Saturday, October 13, 2012

Computer games - Moria (and other roguelikes)

Would you build a town above
a huge dungeon of monsters?
Moria (which you can download for free from here or here) is a roguelike computer game that I played on my Atari ST.  The premise was simple.  You were a hero who had to descend into the dungeons of Moria (a dungeon populated with a multitude of dangerous and powerful monsters) from the town that is built on top of it(?) and fight your way to level 50 where the Balrog may be (you may have to go lower to find it) and then kill it.

I used to be completely addicted to this game.  Completely.  It took ages to get the experience, stats and magical items before I was even near to killing the Balrog.  I admit that I did it via save scumming too.  The computer would delete your character file if you died so I would always copy it to another place on the disk.  Here I a few memories...

You had to haggle for literally everything,
including a ration with an asking price of 5gp.
You probably could haggle him down to 3gp.
Great use of game time.
I decided to play a human ranger  and doggedly tried to kill the Balrog.  Eventually, I was victorious with my Holy Avenger battle axe, but it took a while.  Here are a few things I remember from Moria.

I had to learn what the characters meant.  Everything in the game was represented by ASCII characters with letters representing monsters.  I learnt to be wary of a B (Balrog) or a D (Ancient dragon.)

Haggling took forever!  Forunately in later editions, they just dropped the price to whatever the final asking price before just offering the asking price.

Stinking cloud would get rid of all the mice (the rs)
I constantly bought scrolls of *Enchant Weapon* and *Enchant Armour* in the hope that this time, they would improve the weapon.

The delay on a scroll of recall was sometimes deadly.

I learnt fast with a horde of lice that area effect weapons are really useful

I cast remove curse on a ring of weakness but left it on because it looked pretty, not realising that the effect still stayed.

You could even do some mining.
My tactics at higher levels was to have two rings of speed (which made me faster than everyone except the Balrog) and bash monsters so that they were stunned and couldn't move.  It worked as long as monsters with powerful ranged weapons, such as dragons, were not able to use them.

I played a human ranger (a warrior who can cast mage spells in game terms) and required an extra 50% experience for my versatility.  It was worth it, though.

Things you really need:  Rings of Speed (x2), the see invisible ability (part of my holy avenger axe), remove poison magic, remove curse magic, freedom of movement (also part of my holy avenger axe), restore life levels potions, potions of healing, scrolls of Word of Recall (but don't forget that they have a delay), a sustain stat item (also part of my Holy Avenger axe.  The Holy Avenger ability is very useful.)

Ancient Domains of Mystery (ADOM)
is a little more complicated than Moria.
I found this game addictive because there were plenty of items to discover and since each was randomly generated, (and regenerated every time you return) there was plenty of exploring to do.  There were also a wide range of monsters.  Each character could have different descriptions (a p for humanoid, for example could have many descriptions such as a filthy street urchin to an evil iggy.)  There were also plenty of things to deal with - mining, disarming traps, fighting (plenty of it), picking locks and many many more things to do.

There are tons and tons of roguelike games which vary greatly - some have deep stories, some have graphics, some are quick and easy and some are based on a Fighting Fantasy book.  You can find the Roguelike wiki here.

To finish off, here are a couple of Moria moments from Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring in Moria ASCII:

Boromir takes a sneaky peak.
Gandalf vs the Balrog


  1. Ah, ADOM. That was the first one that I found. Such a complex and deep game. Nethack is another of my favourites. DoomRL is a fun roguelike take on Doom. Oh, and can't forget Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. And I can say I've never finished one.

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