Rogue is the predecessor to NetHack and all other roguelike games; it is the reference in the name. Although much simpler than the other roguelikes, it is regarded as a classic, and is just as difficult to beat.

The basic plot is almost exactly like NetHack, right down to the name "Amulet of Yendor", and the interface is similarly ASCII-based, but several of the innovations of NetHack are not present in Rogue. For instance, while NetHack has six attributes, Rogue has only one: strength. (Dexterity is present, but not as an attribute.)

Rogue has fewer monsters (only twenty-six), but several are similar to those of NetHack. For example, the Rogue aquator is basically a rust monster, and an ice monster paralyzes as a floating eye does, and causes just as many YASDs - if not more, since an aggravated ice monster will actively attack you. (In very early versions of Rogue, the aquator was actually called a "rust monster", and the ice monster was a "floating eye", but the names and characters were changed around in Rogue 5.3, supposedly because of  problems with Dungeons and Dragons copyrights.) Additionally, monsters do not drop corpses or leave behind food rations, making hunger an even more pressing problem than in NetHack.

Compared to other roguelike games that trace their linage from Rogue, NetHack is much more similar to Rogue. The similarities include:

  • Screen size. Both NetHack and Rogue have similar screen sizes that do not scroll.
  • Identifying system. Both NetHack and Rogue have similar systems that use scarce Identify Scrolls, and in many cases encourages identifying items through use.
  • Similar types of items. Both NetHack and Rogue have scrolls, wands, potions, rings, armor, weapons, ranged weapons and matching ammo. Almost all of the scrolls and potions found in Rogue are also found in NetHack in some form or another.
  • Similar monsters.
  • Both NetHack and Rogue use hyphens and pipes for walls, while many roguelikes use hash marks.

As a tribute to Rogue, NetHack contains a Rogue level that is an adaptation of the original Rogue.


Rogue was first released in 1980 (five years before the release of Hack) by developers Michel Toy, Glenn Wichman, and Ken Arnold.

Connection to NetHack[]

The game became very popular in college campuses (at the time the only places where computers were available.) The game was sold, but did not sell well for various reasons. The game was not originally released open sourced, which led to "clones" of the original rogue. One of the more popular clones was Hack, which had only minor differences to Rogue; however, it was both open source and free. Eventually Hack was forked into the NetHack that we know and love today.

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