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Marvin. I hate Marvin.
December 22, 2010 2:02 AM   Subscribe

"This ascension took 143 tries and was damn hard, I tell you. Look at the conducts if you are curious why."

A wishless genocideless polyitemless polyselfless illiterate atheist weaponless vegan (ascension) by marvin.
"Christian marvin Bressler, aka mrivan on nethack.alt.org, is an excellent player (currently his ascension percentage on nethack.alt.org is 81.4%), and he also maintains the Atari windowport."^

More humiliation is always available here.
posted by vapidave (51 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've ascended once. Took every trick and hint I could find to manage it. I'm familiar with all of the conduct restrictions, but it seems weird to refer to a monk who punches things as a pacifist. I understand never hit with a wielded weapon, and the vegan thing is impressive as hell. Still doesn't seem right.

Also, is this translated from something else?
posted by ericales at 2:12 AM on December 22, 2010


Um... that's nice, dear.

Oh, hang on, I understand the word Atari. Maybe the rest of it will become clear after I spend days googling.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:18 AM on December 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


OK, end of the year is coming again and I know I have spent another year with nothing really impressive to show for it - you don't need to rub it in.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:34 AM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


but it seems weird to refer to a monk who punches things as a pacifist
This wasn't a pacifist ascension, just a weaponless ascension.
posted by yeoz at 2:38 AM on December 22, 2010




what
posted by Aizkolari at 2:45 AM on December 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


wishless: Minor difficulty, most players can get by without it if they know what they're doing.
genocideless: Also minor, mostly used to get rid of a few particularly troublesome types. Liches, Black Dragons, Mind Flayers, Rust Monsters & Disenchanters. It can be useful to genocide mimics in special cases, mumaks in times of immediate peril in the early game. Still, not hard to do without.
polyitemless: So minor that I myself never polymorph items in a game.
polyselfless: Also very minor.
illiterate: This one is probably the star conduct in this game. You can't read spellbooks (moderate difficulty) or scrolls (high difficulty). You also cannot engrave anything other than a single 'x', which throws out Elbereth, although that's not really such a loss for a player of marvin's skill (he may be the best Nethack player there is).
athiest: This means no prayer (moderately hard), not praying for holy water (harder than you might think), no sacrificing for artifacts (a fairly big one, but artifacts aren't really required to win), and no curse-testing on altars (rather big, especially combined with illiteracy).
weaponless: This is mostly difficult if you're not a monk. If you are a monk, this is almost automatic.
vegan: exactly the same as weaponless; monks aren't supposed to eat meat, but get bonuses for being monks to make up for their no-meat, no-weapon limitations. Note that food rations, the #1 source of food in the game, are vegan.

In summary, athiest and illiterate supply most of the challenge.

Note this ascension post comes from 2001 so this isn't exactly news. Also, all you Baldur's Gate fans, may I please draw your attention to his character name....

It is weird to think that conducts, one of the most recent official additions to the game, was added in 2001. We are long overdue for a new Nethack release.

