Contents

Dungeon Master Overview

Description

Dungeon Master was the best selling product of all time on the Atari ST (and possibly on the Commodore Amiga as well) and won virtually every major award (see below) when it was first released in 1987, including the first ever Special Award for Artistic Achievement from Computer Gaming World. It established a new standard for Fantasy Role-Playing games. Dungeon Master was eventually released on over a dozen different platforms in six languages.

Dungeon Master was developed on Atari ST and released on December 15, 1987. It was then ported to many other platforms, starting with the Apple II GS and then the Amiga (see Don Jordan page at mobygames.com). Other ports were also made for PC, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, X68000, PC-9801 and FM-Towns. Dungeon Master on Atari ST was developed in Megamax C with much of the graphic code in assembly as mentioned in this Interview of Wayne Holder (February 1988).
The original game was in English. It was translated to German, French, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Chinese and Korean versions were available only on PC.
In Europe, the game was first released by Mirrorsoft and later re-released by Psygnosis.

I gathered the Dungeon Master reference information you will find on this site by playing with the PC version of Dungeon Master, and by using the DMute for PC v1.4 editor.

Versions comparison

Here are some differences between the versions of the game:

  • Sounds: The PC, Atari ST and X68000 versions have mono sounds. The Amiga, Apple II GS and SNES versions have stereo sounds.
    In Dungeon Master for Atari ST and for X68000, there is no sound when creatures move in the dungeon and when you use War Cry or Blow Horn.
  • In earlier versions of the game (Atari ST, Amiga v2.0, ...), you cannot drink straight from the water fountains, you have to use a Flask or a Waterskin. In the Amiga v3.6 version, you just have to click on the fountain to drink. Also in these versions, you cannot click on walls. In the Amiga v3.6 version, real walls will produce some sound while fake walls will be silent.
  • PC: The PC version is the only one that has music on the first screen (with the Enter / Resume buttons), and an endgame animation.
  • Atari ST: The Atari ST v1.0 and v1.1 versions are the only ones where Lock Picks can be found in the Dungeon: Alex Ander has one, and another is at (06,10,06). In v1.2 Alex Ander's lockpicks were replaced with a sling and the picks found in the dungeon removed. In v1.2, Nabi The Prophet also has the same items as in the PC version. [Information completed by Jason (jgtcheng@canada.com)]
  • Apple II GS: The Apple II GS version is the only one that has the Kid dungeon. A slightly different kid dungeon file is also present on the Amiga floppy disk for version 2.2, but it cannot be started with a keyboard shortcut like on the Apple IIGS version.
  • X68000: The X68000 version has a larger screen view than others.
  • PC-9801: The color palette is more limited than in other versions: creature graphics use less colors making some of them look strange, and there are only 3 light levels.
  • SNES: The SNES version is the only one that has an introduction sequence. It also has music during the game.
  • FM-Towns: The FM-Towns version has CD Audio music during the game. That music was also released as a stand alone Audio CD - Dungeon Master The Album.

Dungeon Master teaser demo on Atari ST

In June 1986 a non-interactive Dungeon Master demo teaser disk for Atari ST was released to industry people and magazines during the summer CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Chicago. The demo is quite short and features the FTL swoosh animation, the opening of the dungeon doors, a scrolling teaser text and some movement in a dungeon with doors and pits.

Screenshots
Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 01 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 02 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 03 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 04 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 05 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 06 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 07 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 08 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 09 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 10 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 11 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 12 Dungeon Master for Atari ST - Teaser Demo Screenshot 13
Scrolling text
Here is the complete text of the demo:
 Ah, so the Firestaff has
  called yet another band
        together....
 
 Do you know the legends,
   gentles?  Or have you
 stumbled in for destiny's
          sake?
 
For listen:
 
  A comet's tail ago, the
Dungeonmaster walked these
worlds.  A being of chaos,
 neither good nor evil, he
 ruled his kingdoms with
fearsome antics, puzzles,
 and voids, and roamed far
and wide to gather mysteries
 and treasures.  One such
 was the Firestaff Itself.
 
 The Firestaff!  Living,
 ancient thing, drawing to
  Itself a hero when It
   pleases.  Some say the
Dungeonmaster was the first
to meet Its challenge--that
 fierce Lord but a pawn in
 the destiny of the Fire-
staff, Its purpose cloaked
   in shadow.  That the
  Firestaff compelled the
  Dungeonmaster to create
these catacombs, and to lock
 up his treasure in fabled
       puzzle vaults.
 
