NetHack – free Dungeons and Dragons-style adventure game

NetHack is a wonderfully silly, yet quite addictive Dungeons and Dragons-style adventure game. The “net” element references that its development has been coordinated through the Internet. The “hack” element refers to a genre of role-playing games known as hack and slash for their focus on combat.

In NetHack you play the part of a fierce fighter, wizard, or any of many other classes, fighting your way down to retrieve the Amulet of Yendor (try saying THAT one backwards!) for your god. On the way, you might encounter a quantum mechanic or two, or perhaps a microscopic space fleet, or — if you’re REALLY lucky — the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

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.

NetHack is an intricate and difficult game. Novices might falter in fear, aware of their ignorance of the means to survive. Your dungeon comes equipped with an “explore” or “discovery” mode that enables you to keep old save files and cheat death, at the paltry cost of not getting on the high score list.

Features include:

  • 45-50 levels, most of which are randomly generated.
  • Variety of items: weapons, armour, scrolls, potions, rings, gems, and an assortment of tools such as keys and lamps.
  • Blessings and curses.
  • Permadeath: expired characters cannot be revived without having made backup copies of the actual save files.
  • Interfaces:
    • Console.
    • Graphical, using X, Qt toolkit or GNOME libraries.

Support: Guidebook
Developer: The NetHack DevTeam
License: NetHack General Public License


NetHack is written in C. Learn C with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

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