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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Angband support - A Beginner's Guide - Part 3

Angband support - A Beginner's Guide - Part 3

Posted by musus on 00:00, 6/11/2000 | , ,

Part Three - Playing the Game

Contents - this page


Other pages in this section


Playing the game

Obviously I can't tell you how to play the game... but I can try to help you get to grips with how it all works.
Your character is represented on the screen as an at symbol, ie. you are the @.
Other creatures are represented by letters of the alphabet. In general the letter is related to the creature; townsfolk are t, centipedes are c, etc. A few creates have letters that look a bit like them, eg. snakes are J.
Dungeon 'features' are represented using non-alphanumeric symbols, eg. walls are #, floor squares are . and doors are + when closed or ' when open. You'll soon get used to it.

The town

Every new character starts life in the town. He/she also starts out with some money (GP - gold pieces) and equipment.
You can see what you're carrying by using the iinventory command, ie. press i. To see what equipment your character is using, press e. To return to the game from each of these lists, press escape.
In the town there are several 8 buildings. They are:

1 - the General Store
You can purchase (and sell) some basic supplies here, including food, torches, oil and lanterns, cloaks, shovels and picks (for digging treasure out of walls, etc) and ammunition for bows.
2 - the Armoury
Sells (and buys) all sorts of armour.
3 - the Weapon Smiths
Trades in weapons and ammunition.
4 - the Temple
Sells prayer books (for priests and paladins), healing potions, certain spell scrolls and weapons that are fitting for priests (ie. ones with no edge. The Gods of Angband apparently disapprove of drawing blood...)
5 - the Alchemy Shop
Trades in various potions and spell scrolls.
6 - the Magic Shop
Sells spell books (for mages, rangers and rogues), magical wands, rods, staves and amulets.
7 - the Black Market
Buys and sells just about anything, but be warned: It pays extremely little for items and charges an extortionate price for everything.
8 - your home
You can store items here whilst you're away adventuring in the dungeon. Everything you store here will be safe, incidentally - there's no burglary in Angband.

To enter a shop, you just move onto the number representing its doorway.
Which brings us to movement. The simplest way of moving around is to use the numeric keypad. Thus, 8 moves you 'north' (ie. upwards on the screen), 4 moves 'west' (ie. left), etc. 5 makes you stand still, but takes a turn to do, so 5 is effectively the key to rest for a turn.
Note that to attack monsters (with your sword, or whatever), you simply 'walk into them' (ie. try to move into the same floor space that they are in). You can find out (much!) more about this by reading the online help section 4: Attacking Monsters.
You can also run in a given direction. You don't actually move any faster (in game terms) when running, but it's a lot more convenient than holding down keys on the keypad. To run (instead of walking), hold down shift when you press the keypad key. You'll then keep going in the specified direction until something 'disturbs' you (eg. a monster moves or becomes visible, you hit a branch in the corridor, etc).

Some useful commands

Here's a few of the commands that you can use to get Angband to give you information:

l - Look.
This command allows you to look at the things on the screen (eg. to find out what sort of townsperson a particular t represents, etc).
Use the numeric keypad to move the cursor around - it will 'snap' to interesting features (you can guide it yourself using the o 'offset' option).
It's worth getting the hang of quickly selecting the thing you want like this since this system is used in quite a few places where you need to specify a target of some sort.
/ - Identify character.
This command will prompt you for a character and then tell you what it represents in the game. For example, pressing / and then > will tell you that the > symbol (of which there is one in the town) represents a down staircase.
C - Display character screen.
This shows a screen with your character's main statistics on. To get back to the game, press escape. You can toggle this screen between two 'modes' - the second mode shows what magical bonuses (if any) your character is receiving from special equipment.
~ - Display current knowledge.
Presents a menu of choices. You can use this to discover which (if any) of the unique artifacts your character has discovered and whether the various unique monsters that exist are alive or dead (they'll only be listed if you've met them). Press escape to get back to the game.

All the commands are described in the
online help sections 5 and 6. Section 5 describes commands in general and lists them. Section 6 describes each command in detail.

