The Angband Newbie Guide
Depths to Know
Weapons and Armor
When you load the game, select "Start a new character." Go through the step-by-step instructions for picking a gender, race, and class. For your first time, I recommend choosing either a Half-Troll or Dunedain Warrior. Avoid the magely/priestly types; they're much more difficult to play. If you want basic information about races and classes, go to the on-line help (type "?") and read "Creating a Character," number 2 on the list. You should probably read most of the help files here; the commands list is especially important to someone new to Angband.
After naming your character, you'll start in the town. The various numbers represent stores, where you can buy new equipment and sell stuff you've found in the dungeon. The little ">" is a staircase, the entrance to the dungeon. If you want to know what a specific symbol stands for, type /, and then the symbol. For instance, if you're wondering what all the #'s are, type /#, and the game will tell you that these are walls. You can also (l)ook at an item, feature, or monster. While looking, pressing space or enter will cycle through the different "interesting" things in view. There is also a full map function: type "M." It will bring up a map of the entire area (just a single screen in the case of the town, but useful later on in the dungeons). Finally, if you type "L," you can scroll the (full-zoom) map around the dungeon. In general, you can use M to find areas that look interesting and L to look at them in detail.
Take a look around the town, but avoid the Mean-Looking Mercenaries and Battle-Scarred Veterans; they can kill you fairly easily. A note on shop #7; it's the black market, where very powerful items are sold for an absolutely ridiculous price. ANY good item can show up in this store (barring artifacts), so look here for those items that don't show up in other stores.
Be sure to visit shops #1 and #2, the General Store and Armoury, respectively. At the General Store, buy a cloak and a Brass Lantern, and a flask of oil or two. Sell your torches. At the Armoury, buy some of the light armor. Suggested: Hard Leather Boots, a Leather Cap, Leather Gloves, and Robe. Your character may start out with armor - you can sell it or wear it, your choice.
This should have cleaned out your money. However, if it hasn't, it is strongly recommended that you go to the Alchemist's shop (#5) and purchase a scroll of Phase Door. If you get surrounded by monsters, read it, and you'll be teleported a short distance away.
Of course, it's possible that these items will not be available in the stores. The stores will "refresh" themselves every 1000 turns, getting rid of old items and buying new ones. If a store is out of something you need, wait in the dungeon for it to restock.
Angband's not actually all that difficult to learn to play. You should get the hang of it fairly quickly.
From here on I'll be giving detailed dungeon survival information. Some of it is intuitive, and some of it you aren't likely to find out without a lot of deaths first. If you want to experience the painful learning process in all it's glory, don't read further. If, however, you're sick and tired of dying, read ahead.
On weapons and multiple blows:
When you start a new character that is a fighter type (warrior, paladin, ranger, or rogue), you have the possibility of getting more than one attack with your weapon. Whether or not you get multiple blows is determined by your weapon weight, your Strength, and your Dexterity. If you can get a high enough Strength and Dexterity (both over 18; only Warriors, Paladins, Rangers and Rogues can achieve this at the start of the game), then buy a light weapon, like a Whip or a Dagger. Check your Character display (type "C"). Somewhere on this page, there is a number that is your number of blows/round. Hopefully, this will be above 1. If it is, you can sell your original weapon.
Multiple blows become very important later in the dungeon. The more times you hit, the more damage your weapon does (obviously). What is not so obvious is the fact that at multiple blows, your magical enchantments to damage kick in many more times than with just one blow (see the section on the meaning of the numbers in your equipment). If you have 4 attacks with a Whip (not impossible), you get 4*1d6 damage from the damage dice. However, if the Whip has, say, +3 to damage, you also get 4*3 extra damage on top of the damage dice.
On important magical items:
You might think that you can get by without magical items. If so, you're bound for an interesting, but short, stay in the dungeon. It'll probably be one-way, too.
