LambdaRogue: The Book of Stars is a roguelike role playing game for Windows and Linux. In a roguelike, you explore randomly generated dungeons, kill monsters and collect treasure. This game guide is a work-in-progress and will grow over the next few weeks.
Table of Contents
1. Download & Installation
1.1 Versions and Platforms
LambdaRogue: The Book of Stars is available for Linux and Windows. The game was tested on Ubuntu 18.04 and Windows 10.
On Linux, the SDL v1.2 libraries have to be installed on your system. On Windows, the necessary .dll files are included.
Full FreePascal source code is available (GPL v2 licensed) as well, so it may be possible to compile the game for other systems, too.
1.2 Manual Installation
You can get LambdaRogue from the LambdaRogue page at itch.io . The game free (but donations for further graphics and artwork commissions are appreciated).
Download the game from itch.io as .zip file, either for Windows or for Linux. To install, simply extract the .zip file to an empty folder.
Run the game by double clicking “lambdarogue.exe” (Windows) or “lambdarogue” (Linux). By default, the game will start in graphical mode, showing the title screen with several options a 1024×768 window:
1.3 Installation using the itch.io App
Alternatively, you can download and install the itch.io app, then log in to the app with your itch.io user credentials. Then use the app to download and manage the installation for you, including future updates.
A nifty feature of the itch.io app is that you can opt to install older versions of the game instead the newest version. This will be useful in the future, when more updates to the 1.7.x branch are released.
Currently, the previous version, 1.6.4, is available via the app. Note that save games of 1.6.4 are not working in 1.7
If you are new to LambdaRogue or even roguelikes in general, I suggest to use the quickstart option. With this option you can select from four character presets which are slightly stronger and better equipped than in the standard game start.
In the main menu, press  for Quickstart.
After that, you have to decide if you want to play in story mode or in coffeebreak mode. The differences of both modes are summarized on the screen.
In story mode, the game is longer and you have to fulfill several pre-made quests in order to win the game. You have to read a lot of texts, as the story progresses.
In coffeebreak mode, the game is more straightforward: With your character, you try to reach the last dungeon level where you have to kill the evil deity Eris. No quests and story texts will interrupt the game, but it will also be shorter.
Select the game mode by pressing [s] or [c] on your keyboard.
After selecting the game mode, you are presented with the Quickstart character presets:
All four options are balanced in a way that the beginning of the game is relatively easy, compared to custom or random non-quickstart characters. If you like direct melee combat, use the soldier preset. If you prefer to attack from a distance, choose the archer. If you want to try magic, guide the enchanter. And if you like unarmed combat, the possibility to steal from traders, and want to have easy access through locked doors, use the thief.
Select one of the presets by pressing , ,  or  on your keyboard.
You are then asked to enter a name for your character.
Enter a name by typing it, then press [Enter] to confirm.
Please note that only one character of the same name can exist, because the save files are named after the character. If the game does not accept your input and continues to ask for the name, there exists already a character of that name. In this case, think of another name. If you don’t know a fitting name, enter something temporary for now; you can rename your character later in the character status screen.
After entering your character name, you are presented with the game’s main view.
3. User Interface Overview
Besides the main view, which shows the landscape around you, there are various distinct areas of importance. Depending on the output mode, these look different. I’ll first cover the graphics mode; after that, I’ll briefly mention differences in console / ASCII mode.
3.1 Graphical Interface
On the upper left, there is a basic overview of your character, with portrait, health bar (red), psychic power (blue) and strength (green). On top of the health bar (but not visible at game start) is an additional line, growing over time as you receive damage in combat, showing distress (pink). Below the portrait, positive and negative status effects are shown (if applicable).
Hint: You can hover the mouse over your character portrait for getting a tool tip with textual and numerical summary of your status, effects and effects duration.
On the upper right, there is a small minimap. Only explored areas (white) and discovered stairs (green) are shown on the minimap, however, the positions of traders (pink), NPCs (golden) and your own character (blue) are always visible. This way, when you enter a new dungeon level, you can at least have a rough estimation where traders might be.
Hint: You can press the capital [M] key on your keyboard, to display a larger overview map, decidely drawn in ASCII style. Press [ESC] or [Enter] to hide the overview map again.
The Message Log
On the lower left, there is the message log. The last eight messages are shown from top to bottom. The final line shows the description of the current position incl. possible actions.
Hint: You can read the extended message log including the last 20 messages by pressing [s] (for opening the status screen), then [m] .
On the bottom center or right (depending on selected resolution) is the quick bar. The quick bar has 12 slots. You can assign potions, food, and magical songs to the slots. Each slot corresponds to one of the function keys [F1] to [F12], so if an item or song is assigned to a slot, you press the related function key to use the item or chant the song (= cast the spell).
As long as you have the item in your inventory, the quickbar will show the asssociated effect icon colored; if you are out of the item, the icon is greyed out and darker. For magic, quick bar icons are colored if the song is ready to chant (= the spell ready to cast); if the song still needs to refresh, the icon is greyed out and darker.
