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No, actually I didn't, but that was a close call and I'm really curious how would one go about that one.

On my third or fourth visit to the Nether, I still didn't realize the risk, and didn't place marks that would help me get back to the origin (currently I like to use flint and iron to create big flaming arrows towards the exit, visible from afar.) I wandered past one hill, and then I couldn't locate the place I came from. I wisened up and started placing marks in form of torches, towers of netherrack with glowstones on top etc. The bunch of wood I had in my stash has proven invaluable as I ran out of steaks, and had to craft a bowl and start making mushroom soup. I realized the fastest way back would be to simply die, but since I had no clue where I was, that would mean losing my quite precious equipment, which cost me a lot of time and effort to gather and enchant, for that trip specifically. I also knew I had traveled rather far from the portal before starting placing marks, so the chances of finding it again by going in any random direction were rather slim.

By sheer luck I found one of the caverns I had explored before, and found my way back, but that was really a close call and I'd prefer to know any hints what to do in Nether if you're already lost (no Obsidian to build a new portal, not willing to die and forgot the direction to the exit.)

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@Zommuter: No, that question was asking about Creative Mode (which makes the answer pretty much trivial). This one is about Survival, so the answers "Just build a new portal" are pretty much useless. –  SF. Jul 12 '13 at 13:01
    
I wanted to propose gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/46030/… but that's closed as a dupe of the one I linked to. But from a quick glance it somehow seems you're getting better answers here –  Zommuter Jul 12 '13 at 13:05
    
See also: gaming.stackexchange.com/q/117559/1351 –  MBraedley Jul 12 '13 at 14:54

7 Answers 7

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I believe, basing on ReallyGoodPie's answer, I do know something that would work most of the time.

Unless you're a devout traveler and wandered for days away from the spawn point (not too smart, a creeper blows up you and your bed and you're back to spawn, days away from home - not to mention all three strongholds are between 640 and 1152 blocks from the spawn) we can assume your Nether Portal was somewhere within, say, 3200 blocks radius from 0,y,0 (that's like 9 maximum zoom-out maps!). Since coordinates in Nether are an eighth of the Overworld, that means the portal will be within 400 blocks from 0,y,0 (and you can estimate the radius by estimating the distance of the overworld portal from spawn.) You can also estimate the altitude (y) - 64 if that was the surface, more for hills, less for underground.

Now locate 0,y,0 using F3 and then travel in spiral around that point, trying to explore increasingly wider circle of terrain and controlling your distance using the coordinates. That way you shouldn't miss any terrain and be able to locate familiar areas and eventually the portal - six chunks radius isn't something beyond hope for exploring, and most people will have their homes (and portals) within 1000 radius, that's mere 2 chunks of Nether away from Spawn. (and if you remembered rough direction of your portal from spawn, using the Cobblestone Compass trick you can head straight for your portal from the "origin")

Another option, inspired by Loren: If you have enough wood, or a chest - or are near enough from the portal (say, aforementioned 0,y,0) - or are patient enough to locate a treasure chest at a fortress - write down your coords, dump all your equipment, suicide, then go, retrieve it all - stopping long enough to take note of the portal location this time.

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+1 This is an excellent idea that answers the actual question :P –  mellamokb Jul 12 '13 at 18:03
    
I recall that Netherrack actually also has an L on it as cobblestone does. –  Alvin Wong Jul 13 '13 at 8:50

Everytime you go into the nether, I always usually do a couple of things, especially if it's my first time entering. Here's what they are:

  • Take note of the coordinates. I usually open up notepad (or text edit on Mac) and then hit F3 while in Minecraft, and a bunch of text will be displayed like the image below. If you look where I have circled with my professional paint skills, you will see a bunch of coordinates. Take not of these in you text editor as you first step through into the nether and this will tell you exactly where your portal is. Be sure to take down the x, y, and z coordinates. IF you get lost, simply try and head back to these coordinates (simple enough). You only have to do this when using a new portal, as it will never change.

The Red Circle MAn!

  • Place cobblestone trails. Cobblestone does not naturally generate in the nether and due to the dark colors, it "stands out" quit nicely, meaning it is hard to lose your way.

If you are seriously already lost, there is no hope. You can walk around for hours upon hours only to realise (or not) you've been walking in the opposite direction of your portal. Always try and prevent this stuff before it happens.

Prevention is the best cure... or something like that

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F3 and writing down the coordinates is how I do it when I'm not using mapping mods. –  Charles Caldwell Jul 12 '13 at 12:36
    
Well yes, but I am assuming SF is not using any mode and just playing vanilla minecraft. He has not mentioned any mods. :) –  ReallyGoodPie Jul 12 '13 at 12:45
    
As you should assume. =) (Even now, I still use F3 to write down key locations I want to remember.) –  Charles Caldwell Jul 12 '13 at 12:57

Bring enough stuff to create a second portal. You will need the following:

  • Flint And Steel (to ignite the portal)
  • 10 Obsidian blocks (for the frame of the portal
  • Bring a compass

When you get lost, simply build a portal and go through it. Upon entering the overworld, you can use your compass to find your way back to your spawn point.

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Difference is that compass works in the overworld. How is this not an option? –  Lorenzo Boccaccia Jul 12 '13 at 13:48
    
You never mentioned anything about a compass :/ sorry. –  ReallyGoodPie Jul 12 '13 at 14:00
    
+1. This is what I do. You only actually need to bring 10 blocks of obsidian as well (the corners of a portal don't have to be obsidian). I play on xbox360 version though where the over world is practically impossible to get lost in so long as you have a map because of it's relatively small size –  Earlz Jul 12 '13 at 14:02
    
@Earlz: And flint&iron or at least an iron ingot! If a ghast extinguishes your original portal you're stuck deep up the same place... –  SF. Jul 12 '13 at 14:12
    
True! That happened to me once. Now, I always ensure I have a flint and steel and when I have a "base" setup in the nether, I ensure I have a chest with an extra flint and steel just in case @SF. –  Earlz Jul 12 '13 at 15:43

My advice is to construct markers more often, and with materials that stand out. So instead of creating flaming arrows (flames are common, and blend in anyway), just plonk down a cobblestone block every 16 blocks or so as you travel.

