't you add this new conduct? I'm sure it would be interesting.
It isn't feasible to track everything that could possibly be tracked in the game. You are quite free to engage in the conduct you desire, but we are not planning on rolling too many more conducts into the official sources.
Hey, how about a first-person shooter version (like Doom)?
Sorry, that would be a very different game, and we like working on this one.
Why don't you use self-extracting files to distribute NetHack?
Generally, our porting teams don't use self-extracting archives for several reasons. First, they add to the size of the binary; considering the number of platforms we support times the number of old versions that we try to keep, the extra size adds up. Second, practically every platform today comes with de-archiving tools (or good tools can be obtained for free), so there is no need to make distributions self-extracting. Third, relying on self-extracting archives is a bad habit for users; it is very easy to fool a user into running a "trojan horse" program. It is much better to distribute software in a well-recognized archival format, where the contents can be inspected before expanding.

Y2K Statement

Is NetHack version 3.4 Y2K compliant?
Yes, all since 3.2.3 have been Y2K compliant.
What about earlier versions?
NetHack 3.2.2 and earlier versions are not Y2K compliant (the score file used 2 digit years and will be corrupted if added to after the year 1999).

Game Documentation

Guidebook.html
How to play NetHack (html).
Guidebook.pdf
How to play NetHack (pdf).
Guidebook.ps
How to play NetHack (postscript).
Guidebook.txt
How to play NetHack (ASCII).
nethack.txt
The Unix manual page for NetHack.
recover.txt
The Unix manual page for the recover utility.
dlb.txt
The Unix manual page for the dlb utility. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.
dgn_comp.txt
The Unix manual page for the dungeon compiler. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.
lev_comp.txt
The Unix manual page for the level compiler. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.

Old (out-of-date) Information

3.4.0 Game Documentation

Guidebook.html
How to play NetHack (html).
Guidebook.pdf
How to play NetHack (pdf).
Guidebook.ps
How to play NetHack (postscript).
Guidebook.txt
How to play NetHack (ASCII).
nethack.txt
The Unix manual page for NetHack.
recover.txt
The Unix manual page for the recover utility.
dlb.txt
The Unix manual page for the dlb utility. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.
dgn_comp.txt
The Unix manual page for the dungeon compiler. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.
lev_comp.txt
The Unix manual page for the level compiler. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.

3.4.1 Game Documentation

Guidebook.html
How to play NetHack (html).
Guidebook.pdf
How to play NetHack (pdf).
Guidebook.ps
How to play NetHack (postscript).
Guidebook.txt
How to play NetHack (ASCII).
nethack.txt
The Unix manual page for NetHack.
recover.txt
The Unix manual page for the recover utility.
dlb.txt
The Unix manual page for the dlb utility. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.
dgn_comp.txt
The Unix manual page for the dungeon compiler. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.
lev_comp.txt
The Unix manual page for the level compiler. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.

3.4.2 Game Documentation

Guidebook.html
How to play NetHack (html).
Guidebook.pdf
How to play NetHack (pdf).
Guidebook.ps
How to play NetHack (postscript).
Guidebook.txt
How to play NetHack (ASCII).
nethack.txt
The Unix manual page for NetHack.
recover.txt
The Unix manual page for the recover utility.
dlb.txt
The Unix manual page for the dlb utility. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.
dgn_comp.txt
The Unix manual page for the dungeon compiler. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.
lev_comp.txt
The Unix manual page for the level compiler. Only interesting if you want to know how NetHack works on the inside.

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NetHack is Copyright 1985-2003 by Stichting Mathematisch Centrum and M. Stephenson. See our license for details.
This site is Copyright 1999-2011 by Kenneth Lorber, Kensington, Maryland.