Equipment and inventory

i - Display inventory.
Shows what your character is carrying in his/her backpack. You may also issue commands whilst the invetory is displayed. This can be handy, eg. if you want to check what's in your pack and then drop any junk you're carrying.
e - Display equipment.
Shows the equipment your character is wielding. Like the inventory display you can issue commands here.
w - Wield/Wear equipment.
This is the command to wear or wield an item of equipment. At the start of the game (assuming you're playing with that Half-Troll Warrior) you'll have some armour and a sword. Use the w command to put them on.
Note that you can swap between two items by wielding the second which will then 'replace' the first in your equipment.
t - Take off armour/equipment
This allows you to remove items of equipment/armour. It's possible for armour and weapons to be cursed and unremovable. The equipment you start with isn't cursed but any you find in the dungeon may be.
d - Drop an item on the floor
g - Get (pick up) an item
Pretty obvious, really...


Specifying items

There are several commands/actions that require you to specify items, for instance when you press d to drop an item the game will ask you what you want to drop. Equally, if you press w you be asked what you want to wield, etc.
In general, you can press * to see a list of the possible choices. Some commands (like drop) will also allow you to press / to swap between choosing from your inventory and your equipment.
It's possible to use some items straight from the dungeon floor (for example you can wield a sword that you are standing on, or aim a wand, etc.) by specifying - (dash) as the item. When this is allowed the prompt will offer it as a choice, if you see what I mean.
When you pick things up (and drop them) the contents of your pack will move around. After a while you'll get used to this but it can seem confusing at first.
By default the game comes set up so that your character will automatically pick up anything he/she walks over on the dungeon floor. You may want to change this, and other aspects of the game, which leads us to:

The options screens

You can access the game options by pressing = at any time a normal command is acceptable. Try pressing it now and I'll explain what some of the options actually do.
You can get a full description of the options by reading section 7 of the online help.
When you first press = you're presented with a menu which reads:

 Angband Options
(1) User Interface Options
(2) Disturbance Options
(3) Game-Play Options
(4) Efficiency Options
(C) Cheating Options
(W) Window flags
(D) Base Delay Factor
(H) Hitpoint Warning

You can press escape to get back to the game from this menu, and escape will get you back to this menu from any of the sub-menus.

User Inferface Options
Probably the most useful options in this section are:
Activate quick messages
This allows you to press any key to continue when the game is displaying a -more- message. Normally only return and space are accepted.
Pick things up by default
Prompt before picking things up
These two kind of go together. As I mentioned above, your character will pick up anything he/she walks over. You probably don't really want this to happen (you quickly end up with a pack full of junk) so these options allow you to change this.
Pick things up by default controls whether you, um, pick things up by default,
Prompt before picking things up will ask whether to pick up something when you walk over it.
Personally I prefer to turn both of these off and use the get command to pick things up.
Repeat obvious commands
Some actions may not succeed in just one try, for example
opening a door may take more than one attempt if the door is locked. There is a mechanism for repeating a command a given number of times (or until you are disturbed) which helps. If you have this option turned on then the game will automatically repeat such actions as oopen, Disarm, Tunnel, etc. 99 times.
Merge inscriptions when stacking
Merge discounts when stacking
In order to save 'slots' in your pack (which can only has a fixed number of slots) the game will combine identical items (so two Scrolls of Phase Door will 'merge' and be shown as 2 Scrolls of Phase Door). Sometimes you may not want this to happen because one (or both) of the items concerned have special 'inscriptions'.
One such special inscription is a discount which is automatically applied to objects bought 'cheap'. This sort of inscription usually looks like {50 off}, etc. in lists of items.
It's possible to add your own inscriptions for various reasons which I'll look at (much) later...
Audible bell (on errors, etc)
Turn this off if the beeping everytime you press a wrong key is getting annoying.


User Inferface Options
Earlier I mentioned things like running until you are disturbed, well this menu allows you to control what will disturb your character and also which dungeon features shouldn't be considered interesting enough to stop at when running.
Of particular note are:
Disturb when map panel changes
As you run around in the dungeon the screen will shift about to keep your little @ near to the middle. If this option is on then this will disturb your character. This can be useful if the freshly revealed area of dungeon is unknown to you - you may wish to use some magic, etc. to check the new map panel for traps, etc.
Aler user to critical hitpoints
Your hitpoints are the game's way of keeping track how, um, alive you currently are. When monsters hit or damage you your hitpoints are decreased. When you rest, or otherwise heal yourself, your hitpoints recharge.
Anyway, when this option is on the game will warn you when your hitpoints are dangerously low. The exact level at which the warning is given is set using the
Hitpoint Warning option from the main menu.