You can assign items to the quick bar by press [I] (for opening the inventory), followed by one of the function keys. After that, you have to select item you want to assign, by entering the number of the related inventory slot (or just press Enter without entering a number to cancel).
You can assign a magical song to the quick bar by pressing [m] (for opening the songbook), followed by one of the function keys. After that, you have to select the song you want to assign, by entering the number of the related songbook slot (or just press Enter without entering a number to cancel).
Hint: You can overwrite a quick bar assignment by a new one whenever you like. To fully delete an assignment, press capital [C], then the function key you want to clear or [ESC] to cancel.
3.2 Differences in Console Interface
In console interface, the basic character values are shown in the status line at the top of the screen, starting with health (HP), psychic power (PP), strength (STR) and distress (DST). Also, your current combat stance is shown as either offensive (default) or defensive.
Below the status line, partly overlapping the main view, can be a list of currently active positve or negative status effects. Some are shown in white, some really bad ones in red, and some good ones in green color.
On the bottom of the screen, there is the message area. The first three lines show the last messages of the message log; the fourth line shows the description of the current position incl. possible actions.
Hint: Although there is no visible quick bar in ASCII mode, the button assignments to [F1] to [F12] still work as described in the previous section.
4. How to Play
There are three possibilities to move your character:
- the cursor keys [left], [right], [up] and [down]
- the numerical keypad  to ; note that in console / ASCII mode, you have to switch on [NumLock] on your keyboard for the numerical keypad to work.
- the Vi keys [k] [j] [l] [h] [u] [y] [n] [b]; read more about Vi keys in the RogueBasin wiki.
4.2 Combat: Basics
To attack a monster in melee, simply walk into it. You will attack it with your currently equipped weapon or your bare hands, if no weapon is equipped. Take note of the message log and the status bars, to know your own and your enemy’s health.
To shoot a monster, press [f], then the direction you want to fire to. If equipped with a fire-arm and proper ammunition, you will shoot into the selected direction.
To throw an item to a monster, press [T], then select the item you want to throw by entering the number of the related inventory slot. Then enter the direction you want to throw to.
To attack a monster with magic, chant the desired magical song, either by opening your songbook by pressing [m], then selecting the song you want to chant by entering the number of the related songbook slot; or by pressing a quick bar key you may have assigned to the song. You can also press [c] to chant the last song again. If a direction is required, enter the direction as needed.
4.3 Combat: Success Factors
Combat success depends on a variety of factors, namely your character’s abilities and skills, your current equipment, your ammunition (if using a fire-arm) and possible temporary positive and negative effects on the other factors.
Besides other abilities, your character has the following combat-related abilities:
- Fight: General base value for all types of armed and unarmed combat
- Hit: General base value determing if a fire-arm shot or magic attack hits or misses an enemy
- Move: General base value for being able to avoid being attacked by monsters
Your character also has the following combat-related skills:
- Sword: How good your character is with one- and two-handed swords, knives, daggers, …
- Axe: How good your character is with one- and two-handed axes, hatches, …
- Lance: How good your character is with lances, spears, …
- Fire-arm: How good your character is with bows, crossbows, guns, …
You can check your character’s abilities and skills in the status screen, by pressing [s]:
Abilities and skills are shown from top to bottom in the center of the status screen. Positive effects on any ability or skill are shown in green color; negative effects are shown in red color.
While abilities and skills are the basis, equipment is important, too. Every piece of equipment can have the following values:
- WP (Weapon Points): Efficiency of item as weapon in melee combat
- GP (Gun Points): Efficiency of item as firearm in long-range combat
- AP (Armour Points): Efficiency of item as armour
You can check your current equipment and its total values in the equipment summary, which you can open by pressing [s] (for status), then [e]:
The WP, GP and AP of all currently equipped items are added to your Fight-ability, resulting in three values called MLD as a whole. The MLD values are shown on the upper right of the character status screen:
- M is your current total efficiency in melee-combat (Fight skill plus total WP)
- L is your current total efficiency in in long-range-combat (Fight skill plus total GP)
- D is your current total defence efficiency (usually equals AP)
These values tell you how large the damage is you actually inflict on a monster or how large the defence is you get by your armour. In combat, your MLD values are compared to the monster’s attack and defence values, and then subtracted accordingly from the monster’s (or your) health.
However, to make use of a weapon’s full WP/GP, as well as to inflict critical damage (where the defence values of a monster are ignored), and to use possible magical bonuses of weapons, your weapon skill has to be the same as or higher than the weapon’s WP/GP.
Example: Wielding a Gladius with 8 WP while having a Fight-ability of 6 and a Sword-skill of 7 creates a total M of only 13 (6 Fight + 7 out of 8 WP).
The consequence is that there is no use in wielding a powerful weapon with lots of WP if your skill of the related weapon type is not high as well — a WP 12 axe will not be used to its full potential if your axe skill is just 10; a GP 18 bow won’t be as useful as it could if your fire-arm skill is just 11. It’s your task to decide which weapons to use and which weapon skills to train.
