29 October 2018

ORJ: Magus

With the resurgence of the roguelike genre, many of the classics (NetHack, ADOM, Angband) and newcomers (Caves of Qud, TGGW, Golden Krone Hotel) are gaining in popularity and renown. But there are so many hidden gems, obscure roguelikes few people know about and play, even though they would deserve much more attention. Here is one of them.

I have found another forgotten roguelike* game a few days ago - it's called Magus and seems to have been originally released in 1993. It might have been lost altogether if it wasn't for the efforts of several fans who preserved its source and binary on GitHub.

*) Edit: Actually, the game world is not procedurally generated, only randomly populated with monsters and items, so it's a more of a roguelite and not a proper roguelike.

My knight fighting a troll in a forest.
And yes, the game has adorable graphics.

Unlike nearly any other roguelike, Magus is exclusively mouse-controlled. Pretty weird for someone accustomed to keyboard controls, but usable. And Magus has even more distinguishing features when compared to classic roguelikes.

Notably, you don't get a single move per turn. Instead, you have several action points which can be used for movement, attacks, spellcasting, etc. You then need to manually end your turn, which both restores your action points and allows the monsters to use theirs. Don't think you're safe with several tiles between you and the enemy, they can cover much more then a single square per turn.

Small house lost in the forest.
There was a spell hidden inside.

This substantially changes the flow of combat, as you can plan your moves more freely with several actions available, but the monsters can also surprise you, emerging from behind a corner and clearing the distance before you get another turn. Don't worry, though - even if they get several attacks at you, you won't be one-shotted from full health. The game seems rather well-balanced in that regard. Several monsters at once, though, or even worse a melee monster together with an archer or a spellcaster, can be quite deadly.

Ambushed by an orcish archer.

I also learnt a neat trick - normally you regain 1 HP per an ended turn. But should you end your turn with unspent action points remaining, they will be converted into extra healing, meaning you can rapidly regenerate by ending turns without spending actions. Thus you don't need to wait ages when out of combat to regain health - an unexpected convenience for such an old game.

Hm, a hidden entrance into the mountainside.

Magus offers multiple character classes that differ both by starting stats and equipment, and do actually play quite differently. From the usual barbarian or wizard to the unusual shaman and unique duck mage, you are offered a nice variety of options. And if you can't decide what class to play as, the game has another surprise prepared.

This room offered a massive treasure haul,
but several trolls trapped me and nearly
brought me down.

The unique way of handling actions allows the game to do a thing virtually unseen in roguelikes - you can manage a whole party rather than only one character. Instead of a single hero, create a party consisting of different classes and control them all, switching between the heroes. I have seen a few other roguelikes who attempted a similar party-based approach, but as far as controlling every member of your party goes, I probably like the implementation in Magus the best.

While it can get a bit clumsy, the action point mechanic is once again very interesting as it allows for positioning, combat assistance and tactics that would be much harder to pull off in a normal turn-based game. And it's nice to have the backup, as the game can throw rather hard fights at you.

A party of a duck mage, a knight and a dwarf
defending a village from some monsters.

Once again unlike nearly any other roguelike, the game is not located in a dungeon split into individual floors, but in an open world. There are tunnels and strongholds dug into the mountains, but no stairs or dungeon branches. I'm also not totally sure whether the game world is procedurally generated, or if it's static and only the monsters and items are placed randomly. (Thus also why this game might be "roguelike-ish" rather than a true roguelike.) However, the map is huge and offers much to explore and discover, especially since I tend to die once I travel further away from the start.

A tiny garden deep within the mountain maze.
I have no idea whether the pentagram
can be used in any way, or how to use it.

Oh, there is a quest! You seem to be tasked with slaying the Dark One who has a fortress somewhere southward from the starting village... But who is playing roguelikes for the story? It does means that the monsters get stronger the more south you get, though.

There also seem to be some friendly NPCs, namely at least one hat-wearing fellow who can be given items, supposedly to give you something in return, eventually.

I have a fancy new axe, but this orcish necromancer
is summoning skeleton faster than I can kill them.

