A set of items in the game Nethack, which are so vital that they are considered necessary to Ascend (win).

Everything that can be rustproofed, fireproofed, etc. has been. Every weapon and most armor has been enchanted until it is about to explode (+7 for weapons and elven armors, +5 for non-elven armors) (except perhaps a +2 Magicbane).

Here is the list of motivations that place things in a kit, accompanied by my solution in the game in which I ascended (for the first time, as a chaotic elf wizard). Other classes will have different preferences based on maximum skill levels, starting equipment, and gods' gifts.

  • Something granting magic resistance, such as a cloak of magic resistance, gray dragon scale mail, Magicbane, or any one of several quest artifacts that grant it just by sitting in your inventory. It's very nice not to be subject to equipment disintegration or a wide variety of trap effects such as polymorphing and teleportation.
    - I had my starting cloak of magic resistance, magicbane, AND the Eye of Aethopica. Yeah, I was covered.
  • Something causing magic cancellation. This greatly attenuates the rate at which nasty status effects are put on you. You usually get the strongest form of this from a cloak (nearly any cloak will do), but you can also get it from elven or dwarvish chain mails.
  • Something granting reflection. Your options here are quite limited: a polished silver shield, an amulet of reflection, silver dragon scale mail, or wielding the Longbow of Artemis. This will protect you and your equipment against all ray attacks, such as death rays or fire breathing. If you lack this, you had better keep your scrolls and potions safe!
    - Once I found out that Sokoban gave me a bag of holding rather than an amulet of reflection, I wished for Silver Dragon Scale Mail.
  • Some way of dealing a large amount of damage quickly. This will usually be an artifact weapon - in particular, a general-purpose one like Frostbrand, Firebrand, Grayswandir, or Stormbringer; or perhaps one oriented toward the tougher monsters, like Demonbane or Sunsword. Spells can fill this role pretty well.
    - Grayswandir was my first wish, Magicbane my first gift. I offered for gifts until I got Werebane so I could become basic skilled in silver saber... this took some time. My ending artifact weapons were those already mentioned plus Stormbringer, Ogresmasher, Dragonbane, Demonbane, Sunsword, Orcrist, and Sting. And I had most of the attack spells.
  • Some way of escaping bad situations. Intrinsic teleporting or the spell teleport is good; scrolls and wands of teleport are good if you have reflection. Alternately, jumping can get you out of a crowd of monsters quite effectively, if there is a clear path; and you can even outrun air elementals if you are also very fast. In many cases, a mere wand of digging will do. Being invisible makes just stepping two steps away quite effective as an escape.
    - I started with a ring of teleport control, so I ate the first leprechaun I found and felt VERY jumpy. Naturally teleporting, that is. Also, I was invisible.
  • You will need something to make you very fast, since speed is life, whether on offense or defense. Speed boots are the easiest and probably best way to handle this - there is nothing else to get you faster, unless you polymorph into an air elemental (and then you would drop all of your stuff). If you're a decent spell caster, you can keep casting Haste Self, which will free up your feet for other things. You probably won't find enough potions of speed to keep you going for long. Wands of speed get you fast, but not as fast as the others.
    - I used Boots of Speed which I found in a shop. I paid what the shopkeeper asked, but that was far less than a fair market value would have been.
  • Blessed Unicorn horn so a wide variety of afflictions can be cured at a touch.
    - I carried one and a spare. I probably didn't need the spare.
  • Some way to levitate. Either a ring of levitation, boots of levitation, the spell Levitate, potions of levitation, or the Heart of Ahriman. The Heart is best since it's basically free. The ring is usually preferable to the boots, since you get to keep wearing your speed boots. Just look out for incubi replacing your ring, if you can't dominate the encounter. If you try to rely on potions, you may well run out of them in an unopportune place.
    - I used a ring of levitation.
  • Now we get to the less important stuff -- stat boosters such as a + enchanted Helm of Brilliance, and Gauntlets of Power or a + enchanted Gauntlets of Dexterity. Each enhances your stats considerably. The Gauntlets of Power raise it higher, but they inhibit spellcasting.
    - I used blessed fireproof +4 gauntlets of dexterity.
  • a blessed Bag of Holding. This reduces the weight of things in it by a factor of 4, so you can carry lots of loot around without burdening yourself (which is often fatal).
    - I had one, acquired in Sokoban.
  • An oilskin sack to keep your reading material in in case of high humidity (jumping in water, etc.), and to protect your Bag of Holding and a spare blessed unicorn horn from inventory cursing.
    - I had one, but I got it too late to do any good (see below)
  • Ring of Free Action so you don't become immobilized for some stupid reason like taking a potion of paralysis to the head. This is one of the few things that can kill a high level character played with no active errors.
    - I never found a ring of free action. I almost died as a result -- a potion of paralysis hit my head in the Castle, and soldiers whacked me down to 16 HP before I was able to move again. Which brings us to...
  • Some way of regaining HP quickly if you get in trouble. A +X ring of Gain Constitution, with X large, is actually a great solution here, since it'll act over time to keep your HP from ever being a concern. A ring of regeneration is also good, but it makes you very hungry. Potions of full healing are perfect for emergencies, and the spell of extra healing is pretty good. Or you can use amulets of lifesaving, which cover things beyond HP loss.
    - I kept every potion of full healing I found for emergencies, but quaffed lesser healing potions for the permanent HP gain. I charged a ring of Gain Constitution to +4 and wore that in the Astral Plane. I had several amulets of lifesaving, none of which I used.
  • not-cursed Luckstone to keep you fortunate.
    - I lost my luckstone. Oops. This would have been much more important if I had been a melee fighter, due to the to-hit bonus.
  • Ways of gathering information. For detecting monsters, infravision, telepathy and warning are the basic ones. If you are skilled at divination, the lowly Detect Monster spell becomes amazing. A Stethoscope can clue you in on which monsters are ready for culling, or whether your pet is about to croak (and as a free action!).
    - I used all of the above, and a Cornuthaum for the occasional regional map.
  • Spellbooks for whatever spells you use.
    - In my case, I had many blank spellbooks and scrolls. Officially, this is so I have writing material for my magic marker, but unofficially it's because I forgot to put on my ring of levitation before crossing the moat around Moloch's sanctum. But the spells that I had memorized that would constitute a part of my ascension kit were:
    • Magic Missile
    • Detect Monster (this useful at skilled levels only)
    • Identify
    • Remove Curse
  • And lastly, you need Presence of mind.

