Mordor: The Depths of Dejenol

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Let he who ventures into the mines know that without skills, death is certain, and with skills, riches are vast and never-ending -- but death will still hover over you."
—"Maxx," Master of the Villain's Guild.

Released in 1995, Mordor: The Depths of Dejenol is a role-playing game for the PC created by David Allen. Referred to as "Mordor" for short, this game does not take place in Tolkien's 'verse, but uses a similar fantasy setting as its backdrop. The storyline is that a great evil has appeared in the mines underneath the village, and brave adventurers from across the world have come to Dejenol to destroy its cause forever.

Of course, nearly everyone who plays it will forget that there even was a storyline due to its addictive gameplay. The game's quick-paced and easy-to-use interface is learned very quickly, which makes it ideal for flexible playing in short bursts or for hours on end. It can best be described as a single-player MMORPG: players create characters formed from one of the 9 different races and can join one or more of the 12 guilds within the city. The player can create multiple characters and join them together as a combat party for safety in the dungeon, or team up with other players' characters, sharing the treasure between them (up to 4 characters at a time). Interestingly, the game acts as a shared world; if one player finds a piece of equipment in the dungeon and sells it to the store, another player will find it and be able to buy it.

The game is split between the town and the dungeon. The town contains the bank, the shop, the guild halls where one can level up, the morgue where the character can be raised from the dead if when killed, and the confinement center where the player can buy creatures to use as battle companions alongside any other player-created characters. The dungeon, the all-encompassing hostile world of Mordor, has 15 different floors of rapidly-increasing difficulty. Combat is automatic; as soon as the player enters a room full of hostile monsters, battle will initiate until one of the two parties is dead, although players can run away from combat. With little effort to no effort, a player can run through the dungeon and score up great treasure and experience, hence the game's addictive playing style. Fully exploring the dungeon requires an incredible investment of time due to the game's rapidly scaling difficulty.

An official shareware demo, allowing full access of the first three floors, can be downloaded online.

Tropes used in Mordor: The Depths of Dejenol include:
  • Alt-Itis: Because a player can form entire teams of different characters, and because characters can die permanently, early stages of the dungeon will be a frequent sight. Some long-time players have the entire first floor of the dungeon mapped out in their heads.
  • Back Stab: This Critical Hit counterpart for Thieves, Ninjas and certain other Guilds allows them to hit for up to two or three times normal damage.
  • Combos: Many guilds and weapons give the ability to strike more than once in a turn, if the character kills an enemy with each strike. If the struck enemy is not dead, the extra swings do not come into play.
  • Critical Hit: The Warrior Guild and its splinter guilds teach this abundantly.
  • Destroyable Items: Certain monsters and occasionally traps on treasure chests will spew out acid, destroying one of the character's items if they're powerful enough.
  • Difficulty Spike: Every once in a while on lower floors, the player will encounter instakill monsters such as Giant Leeches or Zbrats. Some players don't even get a good look at these monsters before dying a gruesome death.
  • Excuse Plot: A demon has appeared in the mines below the town, and now you're found among many adventurers who want the glory and treasure found below.
  • Final Death: All races have a maximum age cap. As the player nears this age through such things as age-progressing traps and healing, the chance of dying forever increases.
  • Monster Allies: Each character in a team can buy and have up to four monster companions, who each use their respective attacks and abilities. The Mage class can charm monsters and sell them to Confinement, or keep them as companions.
  • Ninja Looting: Since treasure stays around after the player signs out, the next person can go out and find abandoned treasure if the respawn cycle hasn't made it disappear yet.
  • Pit Trap: A constant danger in the dungeon, they become increasingly more powerful in each descending floor. Many can kill a character if in bad shape already.
  • Random Encounters: Although the dungeon layout is pre-mapped and static, every single encounter therein is completely random and unpredictable. Nearly every room will have something living (or undead!) in it.
  • Respawning Enemies: Certain monsters, such as the Aboleth on Floor 1, have their own "lair." They can only be found in this lair and will reappear there some time after death.
  • Sand Is Water: Not only can the characters start drowning in quicksand, they can accidentally drop items in and lose them forever.
  • Take Your Time: The enemy below the town threatens the world's existence, but never actually poses a threat. The game will continue indefinitely and nothing will ever happen.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The entire basis of the game. There is no time limit, no real objectives other than to explore farther and farther in the dungeon, becoming more powerful than anyone known.