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An item is an object existent inside a roguelike world, which has one or more uses triggered by the smart character's actions.

Classic Roguelike Theme Categories

The item categories are closely related to the game theme, and serve different functionalities. The following are some empiric categories based on the classic roguelike theme:


Symbolizes a liquid that can be drunk, normally only once, provoking special effects on the entity that drank from it; in this aspect, it is similar to the scroll, but its effects are commonly more direct on the performer.

Some games allow different uses of potions, including throwing them to cause different kinds of damage or special effects on the world, like explosions and gas clouds.

Also, the alchemy skill or its equivalent may allow a character to generate potions with different effects based on other items and/or recipes that can be found inside the game.


A scroll is a rolled sheet of paper that contains a magical effect. Upon reading the scroll, the magic invokes an effect in the reader or the world around him. A scroll commonly disappears after its first (or more) uses.

The typical scroll has an exterior label. One model is that a player, in unrolling the scroll, looks at (thereby reading) the interior words and activates the scroll. NetHack uses a different model where the label is the only wording on the scroll; the player activates the scroll by uttering the words aloud. In this way, a character can activate a scroll even while blind, having earlier seen and memorized the label.


Books are main sources of magical knowledge and spells.


Lanterns, torches, lamps, or other such devices allow the player to see in a dark area. Most such devices must be refueled after a set number of turns, but some games also provide magic versions that last forever.


Food rations, fruits, candies, and other edible items prevent the hero from starving. Many games also classify the corpses of dead monsters as food. In some games, food can have magical or healing effects. Some games challenge the player to escape starvation by limiting the supply of food.


Weapons enhance battling capabilities of wielder. Often an appropriate skill is needed to use them effectively.

It is typical for the player to wield a weapon, then walk into a opponent to attack it. Many games also provide ranged weapons, such as the sling and rocks. The player equips a sling, then fires rocks over multiple squares into an enemy. Some games restrict the player to firing in eight directions; others allow the player to aim for arbitrary nearby targets. Games differ in how well players can shoot around corners.


Armor protects body of creature wearing it from damage. Heavy armor may hinder maneuverability to some extent. In some games, armor hinders magic, especially gloves and metal armor.

Games typically provide many armor slots, so that characters can simultaneously wear a helmet, boots, gloves, upper and lower body armor, cloak, and shield simultaneously.


Most common items belonging to jewelry category are rings and amulets. They may modify character's attributes, grant various powers, special ability or resistance. Also they can allow magical power or spell to be activated. Some these items have been known to contain souls or creatures within.

The main difference between amulets and rings is that former often are better and more valuable but sometimes they offer different advantages.


A wand is a kind of item that invokes certain power which is commonly unknown at first place, the wands have a limited number of charges or uses, and can be recharged using other actions.


Rod is an item similar to wand but employs different power source. Rods use energy of wielder to create desired effect or absorb it slowly from environment effectively being usable only once per certain period of time.


A long Pole-like weapon with no cutting edge, often appear in games as magic staves, similar in function to wands, though often possessing more than ability and often being inexhaustible.

Sci-Fi Roguelike Theme Categories

Following item categories are often found in Science Fiction games.

  • Guns

When combined with right type of ammunition these deal damage over distance. High technology firearms may have additional effects on targets.

  • Armor

Armor protects wearer from various injuries.

  • Canisters

Canisters contain various liquid substances. Not all of them are intended to be drunk.

  • Floppy disks

These carry useful programs to be executed. Running them will create an effect depending on type of program contained on floppy. Usable several times until licence expires. However, clever hackers have been known to crack disks and use them whenever they want to do so.

  • Ray guns

Ray guns contain a special beam generator of unknown properties. Power depletes after a few uses.

  • Brain implants

Small electronic devices designed to perform certain function. Must be installed in brain to work. Behavior similar to rings but their number is limited by brain lobes.

  • Electronic devices

Highly specialized tools. Their usage has to be discovered but they often come handy in many situations.

  • Standard tools

Commonly seen tools not requiring identification. Still useful despite not being based on newest technology.