Quick Start Walkthrough

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This Quick Start written against Alpha versions of KeeperRL. Click "Start here" if you've never played before.

  • Last checked for accuracy and being up-to-date on Alpha 23.

Start Here

Download the free KeeperRL ZIP demo file. Unzip. There is no install required. The program "keeper.exe" is simply run in place.

Alternatively, purchase the graphical and audio version from Steam.

  1. Press space on the intro to get the main menu
  2. The Main Menu will come up. The options will be "Play game", "Change settings", "View highscores", "view credits", "quit".
  3. Play the game
  4. Options are "Keeper", "Adventurer", "Tutorial", "Load game", "Go back".
  5. If this is your very first game, play the tutorial first:

--Note, some players get lost in the black unexplored area of the map when playing for the first time. --To find your keeper again, click on the Minions tab and Click on Keeper and click "Control". To centre back on the keeper press 'U'

  1. If this is not your first go, click the "keeper" button and then "confirm"

These videos explain the some of the basics of the game, but at the time of writing they are very out of date. They are really still here to show polite gratitude :) If you think it will be fun to do your own video, please edit this page with your link.

Keepers are evil tyrants who commit war crimes. If you want to be a hero, try playing an adventurer.

  • Choose your role. Choose "keeper" to begin with.

A map is generated for you and you will now be launched into the overhead view. Here you can start building your dungeon.


Claim victory by conquering all the local tribes. Next, finalise your defences and upload your map, so that adventurers and keepers belonging to other players can then invade it.

Starting position

You start with your keeper and 4 minion imps. You will occasionally see text in orange. These hints will provide you with ideas on what to do next. When playing the tutorial, there are step-by-step instructions at the bottom of the screen. Campaigns have a master map, which contain other smaller map sectors. The main villains and allies will be found on this master map. View this using the compass icon.

Game options

Press escape to view the game options. Save the game, abandon it or retire (after winning). Change graphics and sound etc. You can also pause the game at any time by pressing space. This will give you time to think and issue complex orders. If it looks like you are winning, you can increase the game speed to fast-forward it (until you are invaded). Later in the game and depending on your level of arrogance, insensitivity and violence, many hostile forces start to get worried about you.


The five menu tabs in the top left corner of the screen are as follows:

  • Construction (pickaxe icon)
  • Minions (horned face icon)
  • Research (book icon)
  • Tribes (weapons icon)
  • Help (question mark icon)
  • Campaign Map (compass icon)

Resources and resource stats

Along the bottom are your resource stats:

  • Gold
 Gained by looting enemies.
 Gained by researching geology, creating a treasure room and asking imps to mine out the yellow tiles. 
  • Wood
 Gained by creating a resource stockpile and asking your imps to cut trees.

  • Iron
 Gained by researching geology, creating a resource stockpile and asking imps to mine out the iron tiles.
  • Steel
 Gained by building a furnace and smelting iron.
  • Stone
 Gained by researching geology, creating a resource stockpile and asking imps to mine out the white stone tiles.
  • Mana
 Gained by committing genocide against a tribe on the map.
 Gained by studying in the library if this option is turned on in "free-play" mode.

These resources are what is needed to build things in the dungeon. Mana is also used for researching technologies. (Under the resource stats you can also see your population limit, which turn you are in and how much daylight or night is remaining)

Advanced players may loot enemy dungeons by controlling an imp and carrying resources back to base. (Imps can carry endless items in their magic pockets because they have no maximum weight limit). When an enemy is entirely defeated, you can select the tribes tab and use the pillage option to loot the enemy instead.

Building Your First Dungeon

The main benefit of playing a keeper is that you can build a dungeon. Adventurers can only invade dungeons.

The first thing to do is simply start digging! On the top right are the various action icons. The pickaxe icon (the leftmost one) gives you the orders you can give your imps. The top one is called "Dig or cut tree". Select that one and have the imps start digging.

You can be as creative as you want when it comes to designing the layout of your dungeon. The imps dig fairly quickly if they are not mining ores; stick to the plain black area and they can dig large rooms in a short time. You can hold down shift with the mouse and draw out rectangles, too. Hold down the CTRL key and drag to cancel blocks of orders shown on the map.


