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Introduction to Rogue

Since time immemorial, man has gone happily off on exciting, magic-laden quests to acquire exciting, magic-laden items. The ancient Greeks had Helen of Troy and the Golden Fleece, the medieval knights had the Holy Grail, the Spanish Conquistadors had the Cities of Gold and, since the late seventies, modern man has had Rogue.

Loved by some because itís a real classic, loved by others because itís a hip thing to have an almost pathological passion for an old UNIX game, Rogueís attraction to most people is that itís actually fun to play!

So what, I hear you cry, is all this hubbub all about? What is this game that has numerous newsgroups, many devotees, and even 20 years after its initial release is still under development?

Rogue is the granddaddy of the RPG (Role-playing game). In Rogue, you play a character. Unlike many of its descendants, Rogue does not let you decide to be a warrior, wizard, sorcerer, elf or dwarf. In Rogue, you are simply you, and you run around 26 levels (or more, if you like) of the Dungeons of Doom on your quest for the Amulet of Yendor, slaying monsters and collecting items as you go.

Although it's an old game, Rogue has survived the 3-D shoot-m-up GUS-supporting SVGA games of recent years because it offers continuing excitement and variety, no matter how often you play. Once you've finished a level, you can't run through it next time around because it's unique, generated each time the level is called.

Rogue basics

When you () enter the Dungeons of Doom, you are presented with a flat two-dimensional level in which you can roam around using the arrow keys on your keypad (turn NUMLOCK off, and use SCROLL LOCK to speed up your movement). You will encounter magical items, regular useful items, gold and, of course, monsters.
When playing Rogue, your screen looks much like the menu you passed on your way here (this is not coincidental). The vast majority is the map (which is pretty self-explanatory) which shows you the current level of the dungeon, and the bottom line is a status line. It displays the current dungeon level (how deep you are in the dungeons), your hit points (how much damage you can take before you die) with the current maximum listed in parentheses, your strength points (how much damage you do to whatever monster you may happen to be fighting) with the current maximum listed in parentheses, how much gold you have, what your level your current armor is (a higher number means better protection from monsters), and finally your experience level (which is directly related to your hit points) and number of experience points.

When you first enter the dungeons, you have a total of 12 hit points. As you kill monsters, you gain experience points. Every so often, you accumulate enough experience points to increase your experience level. When your experience level goes up, you gain additional hit points.
Somewhere on each level, you'll find the stairs () to the next level. Although it is possible to move to the next level before completing your current level, it's not advisable because you miss all the experience (and thus hit points) your current level has to offer.

Magic items, both good and bad, abound in the dungeons. Use them wisely. Strategic use of both magical and other items will get you a lot further than using or consuming everything you find right away.

Another thing to look out for are hidden areas. You know there's a hidden area if you can't find the stairs, but if you split the screen up into a three-by-three grid, and there isn't a passageway or room in each sector, there is a decent chance there is a hidden room somewhere. To find a hidden doorway, move along the wall of the room you suspect the doorway is in (or go to the end of the passage you think leads to the room) and hit 's'. This may take quite a few keypresses!

The object of the game is to get to level 26 (or further, if you like), get the amulet of Yendor () and get back up to the surface so you can live happily ever after.

About these pages

These pages were written exclusively on the basis of the 1984 PC version of Rogue (v 1.1), since thatís the only version Iíve played. However, most of the information on these pages should also apply to the many, many other versions available.

I've written these pages partly through experience as a Rogue player, but also by dismembering a Rogue saved game. Therefore, some of the things listed on these pages aren't things I've actually run into (yet). I also recently found this file which includes a fair bit of information, but looks like it may have come from a different version of Rogue.

Special thanks to everyone who has emailed comments and corrections, and especially to David Knaack, who is responsible for at least half the info on the item/monsters pages!

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