generic title #173
August 21, 2006 11:51 AM   Subscribe

I've started playing Nethack, and I'm having some trouble. It seems that 1 out of every 3 games I start puts me in a level with no downward staircase.

I know how to search when I hit a dead-end corridor, but that doesn't always help. Is it common to get dead-end games, or am I missing something?
posted by tylermoody to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Sometimes you have to search (s) to find hidden doors and passageways. It might take a few attempts in one spot to find something, too.
posted by base_16 at 11:53 AM on August 21, 2006

Oops, I don't know how I missed your comment earlier. I should clarify-- try searching along the walls of rooms. :)
posted by base_16 at 11:54 AM on August 21, 2006

Yeah, you move along walls and keep pressing the "s" key to search and a door will eventually appear. After a while you get an intuitive sense of where to focus the search.
posted by LarryC at 11:55 AM on August 21, 2006

Yup, search along the walls. You may have to search quite a few times to find a secret door, and it could be a hidden side-passage to a corridor too, though that's not that common. Keep in mind that generally most of the screen has rooms on it, so if there's some part that's empty and looks like there's no corridors leading to it, search the walls in that direction.

You could just play a tourist, though they're not the easiest class for beginners. They do get a guaranteed four scrolls of magic mapping though.
posted by fvw at 11:57 AM on August 21, 2006

I generally find likely walls (those near large unexplored sections of the dungeon, and walk down them three steps at a time, hitting "n9s" each stop. That gives pretty solid coverage and doesn't take long. Chances are you'll find the other end of a dead end corridor. :D
posted by aubilenon at 12:02 PM on August 21, 2006

Yeah, it pays to get good at searching in this game.

There are never levels without a down staircase except those at the very bottom of each branch. Some levels have two down stairs, or two up, so pay attention to those.
posted by sfenders at 12:17 PM on August 21, 2006

tylermoody, if you haven't already, check out the newsgroup It's full of helpful people who are more than willing to give tips like this without spoiling more of the game's secrets than you want—plus, you can ask more often than once a week there.

Good luck!
posted by Zozo at 12:23 PM on August 21, 2006

Welcome to gradewrecker, hope you aren't pursuing a GPA :)

FYI are there are a couple places where there is no downstair case. The only one to worry about right now is the bottom of the mines (mine level 10).
posted by Mitheral at 12:24 PM on August 21, 2006

Just to reiterate something said before--although the levels are randomly generated, it will never generate a "hopeless" configuration. The staircase is always there (except, as mention, in certain special levels) but sometimes it can be hidden. You might starve to death before you find it, but it's there.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 2:31 PM on August 21, 2006

Also check under food, objects ...
posted by randomination at 2:41 PM on August 21, 2006

Pick-axes and wands of digging are awfully handy when you get tired of searching. Either use one to dig towards unexplored regions of one floor, or just dig straight down with the ">" key.
posted by Skwirl at 2:41 PM on August 21, 2006

Luck affects the chance of successfully searching, so don't abuse it early on.

If you read C, you could analyze this chance by reading dosearch0 and rnl(). It ain't good for a careless beginner who goes around breaking mirrors, killing co-aligned unicorns and eating members of his own race.

Rangers get intrinsic searching at experience level 1 (i.e. straight away); play with those for a while and you'll notice secret doors being discovered from time to time as you move past walls. There's no foolproof method for finding a secret door, but there are general patterns you might notice. Sooner or later, you'll get a feel for how the level generator works, and you'll just know where the secret door is.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:02 PM on August 21, 2006

You also have to search at the ends of corridors, not just along the walls of rooms, right? T-junctions may also hide secret doors. At least I think that's how it works.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:53 AM on August 22, 2006

Sometimes dead-ends have no doors. This frustrates me endlessly.

You usually have to search more than once in a given spot for the door to show up. Typing 'nXs' where X is the number of turns to search is safer than whacking 's' over and over - you'll stop searching if something starts creeping up on you that way. Alternately, try kicking likely points. And definitely check out r.g.r.n, it's a goldmine and a godsend, as well as being home to the occasional amusing netiquette flamefest.
posted by corvine at 6:19 AM on August 22, 2006

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