The most important items have be those of teleportation. There are many basic types:
There is also an advanced form of Identify, in scroll form only, called *Identify*. It tells you every single property of an item, like whether or not it lets you see invisible monsters, sustains stats, gives you regeneration, and so on. You should only use these on artifacts or the high-level ego-items (Westernesse, Holy Avenger, Defender, Elvenkind).
Notes on lighting: You can't do much without light. You won't be able to see most monsters, cast spells or read scrolls, or, in general, see the dungeon. There are items which will light up the dungeon, but only parts of it. Any item/spell of Light or Illumination will light up the room you are standing it (or part of the corridor). A potion of Enlightenment/the prayer Clairvoyance will light up the entire level.
Finally, the most useful magical item in general is a Scroll of Word-of-Recall (often abbreviated WoR). When you are in the town and read it, you are teleported to the lowest level you have been to in the dungeon. When read in the dungeon, you are teleported to the town. The activation takes place about 50 turns after reading the scroll, so it's not a perfect escape method.
There are many different kinds of attacks in Angband, generally falling under physical, magical, and breath attacks. They can all cause specialized kinds of damage, which can kill a character if he/she does not have resistance to that attack. There are many different attacks which have corresponding resistances. There are three basic types: "low" and "high" elemental, and magical. The low elements are acid, electricity, fire, and cold. The high elements are poison, light, dark, shards, confusion, sound, nether, nexus, chaos, disenchantment and blindness. The magical resistances are fear, free action, and hold life.
Resistances are provided by items and by racial characteristics. For instance, High Elves automatically resist light effects. Dwarves resist blinding attacks (you can read about these in the Creating a Character section of the on-line help). There are certain types of items that provide the basic (low) four resistances . These are Defender weapons, Robes of Permanence, armors of Resistance and Elvenkind, and Shields of Resistance (Multi-Hued and Power Dragon Scale Mails also provide these, but both are incredibly rare). Many artifacts also provide some or all of the basic resistances, and also perhaps one or two "high" resistances.
Resistances generally chop off a significant amount of damage, ranging from 1/5 to 2/3. Also, it is possible to doubly resist the basic four resistances and poison (single resists for these each chop off 2/3s of the damage incurred). When you doubly resist these, damage is chopped to 1/9. Double resistance is NOT having two permanent sources of the same resist! Double resistance is having both a permanent source and a temporary source (for instance, drinking a potion of Resist Fire while wielding a shield of Resistance provides double resistance to fire). Multiple permanent sources do nothing for you.
Resistances are vital to survival in the dungeon. For instance, the most powerful of fire dragons, the Great Hell Wyrm, can breath fire (big surprise). Unresisted, the damage caused is 1600 HPs worth; more than enough to kill the mightiest of warriors (if he's lucky, a warrior might top out at about 1200 HPs at level 50). However, if you have fire resistance, this is chopped to 1/3-533 damage. If you doubly resist the breath, the damage is a paltry 178 HP.
On Important Depths:
There are certain depths in the dungeon beyond which it is important to have a certain resist or attribute. The depths given here are guidelines, and should not be taken literally. However, if you decide to go past the depth without the attribute, be very careful and don't complain if you get the dreaded "It breathes -more- You are dead" message.
However, it is often difficult enough just knowing where to search. Usually, situations like this will have secret doors (walls containing secret doors are marked by *s):
#*### ###'### ####*# ###*### *@... ..'@'.. ..@'.* ..'@... #*### ###*### ####'# #######In general, if you see a door all on it's own in a corridor, there are usually others nearby. If you find a corner in a corridor with two doors, look for more. Intersections often have some secret doors. Finally, secret doors will never be in a situation where you have to move diagonally to open them. The dead-end situation (the first one) usually does have a secret door, but not always. If you search for a while and don't find anything, just give up and move on. Sometimes a dead end will occur near the end of a map, where there is no room to have a continuing corridor, and so no secret door is generated.
On the Maximise/Preserve modes:
These are selected on or off at character creation, and cannot be changed after that.