    And that it is the
  Firestaff that bids you
  here, to test you in the
  Dungeonmaster's mazes.
That if you succeed--if you
live to gather treasure, to
  fight the horrors within
 that Chaos has sired--the
  Firestaff will make you
   more than you are now,
something new and wondrous
  so that It may use you in
  other, grander, designs.
 
  The legend pleases you?
You accept the challenge of
  the dreaded Firestaff?
 
 
 
 Then enter the vaults of
 the mighty Dungeonmaster!
DM-AtariST-TeaserDemo.7z DM-AtariST-TeaserDemo.7z
This archive contains the Atari ST demo (DUNGEON.PRG and DEMO.DAT) and a video of the demo as a Windows executable (Smacker).
The demo can run in an Atari ST emulator, or you can watch the video on Windows. Note that the video has no sound but since the demo only has the swoosh sound on the FTL logo, you don't lose much.
Animated GIF
Gambit made an Animated GIF file of the Dungeon Master for Atari ST teaser demo that you can watch directly in your browser.

Dungeon Master preview demo on Amiga

Dungeon Master Demo for Amiga (English) Dungeon Master Demo for Amiga (English)
[Supplied by dmman]
This demo version was released in 1988 by FTL.

It seems to be derived from version 2.0 of the full game: the string V2.0 can be found in the executable but is not visible anywhere while playing.
Main differences with the full game:

  • The demo dungeon is tiny but it allows you to experience the gameplay for a few minutes.
  • Many graphics and sounds of the full game were replaced by empty placeholders in the graphics.dat. For example, the only remaining creature graphics are the Mummy, Screamer and Skeleton. However, there is only one skeleton in the demo dungeon and no other creature.
  • There is no copy protection and no ability to save and resume the game.

The post below may indicate that there was another version of the demo dungeon as it mentions fighting a Mummy and two skeletons (there is only one skeleton and no Mummy in the demo available above), there is no torch in the dungeon and there are no stairs.

From http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=16560 :
I am searching for the official Dungeon Master playable preview-version by FTL which must have been released in 1987/88.
The preview was on one floppydisk, and it started up like the full version. At the entrance of the dungeon there was a scroll lying on the ground including the message "dungeon master preview" (or something like that). When you opened the door and entered the dungeon, you were able to choose 4 characters (repertory of characters was not as big as in the full version). The preview showed some basic actions like opening doors, using torches, eating, drinking, and so on. A mummy appeared somewhere downstairs and later on you had to fight against two skeletons having swords and shields. Opening the last door, a scripture with "coming soon!" (or something similar) appeared.
I know for 100% that this preview existed, unfortunately I deleted it when I got the full version.

Unreleased versions

CDTV

Here is an excerpt of 'The Definitive CDTV Retrospective: Part II' by Peter Olafson:
Dungeon Master (FTL): FTL president Wayne Holder reports the developer largely completed the CDTV conversion of this seminal dungeon crawl, only to be stymied by the inability to obtain reliable info from CBM on saving games to memory cards.
This was to be a moderately enhanced version with improved music and animation and a special animation player. It was never formally canceled; it just never surfaced. Some of the technology has surfaced in subsequent Amiga products (like Chaos Strikes Back), and for some time afterward, FTL continued to hold out hope it could complete the port.
"But things never came together at Commodore," Holder indicated. "So, I suppose, it ended with a whimper rather than a bang."

Macintosh

Dungeon Master was ported to Macintosh but never released.

Dungeon differences between Atari ST and PC versions

Here are some differences in the dungeon between the Atari ST and the PC versions.
In the Atari ST version:

  • At (00,16,08), the champion Alex Ander has Lock Picks. In the PC version, he has a Sling instead.
  • At (00,17,09), the champion Nabi The Prophet has no item. In the PC version, he has: Staff, Tunic, Blue Pants, Sandals.
  • At (01,29,25) and (01,04,30), there is nothing. In the PC version, two rocks were added.
  • At (05,11,23) and (05,11,27), there is nothing. In the PC version, two groups of skeletons were added, behind walls that are opened when you walk on both sides of the door at (05,10,20). Two other groups of skeletons were added in the room.
  • At (05,26,10), the dungeon mechanism used for the teleporters on both sides of the door is very different between the two versions, although it is invisible to the player.
  • At (06,10,06), there are Lock Picks that were removed in the PC version.
  • At (11,43,31), the moveable wall was replaced by a door in the PC version.