I like the diversity offered by multiple classes, equipment options and spells, but what really makes this game stand out for me is the sense of exploration and discovery. You are given a huge world full of secrets - every forest seems to have a hidden hut, every mountain some dungeon, every lake an island with treasure. Magus feels less like a hack and slash, and more like a Tolkienesque journey for adventure. There is always another passage to explore and I love it.

I found a castle!

Wow, that castle was pretty heavy on loot. I have
Sun's Edge and Sun Shield as my new armaments,
plus a handful of spells. Sadly, I have zero mana
and who knows if I can even gain any as a knight.

You can download all the necessary files here, but it's running in DOSBox, so you will also need that if you want to try it. And it is worth at least a try.

Entering an abandoned village.

An elementalist cornered me with summoned elementals
and I'm not doing well. I also have even more spells now,
and still no mana.

That was way too close.
I should have a break now before
I do something stupid and die.

Happy hacking and don't die!

14 October 2018

Class: Shadow Wizard

May the War never return.
- Motto of the Order of the Shadow

There is a fragile balance between Light and Dark, ever since the War. Light technically lost, and the conditions of surrender dictate that Dark has the authority to oversee and control the actions of Light to prevent any future conflict. Shadow wizards are the secret police tasked with this responsibility.

Of course, the situation is not that simple. Light, naturally, despises the constant surveillance and infringement of autonomy. Dark is paranoid about terrorism or war training on the side of Light. Neither could afford another war. Thus, shadow wizards serve more as mediators, diplomats, and guardians of peace. But they are always ready for trouble and when the situation calls, they may easily be spies, jailers, or executioners.

From here.

You are an Outsider.

Perks & Flaws:

You can speak with shadows. Shadows are playful, a bit childish and generally friendly. They also love riddles and constantly talk over each other. When speaking with shadows, they will cling to you in wispy strands of darkness, which can look quite suspicious.

You cannot cast spells in total darkness or bright light (torchlight or indirect sunlight are fine).

  1. Animate Shadow: With concentration, you can move your shadow independently of you. It still cannot leave you.
  2. Shadow Mask: You can shroud your face in shadows, making it unrecognisable.
  3. Extinguish: With a flick of your wrist, dim or extinguish all non-magical light sources within 10'.

Spell List:

1. Pick one of the following:
R: touch; T: creature or object; D: [dice] x 2 hours

The target object shines as a torch, or stronger with more [dice].

Alternatively, you can make an Attack roll against a sighted creature. If you succeed, the creature is blinded for [sum] rounds. If [sum] is 12 or greater, the creature is permanently blinded.

You can chose the colour of the light. With 4 [dice], the light may have all the qualities of natural sunlight, or you can create pure octarine (though that will only last for 1 round). Octarine light is extremely dangerous.

Beware that if you conjure a light too bright, it may prevent you from casting unless you can shield yourself from it.

R: 50'; T: area; D: [sum] minutes

Darkness descend upon a sphere of [dice] x 10' radius at a point you designate. It drowns most light sources but can be dissolved by very strong light.

You may also pick one of the following options for each [die] invested after the first:
  • You can see normally through the darkness.
  • Anything in the darkness moves at half speed.
  • Anything in the darkness takes a -4 penalty to Attack and Defense.
  • Anything in the darkness takes a -4 penalty to Save.
  • You can spend an action to move the darkness up to 10'.

2. Shadow Rend
R: 200'; T: creature; D: 0

You release a torrent of sharpened shadows and the target takes [sum] + [dice] damage, no Save.

3. Shadow Betrayal
R: 30'; T: [dice] creatures; D: [sum] rounds

The target takes damage as if unaware if their shadow is attacked.

4. Shadow Veil
R: 0; T: self; D: concentration, up to [sum] minutes

Shadows shroud you. Select [dice] senses. You cannot be perceived with these senses.

Edit: I finally got around to fix this spell. It used to read: "You gain +3 to Stealth for each [die] invested.", and it was boring. Now it has both obvious (invisibility) and niche (immunity to telepathy) uses.

5. Darkvision
R: 30' per [die]; T: self; D: [sum] hours

You can see perfectly in shadows and even total darkness, but bright light may blind you.

