Codex Gamicus

Template:Roguelike Rogue is the original roguelike game. You play it on a text-only Unix terminal, though some ports exist to other computer operating systems. Your character, the "rogue", must descend through the dungeon, locate and steal the Amulet of Yendor, and return to the surface. Notably, the dungeon is randomly generated; the upper levels consist of rectangular rooms with interconnecting corridors while the lower levels look like mazes (all drawn with punctuation, because the screen only draws text). The dungeon is filled with monsters (drawn as letters from A to Z) which will attack your character (drawn as an @ sign). Other dangers include eating all of your food and starving. The dungeon contains several useful items (also punctuation) such as weapons, armor, and magical scrolls, potions, rings and wands... but magical items start unidentified, so you do not know what will happen when you use an item for the first time, or whether the effect will be good or bad.

Death in Rogue is always permanent, at which point you must restart the game from the beginning and will receive a different randomly-generated dungeon with randomly-placed monsters. Rogue is a very difficult game. Rogue lacks several complexities (such as towns of shops, overworlds of multiple dungeons, pets, and side quests) that make later roguelike games like Angband and NetHack easier to win. (Omega has many such complexities but is also very difficult to win.)

Michael Toy and Glenn R. Wichman originally programmed Rogue in 1980 for Unix. In 1982, a Rogue binary shipped with the popular Unix distribution for VAX commputers called 4.2BSD. Rogue then spread to several universities. But your copy of Rogue might not be the original, but a clone.

Rogue clones[]

The "Rogue" that many users play is not Toy's and Wichman's original game, nor is it a port of that game, but it is a reimplementation of that game called a Rogue clone.

The clone from BSD[]

The source code of one such clone found its way its way into the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) at about 1987, and both FreeBSD and NetBSD continue to distribute it today. This game is called "Rogue", but documentation of the differences exists in an email customarily copied with the source code, most notably:

Prints a picture of a skull, not a tombstone, upon death.

Thus if you die in Rogue and see a skull like the one below (copied from score.c of this Rogue clone), then you are playing this particular clone or another clone derived from it:

   _~             ~_
  /                 \\
 ~                   ~
/                     \\
|    XXXX     XXXX    |
|    XXXX     XXXX    |
|    XXX       XXX    |
\\         @         /
  --\\     @@@     /--
   | |    @@@    | |
   | |           | |
   | vvVvvvvvvvVvv |
   |  ^^^^^^^^^^^  |
   \\_           _/

This image is copyrighted, however U.S. copyright law qualifies this image under fair use meaning that it is appropriate to use for documenting topics about gaming.

The included documentation states, "The public domain version of rogue now distributed with Berkeley UNIX was written by Timothy Stoehr," so perhaps that is the author of this clone. However, the source code has a copyright, so it is not actually in the public domain. Further, the copyright situation is uncertain. Berkeley put its standard free-software copyright notice on the top of each file, but further down an extra set of conditions survives:

 * main.c
 * This source herein may be modified and/or distributed by anybody who
 * so desires, with the following restrictions:
 *    1.)  No portion of this notice shall be removed.
 *    2.)  Credit shall not be taken for the creation of this source.
 *    3.)  This code is not to be traded, sold, or used for personal
 *         gain or profit.

Because clause 3 contains discrimination against those who would trade or sell copies, this particular Rogue clone is not free software. OpenBSD removed it from their distribution, while Debian classified it as "non-free".


A game called Hack, at first, was another Rogue clone. However Hack added more features, even as it retained the setting of the game (being the dungeon of rectangular rooms and mazes) and the goal (being the Amulet of Yendor). Hack is a direct ancestor of the popular game called NetHack.

Game Data[]


  • where to obtain Rogue?


External Links[]