Friday, December 22, 2017

Quarterstaff: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

The party's last torch had gone out, and they killed Setmoth in the dark.
United States
Simulated Environmental Systems (1987 developer and publisher)
Infocom (1988 re-developer and publisher; with subtitle Tomb of Setmoth)
Released in 1987, 1988 for Macintosh
Date Started: 29 November 2017
Date ended: 19 December 2017
Total hours: 14
Difficulty: Moderate (3/5)
Final Rating: 25
Ranking at Time of Posting:110/274 (40%)

When I last wrote, I had explored about 75% of the game. I wasn't stuck on anything, but I was getting frustrated juggling a huge inventory that I wasn't sure I'd ever use. That never went away.

It turned out there were three more NPCs who could potentially join my party. The first was Dirk, a thievery-oriented character waiting in a "dark chamber" behind a secret door opened by pulling some torches. Waiting too long, it seems, because when I entered the chamber, Dirk was dead. An inspection of his body suggested he'd died of hunger, thirst, exhaustion, or all three. I guess if you're not there to say EAT, DRINK, and SLEEP, NPCs--even if they haven't joined your party yet--just die.

Later, in a throne room, I encountered a dwarf warrior named Sandra and an NPC named Piffer. I have no idea what Piffer's strengths or weaknesses are because I never got him or her to join my party. He or she ignored round after round of SMILE, GREET, and BRIBE (the latter being the only thing I ever found to do with all these valuables). Sandra was pretty useful.
A big text dump upon entering the throne room. Whose throne? That's not really clear.
As I approached the final areas in my first game, my characters were pretty beat up. They were suffering from thirst and starvation and were out of food and water. Piffer not only hadn't joined my party, she'd been killed by an enemy. Sandra was on her last legs after a battle with someone named "Tarmac." I decided to just start over completely and try to get to the end in better shape. This time, I made it to Dirk alive and got both him and Sandra to join me. Still no luck with Piffer.

These NPCs would be interesting if they had any kind of backstory. Instead, they just join your party after a lot of smiling and greeting but offer no dialogue or even explanation for their presence.

The same is true of your enemies. The endgame areas brought some tough combats. A guy named Trinot attacked me in a throne room when I fussed with one of the throne's gems. I had to split my party to kill him so he wouldn't regard any one of us as the "leader." He had a trident and wore a Cloak of Protection that I was happy to loot. But who was he? Who, for that matter, was Tarmac, who attacked me with a "dancing sword" when I put a black gem in a demon's mouth? I can't shake a feeling that I missed some commands that would have given me more backstory on both NPCs and foes, but I've been over the documentation, and I just don't see anything.

The game's strength remained in its complex puzzles. There was the typical Infocom navigation puzzle at one point, as I tried to sort out the exits from a series of rooms with near-identical names--Misty Room, Smokey Room, Foggy Room, Fog Chamber, Smokey Chamber, Smoke Room, etc.--where the passages seemed to have no logic to them. To get into the throne room, I had to put a blue ball into a small hole, a solution referenced ages ago in the "wild wizard's" ransom note.
There was no way to make this area clear.
There was one puzzle that I bungled, although I guess I shouldn't say that because my solution worked. There was an area with a locked door and a grue on the other side. Apparently, I was supposed to drink a "thick potion" that would transfer me to the grue's body, allowing me to unlock the door from the other side and drop some useful items, then transport back to my own body, open the door, and collect the treasure. I just smashed the door open and killed the grue.
Infuriatingly, the game doesn't give an image or description of the grue other than it's "nasty."
Another puzzle I maddeningly had to look up a hint for. The "dark chamber" in which Dirk was found had a bunch of spell reagents: bat's brains, hydra blood, toad's eyes, calf's brains, goat's bladder, and the like. After the tangle of smoke rooms, I found myself at a pentagram. A scrawled note read:
Star of flames
Multi-headed breather of flames
Make its blood like its breath
You must seek your death
Thrust quick to thy heart
Tis dour doing but our part
Take the key from the trap
'Ware the plaque where it be
Come what may, come what might
There's sure to be a dirty fight
Whether fair, whether foul
Expect the worst to be on the prowl
Annoyingly, I figured out most of it. "The multi-headed breather of flames" is of course a hydra. The ritual wanted me to use the hydra's blood and to "make its blood like its breath" by setting it on fire. I would then have to sacrifice myself on the pentagram. The part I was missing was the need to ENTER the pentagram. Anyway, the ritual brought me to another dimension where I retrieved the "tomb room key"--one of the few truly essential items in the game--and then sacrificed myself on an analogous pentagram to return to the real world.
I wish I'd gotten this without help.
The game culminated in a battle with Setmoth at his titular tomb. For those wondering who "Setmoth" is, that's a fair question. At one point, I found his diary. It related how he, "mightiest being who has ever existed," came to the "plane of Threa" and conquered it. He made every king his slave and tortured and killed everyone who displeased him. Soon, he grew restless and decided to conquer "all the thousand planes," fearing only the powers of the plane of Agood.

