The Oracle

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The Oracle is a monster who resides on a special level called "The Oracle Level" (or Delphi). She can provide a consultation for a fee, which is supposed to be one of the main ways the player learns about the game. In practice, players read spoilers, such as this one.


The Oracle Level is located between level 5 and 9 inclusive in the Dungeons of Doom. It is eligible to leave bones, and monster creation is biased towards neutral monsters. Immediately below the Oracle Level is the level with the entrance to Sokoban.

Oracle room dec

There are five rooms to the sides of the above area, containing the stairs (in separate rooms), five random monsters, three random traps, and six random items; they are linked to each other and to the above room by corridors. The Oracle is at the center of the three by three room (called Delphi), amid the fountains. Delphi has a random empty doorway in one wall. There are two random monsters generated in the area surrounding Delphi. The marked statues are:


The Oracle is a human @ Oracle, and always starts peaceful. Attacking her in melee causes a spray of magic missiles to hit you; she has no active attacks of her own.[1]If you survive these magic missiles and #chat with her, you will get the message "The oracle is in no mood for consultations." Killing her with ranged attacks will net no penalty except that of murder, but it's generally a bad idea.


The Oracle offers two services. Minor consultations are true rumors, like you get from a blessed fortune cookie. A major consultation is an extended description of some aspect of the game, for example:

Behold the cockatrice, whose diminutive stature belies its hidden might.  The  
cockatrice can petrify any ordinary being it contacts--save those wise  
adventurers who eat a dead lizard or blob of acid when they feel themselves  
slowly turning to stone.

Major consultations can be found in the file Oracles.txt, for players who are not inclined to pay as they go.

Consultations cost money, but increase your score[2] and give experience points[3] for the first of each type:

Type of consultation Score Experience points Cost
Minor (if not yet major) 21 5 50
Minor (if already major) 9 2 50
Major (if not yet minor) 210 + (21 * XL) 50 + (5 * XL) 500 + (50*XL)
Major (if already minor) 90 + (9 * XL) 20 + (2 * XL) 500 + (50*XL)

If you take a major consultation, but do not have enough money to pay for it, the Oracle will take all your money and give a special oracularity which references Oracle machine. You won't get any experience for this and will "use up" your one chance to get experience at the major level. Even the minor consultation will only give you 2 points afterwards. This can be trouble if you were relying on this for a pacifist character.

Lists of ConsultationsEdit

The oracle's consultations are stored in plain text in the source code, you can read the:

List of Major Consultations which are from the netack-3.4.3\dat\oracles.txt

List of Rumors which are from the netack-3.4.3\dat\rumors.tru

Mythology & HistoryEdit

The Oracle is primarily based on the Pythia, the priestess who presided over the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi; the NetHack Oracle will welcome you to "Delphi" when she spots you arriving at her abode. Some behavior is also in reference to the Internet Oracle from, which first appeared in 1989, as did the Oracle in NetHack 3.0.0.

Both of these predate the Oracle in The Matrix film series, which is not referenced.

The Oracle-level sound effects reference several different oracles:

"You hear a strange wind." 
The Oracle of Jupiter at Dodona
"You hear convulsive ravings." 
The Oracle of Apollo at Delphi
"You hear snoring snakes." 
The Oracle of Æsculapius at Epidaurus

The two hallucination sounds both reference the Internet Oracle:

"You hear someone say "No more woodchucks!"" 
In reference to the taboo question "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"
"You hear a loud ZOT!" 
In reference to the traditional answer to this.


Pacifist characters should use the Oracle for levelling up.

The Oracle will not get angry if you dry up the fountains or destroy the statues.

If you lack telepathy, the Oracle level can often be recognized by its slightly different assortment of monsters, e. g. naga hatchlings and baby dragons. This is because it counts as neutral for monster generation purposes, just like the Sokoban.

Encyclopedia entryEdit

Delphi under towering Parnassus, where Apollo's oracle was,
plays an important part in mythology. Castalia was its
sacred spring; Cephissus its river. It was held to be the
center of the world, so many pilgrims came to it, from
foreign countries as well as Greece. No other shrine rivaled
it. The answers to the questions asked by the anxious
seekers for Truth were delivered by a priestess who went into
a trance before she spoke.

[ Mythology, by Edith Hamilton ]

Source code referencesEdit

  1. uhitm.c#line2222
  2. rumors.c#line376
  3. rumors.c#line359

External LinksEdit

This page is based on a spoiler by Dylan O'Donnell. The original license is:

Redistribution, copying, and editing of these spoilers, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  1. The original contributors to any spoiler must continue to be credited.
  2. Any modifications to the spoiler must be acknowledged and credited.

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