Larn Screenshot

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Revisiting ULarn

Ularn for Windows
So I had a strange yen to play ULarn again.  For the most part, I prefer the original Larn.  In fact I keep a UNIX account that I've had since 1992 mostly because the version of FreeBSD that they're running still includes Larn.  To me Larn is like Chess, where the pieces all have certain abilities and you can actually succeed with a good strategy regardless of your character's weapons or level.

ULarn is more like a video game and has several changes from the original Larn.  There are 15 levels to the Dungeon and 5 levels to the Volcano.  You get more Mobuls to beat the game because of this expansion.  If you want to read all about the differences, check out which has links to various versions of the game as well as the original README. 

Playing ULarn requires a different gameplan than regular Larn.  The book and chest that you buy from the store are actually worth less than they cost, unlike the original Larn where you can buy the book for 2000 and sell it for 9115, or buy the chest for 5900 and sell it for 10406 and instantly have some good seed money for your adventuring.  On the flip side, however, the books and chests in Ularn are MUCH more valuable.  In my old Volcano Lottery strategy I would save enough money to safely traipse around the Volcano looking for Books and Chests until I had enough to buy the Lance of Death before descending past level 3 in the Dungeon.  You don't have to do that in Ularn because just one book is worth over 100,000 gold and one chest from V1 is 300,000 gold.

Also, it's disappointing somewhat that the magic items from classic Larn (The Scarab of Spirit Protection, Orb of Dragon Slaying, Cube of Undead Control) are nigh worthless in the trading post.  The Scarab has also been nerfed a bit and only works 50% of the time vs Nagas and other spirit creatures.  

Furthermore, the Altars in ULarn will much MUCH more frequently add +2 to your weapons and armor for donating a tithe of your money.  You can drop your gold in stacks of 500 and donate 50 each time and by spending less than 2000 gold you can often have your weapons and armor up to +9.  You can also wield your rings/belts of striking, and get them up to level 9.  Once they are up to level 9, though, you have to make sure not to read any scrolls of enchant armor/weapon or your items will turn to dust!  This is one innovation that I really hated when I first encountered it, however it's balanced out by the fact that the Altars give out enchantments so easily.

One of the fundamental differences between ULarn and Larn are the addition of classes.  (Wizard, Elf, Rogue, etc).  These affect your starting equipment, spells, and stats.  I tend to like the "Klingon" class, which has goods strength and intelligence but lacks wisdom and charisma.  They also start out with a random potion, studded leather armor, and the spell Sonic Spear.  For a challenge, there is the Rambo class, where you play a character whose stats are all 3, with no armor, and a single hit point.  BUT you start out with the Lance of Death.  This is a fun class to play and a challenge.  Surviving enough to get money to buy armor, a potion of strength (which jumps to 12) but not being able to easily cast spells.  (in fact, I tend to buy a ring of cleverness and donate 50 gold to the altar repeatedly to try to get it up to +9).

Finally, instead of bats, the game is infested with Lemmings.  These are very hard to hit, especially when you're starting out, and if you hit them and miss, or move away from them, they will multiply.  I had a game once when playing the Rambo class where the home level was so full of lemmings that I couldn't get into any of the buildings.  I had to basically run in straight lines killing them as they multiplied until I was high enough level to cast magic missile and kill enough of them to get back into the dungeon.  I did discover that if you take them down a dead end corridor you can kill them without them multiplying.

Overall, ULarn is fun for a change.  It can be frustrating trying to collect all the magic items you need to beat the game.  The Eye of Larn is now a magic item that gives you the ability to see the otherwise invisible Demons.  (of which there are dozens spread throughout the lower levels of the Dungeons and the Volcano).  However except for the lower level Demons, you have to find another weapon, called Slayer, to kill them.  It's annoying when you go all over the Dungeons and Volcano and can't find that weapon.  There is one other weapon, the Vorpal Blade that isn't in the Readme.  I'm not sure what abilities it has. I still prefer Classic Larn because it's more pure, but there is one advantage that ULarn has:  you can back up your game.  Classic UNIX Larn will detect if you try to copy your Larn.sav back into the directory and it will either not allow you back into the game (you die a post-mortem death when you try to get into the game) or it will popup and say the .sav file has been copied, but since the game is a good sport they'll let you finish but leave you off the scoreboard.  ULarn lets you save your game, copy your save game to another folder, and paste it back to restore.  It can come in handy when you're trying to get that PER spell from the magic lamp or hoping for WTW or VPR or some other useful spell from a book.

I will stick to Classic Larn, but I'm not afraid to get out ULarn for a different kind of fun from time to time.


Master Gorgon said...

Aha, the Vorpal Blade will randomly behead creatures when you are doing a hit. Makes sense. :)

cdonham said...

I wrote a new version that is very similar, but not quite the same as ularn. For example, if you rinse in a fountain, in my version it will clean you of irritation that was causing you to remove your armor.

Free version is on Amazon for the Kindle. (go onto and search for dlarn or ularn)

Master Gorgon said...

Cool. I'll give it a try. Thanks for posting. :)

cdonham said...

So I've migrated from the Kindle to Android. dLarn, complete with better graphics, animation, and sound can be found on:

Master Gorgon said...

Allrighty, I'll give it a shot and post a review. Been a while since I had something new to post anyway :)