Four New NetHack Roles

NetHack has a strong history of referencing fantasy materials in its content, predominantly ancient religious mythology, Lord of the Rings, and a smattering of Discworld. But a lot of modern mythology has been written since NetHack‘s inception, so I thought I’d help them out by modernizing the game a bit with three roles based on fantasy properties that didn’t exist when the game was new.

Note: I’m aware these roles aren’t entirely NetHack-ish, and their mechanics sort of break the spirit of the game a bit. I think that’s fine, because 1) the DevTeam isn’t going to implement these anyway, and 2) my main criticism of the game in its current state is that there are too many same-y roles. Aside from four or five exceptions, your choice of role sort of doesn’t matter after ten or so dungeon levels. I’d like to see new roles along the lines of Monk or Archeologist, with cool gameplay mechanics that actually matter.

These are formatted in more or less the same way as the role pages on the NetHack Wiki.


Aurors are humans of any alignment.

Starting equipment:

  • a +2 cloak of protection
  • a wand of teleportation (0:8)
  • a random attack wand (magic missile, striking, cold, fire, lightning, or sleep)
  • 2 random wands (not attack wands, teleportation, nothing, create monster, polymorph, or wishing)
  • a scroll of charging
  • a pair of lenses
  • 2..3 candy bars


  • XL1: stealth
  • XL5: warning
  • XL13: see invisible
  • XL20: invisibile


  • Basic: knife, short sword, club, quarterstaff, dart, riding, bare hands, attack
  • Skilled: dagger, unicorn horn, divination, enchantment, matter
  • Expert: escape
  • Special spell is teleport away

Special rules:

Aurors rely on wands as their primary gameplay. They have a number of special features:

  • Upon [z]apping or [a]pplying a formally identified wand, Aurors learn how many charges the wand has (or had).
  • [z]apping or [a]pplying a wand has a chance to exercise Intelligence.
  • If an Auror has shock resistance, wands in their open inventory are safe from destruction.
  • Wands are less likely to explode when being charged, based on the Auror’s Intelligence.
    • (7:x) or higher wands explode only 90% of the time.
    • (1:x) or higher wands of wishing always explode.
  • Upon gaining intrinsic warning, Aurors are also specifically warned if an enemy they can see is carrying a wand. (“Careful! That foo is brandishing a <wand>!”)
    • Or, “The foo is holding a <wand>.”, if peaceful.
  • [w]ielding a wand confers special properties, depending on wand type.
  • [z]apping a wand with at least one charge while [w]ielding it has a chance to expend the Auror’s Pw instead of one of the wand’s charges. This chance increases based on the Auror’s Intelligence. Consumed Pw depends on wand type.
  • Since many wands have identifying properties when [w]ielded, Aurors can potentially identify some wand types without expending a charge on [E]ngrave testing.
Wand typeProperty while [w]eildedPw consumption
lightlight source, radius 26
nothingformally identifies
("This is just a stick.")
0 (and abuse Intelligence)
diggingdetect $ and *, radius 231
lockingdoors resist less often12
magic missilemagic resistance12
make invisibledisplacement25
openingdoors resist less often6
probinghallucination resistance6
secret door detectionsearching18
slow monsterstoning resistance12
speed monsterfree action18
strikingreceive (y/n) prompt before destroying objects6
undead turningdrain resistance37
coldcold resistance25
firefire resistance25
lightningshock resistance25
sleepsleep resistance6
cancellation+1 MC (as per ring of protection)43
create monsterESP12
polymorphpolymorph control37
teleportationteleport control37
deathmagic resistance43
wishingno effect
("The wand's magic will not be controlled!")


  • Lawful: Godric
  • Neutral: Rowena
  • Chaotic: Salazar


  • Home: Diagon Alley
  • Locate: Hog’s Head Inn
  • Goal: Hogwarts Great Hall
  • Leader: Garrick Ollivander
  • Guardians: students
  • Nemesis: Nagini the Snake

Quest Artifact:
The Elder Wand

  • Base item: wand of magic missile (0:8)
  • Affiliation: lawful, Auror, intelligent
  • When carried: faster energy regeneration
  • When [z]apped: damage calculation as per magic missile spell, rather than wand (for Aurors only)
  • When [a]pplied: explosion as per wand of magic missile
    • uses all charges; wand does not break
  • When [w]ielded: confers intrinsic property of wand [w]ielded in other hand (for Aurors only)
  • When [M-i]nvoked: restores 1d2 charges to Elder Wand; if this causes explosion, functions as being [a]pplied, but still recharges


Dragoons are humans of any alignment.