6. Control Shadows and Darkness
R: 50' radius; T: area; D: concentration

Control the illumination within range.

With 1 [die], you can make shadows darker or lighter, bend, twist and shape them, dim light sources, or move areas of darkness. Each [dice] invested increases your power and precision.

7. Shadow Touch
R: touch; T: living creature; D: 0

The target takes [sum] Charisma damage as you infuse their soul with shadows. The target's shadow also becomes distorted, warped, monstrous, and eventually tentacled. It returns to normal as the Cha damage heals.

If this spell reduces the target to 0 Cha, they retain their mutated shadow permanently. They also become murderous psychopaths, preferably targeting their former allies. They will not harm any shadow wizard, though.

8. Shadow Nail

R: special; T: [dice] shadows; D: permanent (see below)

You drive a "shadow nail" (which may be anything sharp enough to stab into the ground) into the shadow of a creature or object, trapping them in place. You can use the shadow nail from any appropriate range; for example a sword would probably need to be used up close, but an arrow may be shot into the shadow with an Attack roll. The trapped creature or object can only move in such a way that their shadow never leaves the shadow nail, and they will be thrown around if sudden lighting change causes their shadow to jerk.

The spell is permanent until the shadow nail is removed from the ground. If [sum] is 12 or greater, the trapped creature cannot remove the shadow nail by themselves.

9. Shadow Gorge
R: 30' radius; T: area; D: [dice] minutes

All shadows in the target area become [sum]' deep pools of shadow-stuff. The shadow-stuff behaves a bit like quicksand, but can be breathed normally.

I'd say anyone trapped within the shadows when the spell expires will disappear and later wander back from a random shadow.

10. Shadow Cache
R: touch; T: objects; D: [sum] minutes

You may access [dice] extra inventory slots by inserting the items you wish to store into any shadow. The stored items are undetectable and none of their harmful effects affect you. As the spell expires, any items still stored will be found in a nearby shadow.

11. Shadow Walk
R: [sum] x 10'; T: two shadows; D: [dice] rounds

You link two shadows you can see into a portal.

12. Shadow Form
R: 100' radius; T: self; D: concentration, up to [sum] turns

You close your eyes in concentration and let your consciousness flow into your shadow. As your helpless body remains standing behind, you grow your shadow into a massive monster of darkness and unstoppable rage.

Your shadow-body is invulnerable and can attack for 1d6+[dice] damage by slashing with its monstrous claws. Remember though that you are leaving your real body behind, completely helpless. Attacks against your real body may break your concentration and end the spell prematurely, while attacks against your shadow-body will do nothing at all.

You can move anywhere within range centred around your real body. You are an avatar of death and dread, and cannot do anything defensive, curative, or tactical with your allies. You cannot dismiss the spell until you kill, subdue, or drive off all enemies. If one of your allies has injured you this fight, they count as an enemy.

This is how I imagine shadow form.
by Xanditz

  1. Your MD only return on a 1-2 for 24 hours.
  2. You take 1d6 damage as shadows rake into you.
  3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail. Mutations related to shadows and darkness are preferable.
  4. Random insanity for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
  5. All light sources within 30' are extinguished.
  6. You fall into a nearby shadow and disappear, stumbling back from a random shadow in 2d12 hours.
  1. You have angered one side of the conflict. Maybe you failed in negotiations, maybe you were biased in your arbitration, or maybe you neglected your duties. Maybe it was not your fault at all, but they will now seek revenge.
  2. You have now angered the other side, too. Better start trying to patch it up.
  3. You have been given your powers as a part of a peace treaty between Light and Dark, your shadow being your badge, a symbol of peace and coexistence. But you have strayed and are no longer trusted with such responsibility. Thus, your shadow comes to life, taking your magic with it. You are relieved of your duties (and no longer have a shadow).

If you angered Light, it will burn your eyes. You have to protect your sight from light, or suffer disadvantage on all rolls. If you angered Dark, it will whisper terrible threats to you. You have to Save vs Fear when in darkness (though darkvision helps). Creatures of Light and Dark will likewise be hostile to you.

