The Burning HOAK tree!

The Burning HOAK tree!

I was exploring the joys of Crawl’s Hill Ork and Abyssal Knight (HOAK) combination, having stepped out of the Abyss, commanded by my deity Lord Lugonu to spread my corruption – when I got into a spot of bother.

I was being hounded by my fellow orcs, and their Beogh Priest, and they’d brought a menagerie of Phantoms, Yak’s and Centaurs along for the massacre.

Desperately seeking shelter in my inventory sack, I fumbled out an unknown magical potion and quickly guzzled it down! It transpires (pun intended) that it was a potion of Lignification, which roots me to the spot and turns my body into a Tree! These orc puppets of Beogh are now gnawing at my bark, but doing very little damage to me.

I’m not entirely sure this pause in the pounding will last long, and without any other course of action available to me, I commune with the Lord of the Abyss himself. Lugonu answers my call for Corruption, and he claws at the very fabric of reality around me spreading his Hand of Corruption across the very ground where my roots where so firmly planted! From the Abyss, in pours an army of Abyssal Creatures!

The Green Very Ugly Thing being most prominent to my pitifully paralysed awestruck knot-like eyes!

All manner of unmentionables turn up, with the Worldbinder bringing more and more creatures of suppuration and demise to the fore. These minions of the mortal dungeons did not know what hit them! They were suffocated with the noxious fumes of pestilent death oozing from Lugonu’s summoned horde.

If I could move anything, I would have cracked a smile through my pithy canopy and let some sap ooze out to show my glee. Revenge is sweet and sticky.

Amidst the brutality displayed by the thrashing horror and others, I fumbled around trying desperately to find anything that could treat my wooden wounds. I had no idea how long my preserving bark would last, nor whether the creatures of the Abyss would look favourably upon a lowly Hill Orc minion of Lugonu.

Foolishly reading out a scroll of immolation, I almost burn myself to the ground, but the fog of the Abyss soon dissipates the heat, luckily.

As the Corruption fades away, the dark forms shift and meld back into the night of the Abyss, my lignification also falls away.

I am dumb-founded at what just happened.. on the brink of death, I turned into a tree, called forth an army of unspeakable hate that laid waste to my attackers, and then as I uproot myself and take on Orc form once again, the death lays about my feet, along with a lot of loot, and a hint of satisfaction at witnessing Lugonu’s power to protect his own.

The self satisfaction was short-lived though, as Ogz the HOAK went on to be frazzled by a pool of Electric Eels on the same level.


2806 Ogz the Fighter (level 9, -8/83 HPs)

Began as a Hill Orc Abyssal Knight on June 30, 2017.

Was an Elder of Lugonu.

Killed from afar by an electric eel (10 damage) … with a bolt of electricity … on level 8 of the Dungeon on July 7, 2017.

The game lasted 01:11:30 (8227 turns).




Posted by spelk in Yarns
Two Accessible Roguelikes: Midboss & Cardinal Quest 2

Two Accessible Roguelikes: Midboss & Cardinal Quest 2

It has been a while since I’ve managed to pen something regarding roguelikes, and immediately I need to bring to your attention the possessive phenomenon that is Midboss.

Midboss is a gorgeously animated isometric crawler where you fight, defeat and possess other creatures, in order to take on their powers and become stronger by surgical selection of leeched powers.

Midboss recently released on Steam, and there was a whole episode of Roguelike Radio dedicated to it, in conversation with the developer Eniko over at Kitsune games.




Now, I also have to mention my return to the 4 directional action of Cardinal Quest 2. I avidly played the first installment of the game on mobile, but the further refinement of the game’s core ideas into the sequel left me a little cold initially. I think I was too set in the extremely streamlined mobile centric ways to appreciate the work done on the sequel.

The early more “open” levels of the game, not speaking to the dungeon crawling desire.

Well, I’m happy to say I have returned to the experience, with a more open mind, with the freshness that only a break from genre can bring. CQ2 keeps the essence of the streamlined more accessible game, but it enhances the overall action with more options and much more variety in terms of environments and monsters.

I’m pleased to say, Cardinal Quest 2 seems to be taking up the mantle of accessible complexity for a new generation of traditional roguelikers.

With the Steam sale in full swing it could be time to harvest all those lovely new and not-so-new roguelikes as a long-term investment for the future.




Posted by spelk in News, 0 comments
7DRL – Brazen Berry Bonanza

7DRL – Brazen Berry Bonanza

It seems such a shame that the 7DRL challenge is over so soon, even with the few weeks afterwards awaiting the reviews, and then it all goes quiet again for another year.