Various constructions are possible. Construct items by clicking on the pickaxe icon. Select squares for your imps to dig and cut. Assign dungeon squares for storage of resources and items. Build treasure rooms, dormitories, training rooms, libraries, workshops, forges, furnaces, laboratories, jewellers, ritual rooms, beast lairs, graveyards, prisons and torture chambers. The selected construction will highlight in green. Click on map squares to give the orders.


Use the orders menu from the construction tab to claim tiles, fetch items, prioritise tasks and remove construction. The selected option will highlight in green. Click on the map squares to issue the orders. You can set up forbidden zones and this is the best way to stop your creatures angering nearby inhabitants or to keep them locked in a room out of trouble.

It is possible to reinforce walls and block in tunnels, although it is generally a bad idea to cut yourself off from the outside world completely (If invaders can't get in, they will dig to destroy your walls, which is usually worse than giving them an "easy" way in strewn with traps). Some creatures like ants and dwarves sometimes prefer to dig their way in anyway.


Some installations require research to do. Install doors, bridges, barricades, torches, eyeballs and your prisoner heads in like fashion. You can also install various traps.

Message boards can be built by Keepers and can be posted to by the public.

Building Rooms and Gathering Resources

Create storage rooms by clicking the "Storage" icon under the orders menu, then mark out the space. The floor will change colour. You normally want both resource and equipment storage. There is currently no limit to the amount you can store on one tile, so you can design it how you like. You can also store resources outside the dungeon.

Now that you have a storage space allocated, you can have the imps start cutting down trees. Use the "Dig or cut tree" option, dig out the mountain, and also mark trees. Do some mining. Rocks inside the mountain will be visible. A treasure chest will give you somewhere to store the gold, but be careful, bandits will scry your wealth.

Summoning Extra Imps

Whenever you have enough gold, the keeper can summon more imps. Simply click on the imp icon on your immigration panel. I usually add 4 more imps, for a total of 8, very near the beginning of the game, because this greatly speeds up your ability to dig and gather resources. I then usually add 4 more later on in the game but 12 total seems like enough for me to get things done. I'd rather save my gold for other things later.

Library and Research

The next thing you probably want to build is a library. The library is crucial because the keeper needs it to research any new techologies.

Have the imps dig out another room, usually at least 10x20 but it can be bigger. Make sure you have some wood stockpiled as well.

Then simply build your library in that space from the orders menu. You need a large library to research advanced skills and at this point wood is plentiful so go ahead and build a large library, 10x10 at least. The bookshelves will get in your way, so place them one-by-one at suitable locations. The keeper will usually immediately move to the library and spend most of the time there.

Now that the library is built you can start researching skills. Under the "Research" menu, there is an item called "Library". Clicking on this brings up a list of all the technologies the your dungeon has acquired, and also the technologies available to learn. Some techs only become available by unlocking prerequisite ones, or by finding books in the outside world.

If you remembered your tutorial steps, you will have attracted some basic creatures to your dungeon already, and killed a few easy enemies.

You should have enough mana at this point to research some of the technologies, which you can experiment with.


You need to build other rooms to attract monsters into your dungeon. Some minions will set up home with you if you just give them a dormitory to rest in. Other monsters would like places to train, or build things. Build a graveyard to keep corpses and you may be able to raise the dead. Other types of undead will come to practice rituals in a ritual room. Animals are attracted into cages, where they can sleep (You may not want too many of those at this stage, although cave bears are quite tough and flying beasts will add their superior line-of-sight to a party).

Direct Control of a Minion

Select the minions icon (the horned face) to see a list of your current types of minion and other minion information. Click on each type of minion to see a list of each individual creature and their level. Click on any individual creature to see the minion management screen where you can control them. There are a list of extra commands when inside a minion, such as casting spells. After taking over a minion's will, press "u" to return to the "dark god" mode.

Press 't' to travel to other map sectors on the campaign map. Note that it is possible to select a whole team of minions, control them and invade. To do this, click on the team on the left panel of the minions tab, then select a team member and click "control". Press 'g' to manage every move of each team member and to toggle that feature off again.

Options on the minion management screen

You can banish, whip, directly control, rename, assign activities, assign equipment, lock equipment and view spells.

Population limit

There is always a maximum population limit that your dungeon can hold and this is displayed on the bottom right of the screen. Any dungeon can support a population of 10 creatures plus imps. You can attract and command more creatures by building various rooms. Impressive statues of yourself always increase the lure of your dungeon by 1 population. However, a decent statue costs gold or mana (depending on which version you are playing). Your monsters will not take your gold for themselves but you can offer them food in a pigsty to lure in another 4 creatures. When you are ready, you can build a throne for yourself and gain command of up to 10 more minions. Note that your dungeon size makes the forces of goodness feel threatened. Setting up a throne for yourself is totally offensive to many tribes, good and bad.

