Hi guys!

Back when Netbrian ran his excellent Nethack LP, I decided that it was high time that Angband got a little love. Even the excellent @Play column at GameSetWatch give it short shrift in the roguelike world, which is kind of a shame, because Angband is recognized as a direct influence on pretty much every tactical (and semi-tactical) hack-and-slash game that's come out since the early 90s.

Wait, what's Angband? For those of you who don't know, Angband is sort of the bastard stepchild of roguelikes, although it's the closest in lineage to the original Rogue - and in fact isn't even based off Rogue itself. It's based on Moria, which is a roguelike created by a student in the early 1980s when Rogue was removed from the campus mainframe and he wanted to keep playing games. Some of its interesting features that diverge from vanilla Rogue will come up from time to time, but I'm going to try and keep the LP from getting too front-loaded - the mechanics of Angband are easy to learn, hard to master, and violating any one of its basic principles will get you killed no matter how good a player you are. Unlike Nethack, where success is almost absolutely assured after a certain point, even veteran Angband players can - and will - die from not having the right item on hand, knowing the right spell, or stepping somewhere without thinking about it.

For those of you who really like reading fantasy novels about elves and dragons, you probably recognize Angband as the dungeon built to imprison Morgoth from the Silmarillion, of all things - and that's the objective of our game, to get to the 100th floor of the dungeon (or 5000' feet below the surface) and slay Morgoth. Needless to say this isn't exactly an easy thing to do. There's an additional objective as well, but I really doubt we're going to get far enough to even attempt it.

I'm going to admit upfront that I am not a very good Angband player - average at best. I haven't mastered some of the weirder, more aggressive, and apparently more useful strategies, but damned if I'm not going to try them this game. My best record for a run was an elf mage to floor 30 of the dungeon - with a hilarious and inappropriate death which I'll explain the dangers of as soon as we get started. As a result unlike most LPs this one won't be about "winning" the game: My goal is to play as far as I can to teach everyone the basic mechanics, spoilers, and strategies that you need to get started and then turn you loose.

We're not starting quite yet: First everyone needs a chance to catch up on the (excellent) Nethack LP - it's not required reading, but I'm not going to be able to avoid comparing the two games in several regards and it'll be more fun for you, the viewer, if you're at least a little familiar with the world of roguelikes. And now you get to pick what kind of character I'll be running for at least the first few games, and after that, I'll try and showcase as much variety as I can.

First: Our character is going to need a gender and a name! I'll trust you guys to pick one, and let you know that gender has no affect on gameplay. Women and men are equally beefy and able to carry tens of pounds of equipment in Angband.

Picking a class is the easy part, and will affect what kind of races we can play anyway.

Character classes

Warrior: Your standard @-sign which exists mostly to run into letters (and other special symbols, so it can pick them up). Warriors have high strength, dexterity and constitution, but suck at anything to do with magic. It will also be extremely boring to watch a game where I play a warrior.

Mage: An @-sign which can learn (almost) every magic spell in the game. They're not strong at the beginning, but this is only a disadvantage for a few floors: The right mage will gain spells quickly and become absolutely unstoppable in ranged combat. Naturally they suck at hitting things and shooting bows.

Priest: An @-sign that prefers to blame itself rather than god. They can learn every prayer, which is essentially magic God gives you (even though you still need a book) and have a lot of wisdom, but aren't very smart. They make average fighters, but cannot use edged weapons without serious penalties: St. Peter frowns on dealing with anyone who has their arms chopped off. I don't like playing priests because of the large number of limitations they have, but at high levels they're even more unstoppable than mages.

Rogue: An @-sign that doesn't steal things, but is very sneaky. Rogues are quiet and can sneak around monsters, and are sort of a jack of all trades: They learn some support spells, are good at using magic items, and are good fighters. Rogues aren't the most fun to play, but they're the most likely to win.

Ranger: A ranger is a warrior/mage hybrid @-sign. They can learn almost all the spells a mage can at a severely diminished pace, and are awesome with bows. You might think this is a good class to play, but it takes a long time to learn spells and since they're great fighters they don't need most of the spells a rogue doesn't get anyway.

Paladin: An @-sign ranger who gave up on magic and instead decided to go to church every Sunday. It's a priest/warrior hybrid class, and I have never ever played one so I can't say much about them.

The race you choose is going to affect the classes that I can play, so pick carefully!

Human: You're a human, you know what they are. Humans can be anything and do anything - they're the base class.

Half-elf: A human and an elf had a baby @-sign. From their dad they take the ability to be anything, but they take after their mom in a strength penalty and a limited ability to see in the dark.

Elf: An @-sign which makes a good magician, but not too much else. They think they're too smart for religion and can't be priests or paladins. Not the strongest in the bunch, either.

Hobbit: An @-sign which loves smoking and thieving. They're good at playing rogues, but are weak and better suited to that sneaking thing and ranged fighting. They can only be warriors, rogues, or rangers.

Gnome: I honestly can't tell you much about the gnome @-signs other than that they make awesome mages, in part because they're immune to paralysis and I believe some stunning effects. But they an also be warriors, rogues, or even priests.

Dwarf: Dwarves are the @-signs that love to run into lowercase letters to hit them. As as result they make good warriors, priests, or paladins. But they can't be quiet, so they have to hit everything.

Half-Orc: Half-orcs are those @-signs which should look more like lowercase 'o's. They kill shit and can be warriors or priests.

Half-Troll: Half-trolls are those @-signs which should look more like uppercase 'T's. They also kill shit and can be warriors or priests, but have one big advantage: They regenerate really fast, so they make the best warriors.

Dunadan: Some @-signs from a fantasy novel which are the only race that has no penalties to any of their stats. They can't be rogues, though, and rais'''ing them a level costs more than twice as much experience as to raise a human a level. A game with a dunadan will take forever to finish just because of some of the required grinding.

High elf: @-signs that make the best mages and can see invisible things. They take even more experience to level. We will not be playing a high elf unless you are unbearably cruel, but I'll be cruel back by posting screenshots of every time they gain 1/20th of the exp needed to level. They can't be rogues, priests, or paladins.

Kobold: Hooray! This @-sign is a hideous dog-creature which sees very well in the dark and is immune to poisons of all kinds - which will make the early game significantly less dangerous - but they can't be mages or paladins. They're usually pretty weak, but adorable.

You guys have until Friday evening to pick!

Finally, there's the matter of picking a tileset to get your posts in. I'm not even going to offer up the ASCII option because it was opposed last time, but here are your options with a sample of what a bunch of stuff will look like:

8x8 tiles

16x16 tiles

32x32 tiles

NEXT SUNDAY: We learn some useful Angband lessons in fun ways to die early from Goofus the half-orc. Next week is when I'm queued to begin the LP proper, and our character will need some time to get updates going anyway.

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