ADOM - the Computer Game

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ADOM (short for Ancient Domains of Mystery) is a roguelike computer game written by Thomas Biskup in which your aim is to stop the forces of Chaos which are invading the world of Ancardia. The game world is more complex than in most other roguelikes. It consists of a wilderness (the wilderness map is fixed from one game to the next) containing many dungeons and towns. The layout of the towns is also fixed, but the dungeon levels are mostly randomly generated, so different each game. There are a few special levels that have fixed layouts.

You can choose any of ten races and twenty classes for your character, giving 200 possible combinations requiring widely varying playing styles. For example, a High Elven Wizard would annihilate their enemies by slinging spells at them from afar, while a Trollish Barbarian would have great difficulty learning spells and would be better off smashing everything in melee combat.

ADOM features a wide variety of skills, such as Find Weakness (the ability to aim for your opponent's weak points and hence score more critical hits in combat) and Alchemy (mixing potions and herbs to make new potions). Different races and classes start the game with different skills, and some skills can be taught by NPCs1, but other skills can only be learnt through magical means. Versions 1.1.0 and onwards also feature talents - you can pick at least one talent, often more, at the start of the game, and one more talent every three levels. There are prerequisites for certain talents. Some are only obtainable at the beginnning of the game, some require you to have other talents first, and some require specific attributes of the character (e.g. Strength, Dexterity, Learning) to be high enough. For example, the useful Heir talent (inherit a special magic item) is only available at the beginning of the game, and then only if you start with the Boon to the Family and Charming talents too.

Plot and Quests

ADOM has much more plot than most other roguelike games. At the beginning of the game, you head for a peaceful village known as Terinyo, and if you talk to some of the villagers, they will give you quests. None of these quests are compulsory for winning the game, but you will be rewarded for completing them, and the villagers may also be able to advise you on where to go next in order to defeat Chaos.

Sometimes your choice of quests will be affected by your alignment (Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic, which in ADOM equates to Good, Neutral or Evil). For example, if your character did not start with the Healing skill, it is almost essential to go on a quest to learn it. Most people learn it from Jharod the Healer, but he won't teach you if you're Chaotic. Fortunately for those who start Chaotic and have trouble changing alignment, there is an alternative - if you kill Jharod, the mad doctor will teach you Healing.

One feature of ADOM which greatly enhances its replay value is the availability of multiple endings. The standard way to defeat the forces of Chaos is to close the Chaos Gate, but if you've won the game this way and want a challenge, you can try to pass through the gate and defeat Andor Drakon, the Elder Chaos God. This will make you an Avatar of Order or Balance or an (Ultimate) Chaos God. (Yes, you can win ADOM as an evil character who defeats the lord of Chaos only to become a more powerful one.) These special endings are referred to as 'ultra endings'.2

Achieving an ultra ending is a much more complicated and difficult process than winning the game in the normal way. You need to obtain three magical items: the Crown of Chaos, the Medal of Chaos, and the Trident of the Red Rooster. To obtain these items, it is necessary to complete multiple quests in the right order. You are also required to change alignment during this procedure - the Medal of Chaos is a quest reward given by an evil NPC who will only talk to chaotics, while the Trident of the Red Rooster is summoned by a good NPC who won't summon it for you if you're chaotic.

Where to get ADOM

You can download the latest version of ADOM (1.1.1 at the date of writing) from the official ADOM website. This website also has sections on Thomas Biskup's plans for JADE, a Java-based multi-player version of ADOM, ADOM Deluxe, a shareware version with additional features which are commonly requested by players, and the ADOM RPG, a role-playing system based in the ADOM universe. Although ADOM can be downloaded at no cost, its source code is not available. Most roguelikes have freely available source. Thomas Biskup didn't release the source because he wants to keep a level of mystery surrounding the inner workings of ADOM and he doesn't want people releasing variants that don't fit his image of the ADOM world.

Other useful ADOM-related websites:
  • Andy Williams' pages - Contains the ADOM Guidebook (an extremely useful collection of ADOM spoilers), the ADOM FAQ (helpful but non-spoily information about ADOM) and the FAQ for the ADOM newsgroup,
  • The ADOM forums - extensive web-based forums for discussing ADOM.
1Non-Player Characters2Except for the 'ordinary' Chaos God ending, in which you defeat Andor Drakon and become the next Chaos God but are eventually vanquished by a hero of light.

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