Maximise mode: with Maximise mode off, your statistics max out at 18/100, without outside magical effects, like a Ring of Strength. When Maximise mode is on, where your stats max out at is determined by your race and class. For instance, any Mage has -5 to Strength. A Human Mage's strength (Humans have no racial stat differences), therefore, eould max out at 18/50, instead of 18/100. However, Mages also have +3 to Intelligence. A Human Mage's Intelligence would max out at 18/130. When Maximise mode is off, it is possible to achieve higher starting stats for characters; a Gnomish Mage might be able to start with 18/80 Intelligence. However, since your stats can't reach as high levels, the end game is harder than with Maximise mode on.
Preserve mode: with Preserve mode off, if a level is created with an artifact on it, and you don't get that artifact, it is gone forever. When Preserve mode is on, you always can find the artifact again. However, you lose the "special" level feeling (more below).
On Level Feelings:
When you enter a level, you receive a feeling giving you a vague idea how good the level is. These feelings range from "boring" to Superb. The better the feeling, the better the items on the level, and the more difficult the monsters. Each unusual item or monster bumps up the rating of the level a bit. An item or monster is considered unusual if it is out of depth [normally occurs at a lower depth; for instance, a Longsword has a base level of 20, and would be considered unusual anywhere above that level (although not below it)]. Items can be out of depth without necessarily being anything special; a normal, non-magical katana could provoke a high level feeling at low depths, because it is so unusual. Also, pits (large rooms filled with a single type of monster) and vaults (dense, dangerous rooms with many out of depth monsters and items) can cause high level feelings. There is also a Special feeling, available only to players with Preserve mode off, which tells the player that there is an artifact on the level (most of the time. Sometimes, especially in the earlier levels, a monster pit or a vault will often trigger a special feeling). Also, if you have not spent enough time on the previous level before entering the new one, you get the feeling "Looks like any other level" which gives you no information whatsoever.
On the meaning of those little numbers on your equipment:
Your equipment will always carry around little numbers that tell you how effective it is.
Armors take this form: A Foobar (+x, +y) [a, +b] (+c)
Weapons take this form: A Foobaz XdY (+x, +y) [a, +b] (+c)
When unidentified, armors will show just this: [a]
Weapons will show this: XdY
|(+x, +y)||This is the item's magical bonuses to hit and to damage,
respectively. These are added to whatever other bonuses you have when
you attack. Some armors have bonuses to hit or to damage, but they are
almost exclusively artifacts. Many body armors have a small negative number
before the base armor bonus (see below); this is a penalty to hit (the
armor is so heavy that you have trouble moving around in it). However,
this penalty is small enough for all but the youngest of characters to
Rings of Accuracy or Damage have a single (+x) or (+y). When worn, they affect your damage done/chance to hit in melee battle. They do not affect missile combat.
|[a, +b]||This is the item's base armor class and magical bonus to armor. The
higher, the better. While theoretically, a weapon could provide a base
armor bonus, none of them do, and only a few weapons have a magical
bonus to armor.
Rings of Protection have a single [+b], which increases your AC. They are also practically worthless; the valuable rings slot is almost certainly better off being used for something else, even rings of Slow Digestion or Feather Falling.
|(+c)||This is the item's magical bonus to other statistics: Strength,
Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma, Speed,
Searching, Infravision, Might (Extra Might adds to the multiplier on a
bow, crossbow, or sling), Shots, Attacks, and Tunneling. Not on every
item, it is generally a good reason to choose the item. [Note that it
does not affect every stat in this list! Most items that have a +c only
affect one or two of these stats. Some items affect more (A Weapon of
Westernesse affects Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution)].