I thought I might do some posts extending the exposure of some of the titles developed, and an easy start to this would be to present the ones I reviewed, whilst gathering whatever information I could on them..

So, here’s the very first one I reviewed in my batch:


Brazen Berry Bonanza

by Ethan Hoeppner


Information and Download (Windows)


Playable on Web:



BBB is a puzzle game with roguelite tendencies, it centers around land expansion and berry growth, both affecting where the player can go, and how important an area is to protect from the encroaching enemies. You harvest the berries for points, and the seeds for resources to use to continue growth, or to destroy the enemy infiltration and their berries. if the enemy ripens 5 of their berries you lose. So there is a competing balance between protection of you crops and sabotage of the enemy harvest.

It provides for interesting placement decisions and emergent offensive/defensive play.

Completeness: 3

Well put together game, can leave player in no possible move situation, relies on enemy progress to end game

Aesthetics: 2  

Solid colour blocks, with pixel fruit, and the all important @ make it minimally satisfying and easy to see terrain assets and incoming dangers, needs a hint of more personality.

Fun: 2

I enjoyed the exploration of interactions between mechanisms, limited grow/seed resources makes for an interesting and emergent puzzle.

Innovation: 3

Environmental growth (organically builds map) & seeding, to harvest resources to gain points and push back/hinder the enemies.

Scope: 2

Bite sized terrain acquisition/defense puzzle, there is a seed to an interesting mobile title here if developed further

Roguelike-ness: 2

@ symbol, procedural terrain generated by grow/seed mechanics, seed ripening competition, real time expansion, more mechanics puzzle terrain/resource acquisition/defense game.


Searching for more info on the title, as luck would have it, I managed to find a Youtuber known as Deadly Habit who had covered the game, so I’ll urge folks interested in the game to take a look at the video below and the channel.


If all goes well in the future, I’ll document the titles I reviewed and will hopefully have some time to do some more 7DRL titles from this years batch.

Posted by spelk in Reviews, 0 comments
7DRL roundup & Roguelike Radio

7DRL roundup & Roguelike Radio

I’ve been a busy @ recently, taking part in the reviewing process of the 2017 7DRL Challenge, and then I was kindly invited to join Darren Grey and Chris Haner on an episode of the Roguelike Radio Podcast to discuss some of this years entries.

So here is an inventory list of places to visit to level up your 7DRL rogue:

It was a real honour and a pleasure to take part in the reviewing process, and a dream come true to actually feature on the Roguelike Radio podcast. A show that I have listened to intently for a good number of years.

Thanks to Darren for the invite to put back a little something into the 7DRL roguelike community, and thanks to Chris Haner for his extensive video coverage of the 7DRL entries.




Posted by spelk in News, 0 comments
Quest of Dungeons

Quest of Dungeons

I have been meaning to do a quick look-see at this streamlined accessible roguelike, that is now out on many platforms (mobile, PC/Steam, PS4, Xbox One). Here I play a Mage finishing up dungeon level 1 and meandering into level 2, on the PS4 version.

The game has four classes to play:

  1. Fighter (bump to kill)
  2. Mage (burny burny tingly fingers)
  3. Hunter/Archer/Ranger (plink, plink)
  4. Shaman (scarey fear!)

Although the game is a very streamlined pixel roguelike, I think it is an ideal gateway into the “proper” roguelike genre – leading new players in gently, but still spanking them enough so that they learn lessons on what to do over time, how to horde what you need, how to switch on the “Stop and think” mode when you encounter a tricky boss.

The positive feedback with the plentiful looting, and bashing of room objects is a constant drip feed of acquisition. But when you meet a merchant, you need to know what to sell, and what trinket or bauble you need to buy at very elevated prices to ease your quest/door/chest opening burden for the future.

It can be quick play, sweeping around as fast as you want, but there are times when the smooth loot collecting is interrupted by REAL DANGER, and you must slow down and think about how you are going to live through this challenge.

You can stumble upon a boss early, and it’s lights out. But usually, you’re comfortably levelling up and upgrading equipment by the time you’re seriously tried. The Archer seems the easiest to begin with, because everything is distance kill.. I’ve found the Shaman to be the most taxing, because his initial spell is simply a one or two turn “scare”. There is diversity enough in the game, to keep playing.

So, if you’re roguelike curious, this game is worth considering. It’s only a few quid, and you might find it opens up the door to a myriad of roguelike gaming in the future! Plus the music by Aaron Krogh is cool.