One of his lieutenants, Dresf, joined forces with the powers of Agood and slaughtered Setmoth's armies. Setmoth killed the rest of his own followers to gain power from their souls, then retreated to a safe place "until time and place meet again for another battlefield." He ends the diary by encouraging the reader to "awaken your master, Setmoth, the one you were born to worship."
Setmoth's diary lays it all out.
Cool story, bro, but none of it really makes any sense. Is "Threa" supposed to be the world I'm in now? 'Cause the manual gives it as Rhea, which is close but not the same. And--spoiler alert--my party is about to open Setmoth's tomb and kill him. But why would we open it in the first place? How did he lock himself in the tomb from the inside? What does he have to do with the disappearance of the Tree Druids, since he doesn't seem to have escaped yet? Does anyone even remember the Tree Druids? They haven't been referenced since, like, the fourth room.
None of this is explained when you finally meet Setmoth. He's a tough customer. I had to split my party again to keep him from focusing on a single character. I distributed potions of healing among my party members and had them flee from the tomb and quaff the potions if their hit points got too low. Even then, it took me a couple of reloads to defeat him. When I did, I got the brief message--no graphic, even--at the top of the screen. I don't really feel like I "completed my mission," since I didn't solve the mystery of what happened to the Druids. Is it as simple as they accidentally broke into Setmoth's old stomping grounds? I suppose that's the most plausible explanation. But if Setmoth wasn't free yet, what actually happened to them?
Setmoth had a badass entrance.
Looking over my map and notes, it's clear that a ton of the game world was unnecessary, serving only to supply the party with items of questionable use. The number of "treasure" items that have no purpose is baffling. Why did the developers fool the party into loading up on gems and jewelry for no reason except perhaps to bribe a couple NPCs into compliance?

Infocom's promotions of the game are heavy with the letters "RPG," suggesting a bold new direction for the company. In the end, that's something of a joke. The game is barely an RPG. Beyond Zork did a better job with real RPG elements. This one has some extremely limited character development that mysteriously stops after a few combats and a bit of flexibility in inventory choices but no way to tell which items are better than others.
Again, I eagerly await The Adventure Gamer's judgement, but as an RPG, I have to call it a misfire. It would be interesting if more CRPGs went in this direction, offering highly atmospheric rooms instead of featureless corridors--smaller, more detailed dungeons that take longer to complete because you have to carefully explore every feature. That could be cool. But I would want that approach within in the context of good CRPG combat, inventory, and character development mechanics.
Sandra's proficiencies. My characters never got out of the low-40s.
In a GIMLET, Quarterstafff earns:

