One of the print-based computer game magazines recently had a round-up of old school single player RPGs going back to the 1970s. One of the games they didn’t mention which was Telengard. Telengard was written by Daniel Lawrence who also wrote DND on a DECSystem-20 back in 1976/77 which is possibly the first computer RPG ever written. Telengard was, according to Lawrence, a rewrite of DND for the TRS-80 and then a whole host of other computers that were out in the early 1980s.
I bought a copy of this in, like, 1984, and a couple of friends and I played the crap out of it on our C64s. It featured the latest in 2D graphics:
If I remember correctly, everything in the game was randomized which meant you tended to die very early on, but if you were lucky enough to survive you were soon wielding level bazillion swords.
Lewis has written a short essay about the game and a link to download the PC version of the game which came out in 1985.
Someone really needs to mod that to add networking capabilities and create a Telengard MMORPG.