Angband - the Computer Game

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Angband is a Tolkien-based roguelike computer game, named after Morgoth's fortress of iron in J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion. For those who are not familiar with this type of game, they are turn-based dungeon exploration and monster killing games which generally use ASCII graphics. In Angband you are represented by a @ symbol1 and travel
around the dungeon fighting lots of monsters (alphabetic characters in
various colours) by either running into them (which represents hitting
them with a melee weapon), shooting them, or zapping them with an array of spells, wands and other magic devices.

The objective of the game is to travel through the dungeon
amassing experience, equipment and (less importantly) treasure.
Eventually you will have to fight and kill Morgoth (the Dark Enemy of
Middle Earth) in order to win the game2. You can continue your
adventure after killing Morgoth, but there isn't much point, unless
you want to search for the One Ring.

Apart from simply thrashing you in combat, here are some of the
nasty things that monsters can do to you:

  • Cause bleeding wounds
  • Poison you
  • Frighten you so that you cannot fight in melee
  • Confuse you, making it impossible to run or fight effectively
  • Drain away your life (i.e. experience points)
  • Paralyse you
  • Randomly swap your stats around

The deeper you go into the dungeon, the more dangerous the monsters
become, and the more important it becomes to have protection against
these special attacks. This protection is usually obtained through
equipment such as artifact weapons and armour.

One distinctive feature of Angband is that when you leave a dungeon
level, it and everything on it is gone forever. Also, there is a
limit to how many items you can carry at the same time (you have a
home in town, but that too has a finite capacity). This means that
you need to make hard choices about what equipment to keep, what to
sell in the shops in town, and what to discard.

Unfortunately, these regenerating levels also encourage a practice
known as 'scumming',3 where the player spends a long
time at a depth at which they can easily survive until they finally
feel tough enough to descend deeper. (If you were to attempt this in
a game with static dungeon levels such as NetHack, you would probably
starve to death waiting for new monsters to appear.) Scumming is also
how the Borg, a computer program which plays Angband, manages to win the game. Being a program, it has infinite patience, and will oscillate between levels 1 and 2 for as long as it takes to become absolutely safe on level 3.

Angband can be downloaded for free from the official Angband page at Thangorodrim, along with other Angband-related material including spoilers, humour, and suggestions for music to listen to while playing Angband. A whole host of variants (about 30 of which are still regularly updated) can also be downloaded from Thangorodrim. Popular variants include Mangband (an online multiplayer version), ZAngband (based on the works of Roger Zelazny) and ToME (formerly known as PernAngband, and based on Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels).

1Unless you
are one of the heretics who use graphical tiles.
2This doesn't happen
often, you'll usually die first.
3Not to be confused with savescumming,
which is cheating by making backup copies of save files and restoring
from them when you die.

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