Part 2: Don't Look Back
Previously on Heroes...
Well, let's be honest, not much happened. But we did reach a dramatic cliffhanger!
Chapter 2 - Don't Look Back
Uh oh...4 enemies (2 rats, a lichen, and a kobold) at once? Fortunately, since we are only on dlvl 2, none of these enemies is dangerous enough to worry me too much. However, I am still only level 1, and the rule of thumb for the early game is that taking on 2 or more enemies at once, no matter what they are, still is a bad idea. The easiest way to counter this is to make sure that only one enemy can hit you at a time. In this situation, it's really easy for Hiro to just take one step to his right, where now only the one enemy that's standing in the doorway can hit him.
Those enemies were pretty easy, but when we get to later levels, we'll need to keep some other defensive tactics in mind. Still, fighting in a corridor is one of the easiest ways to keep yourself from getting surrounded and taken out.
A bit later, I've killed a bat, which left a corpse. Food is one of the most difficult problems for a new Nethack character. You have basically 3 options for food:
2. Prepared food (food rations, slime molds, apples, melons, etc)
#praying is really a last resort option, since you can only pray so often (prayer has a prayer timeout, so you can't pray for ~800 turns after praying without some serious side effects) and prayer is also useful for more drastic problems, like if you're at 1 HP and under attack. My rule of thumb is to #pray for food only if you have no other food options, and only if your character is Weak or less.
Corpses are very useful to eat, since a lot of dead enemies leave corpses. Eating corpses also gives you intrinsics, which are all useful in some way (telepathy, cold resistance, etc). However, some corpses are bad for you - they can be poisonous, they can make you a cannibal, or they could be rotted. So, let's consult another great spoiler list - the Corpse spoiler.
Looking up bats on the list, we can see that it will stun your character for 30 turns and provides no intrinsics. So, it's probably not a good idea to eat. Other corpses to avoid for most characters include anything poisonous (until you get poison resistance), anything human (makes you a cannibal), or anything older than 50 turns (gives food poisoning, which is pretty much an insta-death). Check the corpse spoiler often when you first play the game, since it sucks to die from eating kobold corposes 3 games in a row.
Fortunately, Hachi doesn't seem to care too much about food. Pets are usually smart enough to eat things that don't hurt them, and in this case Hachi doesn't get the stun effect.
Time to head down to dlvl3!
If you come across a door you can't open in the early game, just kick it a few times (Ctrl-D) until it opens.
In case you were wondering, the other [ was also a ring mail. Another quick look at the armor spoiler shows that ring mail gives way less AC than the splint mail I have on right now, so it's pretty much just dead weight right now. I won't even bother BUC testing it with Hachi.
Ouch. That hurt a lot. Sorry I didn't screenshot the gas spore itself, but gas spores are represented with "e". Looking at their wiki page, gas spores can explode and can do up to 24 damage. I had more than 24 HP, but your pet might not, so be careful around them with pets.
Yatta! But still, that gas spore did a big chunk of damage, so I'm going to wait a bit and regain some health. I close the door right behind me and hit "20" "." several times, which means rest for 20 turns. That allows me to regain some of the health I just lost.
Meanwhile, while I'm waiting...
There's a nice Sounds spoiler on the wiki which details what all of these random sounds you might hear mean. This one happens to mean there's a shopkeeper on the level, so I'll keep my eyes peeled.
The "_" is an altar, one of the most useful things in the game. Altars do all sorts of things - with a co-aligned altar (an altar that is the same alignment as you), you can sacrifice corpses to your god and also make holy water on an altar. Unfortunately, this altar is cross-aligned (not the same alignment as you), but all altars can also help with BUC testing. If you drop all your unknown items on an altar ("D" then "X" will drop all un-BUC'd items) and aren't otherwise blinded, you can see what their BUC status is.
The other way to BUC test items is to either be a Priest, or to use your pet. Your pet will never walk on a cursed item (unless there's food there, so get rid of all food in the way), or if he/she/it does, you'll see a message that the pet moved on "reluctantly". This isn't quite as easy as dropping things on an altar, but it's much more portable. Unfortunately, pets can't distinguish between blessed and uncursed items - all you know is that it's not cursed. Also, the game won't recognize this automatically like it does altar testing, so you'll need to #name the item yourself if you want to remember it's BUC status (use #name, then "y" to name only this individual item, so the next swirly potion you come across could be cursed).
