Checkmate!

It’s not the most ambitious plan out there, but I’ve always liked the connection between permadeath in Roguelikes and checkmate in Chess.  It’s easy to think of check as a restriction, but it isn’t: failure to respond would lead to the king’s death.  By forbidding stupid deaths, more interesting outcomes emerge, on average.

So why not implement check and checkmate in a Roguelike?

For every valid player move, the game can save state and run until the next player turn; if the rogue ends up dead, the move is checked.  The rogue cannot quaff an unidentified potion of Death.  The rogue cannot step into Medusa’s gaze, even when she remains undetected.  The rogue cannot, in poor health, step on a hidden trap of Impaling.

Major enemies can be drawn from any of the games in the Chaturanga family, and the rogue himself moves just like a king.

4 thoughts on “Checkmate!”

  1. This sounds very entertaining. If I understand correctly, you’re not actually using chess-like moves, but rather creating a “normal” roguelike with chess-like death requirements, right?

    I think you’ll need to make the game significantly more deadly than normal for a roguelike to make this work. If I can make a recommendation, I think persisting threats like rolling boulder traps and lingering clouds of fire would be the best way to up the danger in a way that limits moves to make checkmate possible.

  2. That’s right, Squash Monster (and thank you!). I might include some enemies in the endgame who move like chess pieces, for flavor, or give you an ally that you can move instead of yourself, but that doesn’t seem like it will fit into a week.

    It’s funny, because monsters that can one-hit kill you are early game material; monsters that wear you down slowly are more dangerous, like losing pawns in chess, because you’re giving up the flexibility that you will need later. If I have time to give the game this much structure, I want the start to feel very much like a puzzle game, the midgame to feel a little more traditional, and the endgame to feel like chess. That probably won’t happen in a week, either.

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