Glossary:
Gray dragon scales: Provides magic resistance, possibly the most important resistance in the game.
Eyes: Eyes of the Overworld, Monk quest artifact, also provides magic resistance.
mmf: Master Mind Flayer, an extraordinarily dangerous opponent in melee because their brain sucking attacks are more successful than ordinary mind flayers. With each successful suck an Int point is lost and, worse, some item identifications may be forgotten. If intelligence gets below 3 it's instant death.
Cockatrice corpse: Cocktrices turn things that touch them to stone. But if killed and then wielded (while wearing gloves) they become an extraordinarily effective melee weapon, although one not without a degree of danger to the wielder.
DLvl: Dungeon level
AC: Armor class. Nethack is one of the few remaining games to use the pre-3E convention for armor class, starting at 10 and counting down as it improves. Going below zero is not just a cosmetic difference in Nethack, as having AC lower than that also reduces damage taken. Monks are most effective when not wearing armor, hence marvin's very bad (for Nethack) AC through most of the game. When he's saying his AC is -2, most players will want to have around -40 at that time.
Holy water: Useful for uncursing and blessing items, great for getting out of trouble and making bad items useful. Since he's going illiterate, he can't read scrolls, and since he's going atheist he can't pray for curse removal or to make more holy water, it puts a limit on his curse removal. However, once you have one holy water you can make more by just dipping potions of ordinary water (up to as many as once as you have) into one potion of holy water, and there are ways to turn many other potions into water, which marvin probably relies upon.
Luckstone: Nethack maintains an invisible luck statistic for the player, which affects many things. One of the most noticeable results of having high luck is hitting more often in fights. Usually luck tends, over time, to return to a neutral value, most of the time zero, but with a luckstone this doesn't happen, allowing players to maintain very high luck scores over a long period of time. Note that the main method of gaining luck is sacrifice, although unicorns can also be used to max out luck.
=Lev: Ring of levitation, useful for getting past water and the elemental plane of Air
Master Kaen: Monk quest nemesis, widely regarded as the hardest of the various nemeses and among the most dangerous monsters in the game. In addition to hitting very very hard and being very fast, by carrying the Eyes of the Overworld he's also magic resistant.
Rodney: Nickname for the Wizard of Yendor. Carries the Book of the Dead, an essential tool for getting the Amulet of Yendor, the goal of the game. Once woken up, he'll harass the player periodically for nearly the rest of the game. A tough cookie.
Paying demons: Part of getting through Genhennom, the lower half of Nethack's main dungeon, is getting through the various demon lords in the way. Two of them the player can bribe to be let past instead of having to kill them. Although most players by this point won't have a lot of trouble killing them, money is almost useless at this phase of the game so many players bribe them anyway. In a high conduct game like this risks must be kept to a minimum, so bribing them was important in this game.
"oESP: Amulet of ESP
"oLS: Amulet of Life Saving, which resurrects the player once if he dies while it's worn, at the cost of destroying the amulet.
Elemental planes: The endgame, four special levels with highly unusual terrain.
Crystal ball: Tool used for searching through the level for specific items. In this game, it's used in the Elemental Planes to find the portal onward.
Astral plane: The final level, containing three high altars to the gods. One belongs to the player's god; offer the Amulet of Yendor on that one to win the game. This act is required to win the game, so it is not considered to break atheist conduct.
Air elementals: One of the most dangerous monsters since they engulf the player and are the fastest monster in the game, and thus get extra hits. One way out of them is to zap a wand of slow monster, which slows down the spinning vortex and expels the player.
/oSD: Wand of secret door detection. Almost worthless for 99% of the game, it suddenly comes into its own at the very end.
Jumping: A way to travel two or three spaces in one turn instead of one, thus allowing for much faster movement than otherwise. Usually requires special equipment.
posted by JHarris at 2:48 AM on December 22, 2010 [40 favorites]


You hear someone cursing people who are better than them at video games.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 2:49 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, all you Baldur's Gate fans, may I please draw your attention to his character name....

Aha! He must have had help from a miniature giant space hamster!
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:52 AM on December 22, 2010


The nerd is strong in this one.
posted by bardic at 2:55 AM on December 22, 2010


This is the second post in as many weeks where all I see is a login page for Google Groups. I'm not feeling very charitable today, so to hell with it.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:03 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


OK, got it. He mentioned pacifist in the first line and I thought that's what he was talking about the rest of the time, makes more sense now.
posted by ericales at 3:04 AM on December 22, 2010


malibustacey9999 for the yet to fall victim: hackem muche

The learning curve is initially steep and painful. And doesn't ease up much.

(JHarris above is knowledgeable and has an article here that should easily get you past level 5 or so.)
posted by vapidave at 3:05 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I once finished nethack.

Version 1.4f. Almost certainly the easiest version ever.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:12 AM on December 22, 2010


Damn, whatever happened to Asteroids?!?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:23 AM on December 22, 2010


I liked the part where he surfs through tough crowd inside a purple worm.
posted by Free word order! at 3:46 AM on December 22, 2010


I like this one:
"You were warned."
posted by joecacti at 3:50 AM on December 22, 2010


I once finished nethack.

Really? I finish Nethack all the time. In fact, I finished it about 5 times in the space of about an hour last night. Sometimes I finish it before I even make it to the mines.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:05 AM on December 22, 2010 [27 favorites]


I think this is what makes nethack so great; it looks like you're just moving an @ around the screen, but you are actually riding dragons, farming succubi, choking on your pet kitten, eating shrooms, slapping things with a chicken, being a gelatinous cube, ...
posted by Joe Chip at 5:02 AM on December 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I feel like many of you are playing some sort of joke on me. I'm a gamer, but I'm completely mystified. I read about a screen's worth of that and couldn't do any more without my eyes bleeding.
posted by Shike at 5:05 AM on December 22, 2010


Damn, whatever happened to Asteroids?!?