Quest of Dungeons



Posted by spelk in Reviews, 0 comments
The Haunting

The Haunting

So, I’m bull charging my way through Crawl with an impulsive axe wielding Minotaur named Bowson.

And he’s blowing through level 6 of the Dungeon in a raged temper steaming out of his bovine nostrils, when he stumbles upon a ghostly elven figure who happens to be the vexed apparition of our very own Zax!!! Resurrected in torment to wander these caverns for all eternity exacting an ectoplasmic revenge!

The ghost of Zax passed, has even brought his White Imp with him…

So Bowson engages the familiar friend gone sour, with his usual horned gusto!

The nebulous Zax casts a spell and begins chanting.. whilst his Imp shouts out “Fly, thou unmuzzled tip-merry gudgeon!”

Bowson, the bull is poisoned. But calls upon the spirit of Trog, and tips into a Beserker rage!

and headbutts the spirit of Zax long gone, back into the neverworld once again!

Sick and Exhausted the fevered rage subsides…

(ooc: I know this is a regular unsurprising occurrence in the roguelike world, but still, there is something exciting upon meeting an old friend, that once kindled my imagination so many moons ago)

Bowson had a good run, cleaving Sigmund not shortly after..


and Crazy Yiuf with relative ease, these two being the bane of novice adventurers delving into the early levels of Crawl..



but also coming across the gluttonous wizardy slug, Gastronok the Ponderous.. a nasty slime with an array of spells at his command.



With Trog and the zerker rage on your side, Gastronok was no match for the Bull!



Sadly, Bowson’s relentless slaying was on a timer, and by Dungeon level 10 that time was up. After unleashing a horde of small and large Abominations, he was eventually swamped by the sheer numbers of them.

They Zerged the Zerker. 

RIP Bowson, till we meet your vengeful ethereal corpse once again.

The Hunted become the haunted.

Posted by spelk in Yarns, 0 comments
7DRL incoming

7DRL incoming

A quick “infomercial”, detailing the upcoming 7 day RogueLike (7DRL) challenge!

The 2017 Seven Day Roguelike Challenge invites developers to produce a complete roguelike game in seven short days. The challenge dates are set for 4-12 March 2017. Participants are challenged to complete a game in a 168 hour window within this time period.


  1. Go here: http://7drl.org (soak up all the information)
  2. Go here: http://www.roguebasin.com/index.php?title=7DRL_Challenge_2017 (read everything)
  3. Visit the Temple http://7drl.roguetemple.com and marvel at the giants whose shoulders you may stand upon to reach higher
  4. Take a peek at the ones who made it on itch.io https://itch.io/games/tag-7drl
  5. Trawl the 7DRL twitterati for nuggets of extra info https://twitter.com/hashtag/7drl & spend some facetime with facebook https://www.facebook.com/7drlc/
  6. Listen to Roguelike Radio’s new 7DRL episode for inspiration: http://www.roguelikeradio.com/2017/02/episode-133-how-to-make-traditional-7drl.html
  7. Peruse here for community tidbits and information: https://www.reddit.com/r/roguelikes/
  8. Converse with the experts and rockstars of Roguelike Development: https://www.reddit.com/r/roguelikedev/
  9. Learn how to code a RL http://www.roguebasin.com/index.php?title=Roguelike_Dev_FAQ or http://www.roguebasin.com/index.php?title=Complete_Roguelike_Tutorial,_using_python%2Blibtcod or https://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-make-your-first-roguelike–gamedev-13677 or https://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials/projects/2d-roguelike-tutorial or http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JoshGe/20170207/290928/Two_Years_of_Roguelike_Development_FAQs.php or watch this https://youtu.be/9yJflbg0V38 or google “roguelike development coding”…
  10. Sign up, Get creative, Make something, Live the roguelike dev dream!!

P.S. Featured image is from a previous 7DRL created by Jeff Lait (yep, the guy on the latest Roguelike Radio episode) called Viscious Orcs.


Posted by spelk, 0 comments
A Yendorian Curse!

A Yendorian Curse!

I had the happy fortune to play a beta preview of the accessible new roguelike The Curse of Yendor.  You can read about my experiences with the earlier build of the game over at sugarfreegamer.com

Well I’m pleased to announce that on 17th February 2017 the game was officially released on Steam!

And it’s getting some positive reviews from players.