  • pony = chocobo chick
  • horse = chocobo
  • warhorse = red chocobo
  • white/grey/black unicorn = white/grey/black chocobo
  • ki-rin = gold chocobo
  • apple = gysahl greens
  • carrot = sylkis greens
  • pear = mimett greens
  • melon = tantal greens

Starting equipment:

  • a +1 spear (50%) or random +1 polearm (50%)
  • a +0 ring mail
  • a +0 helmet
  • a pair of +0 leather gloves
  • a pair of +0 low boots
  • starting pet is an unsaddled chocobo chick
  • knows identity of all nonmagical weapons and armor


  • XL1: jumping (limited)
  • XL7: speed


  • Basic: dagger, knife, pick-axe, scimitar, club, flail, hammer, trident, bow
  • Skilled: axe, short sword, broadsword, two-handed sword, saber, mace, morning star, bare hands, crossbow, lance, two weapon combat, attack, divination, enchantment
  • Expert: long sword, spear, polearms, bare hands, riding
  • Spear and polearms start at Basic
  • Special spell is drain life

Special rules:

  • Dragoons can [j]ump like a knight piece in chess.
  • Monsters are a valid target for a Dragoon’s [j]ump. When [j]umping at a monster, do the following:
    1. If monster has no empty adjacent spaces, [j]ump fails. (“You can’t find an opening!”)
    2. Roll to hit against target.
    3. If hit, apply damage as normal (as though [F]ighting it).
      • If weapon is spear, polearm or lance, +3d8 damage.
      • Rust/corrode weapon as needed.
      • If monster is dead, Dragoon lands in its empty space. (“You skewered the foo!”)
      • If target is still alive:
        1. If target is whirly, it is stunned. (“You stopped the foo‘s spin!”)
        2. Make a Dexterity check.
          • If pass, Dragoon lands on target’s space, and target is pushed to a random adjacent space. (“The foo reels!”)
          • If fail, Dragoon lands on a random adjacent space (known not to be dangerous, if possible), abuses Dexterity, and gains a leg wound. (“Ouch! Rough landing!”)
    4. If miss, treat as a failed Dexterity check.


  • Lawful: Ramuh
  • Neutral: Shiva
  • Chaotic: Ifrit


  • Home: Baron Castle
  • Locate: Chocobo Forest
  • Goal: Cavern of Mist
  • Leader: Guard Captain Baigan
  • Guardians: guardsmen
  • Nemesis: Dragon of Mist

Quest Artifact:
The Zodiac Spear

  • Base item: silver spear
  • Affiliation: chaotic, intelligent
  • When carried: [j]umping requires no nutrition
  • When [w]ielded: drain resistance, chance to stun target in melee, +5 to hit, +1d8 damage, +2d8 damage while [j]umping (Dragoon only)


Dothraki are always chaotic male humans.


  • scimitar = arakh

Starting equipment:

  • two of three possible weapons, one of which is enchanted to +1:
    • an arakh
    • a bow
      • and 20..29 arrows
    • a bullwhip
  • a +0 leather armor
  • a pair of +0 low boots
  • 5..9 uncursed apples (50%) or carrots (50%)
  • 2 uncursed tins of horse meat
  • an uncursed bell (50%)
  • starting pet is a saddled pony


  • XL1: aggravate monster, searching, food appraisal (for u corpses only)
  • XL7: see invisible


  • Basic: knife, short sword, long sword, sling, two weapon combat, healing
  • Skilled: dagger, axe, broadsword, saber, club, boomerang, bare hands
  • Expert: scimitar, bow, whip, riding
  • Riding and one weapon skill (whichever generated +1) start at Basic
  • Special spell is healing

Special rules:

Dothraki have several restrictions:

  • Dothraki suffer a to-hit penalty while [W]earing metal armor, [W]earing a shield, or [w]ielding a two-handed weapon.
  • Dothraki cannot tame a monster he cannot ride. (“That foo is no suitable steed!”)
  • Dothraki cannot cast spells; doing so suffers an alignment penalty and always fails. (“You should not trust in blood magic!”)
    • The exception is the spell healing, when cast on the Dothraki’s mount, while [M-r]iding.
  • Dothraki cannot pick up bells that were not dropped by a monster they killed. (“You did not earn that bell!”)

