Playing the Game

Most of your interaction with Angband will take the form of “commands”. Every Angband command consists of an “underlying command” plus a variety of optional or required arguments, such as a repeat count, a direction, or the index of an inventory object. Commands are normally specified by typing a series of keypresses, from which the underlying command is extracted, along with any encoded arguments. You may choose how the standard “keyboard keys” are mapped to the “underlying commands” by choosing one of the two standard “keysets”, the “original” keyset or the “roguelike” keyset.

The original keyset is very similar to the “underlying” command set, with a few additions (such as the ability to use the numeric “directions” to “walk” or the 5 key to “stay still”). The roguelike keyset provides similar additions, and also allows the use of the h/j/k/l/y/u/b/n keys to “walk” (or, in combination with the shift or control keys, to run or alter), which thus requires a variety of key mappings to allow access to the underlying commands used for walking/running/altering. In particular, the “roguelike” keyset includes many more “capital” and “control” keys, as shown below.

Note that any keys that are not required for access to the underlying command set may be used by the user to extend the “keyset” which is being used, by defining new “keymaps”. To avoid the use of any “keymaps”, press backslash (\) plus the “underlying command” key. You may enter “control-keys” as a caret (^) plus the key (so ^ + p yields ‘^p’).

Some commands allow an optional “repeat count”, which allows you to tell the game that you wish to do the command multiple times, unless you press a key or are otherwise disturbed. To enter a “repeat count”, type 0, followed by the numerical count, followed by the command. You must type ‘space’ before entering certain commands. Skipping the numerical count yields a count of 99. An option allows certain commands (open, disarm, alter, etc) to auto-repeat.

Some commands will prompt for extra information, such as a direction, an inventory or equipment item, a spell, a textual inscription, the symbol of a monster race, a sub-command, a verification, an amount of time, a quantity, a file name, or various other things. Normally you can hit return to choose the “default” response, or escape to cancel the command entirely.

Some commands will prompt for a spell or an inventory item. Pressing space (or *) will give you a list of choices. Pressing - (minus) selects the item on the floor. Pressing a lowercase letter selects the given item. Pressing a capital letter selects the given item after verification. Pressing a numeric digit # selects the first item (if any) whose inscription contains ‘@#’ or ‘@x#’, where x is the current “underlying command”. You may only specify items which are “legal” for the command. Whenever an item inscription contains ‘!*’ or ‘!x’ (with x as above) you must verify its selection.

Some commands will prompt for a direction. You may enter a “compass” direction using any of the “direction keys” shown below. Sometimes, you may specify that you wish to use the current “target”, by pressing t or 5, or that you wish to select a new target, by pressing * (see “Target” below).

Original Keyset Directions









Roguelike Keyset Directions









Each of the standard keysets provides some short-cuts over the “underlying commands”. For example, both keysets allow you to “walk” by simply pressing an “original” direction key (or a “roguelike” direction key if you are using the roguelike keyset), instead of using the “walk” command plus a direction. The roguelike keyset allows you to “run” or “alter” by simply holding the shift or control modifier key down while pressing a “roguelike” direction key, instead of using the “run” or “alter” command plus a direction. Both keysets allow the use of the 5 key to “stand still”, which is most convenient when using the original keyset.

Original Keyset Command Summary

Roguelike Keyset Command Summary


Zap a rod (Activate)


Activate an object


(walk - south west)


(run - south west)


Close a door


Character description


Drop an item


Disarm a trap or lock a door


Equipment list


Eat some food




Fuel your lantern/torch


Get objects on floor


Gain new spells/prayers


(walk - west)


(run - west)


Inventory list


Observe an item


(walk - south)


(run - south)


(walk - north)


(run - north)


(walk - east)


(run - east)


Cast a spell


Full dungeon map


(walk - south east)


(run - south east)


Open a door or chest


Toggle ignore


Cast a spell


Browse a book


Quaff a potion


End character & quit


Read a scroll


Rest for a period


Steal (rogues only)




Fire an item


Take off equipment


(walk - north east)


(run - north east)


Throw an item


Version info


Wear/wield equipment


Locate player on map (Where)


Look around


Use an item


(walk - north west)


(run - north west)


Aim a wand (Zap)


Use a staff (Zap)




(special - debug command)


Center map


(alter - south west)




(special - break)




Ignore an item




Toggle inven/equip window


(special - control key)


Repeat level feeling




Do autopickup


Target monster or location


(alter - west)