Naturally I applaud the use of ASCII in roguelikes. But, it’s the approachable, streamlined and accessible titles (that are ‘proper’ roguelikes as opposed to indie titles adopting some aspect of roguelike mechanics ie. “roguelites” or “roguelike-likes”), that really promote the genre to the next generation of players.

Mass distribution through the likes of Steam will up the visibility, and afford the developers some remuneration for their efforts (whereas it is “traditional” to see most roguelikes given out for free).

Roguelikes are fascinating delves into tactical adventuring, that can be as complex or as streamlined a journey as you want. There is a wide spectrum and tastes for everyone and anyone! Therein lies their beauty.

The Curse of Yendor is built to be appealing and easy to play, but also challenging and rewarding. This is clearly the sort of title that the roguelike genre needs to enable new players to wave their curious blazing torches into the deep dark cavernous realms of roguelike gameplay.

Kudos to Bob Saunders (IBOL) for building the gateway into the genre. Check out his other projects! or keep up with his #gamedev posts.


Posted by spelk, 0 comments

Accessible Roguelikes Binge Watch

If you push the ASCII side of roguelikes too hard onto newcomers, you might scare them off with the lack of fancy visuals… they haven’t had time to adjust to the powerful tactical overview and stimulation of the imagination that the pure ASCII affords.

Anyway, under the Laserbeards banner, I cobbled together a YouTube playlist that delivers a stream of handpicked, accessible and “visually palatable” roguelikes that newcomers to the genre should be able to peruse. They can then pick and choose which titles they like the look of and hopefully give them an informed “try out”.

Give it a watch, and if you like them, subscribe to the ‘tubers who are delivering a valuable insight into these titles..




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Trials of Zax

(ooc: After playing a quick session with Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup [DCSS], the muse took me, and I simply had to wax lyrical about what had happened – oh, and yes, this is the incident where the screenshot for the site banner comes from)


As the novice conjurer turns the corner, in this forsaken pit carved out of rock and clay, his Deep elf eyes accustomed to the low light conditions of the underground, spots a sleeping human, curled up in a ball, nesting in damp plant material.

Zax embraces the dark stillness around him, and focuses keenly on this errant man, seemingly at ease enough to rest, in this stinking underworld. Even in his prone position, the man is sizeable compared to Zax. No doubt when erect he would tower over the dark faced elf. This giant is wrapped in colourful robes, adorned with simplistic symbols of what can only be described as bravado. Stars, cudgels, staves and sickles. Primitive at best, in comparison to the cursive scripts of the deepest elf markings.

“I need to get past this monstrosity to follow the cavern deeper, to find my kin” thought Zax, silently.

As small as he was, Zax’s ability to hide himself amongst the clay walls, was questionable. But turning back could cost him dearly in time, trying to find another tunnel through. So he hitched his robe up, and tightened the corded belt, and begun steadily edging forward towards this slumbering monster. If Zax could skirt around the floral carpet, the pooled slurry of clay that lined the floor could provide silent slippery movement.

Each new lateral step, seemed to take longer and longer to make, as Zax approached this menace. The dank air clung to his face suffocating his panic, as he slid slowly around the man. Passing the snoring brute, was intense as a half cough spluttered out of the man’s mouth during his dream-state.

Zax had made good progress, gliding along at a dart-worms pace, relief in sight as the tunnel bore left sharply. Zax hugged the moist clay walls, and attempted a rolling move left. As he did, his foot lifted from the soiled floor and the vacuum left behind made a large sucking noise, not dissimilar to hog snuffling rogue-berries.

The man beast awoke.

His bleary eyes snapped fast onto Zax, clutching the wall. And in no time, was up on his feet and grabbing at a long sharp scythe nestled amongst the foliage bedding.

“You have made a grave mistake, trespassing on Sigmund’s domain!”, said the giant, bristling with anger.

Sigmund charged at Zax, with the scythe held aloft, it’s sharpened head waving from side to side with every bound.

Zax panicked. He slipped a little, then sped around the corner to the left. Eyes wider than ever, he could see the snaking corridors ahead with utter elven clarity. Mid flight, he raised his fist in and opened his fingers into a claw. The power of conjuration flowed through his arm, into his hands and burst into a nebulous flame, nestled in his finger spokes, agitated and angry. Summoning an imp was a taxing process, but this was a desperate situation, and he had to do it on the run.

Chanting the spell, broken words tumbling out of his lips, due to the turbulence of travelling at a sprint, he nearly fumbled the linguistics needed. Concentrating he kept it together, and spat out the last phrase needed. A ball of flame light exploded from his hand and swarmed the ceiling of the tunnel, illuminating a path ahead and behind with equal measure.

