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DynaHack is a NetHack variant with randomized equipment, new items, new monsters, new maps, new challenges and an advanced ASCII interface.

Note: I (tungtn) will no longer be working on DynaHack after this release, so please do not email me bugs or feedback. Instead, post them to so that other people can see them.

Release Highlights

DynaHack 0.6.0 marks a large departure from the 0.5.x series by introducing quite a few gameplay and content changes aimed at eliminating tedium, improving fairness, and increasing tactical and strategic variety.

As always, changes in DynaHack tend to lean in favor of the player more often than not, so players of all skill levels will find something to appreciate.

  • New body armor and shield skills: grants bonus AC and MC; heavier suits of armor and shields get bigger bonuses and train the skills faster.
  • Magic chests! Any item put into a magic chest can be looted out of any other magic chest in the dungeon, placed at set locations. This eliminates tedious stash consolidation and transporting of items to and from stashes and fixed dungeon resources like altars, shops and water.
  • Mazes completely removed from Gehennom!
  • New resistance system: resistances gained from corpses and crowning only provide partial protection.
  • Reflection no longer reflects breaths (except disintegration).
  • Instant petrification completely replaced with delayed petrification: you will always have a few turns to save yourself from instant death.
  • Drawbridge instant death removed: drawbridges can only be destroyed by force bolts when closed, not open.
  • Extra turn before drowning attack instant death. Players upgrading from an older version of DynaHack should adjust their msgtype as described in the Configuration section of this changelog.
  • Zombie corpses may revive (lower chance if playing a priest).
  • Sokoban prizes moved to Mines End, making Sokoban much more optional.
  • Nymph level moved into Town branch; Town shops are larger to compensate.
  • Effect of skills on to-hit and damage raised in general.
  • Items that spawn with a magical property have a much higher chance to spawn with additional properties.
  • Slings now get damage bonuses from strength and enchantment.
  • Spells can be aborted at direction, position and item prompts without using power or hunger.
  • New repeat_prefix keymap and repeat_num_auto option for people accustomed to NetHack's classic number key movement scheme.
  • New msg_per_line option: Shows each message on a new line in the message area when enabled.
  • Potion color alchemy improved in favor of players, making it more of an alternative to NetHack's alchemy instead of a nerf.
  • Curses on armor, jewelry and eyewear are now revealed when they are worn instead of when trying to take them off.
  • More messages for things that used to happen silently: uncontrolled teleportation, finding secret doors/corridors while searching, items becoming randomly cursed.
  • Iron bars can be destroyed by acid or eaten by certain monsters.

Read changelog.txt for the full list of changes.

Interface changes

DynaHack adopts NitroHack's interface, allowing it to make better use of larger terminal sizes, showing a multi-line message box and inventory sidebar. Windows players will want to change the win_width and win_height options (resizing works automatically on Linux and OS X).

Options in DynaHack are set in-game, unlike NetHack which uses a config file. There are no means to import config files; instead, play some test games and change options to taste.

Other interface changes include:

  • Item action menus.
  • New and improved quick command reference (type '??').
  • Colored status area and HP/Pw bars.
  • Colors for walls and floors of branches and special rooms.
  • msgtype option to force "--More--" prompts and hide messages.
  • Menus for choosing floor items when eating and looting.

Some interface changes provide more information than in NetHack:

  • Item weights and carrying capacity shown.
  • Red/green highlight when attributes change.
  • Highlighting for peacefuls, locked doors, item piles and covered stairs.
  • hp_notify option to show messages when damage is taken.
  • delay_msg option to show messages for multi-turn actions and delays.
  • Corpses show rotten/very rotten when unsafe to eat.
  • Required and remaining slots shown when viewing and enhancing skills.
  • Remaining memory for spells shown.

Several changes have been made to make the game more convenient to play:

  • Ctrl-O shows dungeon overview and previous levels.
  • Ctrl-X shows intrinsic resistances and properties.
  • Ctrl-E engraves "Elbereth", which scares monsters.
  • Auto-unlock for doors/containers, auto-loot after auto-unlocking containers.
  • Resting and searching stop when HP/Pw fully recover.
  • 'ff' fires in the last direction fired in.

