SLASH'EM (short for 'Super Lotsa Added Stuff Hack - Extended Magic'), is a variant of the roguelike computer game NetHack with many extra features, monsters, and items. If you have never played NetHack, you should probably read the NetHack article before this one.
You are also advised to try playing NetHack before SLASH'EM, since it has better game balance and fewer bugs. If you like NetHack but are getting bored with it and want to try out some interesting new features, SLASH'EM is the game for you.
Several NetHack features including 'conduct' (voluntary challenges such as playing an illiterate character) and the ability to ride monsters were first developed in SLASH'EM and then incorporated into 'vanilla' NetHack. SLASH'EM is free and can be downloaded from Ali's SLASH'EM Page. It has two main versions, the stable version and the development version. The development version is more up-to-date (and is currently based on a newer version of NetHack) but is also more likely to be buggy.
One of the most noteworthy features of SLASH'EM is its techniques - special powers associated with particular races and classes. For example:
- Dwarves can do an impression of the Incredible Hulk (though they don't burst out of their shirts) with Rage Eruption.
- Monks can use all sorts of cool martial arts techniques.
- Rogues can try to strike at a monster's vital organs. If they succeed, they will do far more damage than normal, especially against humanoid targets.
- Wizards can draw magical energy from their surroundings.
- Gnomes can temporarily disappear in a puff of smoke.
- Healers can raise the dead (at a sufficiently high level!)
In addition to the five races you can play in vanilla NetHack (humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes and orcs), SLASH'EM has five new races (doppelgangers, drow, hobbits, lycanthropes and vampires). The most distinctive and challenging of these new races are lycanthropes and vampires, which are both pretty tough but also have serious disadvantages. Lycanthropes randomly change into wolves every so often, and since a wolf has no hands and cannot carry as much as a human, this is very annoying. The best way to play a lycanthrope is to try to find something that will give you control over your changes. Vampires cannot get sustenance any other way than drinking blood, which makes playing one a desperate search for the next meal.
The main dungeon in SLASH'EM is much longer than in vanilla NetHack, and it incorporates many special levels. One of the most exciting of these is the Guild of Disgruntled Adventurers. It is filled with adventurers zapping wands at you, and the dilemma is whether to flee by digging through the floor (but be aware that some of the adventurers may manage to follow, and that you'll have to come back through the level again) or to fight on in hopes of killing the adventurers and taking their equipment.
If you choose to fight, the most serious hazard is that many of the adventurers will have wands of draining. These wands reduce your experience level, which weakens you considerably and can only be cured by regaining the experience the same way you gained it in the first place1. It is possible to be resistant to level-draining, but you cannot attain this ability by eating corpses, only from certain rare items.
Most NetHack players find Gehennom2 very tedious - it's just one maze level after another, and there's no real challenge, because by this stage you have all the equipment you need, and the monsters can't surround you in the mazes. This situation has been improved in SLASH'EM. Gehennom has been made shorter, and every demon lord in the game (there are eight) has his own lair down there. This means that you cannot avoid meeting the dreaded Demogorgon, whose attacks make you deathly sick, so that fighting him is very difficult as you are constantly having to stop and cure your sickness.