Population management

You may need to enforce discipline using a whipping post and keep them happy by letting them get a piece of the combat action. Also, some creatures may outlive their usefulness. You have the option to banish them or send them on a suicide mission. Some keepers like to possess weak creatures and then drown the in a lake or river. Other players throw things at them, use them as target practice and kill them that way (It is possible to get some experience from them, but you should expect them to turn hostile and try to fight back).


You will have to travel to other map sectors to find the bases belonging to most of the bigger tribes and to do that, you will need to control a team or minion (see "Direct Control of a Minion").

Click on the weapons icon to see information about other known tribes. Destroying a tribe will yield mana and allow you to pillage. Full conquest of all the tribes will allow you to retire victorious (only to be invaded by other players).

The world we live in is inhabited by many creatures. For example, you may meet bandits, dragons, dwarves, elves, lizardmen, humans, spiders, scorpions, gnomes, undead, dark elves, minotaur, hydras, giant ants, elementalists, witchmen, kobolds, driads and cyclops... (there are a few more). Some creatures will hold you to ransom and attack you if you don't pay. You can usually see the reason an attacker is assaulting you on the tribes tab. There are allies you can recruit and shops where you can trade.

The "righteous" tribes will be happy to genocide your kind, actually. Your role and allies are defined at the beginning of the game. However, most tribes can be provoked further by attacking or stealing things from them, setting yourself up as a king or queen, hoarding piles of gold etc.). If you are feeling really submissive, you can even pay them tribute to avoid any confrontation, however a showdown is inevitable eventually.

Equipping an army

When you have a decent population of creatures with different skills and you have enough resources, it is worth thinking about equipment. You have two options here:

  • Production queues

Some rooms will provide you with a production queue on the research tab. Here you can command production of weapons, armour, ammunition, jewelry, potions and some other things. It will cost resources, but your creatures are generally happy to produce these if they have the skills.

  • Looting

2) Some equipment can be got from invaders. You can also control a creature and go on a rogue-like assault of a hostile force nearby to get loot.

Training an army

Some creatures learn spells in the library. Others gain levels by training against dummies in the training room and/or through real combat. Some creatures can train and learn spells, some can do neither. Better training facilities will get better results.


Rumours about your dungeon will spread as it grows. These will attract recruits but can also attract invaders. Invaders may be out to plunder your gold, gain combat experience or just to assassinate your keeper. Invaders may carry useful items to loot and can also help you gain combat experience. If you are overpowered by an invading force, such as a dragon you may need to evacuate your keeper out of a back door. Sometimes invaders may call off an assault. Most invaders are capable of tracking your keeper across the map.

Exploring the Map

Directly control a minion by taking over its will. Explore the map using the arrow keys. Kill local monsters and tribes by commanding a party. New teams are set up by clicking "New team" on the minions tab. Then select individual creatures to add them to the team. Select the minion you want to lead your party and click command to control them. Think carefully before trying to loot a dragon's hoard or waking up a cyclops. Wolves naturally form their own teams. Some nocturnal animals will want to go out at night to hunt and also have good night vision.

Be careful while exploring, as you may bump into an unexpected situation. If you are lucky you will find friendly tribes you can recruit. You will also come across major enemies that you must defeat to win the game. Minor enemies that you can tolerate but may attack you occasionally and also small random settlements such as villages and inhabited caves, which will not be able to counter-attack against you. There are forest animals such as deer, foxes and boars. Don't get killed by a dog while wandering about at level 5 with no weapons and armour!

Winning the game

Some monsters that you meet will be pleased to join your forces. Others will be hostile to you and perhaps hostile to the other settlements. Note that you may tolerate the existence of minor pests such as an old crazy cyclops. You must wipe out all the major forces on the tribes tab. There are some monsters such as dragons that may die when they invade you. You will normally need to go on the offensive at some point by forming a team and controlling a minion directly to kill all your rivals. Then you will get given a score, and that's how to become a notorious villain in the world of KeeperRL.

Don't forget to retire your dungeon (over an internet connection) to provide other people with the pleasure of bringing you to justice.