Traces of early designs

  • On pages 6 and 9 of the Dungeon Master Manual (Original release) there are pictures of a some wand or staff which is not in the final game. It may be an early design for another item.
  • Several items were designed but not fully implemented (like several potions) or used in the dungeon (like Lock Picks, The Conduit, Hexhelm, PowerTowers, ...). See the Dungeon Master Items page and look for items that are "Only available by hacking" (this page lists items for the PC version of Dungeon Master only). Note that some of these items were used only in specific versions of the game or later in CSB.
  • If you look at the screenshot on the back cover of the box on the scans from the Dungeon Master for Amiga page, you can notice several things that are not in the final version:
    • The text message "Syra's spell fizzles and dies" was changed in the final version.
    • Alex has no left hand. You can produce this no hand effect by loading up a hand with one of the 'hidden' potions that weren't finally implemented in the game through an editor like DMute. [Information by Beowuuf (beowuuf@yahoo.com)]
  • The Firestaff: In the graphics.dat file, three objects called "The Firestaff" are defined. The third variation is not used in the game and the corresponding graphic is blank.
  • Staff Of Claws: In the graphics.dat file, three objects called "Staff Of Claws" are defined. The third variation is not used in the game but it has a corresponding graphic with a different color than the other variations.
  • Dragon Spit: Each weapon has an associated attack list, consisting of one to three attacks. This is defined in the properties of each weapon. Strangely, there is an attack list (#34) that is not used by any weapon in the game. It consists of the following attacks: "Swing", "Parry", and "Spit". The Spit attack is programmed to launch a powerful fireball. Here is an extract of an ascii dump made with CSBwin (Byte3 was added by rain` and is the attack list number associated to the item):
    Object Index 61 = Weapon Type 38 Byte3 31 Object Type = 62 = STAFF OF IRRA
    Object Index 62 = Weapon Type 39 Byte3 32 Object Type = 63 = CROSS OF NETA
    Object Index 63 = Weapon Type 40 Byte3 33 Object Type = 64 = SERPENT STAFF
    Object Index 64 = Weapon Type 41 Byte3 5 Object Type = 65 = DRAGON SPIT
    Object Index 65 = Weapon Type 42 Byte3 35 Object Type = 66 = SCEPTRE OF LYF
    Object Index 66 = Weapon Type 43 Byte3 36 Object Type = 135 = HORN OF FEAR

    It seems very likely that attack list #34 was designed for the Dragon Spit but was not used in the released versions, probably because such a powerful weapon would have compromised the balance of the game. [Supplied by rain`]
  • Dungeon Master for Amiga version 3.6: On the language selection screen, remove the floppy disk from the drive before choosing a language. The game will ask you to insert the Chaos Strikes Back floppy disk!
    This is because the 3.6 version is based on previous version of Chaos Strikes Back for Amiga, and they forgot to update the picture for the error message.
    There are some other mistakes in the graphics.dat file. When put on the floor, the Bow from Linflas' inventory or also located at (03,10,09) looks like the Claw Bow from Chaos Strikes Back instead of the correct graphics from Dungeon Master.
    If you extract all data from the graphics.dat file, you will find that the images used by the automap from Chaos Strikes Back are still present. [Supplied by Johnny Grasset]

Dungeon Master Hint Disk

FTL created an official hint disk for Dungeon Master. But it was never released and instead the engine was used in Chaos Strikes Back for the Hint Oracle found on the Utility Disk.

Here is what Richard Alan Kaapke wrote on October 22, 1988 in a Post about the official Dungeon Master hint disk in comp.sys.atari.st:
"There will be little, if any, printed materials with the Dungeon Master Hint Disk. FTL is working hard to get release 1.0 out the door, and is stymied by the project's programmer who has gotten bogged down with college again....
You will either have a release 1.3 of Dungeon Master that has a HINT or HELP button at the front gate, or the disk will boot up and read your saved game file and comment on it. It is context sensitive, cleverly scripted ;-), and very informative. No graphical information is scheduled to be shown. The rendering method for text, background art, other effects, user interface, etc., is quite nice. No price presently."

In this Post from Richard Kaapke in comp.sys.atari.st, his signature explains his role within FTL Games:
Richard Kaapke, voice of the Running Giggler "Heh-HEE-ha-ha!"
Consultant to, NOT spokesman for, FTL games
Creative writer for FTL games' Dungeon Master Hint disk (RSN)

Dungeon Master Hint Disk screenshot published in French TILT Magazine #65 (April 1989) on page 18
Dungeon Master Hint Disk screenshot published in French TILT Magazine #65 (April 1989) on page 18
[Supplied by Abandonware Magazines]

Dungeon Master Awards

The following table is a list of awards that Dungeon Master won. It was taken from Daniel Durgan's web site (The Un-Official Dungeon Master Web Site, now disappeared). Daniel got it from the FTL homepage.

