Linley's Dungeon Crawl

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Crawl began in 1995 as the project of Australian Linley Henzell (in fact, its full name is Linley's Dungeon Crawl). Following Henzell's departure from the project in 1999, a loose coalition of developers officially maintained the game, though (as of 2005) visible development has stalled at version 4.0.0. Outside contributors, such as Darshan Shaligram, continue to produce patches for the game.

The development slowdown relates in part to legacy coding practices, as Henzell himself suggests in telling of Crawl's NetHack-inspired origins:

"There were some things I really wanted to fix ... and I thought parts ... could be made much more interesting. ... So I ... set about teaching myself C. ... Results were, predictably, quite horrible ... but I stuck at it. ... The Crawl dev-team has ... achieved a lot, given the spaghetti-like tangle of code."

— cited from BALROG, by Erik I. Bolsøs.

Soft Description

A single-dungeon roguelike with a reputation for being devilishly hard and for novel approaches to gameplay:

  • Very little room for scumming. Normally, there's nothing like NetHack's nurse dancing, ADOM's stone-giant scumming, or Bands' "stat gain".
  • It's "racist" rather than "classist" — most of the "molding" of the character comes from race, while class merely determines how your character begins his/her career rather than the final development of a given character's talents.
  • You can't sell items back to shops.
  • Skills rise through use. Unlike ADOM, Crawl does not offer skill increases of your choice at levelup. This approach sometimes leads to quirks like the "victory dance" of spellcasting for no reason after defeating a high-XP monster, but otherwise works well.
  • More complete fighter-mages implemention. Rather than one or two such classes, there are at least six: magic-enhanced, unarmed combatants (transmuters); magic-enhanced, armed combatants (crusaders); combat-enhanced, armed mages (enchanters); physical melee/magical ranged combatants (reavers); necromantic, armed combatants (death knights); and magic-enhanced, stealthy combatants (stalkers). There are also two alternatives to magic — invocations and evocations — and so fighter-evokers and fighter-invokers could be considered here, as well.
  • Although there is no corpse intrinsics system, food and diet are handled inventively, permeating gameplay.
  • Mutations. Unlike ADOM, they do not enforce a time limit, and unlike the ToME, are often quite nice. They are also often quite nasty, keeping players on their toes.
  • Gods, gods, and more gods — twelve in total, each distinct from the next. Choice of religion is almost as important as that of race.
  • Players are discouraged from investing too heavily in the ID game.
  • Areas far too challenging to certain play styles, which do wonders for replayability.

Hard Description

You choose a race and, based on race restrictions, a class, then dive 27 levels to retrieve the Orb of Zot before ascending back to the surface. On your descent you will need to make side trips to branch dungeons to acquire "runes", keys needed to enter the Realm of Zot.

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