Exploring the Dungeon

After you have created your character, you will begin your Angband adventure. Symbols appearing on your screen will represent the dungeon’s walls, floor, objects, features, and creatures lurking about. In order to direct your character through their adventure, you will enter single character commands (see ‘commands.txt’).

Symbols On Your Map

Symbols on your map can be broken down into three categories: Features of the dungeon such as walls, floor, doors, and traps; Objects which can be picked up such as treasure, weapons, magical devices, etc; and creatures which may or may not move about the dungeon, but are mostly harmful to your character’s well being.

Some symbols are used to represent more than one type of entity, and some symbols are used to represent entities in more than one category. The “@” symbol (by default) is used to represent the character.

It will not be necessary to remember all of the symbols and their meanings. The “slash” command (/) will identify any character appearing on your map (see ‘commands.txt’), and there is a comprehensive menu of terrain, objects, monsters and so on using the “tilde” (~) command.

Note that you can use a “user pref file” to change any of these symbols to something you are more comfortable with.

Features that do not block line of sight


A floor space


Entrance to General Store


A trap (hidden)


Entrance to Armoury


A trap (known)


Entrance to Weapon Smith


A glyph of warding


Entrance to Bookseller


An open door


Entrance to Alchemy Shop


A broken door


Entrance to Magic Shop


A staircase up


Entrance to the Black Market


A staircase down


Entrance to your Home


A pool of lava

Features that block line of sight


A secret door


A wall


A closed door


A mineral vein


A locked door


A mineral vein with treasure


A pile of rubble


A pile of passable rubble



A potion (or flask)


A pole-arm


A scroll (or book)


An edged weapon


A mushroom (or food)


A hafted weapon


A wand or rod


A sling, bow, or x-bow


A staff


A shot, arrow, or bolt


A ring


Soft armour


An amulet


Hard armour


Gold or gems


Misc. armour


Lights, Tools, Chests, etc


A shield


Multiple items



Creeping Coins


Mushroom Patch


Giant Ant




Giant Bat




Giant Centipede


Canine (Dog)




Ancient Dragon


Floating Eye




Feline (Cat)


Dragon Fly




















Killer Beetle








Multi-Headed Hydra










Human “person”


Giant “person”




Quylthulg (Pulsing Flesh Mound)














Minor Demon


Major Demon






Worm or Worm Mass














Zephyr Hound

The Town Level

The town level is where you will begin your adventure. The town consists of eight buildings (each with an entrance), some townspeople, and a wall which surrounds the town and may contain streams of lava. The first time you are in town it will be daytime, but note that the sun rises and falls (rather instantly) as time passes.


The town contains many different kinds of people. There are the street urchins, young children who will mob an adventurer for money, and seem to come out of the woodwork when excited. Blubbering idiots are a constant annoyance, but not harmful. Public drunks wander about the town singing, and are of no threat to anyone. Sneaky rogues hang about watching for a likely victim to mug. And finally, no town would be complete without a swarm of half drunk warriors, who take offense or become annoyed just for the fun of it. (There are assumed to be other people in the town, but they are not represented on the screen as they do not interact with the player in any way.)

Most of the townspeople should be avoided by the largest possible distance when you wander from store to store. Fights will break out, though, so be prepared. Since your character grew up in this world of intrigue, no experience is awarded for killing the town inhabitants, though you may acquire treasure.

Town Buildings

Your character will begin their adventure with some basic supplies and some extra gold with which to purchase more supplies at the town stores. If you choose to play with the starting kit option on (it is on by default), your character will start with more items but with less gold.

You may enter any open store to buy items of the appropriate type. The price the shopkeeper requests is dependent on the price of the item. By default stores will not buy items from the player. If you choose to play with the no selling option off (it is on by default), they will buy, but each shopkeeper has a maximum amount she or he is willing to offer for any item, regardless of how much it is actually worth.

Once inside a store, you will see the name and race of the store owner, the name of the store, the maximum amount of cash that the store owner will pay for any one item, and the store inventory, listed along with the prices.

You will also see an (incomplete) list of available commands. Note that many of the commands which work in the dungeon work in the stores as well, but some do not, especially those which involve “using” objects.

Stores do not always have everything in stock. As the game progresses, they may get new items so check from time to time. Stores restock after 10000 game turns have passed, but the inventory will never change while you are in town, even if you save the game and return. You must be in the dungeon for the store to restock. Also, if you sell them an item, it may get sold to a customer while you are adventuring, so don’t always expect to be able to get back everything you have sold. If you have a lot of spare gold, you can purchase every item in a store, which will induce the store owner to bring out new stock, and perhaps even retire.

