Vanilla Nethack has been solved.
I know, this is heresy for a lot of people. But Marvin has a 23-game ascension streak posted on nethack.alt.org, and Mike Kelly recently broke that streak with a 25-game one of his own. There is a player with over 100 ascensions on NAO since June. Someone is writing a borg to automate large parts of the game. This wouldn't be possible if it weren't effectively solved, which is quite possible for a turn-based game.
Most importantly, because the game has been solved, there's no longer a lot of fun available for a spoiled and/or experienced player. There are a number of perfect binary defenses available, and the game is all about obtaining those as soon as possible... relegating tactics and on-the-spot creativity to the early game.
I could have waited for the Dev Team to release the next version, but it's been four years and there's no guarantee they'll think the same way I do. So, I created this. It's a full fork of vanilla Nethack 3.4.3.
In short, one of the purposes of this fork is to try to make the game more interesting for experienced/skilled players, while making it no harder (or, in a couple cases, slightly easier) for the newbie. It's also going to be an attempt to try to increase variety in the standard 'ascension kit', since right now that kit is pretty well defined.
To be more specific, there are some things I want to be, and some things I don't.
* I don't want to take the same road Slash'EM did. Slash'EM added tons of new features willy-nilly, with little regard for game balance. As a result, Slash'EM has a lot of new toys, but a lot more ways to break the game.
* I don't want to be Crawl. The Crawl guys are doing a good job with things, but if I mimic all the good ideas, then I might as well just go write code/patches for Crawl, right?
* I don't want to fix vanilla bugs; that's the Dev Team's job. This isn't a hard and fast rule; if I'm already working with something, I don't mind doing a little bit more to clean up stuff. And things like the Call bug were obvious targets anyway, just for playability reasons. But overall, this is about new things, not just bug-fixes... plus, I don't like to duplicate effort.
* It's a work in progress. Some features may look unusual or seem out of balance at first; that's because some things really need to actually have players encounter them in-game to properly evaluate the impact. Theorizing only goes so far, and if I tried to extensively playtest all my changes, I'd spend all my time playing the game instead of coding it... sort of unproductive. What this means is that if things really _are_ broken, they'll probably be fixed relatively quickly, and some other things may be changed.
I hope you enjoy it. :)