Load screen dump


(special - tab)


Dump screen dump


alter - south)


Inscribe an object


(alter - north)


Uninscribe an object


(alter - east)


Display visible monster list


(special - return)


Display visible object list


(alter - south east)


Walk into a trap


Show previous message


Enter store


Show previous messages


Alter grid




Set options


Redraw the screen


Walk (with pickup)


Save and don’t quit


Take notes


Dig a tunnel

Target closest monster


(alter - north east)

Enter a user pref command


Repeat previous command




(special - wizard mode)


Go up staircase


Save and quit


Stay still (with pickup)


(alter - north west)


Go down staircase




(special - bypass keymap)


Check knowledge


(special - escape)




Identify symbol


Fire default ammo at target


Quiver list

Special Keys

Certain special keys may be intercepted by the operating system or the host machine, causing unexpected results. In general, these special keys are control keys, and often, you can disable their special effects.

If you are playing on a UNIX or similar system, then ‘Ctrl-C’ will interrupt Angband. The second and third interrupt will induce a warning bell, and the fourth will induce both a warning bell and a special message, since the fifth will quit the game, after killing your character. Also, ‘Ctrl-Z’ will suspend the game, and return you to the original command shell, until you resume the game with the ‘fg’ command. There is now a compilation option to force the game to prevent the “double ‘ctrl-z’ escape death trick”. The ‘Ctrl-' and ‘Ctrl-D’ and ‘Ctrl-S’ keys should not be intercepted.

It is often possible to specify “control-keys” without actually pressing the control key, by typing a caret (^) followed by the key. This is useful for specifying control-key commands which might be caught by the operating system as explained above.

Pressing backslash (\) before a command will bypass all keymaps, and the next keypress will be interpreted as an “underlying command” key, unless it is a caret (^), in which case the keypress after that will be turned into a control-key and interpreted as a command in the underlying Angband keyset. The backslash key is useful for creating actions which are not affected by any keymap definitions that may be in force, for example, the sequence \ + . + 6 will always mean “run east”, even if the . key has been mapped to a different underlying command.

The 0 and ^ and \ keys all have special meaning when entered at the command prompt, and there is no “useful” way to specify any of them as an “underlying command”, which is okay, since they would have no effect.

For many input requests or queries, the special character ‘ESCAPE’ will abort the command. The ‘[y/n]’ prompts may be answered with y or n, or ‘escape’. The ‘-more-‘ message prompts may be cleared (after reading the displayed message) by pressing ‘ESCAPE’, ‘SPACE’, ‘RETURN’, ‘LINEFEED’, or by any keypress, if the ‘quick_messages’ option is turned on.

Command Counts

Some commands can be executed a fixed number of times by preceding them with a count. Counted commands will execute until the count expires, until you type any character, or until something significant happens, such as being attacked. Thus, a counted command doesn’t work to attack another creature. While the command is being repeated, the number of times left to be repeated will flash by on the line at the bottom of the screen.

To give a count to a command, type 0, the repeat count, and then the command. If you want to give a movement command and you are using the original command set (where the movement commands are digits), press space after the count and you will be prompted for the command.

Counted commands are very useful for time consuming commands, as they automatically terminate on success, or if you are attacked. You may also terminate any counted command (or resting or running), by typing any character. This character is ignored, but it is safest to use a ‘SPACE’ or ‘ESCAPE’ which are always ignored as commands in case you type the command just after the count expires.

You can tell Angband to automatically use a repeat count of 99 with commands you normally want to repeat (open, disarm, tunnel, bash, alter, etc) by setting the ‘always_repeat’ option.

Selection of Objects

Many commands will also prompt for a particular object to be used. For example, the command to read a scroll will ask you which of the scrolls that you are carrying that you wish to read. In such cases, the selection is made by typing a letter of the alphabet (or a number if choosing from the quiver). The prompt will indicate the possible letters/numbers, and you will also be shown a list of the appropriate items. Often you will be able to press / to switch between inventory and equipment, or | to select the quiver, or - to select the floor. Using the right arrow also rotates selection between equipment, inventory, quiver, floor and back to equipment; the left arrow rotates in the opposite direction.

The particular object may be selected by an upper case or a lower case letter. If lower case is used, the selection takes place immediately. If upper case is used, then the particular option is described, and you are given the option of confirming or retracting that choice. Upper case selection is thus safer, but requires an extra key stroke.