This will give you a trail of breadcrumbs all the way back and it has the following advantages:

  • It stands out since there's no natural cobblestone in the nether
  • It can't be destroyed by ghasts
  • It has a built in compass!
  • It's very cheap
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That's all fine and dandy providing you start doing this from moment one. This question is "what if the cat is already out of the box?" –  SF. Jul 12 '13 at 11:12
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"Prevention is the best cure?" Why go running out into a lava death trap where there is only one way out without remembering or making landmarks to find your way back? Seems a bit silly. –  ReallyGoodPie Jul 12 '13 at 12:57

Why couldn't you just search for the last place you constructed a marker? You should have a fair understanding of how long it's been since you last built one -- build one with a noticeable difference where you are when you realise you're lost, and begin searching out around that, marking off areas as you go.

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The intention went: "Place marker, look behind that hill, come back. Oh, not coming back yet, pretty glowstone! Oh, what an amazing cave! Oh, more glowstone! Okay, let's go back at last. Going, going, going... I should have seen that marker minutes ago! Where it is?" - by that time I was roughly 8 chunks away from that marker, and spent another few minutes blundering around before I got the idea "better to start creating new markers now". –  SF. Jul 12 '13 at 10:39
    
Oh, and I forgot to write what was the original source of my failure: I went pretty high up and forgot it. I remembered the marker was below, but I'd rarely go as low as the top of the original hill and never to the level of the original marker (believing it should be much higher.) –  SF. Jul 12 '13 at 11:11

Assuming you are well and truly stuck in the nether (i.e. you mined the obsidian from around the portal and either threw the items in a lava lake, blew them up, or let them despawn), there may be one other way you can get back to the natural world without dying:

Surviving in the nether is a very similar situation to the "hardcore superflat survival" that my brother used to do (IDK why). While I agree that it's ridiculous, the same tactics used to survive in a superflat world can also be applied to the 'stranded in the nether' situation.

The basic tactics involved in surviving on superflat mode are described below (he did this with standard superflat, although the same tactics could be equally applied to other superflat modes):

  1. When you start, the very first thing to do is find a village. Turn render distance to far, pick a direction, and start moving. Walk, don't run. If you see some sheep directly in your path, kill some to get 3 wool, then keep moving. Don't stop, even for night, until you come to a village, or you will probably starve before you get there.
  2. Once you arrive, immediately go to the blacksmith shop and loot the chest, then use your 3 wool to build a bed. Inside the church tower is the safest place for now, so put the bed there, wait for night, and sleep.
  3. Next few days, loot as much of the village as is useful. Take all the items from the blacksmith chest, the chest itself, at least 64 loaves of bread, and as many stacks of logs/wood planks as you can fit in your inventory. If you have/can craft both a diamond pickaxe and a bucket, freeze the lava and take the obsidian with you, too.
  4. Pick a direction (not directly back the way you came) and go until you find another village. Loot that village, too.
  5. Once you have a total of 10 obsidian (blacksmith chest loot, blacksmitsh shop lava), and have/can craft a flint-and-steel (dig up the road for flint), build a portal and light it.

A similar process can be used for the nether, except here you are after the chests found in nether fortresses. Needless to say, looting them is much more dangerous than looting a village. This may in fact not actually work, because I am not sure if those chests can contain obsidian. Gravel and iron are no big deal to find. Once you have the stuff, build a portal, and leave the nether. (Be sure you don't die before you have a chance to sleep, though.)

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Iron? Where do you find iron in Nether? –  SF. Jul 12 '13 at 21:16
    
Chests in nether fortresses can contain iron as possible loot. I think one of the mobs also has them as a rare drop. –  AJMansfield Jul 12 '13 at 23:38
    
downvoter please explain reasons for downvoting. –  AJMansfield Jul 12 '13 at 23:38
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I didn't downvote but this is not very viable. Nether fortresses are nothing like villages. They are both rare and dangerous. Even if the chest contain obsidian, the chance to find it is minor. To finding enough of them to find 10 blocks of obsidian you'd need to travel the Nether for months. By that time you'll be so far from the origin that even if you build the portal, you'll be beyond hope (x8 distance!) to return home through the overworld. 1 fortress per realtime day of gameplay, roughly 100 fortresses to find all that obsidian is a generous estimate. A solution that takes half a year? –  SF. Jul 13 '13 at 8:53
    
Also note in that "superflat challenge" the obsidian would be obtained from casting magma found in the forges, and most villages do have forges; the worst challenge being finding three diamonds for the pick to acquire it. Can you confirm for sure obsidian happens in treasure chests of the fortresses at all? –  SF. Jul 13 '13 at 12:41

It depends whether I'm on Single Player or Multi Player.

For single player, I'd take a book and quill with me and write the F3 co-ordinates, x, y and z. In fact, I use this for all places really.

Also, if I have no way to get out, as in no portals, there are two ways to get out.

Take suicide, this is the fastest option.

Look for Nether Fortresses, they have a small chance of having iron and obsidian. Also, you can get flint via the random gravel which spawns there. I've used this once before, and it took me over 3 hours.

For multi player, I've got a huge nether base, and I've set a warp there.

Hope this helped!

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This just got downvoted, can someone explain why they think it isn't as good? –  user51803 Jul 13 '13 at 18:20

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