Quest for the Unicorn

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Quest for the Unicorn
Stable game
Developer Mike Riley
Theme Fantasy
Influences Rogue
Released 1990 (1.0)
Updated April 11, 2017 (7.0HC)
Licensing Originally shareware, now freeware
P. Language Turbo Pascal, c
Platforms DOS, Linux, Windows
Interface Graphics, ASCII, Keyboard
Game Length
Official site of Quest for the Unicorn

Quest for the Unicorn ASCII overworld
Quest for the Unicorn Graphics, Town
Quest for the Unicorn ASCII, Dialogs


Travel the lands of Halkanar in search of the long lost Unicorns. A very complex game containing not only the main quest but many sub-quests, and over 60 different dungeons, many containing useful items, or valuable information.


  • A world of 400x300 tiles divided into 12 districts of 100x100 tiles each.
  • More than 60 dungeons were added to the world for exploration, however only about 5 are actually needed to finish the main story line, all the rest contain powerful artifacts that could help the player.
  • An automapper in the lower right corner as well as a message log containing any messages given by NPCs or found in scrolls.


Quest for the Unicorn was Mike Riley's second foray into rogue-like games. He began writing the original version in the late 80s and released version 1.0 around 1990.

Quest for the Unicorn was based upon the engine that he had written for The Land. He had updated the engine to support a more expansive world than what the original engine could support.

The engine for The Land also had a lot of hard coded values in it which he had moved off to the data files for Quest for the Unicorn, making the engine more generic in case he was to ever use it again for another game of this type.

Much of the history of this game has been lost to the ages. This game was not nearly as popular as The Land, even tho it was a much more expanded game. Originally this game was written using Turbo Pascal.

  • Version 1.0 was initially released around 1990 for DOS. Like The Land it was originally distributed on BBS systems.
  • Version 2.1.2 was the last version released for DOS sometime in the mid 90s and was released on the Internet.
  • Version 5.0 started a branch of maintenance exclusive for Linux/Unix systems (Cygwin on Windows also worked). This version was ported to C and therefore was much easier to work with than prior versions.

Quest for the Unicorn HC

On September 28, 2010 the HC version of Unicorn was released. This version was created to appeal more to the hardcore rouge-like players, where even graphics are considered a no-no. The HC version of Unicorn replaces the standard graphics tileset with a pure ascii interface. This version also features permadeath.

All of the same features of the standard edition are also present in the HC version.


Version 5.2(HC) - Released September 28, 2010

  • Interface was replaced with a pure ascii interface
  • Permadeath has been implemented

Version 5.3(HC) - Released on April 28, 2011

  • Rarity change to allow for ultra rare items
  • Sockets may now appear on rings, necklaces, weapons and armour Items can have up to 3 sockets
  • Recipe book browser added to crafting screen
  • No more random treasure, all treasure now comes from mob drops
  • Addition of items with enchantments, items can have up to 3 enchants
  • Trophies have been added
  • Many new crafted items have been added
  • Added Hall of Legends and Hall of Remembrance score tables
  • It is now possible to find items with enchants on them
  • Identify now shows the identified item in the message area
  • Added some statistics tracking
  • Added magical resistance attribute to mitigate some magical damage
  • Added ability for monster levels to be increased
  • Added seasonal items and trophies

Version 5.4(HC) - Released on May 11, 2011

  • Players now have some basic items from the start
  • Players now start with no gold
  • Health items can now never give more than max hp
  • Some restructuring of the source was done to remove most of the remaining hard coded data. This was done to facilitate the use of the underlying engine with other games, mainly I intend to rework the dataset from The Land to be used with the Unicorn engine in order to revive The Land on a system that is easier to deal with.

Version 5.5 (HC) - Not publicly released

  • Added crit as a stat, doubles damage on critical hits
  • Added gems with crit bonus
  • Added Hit/Miss/Crit counts to statistics screen
  • Added crafted gems
  • Fixed bug in interest earned stat
  • Fixed bug in F-key spell casting
  • Fixed bug where map was incorrectly positioned allowing non-map elements to appear in the map area. This also solves a crash that occurs when the map is improperly positioned
  • Added data cards for items, now you can look at the details of identified items
  • There is now a chance that items will be identified when they are first picked up. Common items will always be identified. The rarer the item the less likely the item will be auto-identified
  • Lore skill contributes to the chance of auto-identifying an item on pickup

Version 5.6 (HC) October 4, 2012

  • Added monochrome mode
  • Altered how skill levelling works
  • Altered player and monster to-hit calculation
  • Altered player and monster damage calculations
  • Added dodge attribute
  • More new items
  • Reduced duration of confusion caused by alcoholic drinks
  • Force background in color mode to be black
  • Removed hunting as a skill, now it uses search
  • Added Blunt weapon skill and moved blunt weapons to their own category
  • Added wands as a weapon type, magic is the controlling skill
  • Added weapon affinity to classes. When using weapons to which your class has affinity you gain a 50% damage bonus
  • Added new class Enchanter. This class levels like a mage but engages in combat using traditional weapons. This class has spells that allow them to enchant their own gear without the need for enchantment scrolls
  • Weapons, Armor, and gem prices are now formula based rather than the original arbitrary prices
  • Added mutable class of weapons and armor. These itmes obtain randomly generated intrisics/enchant effects upon weapon identification. There are 7,056 possible combinations that a mutable item could come in
  • Redid the haggling system, should work better than the old one did
  • Added multi-page capability to shops so that when there are more than 36 items for sale the player can move through the pages to see all items for sale
  • Added craft item shops to Radon, Nichorville, and Marduk
  • Added some legendary weapons

Version 5.7 (HC) May 5, 2014

  • Dungeon main treasures are now identified when picked up
  • Fixed bug where potions, scrolls, and meals were improperly counted
  • Added color to item names to indicate rarity
  • Fixed bug when identifying objects at pawn shops incorrectly making them mutable
  • Fixed haggling bug where shopkeeper goes into the negative
  • Modified how mutable item levels are calculated
  • Monsters no longer chase player until they have had line of site with the player. This helps to prevent the mobbings that generally happened when changing dungeon levels
  • Modified sources so that they can be compiled with MinGW, allowing for native Windows builds
  • Fixed bug where mutable armor or weapons are negative power
  • Experience is divided amongst all living party members
  • Party members gain experience/levels even outside party combat
  • Fix compass so that it works correctly when destination is not in the same region as the player
  • Added legacy weapons and armor, these items gain in strengh and abilities as the player levels. Abilities acquired by a legacy item cannot be removed
  • Fixed bug where items could no longer be dropped after 1000 of them have been

Version 6.0 (HC) July 29, 2015

A major overhaul of the underlying engine was done in this version. There are way too many changes to enumerate here. A full change log can be found at the game's website.

Version 6.1 (HC) released on August 23, 2015

Version 6.3 (HC) released on July 19, 2016

The major change in 6.3 is the ability to once again compile it for graphics mode. It is also now possible to use the Fkeys for other than just spells. They may now be used accessing the gear manager and executing simple macros.

Version 7.0 (HC) released on April 11, 2017