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Nethack Adventures Issue #2: Argento searches for his loyal steed, Bava

Nethack Adventures is an episodic series which will cover the escapades, missteps and inevitable death of a character. The current incarnation of my eternal champion is Argento, a level 1 knight.

This is the second entry in the series, if you have time, I wholeheartedly encourage you to check out the first entry which includes some background information on Nethack. You can find it here: Part 1

Like last time, some parts of the post will be written from the character's in game perspective and will be in the style of an ultra cheesy fantasy novel. These sections will be in italics and easy to distinguish from the rest of the column. I insist you imagine them being read by the legendary Dr. Ronald Chevalier to get the full effect.

Previously on Nethack Adventures: Argento and his pony Bava, had just made it to the second level of the dungeon. Argento had not gone far when suddenly he was transported to an unfamiliar area within the dungeon. There he found himself surrounded by monstrous grid bugs. Bava, his faithful companion, was no where to be found.

Nethack Adventures Issue 2: The Search for Bava

When last we saw Argento he had just stumbled into a dire predicament. The righteous knight had been unexpectedly teleported to a remote part of the infernal dungeon and now was forced to defend himself against two enormous insects mysteriously known only as Grid Bugs.

Initially, the battle did not go well; Argento disorientated from his uninvited transference, swung wildly at one of the bugs and missed completely. Both bugs instantly took advantage of the awkward posture that followed his swing and zapped the warrior violently.

At this point Argento has lost two of his 16 hitpoints. In most RPG's losing 2 hitpoints is probably akin to breaking a fingernail. But in the early stages of Nethack, when some of the most inconsequential things can instantly kill you, those 2 hitpoints are vital; less like breaking a nail and more like losing an arm.

However, one thing I learned about Grid Bugs from past experience is this; they are total lightweights. They are the Glass Joe's of Nethack, that easily stomped Goomba from the opening screen of Super Mario brothers. The challenge they present is about equivalent to opening a jar. Sometimes you open that sucker up in one shot, other times it takes a bit of struggling but you always eventually get it in the end and barring any incredible circumstances (such as: someone wired the jar to explode when opened) you will probably win at this task without causing any significant harm to yourself.

The previous sentence was an effort to present the most awful analogy imaginable, now that I have (intentionally?) succeeded at reaching that low point, continue onwards with the knowledge that this blog can only improve.

Most readers are probably thinking: "But Lazaro didn't you make them out to be these monstrous unstoppable beasts in your last blog post? You kept us waiting for this bullshit? What kind of hack (shitty pun intended) writer are you!?" Ok, you got me. I'll admit it, I embellished a bit for the sake of an awesome cliffhanger. But I promise the next few tidbits will make up for all of my evil (yet you must admit, entertaining) exaggerations.

Lets find out a bit more about grid bugs, shall we?

You will notice that they zapped me. Hmm but what kind of bug zaps? Maybe they share some of the characteristics of a lightning bug, an insect which projects light from it's anal region in order to attract possible mates. I'd imagine a Grid Bug would be like a gigantic, wingless Lightning bug that shoots thunderbolts from it's asshole. So basically it kicks ass by farting electricity. I decided to check out WikiHack to see how great my powers of deductive reasoning are.

Wickihack's description states: "Grid bugs are one of the weakest monsters. They are nothing to worry about once you pass level 2. They usually deal no damage at all, unless they manage to zap you as well ("You get zapped!"), and even then the damage is very small, thus the only real damage is when they have you cornered (for example in a corridor) next to a more powerful monster. They never leave corpses. Grid bugs are unique in that they cannot move or attack diagonally. Their electric attack does not break your rings and wands unless they are higher level than zero."

Ok, I can see I was spot on in my assessment of how weak they are but that doesn't do much to explain WHAT they are. However, get ready for your face to melt, at the very end of the entry we get the following awesome line which makes this whole digression worth it: "The concept of grid bugs came from the 1982 Disney film, Tron."

