Friday, June 17, 2011

nethack? roguelike? help me out here.

Earlier today I was googling for more information on sandestins, a creature type from a couple Jack Vance books.  This led me to a wiki for the computer dungeon-ma-bob NetHack.  While I know my Telenguard from a hole in the ground, I've never tried any of the various "my guy is an ASCII symbol" games.  The ASCII graphics don't do much for me.  A red letter D just isn't a good enough red dragon in my book.  However any graphics at, say, Wizard of Wor or so level crappiness is sufficient for my tastes.

So knowing that I need at least a primitive tile set, am a total newb and would probably be playing on my wife's MacBook, can anyone recommend a specific roguelike?

Wizard of Wor
You are in a dungeon.
There are monsters.
You have a laser rifle.


  1. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup has a tiles version and is worth looking into.

  2. There are some suggestions here, although it doesn't specify whether they run on a Mac.

    Nameless Dungeon Crawler has a lot of charm, although doesn't seem to be Maac compatible.

    Lambda Rogue does work on a Mac, and it looks like it might be a good fit for what you want.

    Tales of Maj'Eyal seems to get good press and is also Mac-compatible.

    I'd say Lambda Rogue looks like your best bett.

  3. Actually, the basic Mac version of Nethack is quite playable and uses a tile-set by default. Moreover, at this state of history, at least playing to a few deaths in NetHack is almost a prerequisite for understanding the other games.

  4. Anonymous4:17 PM

    vultures eye is my favorite:

  5. ADOM(Ancient Domains of Mystery) was fun as hell, it is ascii based, but I remember a few years back that someone was working on a tile based version. haven't played the game for a few years though.

    Anyone else know?

  6. I believe there is a tileset for ADOM now, but I personally prefer the ASCII version.

    Zangband is also kind of a classic--a Zelazny mashup of the old Moria roguelike. That has a tileset and pretty solid gameplay.

  7. Jeff,
    Angband -

    I've played this on my modern Mac; its a lot of fun, and extremely difficult (when you die, you start over).

    This is also helpful:


  8. yep you can get tilesets that draw the pretty pictures for you. Nethack itself is such a fantastic game, I've not delved to deeply into the other roguelikes. Of course, I don't try to *win* the game either, could care less that I'll never retrieve the Amulet of Yendor (the story line) - oh - MAC? Looks like there's

  9. Sword of Fargoal Legends. You can find it on the Mac app store for $4.99. I have a copy on my iPhone, my iPad, and my Mac. I think it will be everything you're looking for.

  10. Another vote for Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. I think you would really enjoy that one. It is resolutely gonzo and the tiles version features a very accessible interface.

  11. Anonymous5:37 PM

    Crawl Stone Soup (what Eric recommended) is probably my favorite fantasy roguelike.

    ZapM (sci-fi dungeon crawl, ASCII):

    Caves of Qud (Gamma World-esque, ASCII): (click on "Public Build download link now available")

    Prospector (space adventure, ASCII and Tiles versions):

  12. Anonymous5:44 PM

    Jeff, Brogue is the Moldvay to Nethack's AD&D. Plus the keys are much easier to learn and its developer is mac friendly.

    It doesn't have a tileset per se, but it has the prettiest graphics in a roguelike I've ever seen (incl. animations).

    But go with Nethack and any old tileset for maximum Retro-Stupid. Learn the vi direction keys and notebooks pose no problem. I've been playing NH for almost 15 years and I'm still finding new things, especially after having gone through a big chunk of Appendix N.

  13. Anonymous5:51 PM

    If you're going to play Nethack, playing online here is the best. keeps stats on all your characters, you can watch other people play to learn tricks, and you have a much better chance of finding the corpses of fellow players strewn about the dungeon, and therefore more loot. Good luck!

  14. I'm partial to original Rogue, though I'm also very very fond of Powder.

  15. Definitely Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

  16. Dungeon/Monsters/Laser Rifle/Multi-million dollar franchise?

    See Doom and Quake...

  17. Uffish7:51 PM

    Nethack has a fairly steep learning curve but is interesting in that it allows you to beat some of the randomness by trying clever things. Of course that cleverness can also get you killed in many ways. It's very much a kitchen sink setting as well.
    Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is one of the simplest one to pick up and is good pure dungeon crawl-y fun, randomness rules the day and will be a major factor if you live or die. You'll learn to hate the name Sigmund.
    Ancient Domains of Mystery is also damn good and has probably the most realized setting of the lot. People that love this one REALLY love this one. Great big evil, a sort of 'time limit' and several hidden endings to boot. This one is a bit hampered by not having a tileset admittedly.

    Other good ones include zAngband, ZangbandTK, DoomRL, Legerdemain, IVAN and UnReal World. (the last one is close to being it's own thing)

    The first three are probably the best entry points and all showcase different strengths of roguelikes. They're also the kind of game you come back to time and time again.