You may avoid you final Doom by having your shadow secured in place (preferably with shadow nail) when you trigger the Doom. Alternately, should you defeat your shadow, it will return meekly to you.

As your shadow escapes, it will take your magic, so you will loose your spellcasting until you can reclaim your shadow. Your shadow has the same HD as you, and all your spells at its disposal. However, your shadow is impotent in total darkness, and even though you will still feel its touch and hear its whispers, it cannot harm you. Additionally, bright light will send it on a scrambling retreat.

You may also steal the shadow of someone else to regain your spellcasting without defeating your shadow.

The War will never return. The price is irrelevant.
- Common saying among the shadow wizards

10 October 2018

Class: Herald of the Immaculate Morning

  1. The God is dead; the Evil already won.
  2. Existence is cyclic; what dies shall be reborn.
  3. Rejoice at the End, for a New Dawn shall rise from the ashes of a broken world.
- Dogma of the Immaculate Morning

Heralds of the Immaculate Morning are understood by few. They are compassionate. They are merciful. They are a beacon of hope and peace. They know that life brings suffering, but death brings deliverance. They are working towards a better world - specifically the world after this one.

They will kill you with a kind smile and words of solace: "Don't worry, I shall find your family to let them join you in the Heaven."

Dawn by Noah Bradley

You are an Outlaw.

Starting Equipment:
  • a white robe with a golden sunburst,
  • a small jug of poisoned honey (Save or die).

Perks & Flaws:

You faith is strong and true. Once per day, you may ignore an effect that would cause you to act against your beliefs, or force you into something you consider blasphemous.

Your faith is considered heretical and is persecuted by the Church. Your MD only return on 1-2 during the night.

  1. Touch of Mercy: By kissing a creature's forehead, you can instantly kill them (no Save). The target must be willing, or at 0 (or less) hp. This also removes all pain and suffering, granting them a second of serenity before death. The victim may even speak a word or two, any they often wear a peaceful expression after death.
  2. Touch of Pity: You may transfer any negative effect or affliction from a victim to yourself by touching their forehead with two fingers. This includes for example poisons, diseases, curses, insanities, Fatal Wounds and attribute damage.
  3. Touch of Purity: You may clean creatures or objects by running your hands over them.

Sun Priest by Dimitar Bochukov

Spell List:

1. Light
R: touch; T: creature or object; D: [dice] x 2 hours

The target object shines as a torch, or stronger with more [dice].

Alternately, you can make an Attack roll against a sighted creature. If you succeed, the creature is blinded for [sum] rounds. If [sum] is 12 or greater, the creature is permanently blind.

You can chose the colour of the light. With 4 [dice], the light may have all the qualities of natural sunlight, or you can create pure octarine (though that will only last for 1 round). Octarine light is extremely dangerous.

2. Heal
R: touch; T: creature(s); D: concentration

Heal up to [sum] hp. You may distribute healing among as many creatures as you would like, as long as the total hp healed does not exceed [sum] and you maintain concentration.

With 2 [dice], you may also cause permanent sterility in the target. With 3 [dice], you may kill all parasites within the target (including unborn children, who are immediately taken to the Heaven). With 4 [dice], you may instead heal a single target of all ills.

Alternately, you can chose to inflict [sum] damage, distributed among creatures you touch as long as you maintain concentration. With 4 [dice], you may deal [sum] damage to a single creature and force it to Save or lose a limb.

Blessed be those who never bring an innocent child into this world of suffering.

Heralds are not omnicidal maniacs running around killing as many people as possible. They would die to save a friend who is not yet ready to go - death is a gift that should not be taken with fear. They also loathe to use this spell to do harm. There is enough pain in the world to cause more.

3. Delay Death
R: 0; T: self; D: [sum] minutes

For each [die] invested, pick one type of effects that will be suspended for the duration:
  • Fatal Wounds,
  • bleeding,
  • poisons,
  • diseases,
  • curses,
  • mind-affecting or madness effects,
  • other effects, at the GM's discretion.

There is always more work to do before you will finally embrace death. While you cannot directly cure all ills, you can save your dying allies with a touch of pity and then prolong your own life with this spell.