To make up for this, their mounts enjoy several benefits:

  • Dothraki mounts enjoy all the same protections he does, so long as he is [M-r]iding.
  • If a mount is reduced to 0 HP while the Dothraki is [M-r]iding, the mount is instead set to 1 HP and the Dothraki is dismounted on the nearest available space. (“<petname>/Your <pet> is dying!”)
  • Attempting to [M-r]ide a mount does not reduce its tameness.
  • While [M-r]iding, low mount HP and low tameness are considered minor problems for purposes of [p]raying, and may be remedied accordingly.

Dothraki enjoy the following benefits in mounted combat:

  • +2 to-hit bonus, and +2 bonus to AC
  • If the Dothraki moves three or more spaces in a straight line, and the next action after movement is attacking a monster, the attack counts as a “charge attack”.
    • This attack deals +2d12 damage. It is also loud, waking nearby monsters. (“You scream into battle!”)
    • At Skilled in riding, it becomes more lenient as to what constitutes a straight line. (E.g., ↖, ↑, and ↗ all count as up; →, ↗, and ↑ all count as up-right.)
    • At Expert, the Dothraki need only move two spaces instead of three.

Finally, the Dothraki have some benefits involving shops and bells:

  • Upon entering a shop for the first time, there is a small chance (influenced by Strength) that the shopkeeper will make a gift of one random item (or stack of items) in his inventory. (“<shopkeeper> makes a gift of <item>.”)
  • There is a 3% chance a monster’s death drop is a bell.
    • Each bell the Dothraki carries in his open inventory gives a bonus to hit and damage: +0/+0 if cursed, +1/+1 if uncursed, +1/+1d2 if blessed.


  • Lawful: The Great Shepherd
  • Neutral: The Mother of Mountains
  • Chaotic: The Great Stallion


  • Home: Vaes Dothrak
  • Locate: The Dothraki Sea
  • Goal: The Red Wastes
  • Leader: Mother of Dragons
  • Guardians: dosh khaleen
  • Nemesis: Warlock of Qarth
  • Note: if the Dothraki uses some tricky means of dispatching the Warlock of Qarth, he will not be able to pick up the Bell of Opening! The only way to seize it is to bring a covetous monster to the level, who will pick it up and subsequently drop it when killed. (The Wizard of Yendor might be happy to oblige!)

Quest Artifact:
The Arakh of Rakharo

  • Base item: arakh (scimitar)
  • Affiliation: chaotic, Dothraki, intelligent
  • When carried: reflection
  • When [w]ielded: conflict, beheading (5%), +1d5 to-hit, +1d4 damage, +2d4 damage while [M-r]iding (Dothraki only)


Waterbenders may be human, elf, or gnome. Human waterbenders may be any alignment.

Starting equipment:

  • a +1 quarterstaff (50%) or a pair of +1 leather gloves (50%)
  • a +1 robe
  • a pair of water walking boots (50%) or an amulet of magical breathing (50%)
  • a blessed spellbook (healing, protection, or sleep)
  • 3..4 uncursed potions of water
  • 2..3 potions of fruit juice
  • 3 random potions (not water, booze, or fruit juice)
  • 3..6 food rations
  • 3..6 fortune cookies
  • an oilskin sack


  • XL1: cold resistance, speed
  • XL5: stealth
  • XL7: warning
  • XL9: sleep resistance
  • XL13: poison resistance
  • XL17: breathless


  • Basic: short sword, dagger, spear, trident, crossbow, shuriken
  • Skilled: attack, clerical, escape
  • Expert: quarterstaff, healing
  • Master: martial arts
  • Special spell is cone of cold

Special rules:

Waterbenders have the same penalties for [e]ating meat and [W]earing armor as do monks, with these changes:

  • The to-hit bonus when not [W]earing armor or a shield applies only to ranged attacks.
  • Waterbenders are incapable of dealing a staggering blow in any event.

