Linley's Dungeon Crawl

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Crawl began in 1995 as a personal project of Australian Linley Henzell (in fact, its full name is Linley's Dungeon Crawl), and, despite Henzell's departure from the project in the late 1990's, its development continued until early in this century and may well continue even further; it does have a dev team, although as of this writing (January 2005), it's been a long time since the last release. On the other hand, a series of patches from Crawler Darshan Shaligram have moved the game forward considerably (now, if only they were merged into the main branch...).

Part of the trouble in releasing is the result of the horrible spaghetti code in Crawl. Henzell freely admits that:

"Crawl started out in about 1995 when, having played PCHack and Moria, I managed to get hold of NetHack 3.1.3. Although I liked the randomness and the humour of it, there were some things I really wanted to fix - the targetting system, for example - and I thought parts of it, like spellcasting, could be made much more interesting (NetHack still has very few spells which weren't wand/potion/scroll effects in Rogue). So I dusted off my old Turbo C++ box and set about teaching myself C, with only a rudimentary knowledge of Commodore 64 BASIC to get me started (I wasn't connected to the internet in those days).

Results were, predictably, quite horrible - the principles of good program design were as foreign to me as those esoteric entities known as 'pointers', 'structs' and 'header files'. But I stuck at it, and in 1997 Linley's Dungeon Crawl 1.0 was released. Encouraged by a steadily increasing influx of comments, bug reports and sometimes even large sections of rewritten code I worked on and off until early 1999, when I moved out of home and away from my parents' djgpp-capable computer. Since then the Crawl dev-team has been working on it and achieved a lot, given the spaghetti-like tangle of code they inherited from me."

-- cited from, a page by Erik I. Bolsøs.

Soft Description:

A single-dungeon roguelike, a bit shorter than average, i.e. fairly long. ;-) Has a reputation for being devilishly hard (in truth, it does get easier as you learn the tricks), and quite a few unique approaches:

- There is very little room for scumming -- normally, you won't be able to engage in anything like NetHack's nurse dancing, Adom's stone-giant scumming, or Bands' "skill gain". There's simply not enough out there to scum (and normally not enough food, either). (The exception is worshippers of Nemelex, but the god system is interesting enough that exploration of the other gods is sufficient motivation to not play many games as a Nemelexite.) - It's "racist" rather than "classist" -- most of the "molding" of the character you would expect from class in a roguelike come from race, while class merely sets how you start out (which can be quite important, but can often be overcome if one's chosen direction fits the aptitudes of the given race, e.g. an elven archer who evolves into primarily a spellcaster). - You can't sell to shops. Who wants your crappy stuff, anyway? - Skill rise through use. Although ADOM does this too, it also offers skill increases of your choice at levelup; in Crawl, rise-through-use is the only system. This sometimes leads to deformations like the "victory dance" of sitting around and spellcasting for no reason after tackling a high-XP monster, but otherwise it works great. - Fighter-mages are implemented more strongly and completely than in any other roguelike, there is not one or two such classes, but (going from experience rather than the class list) at least 6: fighters focussing on magic-enhanced unarmed combat (transmuters), magic-enhanced armed combat (crusaders) combat-enhanced armed magery :-) (enchanters), physical melee/magical ranged combat (reavers), necromancy-enhanced armed combat (Death Knights), and magic-enhanced stealth-based combat (stalkers). Some would also call warpers a real class as well. ;-) There are also two magic-like alternatives to magic -- invocations and evocations -- and thus fighter-evokers and fighter-invokers should also be mentioned. - Although Crawl has no corpse intrinsics system, food and parameters related to it (what you can eat, what might happen) are handled inventively and interestingly, and permeate the game. - A mutations sytem exists, but unlike ADOM's corruptions system, it's not an attempt at a clock, and unlike the ToME system, corruptions are often quite nice. They are also often quite nasty, and keep you on your toes. - Gods, gods, and more gods -- 12 of them, I believe, and most quite distinct from the others. Your choice of religion is almost as important as your choice of race, and perhaps more important than it. - Players are discouraged, via various aspects of the ruleset, from getting too tied up in the ID game. Pushing it too hard may even send them to a fate arguably worse than Hell...

- Areas that are undoable by some characters. Not locked to them, just impossible (only summonings experts and a few other special cases, for example, can hope to tackle the Tomb). This does wonders for replayability.

Hard Description:

You choose a race and, based on your race restrictions, a class, and, using or not using melee, missiles, spells, god-powers, innate abilities, and powers from magical items, you must dive 27 levels to the Realm of Zot, retrieve the Orb there, and ascend back to the surface. On your way you will need to make at least 3 side trips to branch dungeons, such as the Snake Pits and the four Hells, to acquire the minimum 3 "runes," keys that are needed to unlock the gates of the Realm of Zot. Many characters with maxed level (at 27) and core skills (also at 27... hmmm...) have tried and failed. Will you?

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