FAangband was originally based on Oangband 0.7.0 (started by Leon Marrick, now maintained and developed by Bahman Rabii). Since version 2.0.0 it has been based on Angband 4.2, and tracks changes in Angband.
Changes from the standard Angband setting have been made principally with the intent of immersing the player in the world of Tolkien's Silmarillion late in the First Age. Some of the main changes are outlined below.
- These are varieties of Elves, Dwarves and Men, plus Ents. Dwarves as a whole tend to have better Intelligence than Wisdom; the reverse is true for (most) Elves and Hobbits. Different races also have significantly different starting conditions.
- There is wilderness. Wilderness is like and unlike dungeon. On the similar side, it is randomly generated in rectangular pieces, and there is a structured way of advancing through the wilderness. On the other hand, it looks different (no rooms); there are sometimes choices as to how to advance (north or west, maybe, rather than just down); and tactics become quite different. There are six basic types of wilderness - open plains, dense forests, rocky mountains, harsh deserts, pathless swamps and lightless valleys. It also has day and night, which affects light-hating monsters and the player's need for light.
- There are multiple towns, small and large, spread throughout the wilderness. Each race starts in its natural town. This means that the starting towns for some races are in the middle of quite dangerous wilderness. In order to reduce extreme effects of this (instant death, or instant growth of 15 levels), some races have improved starting equipment, and several races start with some experience already (advancing them in character level up to a maximum of level 5). High elves are no longer the easy option, at least at first. You can move your house to a different town, but only once you have walked there.
- There are multiple dungeons (four, plus the valley of Nan Dungortheb which is like a dungeon on some ways). At the bottom of each is a guardian, who can only appear there or in special circumstances (which you may be able to guess...) be summoned.
- As in Oangband, the player can learn extra specialty abilities, depending on class. The first specialist ability (and second as well for warriors) is learned at the beginning; two others each become available on killing a dungeon guardian. So it is possible to ignore the other dungeons and head straight for Angband, but there's a heavy price to pay.
- Word of Recall works differently. Read away from your home town, it still takes you back there. Read in your home town, you are given a list of up to four points to recall to. When you recall back to town, you get the choice of which of your recall points you wish to update.
- Monsters and Objects
- Anything from later than the First Age has been removed. No more Elven Rings, Grishnakh, Anduril, Saruman, Witch-King, etc. There are some new uniques, artifacts and ego-items (and some just renamed). Some artifacts will be more powerful in combination.