Goodbye Tolkien, hello Tales of Maj’Eyal (ToME)


Holy cats, this is seriously good. I was a bit turned off at first by the production values, but there’s enough detail and variety to make up for it, with high score lists and unlocks to keep it going. I just did a random quest to defeat a cursed warrior terrorizing a village, and when I killed him, I unlocked the cursed warrior as a playable class.

Considering all the detail, I’m a bit frustrated at what seem to be some opaque mechanics, such as how damage is determined, why my Stone Warden would want to dual wield shields, and what the heck these mindstones are for. But all these stats sure are gratifying when I understand them. I can see playing this for a loooong time to come.

Where did this thing come from?



From almost continuous development through the years.

In this genre the most played and famous these days is Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup:

If you can tolerate the style.



Oh snap, HRose pimping a competing rogue-like in the Tales of Maj’Eyal thread!

One of the things I really like in Tales is how the different class and race combos – well, the four I’ve tried so far – have distinct and imaginative gameplay mechanics. Such generous skill trees to climb around in! I don’t recall that in the other rogue-likes I’ve played.




Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup has been my favorite Roguelike. It’s a pretty good example of a polished traditional hack and is way more accessible than net hack while being deep as well.

ToME is something else. It grew out of the 'bands but that history is long behind it. I really like that all classes have abilities to fire off. Watching cool downs gives a little MMORPG vibe. No party roles, it is single player but lots of tools to pick from and ways to approach the game. I really like it.

Tom M



That’s because TOME is the only one I’m aware of that does anything like what it does. Dungeons of Dredmor has some interesting skill build flexibility but not to the same degree. Stone Wardens are, last I checked, still in beta and somewhat experimental so they’re a bit weird. Anybody can dual wield shields if they have the stats but I suspect half the reason the Stone Wardens exist are to give you an excuse to do it as anything other than a gimmick build. (They’re used as weapons and the Wardens get a bunch of shield buff skills.) Mindstars are a weapon for psionic classes. You probably don’t have any of those yet. (Again, I think anyone can use them, but most classes do better with other stuff.)



I started out as a Human Cornac Arcane Blade. It’s pretty fun, so far. I was happy with the initial challenge, just a bit shocked!

Honestly, it made me want to revisit Battle for Wesnoth, another good open source game.



Gah, what? I thought this was a completed game. I’m playing some sort of early access beta thing?

Well, there goes my interest level. Can you point me to some indication of the state of this game? From the Steam page, I thought I was playing something final. Sigh.


EDIT: I just checked and I don’t see any indication that any of this release is still in beta. Can you point me to your source, malkav?



As I understand it the game is complete but they still gradually add and improve classes. Sort of like how Illwinter will add or change nations with new patches for Dominions.

I got that from listening to a Roguelike Radio podcast a while back. Anybody feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.



It was born in fire.

It was born, like so many *bands, because someone was bored and wanted to do this one thing different (*bands/bands are what the call the many offshoots of Angband, an ancient rogue like. It was an interesting roguelike because it was a pretty good game, and because it had so many noteworthy progeny).

It was born in spite, when in a long forgotten corner of the internet, a person uttered “I just want to make a rogue like where there’s a class that can make it’s own randarts. It’ll be balanced for reasons x, y, and z”, and then he was called a fool.

It was born from ice. From the cold void of space.

It was born. . . oh fuck it.

Seriously, long history. Twas Pernband (I think it got the artificer class which made randarts back then). Then it was Tales of Middle Earth (tome!). Then it was sort of Post-Tome but still Tome (which is to say, Tome As It Was, or Tome of Yore). Then it forked again and became the precursor to what is Tome as it would be known, which is different from Tome as it was known, you know? I missed some steps and I might have gotten one of them out of order. But, this shit started going down back when Grimoire was in it’s first beta, give or take a year. Long time ago.

It wasn’t until Tome - that is, Tome that will be, Tome that Cometh, the Never Once but now Future Tome - that it got the elaborate character building mechanics. Many rogue likes have tried out variants on skill systems. Cthulhuband had what was probably the most exotic of them all, being one of the few that was not actually classed based. But the rest stuck to that tried and true formula for the most part: classes had bundles of powers, you got them as you leveled.

As such Tome - not Tome that Came Before, mind you, but the Tome That Was Prophesied ,The Tome to Come, and such - is in a pretty unique position. It has ditched it’s entire code base like 3 or 4 times (oh, hey, that’s as much as Grimoire) at this point.

Things you don’t know. . . the Tales of Msomething Ewhatever is a campaign that uses the t-4 engine. Other people have done mods (new races, new classes, new items, new quests, etc) and there’s user campaigns in the works. It goes without saying but you cannot max every skill your character has access to. And you aren’t supposed to. Each class has differnet paths to real ultimate power. Some have many. There are in-campaign things that can flesh out or radically alter your builds. There are a bunch of skill trees waiting for you to unlock them (not to mention races and classes).

The class variety and build variety is quite impressive. I’ve said it in other threads here, and in this thread, but this is a great game to add to the catalog for people who like this sort of thing.



It is. It’s version 1.10. Stop making a German spectacle of yourself.



It’s in “beta” in the way that all live roguelikes are in beta - they are always adding something to it.

So it is not really in beta. Instead, Stone Wardens are just a class that was added relatively recently, so there is still more tweaking, etc. going on than for the other classes.

I remember looking at this years and years ago when it was still actually based on the Tolkien story. It has been around forever, has been continually upgraded and refined. It isn’t a beta, it’s just always being improved (subject to the normal internet fights over whether a given change, new class, etc. is really improvement).



Every time I see this thread, all I can think is “What does Tolkein have to do with any of this?”



I think you’re kidding but just to be pedantic, the first version of ToME released in 1998. Roguelikes are weird because developers don’t really stop working on them.



It used to be a LotR themed game.



The class structure reminds me more of a strategy game than a typical rogue-like, a bit of Conquest of Elysium 3 for how the different factions play like different games. I also get a hint of that crazily intricate Teutonic character building in Sacred 2, but I haven’t survived beyond about ten levels yet to see any advanced shenanigans in action yet.

Ich bin ein jelly donut.

Excellent post before the one I just quoted. I knew it had been around for a while, but your breakdown was way more interesting than a version history. I also had no idea about the Middle Earth tie-in, so I see that Maj Eyal is a sly workaround and not just Nonsense Fantasy Words. As for whether it’s complete, I have no desire to play games in beta, but I’ve occasionally been duped into it by the imprecise line these days between “beta” and “in-progress”. As for the Stone Warden, the only info I could find was from the manual linked on Steam, which isn’t a manual at all, but a wiki. The Stone Warden entry says nothing about “this class isn’t done yet”, so I shall continue to earthvine my way through whatever content the RNG churns out.



BTW, the ToME4 Wikiseems to do a good job at laying out the combat algebra, which isn’t immediately obvious (e.g., armor reduces damage; defense improves dodge chance).



Another BTW, the Roguelike Radio podcast has a couple in-depth interviews with Dark God (I assume this is not his real name), the developer of ToME4. He goes through a great deal of the history and design philosophy behind the game.



Ooh, looking forward to listening, even though it’s a year old. Here’s the link to the actual episode. The dude’s name is Nicolas Casalini.




Thanks for this! I personally wait for what I call the once-and-future TOME, in which I can play a possessor* again.

Does anyone else find it hard to play anything other than Cormacs? The xp penalty is so punishing…

*the greatest roguelike class of all time



For those looking to go deeper, he’s actually featured in a few other episodes as well, including a discussion on the Steam Greenlight process and his game. Okay, back to actually playing.