|Platform||binaries: OS/2, DOS, Windows; (source available)|
|Version||12.4 alpha 1, 12.4 alpha 2|
Welcome home adventurer. Latest word from the doctor is not good.
The diagnosis is confirmed as dianthroritis. He guesses that your daughter has only 300 mobuls left in this world. It’s up to you, adventurer, to find the only hope for your daughter, the very rare potion of cure dianthroritis. It is rumored that only deep in the depths of caves can this potion be found.
Here comes a classic! One of the first games in roguelike genre is Larn. It has even poorer “graphics” than Rogue because it utilizes only three colors (and third must be activated in options file). Despite that many players enjoyed it. Current maintainer is Copx, who ported Larn to Windows and fixed a few bugs present. I played version 12.3 which still has some problems that 12.4 does not.
Game has no food at all. Fleeing life of your daughter serves as a clock instead. After 300 mobuls (time unit) has passed she will die and even if you manage to bring potion of cure dianthroritis you have lost the game already. You descend the dungeon to gather knowledge, equipment and treasure but mainly in search of medicine for your daughter.
Larn features no classes but winning characters are different enough. One rarely gets chance to collect all spells of given level and full array has not happened to me yet despite I won several times already. Player inventory is limited by space. This works well because you automatically wear all rings you find just by carrying them. That applies also to other booster items. Take care about what you carry – you cannot allow yourself to make a trip to town and back too many times because time is running up. Inventory management is important part.
Only one item can lie at a time on a tile but there also special objects like traps, statues, mirrors, fountains and altars. All of them have range of potential effects. Handle with care. Some can be safely used by low level characters, using other just asks for tough beating. Finding out which are which is left as an excercise for reader. :-)
Items are always identified after use even if player has no idea what the thing did. The character knows and will recognize item in future despite the fact sometimes no message is displayed. Identify scrolls come rather early but they also could be sold. It is up to you to decide what to with this resource. You know the looks of potion of cure dianthroritis Beware of curses for they are way nastier than “sticky” curses that are seen in many other roguelikes. The curses affect you! Moreover they are really unpleasant – take care or you will end dead in least expectable moment of your dungeoneering adventure.
Spell casting in Larn is done by using cast command and typing three letter acronym corresponding to spell. Optionally a direction prompt will appear. Each book contains one spell and vanishes after reading. Learning magic is always succesful but spell contained within can only be determined by perusing tome. You might get the same knowledge several times but books are quite sought after – you could get nice amount of gold by selling a book. The deeper it was brought from the greater it’s price. Or you might get the spell you was wainting for. To use your magic force you have to expend a point which eventually regenerates. Thus better spells mostly replace weaker ones as game progresses. Mostly, because quite many are always useful and several creatures are better not treated with certain kind of element.
Unique item of Larn is scroll of gem perfection. Two kinds of valuables exist: gold and gems. Having those latter perfected will greatly increase their appraisal. You have a choice: sell the gem now and use the money to buy stuff that lets you survive for now or wait a bit so you can collect more gems to perfect with single scroll or hope to find more scrolls so your shiny stones become even more valuable. Many players hoard these precious magical device so they can get unbelieveably rich later but not having funds for armor and weapons can very quickly put you into grave (keep in mind your daughter will follow soon). To add more spice, there is certain weapon in store which is horrendously expensive … but carries unspeakable power.
Larn offers difficulty levels. Each has it’s own score table. After victory the number is automatically increased. Game changes behavior at higher difficulty drammatically. Those who find Larn to pose not enough challenge (or too much) can always supply a parameter or edit options file and set it to their taste.
There are several inconveniences. What can be pretty irritating, usually character sees only one space away. At higher difficulty one may step into range of hobgoblin and get instakilled while exploring first level. Descending a staircase has a very small chance to put you in middle of room filled with all kinds of beasts which eagerly will rip you to shreds. Teleportation has a bug that might lead to crash sometimes.
Oh, I nearly fogot about a truly fiendish property of Larn. Winning characters bring much gold to surface but … this money is tax deductible! Those who come after him will have to pay his dues and LRS (Larn Revenue Service) will do anything to make hero’s life unpleasant until taxes are paid. You have been warned. On the other hand bringing small amounts or no money to surface will get you unimpressive score. Temptation to cheat LRS is strong but there is a price to pay for it. After the tax has been paid any new heroes visiting the dungeon can enjoy clean bill.
In spite of its age Larn is very fun game and worth your time. Go ahead and familiarize yourself with genre history a bit more.
Reviewed for roguetemple by Michael Bielinski┬