Game Play Options
These options allow you to change a few things about the way the game works. Some of these options make the game easier, most make it harder. Some make it a lot harder.
Particularly noteworthy options are:
Auto-haggle in stores
When this option is on the shops in the town work on a the price you see is the price you pay basis. With it off the shopkeeper will ask for a price and you'll have to try to haggle him/her down to an agreeable price.
Haggling can get you lower prices but isn't risk free - you may offend the shopkeeper and be kicked out of the shop for the rest of the day, for instance.
The prices asked/offered with auto-haggling on are about 10 higher (for buying) and 10 lower (for selling) than the best prices you can get when haggling.
Auto-scum for good levels
Scumming is the name given to 'abusing' various aspects of the game to improve your chances.
'Stair scumming' is the practice of repeatedly going up/down staircase until a sufficiently interesting level of the dungeon is created.
This option has much the same effect - it tries to ensure that every dungeon level generated is interesting. NB: dangerous monsters can be just as intersting as treasure...
Allow objects to stack on floor
Normally when an object is dropped it occupies an entire floor space. This can lead to there being no space for dropped objects to land, in which case the game has no choice but to 'lose' them. With this option on objects can pile up in floor spaces, but this does make manipulating them a bit more awkward.
Allow monsters to carry objects
Allowing monsters to carry objects means that when you kill them they will drop them again (normally they wouldn't). This can allow you to get your mits on treasure that monsters pick up before you can get to it.


Game Play Options
These options allow you to 'fine tune' the game to suit the power of your machine.
The options you're most likely to want to set are the color (sic - Angband comes from America, I'm afraid...) options. I suggest that you turn on all the use special colors for ... options - they don't slow the game down noticably and can actually be helpful.

Cheating Options
Angband is quite a hard game, especially when you're just starting out. It does, however, provide some built in cheats:
Peek into object creation
Whenever an interesting object is created (eg. when you enter a level, kill a monster, etc) you'll be told what's been created.
Peek into monster creation
As for objects, you'll be told if an interesting (eg. dangerous) monster is 'created'.
Peek into dungeon creation
Not overly useful to start with, but later on will tell you if a Vault (a special room with treasure and dangerous monsters) has been created.
Know complete monster info
The game keeps track of what you've discovered about different monsters, for instance how quickly they move, how many times a turn they can attack you and in what manner, if they are resistant to cold/fire/etc. This information is available by recalling it when either looking at a monster or using the / command to enquire what a symbol represents.
With this cheat on you'll be told everything about any monster without first having to discover it the hard way.
Allow player to avoid death
When you are killed you'll be asked if you want to die. If you answer n you'll be teleported back to the town and healed.

NB: If you turn any of these options on, and even if you don't actually use them, that game will be marked as cheated and you won't be eligable for the high-score table.

Window flags
You may have noticed the Windows menu available from the normal game menu (over the main window and iconbar icon). This allows you to open up to seven more windows (called Term-1 to Term-7 - don't worry about the Mirror, Choice, etc. names... these were used by older versions of Angband and don't really apply to this one).
You can use the Window flags options menu to control what (if anything) is displayed in each of these windows.
Probably the most useful things to show in other windows are the inventory, equipment, message recall and messages. That is, of course, if you have enough screen area to have that many windows open...
You can ignore the borg and snapshot options as these do nothing with the standard version of Angband. I'd also recommend not using the overhead view option as this dramatically slows down the game.

Base Delay Factor
Angband uses some little animations to represent, for example, an arrow flying across a room, etc. This option allows you to specify how quickly this should be done.
Lower values give faster animation, but the effect may not be as pleasing as larger values (and slower animation).

Hitpoint Warning
If you've enabled Alert user to critical hitpoints in the
disturbance options then this option allows you tp specify at what percentage of your full quota your hitpoints will be considered critical, if you see what I mean.
To start with I'd recommend setting this at 50 or so, then 30 when you've started making good progress.

A footnote-like thing
The best way to learn Angband is to play it... So go to it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the years.
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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Angband support - A Beginner's Guide - Part 3