This is by no means all of the character's equipment, but it is the classic stuff you would need for general circumstances. There are also the specific stuff you'll need to navigate the elemental planes - wands of digging, crystal balls or means of becoming confused and scrolls of detect gold for detecting the portals, wand of cold or spell Cone of Cold for freezing lava, and an amulet of magical breathing just in case you leave the bubble. And (almost) everyone needs food.
- For example, I also carried around A blessed magic lamp (lit), and a wand of wishing (1:2). They were in case I realized I had forgotten something I needed. I forgot to use them to get dilithium crystals at the end, but I was just happy to have finished.

Also, though it doesn't fit exactly into the kit category, you will want lots of useful intrinsic properties.
- I had intrinsic telepathy, warning, teleport control, sleeplessness, invisibility, and seeing invisible. I was intrinsically resistant to fire, cold, shock, poison, and disintegration.

(This is expansion of the ideas I posted about to RGRN some time ago... Nobody really gets what this means, regrettably. Hopefully this is now in a bit more coherent form. But remember: If you read this, and after that have to call me insane, then I am, and will gladly be. I'm not kidding.)

The Ascension Kit: The Greatest Psychological Burden of the Video Games, Ever.

The Ascension Kit™®© is the only thing in Nethack that really, really depresses me and makes me go play other games instead (which is bad, because as everyone knows, Nethack is the only game whose champions have some recognition). I might even say that it is a sign that Nethack is a way too hard game for anyone, and that its rules are completely deficient. The game requires, with some sort of mathematical certainty, that all of this stuff will be extremely handy in the game, and the game is virtually unsolvable without them. Or, rather, it's possible, but it will probably render you insane with all the trouble it gives.

The Ascension Kit makes Nethack a huge psychological dilemma. The game makes you absolutely positive you need to finish it, but the fact that you can't get the ascension kit makes it near-impossible to solve.

"With the might ordained by Moloch, I force thee to wear Blessed +2 Gray Dragon Scale Mail, for that hath been Written in the List describing the Ascension Kit. Do that, or perish!"

Don't get me wrong - I like the game, but I think the ascension kit makes it a lot less fun and way too challenging - I like the challenge, but the challenges the Ascension Kit wards me of, and the challenge of gathering the Ascension Kit itself together, are too hard for me to understand.

Let me explain.

There's one thing that makes me feel good in RPGs, and that's the ability to do things the way I want them done. The fact that there is an Ascension Kit™®© that everyone is supposed to have makes things a lot more complex.

For instance, I don't want a GDSM. I hate scale mails (and love chain mails or plate), I hate killing dragons.

And the moment I say that, the people go "why the hell are you playing this game, then?" answer: I like the game. I just don't like the way the GDSM and SilverDSM are actually the only reasonable choices for armor!

Don't force me to get the items.

But even if that's unreasonable to ask, the way these things should be get is completely unreasonable. The fact is, getting the ascension kit is very very hard, because this stuff is not sold in the shops. Or, at least, finding them in the shop is very lucky indeed.

Do I die trying to find the Amulet of Yendor, or do I die trying to find the damn Ascension Kit?

What is more likely: The fact that I have none of the equipment I absolutely need OR finding any of this stuff just lying there for me to grab?

And do I have alternatives?

The Ascension Kit is a proof that the game itself is flawed in other ways. For example, boots of levitation. Essential for crossing water. You need magical boots to move on water and you can't use that extra str/dex/con you have to stay afloat if you strip your clothes and jump in! Hello? Even if you could do that, as sure as hell that little pond would be the home of the damn Kraken! Nintendo Logic is nothing compared to Nethack Logic ("Whatever you do, you'll be facing YASD in short time").

The whole thing that you need to find very rare items to ward yourself against very common annoyances is something that really makes Nethack a bit too challenging. There's nothing wrong with challenge, but if it is not explainable with logic, it's just bad and annoying.

I can't get an Ascension Kit.
I'm unable to win Nethack.
I can't win Nethack.
I'm not really a gamer.
No matter what other games I play, No matter what games I win, Nethack is the only real challenge I need to face. It's the game everyone needs to finish in order to consider themselves good.
I'm not good.
Nothing else matters except the Ascension.
I can't Ascend.
I'm not possibly doing stuff I love to do.
I'm not good.
I'm worthless.
What's the point of living?

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