Geoduck Nethack

You know about NetHack?
No? Follow those links there and learn more.
Yes? Then you'll agree it's a wonderfully complex games with
vast replay value, and the price can't be beat.

Nevertheless, right from the start I had a major problem with it: the default "all-ASCII" graphic-display option just doesn't offer enough information, while the various existing tile options were either ugly or too big to fit nicely on the screen. (Pause to allow the hard-core pro-ASCII crowd to stampede for the exits..) So, if only for my own amusement and convenience, I created the

Geoduck WinHack Tile Set Version 6.1
(Last Updated February 02, 2017)

In the past, I also created the
Geoduck SlashEM Tile Set Version 1.0
Geoduck UnNetHack Tile Set Version 2.2
But I've stopped updating them. If you still want to try them, you can visit my archive NetHack page here

This is not a more elaborate and detailed tile set. Just the opposite; I have pared everything down to a tile size of 25 pixels high by 15 pixels wide, while using a restricted palette of colors and, whenever possible, incorporating a version of the original ASCII character into each tile. Many NetHackers have reported the results to be a useful cross between the default WinHack tiles and the original ASCII version.

With the GTS copied into place, and the proper line of code added to your 'defaults.nh' file, a game of NetHack should display an entire level of the dungeon on your screen without any (serious) eyestrain or warping of the tiles, while still offering more information than ASCII about everything that you are stealing, slaughtering and/or running away from.


While the color of the dungeon's living (or at least animate) inhabitants have been changed from the original ASCII, and extra distinguishing features have been added, roughly 95% of the critters are still depicted by the same basic letter or symbol as they are in ASCII. (The other 5%, I couldn't resist a little artistic license...) I've tried to be as consistent as I can with regards to the size and color changes; whenever possible a monster's new hue(s) is somehow appropriate to its character or appearance, while the bigger a critter is 'in-game', usually the bigger is the letter depicting it. For example, a Mumak is still a 'q' in GTS, but it is now a big gray lower-case


with a 'tusk'. I've included more explicit monster spoilers at the bottom of this page, for those who are interested. I have also made every effort to make each tile distinct, even hopefully for those with color-blindness.

As for inanimate objects.. if at all possible, I've again worked the original ASCII shape into the new tile: Wands are a variety of different colors, but they are still roughly '/' shaped. Spellbooks have a '+' on their cover instead of the 's' found in the default tiles. Scrolls are labeled with a '?'. Rings are big '=' signs. Amulets are " symbols with added bling. Armor is '[' shaped or marked. Most of the traps in the game are marked with a red '^'. Many terrain-tiles feature a '#'. However, in many cases it just wasn't possible to use the ASCII as a base, and so the object simply looks like.. the object in question. Hopefully. This is particularly the case with hardware and food tiles. (Although, again, whenever possible I've worked in a "%" symbol with the latter..)
Due to the thinness of my tiles I made oil and magic lamps look like old-fashioned kerosene lamps, instead of something from the Arabian Nights.
Because these tiles are asymmetrical, when shooting wands and missile weapons at an angle you need to make extra sure that your intended target is in fact in a straight line with you.

A novice hero and his little dog encounter a goblin on dungeon level number one

A more experienced adventurer hangs out with the resident priest in [SPOILER!!] one version of Minetown.


If you wish to try the tileset, choose your preferred size and follow the instructions.

Be aware that NetHack is still under active development, and this set could become obsolete at any time.


Save this .bmp file into the NetHack game directory on your computer.

Locate your game's 'defaults.nh' file, which should also be in the NetHack directory on your computer. It can be accessed with your copy of Windows Notepad, or any other text-editor. Once you have defaults.nh open, cut n' paste in the following, putting it on its own line:


Or if you want a double-sized version...

50x30 pixels

Proceed as above, but add the following line to your defaults.nh file:


Whichever of these files you use, be sure there is only one line in 'defaults.nh' which lists the described parameters; otherwise you will get an error message when the game starts. If you change the name of the set file when you save it to your system, you'll need to use the new name in the 'defaults.nh' line.

Start up the game with the GTS in place. If you get an error message or see a jumbled mess, you downloaded the wrong size set, or failed to install the defaults.nh line properly. If it works, you will want to try the "Fit To Sceen" option under "Map", and see if everything looks better with that option on or off.

Go get that Amulet!


While the GTS was created for Windows computers, I have been informed that you can use it with a Linux set-up. I have no first-hand proof of this, and know next to nothing about Linux. To quote correspondents:

"Edit /etc/nethack/nethackrc.qt, but instead of adding
change the tile_file argument to give it the full path to nethack. Example:
I had less luck trying it with my local ~/.nethack/nethackrc.qt file, as the one in /etc/nethack seems to
override the tileset option. I ended up just deleting the ~/.nethack/nethackrc.qt file."

And for those playing the Linux version using the X11 port..

"It is as simple as converting the BMP to an XPM file using GIMP,
and changing the line in /etc/X11/app-defaults/NetHack from
NetHack.tile_file /old/path/to/x11tiles
NetHack.tile_file /path/to/geoducks/awesome/tiles.xpm"

I created an .xpm version of the 25x15 set using my own drawing program; if you want to save it off and try it, here it is. An X11 user tells me it does work, but.. no guarantees.

Thanks again to my various correspondents for the info; if anyone else tries it, let me know how well it works!


