How-To Kick It Old School With ADOM.

These days not many people know what you mean if you use the term “rogue-like.” But they are– especially if they’re RPG fanatics– missing a great variety of very deep games which are usually available for free.

The first rogue-like game was Rogue, released in 1980. Rogue is a deep RPG set in a fantasy universe similar to D&D. It features graphics displayed using ASCII characters printed out in a terminal and randomly generated dungeons.

Several people and projects have attempted to emulate Rogue and one of the most successful, and fun, is called Ancient Domains of Mystery (ADOM). Written and refined by Thomas Biskup, a German programmer, over many years, ADOM is perhaps the deepest, most detailed, and difficult RPG of all time. Best of all- it installs and runs natively on Linux.

To get it running:

1. Go to the ADOM website and pick up a copy. Go to this page and hit the link that says Adom-111-elf.tar.gz

ADOM download

2. Open up a terminal and cd to where you downloaded it. For example, let’s say you downloaded it to your desktop:

cd ~/Desktop

3. Extract ADOM using the tar utility:

tar xvzf Adom*.tar.gz

4. Now just cd into the ADOM base directory and run the game.



Not just another Rogue-like

Not just another Rogue-like

Help Me!

Q: I can start the game, but how do I play?

A: ADOM makes use of just about every key on the keyboard- you’ll want to know what they do won’t you?

  • In-game hit “?” on your keyboard to access ADOM’s help.
  • ADOM is a lot more involved than most games. To start digging deeper you can read up here.

Q: I played ADOM before, but now it exits as soon as it starts. How do I fix that without re-installing?

A: If ADOM has a problem during startup it will lock itself down by making a file called “~/” Simply deleting this file will usually solve the problem.

rm ~/

Q: I love this game, but every time I die I can’t get my character back. Please, please, please tell me that there’s some way to keep my character!

A: ADOM follows the old-school style of RPGs and permanently deletes your character when you die. Fortunately for those of use with a somewhat weaker constitution (pun intended) ADOM does save your character data before death. This gets a little tricky, so bear with me:

1. Start ADOM and make your character by pressing “g” at the startup screen.

2. After generating your character you’ll be dropped into the game world. The first thing to do is press “shift + s” to save your character. This will exit the game too.

3. Now, without starting ADOM, make a copy of your character’s save file which will be stored in “~/” with the same name as your character. For example, I have a character named Morshef so his save file is “~/

4. Put that copy somewhere outside of the “~/” directory so that ADOM won’t find it and delete it when (not if) you die.

5. The next time you die just copy your character’s save file back into “~/” and you’ll be able to pick back up from where you last saved.

To help make life less onerous for all the hardcore addicts that I’ve just made by introducing them to ADOM I wrote a little script that will automatically back up and restore your saves when you run ADOM. I posted it here.

Q: All this business with downloading and extracting ADOM is too much work. Isn’t there some other way?

A: Some Linux distros have ADOM in their package manager repositories and you can install ADOM that way. (i.e. sudo apt-get install adom)


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