4. Sleep
R: 50'; T: creature; D: 10 minutes

The target falls into a magical slumber and can't be woken by anything less vigorous than a slap (a standard action). Non-alert, unaware targets are not allowed a Save. While asleep, the target will bear a subtle smile.

You can affect a creature of up to [sum] HD, and if [sum] is at least 4 times the target's HD, the duration becomes permanent (until woken), and the creature no longer needs to eat or drink while sleeping. With 3 [dice], the duration also becomes permanent and you can set the only condition that will cause the target to awake (the sunrise before the Apocalypse, true love's kiss, etc).

5. Emotion
R: 30'; T: [dice] creatures; D: varies

Instill an emotion of your choosing into the target, or suppress an emotion. The emotion must be within the limits of sanity, so no berserk rages or suicidal depressions.

Heralds mostly use this spell to dull the emotional pain that cannot be healed with their other spells, or to offer blissful joy and serenity.

6. Remove Fear
R: 100'; T: creatures that can see and hear you; D: concentration, up to [sum] rounds

You start chanting. Creatures that can see and hear you are immune to fear and automatically pass all Morale checks for the duration of this spell. If they were affected by natural or supernatural fear effect, it is removed. They also loose all fear of death or injury.

The caster cannot benefit from this spell. If the caster fails a Fear test or a Morale check in sight of a creature affected by this spell, the spell's effects end for that creature instantly.

7. Protection from Evil Intent
R: touch; T: [dice] x [dice] creatures; D: [sum] minutes

The targets cannot be seen or heard by anyone who harbours ill will towards them. The spell is broken for any target who attacks or otherwise harms another creature.

8. Sanctuary
R: [dice] x 10' radius; T: location; D: [sum] minutes

You bless a patch of ground against all violence. Anyone attempting to harm a creature within the sanctuary must Save or be unable to carry out the attack, loosing the action. Anyone within the sanctuary who attempts to harm any other creature looses the effects of sanctuary and in addition gets disadvantage on all rolls as long as they remain within the sanctuary.

9. Pick one of the following:
R: touch; T: spirit; D: 0

Make an opposed Cha check against a spirit (angel, demon, elemental, fairy, ghost, spell, disease, etc). If you succeed, you banish it from an area determined by [dice] you invested.

With 1 [die], you banish it from the immediate area (a room). With 2 [dice], from the building (or dungeon). With 3 [dice], from the location (a village, a forest). With 4 [dice], you force it to return to the spirit world. The target is banished for a year and a day.

If you fail your Charisma check, you take [sum] damage.

Holy water or icons, proper ritual, or the target's true name may add up to +4 to your Charisma for the purposes of this check.

R: touch; T: possessing spirit; D: 0

A spirit (angel, demon, elemental, fairy, ghost, spell, disease, etc.) of [dice] HD or lower is expelled from a possessed object or creature, no Save. This will not destroy the spirit, just remove it from its host. If [sum] is 12 or greater, it is also forced to return to the spirit world.

You can gain +1 effective [dice] from holy water or other objects and substances anathema to the spirit. You can also gain +2 effective [dice] if you know the spirit's true name.

See these rules or this post for notes on diseases.

10. Pick one of the following:
Prayer of Peace
R: 100'; T: creatures that can see and hear you; D: concentration, up to [sum] rounds

You kneel and chant fervently (which takes all your actions for the duration). Each turn, a random creature (including yourself) within range takes [sum] damage, no Save. The damage is painless and joyful (not breaking concentration for you).

Prayer of Respite
R: 100'; T: creatures that can see and hear you; D: concentration, up to [sum] rounds

You kneel and chant fervently (which takes all your actions for the duration). All creatures in range (including yourself) with HD equal or less then [your level] + [dice] fail all Saves.

11. Angelic Armour
R: 0; T: self; D: [dice] rounds

A halo appears above your head, framing you in holy radiance. You reflect half of the damage you would take back at the attacker. If [sum] is 12 or greater, you reflect the full damage.

12. Borrowed Time
R: touch; T: corpse; D: [dice] minutes

The target is temporarily returned to life, though it may not have been dead for longer than [sum] hours.