For those used to playing on NAO, automatic travel can target stairs even when covered, stops when becoming hungry or enemies come into view, routes around peacefuls and even works in Sokoban.

Autopickup is much smarter and more useful than in NetHack thanks to the autopickup rules system, offering fine-grained control over what it picks up or leaves. It works much like autopickup exceptions, but can filter not only by name, but also item class and blessing/curses. The default rules leave shop items alone, but the sky's the limit in what it can do. Autopickup also leaves dropped items alone, and grabs thrown/fired items.

Item class filters are smarter: choosing "cursed" and "armor" will match only cursed armor, whereas in NetHack this would show all cursed items mixed with all armor.

DynaHack features fully remappable controls, which is especially useful for people with QWERTZ keyboards.

New content

DynaHack was originally a merge of UnNetHack's gameplay with NitroHack as its base, so all of this new content sources from UnNetHack 4.1.1:

  • Over 80 new special levels.
  • Revamped Gehennom with special segments to explore and open caverns for a faster and riskier descent.
  • New branches: Town, Black Market, Dragon Caves.
  • New special rooms: nymph gardens, dilapidated armories.
  • New shops: tin shops, instrument shops, pet stores.
  • New items: rings of gain intelligence/wisdom/dexterity, potions of blood and vampire blood, scroll of flood, iron safe, tinfoil hat, striped shirt, Thiefbane, Luck Blade.
  • New monsters: gold and chromatic dragons, snow ants, vorpal jabberwocks, disintegrators, giant turtles, wax golems, locusts, enormous rats, rodents of unusual size.

New challenges

Level difficulty in DynaHack differs from NetHack. The maximum level of monsters that are generated on a level in NetHack is the average of the level's depth and your experience level. In DynaHack, only depth counts towards level difficulty. Experience levels tend to plateau, so overall level difficulty scales faster and higher than in NetHack. This would seem to make the game harder, but the change also exists in NetHack4, which has been won by multiple people, so the challenge is definitely surmountable.

Like UnNetHack, wishing in DynaHack is divided into magical and non-magical items. Only the wand of wishing can grant wishes for magical items, while every other source can only provide non-magical items. Examples of useful non-magical items include the shield of reflection and dragon scales (but not dragon scale mail). A magic lamp is permitted as an exception for non-magical wishes. Unlike in NetHack, wands of wishing cannot be recharged.

Dragons in DynaHack work much like in UnNetHack: names and colors are randomized every game, so in one game a red dragon may be a tatzelworm and breathe ice, and in another it may be called a draken and breath disintegration. This means wishing for dragon armor no longer gives a free ticket to reflection or magic resistance. On top of this, dragon armor in general is heavier and provides less AC than in NetHack; dragon scale mail is 2/3 the weight and the same AC as elven mithril coats.

DynaHack introduces color alchemy from UnNetHack, meaning that potions will mix by their colors instead of by their type, e.g. a red potion mixed with a yellow potion makes an orange potion. In some games this leads to interesting combinations, but this also breaks the NetHack practice of alchemizing large stacks of potions of full healing that could as much as double the max HP of characters.

With its roots in UnNetHack, DynaHack also adds these new challenges:

  • Elbereth is ignored by quest nemeses, unique demons and Vlad the Impaler.
  • Mysterious force removed (downward levelport while ascending through Gehennom); Amulet now prevents all forms of teleportation.
  • Scrolls of gold detection can no longer be used to detect traps; crystal balls have been made easier to use to compensate.
  • Scrolls of genocide only affect a single monster type when blessed, or the same on only the current level when uncursed.
  • Fighting creates noise which wakes nearby monsters, depending on stealth and the size of the weapon.
  • Unicorn horns no longer restore lost attributes.

DynaHack addresses two common forms of farming in NetHack: pudding farming and throne farming. Both of these are still possible in limited forms, but as in UnNetHack, puddings no longer split forever, nor do they drop any items when killed. Thrones take time to loot and may disappear in the process.