It's sitting about 6 feet from my desk. We really need to do something about that weird buzzing in the speaker...
posted by brennen at 5:06 AM on December 22, 2010


Hey guys, what is this?

*turns bag of holding inside out*
posted by loquacious at 5:10 AM on December 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah, nothing but a Google Groups login page for me either.
posted by dobbs at 5:32 AM on December 22, 2010


you are actually riding dragons, farming succubi, choking on your pet kitten, eating shrooms, slapping things with a chicken, being a gelatinous cube, ...

I don't know about you guys, but I'm set for dirty euphemisms through 2012 or so.
posted by No-sword at 5:36 AM on December 22, 2010 [20 favorites]


You know, I will always enjoy reading about NetHack about ten thousand times more than actually playing the damn thing.

Also, I totally knew that was JHarris writing even before I scrolled the twelve screens down to the username.
posted by griphus at 5:59 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, I will always enjoy reading about NetHack about ten thousand times more than actually playing the damn thing.

Yeah, NetHack is the EVE Online of computer games. Wait.
posted by The Bellman at 6:40 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love a good ascension. I love not having to be good enough or patient enough to manage one myself, as well.

In contemporary and less brain-crushing Roguelike news, I have also been enjoying the hell out of the super-compact Desktop Dungeons.
posted by cortex at 6:59 AM on December 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, NetHack is the EVE Online of computer games.

Wait, I thought that was Dwarf Fortress.
posted by tylermoody at 7:10 AM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, I will always enjoy reading about NetHack about ten thousand times more than actually playing the damn thing.

That's how I feel about Dwarf Fortress.

on preview: goddamnit tylermoody
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:24 AM on December 22, 2010


I've always thought that quote on the front page of nethack.org was darkly apt: "Thank you for the latest release of gradewrecker. My GPA just went in the corner and shot itself."
posted by Zozo at 7:38 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Since 2001, the art of multiconduct ascensions has progressed. The wiki has a page full of them: nethackwiki.com/Notable ascensions.

There are only 12 conducts. Marvin did 10. Thewumpus and Tenaya11 both achieved 11. I currently have a 12-conduct attempt sitting in the Castle.
posted by Tjr at 7:51 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


There hasn't been a single "event" to link to so I haven't tried making a post about this but, the Dwarf Fortress roguelike Adventure mode has *really* improved in the last 2 months. It's now a worthy game in its own right, and a unique take on the genre.
posted by keratacon at 8:20 AM on December 22, 2010


The zen ascensions (the entire game blindfolded) are astounding.
posted by kenko at 8:36 AM on December 22, 2010


I am filled with Hack envy. Wow.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:57 AM on December 22, 2010


I have also been enjoying the hell out of the super-compact Desktop Dungeons.

I have been hooked on that goddamn game. Although I must have the wiki tiled next to it whenever I play.
posted by griphus at 9:06 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I almost ascended once with a Valkyrie but managed to get myself killed right at the end of the Astral Plane. I almost burst into tears. There's probably something wrong with me that I'm willing to play a game for twenty years without winning once.

p.s. where the heck is the next release? It's been like seven or eight years now.
posted by octothorpe at 9:37 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought it might be something more along the lines of a truly scary ascension.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:10 AM on December 22, 2010


#, Keep at it. I finally ascended for the first time in 2006, after about 15 years of playing. I've done it half a dozen times since then. My first was a Samurai, then a Valkyrie, an Elven Priestess, and a Wizard. I had a Healer who was well on his way before a stupid death did him in.

I often take a multi-month break from the game, but find myself drawn back periodically.
posted by fings at 10:13 AM on December 22, 2010


I've ascended four times; Valkyrie, Samurai, Monk, and Wizard in that order. I played Nethack for about four years before my first ascension. I've moved on to Slash'Em, which is mostly just soul-grating; after about a year of playing, I'm working on my first character to make it to DL41, the previous 'best' being somewhere around 25. She wanders the dungeon slowly, in sheer terror of some hence-unknown instadeath lurking in the wings...

I've become a bit infamous amongst my friends for playing Nethack and Dwarf Fortress as my primary video game excursions... (though I haven't been playing DF lately because I felt like the hospitals stuff was a bit of a pain.) And I'll definitely be checking out that new version of DF mentioned upthread.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:32 AM on December 22, 2010


Tyr, feel free to tell us more! Which conducts? (Although with that many there are limited choices for conducts left out.)

