Feb, 04
Steeds and z-level overhaul

When creating KeeperRL I took a lot of inspiration from Nethack, and one of my memories from playing this classic roguelike was riding a tamed dragon to victory. I think steeds are a necessary component of a rich medieval fantasy world, and they bring a lot both in terms realism as well as opportunities for interesting combat mechanics (as I found out when playing Nethack). So it was only a matter of time before they made it into KeeperRL.

Well, the time has come! At the basic level the implementation is simple, and steeds are represented graphically by drawing the steed and the rider sprites slightly overlapping. Not all combinations look as good as the necromancer riding a bone dragon, shown below, but I don’t want to dwell too much on looks as it’s the game mechanics that are important in KeeperRL.

The rider inherits all movement traits from their steed, which is necessary for us to be able to ride our dragons over lava! Other than being stuck under the rider, the steed makes full use of its AI and abilities, fighting enemies and casting spells as you move around.

When we look at steeds from a base management point of view, the space of possibilities opens up, and we need to consider such topics as obtaining steeds, assigning them to riders, and the rules of when riders should mount and dismount their steeds. I wanted to avoid burdening players with a lot micromanagement, so most of the decisions will happen automatically. At the minimum, you’ll simply to recruit some horses, wolves or bats, and you’ll see your minions in saddles on your next incursion or your imps riding bats to cross water bodies.

To make it easier to obtain steeds, the game now allows capturing most non-humanoid creatures (as long as they’re not made of fire or other elusive material). I recommend catching some bats or rabbits for your imps to ride! I’ve also added a few unique, high-value steeds that you’ll find if you explore your map a bit.

It’s not obvious to me when minions should dismount their steeds, as from a mechanical point of view there is no downside to riding them everywhere, even in their own quarters. To keep some realism, your fighters will always dismount when entering the base. But what if there is an attack, should they hop back on? Perhaps a better solution will emerge with some more playtesting and player feedback.

The base-building department of KeeperRL is also getting a big update, with the availability of building and digging upwards. Level topography becomes three-dimensional, and most of previous limitations are removed, for example you can now build multiple stairs per level and even inter-level portals! Judging from my own play sessions, base-building has become much more sandboxy, and I’ve personally played with such ideas as mountainside castles or a series of towers connected by portals.

To make these changes possible, I had to shrink the base map a bit and remove some content from the ground level. This is not a bad change since there is a lot of content now spread across z-levels anyway, so there was little reason to keep a lot of enemies and resource patches on level 0. Thanks to this change all z-levels can be aligned now and staircases lead straight down, instead of to the middle of the next level. It’s very possible that I’ll add a setting to use bigger base maps in the future, as it’s mostly an issue of RAM requirements.

I also simplified roof support mechanics a lot by removing the requirement of supporting walls. Now it’s enough to designate a building interior area, and the game will consider that area roofed for the sake of building furniture or adding another floor (let’s assume that there are tiny pillars holding the roof if no wall was added). Roof support was pretty confusing for new players, and with building “up” added, even I had often trouble with figuring out why some tiles aren’t roofed. I’m therefore very happy about this change.

The Alpha 34 update is getting close to being finished, and you can expect a testing build being available on Steam pretty soon. I’ll also write another blog post about some new quality-of-life and modding features that are coming along in this patch. 2022 is looking bright :).


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There are no other games out there like KeeperRL. The game is a unique mixture of management, levelling, crafting, constructing, exploring, adventure etc. […] The possibility of interacting with other’s players monumental dungeons turn KeeperRL into one of the most promising games I’ve found.


This game is amazing! It’s challenging, fun, unique, and exactly what you might expect it to be. For an early access game it’s incredible. And the thought that there’s more to come thrills me! I can’t wait to see how this awesome game will develop even more.


Any time I touch another race, I get bent over like a cheap, overworked sex worker. I love sucking at this game so much.