Role difficulty is the general difficulty of being able to successfully ascend with the various roles. It has been demonstrated that every role is ascendable, but opinions vary as to which roles are the easiest and hardest to ascend.
Starting Difficulty Versus Ascension Difficulty Edit
Usually when people talk about role difficulty they are mainly referring to the beginning of the game. This is because the early game is by far the hardest part of the game, to the point where you could argue that starting difficulty is the only factor that matters.
However some roles have advantages over other roles in the late game in spite of having a lot of advantages in the early game.
For example, barbarians start with poison resistance, which allows them to eat poisonous monster corpses and protects against instadeath from poisoned arrows and spikes, common causes of death for early-game players. However, tourists have a number of advantages over barbarians. Their quest artifact is vastly more useful than the barbarian's, because of blessed charging on-demand, and eventually get a good enough weapon and armour to match a barbarian's.
- High Strength and Constitution
- Good starting equipment
- Access to good ranged attacks (especially daggers)
- Good starting intrinsics (especially poison resistance and speed)
- Access to strong artifact earlygame
- Good Quest Artifact
- High maximum statistics (determined by race)
- Good acquired intrinsics (for example wizards gain warning and teleport control at high levels)
- Access to useful weapon and magic skills
- Good artifacts available by sacrificing
- Starting with highly enchanted or hard to find equipment
Roles' Difficulty Levels Edit
Most agree that (dwarven) valkyries are the strongest role, followed by knights and samurai - due to the strong physical combat options presented by the roles from the very beginning (arguably minimising the amount of strategy necessary). Lawful valkyries have the advantage of some easy access to early artifacts (Excalibur), an easy quest with an excellent quest artifact (the Orb of Fate) plus intrinsic cold resistance. Some people recommend beginners try barbarians because they start with poison resistance and can eat whatever corpses they like; however this can generally be found out quickly and valkyries are probably better early game.
Samurai start the game with powerful physical combat capabilities (both melee and missile), but have fewer advantages as the game enters the middle phase. In particular, their quest is riskier than either the Valkyrie's or Barbarian's. The luck of the draw (finding a longsword to dip for Excalibur or an altar for sacrifices) has a big impact on how easy it is to manage this phase of the game.
Wizards are usually easy due to their good starting equipment (for this reason, wizards are often start scummed) and powerful late game (thanks to e.g. magic missile and finger of death). They also have potential to cast spells with no hunger penalty, and easy access to Magicbane. Those that attempt to play them as physical combat characters will find them difficult until the obtaining of Magicbane, where their melee combat skill rivals even a valkyrie, due to the ability to Elbereth at will.
The priest's innate ability to detect the BUC status of an item sounds like a tremendous advantage, starting out, but they are restricted in all edged weapons and cannot advance any ranged weapons past basic, meaning their weapon choice is hard early on, and are generally considered a hard role.
The knight's codes of conduct can be cumbersome, though the penalty for breaking them (1 point of alignment) is minor, unless you are roleplaying or playing a pacifist. Due to access to Excalibur in the early game and the fact that they get very strong (>100 damage) magic missiles, they are perhaps the strongest late-game characters, lacking only from valkyries in their inability to play dwarf.
Barbarians can be strong due to their starting poison resistance, and weapon, but have a bad race choice (human/orc), a non-peaceful Gnomish Mines which may lead to the odd attack wand from a gnome killing your promising early character.
Archeologists have the advantages of starting with speed and stealth, and have early access to a good weapon -- the dwarvish mattock. Starting with a pick-axe (for digging out vaults or gems embedded in rock) and the ability to identify precious gems, they are also well-suited for the Protection racket.
The Tourist's best early-game advantage is their starting stack of +2 darts, which are good ranged weapons for the early game and can be poisoned; their expensive camera is also useful for evading non-Elbereth respecting monsters. Tourists enjoy a lot of advantages which make them arguably one of the stronger roles in the endgame--they have access to a large number of weapons, they start with a Hawaiian shirt which can be enchanted for extra AC later in the game, and their Quest Artifact, the Platinum Yendorian Express Card, is one of the best artifacts in the game.
Role Difficulty Chart Edit
This chart is a rough ranking of the roles from easiest to hardest. This chart is subjective.