I officially give my permission to post the relevant .bmps elsewhere, as long as I get all the credit, fame and glory. (Muhahaha!) At the moment, this page is the only one offering 'official' updates to the set.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions,
please drop me a line at

or post your comments at the NetHack Usenet group,
which is still chugging along after all these years

or go check out the highly informative

NetHack Wiki.

VERSION 6.1 (APRIL 09, 2017)

Changes to dragons, rings and potions in an effort to make every tile more unique and distinct.

Made light-illuminated floor-spaces more distinctive.

VERSION 6.0 (FEBRUARY 02, 2017)

Changed/reworked the size of the entire set from 20x12 pixels to reflect the ever-growning size of computer monitors. (Or at least the ones that I use..)

Made an effort to make all tiles more distinctive for any color-blind users.

VERSION 5.0 (DECEMBER 27, 2015)

Reworked and expanded the set to be compatible with NetHack 3.6.0. The biggest obvious change is the addition of species-specific statues.

Changed the look of Homunculi and Imps.

Removed the now-obsolete "statue frill" from stone golems.

Redid camera flashes.

VERSION 4.2 (SEPTEMBER 19, 2012)

Added some trim to Sokoban wall-tiles.

Added webs/legs to spiders.

Redid the look of some Quest leaders/assistants/nemesises.

Changed the color of Guards to blue.

Made the color schemes of Lynx and Jackels more true to life.

"Fattened" the look of Vortexs.

Tweaked the look of the various boots and shields.

Gave Medusa a green tinge.

Changed clouds/mist to fill more of the tile.

Narrowed the look of lowered drawbridges.

Differentiated between open vertical and horizontal doors.

Changed the caps of some potions to reflect their contents: icy, steamy, gooey...

VERSION 4.1 (JUNE 22, 2012)

Made doors/magic portals/trees/iron bars/clouds look more like original ASCII.

Made Goblins and Hobgoblins more O-shaped.

Added serifs to some upper-case critter-letters: Giants, Liches, Nagas, Trolls, Umber Hulks.

Gave cold-themed creatures a snowy trim.

Added outlines to Elementals.

Lightened up the purple trim on various critters.

Made Vlad the Impaler black with purple trim, even tho he doesn't deserve the honor.

Redid the color scheme on flesh golems.

Changed wire rings and shiny rings.

Changed the look of most silver items to make them look more metal and less "cold".

Made water and lava tiles more bubbly.

Re-colored bubbly potions.

Redid towels. Do you know where yours is?

Made boomerangs look less like staircases.

Added "leaves" to wooden wands.

Minor tweaks to septums, forked wands.

VERSION 4.0 (MAY 23, 2012)

Slightly enlarged the player's "@" symbol.

Added [ symbol to gloves and cloaks.

Re-did gravestones to be larger and read RIP.

Fountain water made more visible, water creatures (troll, demon, elemental) given "aura" for same reason.

Lightened the interior blue of electrical critters.

Gave adult dragons horns, rounded off the curve of their "D" more.

Made the "towers" marking the Fort Ludios cornertiles bigger.

Changed Incubi to blue from purple.

Ogres now display clubs along with their "O".

Orc Shaman crosses are brown instead of blue.

Ettins have more visible eyes/faces.

Altered the color scheme for Trappers and Lurkers Above.

Minor tweaks for greater visibility: Orange spellbooks and shopkeepers.

VERSION 3.0 (NOV 16, 2010)

The most obvious change with 3.0 is my adding two "empty" pixels to the side of each tile; computer monitors are bigger these days, and it's amazing how much less cluttered that extra space makes things look. (I may eventually do this with the SlashEM set as well, but honestly, I don't play it as much..)

Reworked some (but not all) of the food tiles to include the "%" symbol.

Slightly reworked the key and lockpick tiles.

Made spellbooks "taller"

Made most of the helmets bigger. Ditto the "G" on the can of grease.

Changed untrapped landmines to include a sort of "deactivated trap" symbol.

Changed Ogres to gray, and Titanosaurs to orange/tan.

Moved the cross carried by Kobald Shamans to a new position.


(Note that these links all work, but most of this stuff hasn't been updated in years. Drop me a line if you've got an appropriate link.)

Another Hacker made an alternate small-tile set that used, with permission, some of my ideas. You can check it out here. I stole back a couple of ideas for some of my own updates.

Here's a smaller tile set for Linux users:

And a couple of 'nethack fonts', for X11 and xterm users.

Vulture is a 3D isometric tileset.

The NetHack Wiki has some tileset information here.

EbonHack is, if I understand it correctly, a program which lets you use tilesets (including mine, if all goes as planned) while playing vanilla NetHack online.



(Exceptions are made when a creature is specifically described as being a certain color, i.e. white unicorns and yellow lights.)

PURPLE = MAGICAL (a fairly loose category.)


Shriekers look like a mushroom, instead of being a capital F like all the other fungi.

Except for skeletons and ghouls, which are still Z-shaped, the classes of mummies and zombies use the letter and size of the reanimated creature in question, only changed to a 'bandaged' or 'decayed' color scheme.

Incubi and succubi are depicted by the appropriate 'male' or 'female' symbol. All other demons use the '&' symbol, however distorted and disguised it may be in some cases.

Back to Geoduck's main page.

NetHack, UnNetHack and Slash'EM are copyrights of those fine people who make them.
J. R. R. Tolkien first came up with the idea of Mumakil.
All other contents 2017 Robert M. Cook
Tile set and screen shot(s) created with JASC Inc.'s Paint Shop Pro
Last Updated April 09, 2017