Every now and then, as I walk past the small alcove at the end of the hall in my flat I catch a glimpse of the corner of a grey plastic box poking out of the top of one of the boxes piled there. Waves of 8-bit nostalgia wash over me as I recognise it as one of my ZX Spectrums and I'm soon plugging it all in to my TV. So given the huge amount of games I can play on the thing, which is always the first cassette slotted into the tape player? I've lost the box and the manual over a decade ago, but Lords of Chaos is always the one.

The Stuff

Name: Lords of Chaos
Author: Julian Gollop
Publisher: Blade Software
Released: 1991
Platforms: Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48/+/128/+/2/A/3, Commodore C64/C128, Amstrad CPC 464, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga
Formats: Cassette, 3" disk, 3.5" disk
Original Price: £9.95 tape / £14.95 disk


Released for the Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore C64/128, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, Lords of Chaos was written by Julian Gollop basically as a sequel to his still-popular and Spectrum-only Chaos. It's a turn-based fantasy RPG/battle game for up to four players. Each player controls a wizard which can move around the game world (which is wrap-around) and cast spells, many of which summon various creatures to help. After a certain amount of turns, a portal appears, and the aim of the game is to exit through the portal with the highest score; scored are awarded for killing opponents and their creatures, and for collecting treasure during the game.


As a multiplayer with up to four players the game becomes a brilliant battle between armies of creatures. The complexity of the game is pitched just right: easy to pick up but with enough depth for me and my friends to still be playing fourteen years on. As a single player game, it takes on a more RPG-ish feel, each level is played one by one against ai opponents, and scores achieved can be used to increase the wizard's power and knowledge of spells for the next scenario. Three of these scenarios come with the game (the first two of which can be played multiplayer) and an expansion pack with 2 extra could be bought separately.

The Spells

Each wizard knows certain spells (these can be individually designed, or randomally generated). A wizards knowledge of a spell is to a certain level, when you cast a spell its level is decreased until it's level reached zero, when it may not be used for the rest of the game.

Summon Spells

When a summon spell is cast, the number of creatures summoned is equal to the level of the spell. The following is a table of creatures that may be summoned and their properties...

             AG AF ST CN CT DF MR CL PC VP MT  RM  UD  UW  UO  WT  LT  RT
GOLD DRAGON  38 40 86 90 50 42 82 30 10 09 no  no  no  no  yes no  yes no
GREEN DRAGON 32 36 80 82 40 43 75 26 10 08 no  no  no  no  yes yes no  no
RED DRAGON   34 40 90 72 32 34 90 32 18 07 no  no  no  no  yes no  no  yes
PIXIE        34 00 40 16 04 06 67 30 02 01 no  yes no  yes yes yes no  no
DWARF        26 00 57 25 06 06 40 35 02 01 no  yes no  yes yes no  no  yes
GOBLIN       30 00 45 32 09 09 46 42 02 01 no  yes no  yes yes no  no  no
TROLL        32 00 88 47 12 16 46 40 02 02 no  yes no  yes yes no  no  no
GIANT        30 00 48 66 21 15 50 50 04 03 no  no  no  yes yes no  no  no
CENTAUR      48 00 62 36 08 10 54 34 03 01 no  no  no  yes yes no  no  no
UNICORN      56 00 72 40 12 09 42 00 03 01 yes no  no  no  no  no  no  yes
PEGASUS      46 56 80 40 08 09 50 00 03 01 yes no  no  no  no  no  no  no
GRYPHON      42 52 73 53 24 21 57 00 04 04 yes no  no  no  no  no  no  yes
ELEPHANT     36 00 55 73 14 22 40 00 06 02 yes no  no  no  no  no  no  no
GORILLA      34 00 56 38 15 14 43 26 04 01 no  no  no  no  yes yes no  no
LION         54 00 64 34 21 14 46 00 04 02 no  no  no  no  no  yes no  no
BEAR         38 00 70 48 22 26 48 00 05 03 no  no  no  no  no  yes no  no
CROCODILE    26 00 52 62 26 20 55 00 04 02 no  no  no  no  no  no  yes no
GIANT BAT    24 62 75 20 09 07 41 00 03 01 no  no  no  no  no  no  no  no
HARPY        28 52 60 28 22 14 60 16 04 03 no  no  no  no  yes no  no  no
GIANT SPIDER 44 00 74 52 41 24 55 00 07 06 no  no  no  no  no  no  no  yes
ZOMBIE       24 00 90 50 06 05 50 30 03 01 no  no  yes no  yes no  no  no
GHOST        36 36 92 30 08 18 60 00 06 02 no  no  yes no  no  no  yes no
VAMPIRE      34 40 85 60 18 17 65 30 05 04 no  no  yes no  yes no  no  no
SPECTRE      38 00 80 72 28 24 70 00 07 05 no  no  yes no  yes no  no  no
DEMON        30 00 90 78 38 31 78 00 09 07 no  no  yes no  yes no  no  no