Organization Award name
Computer Play Magazine Game of the Year 1988
Computer Play Magazine Best Atari ST Game 1988
France's 4th Generation Magazine Game of the Year 1988
UK Software Industry Awards Adventure Game of the Year 1988
UK Software Industry Awards Best Selling Atari ST title 1988
Tilt Magazine Best Role Playing Game 1988
Tilt Magazine Best Sound effects 1988
PowerPlay Magazine (Germany) Best Role Playing Game 1988
The Adventureer's Club of the UK "Golden Sword" Award 1988
The Adventureer's Club of the UK Best Role Playing Game 1988
Dragon Magazine "Beastie Award"
Dragon Magazine Best Atari ST title 1988
Computer Gaming World Magazine Special Artistic Achievement Award 1988
Game Player's Magazine Best Amiga Game 1989
Datormagazin Best Amiga Game 1989
Amiga World Magazine Best Game 1989
Amiga World Magazine Best Role Playing Game 1989
Computer Gaming World Retired to the "Hall of Fame" Nov. 1989 after nearly a year
in the number one position on their charts.
Dragon Magazine Best Apple IIGS title 1989
Info Magazine Best Game 1989
Compute Magazine Best of the Amiga 1989
Power Play magazine 100 Best Games

When released in Japan in 1990, Dungeon Master went on to win additional awards and set new sales records.

Advertisements

Japanese advertisement for Dungeon Master
Japanese advertisement for Dungeon Master
[Supplied by X680x0 repository]
Dungeon Master for Atari ST Advertisement published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #50 January 1988, Page 75
Dungeon Master for Atari ST Advertisement published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #50 January 1988, Page 75
[Source: Abandonware Magazines]
Dungeon Master for Atari ST Advertisement published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #51 February 1988, Page 29
Dungeon Master for Atari ST Advertisement published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #51 February 1988, Page 29
[Source: Abandonware Magazines]
Dungeon Master for Atari ST Advertisement published in British magazine 'Advanced Computer Entertainment (ACE)', Issue #8, May 1988, Page 25
Dungeon Master for Atari ST Advertisement published in British magazine 'Advanced Computer Entertainment (ACE)', Issue #8, May 1988, Page 25
[Supplied by Pierre Monnot, Source: Old Computer Mags]
Dungeon Master for Atari ST / Amiga Advertisement published in Italian magazine 'The Game Machine', Issue #1, September 1988, Page 3
Dungeon Master for Atari ST / Amiga Advertisement published in Italian magazine 'The Game Machine', Issue #1, September 1988, Page 3
[Supplied by Pierre Monnot, Source: Old Computer Mags]
Dungeon Master Advertisement published in German magazine 'Power Play', November 1988, Page 17
Dungeon Master Advertisement published in German magazine 'Power Play', November 1988, Page 17
[Source: Kultpower]
Dungeon Master for Super NES Advertisement published in American magazine 'VideoGames And Computer Entertainment', Issue #54 July 1993, Page 67
Dungeon Master for Super NES Advertisement published in American magazine 'VideoGames And Computer Entertainment', Issue #54 July 1993, Page 67
[Supplied by èné, Source: Retromags]
Dungeon Master Advertisement published in Czech magazine 'Score', Issue #25 January 1996, Page 41
Dungeon Master Advertisement published in Czech magazine 'Score', Issue #25 January 1996, Page 41
[Supplied by DJ Oldgames, Source: oldgames.sk]

Magazine articles

Dungeon Master for Atari ST Article published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #53 April 1988, Pages 78-79

Dungeon Master for Atari ST Article published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #53 April 1988, Page 78 Dungeon Master for Atari ST Article published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #53 April 1988, Page 79
[Source: Abandonware Magazines]

Dungeon Master for Atari ST Article published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #60 December 1988, Page 11

Dungeon Master for Atari ST Article published in French magazine 'Tilt', Issue #60 December 1988, Page 11
[Source: Abandonware Magazines]

Dungeon Master News published in German magazine 'Power Play', March 1988, Page 15

Dungeon Master News published in German magazine 'Power Play', March 1988, Page 15
[Source: Kultpower]