  18. Jeff -- Re: sandestins -- Use this to search Vance's entire corpus:

  19. Greg, a thousand blessings on your house.

  20. Glad to be of service, dude.

  21. Yet another vote for Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. If fact I'm gonna stop OSRing for the night and play some Crawl. Warning; It's HIGHLY addictive.

  22. Nethack plus a tile pack is my recommendation.

  23. Anonymous10:32 PM

    I always preferred Larn:

  24. I'm all about NetHack; it's the best Roguelike I've laid my hands on. I prefer the ascii, but the tilesets are ok for bringing in ascii-averse players. adom and vulture's eye are decent, too.

  25. Saying that a red D is not a dragon is a blasphemy, just like when you say that your DM saying "it's a red dragon" is not a dragon.
    Almost every modern roguelike has tile sets. Content and option wise they beat the crap out of modern crpgs. What you won't do in Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age, Witcher, Oblivion, but possibly in a rogulike:
    -Dig a new tunnel in the dungeon.
    -Found a stone giant or purple worm, while digging...
    -Drink from a pool for various random effects.
    -Dip your sword into the pool, which may turn into Excalibur.
    -Get sacrificed on an altar by a monster.
    -Eat the corpse of your enemy.
    -Cook the corpse of your enemy.
    -Die because of food poisoning.
    -Train your dog to steal from shops.
    -Polymorph to a dragon, then lay an egg.
    -Nail doors.

    My favourites are:

    -NetHack: Kitchen sink dungeon crawl with the most nasty ways to die and the most interesting and fun things to do in the dungeon.

    -Angband: Easier to learn than NetHack, regenerates the dungeon levels whenever you leave them. I don't really play vanilla Angband, but some of it's variants. Z+Angband and TOME2 has a huge amount of races to choose from, and more cities and wilderness areas.

    -TOME4: Has really good tile based graphics, it's easy to learn, can be fully controlled with only a mouse. Has a unique talent system, and a good amount of races and classes, you can unlock. It's good for beginners, with options like having more life instead of one.

    -Stone Soup: It's easy to learn, it has a good amount of options, nice graphics, and gets really hard after some playing. I rarely play it, the system is too light for my taste, but nevertheless it's a good game.

    Roguelikes are also good for stealing ideas, house rules, dungeons for your campaign. Usually, they are really well documented, and open source, which makes this easier.

  26. ZAngband is my favorite, with more race/class options than you can shake a stick at, a deadly wilderness, and an awesomely munchkin feel that will have you slaying Cthulhu with Stormbringer in mere ... weeks? http:/

  27. There's a tiles version of Nethack you can download from their main site. It's tough sometimes to tell what things are, but thats not unusual for a tiled roguelike. Nethack is also completely awesome

    Angband has a couple of built-in tilesets too, which aren't terrible as these things go. I don't like it as much as Nethack (too grindy, not enough hilarious item tricks), but I am almost 100% positive that some of the weirder variants have exactly your madcap kitchen-sink style.

    Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup probably has my favorite tileset of all the roguelikes I've played. I'm usually an ASCII purist, and DCSS is the only roguelike I regularly play with the tiles on. It's up there (maybe a tiny bit lower) with Nethack in my list of favorites.

  28. Aliens RL and Alphaman.

  29. Saying that a red D is not a dragon is a blasphemy, just like when you say that your DM saying "it's a red dragon" is not a dragon.

    For me, the red D occupies some srange middle ground. Pure text saying "You, a red dragon is here eating your face." is a-okay. A freakin' duck that eats my two pixels is just fine. The red D makes me wish I was looking at one or the other.

  30. A little gauntlet-like game I wrote some time ago that you might enjoy:
    Deadly Dungeons
    It needs no plug-in, as it is just javascript and html.
    BTW if you use Opera I made the widget version available n my site.

  31. Sorcerer's Cave:

    It's very simple (it's a computer version of a card-based game), but strangely addictive. I'm not sure if it works on macs though.

  32. I just did a review for PCWorld of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. I recommend either that one or ADOM, but I'm not sure of Mac compatibility w/either. Sorry.

  33. dare I mention Dwarf Fortress?

  34. Another vote for Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. It has tiles, an in-game tutorial, and feels very fair.

  35. I write and maintain a roguelike named Steamband.

    It's a pulp/victorian era/steampunk flavored roguelike.

    You might enjoy.

  36. Hi Jeff;

    As a long time player of roguelikes, your best option for starting out is probably going to be Nethack with tiles. It is the easiest Roguelike to understand and complete that does not dull the complexity and depth of the genre. There is quite a few tile versions of Nethack that should make things more accessible, but I've become so used to the ascii mode that I'm not really bothered by it anymore!

    If you want something a little more modern, there's a new commercial roguelike coming out soon called Dungeons of Dreadmore that looks pretty good.

  37. @ -C:

    I was wondering about your connection to roguelikes. Your .pdf download links point to the domain, so I knew you either develop one or just were really good friends w/ the developer of one.

    There's quite a bit of overlap between the OSR and roguelikes.

    Verification: pyraphil - Phil, on fire.