(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.
What's the point of living?