Z+Angband: About


A Zangband evolution

What is Z+Angband?

Z+Angband is Zangband, but with a bunch of further development.  Zangband was a fiercely popular variant of Angband, based on the works of Roger Zelazny.  According to Angband.oook.cz, it is one of the oldest, most popular, and most influential variants.

Z+Angband is a roguelike computer game, based on a tiled, (by default) text graphics interface.  It is a roleplaying game: you adopt the persona of an adventurer and enter a very dangerous world.  The ultimate goal of the game is to defeat The Serpent of Chaos and thus save the world.

Why Z+Angband?

Zangband, despite its popularity, is not in active development.  Also, as a fan, there were a number of features I was interested in adding to the game that were unavailable, and would probably never be added due to the lack of active development. 

Fortunately, like most roguelikes, Zangband's source code was available online, and also fortunately, I know how to program C.  So, I had a go at modifying the game: slightly at first, and gradually in more and more ambitious ways.  But don't let it worry you: this game is still very much like Zangband!

What are the differences?

There are loads of differences between Zangband and Z+Angband, as there are loads of differences between Zangband and vanilla Angband.  But the following are the highlights:

Wilderness

If you aren't familiar with recent versions of Zangband, they feature a fractal random wilderness with multiple towns and dungeons.  Z+Angband further enriches the world by adding farms and inns, independent fragments of civilization outside of towns.  (This is not a tremendous change from Zangband, but it is a fundamental change from vanilla Angband, which is why I feel it needs mentioning.)

Quests

Z+Angband brings back quests in a big way.  This is a fundamental game change, because it is not possible to win the game (in its default mode) without getting involved in quests.  You receive quests, mostly, from buildings in towns, and when you complete them (or fail), you can return to that building to get your reward (if any) and another quest.  Some quests fit in with ordinary dungeon crawling, but others open up special areas you must explore and conquer, that will disappear when the quest ends.  Quest rewards include stat bonuses, which help fill an important middle-game niche.

In addition, quests break up the monotony of endless identical dungeon-crawling.

Important: you will not be able to win the game until you actually receive the winner quests from a quest building (except if you are playing in one of the ironman modes).  So if you are about to win the game but can't find the end monsters, try to complete some more quests.

Enemies

Just as ZAngband and many other variants include random artifacts, and just as ZAngband includes a random wilderness, Z+Angband includes randomized unique monsters, as of version 0.3.2pre1.  You may encounter enemies you have never heard of before, and there will be no spoiler to let you learn their exact abilities.  However, the abilities of these monster "heroes" should not be unexpected; unique orcs will seem like orcs, dragons will seem like dragons, ghosts will seem like ghosts, and so on. 

Monster heroes can be found in quests and occasionally in the dungeon.  Also, monster heroes are maintained from one game to the next (up to a limit), so if you start a new game over a dead character's savefile, you'll encounter previously-seen heroes.

Magic System

As of version 0.3.0, the magic system has been significantly modified.  Like Zangband, Z+Angband has several realms of magic, and spellcasting classes typically have choice of which realms they wish to specialize in.  Z+Angband drops the "Trump" school of magic and replaces it with the similar "Conjuration" school.  (In my opinion, I never found Trump magic playable: it had a great many summon spells that I felt were all too similar to one another and all underpowered.)   Z+Angband also adds an entirely new "Illusion" school.

The biggest change is that in Z+Angband 0.3.0 and later, you will no longer be able to learn every spell in the realm or realms you choose: you have a limited number of spells you can eventually learn, and it's substantially fewer than the number of spells available (except for HIgh Mages, who can learn everything in their one chosen realm).  Furthermore, spell types (as opposed to "prayer" casters such as priests and paladins) are capable of deep study of specific spells: basically, you can "learn" a spell multiple times in exchange for benefits in casting it, including power (damage/duration) bonuses, and mana cost and failure rate adjustments.  The game uses a "tier" system to counteract potential abuse of spell focus, and to encourage you to study low-level spells.

If you are wondering what a spell does, the game has built-in detailed spell descriptions: simply browse your book and select a spell.  In 0.3.0 and later, you need only be of sufficient level to potentially learn a spell in order to learn what it does via browsing; in previous versions you had to learn the spell first. 

If you need help with the tier/spell slot system, check out the tutorial.

Items

Everyone's favorite area to tinker.  There are lots of new basic item types in Z+Angband.  You can learn what they are by reading the template files if you want things spoiled for you, or you can just see how it goes. 

In general, mushrooms are a little more distinct from potions (be warned, cure potions don't do exactly what they used to; use the "inspect" command to learn what does what).  Some powerful rings and amulets have been added that should at least give you something to think about in the late game.  Wands and Staves have been powered up a bit relative to Rods.  There are also many new ego item types, including many that have lesser-artifact-level power. 

Random artifacts are a bit more carefully balanced.  You may not really notice anything... except maybe that your most powerful ones tend to be the ones you find later on. 