The spell does not mend any wounds, it simply makes the dead body function for a while. Thus, creatures with slit throat will have problems speaking, creatures with shattered heads will be unconscious, and dismembered creatures will only be able to flap their severed limbs slightly.

This is as far as I'm willing to go with resurrections. You may temporarily persuade a soul that didn't yet fully leave its earthly shell to remain for a bit longer, but no magic can return the dead to true life.
from Battle for Wesnoth

  1. Your MD only return on a 1-2 for 24 hours (or only on 1 at night).
  2. You take 1d6 damage as terrible pain ravages your body.
  3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail. Angelic mutations are preferable.
  4. Random insanity for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
  5. You and everyone within 30' must Save or fall prone, as all the pain in the whole world briefly flashes through your mind and spills around.
  6. For a day, you have angelic appearance. Your skin glows dimly and your eyes are like stars. Your voice alone brings calm and peace. You look unnaturally beautiful and perfect. This is bound to attract some attention.

  1. All your scars and blemishes disappear and you permanently count as a holy creature. You need no food nor drink (actually, you cannot eat and drink). Your anus and genitals disappear.
  2. You feel joy instead of pain. For a day, you fail all Saves against damage or death.
  3. You work on this world is done. You will smile blissfully, bid farewell to your companions, and commit suicide to join the choir of angels.

Your first Blessing is relatively benign as far as threats to your life go, but you will no longer be able to use potions, or really anything that needs to be consumed. Your second Blessing has a high chance to kill you, but at least it will be painless.

Why would you avoid your Blessings? You are not Doomed to die like other wizards. Instead, you will eventually ascend to a higher plane of existence, awaiting the End and the New Dawn as an angel in the Heaven.

However, should you choose to try and avoid your Blessings, you must turn yourself over to the Church, renounce your faith and confess your sins. You actually have a chance that you won't be burnt at the stake, as the Church likes to show off their converts, preaching that everyone can find salvation when they embrace the only true faith. Of course, you will be brainwashed and indoctrinated first, as any convert is intrinsically untrustworthy and their loyalty must be ensured.

5 October 2018

d20 Magic Missiles

Sometimes you just want to shoot things.

And you are not alone. Many wizards use the spell of magic missile, and every one of them has a bit different, even unique appearance of the spell. This spell has more breeds than dogs. There are professional spell breeders that compete for the most extravagant magic missile, and there are exhibitions and competitions. Teenage sorceresses use pink, chihuahua-like missiles. War wizards prefer simple, professional-looking, combat-bred and -trained missiles. Breeds from Foreign Parts can be quite weird, unsettling, or even disgusting.

You can roll for your own magic missile below.

Magic Missile
R: 200'; T: creature; D: 0

Target takes [sum] + [dice] damage, no Save.

d20 Missiles
  1. You fire a beam of energy* from your (d4): 1) finger, 2) palms, 3) eyes, 4) mouth.
  2. You throw (d4): 1) a blade of light*, 2) an orb of energy*, 3) lightning*, 4) a fistful of flames*.
  3. You spit and your spittle turns into (d4): 1) razor blades, 2) crystal shards*, 3) sharp icicle, 4) acid.
  4. The target is swarmed by (d4): 1) ravenous locusts, 2) bees, 3) butterflies* with razor-sharp wings, 4) tiny birds.
  5. You enchant a handful of (d4): 1) needles, 2) sand, 3) petals and leaves, 4) your hair; then throw it at your enemy.
  6. You can fire any ranged weapon without a missile, shooting a spectral projectile* that cannot miss.
  7. You point a finger at the target and wounds suddenly appear on their body.
  8. You wave your hand and the air ripples, the wind slashing like a sword.
  9. You scream and the shock wave hits the target.
  10. You breathe out (d4): 1) a gout of flame*, 2) a gust of freezing air, 3) caustic stench, 4) a Word of Power.
  11. You whistle and (d4): 1) a bird of prey, 2) a tiny elemental, 3) an animate arrow, 4) a screaming skull swoops at the target, attacking and disappearing again.
  12. You clench your hand and the target starts choking.
  13. You raise your outstretched palm and (d4): 1) blood gushes from your victim's pores as they scream in agony, 2) your enemy desiccates before your eyes, 3) the heart of your foe attempts to break free of their chest, 4) blood starts to drip from the target's nose, eyes, or ears.
  14. Your (d4): 1) fingernails, 2) teeth, 3) shattered ribs, 4) high-pressure blood shoot(s) out of your body, regenerating immediately.
  15. You momentarily transform your hand into (d4): 1) a long tentacle, 2) thorny brambles, 3) spiked chain, 4) sharpened shadows, then lash at your enemy.
  16. You give the victim an evil eye and (d4): 1) jinx them to suffer an accident, 2) make them hurt themselves thanks to your mind tricks, 3) they suffer a splitting headache, 4) force them to cough up a mouthful of spiders.
  17. You draw a Glyph of Harming* into the thin air, then send it at your enemy.
  18. You blow bubbles that float towards your enemy, then explode with unexpected force.
  19. You call forth (d4): 1) stone spikes, 2) roots, 3) skeletal hands, 4) water jets that shoot from the ground, impaling your foe.
  20. Your hand opens like a bloody lotus and releases shards of Void.

