For all games that are played on machines with keyboards, each of your options are presented to you on-screen as you play. Any option available to you will appear with a ) after the first letter. This means that to execute the command, all you need to do is press that key. For example, if one of your options is to "L)EAVE", simply press the L key to leave. There is only one case where an available keys is not shown to you while you are in a dungeon. You may use F or W to move forard, L or A to turn left, R or D to turn right, and it is not shown on the screen, but you may press X to turn 180 degrees and reverse your direction.
- : Use the direction pad to move the menu selection cursor through each of the options. In the maze, press up to move forward, left or right to turn ninety degrees in either direction, or down to reverse direction.
- : Press the A button to select a menu option. In the maze, press the A button to open a door in the dungeon.
- : Press the B button to cancel a menu option and return to the previous menu. In the maze, press the B button to begin camping.
- : Press the Start button to toggle the party window display on and off.
- : Press the Select button to summon a menu that contains the following options:
- Quit: Saves your parties current status in the maze and ends the game.
- Search: Examine the area around you in the maze to look for party member who have been left behind.
- Set Timer: Change the amount of time that each message is displayed.
- Leave: Quit this menu and return to the game.
Creating a character
- You begin creating a character at the Training Grounds by providing a name. In some versions, you can change the name later on if you like. This can be handy if you want to quickly see how your character turns out before you decide whether or not you want to keep him/her.
- After naming him/her, you must choose a Race. The five available races are described below.
- Next, you must choose from the three different alignments. Information about how your choice of alignment affects the classes you can choose from and the formation of your party are also provided below.
- Once you do this, your character will be presented to you with that race's base attributes, and a random number of bonus points that you may assign to your attributes. It is common to receive 10 bonus points or fewer, but on rare occasions you may get between 11 and 19 points. In the computer versions, although rarer still, you may receive more than 20.
- You may not lower any attribute below your race's base value, and you may not raise the attribute beyond 18. You may not finish until all bonus points are allotted, and you must raise your attributes such that at least one class is available to you before you finish.
- After all of your bonus points have been allocated and at least one class is available to you, you may choose to end allocation and select from among the available classes. Your character will then be complete. At that time you are asked if you are satisfied with the character and wish to save it, or cancel the effort if you are unhappy with the final result.
Your attributes drive which character classes are available. You can only elect to be a particular class if your attributes meet certain minimum requirements, and you belong to any mandated alignments. There are six particular attributes:
- Strength: Your strength enhances the amount of damage that your weapon does to an enemy.
- I.Q.: The higher your I.Q., the better you will be at casting mage spells, as well as avoiding the effects of mage spells that are cast on you.
- Piety: The more Pious you are, the more likely the gods will grant the prayers of clerics, and the more likely the gods will spare you from the effects of prayers against you.
- Vitality: Vitality affects how much damage you can sustain before dying. The better your vitality, the more likely it will be that you can be brought back from the dead.
- Agility: Higher agility makes you faster and harder to hit, giving you a better chance to dodge attacks or avoid traps.
- Luck: Your luck can influence any of the five other attributes in various ways over the course of your adventure. While it's not something that can be relied upon, those with higher luck generally do better throughout the game.
There are five available races in the game. Though your race affects little once the game begins, it will have a huge influence on the classes which are likely to be available to you at the start of the game. Each race has a different set of initial attributes. Humans are the most balanced of all the races, but they suffer from the lowest initial attribute total. Hobbits have the highest initial attribute total, but that's because their luck starts out so much higher than any other race's. They are as follows:
|Race/attribute||Strength||I.Q.||Piety||Vitality||Agility||Luck||Total||Best class choice|
|Human||8||8||5||8||8||9||46||Fighter, Samurai, Mage, Thief|
|Elves||7||10||10||6||9||6||48||Mage, Priest/Cleric, Bishop/Wizard|
|Dwarfs||10||7||10||10||5||6||48||Fighter, Lord, Priest/Cleric|
|Gnomes||7||7||10||8||10||7||49||Priest/Cleric, Thief, Ninja|
There are only three choices for alignment: Good, Neutral, or Evil. Certain classes require a particular alignment. Other classes may forbid one. Alignment also comes into play when forming a party. A Good character will not voluntarily occupy a party with an Evil character and vice versa (although there is a way to get around this). A Neutral character will get along with everyone. By in large, you are safe to choose Good and Neutral for every character unless you plan on creating a Ninja. Ninjas are the only class that require an Evil alignment, and as such, are not able to voluntarily party with Lords.
