Ragnarok (video game)
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Ragnarok is a freeware roguelike video game for DOS, created by Norsehelm Productions (Thomas F. Boyd and Rob Vawter) from 1992 to 1995, also going by the name Valhalla in its European release. It is distinct from many other roguelikes in having a graphical interface, a historical/mythological setting, set quests, the ability to change classes, and the ability to permanently change one's race by polymorphing.
Ragnarok is firmly set within the bounds of Norse mythology, with many of the gods, realms, items, and quests drawing directly from it. A few of these present in the game are:
- Thor, god of thunder
- Jormundgand, god, the world serpent
- Loki, god, mischievous troublemaker
- Balder, fair god murdered by Loki
- Hela, god, queen of Niflheim
- Mjollnir, Thor's hammer
- Gungnir, Odin's spear
- Mimming, Freyr's sword
- Gjall, Heimdall's Horn
- Skidbladnir, a boat belonging to the gods
- Ravens, benevolent monsters, messengers of Odin
- Nidhogg, monster, a dragon-like being who chews on the roots of Yggdrasil
- Dwarves, monsters, mythological smiths
- Giants, monsters, Ymir's kin
- Midgard, location, realm of men
- Niflheim, location, realm of the dead
However, other items and monsters are of a more "generic fantasy," Japanese-inspired or Tolkienesque nature, such as orcs and katana.
Character development is one of the chief draws of Ragnarok. Throughout the game, the player may change forms, to obtain the powers and abilities of almost any monster in the game, with the exception of god and demi-god level creatures. The player can also modify their own body, changing the number of fingers and eyes, and the gender of the character. The player also has the option of changing their class every ten levels, and can gain powers, skills, abilities and permanent status effects. Therefore, it is quite possible to begin the game as a male sage, and end the game as a lycanthropic female Fire Giant conjurer with 14 fingers and 3 eyes that shoot laser beams.
Some ways to develop your character are:
- Scroll of Knowledge, grants the player one active ability.
- Eating a dead body, there are many different creatures in the game that when killed and eaten give you a variety of different passive abilities. And in a few rare cases causes transformation.
- Wand of Polymorph, cast on yourself to transform yourself. Be warned however, the transformation is random and sometimes makes your situation worse. You can become any creature in the game, that includes weak monsters such as rats, who cannot carry a proper inventory or wield weaponry.
- Potion of Transformation, works just like the Wand of Polymorph but is made with the use of the Alchemy skill.
- Werewolves, pass on the curse of Lycanthropy when they attack you.
- The sage class gives you the ability to write a scroll that lets you switch into the body of the most powerful creature on your current map. This has a few downsides, though - Your previous body retains your inventory and abilities, so you will have to kill your old body in order to get the items and work to regain all your old abilities. Also, many times you will already be the most powerful creature on the map, due to all the magic items and innate abilities you can collect.
In the beginning of the game, the player must choose a character class. These classes all have intrinsic statistics. At level ten, the player "masters" a class, and gains all the skills that the class can use. The player can then choose a new class, or continue as the old class for another ten levels. There are six classes:
- Viking - a physically strong character who gains the weaponmaster ability. Weapon mastery allows the player to do maximum damage with all weapons, and gives the player a free second turn from time to time.
- Blacksmith - a physically powerful character who gains the ability to work metals into weapons and armor. The blacksmith is able to forge The Runesword, a powerful, one-of-a-kind weapon.
- Woodsman - a moderately powerful character, who learns to make arrows from trees, to tame lesser (beast) monsters, to swim, and to terraform the terrain.
- Conjurer - a physically weak character who learns to cast spells. In addition to using spells like the touch of death, the conjurer is able to teleport, and funnel charges from one wand to another.
- Alchemist - a physically weak character who learns to mix potions. A master alchemist is able to make the Potion of Second Life, which as the name suggests brings the player back to life as soon as he is killed.
- Sage - a physically weak character who learns to write scrolls. A master sage can write a powerful, one-of-a-kind Switch Bodies scroll.
After the player has mastered every class, their class matters much less. Initially, it is more important, since being a stronger fighter makes the beginning of the game easier, and some classes become powerful once mastered.
One element of Ragnarok gameplay is that slain player characters leave behind 'ghost data' for the next adventurer to encounter. This data includes the slain adventurer's inventory (minus a few rare items) and the map state as it was at the time of death, including all opponents. From time to time such ghosts present a play challenge, such as might be the case in 'choke point' maps where a player cannot advance due to the large number of ghosts in the area.
The game consists of six quests based on Norse mythology. They are:
- Free Balder's soul.
- Locate and return Mjollnir to Thor.
- Locate and return Gjallarhorn to Heimdall.
- Locate and return Mimming to Freyr.
- Locate and return Gungnir to Odin.
- Find a manner for Tyr to fight with one hand.
- Ragnarok (Valhalla) article by Theodor Lauppert