*) Roll for a random colour. Edit: You can now roll here.

2 October 2018

IVAN: Release 0.54

Finally, the testing is done and all the features are (reasonably) complete. Iter Vehemens ad Necem is now at release 0.54 and you can download it here.

That angel was my friend until a nymph seduced her.

  • New OS X binary!
  • Nearly 400 new materials added.
  • More interesting TX final level.
  • Improved look mode by using showItemsUnder.
  • Limit golem spawns to GC and TX.
  • Fluid rework - you can now sip only a part of a bottle's contents rather than always drink it all.
  • New animations!
  • Mini-map notes through engravings.
  • Mouse support!
  • Mouse hover over silhouette equipment will show a detailed descriptive message on log.
  • Hotkey for quick weapon switching.
  • Improved lights!
  • Text font options added.
  • Optional xBRZScale now used to stretch the full dungeon, silhouette, inventory items and NPCs on lists.
  • FrameSkip optional functionality for slow machines (or heavy CPU load as in "play while you work").
  • You can now optionally review after death events/items/msgs using Ivan3D mode.
  • Optionally always centre on player after exiting LookZoom mode.
  • Optionally show full dungeon name with roman level numbers.
  • Grouped config options in categories.
  • Custom stack list length (items, drop, throw etc.).
  • Several new monsters added, including five new uniques.
  • Monster AI now knows how to zap wands at you!
  • Show items at player position, side by side.
  • Fix load game in wizard mode.
  • Fix some crashes on iOS.
  • Fix many crashes that may happen on death.
  • Fix memory leaks of message system and sound system.
  • Chests that spawn with broken locks are automatically unlocked.
  • Anvils and forges will no longer block your path.
  • Fix memory overflow in commandsystem::ShowMap().
  • Fix duplicated player after crash.
  • Lower resolution to better fit scaled window.
  • Warn about severe injury from mustard gas while resting.
  • Many minor fixes.
  • Mainly when toggling full screen mode on linux, it will now wait until you release the key to apply.
  • Imprisoned necromancer can cast spells.
  • Elianise will no longer steal from you.
  • All the ambassadors will stay in the Cathedral and not wander around.
  • Nerf mind worm damage a bit.
  • Fix unlocking hexagonal and octagonal locks on chests.
  • Fix unicorns neighs.
For developers:
  • Add define.dat validator for script files.
  • Use chrono for rng seed instead of random_device.
  • Commands console.

You can always join us on the forums with any questions you may have.


Me and my clones, talking to the high priest Petrus
right after I tamed his female slaves.

1 October 2018

IVAN: An Introduction

I'm backdating this to make it the first IVAN post, because IVAN deserves an explanatory first post.