As a side note for the above: Angband follows the parenthesis for any item. If you see a number in brackets like this: [b], it is a bonus to AC. If it is in parenthesis like this: (+x) it is either a bonus to a stat ot to hit/damage (and which should normally be obvious by the name of the item). For instance, a Holy Avenger (a powerful ego-item), looks like this:
A Mace (Holy Avenger) (2d4) (+7, +5) [+4] (+1)
Thus, it rolls 2 four-sided dice when attacking, has +7 to hit and +5 to damage, increases your AC by 4, and increases a stat (in this case Wisdom) by 1.
|XdY||This is the weapon's base damage. When you successfully hit a monster, X number of Y-sided dice are rolled. This number represents the amount of damage you do to the monster before magical bonuses. A Longsword, for example, rolls 2 five-sided dice (2d5) when you hit a monster.|
Many weapons you find in the dungeon are considered to be particularly deadly against a type of creature. These qualities are collectively known as slays. They double, triple or multiply by five the damage done by the damage dice. They DO NOT affect bonuses to damage. Thus, while slays may play an important part in the early game (especially if you find a weapon of Slay Orc), in the later part of the game, where magical bonuses to damage all but take over combat, slays play a very minor role. The rundown on slays:
Slay Evil, Animal: x2 damage dice
Slay Undead, Demon, Giant, Dragon: x3 damage dice
*Slay* Dragon: x5 damage dice
The elemental brands ("of Melting", "of Burning", "of Freezing", and "of Shocking") all do x3 damage dice to those monsters not resistant to the relevant element.
On the Monster Memory:
In many other games, you are required to take notes on monster's weaknesses, strengths, spells, et cetera. Angband takes care of this for you, with the handy Monster Memory. Every time you find out something new about a monster, like that it can breathe fire, this is added to your knowledge of the monster. To look over this knowledge, type /, then the symbol of the monster. You may have to scroll through other monster memories to get to the one you're looking for. [Note: you can set a window to display the monster memory at the preferences screen (see below). This window will then automatically update as you fight monsters].
In the unpleasant event of your character's death, you can create a new character using your old character's file (instead of simply creating a new character, open the dead character's savefile, and the Creating a Character section will come up). This new character will have all of the old one's monster memories, and some special text for the monster that killed him.
On the Colors of Monsters:
You can often determine some information about a monster based solely on it's color. This would be the color it is described as, like "a White Dragon," not the color of it's image on the screen (you can't rely on a white "p" to be a cold based monster! It will probably be a paladin or some such). In general, White monsters are cold-based, Red are fire-based, Blue are electrical, Black is acidic, and Yellow/Green are poisonous. A Multi-Hued monster is all of these. Crimson monsters can cause weakness.
On the Preferences:
The preferences screen is reached by typing "=". It contains many different preferences that make Angband more enjoyable. There are a few that I would recommend. Turn both stacking options ON. This maximizes your treasure collection. Turn the Low Hitpoint Warning ON, and place the warning percent at about 50%. You'll see the effects of this whenever you start to die:). The Delay Factor determines how long it takes for special effects to "move;" that is: balls exploding, bolts moving, missile weapons flying, et cetera. This is machine dependant; I usually set mine at about 3 or 4.
The Window Flags screen allows you to set various windows (assuming your platform supports them) to show certain things. Using this, you can set some windows to always show monster memory, your character's inventory and/or equipment, a dungeon map, and others.
On the Autoscummer:
Available in the Preferences screen, the autoscummer keeps generating levels until it comes across one that is interesting, meaning that it has a decent level feeling. At shallow depths, it doesn't do much, because it's very hard to generate out of depth monsters and items. Some people consider it cheating, but keep in mind that, along with better items, the autoscummer brings nastier monsters, and the monsters generally outweigh the items. The autoscummer becomes more effective at lower depths.
Death in Angband is permanent. Saving in Angband is meant only to let you pick up where you left off; if you die, your savefile is marked. The next time you try to use the savefile, you will get the new character dialogue. Ancestors of dead characters will retain their monster memory and preferences. Many people here have characters like "Yuppy XIV"; people die very often in Angband.
Some people make backup savefiles; if their character dies, they simply load the older character, and pick up where they left off. They lose what happened after making the backup, but they're alive. However, this is considered cheating of the highest degree. The only really legal reason to use savefile abuse ("savefile scumming") is if your computer crashed or some other external problem (like your cat ealking accross your keyboard) killed your character.
