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Video Game / Dungeon Master

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Dungeon Master is a 3D action CRPG published in 1987 by FTL Games for the Atari ST (and subsequently for a plethora of other platforms including MS-DOS and the Commodore Amiga).

There are a number of sequels:

  • Chaos Strikes Back, a Mission-Pack Sequel released in 1989.
  • Theron's Quest, released in 1992, which can be considered a "light" version of the original game.
  • Dungeon Master II: The Legend of Skullkeep, released in 1993 in Japan and later in its home country.
  • Dungeon Master Nexus, a Japan-only 1998 release.

Not to be confused for the common term for Game Master, or the film The Dungeonmaster.

Dungeon Master contains examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Several monsters have armour-piercing attacks, and different armour have different resistance to being pierced.
  • Commonplace Rare: Despite being a large dungeon filled with monsters, there's only the rare coin or gem. Most of these are used for puzzles, not for wealth or barter.
  • Copy Protection: The Amiga and Atari ST version has the usual "fuzzy bit" disk check, but this is supported by a few cracking countermeasures. If they're tripped, all game animations will stop a few minutes (seemingly after entering a new floor), and the party can get insta-killed simply by walking around (requiring a full restart rather than being able to reload). The former could provide some benefit in certain puzzles where a door may close. This may become more significant in Chaos Strikes Back, due to the increased use of cross-level activity.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Monsters fight at full effectiveness until they run out of hit points, whereupon they vanish in a swirl of smoke proportionate to their size, except for the ones whose remains are edible. Player characters, however, can take localized injuries that impaired their abilities (in addition to having an ordinary "hit point" meter).
  • Crutch Character: Any champion resurrected rather than reincarnated. They start with a few levels that make them quite strong in the early game, but the reincarnated characters soon catch up and end up stronger by the end.
    • This does not apply to Chaos Strikes Back, as reincarnation will significantly reduce the character's stats before applying the minor attribute bonus.
  • Door to Before: After the floor containing the firestaff is a stairwell that provides quick passage through the lower levels. Opening the stairs on a given level requires opening it from the outside with a skeleton key, except for Des (the large "arena" level) which is opened by a switch on the inside, and the bottom-most floor which requires a winged key from the inside the staircase.
  • Dungeon Crawling: A single 14-level dungeon. The first level contains the "Hall of Champions", where you select four of the 24 pre-generated characters to use as your party for the entire game.
  • Fetch Quest: The quest is to retrieve the Firestaff, but you also learn that it isn't complete.
  • Faux First Person 3D: Gives a view up to three grid-spaces away. Only orthogonal views are represented.
  • Fragile Speedster: Giant wasps.
  • Healing Potion: The second spell the game provides the recipe for filled an empty flask in the caster's hand with one of these.
  • Infinity Plus One Axe: Hardcleave.
  • Left Hanging: The ending of Dungeon Master II indicates that Chaos is still around and is going to challenge Theron again, but no other games have been made. (Other than the Japanese one)
  • Level Grinding: You don't need any monsters around to do it. Swinging a melee weapon trains your Fighter level, throwing things trained your Ninja level, and casting spells trains your Wizard or Priest levels. However, actually fighting a creature will increase the rate of your experience gain.
  • Literal Split Personality: The Grey Lord miscast a spell at the beginning of the game, turning himself into Order (Lord Libralsus) and Chaos. One beats Chaos in the first game by fusing him with Lord Libralsus back into the Grey Lord. Although later games show it wasn't permanent.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Giant scorpions.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: There's plenty of locked doors, and the party needs to locate the various keys scattered throughout the dungeon. Some of these doors can actually be moving walls, and some of these locks require using gems or coins. As usual, they're consumed upon use.
  • MacGuffin: The Firestaff and the Power Gem.
  • Mighty Glacier: Stone golems.
  • Mini-Boss: The red dragon edged into this territory.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the characters is named Zed of Banville. Zed is the default protagonist name in SunDog: Frozen Legacy, and Banville is the name of the colony being built in the game.
  • No Body Left Behind: All monsters disappear in a puff of smoke cloud upon death, dropping whatever they're carrying (if applicable) and possibly some parts of themselves. In the case of screamers and some other monsters, the parts dropped are a valuable food source.
  • Non-Entity General: Literally. The Player is Theron; the Grey Lord's apprentice; and you are invisibly guiding the PCs. The ending of the second game implies the same.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Try doing what the story within the manual says, and bring the firestaff back to Lord Librasulus on floor one - you get a very fiery case of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
  • Oculothorax: The Wizard Eye, appears on level 5, is a floating eye with eye-stalks on the top. The main eye is closed until attacking.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Plain wooden doors may be hacked open. Two doors on the second level can be hacked open, one of which is opened by a gold key (a common key type in the early dungeon.)
  • Physical God: The Grey Lord, as one of the "High Lords."
  • Point of No Return: If you retrieve the Power Gem and complete the Firestaff, you can't return to the upper levels. However, you can throw the completed firestaff over the trigger that seals off the dungeon, and explore freely as desired.
  • Puzzle Boss: Lord Chaos cannot be defeated in combat; you have to find the MacGuffin and the instructions on how to use it - create flux cages around Lord Chaos, then use Fuse on him once he cannot move.
  • The Reveal: The various scrolls on level 7, implying that Lord Order's intentions might not the best.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The aptly named Pain Rats.
  • Status Effects: Poison. Not a major problem most of the time - the recipe for the Unven (cure poison) potion is provided on level 2, before you even meet anything that inflicted poisoning.
  • Stone Wall: Rockpiles - well armoured, almost impervious to magic, very slow moving. Best fought by luring it under a closeable door.
  • Tactical Door Use: Players can open and close doors with a button on them, but most monsters cannot. Thus players can close the door to block access, or even exploit the damage from a door trying to close on a monster.
  • Useless Useful Spell: The "Zo Ven" spell turns an empty flask into a poison gas bomb. Unfortunately, the supply of flasks is strictly finite and there is nothing hard enough to kill that destroying flasks felt worthwhile.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Food and water meters for each character. There's technically an infinite supply of food (from the edible respawning monsters on level 4) and water (the water fountains scattered through the dungeon never run dry) available. Even without the infinite supply, there's plenty of food laying around. There's also a large stretch of floors where there's no supply of water. Concerning water, there are only four water skins in the entire game, and you have more important things to do with flasks.

Chaos Strikes Back contains examples of:

  • Guide Dang It!: Chaos Strikes Back is much less straightforward than the original game.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: In the prison, two party members require finding an illusionary wall, and they are mutually exclusive. Additionally, picking one of the undead themed characters will prevent you from selecting one of these secret characters (but vice-versa isn't the case.)
  • Old Save Bonus: You can import your party from the original game. Not as useful as it sounds, however, since you can quite readily complete the original game with a party that CSB's monsters will just as easily wipe the floor with.

The Legend of Skullkeep contains examples of:

  • Hijacked by Ganon: This game's story appears to be completely unrelated to that of the original game, until the cinematic at the very end that reveals that Chaos is really behind it all.
  • Human Popsicle: The Champions appear to be cryogenically frozen.
  • Magitek: Magic-powered machines appear throughout this game.