Store owners will not accept known harmful or useless items. If an object is unidentified, they will (if selling is enabled) pay you some base price for it. Once they have bought it they will immediately identify the object. If it is a good object, they will add it to their inventory. If it was a bad bargain, they simply throw the item away. You can use this feature to learn item flavors.

The General Store (1)

The General Store sells foods, some clothing, torches, oil, shovels and picks. All of these items and some others can be sold back to the general store for money. The general store restocks like every store, but the inventory types never change.

The Armoury (2)

The Armoury is where the town’s armour is fashioned. All sorts of protective gear may be bought and sold here. The deeper into the dungeon you progress the more exotic the equipment you will find stocked in the armoury. However, some armour types will never appear here unless you sell them.

The Weaponsmith’s Shop (3)

The Weaponsmith’s Shop is where the town’s weapons are fashioned. Hand and missile weapons may be purchased and sold here, along with arrows, bolts, and shots. As with the armoury, not all weapon types will be stocked here, unless they are sold to the shop by the player first.

The Bookseller (4)

The Bookseller holds supplies of the simpler books needed by magic users, and will buy the more advanced books which can be found in the dungeon.

The Alchemy shop (5)

The Alchemy Shop deals in all types of potions and scrolls.

The Magic User’s Shop (6)

The Magic User’s Shop deals in all sorts of rings, wands, amulets, and staves.

The Black Market (7)

The Black Market will sell and buy anything at extortionate prices. However it occasionally has very good items in it. With the exception of artifacts, every item found in the dungeon may appear in the black market.

Your Home (8)

This is your house where you can store objects that you cannot carry on your travels, or will need at a later date.

Within The Dungeon

Once your character is adequately supplied with food, light, armor, and weapons, they are ready to enter the dungeon. Move on top of the > symbol and use the “Down” command (>).

Your character will enter a maze of interconnecting staircases and finally arrive somewhere on the first level of the dungeon. Each level of the dungeon is fifty feet high (thus dungeon level “Lev 1” is often called “50 ft”), and is divided into (large) rectangular regions (several times larger than the screen) by permanent rock. Once you leave a level by a staircase, you will never again find your way back to that region of that level, but there are an infinite number of other regions at that same “depth” that you can explore later. Monsters, of course, can use the stairs, and you may eventually encounter them again, but they will not chase you up or down stairs.

In the dungeon, there are many things to find, but your character must survive many horrible and challenging encounters to find the treasure lying about.

There are two sources for light once inside the dungeon. Permanent light which has been magically placed within rooms, and a light source carried by the player. If neither is present, the character will be unable to see. This will affect searching, picking locks, disarming traps, reading scrolls, casting spells, browsing books, etc. So be very careful not to run out of light!

A character must wield a torch or lamp in order to supply his own light. A torch or lamp burns fuel as it is used, and once it is out of fuel, it stops supplying light. You will be warned as the light approaches this point. You may use the “Fuel” command (F) to refuel your lantern (with flasks of oil), and it is a good idea to carry extra torches or flasks of oil, as appropriate. There are rumours of objects of exceptional power which glow with their own never-ending light.

These last two paragraphs apply to most classes, but not to necromancers. Necromancers dislike light, and shroud themselves in darkness. They are usually better off not carrying a light, but also do not gain any of the bonuses that may come from magical light sources.

Objects Found In The Dungeon

The mines are full of objects just waiting to be picked up and used. How did they get there? Well, the main source for useful items are all the foolish adventurers that proceeded into the dungeon before you. They get killed, and the helpful creatures scatter the various treasure throughout the dungeon.

Several objects may occupy a given floor location, which may or may not also contain one creature. However, doors, rubble, traps, and staircases cannot coexist with items. As below, any item may actually be a “pile” of up to 40 identical items. With the right choice of “options”, you may be able to “stack” several items in the same grid.

You pick up objects by moving on top of them. You can carry up to 23 different items in your backpack while wearing and wielding up to 12 others. Although you are limited to 23 different items, each item may actually be a “pile” of up to 40 similar items. If you take off an item, it will go into your backpack if there is room: if there is no room in your backpack, it will drop onto the floor, so be careful when swapping one wielded weapon or worn piece of armor for another when your pack is full.

You are, however, limited in the total amount of weight that you can carry. If you exceed this value, you become slower, making it easier for monsters to chase you. Note that there is no upper bound on how much you can carry, if you do not mind being slow. Your weight “limit” is determined by your strength.