Extra things to note: Dragons also benefit from being able to breath fire as ranged attack and as a way to start fires. They cannot be cast without a Dragon Potion (A cauldron and a dragon herb in the same place). Pixies are invisible to opposition players. Ghosts can move through rock, walls and other solid squares (although not roofs).

Potion Spells

In order to cast a potion spell, the casting wizard must be standing on a square with both an empty cauldron and a specific ingredient. The amount of servings created is three more than the level of the spell.

Strength Potion     Mistletoe  Boosts combat
Protection Potion   Clover     Boosts defence
Invisibility Potion Crystal    Creatures cannot be seen by enemy
Speed Potion        Sulph      Doubles Action Points and triples 
                               stamina recovery
Flying Potion       Fairywing  Enables airborne movement
Super Potion        Ambergris  Boosts combat and defence, doubles Action Points 
                               and triples stamina recovery
Healing Potion      Apple      Restores constitution and Stamina, 
                               cures fatal wounds

Other Spells

Magic Fire
Causes the target space to catch fire. The fire will spread and will cause severe harm to creatures it catches, and will turn all terrain to wasteland. It will not harm your own creatures. It burns Tangle Vine but can be put out by a flood spell.
Causes the target square and some around it to become flooded. Non-water creatures may drown in it. It will put out Magic Fire but is 'soaked up' by Gooey Blob.
Gooey Blob
Similar to Magic Fire, but spreads over different terrain. Soaks up Flood, but is destroyed by Tangle Vine.
Tangle Vine
Changes terrain to thorny vines. Destroys Gooey Blob, but can be burned away by fire.
Weapons in the target space become magic; their power is doubled and it can be used to slay undead creatures.
Can inflict a fatal wound on target creature. In my experience, not likely to work, and not much use if it does.
Magic Attack
Attacks all creatures of same type as target creature even if they are yours. Unlikely to work unless very high level and used on weak creatures.
Magic Bolt
Ranged attack on target creature.
Magic Lightning
As bolt but affects the surrounding squared too.
Inaccurately teleport your wizard to target square. Use with caution as after teleport you will have no action points left.
Magic Eye
Allows you to see as if you had a creature at target square (so you can see what's behind a door, for example). Also lets you see an invisible creatures.
Magic Shield
Temporarily increases wizards defence rating.

The Scenarios

The first two scenarios can be played as multiplayer maps, or sequentially as a one player RPG. The third can only be one player, and can only be played by a level three or higher wizard.

Scenario One: The Many Coloured Land

Four diamond-shaped rooms with a door at each compass point provide the starting point for wizards. In each gap between the diagonals of each room is a feature: a shadow wood, a small, rectangular, unlocked room, a swamp surrounded by tall grass, and a magic wood containing a room with four locked doors. The room with the locked doors contains four locked chests which in turn contain treasure. The room also contains a Giant Spider and there are a couple more lurking outside. The Portal appears in one of these four places at random.

Scenario Two: Slayer's Dungeon

No use for flying creatures in this dungeon. Many passages and rooms and many independent creatures wandering around. Watch out particularly for dungeon things. These are invisible, and quite strong. Never leave you wizard unmounted and/or undefended in this dungeon. The points, in this level, are in grabbing the slayer. This is a particularly potent weapon and is found in the room with the square of lava. The room has a locked door and is defended by a demon and two spectres. It is also hidden in a locked chest, the key to which is found in the other locked room with a couple of vampires for company. It can be pretty wearing to go through all this and defeat Elbo Smogg, but the points bonus is worth it. The portal appears in the clearing over the lava just South-West from the room with the vampires in.