A quick demonstration

Angband is a very complex game, so you may want to try the following quick demonstration. The following instructions are for demonstration purposes only, and so they are intentionally boring.

For this demo, we will assume that you have never played Angband before, that you have not requested any special “sub-windows”, that you have not requested any special “graphics” modes, that you have a “numeric keypad” on your computer, and that you are using the default options, including, in particular, the “original” command set. If any of these assumptions are incorrect, you will need to keep in mind that this demo may not work; in particular note that Windows users will be using graphical tiles by default, so unless you turn off graphics map symbols below will be replaced by little pictures. There are many ways to view this file while playing.

Any time you see the ‘-more-’ prompt, read the message and press space. This takes precedence over any other instructions. At any other prompt, for example, if you accidentally hit a key, you can normally “cancel” the action in progress by pressing escape.

When the game starts up, depending on what platform you are using, you may be taken directly to the character creation screen, or you may have to ask to create a new character by using the File menu. In either case, you will be shown the character information screen, and you will be given a series of choices. For this demo, press a three times to elect a “human warrior” character with the point-based stat allocation system. You will now be presented with a description of your character. Look over the description briefly, there is a lot of information here, and most of it will not make any sense. Press enter four times and your character will be placed into the “town”.

You should now be looking at the basic dungeon interaction screen. To the left is some information about your character. To the right is an overhead view of the town. Nothing happens in Angband while the game is waiting for you to specify a command, so take a good look at the town. You will see a variety of symbols on the screen. Each symbol normally represents a terrain feature, an object, or a monster. The @ symbol is special, it represents your character. You can use the / command to find out what a given symbol represents. Press “/” then @ now to verify the meaning of the @ symbol.

The solid blocks (which may be # symbols on some systems) around the edge of the town represent the walls that surround the town. You cannot leave the town above ground, although some games derived from Angband (called “variants”) have an overground element.

The 3x3 squares represent stores. The “numeric” symbols represent an “entrance” to a store. The . symbols represent the “floor”. It is currently daytime, so most of the town should consist of stores and illuminated floor grids. There will also be a few : symbols which represent “passable rubble”.

Any “alphabetic” symbols always represent monsters, where the word “monsters” specifies a wide variety of entities, including people, animals, plants, etc. Only a few “races” of monsters normally appear in town, and most of them are harmless (avoid any mercenaries or veterans if you see them). The most common “monsters” in town are small animals (cats and dogs) and townspeople (merchants, mercenaries, miscreants, etc).

Now use the l command to “look” around. This will cause the cursor to be moved onto each “interesting” square, one at a time, giving you a description of that square. The cursor always starts on the square containing your character. In this case, you will see a message telling you that your character is standing on a staircase. Keep pressing space until the prompt goes away.

Now press i, to display your character’s “inventory”. New characters start out with some objects to help them survive (though there is an option to start with more money instead). Your character will have some food, a potion, some torches, and a scroll. Press e to see what you are wearing. You will find you are wearing armour on your body, wielding a dagger and lighting the way with a torch. You have many other equipment slots but they are all currently empty.

Press t to take something off. Note that the equipment listing is reduced to those objects which can actually be taken off. Press g to take off the armour, and then press e again. Note that the armour is no longer shown in the equipment. Press escape. Press w to wield something and observe that the inventory listing is reduced to those objects which can actually be wielded or worn, press e to put the armour back on.

Monsters can only move after you use a command which takes “energy” from your character. So far, you have used the w and t commands, which take energy, and the e, i, l, and / commands, which are “free” commands, and so do not take any energy. In general, the only commands which take energy are the ones which require your character to perform some action in the world of the game, such as moving around, attacking monsters, and interacting with objects.

If there were any monsters near your character while you were experimenting with the w and t commands, you may have seen them “move” or even “attack” your character. Although unlikely, it is even possible that your character has already been killed. This is the only way to lose the game. So if you have already lost, simply exit the game and restart this demo.

One of the most important things that your character can do is move around. Use the numeric keys on the keypad to make your character move around. The 4, 6, 8, and 2 keys move your character west, east, north, and south, and the 7, 9, 1 and 3 keys move your character diagonally. When your character first moves, observe the > symbol that is left behind. This is the “staircase” that she was standing on earlier in the demo - it is the entrance to the dungeon.

Attempting to stay away from monsters, try and move your character towards the entrance to the “general store”, which is represented as a 1 on the screen. As your character moves around, use the l command to look around. You can press escape at any time to cancel the looking. If you die, start over.

One of the hardest things for people to get used to, when playing games of this nature for the first time, is that the character is not the same as the player. The player presses keys, and looks at a computer screen, while the character performs complex actions, and interacts with a virtual world. The player decides what the character should do, and tells her to do it, and the character then performs the actions. These actions may induce some changes in the virtual world. Some of these changes may be apparent to the character, and information about the changes is then made available to the player by a variety of methods, including messages, character state changes, or visual changes to the screen. Some changes may only be apparent to the player.