Many objects found within the dungeon have special commands for their use. Wands must be Aimed, staves must be Used, scrolls must be Read, and potions must be Quaffed. You may, in general, not only use items in your pack, but also items on the ground, if you are standing on top of them. At the beginning of the game all items are assigned a random ‘flavor’. For example potions of ‘cure light wounds’ could be ‘red potions’. If you have never used, sold, or bought one of these potions, you will only see the flavor. You can learn what type of item it is by selling it to a store, or using it (although learning by use does not always apply to magic devices). Lastly, items in stores that you have not yet identified the flavor of will be labeled ‘{unseen}’.

Chests are complex objects, containing traps, locks, and possibly treasure or other objects inside them once they are opened. Many of the commands that apply to traps or doors also apply to chests and, like traps and doors, these commands do not work if you are carrying the chest.

One item in particular will be discussed here. The scroll of “Word of Recall” can be found within the dungeon, or bought at the alchemist in town. All classes start with one of these scrolls in their inventory. It acts in two manners, depending upon your current location. If read within the dungeon, it will teleport you back to town. If read in town, it will teleport you back down to the deepest level of the dungeon which your character has previously been on. This makes the scroll very useful for getting back to the deeper levels of Angband. Once the scroll has been read it takes a while for the spell to act, so don’t expect it to save you in a crisis. During this time the word ‘recall’ will appear on the bottom of the screen below the dungeon. Reading a second scroll before the first takes effect will cancel the action.

You may “inscribe” any object with a textual inscription of your choice. These inscriptions are not limited in length, though you may not be able to see the whole inscription on the item. The game applies special meaning to inscriptions containing any text of the form ‘@#’ or ‘@x#’ or ‘!x’ or ‘!*’, see ‘customize.txt’.

The game provides some “fake” inscriptions to help you keep track of your possessions. Weapons, armor and jewellery which have properties you don’t know about yet will get a ‘{??}’ label. Wands, staves and rods can get a ‘{tried}’ label after use, particularly if they have an effect on a monster and were tested in the absence of monsters.

It is rumored that rings of power and extra rare spell books may be found deeper in the dungeon…

And lastly, a final warning: not all objects are what they seem. The line between tasty food and a poisonous mushroom is a fine one, and sometimes a chest full of treasure will grow teeth in its lid and bite your hand off…

Cursed Objects

Some objects, often objects of great power, have been cursed. There are many curses in the game, and they can appear on any wearable object. Curses may have a negative (or sometimes positive) effect on an object’s properties, or cause bad things to happen to the player at random.

You can choose to wear the object in spite of its curses, or attempt to uncurse it using magic. A warning: failed uncursing leads to the object becoming fragile, and a fragile object may be destroyed on future curse removal attempts. It is up to you to balance the risks and rewards in your use of cursed items.


Some treasure within the dungeon can be found only by mining it out of the walls. Many rich strikes exist within each level, but must be found and mined. Quartz veins are the richest, yielding the most metals and gems, but magma veins will have some hoards hidden within.

Mining is rather difficult without a pick or shovel. Picks and shovels have an additional magical ability expressed as ‘(+#)’. The higher the number, the better the magical digging ability of the tool. A pick or shovel also has plusses to hit and damage, and can be used as a weapon, because, in fact, it is one.

When a vein of quartz or magma is located, the character may wield his pick or shovel and begin digging out a section. When that section is removed, he can locate another section of the vein and begin the process again. Since granite rock is much harder to dig through, it is much faster to follow the vein exactly and dig around the granite. Eventually, it becomes easier to simply kill monsters and discover items in the dungeon to sell, than to walk around digging for treasure. But, early on, mineral veins can be a wonderful source of easy treasure.

If the character has a scroll, staff, or spell of treasure location, they can immediately locate all strikes of treasure within a vein shown on the screen. This makes mining much easier and more profitable.

Note that a character with high strength and/or a heavy weapon does not need a shovel/pick to dig, but even the strongest character will benefit from a pick if trying to dig through a granite wall.

It is sometimes possible to get a character trapped within the dungeon by using various magical spells and items. So it can be a good idea to always carry some kind of digging tool, even when you are not planning on tunneling for treasure.

There are rumors of certain incredibly profitable rooms buried deep in the dungeon and completely surrounded by permanent rock and granite walls, requiring a digging implement or magical means to enter. The same rumors imply that these rooms are guarded by incredibly powerful monsters, so beware!


There are many traps located in the dungeon of varying danger. These traps are hidden from sight and are triggered only when your character walks over them. If you have found a trap you can attempt to Disarm it, but failure may mean activating it. Traps can be physical dangers such as pits, or magical runes or inscriptions which will cause an effect when triggered. Your character may be better at disarming one of these types of traps than the other.