There is an option in the Cheating menu in the preferences which allows you to cheat death. However, like all the other cheating options, it invalidates your high-score and makes it impossible to truly win the game. It also sets your Social Status to zero, so everyone knows what a scumbag you are.
If there is one feature of Angband that tends to confuse people (especially veterans of other roguelikes), it's how the speed system in Angband works. Most other roguelikes have a simple incremental system, where +1 to speed means you move twice as fast as normal-speed monsters, +2 is three times as fast (or twice as fast as fast monsters), and so on. Angband has a decimalized version. +10 is the old +1 to speed, and +20 is the old +2. This allows for characters to be "half again as fast" as a monster, with the in-game effect that the character occasionally gets a free turn.
However, problems start to arise when one's speed gets much higher than about +28. After this, each point of extra speed contributes slightly less than a full point of speed (i.e. the points are worth less). There is little point in trying for speed higher than +35 or so.
It might help to understand this if an explanation of Angband time were give. In Angband, every game turn, the player and monsters gain a certain amount of "energy". At normal speed, you gain 10 points of energy every game turn. Once you have 100 energy points, you get to take an action. Most actions cost 100 energy units (the major exception being shooting an arrow or bolt with a bow of Extra Shots. This divides the energy cost by two - or, if it's a bow of Extra Shots +2, by three, thus allowing you to shoot several times before a monster gets an action).
However, each extra speed point that you have gains you an extra energy point each game turn. Thus, if you have +10 to speed, you gain 20 energy points per game turn, twice as fast as normal. Normal monsters only get 10 energy points per game turn (same as the player), so you move twice as fast as they do.
The slowing of gains from speed that occurs at about +28 or so to speed is then translated to each point of speed not giving a complete point of energy each game turn. It's the same effect, subjectively.
Advanced techniques for killing monsters:
Pillardancing. Requires that you be at least twice as fast as the monster you are fighting. Find a single block of wall, freestanding, and lure your enemy to it. When both you and your eneny are standing next to the pillar, hit him, and then move so that you are opposite the pillar from him. He will use his turn to move so that he's standing next to you. Hit him again, and then move again. Repeat until he's dead.
Note that some monsters move eratically, and cannot be relied upon to move in the method expected. Also, some monsters (mostly Ghosts) can move through walls, and a small number of monsters can chew through walls.
Shoot'n Scoot. Requires a large room, Phase Door, and some type of missile weapon. Stand at one end of the room, your enemy at the other. Fire your missile weapon at him until he gets close, and then Phase Door. Fire again, until he gets close, and repeat. By the time you run out of ammunition, he should be dead or weak enough for you to finish him HTH (Hand to Hand).
Hack'n Back. Requires that you be at least twice as fast as your opponent. Stand next to your enemy, hit him, and back up. He should use his turn to move towards you instead of using a missile weapon or a spell. Hit him again, back up again, repeat. This is a little more dangerous than Pillardancing, because the monster gets a chance to breathe or cast a spell, but it's easier to set up.
Wail'n Bail. Requires Teleport items. Fight the monster until you're almost dead, teleport out, find him, and resume fighting. This is dangerous, because you could teleport right next to some nasty that will kill you. Also, it is not generally useful for killing unique monsters, as they regenerate damage very quickly, and by the time you find them again, they will have healed what you did to them.
The Anti-Summoning Corridor. Required a little time to set up. This can be done just about anywhere. Dig a twisting corridor into the rock, and station yourself at one end of it. When your opponent arrives, he won't be able to summon any monsters next to you. This is a very important technique for fighting many higher-end monsters which very quickly bring in a horde of other monsters.