There are also a whole set of things that the player can do that can not even be described in the virtual world inhabited by the character, such as resize windows, read online help files, modify colormaps, or change options. Some of these things may even affect the character in abstract ways, for example, the player can request that from now on all monsters know exactly where the character is at all times. Likewise, there are some things that the character does on a regular basis that the player may not even consider, such as digesting food, or searching for traps while walking down a hallway.

To make matters worse, as you get used to the difference between the player and the character, it becomes so “obvious” that you start to ignore it. At that point, you find yourself merging the player and the character in your mind, and you find yourself saying things like “So yesterday, I was at my friend’s house, and I stayed up late playing Angband, and I was attacked by some wild dogs, and I got killed by a demon, but I made it to the high score list”, in which the pronoun changes back and forth from the real world to the virtual one several times in the same sentence. So, from this point on you may have to separate the player and the character for yourself.

So anyway, keep walking towards the entrance to the general store until you actually walk into it. At this point, the screen should change to the store interaction screen. You will see the name of the shop-keeper, and the name of the shop, and a list of objects which are available. If there are more than twelve different objects, you can use the space or arrow keys to scroll the list of objects. The general store is the only store with a fixed inventory, although the amount of various items may vary. One of the items sold here are flasks of oil. Press ‘down’ to highlight the line with flasks of oil and press the p key to purchase some. If you are asked how many you want, just hit enter. Any time you are asked a question and there is already something under the cursor, pressing return will accept that choice. Hit enter to accept the price. Many commands work inside the store, for example, use the i command to see your inventory, with the new flask of oil. Note that your inventory is always kept sorted in a semi-logical order, so the indexes of some of the objects may change as your inventory changes.

Purchase a few more flasks of oil, if possible: this time, when asked how many you want, press 3 then return to buy three flasks at once. Flasks of oil are very important for low level characters, because not only can they be used to fuel a lantern (when you find one), but also they can be ignited and thrown at monsters from a distance. So it is often a good idea to have a few extra flasks of oil. Press escape to leave the store. If you want, take time to visit the rest of the stores. One of the buildings, marked with an 8, is your “home”, and is not a real store. You can drop things off at home and they will stay there until you return to pick them up. The interface is exactly the same as a store, but there is no payment.

Now move to the staircase, represented by the > symbol, and press >, to go down the stairs. At this point, you are in the dungeon. Use the l command to look around. Note that you are standing on a staircase leading back to town. Use the < command to take the stairs back to town. You may find that any townspeople that were here before have disappeared and new ones have appeared instead. Now use the > command to go back down the stairs into the dungeon. You are now in a different part of the dungeon than you were in before. The dungeon is so huge, once you leave one part of the dungeon, you will never find it again.

Now look at the screen. Your character may be in a lit room, represented as a large rectangle of illuminated floor grids (.), surrounded by walls. If you are not in a lit room, keep going back up to the town and back down into the dungeon until you are. Now look around. You may see some closed doors (+) or some open doors (') or some open exits (.) in the walls which surround the room. If you do not, keep playing the stairway game until you are in such a room. This will keep the demo simple.

Now look around using the l command. You may see some monsters and/or some objects in the room with you. You may see some stairs up (<) or some stairs down (>). If you see any monsters, move up next to the monster, using the movement keys, and then try and move into the monster. This will cause you to attack the monster. Keep moving into the monster until you kill the monster, or it runs away, or you die. If you die, start a new game. If the monster runs away, ignore it, or chase it, but do not leave the room. Once all the monsters in the room are dead or gone, walk on top of any objects in the room. Press g to get the object, and it will be added to your inventory. If there are any closed doors (+) in the room walk up next to them and press o and then the direction key which would move you into the door, which should attempt to “open” the door.

Now use the movement keys to explore the dungeon. As you leave the room, you will probably notice that your character cannot see nearly as far as she could in the room. Also, you will notice that as she moves around, the screen keeps displaying some of the grids that your character has seen. Think of this as a kind of “map” superimposed on the world itself, the player can see the entire map, but the character can only see those parts of the world which are actually nearby. If the character gets near the edge of the “map” portion of the screen the entire map will scroll to show a new portion of the world. Only about ten percent of the dungeon level can be seen by the player at one time, but you can use the L command to look at other pieces of the map. Use the . key, then a direction, to “run” through the dungeon. Use the R key, then return, to force your character to “rest” until she has recovered from any damage she incurs while attacking monsters. Use the M key to see the entire dungeon level at once, and hit escape when done. If your food rations are still at index a in your inventory, press E, a to eat some food. If your oil is still at index b in your inventory, and there is a monster nearby, press v, b, ' to throw a flask of oil at the nearest monster. To drop an item from your inventory, press d plus the index of that item. You can use the ‘^X’ key to quit and save the game.

You now know enough to play a quick game of Angband. There is a lot more for you to learn, including how to interpret information about your character, how to create different kinds of characters, how to determine which equipment to wield/wear, how to use various kinds of objects, and how to use the more than fifty different commands available to your character. The best resource for learning these things is the online help, which include, among other things, a complete list of all commands available to you, and a list of all the symbols which you may encounter in the dungeon, and information about creating new characters.