All characters have a chance to notice traps when they first come into view (dependent on searching skill). Some players will also get access to magical means of detecting all traps within a certain radius. If you cast one of these spells, there will be a ‘Dtrap’ green label on the bottom of the screen, below the dungeon map.

Some monsters have the ability to create new traps on the level that may be hidden, even if the player is in a detected zone. The detection only finds the traps that exist at the time of detection, it does not inform you of new ones that have since been created.

Staircases, Secret Doors, Passages, and Rooms

Staircases are the manner in which you get deeper or climb out of the dungeon. The symbols for the up and down staircases are the same as the commands to use them. A < represents an up staircase and a > represents a down staircase. You must move your character over the staircase before you can use it.

Most levels have at least one up staircase and at least two down staircases. You may have trouble finding some well hidden secret doors, or you may have to dig through obstructions to get to them, but you can always find the stairs if you look hard enough. Stairs, like permanent rock, and shop entrances, cannot be destroyed by any means.

Many secret doors are used within the dungeon to confuse and demoralize adventurers foolish enough to enter, although all secret doors can be discovered by stepping adjacent to them. Secret doors will sometimes hide rooms or corridors, or even entire sections of that level of the dungeon. Sometimes they simply hide small empty closets or even dead ends. Secret doors always look like granite walls, just like traps always look like normal floors.

Creatures in the dungeon will generally know and use these secret doors, and can often be counted on to leave them open behind them when they pass through.

Level and object feelings

Unless you have disabled the option to get feelings you will get a message upon entering a dungeon giving you a general feel of how dangerous that level is.

The possible messages are :


“This seems a quiet, peaceful place”


“This seems a tame, sheltered place”


“This place seems reasonably safe”


“This place does not seem too risky”


“You feel nervous about this place”


“You feel anxious about this place”


“This place seems terribly dangerous”


“This place seems murderous”


“Omens of death haunt this place”

This feeling depends only on the monsters present in the dungeon when you first enter it. It will not get reduced to safer feeling as you kill monsters neither will it increase if new ones are summoned. This feeling also depends on your current dungeon depth. A dungeon you feel nervous about at 2000’ is way more dangerous than a murderous one at 50’.

Once you have explored a certain amount of the dungeon you will also get a feeling about how good are the objects lying on the floor of the dungeon.

The possible messages are :


“there is naught but cobwebs here.”


“there are only scraps of junk here.”


“there aren’t many treasures here.”


“there may not be much interesting here.”


“there may be something worthwhile here.”


“there are good treasures here.”


“there are very good treasures here.”


“there are excellent treasures here.”


“there are superb treasures here.”


“you sense an item of wondrous power!”

The last message indicates an artifact is present and is only possible if the option to lose artifacts is on (if that option is off, an artifact will guarantee a feeling of 5 or better).

You may review your level feeling any time by using the ^f command. You may also consult it by checking the LF: indicator at the bottom left of the screen. The first number after it is the level feeling and the second one is the object feeling. The second one will be ? if you need to explore more before getting a feeling about the value of the treasures present in the dungeon.

Winning The Game

If your character has killed Sauron (a difficult task), who lives on level 99 (4950’) in the dungeon, a magical staircase will appear that will allow you to finally reach level 100. Morgoth lurks on this level of his dungeon, and you will not be able to go below his level until you have killed him. Try to avoid wandering around on level 100 unless you are ready for him, since he has a habit of coming at you across the dungeon, the Mighty Hammer ‘Grond’ in hand, to slay you for your impudence.

If you should actually survive the attempt of killing Morgoth, you will receive the status of WINNER. You may continue to explore, and may even save the game and play more later, but since you have defeated the toughest creature alive, there is really not much point. Unless you wish to listen to the rumors of a powerful ring buried somewhere in the dungeon, or a suit of dragon scale mail that resists everything…

When you are ready to retire, simply kill your character (using the Q key) to have your character entered into the high score list as a winner. Note that until you retire, you can still be killed, so you may want to retire before wandering into yet another horde of greater demons.

Upon Death and Dying

If your character falls below 0 hit points, they have died and cannot be restored. A tombstone showing information about your character will be displayed. You are also permitted to get a record of your character, and all your equipment (identified) either on the screen or in a file.

Your character will leave behind a reduced save file, which contains only your option choices. It may be restored, in which case a new character is generated exactly as if the file was not there.

There are a variety of ways to “cheat” death (including using a special “cheating option”) when it would otherwise occur. This will fully heal your character, returning him to the town, and marking him in various ways as a character which has cheated death. Cheating death, like using any of the “cheating options”, will prevent your character from appearing on the high score list.