Personalities of different roguelikes

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Compilation by Kornel Kisielewicz of the thead on rgrd

Original post by Mike Silva

(As a potential developer I'm asking this on the development group)

Can you folks summarize the "personalities" of the different roguelikes out there? Especially, but not only, the "big ones" that have their own forums. I'd like to have some idea of the differences one should be aware of and hence consider in a new design. Many thanks.

Ray Dillinger

Hmmm. Summarize the personality of....


  • You can die if you want.
  • You can play a slow, boring game and win without risk if you want.
  • The game is dominated by the acquisition of resistances to a wide variety of "special" attacks that are otherwise instantly fatal.
  • There is no time limit.
  • All monsters have pretty much exactly the same behavior, modulo some orthogonal variations depending on which special abilities they have.
  • All winning players have pretty much exactly the same stats and the same set of resistances.


  • You *WILL* die, a lot.
  • You will die pretty much each and every time you learn a new rule.
  • The game doesn't care if you die.
  • There are numerous interesting choices and gambles that can lead characters who think a lot to do seemingly insanely stupid things, often with "good" results.
  • The game is dominated by the authors' sense of whimsy, inside information on legends and folklore, bad puns, and inside jokes.
  • The only absolute rule of gameplay seems to be that there is an exception to every supposed absolute rule of gameplay.
  • All winning characters have a fairly interesting unique story behind them.


  • It's a lot like Nethack, except that there are more rules, hence you will die a lot more before you know them all.
  • Where Nethack doesn't care if you are dead, Crawl is actively trying to kill you.
  • Every winning character has both a fairly interesting unique story and a fair amount of blind luck behind them.
  • Favored by hardcore types who would set the difficulty on any game with a user-selectable difficulty level to "impossible."


  • Is composed of a bunch of random dungeon, plus a dozen or so preset scenarios.
  • You get to pick what order you do some of them in, and there are a few which are optional.
  • Your disbelief will need a new set of shocks and struts after you encounter some of the heavy-handed stuff that the author thinks of as "game balance." In particular, don't fight jackals any more than you have to; they (as a breed) take experience faster than you (as an individual).

The Sheep

I can make an attempt to describe how I feel some roguelikes. I should note the feeling is personal and will be obviously very different for others. It will be different also with different tactics and proffesions, not to mention some variations in starting equipment and stats -- they can greatly influence the game. Anyways, here's what I think:


Pretty addicting and challenging, but very random. You don't have much choice about how you play -- you have to use what RNG gives you. Sometimes you'll find a good weapon or a scroll of enchant at the very beginning. At another time you find a good armor or a ring of invisibility or regeneration. It's the game that tells you how to play. If you have spare food, you can take it easy and slow. If you don't, you have to run like a madman. You find a wand -- you prefer ranged combat. You found a good weapon -- you prefer melee.

For me this game is about adapting to the situation and not ever crying after lost characters.


Initially similar to rogue, but later on you collect almost any useful item, and think on how to best utilize it. Going deeper and deeper is not that important. You quickly learn some dirty tricks to easily fight strong monsters -- occasionally the tricks fail or turn on you. It feels like you try to outsmart the rng all the time.


I used to play it *A LOT*. Basicaly, I'd come home, make myself some tea, sit by the computer and play moria until it's dark. Then you save or die, and next day you pick up where you left -- either from the saved game or with a new character. You don't even have to remember much where you left. It might seem boring, but somehow it's fun. Really. You build up your strength slowly, and always die because you didn't run early enough or because you advanced too fast. As there is no hard clock in the game, you can take your time.


Very similar to Moria, although has much more occasional surprises and is generally more complicated.


Well, my experiences are simple. Create character, walk around a little, kill several monsters, create character, walk around... etc. Never got very far.


Once you figure out the interface, you walk around a little, hoping to not get insta-killed, kill some small monsters, get back to town for an upgrade, lose all your money, come back to nearest dungeon, get killed because you forgot to equip your weapon or you were trying to hit hight an enemy that's low. Generally very confusing.


You start your n'th character, quickly space trough all the dialogues, get the quest items, quickly do the necessary quests, space trough even more dialgues, then go to a new location and get killed by some nasty thing that required you to have a particular resistance and was immune to all the wepons and spells you had with you at the moment.


The two extremes are NetHack and Angband; the others fall in between.


Items do wacky things, most of which for the most part can't be classified or expressed with numbers. You've got a job to do and resources to do it with, and those resources will be sufficient if and only if you use them in clever ways. It usually impossible to play conservatively. Most games are short. The game as a whole feels like a many-faceted puzzle. Caveat: The game doesn't end when the puzzle is solved, it just gets boring, and ends awhile later.


Everything falls into a regular classification scheme. Most of the time, your goal is simply 'become stronger'. You will be safe if you play conservatively. Most games are very long. Overall, the game feels like a strategic exercise. Caveat: Because games are so long, most players play very conservatively, so there aren't nearly as many exciting moments as in a game like NetHack.


Half-way between NetHack and Angband. You have a choice of different goals (quests) to pursue. You can play conservatively, but only to a point; things get harder as time passes and you need to keep up. Most games are long.