Nethack is a curses-based roguelike dungeon exploration game. The purpose of the game (aside from beating other players high score) is to retrieve the Amulet of Yendor and "ascend" (that is, get back out of the dungeon) with it to the status of demigod. To date, nobody has yet achieved this goal, and the first person to do this should have a good 15 minutes of fame. The amulet is said to be somewhere on the 20th level.
Okay, so there have been some ascensions. Really! Check out the newsgroup rec.games.roguelike.nethack (referenced below) for lots more information, including ascension announcements.
One of the nice things about being curses-based is that you can run on any terminal, even over a telnet connection. There are many nethack servers, where you can play games over telnet and even meet other people's ghosts. There's even a yearly Nethack tournament.
Some Nethack Quotes
(ripped off the Nethack home page)
Nethack is one of my all-time favorite games, one I've been playing since 1200 baud was smokin' fast.
-- Actor Wil Wheaton, http://www.wilwheaton.net
In short, NetHack 3.1.3 is the most elaborate role-playing environment you are ever likely to explore. This is a place to return again and again, each time for a different experience. You're really going to have to play it for a year or two and see for yourself.
-- "Fatal Distractions" by David Gerrold
Thank you for the latest release of gradewrecker. My GPA just went in the corner and shot itself.
-- USENET posting, author unknown
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