One of the very first professionally-published RPGs, though it's not really spoken of much these days. Like many very early computer RPGs Telengard is a game inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, even to the point of having many suspiciously similar monsters, terms and the same six core statistics for your character. It's also among the earliest to use comparatively large and detailed character "sprites" constructed of ASCII characters. The gameplay is quite primitive, that said - while there is a large and vast dungeon, there is no win condition and no set goal outside of powering up your character. Every step you take (or indeed, don't take - if you pass a turn the same rolls happen) also has a chance to generate treasure or pit you against a monster; sometimes several levels above yourself. It's actually very common to start the game, get into a fight with a level 3-4 monster on your first step into the dungeon and immediately die. Death is also permanent (there is a quicksave, but it deletes as soon as you reload it) and while there is gold and treasure to find, there are no shops; however, escaping the dungeon and returning to the inn converts them to experience points. If you're a genre history buff this one's worth a quick look, but those looking for something with more solid goal-driven design or a captivating story to follow should probably skip ahead at least 3 years to Ultima IV or even go back to 1980 and play some Rogue.
Developer: Daniel Lawrence
Publisher: Avalon Hill
Platforms: Apple II, TRS-80, Atari 8-Bit, PET, Commodore 64, CP/M, MS-DOS