Holy shit! Turns out a Grid Bug is actually the personification of a computer bug/glitch in the Tron universe. So not only are you fighting a monster from one of the coolest 80's Sci-Fi movies, you are also fighting the meta-representation of a 'computer bug' or 'glitch' within the game itself. How awesome is that? Nethack is full of amazing clever references and hidden Easter eggs like this. The fact that random humorous asides like this exist buried within the game says a lot about it's quirky personality; discovering them is just one of the many small things I've grown to love about the game.

Hopefully that astounding fact was enough for readers to forgive my fake cliffhanger. Lets, get back to Argento and see how he makes out against these two wimpy grid bugs.

Turns: 399-593
Note: Sometimes, I will put the specific number of a turn in parentheses within the description of the event

Argento regained his composure and swiftly swung his long sword easily splitting one of the gridbugs in half. The other one arched its body and shot out a small ray of light. Argento sidestepped it easily, and cleaved it to pieces with his next swing. The knight stopped for a moment to catch his breath and then scanned his surroundings. "Where am I? What Happened?" these were the obligatory questions he asked himself as his eyes ran along the perimeter of the small room, spotting a doorway in the distance and some stairs heading downwards nearby. Instantly his thoughts turned to his missing steed, "Bava, you ridiculous mule, you better keep yourself alive until I can find you."

After both bugs are eliminated (400) I make my way towards the other room where I find 27 pieces of gold. I know I am still on level 2 but the entire area seems unmapped. It's possible that whatever transported me hit me with an amnesia spell which would cause me to lose all memory of previously discovered areas and render them all black on the map screen. Either way, I have to find my way to Bava as quickly as possible. I decide to ignore the stairs to level 3 for now and find my way back to wherever I came from.

Two things can happen to pets if left on their for some time, both of them bad.

The first is that every turn I take, there is the potential for Bava to find himself in battle with a beast and there is a high chance that he can die. Pets are a very powerful and useful tool, especially during the early game, so losing him now would do a lot to make things harder for me in the long run. The fact that my character is a knight, who can ride a saddled pony later on to increase his speed is an added incentive.

The second bad outcome is that Bava can become feral if no one is around to feed him. If this happens, then he will no longer recognize me as his master and when we meet again he will attack me. Feral pets are pretty damn dangerous, especially if they leveled up alongside you. Bava is still level one like me so he will probably not be too fearsome; still, I grow attached to my pets and it sucks to have to fight them. Luckily, it takes a while for pets to go feral and I still have all of the apples and carrots I started with - so it's highly unlikely that he'll turn against me and I can try to bribe him back to my side with some food in the rare case that he does.

Non-Stop Secret Door Action!:

I notice that the room I am currently in has no exits aside from the where I entered. This means I have to spend some time searching the walls for a way out. If I was playing on a PC I would hit the 's' key to spend one turn searching, but this doesn't always produce results, you have to search a certain tile multiple times before you can know for sure whether or not the wall contains a secret door. Luckily the iPhone interface simplifies this with a handy '20s' key (you can see it on the lower left hand corner in the screenshots) which automatically searches a tile 20 times. I spend a whole lot of time walking from tile to tile and searching the walls (429-593) but I find nothing.

On turn 593 I receive a message: "You hear the footsteps of a guard on patrol." From previous experiences, I think the message means there is a special room, like a vault or throne room, on this floor. I'll give a more detailed explanation of both in the future, but for the moment it will suffice to say that both rooms usually contain a shitload of useful items and are guarded by a small army of monsters. Instead, I'll just present you with a a turn by turn account of the most exciting thing to ever occur in the game of Nethack.

594 - Argento searches a wall and finds nothing.

595 - Argento searches the wall next to it and finds nothing

596 - Argento searches the wall and - wait whats that, on the floor he reaches down to grab a nugget of what appears to be gold...but the yellowish substance crumbles in his hands leaving behind a putrid odor. "Shit!" Argento jumps back and wipes his hands off on his armor.

597 - Argento searches a wall by punching it and finds nothing

598 - Argento searches a wall by banging his head against it in frustration. Finds nothing.

599 - Argento cries... as he searches another wall. Guess what he found. Nothing.

I'm sure you're thinking "Holy shit, what I am doing playing games like Red Dead Redemption when I could be searching walls in Nethack. I didn't know games could be like this! Wow! I'm gonna go download Nethack and go feel up on some walls right away!"