On places on the Internet:
There are tons of sites you can visit on the Internet. There is, however, a fair amount of duplication, and almost every site has links to the other ones. The major ones are:
On the Variants of Angband:
Since the Angband code is so easy to read after Ben Harrison, the current maintainer, cleaned it up, many people have created variants of Angband (note that the base Angband game, from which most variants are made, is called Vanilla Angband, or just Vanilla). They add whatever they want to, and then put the games on the Internet for people to play and comment on. There is a Variants FAQ posted regularly at rec.games.roguelike.angband which discusses all variants in more depth than this section. The current major variants (obtainable at the Angband FTP site or Thangorodrim) are:
Zangband: the most prolific variant, based on the works of Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber (hence the Z), adding a slew of items, monsters, races, classes, vaults, and a healthy degree of silliness. Some people consider it more difficult than Vanilla Angband (the base game, from which most variants are made), but most people who make it to the higher levels consider it easier. I recommend against playing Zangband until you can reliably get a character to level 30 without cheating; if you can't, you'll spend a lot of time dying in Zangband.
Cthangband: A subvariant of Zangband that has wandered far from its origins, Cthangband is a variant based on the various Lovecraftian horrors (Cthulu, Nyarlathotep, et cetera). The author liked Zangband but objected to the fact that the all-but-omnipotent Lovecraftian creatures had to take backstage to the Amberite uniques. In the process of fixing this, he removed all of the "silly" elements of Zangband, along with all Amber references. He also added a wilderness system, with multiple towns and dungeons, many with guardians at the bottom. Finally, he changed the speed system: movement speed and attack speed were seperated. Movement speed works the way it does in any other variant, but attacks now are each keyed in seperately. Based on you number of attacks per round, each attack takes a certain fraction of a round. The same thing was done to monsters. The basic idea behind this is to give characters more of a chance when a monster breathes some high-powered weapon. Instead of being subjected to more attacks afterwards, most characters will have time to react: drink a potion, cast a spell, or teleport out.
Kangband: adds to the game without disrupting balance. Kangband adds quests, a wilderness level, a few new races and classes, and a few items. It is much closer to Vanilla than Zangband is, and a new player can easily understand it. It also stays truer to the Tolkein theme than Zangband does.
Kamband: a fun variant which came from Kangband. Not too balanced, decently difficult in a die-quickly kind of way, and a lot of fun to play. Adds a lot of new races/classes including the Death Mold, the Leprechaun, Mimics, and more. The original idea was a post-apocalyptic Angband, with the Mutant as a race and the Currupted as a class byt the game has branched greatly since then. (Note: Kamband is apparently dead).
Pernband: a still-young variant which attempts to add elements of McCaffrey's Pern series. Highly volatile; each new version typically adds 15-20 major changes and hundreds of minor ones. This variant is reminiscent of Kamband (an old post-apocalyptic Angband) in that it adds huge numbers of features with little concern for balance. However, this tends not to matter quite as much as in other Angband variants; in PernAngband, the fun is exploring the new features, not in a satisfying battle against evil. PernAngband is a variant of Zangband, but looks little like its elder sibling; it has modified just about everything that already exists in the base game while adding everything else.
Oangband: Opinion Angband was created to address some perceived problems with Angband. The combat system underwent radical changes and was simplified, but it is very different and takes some adjustment. For instance, warriors are better off wielding large weapons instead of small ones - the base damage dice are what count, not the number of attacks. Many of the combat techniques in this text no longer work. Several classes and many spells were added, and there are other changes and additions. However, the Tolkien aspects of the game remain. If you get used to the combat system in other variants, you'll have trouble adjusting to Oangband's system, and vice versa. However, once you understand Oangband melee, it makes much more sense than the other variants.
Sangband (Skills Angband): Instead of advancing skills as you gain levels, in this variant you apply your experience to various skills, like Swordmanship, Magic Using, Weaponsmithing, et cetera. Also, there is no longer a player class; "class" is determined by the types of skills you choose to develope. You could be a brutish swordsman/weaponsmith, a mediocre druid/archer, a Vanilla-style mage, or just about anything else. A few new races were added, along with new monsters and items. This game is still in developement, and alternates between very abusable and very difficult.
For anyone who's read this far, feel free to use this, modify it, repost it, etc. Good luck, and KILL MORGOTH! (If only I could write my term paper on Angband).
|© 1999 by Chris Wiesiger|