Dungeon Master Article published in American magazine 'Computer Gaming World', Issue #53 November 1988, Pages 21, 35

Dungeon Master Article published in American magazine 'Computer Gaming World', Issue #53 November 1988, Page 21 Dungeon Master Article published in American magazine 'Computer Gaming World', Issue #53 November 1988, Page 35
[Source: Computer Gaming World Museum]

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'ST Action', Issue #22 February 1990, Page 18

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'ST Action', Issue #22 February 1990, Page 18
[Supplied by The Boggit]

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'Amiga Action', Issue #12 September 1990, Page 13

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'Amiga Action', Issue #12 September 1990, Page 13
[Supplied by The Boggit]

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'CU Amiga', March 1991, Page 102

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'CU Amiga', March 1991, Page 102
[Source: Amiga Magazine Rack]

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'Games TM Retro', Vol 1 December 2004, Page 138

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'Games TM Retro', Vol 1 December 2004, Page 138
[Supplied by Steve Hood]

Dungeon Master for Amiga Article published in British magazine 'Games TM', Issue #34 July 2005, Pages 124-125

Dungeon Master for Amiga Article published in British magazine 'Games TM', Issue #34 July 2005, Page 124 Dungeon Master for Amiga Article published in British magazine 'Games TM', Issue #34 July 2005, Page 125

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'Games TM Retro', Vol 2 November 2006, Page 93

Dungeon Master Article published in British magazine 'Games TM Retro', Vol 2 November 2006, Page 93

Sounds

Dungeon Master and Chaos Strikes Back Sound Effects

Cover painting

The original cover painting for the Dungeon Master box was made by artist David Darrow. It was exposed at the London Science Museum during an exhibition called 'Game On' that ran from October 21, 2006 to February 25, 2007. Here is a photo:
Dungeon Master Original Artwork By David Darrow
Note that the word 'master' is missing.
[Supplied by Ingmar]

It illustrates a scene described in the prologue found in the game's manual (written by Nancy Holder). It represents the doors opening to Lord Chaos (not represented) while Halk prepares for fight, Alex trying to pull a torch out of a sconce and Syra holding a candelabra and her staff in the direction of the door.

This very nice article about How the cover art of Dungeon Master was made contains an interview of David Darrow and some photos he used to prepare his work.

Below are comments made by the author himself:

From the article titled 'Mastering Chaos', printed in issue #10 of 'Retro Gamer' and written by Richard Hewison (full article available on The games series)

Following his work on Sundog, David Darrow was asked to create the cover artwork for DM, and he decided to use local people as models. "In the foreground is my now ex-wife, who had to hold a very heavy candelabra for the photos I shot for reference," revealed David. "The guy grabbing the torch was programmer Andy Jaros, and the muscle-dude in the background was some guy I found at a gym. I walked into a fitness centre and asked the receptionist if there was a really huge guy there who she thought might like to pose for pictures for a 'hero video game cover' and she went and got him. I paid him to come to my home and pose for the pictures with a fluorescent bulb in his hands as a sword.
"The woman's costume was really a modified night gown, the muscle man's stuff was invented, and Andy Jaros brought his own costume. Yeah, he owned all that stuff!
"I painted the cover about four of five times the size of the retail box on a gessoed masonite panel. I used airbrushed liquitex acrylic and coloured pencils to render it. It took about three weeks, because the technique was all new to me, and I felt under tremendous pressure. That was my own doing. FTL was very patient with me."
David took his inspiration from artist Drew Struzan who has painted a large number of famous film posters over the last 25 years, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, Back to the Future I, II and III and more recently Star Wars Episode I and Hellboy, to name but a few.

From an email sent to Cowsmaunaut:

"To be honest, I was a huge fan of Drew Struzan at the time, and surrounded myself with posters of his. You are right: airbrush, painting, and Prismacolor (no ink). Art School taught me what I was capable of, but really, I learned just like you: by analyzing the work of more experienced, better artists. I used photos of various people I knew for the models. Hired the muscle man from a local gym. The woman with the (very heavy) candelabra was my first wife. And the guy pulling on the torch was Andy, the art-man for the game. The rest is entirely invented. I worked on a piece of masonite, about 25 - 30 inches tall, gessoed with a very heavy brush strokes to give it inherent texture (I still use this from time to time on my Fine Art paintings). Really, not much was cropped out, since it was designed to fit specific proportions. The bleed was pre-determined, and planned for."


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