More fairness

DynaHack reduces the punishments for hazards players cannot or do not expect to have to defend themselves against:

  • Warnings before walking into known traps, water and lava.
  • Poison, the most common unavoidable instadeath, instead drains max HP.
  • Floating eyes paralyze for half as long, capped further by wisdom.
  • Scroll of flood replaces the scroll of amnesia, making reading random scrolls less game-ruining.

DynaHack also reduces the spoiler advantage that long-time NetHack players have over novices by providing a newer and more informative database of item descriptions from NetHack4 and detailed monster descriptions from UnNetHackPlus (press '/' and target a monster with ';' or enter its name).

More variety

DynaHack features an extensively bug-fixed version of magical items from GruntHack. Any weapon, armor, amulet or ring can appear as "magical", which may inflict or defend against fire or frost damage, drain life, grant stealth, speed or reflection, or even detonate on impact. These magical properties encourage using equipment that would otherwise be junk in NetHack; some equipment may even fill in essential ascension kit properties, freeing up equipment slots for alternate gear that would otherwise be displaced by ascension kit mainstays.

Wishes for magical properties can only be granted with a wand of wishing. Even then, such wishes only work for equipment that doesn't already have its own magical properties, e.g. no speed boots of fire resistance. However, no such restriction applies to randomly generated items, so players are encouraged to explore to find gear that may exceed what could be wished for.

DynaHack encourages more weapon variety. Weapons may reveal their enchantment when used, based on skill and race. Weapon skills also cross-train, accelerating the training of related skills to allow players to experiment with skills early without having to fully commit to them into the late game. The weapon skill groups are:

  • Short Blades: dagger, knife
  • Chopping Blades: axe, pick-axe
  • Swords: long sword, two-handed sword, scimitar, saber
  • Bludgeons: club, mace, hammer
  • Flails: whip
  • Polearms: polearm, trident, lance, unicorn horn
  • Launchers: bow, crossbow
  • Thrown: dart, shuriken, boomerang

Some weapon skills (not listed above) belong to more than one group:

  • short sword: Short Blades, Swords
  • broadsword: Chopping Blades, Swords
  • morning star: Bludgeons, Flails
  • quarterstaff: Bludgeons, Polearms
  • javelin: Polearms, Thrown
  • sling: Launchers, Thrown

DynaHack introduces the new heavyshot mechanic, complementing multishot. Certain fired or thrown weapons, rather than launching multiple volleys, will instead launch a single volley that inflicts multiplied damage. This makes crossbows more interesting than heavier bows with rarer ammo, and also applies to shuriken, spears, javelins and boomerangs. Spears of matching race and javelins receive a bonus multiplier when thrown.

Ranged combat is enhanced in DynaHack. Items, especially ammo, stacks much more readily than in NetHack, ignoring differing knowledge of blessing and enchantment. Further, switching main and alternate weapons using 'x' no longer costs a turn, making launchers more viable.

DynaHack makes two-handed weapons viable throughout the game:

  • Polearms and lances can be used in melee, making them easier to train early and usable in dark corridors.
  • Two-handed weapons double the strength damage bonus on hits.
  • New #tip command for containers, so players with hands stuck to a cursed two-handed weapon can still reach their holy water without having to backtrack out of Gehennom.
  • Hands stuck to a cursed quarterstaff can still cast spells unhindered.

DynaHack attempts to differentiate characters of different roles by improving their quest artifact. Specifically, the quest artifact cannot be stolen by the Wizard of Yendor, making it a reliable source of resistances. Also, the quest artifact grants magic resistance when carried by their role, giving most characters a good reason to make use of their unique powers.

DynaHack reduces incentives to stash and backtrack:

  • Scrolls of ID work on 3-6 items regardless of their blessing.
  • Wraiths can no longer be lured across levels.

Compiling from source

DynaHack can be compiled to run natively in Windows with MinGW, or under Cygwin for those who prefer it.

DynaHack can also be compiled for Linux and OS X.

Bug reports

Bug reports should include a description (what you did, what you expected and what happened), as well as the specific version of the game and a copy of the save file if possible.

Bug reports can be submitted to the GitHub project page at:

Or they can be emailed to


A NetHack variant with randomized equipment, new items, new monsters, new maps, new challenges and an advanced ASCII interface.






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