Tales (or Troubles) of Middle Earth, is a roguelike computer game created in 1998 by its author DarkGod. The game is set in Arda and incorporates many elements of the mythology of Middle-earth but does not follow Tolkien's plot. In particular, the game merges various ages and stories together. (How else can Bree and Gondolin exist at the same time?) As you, a new character, you begin the game with your first quest: visit Dol Guldur to put an end to the trouble in Mirkwood. The ultimate goal of the game is to visit Angband and kill Morgoth.
You can download the game from http://t-o-m-e.net, it comes as C source code, and you can usually find Windows and Mac ports. DarkGod released version 2.3.3 at 15 December 2005. Note that much of ToME is under a license that restricts commercial redistribution. There is also a multiplayer version called TomeNET.
ToME also has its own wiki, at http://wiki.t-o-m-e.net, it contains ToME's bug reports, an editable version of the documentation, and many spoilers.
Development history Edit
ToME is actually a variant of the roguelike game of Angband. It is based upon the source code of ZAngband 2.2.9a but now differs greatly. Actually, DarkGod originally called the game PernAngband; it was a crossover that placed characters from Anne McCaffrey's fictional world of Pern into J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. By the time of version 5.x.x, PernAngband had attracted a substantial online community. However, it came under legal threat from Anne McCaffrey and from Ubisoft, a company that had created several licensed Pern-related games. DarkGod removed the Pern elements and changed the name of the game to ToME. Currently ToME contains more elements of Middle-earth than the game of Angband did. However, ToME also contains elements of the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Roger Zelazny, having inherited them from Cthangband and ZAngband.
ToME now consists of a T-Engine with an embedded Lua scripting engine. By rewriting or replacing the Lua scripts, one can create derivate games called modules. Popular modules include Theme, Gerband, Annals of Ea, and FuryMod. Notably, Theme tries to follow Middle-earth more closely, for example by adding more Middle-earth monsters while removing all of the ZAngband stuff. Meanwhile FuryMod has forked ToME and created a separate game called FuryBand.
ToME is under active development. Report bugs on ToME's own wiki BugReports page. Currently in alpha release is ToME 3, which will include greater support for the Lua programming language and drastically change the internal handling of objects and flags.
Character classes Edit
You can start your ToME character as one of many races. Some of these feel more Tolkien-ish than others. Remember that some of these races are inherited from ZAngband. Some races are more difficult than others. There are exotic Tolkien races, like Beornings and Maiar, but there are others such as Death Molds.
The available races include:
- Beorning - descendants of Beorn
- Dark Elf
- Death Mold - an interesting race which cannot move, but must use magic teleportation spells
- Gnome - of a size between hobbits and dwarves, not anything like the Noldor once called "gnomes" by Tolkien
- Hobbit - "in time they learn to cook a delicious meal from available ingredients"
- Kobold - popularised by Dungeons & Dragons, but in ToME said to be a type of goblin
- Maia - yes, from before the creation of Arda
- Rohan Knight
- Thunderlord - "creations of Manwe Sulimo"
- Wood Elf
- Yeek - the weakest race, but it learns skills quickly
To add to the complication, many races have available subraces. You can play as a "Classical" member of that race, as an undead form (Vampire, Spectre, Skeleton, Zombie, ...), as a Barbarian or Hermit. For a difficult game, you can even play as a "LostSoul", who does not start the game in the normal location but rather deep in Mandos, in a dungeon far more difficult than what most low-level characters encounter.
Now about classes, Dungeons & Dragons style. ToME has most of the typical fantasy-game classes and then some. The full list of classes is: Alchemist, Archer, Assassin, Axemaster, Bard, Dark-Priest, Demonologist, Druid, Geomancer, Haftedmaser, Loremaster, Mage, Mimic, Mindcrafter, Monk, Necromancer, Paladin, Polearmmaster, Possessor, Priest(Eru), Priest(Manwe), Ranger, Rogue, Runecrafter, Sorceror, Summoner, Swordmaster, Symbiant, Thaumaturgist, Unbeliever, Warper, Warrior. Some of these classes are defined to variants of others: for example, the Ranger is a variant of the Archer who trades away some skills with the bow (including the Archer's exclusive ability to have an arrow pierce through multiple monsters) to gain some skills with melee weapons.
Because of the many combinations of races, classes, and modifiers, one might start a character who easily clears the first few dungeon levels, or one who almost always misses when attacking anything with a weapon.
After creating a character (if it is not a LostSoul fleeing Mandos) one find yourself in Bree. The new character immediately receive your first quest: to go to Dol Guldur to investigate the trouble in Mirkwood. However, this comes with a warning that "you are not yet ready".
Each new character carries a parchment, which explains that the easiest dungeon in the game is the Barrow-downs, the entrance to which is just west of Bree. Most characters will spend some time in town buying basic supplies before they enter the dungeon.
As in the game of Moria and game of Angband, each time you enter a dungeon depth, a new random level appears. This includes random placement of rooms and corridors. For example, if a player goes to Barrow-Downs level 1 (50 feet), then level 2 (100 feet), and then again to level 1 before returning to Bree, then the game generates three random levels. Deeper levels tend to be more difficult.
However, unlike in the vanilla game of Angband, ToME has multiple dungeons, multiple towns, and an overworld. Players, particularly those strong enough to complete the Barrow-Downs, will leave Bree, travel through the overworld, and arrive at other dungeons and towns. The other dungeons begin at a level deeper than 1 and are more difficult than the Barrow-Downs. The hope is that by progressively becoming stronger, you will eventually be able to kill Morgoth, as Fingolfin was unable to do in canon.
One gains experience points by killing monsters; gaining enough increase causes an increase in character level, and a boost in the maximum number of health points. However, unlike in vanilla Angband, an experience level does not result in an automatic increase in the skills of the character. Instead, the character receives "skill points" and visit the skills menu to individually assign each point to the skill that they want to improve.
Each character who wants to survive must also seek various resistances, immunities, and other miscellaneous traits, by finding magic items that grant them, or through other methods.
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- The Angband Ladder: ToME contains ranked character sheets of ToME players
- The (Not Yet) Comprehensive ToME 2.3.x Skill Spoiler