You can also convert a cross-aligned altar to your own alignment by #offer-ing any corpse (as long as it's under 50 turns old and wasn't a mummy and wasn't your race) on it. The odds of converting the altar depend on your level, but as long as your god isn't currently angry with you (make sure you haven't #prayed too many times in a row) there aren't any terribly bad consequences. The upside, on the other hand, is that if you convert the altar you can begin to sacrifice on it and start making holy water.
2 sets of stairs down?! One of these is the entrance to the Gnomish Mines. But before we explore any further, let's try and find that shopkeeper that we heard earlier. Shop generation is unique - shops can only be placed in rooms that only have one pathway leading to them. After looking at this level, it's pretty clear that the only places a shop could feasibly be on this level is in the lower right and lower left corners. So, I'll search the bottom of the two rightmost rooms and the leftmost room for a path to this shop. Don't worry if this sounded confusing - finding secret paths and secret shops will become second nature after a bit.
Looking at the corpse spoiler, yellow molds are poisonous. Even Hachi won't eat this. Instead, let's go throw it on the altar and sacrifice it to our god.
Found the shop - a potion shop, no less. But I also found a brown mold in it. Looking at its wiki page, it has a passive cold attack that triggers every time we hit it in melee. Since we don't have cold resistance yet, that passive cold attack could do a lot of damage - in fact, all molds have some sort of passive attack and should be meleed with care in the early levels. The easiest way to way to take it out would be to fire some arrows at it (which is actually how I took out the yellow mold from before), but because of our unusual situation that's not a good idea. If you fire or throw any object in a shop, the shopkeeper will automatically claim it for his own, and we'd have to pay to get our arrows back. Let's worry about the brown mold later and see if we can use the shopkeeper to help identify some of our unknown potions.
Selling items is the easiest way to identify them. Drop an item, and the shopkeeper will offer you either 1/2 (no surcharge) or 3/8 (with surcharge) of its base price. This is independent of charisma, so no need to use that table we had to use earlier.
94 * 2 = 188, which isn't the price of any potion in the Object ID spoiler. But 94 * 8/3 gives us a price of 250.67, which is a more interesting number. Let's see what the Object ID spoiler says about 250 price potions:
Only 2 choices, and apparently we can use the "apply trick" to identify oil. In this case, it means trying to (a)pply a potion of oil. If it works, you'll know.
250 - acid, oil.
Since you can use the (a)pply trick to identify oil, weeding out acid is also trivial once you can price-ID. Acid "explodes" when immersed in a pool or moat, but since this would possibly destroy other potions this is only useful after an accident, if you can remember what you had beforehand...
The game is also kind enough to auto-identify our potion for us. Also, if we find another potion that has a price of 250, we know it's acid.
Let's price ID our other potion.
I'd rather not try and deal with a polymorph potion, so we'll leave this potion aside for the time being. But to remember it's price, let's #name it (#name, then "n" to name all swirly potions):
200 - speed, levitation, enlightenment, full healing, polymorph.
Without polycontrol polymorph is likely to make your life miserable regardless of b/u/c status. If you must try potions in this group, do it without shirts, body armour or cloaks in a locked room, on a level with a sink (which eases the effects of unblessed levitation; cursed levitation causes you to hit your head on the ceiling but is no worse than uncursed thereafter). Enlightenment and full healing can be identified even if cursed (enlightenment makes you feel "uneasy"); speed will normally be identified for you, but a non-cursed speed will heal wounded legs and need to be #named 'speed', or if you are already very fast your legs will 'get new energy' (but no auto-ID.)
I name my potions with the price and the type. If you just named it the price, you wouldn't be able to tell it apart from any other potion you named 200, so this helps distinguish the swirly potion from another 200 price potion you might find.
Any lawful character who reaches level 5 has a special bonus in store for them. Let's go buy that long sword which was in the store earlier.
Now, to find a fountain. If you were paying attention, you might have noticed a fountain back on dlvl 1. #dip the sword into the fountain, and if you're very very lucky, you might find that...!
Let's #dip a few more times, dammit.
Ah, that's more like it.
Any lawful level 5+ character can get Excalibur just by dipping it into a fountain. The conversion to Excalibur automatically removes all erosion and makes it rustproof, so don't worry about that. It's a great weapon for a Samurai, since it uses the same skill as your katana (well, it's more accurate to say that the katana uses the same skill as Excalibur) and does an additional 1d10 damage and adds +d5 to hit. Pretty soon we can start #two-weaponing with two of the better weapons in the game.
Now, armed with our new weapon, let's venture forth into the Gnomish mines in Chapter 3 - One Giant Leap
Next time on Heroes...