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Dungeons of Daggorath

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Dungeons of Daggorath
Publisher(s)Tandy Corporation
Designer(s)Douglas J. Morgan[2]
Platform(s)TRS-80 Color Computer, Dragon 32/64
Release1982[citation needed]
Genre(s)Dungeon crawl

Dungeons of Daggorath is one of the first real-time, first-person perspective role-playing video games. It was produced by DynaMicro for the TRS-80 Color Computer in 1983. A sequel, Castle of Tharoggad, was released in 1988.


Dungeons of Daggorath was one of the first games that attempted to portray three-dimensional space in a real-time environment, using angled lines to give the illusion of depth. It followed the 1974 games Maze War and Spasim, written for research computers, and the first 3D maze game for home computers, 3D Monster Maze, released in 1981. The game Phantom Slayer, which was released in 1982 for the Color Computer, also featured monsters lurking in a maze. While Daggorath was visually similar to these games, it added several elements of strategy, such as different kinds of monsters, complex mazes, different levels of visibility, and the use of different objects and weapons.[3]

Dungeons of Daggorath gameplay screenshot.
Exploring the dungeons and battling creatures by typing commands into the text area at the bottom. The white bar shows a leather shield in the left hand and a wooden sword in the right hand, and indicates the player's heartbeat. Note the sword on the floor, which can be picked up by the player or other creatures.

The player moves around a dungeon, issuing commands by means of typing – for example, typing "GET LEFT SHIELD" or "USE RIGHT" (or abbreviations such as "G L SH" and "U R"), gathering strength and ever more powerful weapons as the game progresses. Various creatures appear, and can often be heard when they are nearby, even when not visible. The object of the game is to defeat the second of two wizards, who is on the fifth and last level of the dungeon.

A unique feature of the game is a heartbeat which rises as the player moves, takes actions or takes damage within the virtual environment. The heartbeat is a direct predecessor of the "health" indicator in later games; the higher the heart rate, the more vulnerable the player is to attack. The player can faint from overexertion, in which case there is the risk of being attacked while defenseless. This heartbeat system was used instead of numerical statistics such as hit points or vitality, and was inspired by arcade games,[4] specifically 1978's Space Invaders where a heartbeat-like sound gradually increases pace as enemies advance towards the player.[5]


The game was developed by Douglas J. Morgan and Keith S. Kiyohara, with sounds by Phil Landmeier, in 1980–81 for the Tandy (RadioShack) TRS-80 Color Computer. Produced by DynaMicro, it was released in 1983 as an eight kilobyte ROMpak cartridge for the Color Computer, which took several months of recoding to achieve. Despite this, the game features a multi-level maze and has what for the time were advanced sound effects that provide important clues to the locations of monsters.[6]


After Dungeons of Daggorath became one of the most popular Color Computer games,[citation needed] Tandy produced a sequel, Castle of Tharoggad,[7][8] in 1988 which was made without the participation of the Daggorath team. It was poorly received.[9]

Around 2001, Douglas J. Morgan noticed that the exclusive copyright had reverted to him from the publisher RadioShack. He released the game under a freeware-like license to the public, also offering the source code for a small fee.[6][10] It has been ported by fans to Microsoft Windows,[11] Linux,[12] RISC OS[13] and PSP[14] via the SDL library. A free, open-source version has also been ported to the Web[15]

Dungeons of Daggorath was featured in the book Ready Player One, where the protagonist has to solve the game, emulated within a simulated universe.[16] The plot point does not appear in its film adaptation.

The game's artwork was used also for the Oneohtrix Point Never album Garden of Delete, which is an edit from a screenshot of the game.


  1. ^ Hirsch Electronics Expands Board of Directors, June 2007, News Release, AutomatedBuildings.com
  2. ^ Grant of license to reproduce Dungeons of Daggorath Archived 11 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Boyle, L. Curtis. "Dungeons of Daggorath". Tandy (TRS-80) Color Computer Games. Archived from the original on 26 August 2011.
  4. ^ Barton, Matt (2008). Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games. A K Peters, Ltd. pp. 80–1. ISBN 978-1-56881-411-7. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  5. ^ Loguidice, Bill; Barton, Matt (2009). Vintage games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time. Focal Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-240-81146-8. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  6. ^ a b Barton, Matt (13 October 2006). "A Review of DynaMicro's The Dungeons of Daggorath (1983)". Armchair Arcade. Archived from the original on 24 May 2007.
  7. ^ Boyle, L. Curtis. "Castle of Tharoggad". Tandy (TRS-80) Color Computer Games. Archived from the original on 12 September 2009.
  8. ^ Castle of Tharoggad, Color Computer Documentation Website
  9. ^ Sabbatini, Mark (February 2010). Roppolo, Bryan (ed.). "Castle of Tharoggad". Retrogaming Times Monthly. No. 69. Archived from the original on 7 February 2010.
  10. ^ Grant of license to reproduce Dungeons of Daggorath by Douglas J. Morgan "I hereby grant a non-exclusive permanent world-wide license to any and all Color Computer site administrators, emulator developers, programmers or any other person or persons who wish to develop, produce, duplicate, emulate, or distribute the game on the sole condition that they exercise every effort to preserve the game insofar as possible in its original and unaltered form. ... Anyone willing to pay for the copying of the listing (at Kinko's) and shipment to them, who intends to use it to enhance or improve the emulator versions of the game is welcome to it."
  11. ^ Hunerlach, Richard. "Project Page for Dungeons of Daggorath PC-Port". Archived from the original on 28 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Dungeons of Daggorath – Version 0.5.1 for Linux". Daggorath PC-Port. July 2012. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016.
  13. ^ Hudd, Vince M. (27 May 2012). "Dungeons of Daggorath ported to RISC OS". RISCOSitory. Archived from the original on 15 June 2012.
  14. ^ M., Glenn (15 December 2008). "PSP homebrew – Dungeons of Daggorath v0.7". QuickJump. Archived from the original on 24 April 2016.
  15. ^ Byrd, Nathan. "Dungeons of Daggorath". Dungeons of Daggorath. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  16. ^ Owens, Skip (9 April 2018). "The Video Games of 'Ready Player One'". Geek Dad. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.

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