Of course, you want me to go on with a in-depth blow by blow account of my wall searching exploits but for expediencies sake and also for the reader's physical safety (because continuing with the discussion would surely be so action packed that it will make your brain explode from sensory overload) I'll just skip a few turns ahead. After all, I want my readers alive to witness this next accomplishment.

Turns: 600-623

Argento is still searching walls. Finds nothing. (BAM! Brain melted!)

Turns: 624-699

Finally a motherfucking wall... I mean doorway!(624)

I enter and follow the passage which after some time leads me (653) to another empty room. I discover another passage in the north end of the room. I have my knight slip past a boulder in the passageway and then unexpectedly he comes face to face with a horrendous ugly faced red skinned humanoid. A goblin!

The goblin sneered, raised his blood-colored arm backwards and powerfully swung a gnarled blunt wooden club at Argento. Argento made a desperate attempt to maneuver out of the way but found his movements too sluggish and the passage too narrow for any effective footwork. The club smashed with a brutal force against his rib cage, the armor absorbed some of the blow's might but the knight momentarily felt the ominous sensation of drowning as the wind slipped out of his lungs. Argento then out of pure will and instinct managed to find the power kick at the creature, missing it entirely but creating some distance between them. Then like a mirage the image of walls, and how they mocked him for hours as he searched them for a doorway, filled his minds eye. Almost instantly, anger rushed into his blood - pure fury and outrage engulfed him and those forces reached into his soul and took control of his blade. He impulsively poked it forward skewering the goblin then stabbed his sword continuously into the cretin's stomach area and slid it around until he felt goblin's life drain away completely. With the goblin's life, so too did the fury recede and Argento slowly slid the sword out of the fiends belly and with it came it's intestines which dropped to the floor accompanied by grotesque squish sound. The knight uttered a silent prayer and then wiped his sword clean. He muttered indignantly to himself as he continued onward, "I detest secret doors."

The fight with the goblin left me with 13/16 hit-points but in the end I managed to get the drop on him with two decent blows which followed a duo of misses (662). I decide to press forward, but do so carefully until I regain my health. I follow the path to another room and bump into two Newts (672), I kill them easily and take the time to eat one of the corpses.

I follow another passage leading out of the room and come to a closed door. I open it and am greeted by none other than...

...my faithful pony BAVA! THERE YOU ARE BUDDY!(699) He waited for me in the room all this time. I'm so happy to see him that I toss him an apple and he catches the sucker and munches it down. In that screenshot you can also see an odd symbol near the center of the room. As you probably guessed that symbol is most likely the trap that transported me to the other end of the dungeon.

I walk over to it and hit the ';' to inspect it and sure enough the description reveals it to be a "teleportation trap." The mystery is officially solved.

What better place to end this week's Nethack Adventure then here when things are at their brightest. Argento and Bava are reunited and surely we can all agree that it's a happy ending, but this is Nethack and no victory is absolute; this is a game that loves tearing players down to pieces right when they are at the height of their confidence. Will our heroes prevail against all odds and complete their quest? Will they even make it out of level two alive? Tune in next time when Argento has to face one of the most banal yet mightiest obstacles found within Nethack, the ever present and pervasive feeling of 'hunger.'

As always, any comments, questions or suggestions on how I can improve this series are much appreciated so if you have some time please leave some feedback.
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About Lazaro Cruzone of us since 4:32 PM on 11.19.2008

Email: Lazaro.Cruz00(at)gmail(dot)Com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LazaroCruz


A Fistful of Lists:

Now Playing:

Recently Demolished:

Short List of Shame:(Some of the games I really need to play ASAP)
Half Life 2
System Shock 2
The Ultima Series
Shadow of the Colossus
Deus Ex

Stuff I have recently spent my $$$ on but haven't played:

JRPG's I've Known and Loved:
Phantasy Star (not the shitty multiplayer games)
Suikoden I-III
Dragon Warrior
Final Fantasy

Western RPG's that enthralled me:
Baldur's Gate Series
Planescape Torment
Pools of Radiance
Might and Magic Series
The Elder Scrolls Series

PSN ID:Melquidas


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