Your alignment can change during the game depending on your behavior. Attacking too many friendly encounters will make your character trend toward evil, while allowing friendly encounters to go on their way will trend your character toward good. If your character's alignment shifts to one not allowed by his or her class, that character will stop receiving experience points towards his/her next level until the alignment has been corrected.
There are eight different classes divided into two distinct categories: basic classes and elite classes.
- Basic classes
- Fighter: these are your typical warriors. They excel in combat and nothing else. Strength is their primary attribute. They are capable of equipping all manner of armor and weapons, and are typically capable of withstanding far greater amounts of damage then their fellow adventurers.
- Mage: as spell casters, they are in many ways the opposite of a fighter. Their hand-to-hand combat skills are terrible, as they can only wield light weapons, and any armor beyond a robe interferes with their magic. I.Q. is their primary attribute. They use this intelligence to learn the ability to tap into mystical and arcane energies behind powerful offensive magic.
- Priest (a.k.a. Cleric on the NES): Priests are holy warriors for the gods they worship and represent. Piety is their primary attribute. By keeping in good standing with their deities, they may call upon their assistance with prayer for miracles such as shining light upon darkness, or curing wounds received in combat. They may also dispel unholy creatures that have risen from the dead. They may wear any armor, but they may carve the flesh of another, so they are restricted to blunt weapons. Priests must have conviction, and may not be Neutral.
- Thief: Thieves have moderate HP and fighting skills, but their speed enables them to excel in a variety of other talents. Agility is their primary attribute. They are capable of detecting traps hidden in chests, and they may disarm those traps to obtain the riches inside. No other class may do this. They can use an assortment of weapons as long as they are not too heavy, but they can wear no armor heavier than leather, in order not to restrict their range of motion. Those who suffer from a guilty conscience do not make good thieves, so they may not be Good.
- Elite classes
- Bishop (a.k.a. Wizard on the NES): Wizards are a cross between Priests and Mages. They are capable of learning spells from either class, however, as a penalty, they learn spells at a much slower rate. They do, however, gain a slight weapon and armor advantage over Mages. Since Bishops need to have their prayers heard by the gods, they may not be Neutral.
- Samurai: a samurai is a warrior who has trained in the art of mystical fighting. They possess all the skills of a Fighter, but they eventually learn to tap into the arcane arts that permit them to cast Mage spells, albeit at a slower rate. The strict Bushido code does not command that they always do good, but it does instruct them to do no intentional harm, so they may not be Evil.
- Lord: in many ways, a holy warrior of the gods just like a Priest. However, their first allegiance is to the ways of warrior combat. As such, they are not granted the ability to dispel the undead. They will, however, have their prayers answered at higher levels, but they learn these prayers much more slowly than a Priest. In order to receive the full blessing of the gods, a Lord must be Good.
- Ninja: only the most elite characters have the ability to become a Ninja. With the highest restrictions of any class, it is nearly impossible to access this powerful warrior. While they can fight well with any armor and weapon, they actually perform substantially better unarmed, capable of inflicting a higher percentage of critical strikes that may instantly kill a foe. The Ninja code demands allegiance to no one other than the clan they were trained with, so Ninjas must be Evil.
Basic classes have one relatively low attribute requirement, while elite classes tend to have a wider variety of attribute requirements in order to be eligible for the class. Below is a table which shows the requirements.
Of the Elite classes, it is easiest to become a Bishop/Wizard when creating a new character, especially for an Elf. It is difficult, but possible, to create a Samurai out of a new character unless you get a particularly high bonus roll when creating a Human or Dwarf. It is impossible to become a Lord or a Ninja when creating a new character, unless of course cheats are used.