Finally, some remarks on long-range combat. What has been said about MLD is true for long-range combat, too, except that instead of WP the essential item value is GP.
It’s important to note that success in long-range combat also depends on the Hit ability. This ability determines if your shot hits or misses the enemy. If you miss the enemy, the shot is wasted, so you should train your Hit ability or use items to temporarily increase it.
In addition, it’s interesting to know that ammunition has a WP value, too — these are very small, but can still make a difference.
4.4 Magic: Basics
Magic is performed by chanting magical songs. Whenever you learn a new song, it is written down in your songbook which is shown by pressing the “songbook”-key, [m] by default.
To learn or train a song, you must study crystals. Many crystals can be bought in libraries, other crystals must be found or obtained otherwise. When you’ve studied a crystal, the associated song is accessable from your songbook. To chant a song (i.e. to cast a spell), you have to select it from your songbook. You will then try to chant the song.
Your success depends on your current psychic power (PP) and on the “Chant” ability. If your PP are below the minimum PP requirements of a certain song, it won’t be cast at all. If the song is cast and your “Chant” ability is low, it might fail. In the case of failure, the consumed PP are wasted.
For the best songs, you have to be an Enchanter to use them. Only a few are open for other professions (but these still include simple water, ice, and fire attack songs, or the identify song, which is used to identify unknown items).
4.5 Magic in Combat
If you perfom well in using magic, you can use it to your advantage in combat situations. You then not only have a weapon to fight and potions to heal yourself, you can also use attack spells to harm the enemy (in many cases greater than by using weapons) or chant songs to heal yourself.
Most attack spells make use of water, ice, and fire, and all of them are available in a weak and a standard variant. “Stream”, for example, is the weak water spell, “water” is the standard. The weaker variants consume less psychic power (PP), but also do less damage.
In general, water spells are weaker than ice spells, and ice spells are weaker than fire spells, but if you use e.g. a water spell against an enemy immune against water, you won’t harm it. The same goes for ice and fire. All water animals are immune against water, and every enemy who is able to cast water, ice or fire itself is immune against such attacks.
For being successful in combat magic, you should keep an eye on your Hit ability. While the Chant ability is used to determine the success of casting a song, the Hit ability is used to determine if your attack actually hits the enemy, very similar to a character using a fire-arm.
Several features of LambdaRogue can be configured to your liking. This includes graphics options, sound options, gameplay options and keybinding.
LambdaRogue is played only using the keyboard. There is decidedly no mouse support, because in my opinion playing a turn-based roguelike distorts the tactical gameplay too much into a hack’n’slash action game.
Movement is done using the four cursor keys, the numerical keypad or the Vi keys. Other actions are performed using various other keys, whose function you can view and change in the keybinding options:
To change the key of a function, first press the key you want to change. Then press the key you want to use instead for the selected function.
Press [Enter] to save your changes or [ESC] to cancel.
Please note that currently no check for double keybindings is performed. Before confirming your changes with [Enter], make sure that you did not set the same key for more than one function.
5.2 Graphics, Sound & Gameplay
To change options for graphics, sound, and gameplay, press  in the main menu. You will see the following picture:
To change an option, press the associated character on your keyboard.
Press [a] to toggle between graphical output and text output. Graphical output is the default display mode. When you change to text output, the game will close. Open a text terminal of 80×25 size (80×24 is not supported, so resize your terminal accordingly). You will then see the title screen in ASCII mode:
To change back to graphics output, open the options again and press [a] again. The game will quit and the next time you start it will open in graphics mode.
I’ll now cover the other options:
Press [b] to toggle the size of the graphical tiles. This option is only shown when the game is running in graphics mode. The game includes small tiles (20×40 pixels) and big tiles (40×80 pixels). With small tiles, more of the game world is visible; with big tiles, visual detail of the tiles is much better. Note that you can change the tile size option also dynamically while playing, by pressing [Page Up] and [Page Down] on your keyboard.
Press [c] to select the graphics resolution. This option is only shown when the game is running in graphics mode. You can toggle between 800×600, 1024×768 and 1920×1080 resolutions. The higher the resolution, the more of the game world is visible. Resolution will change immediately, once you press the [c] key.
Press [d] to toggle full screen and windowed mode. This option is only shown when the game is running in graphics mode. The display mode will change immediately, once you press the [d] key.
Press [e] to toggle display of blood of slain monsters. This option is only shown when the game is running in graphics mode. The option is purely cosmetical.
Press [f] to toggle the “Move after victory”. By default, when you kill a monsters, you will not move to the monster’s position. By toggling this option to “yes”, you will move to the monster’s position immediately after the victory.
Press [+] and [-] to set the volume of the background music. Set this to 0 to turn off music.
Press [*] and [/] to set the volume of the sound effects. Set this to 0 to turn off sound effects.
When you are done viewing or changing the options, press the [Enter] key to save them. Options are stored in the lambdarogue.cfg configuration file, which is in the same folder as the game itself.