During this light-show, Zax could here the shouts of Sigmund echoing past him, he must be close. As the light-show condensed into a swirling smoke, a form began to take shape behind Zax, an crimson impish demon appeared.

As the imp took form, it already had a sense of purpose imbued by it’s summoner. It turned on it’s hooves and clocking the enraged human, set itself about the man, charging with demonic vigour.

The crimson imp engulfed Sigmund, claws fixing itself upon the man’s face. Ripping and tearing what it could. Sigmund swatted the imp from his path as emergent magicks crackled around his wrists. The imp bowled away for a moment, shuddered and set itself again to attack.

Meanwhile Zax made some distance, turned and unleashed a magic dart towards Sigmund with a flurry of evocation and a snap of his hand. The pulsing yellow dart, shimmered as it flew down the corridor, slightly weaving to the right homing in on the human. It struck him from behind and exploded into shards of burning light, singeing the coloured cassock and making Sigmund wince in pain.

Sigmund battered the imp away again, and turned onto Zax once more. Zax spun on his heels and fled as fast as his small frame would allow. The crimson imp was fading fast, but managed to grapple with Sigmund one last time, wrapping its claws around his leg, before disintegrating into dizzying clouds of smoke evapourating into nothingness. Sigmund stumbled a little, bur corrected himself and sped on.

With only enough magic left to summon one more imp, Zax needed to use his enhanced vision to anticipate turns and twists in the corridors ahead to try and lithely put more distance and time between him and this approaching beast. Distance would keep him out of harms way, but time, more importantly would allow for his magicks to swell once again, perhaps enough for another imp attack?

Zax, summoned another imp, this time his conjuration had moulded an Iron imp, a tougher version of the demon, but unfortunately a much slower apparition.
The imp made a bee-line towards the oncoming man, but Sigmund knocked it aside with his scythe in one deft sweep. The imp barrel rolled down an adjoining corridor, got up, and set off after the man again. But the man was slightly faster than the slow metallic demon. So the pursuit would be long, and the imp wasn’t likely to catch or more importantly damage this brute.

Sigmund was upon Zax, range enough to swipe at him with the scythe. Zax felt his left side explode with pain, this was no normal weapon but magically imbued with lightning. Jolted by the attack, Zax tumbled to the sodden floor, rolled with more force than he could control, and bashed his head on the side of a rock.

Sigmund towered over him. Laughing maniacally. Raising the scythe for another blow.

Zax shuddered.

The man tumbled forward, over Zax and falling into the mud beyond. The iron imp had caught up, and charged at his back, with all his metallic momentum, the imp had uncentered the man, just at the right time. The imp weaved around Zax, as he was getting up, and started another charge at Sigmund.

Zax stood up, could see the imp being lifted into the air by a crackling jolt of the scythe, and let loose another magic dart. The dart seared the man once again, shaking him visibly. He dropped his scythe. The imp was fading, smokey curls of dull silver twisting and melting away. Zax ran in another direction, down another corridor. Jumping and leaping across corridor crossways, trying to take the least likely path.

Sigmund picked up his scythe, wiped the blood off his chin and started out after the little deep elf once again.

Zax was drained, his magicks low, his body wracked with pain and fatigue. He had to keep running, keep regenerating his magical spell-force. Keep his distance.

A wrong turn into a dead-end Zax lost it. Spinning around, he retraced his way in, and come to the cavernous crossroads again. Sigmund arrived, yelling and shouting phrases of hatred or madness, Zax could not tell which. Zax began loosing what little magic he had left as magic darts whizzing around in circles above, landing in succession on Sigmund. Knocking him from side to side, but never quite forcing him over.

Sigmund wheeled his scythe in a long arc above his head and downwards towards the elf. It hit Zax in the chest, a massive deep blow, sending violent bolts of lighting through his weakened body. Twitching and convulsing Zax had little control over himself.

Sigmund wanted to land the killing blow, and stomped over to the prone elf.

Zax could feel his life ebbing away, but the delay had left him with some magical force accrued. Laying back, he summoned what arcane energy he could, and let out an almighty magic dart that hit the advancing Sigmund point blank. Punching a hole in his robed tunic, scattering his scythe to the other end of the cavern. Clutching his chest, Sigmund stared at the broken elf in disbelief. Then fell flat on his face into the stagnant mud.

Zax cried.

But felt a little bit more powerful.

Posted by spelk in Yarns, 0 comments