(From the NetHack
3.4.1 source code):
"Quasits are small, evil
creatures, related to imps
Their talons release a very toxic poison when used
in an attack."
"They say that a blessed tin of quasit meat
Hunting the Quasit
Quasits do not appear in "real" mythology
arising as the creation of a game designer in the
early 1980's. Since then, numerous computer games
and fantasy roleplaying systems, including
Dungeons & Dragons
, have mentioned
To establish a lower bound on the creation of the
quasit, we examine two key games, which influenced
(and inspired, by many of the various authors'
admissions) all other games referenced in this essay.
First, The Colossal Cave Adventure
, a simple
from 1975 (give or take a year
according to Will Crowther
, the author), all
but created the genre of fantasy-oriented computer
games. It did not include any quasits, however.
In 1979, Automated Simulations
(later called Epyx
released "Temple of Apshai
," which arguably counts as
the first of the "Rogue-like" games. It did not
contain any mention of quasits either.
So, tracing backward from the known inclusion of the
quasit in NetHack, we find that the earliest existent
version of Hack (predecessor to Nethack), v1.0.1 from
April of 1985, already had the elusive quasit as a
Hack evolved from an older game called "Rogue
Rogue spawned a number of similar games, of which
Hack and The Dungeons of Moria
gained the most
Before moving on to Rogue itself, an examination
of Robert Alan Koeneke
's Moria, reveals its use of
the quasit as of v4.7, from March of 1987. However, as
no earlier versions remain, this does not provide much
information. At the earliest however, the presence of
a quasit in Moria could have come from the first
release, in March of 1983. This would predate Hack.
Finally moving along to Rogue itself, the earliest source
code readily available (Jon Lane
's PC port) comes from
1984(?), and does not include a quasit. Nor does the
initial BSD (4.2) version, 5.3, from April of 1983.
Complicating matters, releases of Rogue produced
chronologically later, but with lower version numbers,
such as v1.7 for CP/M
from 1990(?), and the 3.6.1
"rogue restoration" project, do include the quasit.
Painfully tracking down a copy of the v3.6 source code
for Rogue, dated June of 1981, we discover that it
includes our quasit!
Finally, an bit of commentary from Glenn R. Wichman
the least well known of Rogue's authors (for the same
reason that the quasit hid its origins so well),
explains the situation:
We had a playable game, without all the features yet
(e.g., no armor), when Michael transferred to U.C.
Berkeley, where he met up with Ken Arnold. For a while,
we each moved forward with our own versions of the game,
him in Berkeley and me in Santa Cruz. This proved to be
too difficult to keep up logistically, so I just let
Michael & Ken take over Rogue development completely.
To this day, there are a lot of folks who think of it
as Michael & Ken's game.
The answer finally emerges from the confusion. The quasit
did originate in Rogue, but ceased to exist for several
years when Wichman abandoned his version of the code.
If not for Hack and Moria, presumeably inspired by versions
of Rogue prior to its three authors parting ways, we would
not currently have a mythical monster known as a quasit.