To make up for this, Waterbenders have the following benefits:

  • Waterbenders are immune to water traps and thrown potions. (“You bend the liquid harmlessly away from you.”)
  • Waterbenders can dilute any potion except oil by [a]pplying it, converting it to an uncursed potion of water. (“You draw the water from your <potion>.”)
  • While standing next to or on top of a fountain, sink or square of open water or ice, the Waterbender’s combat abilities are augmented (“The nearby water swirls around you!”):
    • Gain fire resistance, shock resistance, reflection, and +1 MC.
    • +3 bonus to AC, +5 bonus to hit, and +1d4 cold damage on melee attacks per adjacent square of water (up to 9).
    • [f]iring with a [Q]uivered potion of water costs no Pw and will not consume a potion.

Finally, Waterbenders are able to perform several tricks with potions of water:

  • Uncursed potions of water have their weight reduced by 50%.
  • [t]hrowing an uncursed potion of water at an unoccupied square has a chance (influenced by Wisdom) to convert the square into a water square. This does not work on the Plane of Fire or the Quest Goal level (“The water immediately evaporates!”), the Plane of Air (“The water falls down as rain!”), or any level with undiggable walls.
  • A weapon (or a pair of gloves, if using martial arts) [M-d]ipped into a potion of water becomes more dangerous. (“The water swirls around your <weapon>!”) The effect lasts for a number of turns influenced by Wisdom and experience level. When the effect ends, there is a chance the Waterbender gets back the potion. (“Your <weapon> is dry again. / The water returns to its bottle.”)
    • +2 bonus to-hit per skill level.
    • +1d3 cold damage per skill level.
    • If the potion was holy water, apply the standard effects to appropriate targets.
  • Waterbenders can [Q]uiver stacks of potions of water and then [f]ire blasts of water from them. This consumes Pw. At 0 Pw, it consumes the potions instead. The skill used for these shots is martial arts.
    • Blasts of water can multishot. At 0 Pw, a single potion is consumed for the entire turn, regardless of how many blasts are fired.
    • Blasts of water deal damage as per a thrown rock, +1d3 damage per martial arts level.
    • If the potions are holy water, Pw consumption is increased but the shots gain the benefits of thrown potions of holy water, if applicable.


  • Lawful: Tui and La
  • Neutral: Raava
  • Chaotic: Koh


  • Home: The Spirit Oasis
  • Locate: The Frozen Ocean
  • Goal: The Fire Nation Ship
  • Leader: Princess Yue
  • Guardians: waterbenders
  • Nemesis: Admiral Zhao

Quest artifact:
The Decanter of the New Moon

  • Base item: horn of plenty (0:50)
    • only dispenses uncursed potions of water
  • Affiliation: neutral, intelligent
  • When carried: faster energy regeneration, +1 multishot bonus while firing water blasts, half spell damage
  • When [M-i]nvoked: charges itself, and changes 1..6 adjacent unoccupied squares to water

2 comments to Four New NetHack Roles

  • This is some pretty good stuff! I like it. 😎

  • Jikkuryuu

    Goodness knows I couldn’t ascend a -D wizard, but I know enough to get this and it’s real neat. Riding and Jumping can use the extra attention and emphasis you’re placing on them.
    I like that the quests are iconic, but related to the role and not just the biggest moment of the stories the roles came from (“Kill Zeromus!”). It feels right.
    NetHack being the game it is, including specific cases for holy water is perfect.
    Some of the Aurors stuff seems potent. Displacement, Teleport Control, and Polymorph control from a [w]ielded source seem pretty great. Especially since you’re now getting control from the source of the spell itself.
    On the other hand, I’m chuckling over the Dothraki getting a nice quest weapon that saddles him/her with conflict. It works mechanically, thematically, and strategically.
    The Waterbender food restriction made me do a double take, but apparently NetHack really contains no fish. Weird wonderful game.

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