With some notable exceptions, it's not conducts that are the problem but multiple conducts interacting with each other that make the game truly difficult. Foodless seems impossible until you discover the tricks behind it (pray for feeding, level teleport to get out of Genhennom for that, Ring of Slow Digestion, drinking from fountains, avoiding spell magic, polymorphing into your own race, finding alternate ways to gain intrinsics). Atheist isn't that bad either. But both on the same time means you can't pray for feeding, and that makes the game much more challenging. And yet, foodless atheist has been done before. There's also foodless athiest true-polyselfless, in whch the player survived almost entirely on wearing a ring of slow digestion and the miniscule nutrition provided by potions of fruit juice.

And then, just to go completely overboard, someone has won without even using those potions.

The main problem with the game now, it seems, is that the box of stupid ascension tricks is nearly exhausted. We've seen a lot less activity in that direction lately. A new version of Nethack could go a long way toward fixing that, but it's approaching a decade with no new version and the devteam, infuriatingly, has been mum as they always have been about the next version. Someone needs to tell them that this isn't the age of Usenet anymore and the game is no longer considered the top of the heap in terms of geek awesomeness quotient; Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft have since superseded it, and have done so partly by doing without the whole ultra-secrecy aspect, with much of their popularity coming from their creators' engagement with their fanbases.

By the way, please allow me to link to the new site for the Nethack Wiki, to help the NHW guys get Google to realize they have a new site so they can eventually let their Wikia site die. Oh also because it's awesome.
posted by JHarris at 10:59 AM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I found the link to Tyr's 12-conduct's attempt's list:

You have gone without food. (also counts as vegetarian and vegan)
You have been an atheist.
You have never hit with a wielded weapon.
You have been a pacifist.
You have been illiterate.
You have never genocided any monsters.
You have never polymorphed an object.
You have never changed form.
You have used no wishes. (includes no wishing for artifacts)
posted by JHarris at 11:15 AM on December 22, 2010


And then, just to go completely overboard, someone has won without even using those potions.

Holy crap.
posted by kenko at 11:31 AM on December 22, 2010


In related news, Ascii Dreams is running a vote for the best roguelike of 2010; you can choose from among 166(!) actively developed roguelikes. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and ToME currently seem to be the most popular choices.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:32 PM on December 22, 2010


Note: Nethack is not on the list as it hasn't had a release in years.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:35 PM on December 22, 2010


Monk is my favorite class in Nethack and I have never, ever ascended. The high-point of my time is Sokoban. Some friends and I have a server up for it. Nothing quite like playing 1ed D&D in a console! It's like a nerd banana split.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:44 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've considered starting up a Metafilter Nethack server, but don't think my connection is up for it.

Hmmm, maybe in one of those Amazon virtual machines...?
posted by JHarris at 3:47 PM on December 22, 2010


A new version of Nethack could go a long way toward fixing that

Agreed. I was kindof hoping that SporkHack would spark a revival on that front, or even snowball into the defacto heir, and I do think those patches have made the game fresher and more interesting, particularly for expert players. But I think the impact is probably focused there, as much as I respect the work, and also, watching the author discuss things with others on rgrn and some other venues leads me to believe a team isn't going to coalesce around him.

And the most interesting part of the game is still the first half.

I've considered starting up a Metafilter Nethack server

Sounds pretty cool to me.
posted by weston at 1:56 AM on December 23, 2010


Yeah, but I really don't know how to go about doing that. I've not done a lot of research in that direction, and I really shouldn't devote the time to it right now. Maybe in the future.
posted by JHarris at 4:23 AM on December 23, 2010


UnNetHack is a recently-forked version with "more randomness, more levels, more challenges and more fun," specifically aimed at increasing the difficulty for heavily-spoiled players of vanilla NetHack. At this, it succeeds extravagantly.
posted by Zozo at 7:38 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you haven't tried Stone Soup, you really need to. It's one of the few roguelikes where the devs actually seem to understand game design. They even remove features when it seems that they're superfluous. Imagine!
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:59 PM on December 23, 2010


Just use some of the existing nethack servers. The guys in #nethack on freenode can point you in the right direction.
posted by Joe Chip at 6:40 PM on December 23, 2010


Darn this thread. It got me to play this stupid game again. Currently a 12th level chaotic monk at the 17th level of the dungeon. I'm sure I'll do something fatally stupid soon.
posted by octothorpe at 7:45 AM on December 24, 2010


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