Should you be somewhat unfamiliar with Rogue and the hundreds of lookalike titles that have been released over the last 30 years, the guys at Mana Pool have prepared a quick guide to what they've labeled as a sub-genre to the standard role-playing game.
The term roguelike applies to a sub-genre of the RPG, and usually involves dungeon crawlers in one form or another. Common features of roguelikes include; permanent death, turn-based movement, randomization and dungeon exploration. Anybody remember DND and Telengard? Those two were easily my favorites in the early 80's.
Most roguelikes involve encounting dozens, if not hundreds, of monsters and items. Items are usually found in an unidentified state, meaning the player only knows a very small portion of the items characteristics. Identifying items is a common goal in these games and is usually accomplished by scrolls, spells and .ut feeling'. ((You feel the you are carrying is very special.))
The turn-based element of roguelikes is handled a little differently than modern gamers are generally used to. Every time the player takes a step the game processes a turn, and ensures monsters and the environment do their thing. (E.g. a monster might take a step or attack, poison might tick, your lamp uses a turn of fuel, etc.)