A dank tunnel runs beneath the ocean, connecting the village of New Attnam with the continent. In the lowest level of this passage dwells a massive, carnivorous plant that has claimed dozens of my adventurers. But I was ready for it this time, armed with axe and wand, with my trusty puppy at my side. The battle was fierce, and the beast succeeded in biting off one of my legs which made escape impossible. I fought on until I lost my axe arm as well, and in a panic I blasted the thing with a wand of acid rain. The spell worked and fatally burned the arboreal nightmare, but casting it so close splashed acid on me as well, melting my remaining arm and leg. I laid there on the cold, bloody stone, helpless but pleased with my victory. My puppy decided to celebrate by feasting on the fruit dropped by the dead plant, brushing past me and nudging my torso into a shallow pool of acid. My head quickly dissolved, leaving my companion masterless.

What is IVAN?

It's an abbreviation of Iter Vehemens ad Necem, or Violent Road to Death. It's a graphical roguelike and a really good game. It's the first roguelike I played, the one that hooked me up to the genre, the one that eventually made me learn programming.

As a part of the current dev team, bear in mind that I might be a bit biased when talking about this game. But really, you should drop everything and go play it now. :P

I leave a trail of blood and body parts behind.

And what is so special about IVAN?

Well, it was a graphical roguelike before it was cool. There are probably more tile-based roguelikes than ASCII ones today, but back in 2001 when the first public release of IVAN came out, it was something unusual. It wasn't the first graphical roguelike, but it also does way more than only show you basic, static tiles.

Its graphics serve it well especially together with its other great feature: IVAN has a body part system that allows for localized damage. Remember Monty Python and the Holy Grail? That black knight fight? Exactly.

This kobold attempts to create a new
martial style - twin shield fighting.

After you find a good weapon, you will be able to reduce monsters to helpless torsos by mutilating them frivolously! The game rewards brutality by showing its results in detail. You can track a wounded and panicked monster by its trail of blood. Limbs will go flying, blood will be splattered all around, you will see the missing limbs on your foes. Besides that, you'll face animated monsters and terrain, flames, smoke and weather effects, and even dynamic lighting system that can beautifully mix coloured light.

But never forget that IVAN will be brutal to you, too. The game will happily show you the blood flowing from your veins, or the limbs you are suddenly missing. It's best to have a remedy available in such a case, and remedies there are! You can have your lost limbs stitched back on, regenerate them with potions, or pray to have them replaced with different limbs. Yes, the gods of IVAN can grant you an unconventional boon in the form of a golem-like, artificial limbs made of nearly any material imaginable. Which brings us to another feature: the materials.

Unlike most other roguelikes, IVAN defines only generic item shape and use, and all other stats of an item are determined by its material. There are hundreds of materials, and all combinations are possible. Of course, you will not find a longsword made of bread - but if you wish to, you can use magic to make one. Bread sword might not make the best weapon (unless highly enchanted), but it can be eaten as a cool snack.

Even without such frivolities, you can have equipment made of bronze, iron, meteoric steel, mithril, orichalcum, mahogany, chitin, petrified dragon bones, spider silk, phoenix feather, primordial ice, and so much more. Magic can be used to harden, or completely change the material of your gear. And besides allowing you to upgrade your equipment in a unique way, the material system makes it possible for the game to easily generate lots of different objects for your use and amusement.

So be goofy or inventive - the game gives you tools for it all.

Boss slain!

But there is more. IVAN has significant worldbuilding hidden in the conversations you can have with nearly any creature you will run into. Talk to them and they will tell you stories, jokes, or hints and useful advice.

It has multiple locations and two mutually exclusive main quests you can pick from, along with several sidequests and optional areas and bosses. It has seven different victories, so don't expect to truly finish the game any time soon.

It has a lot of hidden surprises and a (blackish) humour that is very close to my heart. It also has a great community.

In a prison.

Iter Vehemens ad Necem is a very deep, very difficult game, but the brutal difficulty makes it so much more rewarding to actually make progress. It will take you a while before you achieve a victory, and I don't think you'll ever stop finding new things in the game. Especially because we still actively develop it, so there is something new every few months.

Yes, there is a beach in a dungeon.

Oh, and before I forget, there is a dedicated forum for IVAN, a GitHub page with releases, a TV Tropes page, and of course a wiki.

The temple of Xinroch.