  • 3 points for the game world. The backstory is somewhat original and seems to be pointing towards an original quest, but the game itself delivers so little lore or plot exposition that the backstory might as well not exist.
A warning not to disturb Setmoth. I honestly don't even know when the game switched from druids to dwarves.
  • 1 point for character creation and development. There's no creation. "Development" consists of some slight increases in skill as you fight, but mysteriously the increases stop after a few battles. This is a key element of an RPG that the game simply didn't implement at all. Encounters don't even really play differently with different characters.
  • 2 points for NPC interaction. It's cool that you can get them to join the party, but the game needed a dialogue system.
  • 4 points for encounters and foes. The foes are nothing special--enemies of different names, some hitting harder than others. I give most of the points for the decent navigation, logical, and inventory puzzles. But there are no role-playing encounters such as a true RPG would offer.
The party doesn't get very far greeting and smiling at Setmoth, but he did accept our gift!
  • 3 points for magic and combat. There are magic items, but no spellcasting system. Combat is mostly just KILL ENEMY over and over. But I do give it some credit for a missile weapon system that allows you to attack enemies in the next room, which is a kind of "tactic," as is the ability to split the party.
  • 3 points for equipment. The strengths are a large variety and evocative item descriptions. There's even a bit of a puzzle involving how to use the "Identify Wand" to tell what potions, scrolls, keys, and wands do (though I never found an unidentified wand, and the uses of keys were pretty obvious). What the game lacks is any real utility to most of its items and any statistics to help you evaluate their relative worth.
  • 0 points for no economy.
  • 2 points for a main quest with no role-playing options, no alternate endings, and no side quests.
  • 3 points for graphics, sound, and interface. Some of the graphics were well-drawn and detailed. I didn't hear a lick of sound during the game, but I read a review that said there's at least a "death scream." Perhaps an emulator issue? If someone can confirm that it has sound and describe it, I might give an extra point here. The interface has good points and bad points. The menus are a nice addition to the text parser, which otherwise has Infocom's strengths. But I didn't love the methods of arbitrating the actions of multiple party members, and I would have rather had a fixed interface than these Mac windows. The automap is nice.
  • 4 points for gameplay. It's more linear that it seems at first, but the challenge level and length are about right. I can't see any reason to replay it.
That gives us a final score of 25, again something of a failure by RPG standards, but adventure game aficionados might like it more.
Setmoth was menacing, but I don't think he was quite that big. Note that Infocom not only stresses that this is an "RPG" but spells out what that means.
Most of the reviews I'm finding, both contemporary and modern, disagree. Dragon gave it 5/5 stars and called it "among the finest fantasy role-playing games for any system" and "the most true-to-form [role-playing game] we've found." The February 1989 QuestBusters praised how well it "captures the mood and feel of non-computerized fantasy role-playing." I do understand what they're talking about. The dungeon is well-designed, and there's a constant tension as your party moves from room to room and encounters each new puzzle. Successful characters in the game act like tabletop characters, moving slowly, investigating everything, knocking on walls for secret doors, and so forth. That's unquestionably the strength of the game. But it isn't what I'm addicted to and, let's face it, not what by 1987 we've come to understand is an "RPG" when applied to a computer game.

I spent some time with the earlier version of the game and didn't notice a lot of differences with the map or the major puzzles. The automap looks the same, but there are fewer graphical interludes. The first version does't have the "Identify Wand" and associated puzzle with the game documentation; you just have to figure out items through experimentation. Eolene and Bruno start with Titus; the cell behind the chief torturer and druid guard has a "crazy druid" rather than Eolene. Combats take a lot longer, with much more missing, and poison does significantly more damage. The interface is more annoying, with incomplete menus (unlike the Infocom version, you can't see every object in the room from the menus) and fewer parser shortcuts. The game doesn't assume that you open a door if you go in a direction that has a door, for instance. You have to take a turn to open it. I didn't get far enough to encounter any of the famous bugs.
I totally forgot that the Infocom version had a "help" window until after I won. That could have been useful.
For all the effort spent by Infocom building this up as their first big foray into the RPG market, they didn't really seem to get much momentum out of it. 1989's Journey: The Quest Begins (link to my review) shows some lessons from Quarterstaff, including juggling party of adventurers and constructing sentences by selecting menu commands instead of just typing. (I'll always remember that game as establishing that "grues" are the same thing as "orcs.") But that was less of an RPG than this one. As a commenter recently pointed out, they also attempted an adventure/RPG hybrid on the NES called Tombs & Treasure (1991), an update of a Japanese game. By then, Infocom wasn't really Infocom anymore, the Cambridge staff having been laid off by Activision in 1989. Activision has periodically re-released compilations of the old Infocom adventures (the most recent in 2012) but has otherwise largely abandoned the label.

As for the original developers, Simulated Environmental Systems doesn't appear to have worked on any other games, and neither did authors Scott D. Schmitz or Kenneth M. Updike. Mr. Schmitz left a comment recently, so if he sticks with my series to the end, perhaps he'll talk about the game's background, where life took him, and which one of the two was a fan of Welsh mythology. I hope he's not raw at the poor review. It's a good game for its genre, but that genre--despite Infocom's promotions--is not CRPG.