As of version 0.2.3, Z+Angband includes, on an experimental basis, containers.  These are objects that can include a list of other objects.  The only containers included so far are quivers; this differs from other roguelikes in that Z+Angband quivers must actually be found to be used, contribute weight, and can be destroyed or (god forbid) stolen.  A command, 'O' (^O in roguelike set) was added to allow players to reorganize their objects into their containers.

Customizability

Z+Angband includes squelch/unsquelch commands, if you are absolutely sure you never want to see another shard of pottery.  In addition, it has some user options to assist you in making destroying items less cumbersome, for those of us who destroy lots and lots of objects. 

Z+Angband also has a number of user options designed to make the game more customizable.  You can turn on and off the H.P. Lovecraft-themed monsters, the Zelazny-themed monsters (in which case the final enemy reverts to Morgoth), as well as the "Silly" monsters.  (Silly monsters now defaults to off: I think a lot of us have had quite enough Greater Hell Beasts, thank you very much... but they're still there if you like 'em.)  You can set the "dungeon_abyss" option to disable maximum depths in dungeons, and you can turn off the "monster_theme" option to make dungeon encounters less thematic.  You can disable random artifacts, if you prefer to play with the fixed artifact list. 

The game also features a new item trigger inscription: {&e} and {&i} will give you periodic reminders about the inscribed item when you are equipping it and when you aren't, respectively.  (So, for instance, inscribe your digger with '&e' so you don't go around attacking monsters with it.)

Version 0.2.2 adds another special item inscription.  {=g} was already available in the game to force automatic pickup.  This inscription now may take a parameter, e.g. {=g10}, which will force that particular item to have stacks of size 10.  Thus, you will automatically pick up such items until you have 10, after which you won't. 

Miscellaneous

Some other minor things I want to list go here.  These may not have the biggest effect on the game, and they may not be exciting but I either want to make sure players hear about them, or I'm proud of them.

  • ^F (recall feeling) now gives you a danger sense in the wilderness.
  • There are 5 types of guild buildings.  Each class (except for Mindcrafters) have one or more "home" guilds of which they are members.  Guild members have access to more services than non-members, and get heavy discounts.  Guilds are also quest buildings.  Anyone can become a member of the Thieves' Guild.
  • Wands and staves have been improved, relative to rods.  They are more favorable to recharging, and they include many powerful abilities not found on rods.
  • Made a new Dwarvish language random name generator.  About 1/3 random names are now dwarvish.  Syllables that were more dwarvish than orcish were removed from the Elvish name generator, so I think that works better too.  In version 0.2.2 and later, you can enter "*" as your character name and the game will select a random name for you.
  • The experience point divider (that reduces the XP you get from monsters at higher levels) is now quadratic rather than linear.  This means the later levels are a bit harder to gain.  This actually makes sense because monster experience tends to grow quadratically also. 
  • Store generation has been revamped: there should be fewer types of buildings/stores that don't appear anywhere.
  • Added Banks.  They'll give you a loan, but you won't like what happens if you don't pay it off in time.  (But don't worry, it won't *kill* you.)
  • Dungeon themes are more distinctive and customized.  This may be noticeable even in normal dungeons, but should be most noticeable in quests.
  • The Alchemy ability is much more attainable than in the past.  IMO, the use of gold is limited later in the game, so the ability really isn't that powerful.  However I myself always had a strong psychological need to have it...

Who wrote this?  Is it free?

I wrote it, and yes, it's free.  Or rather, I should say that I wrote this version by modifying the 2.7.5-pre1 version of Zangband.  For my part, I release my changes to the code under the Gnu Product License (GPL): they are free to anyone, and free to anyone to modify, providing they release their changes under a compatible license.

However, I can't speak for all the developers who came before me.  There is an effort underway to release Zangband under the GPL, and most of the developers have agreed with only a couple of developers who haven't responded or haven't agreed.  I feel pretty confident that my changes would not bother any prior developer since I am also not trying to make money off of this.  However, if I'm wrong, please contact me at mangojuice75(at gmail).

As for who I am, I prefer to keep my identity anonymous. 

I do however wish to sincerely thank the Zangband devteam for their hard work and (usually) excellent code, which made my project possible.

Version history

For downloads, click here. 

Current version is 0.3.3 (beta).  Changes are detailed here.

  • 0.3.3 (beta): Release 12/25/2010
  • 0.3.2 (beta): Released 1/1/2009.
  • 0.3.2pre1 (beta): Released 12/12/2008.
  • 0.3.1 (beta): Released 11/12/2008.
  • 0.3.0 (beta): Released 11/8/2008. 
  • 0.2.3 (beta): Released 9/23/2008.
  • 0.2.2 (beta): Released 9/13/2008.
  • 0.2.1 (beta): Released 7/29/2008.
  • 0.2.0 (alpha): Released 7/13/2008.

Version 0.2.0 (alpha) was the first public release.  Changes are too numerous to list, but described generally above.