  1. I can't really argue with your criticisms of Quarterstaff as an RPG, or with the sketchy nature of its backstory; I've played through it at least 3-4 times now, and never found more to the backstory than what you've put forth here.

    I can tell you that Piffer is much easier to get to join the party if Sandra is the leader and she's greeting/bribing/smiling at/kissing him (yes, you can SMILE AT PIFFER or KISS PIFFER and they work as additional "hey, join my party" commands).

    My impression of the treasure was always that it wasn't something put in there to benefit us in any particular way, but rather simply because a complex like this *would* have loads of treasure in it.

    It's been a few years, but I'm fairly sure I recall at least one of my characters ended up with a skill above 50%...though I have a feeling it was a pretty random one, like cold resistance. Not sure.

    1. I'm glad to hear that I didn't miss anything from the perspective of a repeat player.

      It never occurred to me to try the pleasantries with a different person in charge. Even if I had...I just MET Sandra! Girl thinks she gets to lead the party? Please.

      No use judging a 1987 game with 2017 sensibilities, but I'm not sure spontaneous, unsolicited kissing is a good way to get someone to do what you want.

  2. Setmoth is knocked unconscious by a blow.
    Bruno hits Setmoth, killing him.


    Setmoth's body burns to ash.
    Titus, Dirk and Sandra robotically hit the mess of ashes with their weapons until asked to stop.

    1. After the endgame text, too. They killed Setmoth, had time to contemplate the totality of their actions, thought about their next steps, and then went back to beating the ashes.

  3. One more sad statement about Infocom: the mobile version of the "Lost Treasures of Infocom" was quite good and included all of the feelies, included help, and could autocomplete to help you play on a mobile device. Unfortunately, Activision has not updated the app to support iOS 11 and so it is broken on newer phones.

    There is a petition out there to get people to convince Activision to update it, but honestly not enough signers to convince them:

    1. I'd have to say that putting such a "petition" on, right next to a petition for more rights for sexual assault survivors, may have been a bit of a mis-step.

    2. Not my petition, I'm just sharing the link. It is a shame however that the Infocom games are not available (in bulk) legally again.

      That said, I have both of the original "Lost Treasures" sets for DOS still. Those are some of the few games that actually (mostly) stayed with me through college and 20 years of life events. I lost some of the disks and ended up repurchasing the sets last year.

    3. Yeah, I didn't meant to suggest that I thought it was yours. Just that the approach was silly.

  4. Macworld magazine's review of Quarterstaff from February 1988 can be found here.

  5. What you describe is, for better and worse, a pure Infocom game. They were groundbreaking and stuff (most of the better puzzle design elements in adventure games were born in Infocom games), but they really considered that the player should be stuck. I guess that was a philosophy shared with the guys at SES. I mean, it was the 80s: if you finished a game, then the game was usually considered too easy.

    Nah, keep up the work for us lazy readers :)

    1. I remember having a lot more problems with Zork, but it may be that the last time I played it through, I was a less experienced, methodical player.

    2. There was a Matt Chat episode where Matt mentioned multiple times he thought they made Zork really hard in order to sell Zork Clue books. I remember having the clue books when I was a kid. That game was near impossible.

    3. Making Zork harder just to sell cluebooks would have been highly unlikely. Zork was not designed as a commercial game in the first place - what Infocom eventually sold as Zork I, II, and III was originally a single game created as a hobby project on a university mainframe. Infocom broke it into three pieces (due to limitations of home computers of the era), recoded it for home machines (via their ZIL interpreter), polished a few rough edges, and sold it.

    4. It's more complicated than that. Zork I was, yes, pretty much just an excerpt from the original mainframe game, but Zork II and Zork III weren't—both combined some of the leftover material from the mainframe game with a lot of brand new material original to the commercial versions. Among many other things, the Oddly Angled Room, probably the most infamously unfair puzzle in Zork II, was completely new; it had not been in the original mainframe game.

      That being said, though, I fully agree that the hard puzzles weren't put in intentionally to sell clue books.

    5. Two final "Mainframe Zork" puzzles were not adapted until Sorcerer, but otherwise you are spot on.

      Zork II was around 50/50 the original and new, but with puzzles spread around a new "overworld", for lack of a better term.

      Zork III took the "endgame" portion of Mainframe Zork (itself an expanded version of the endgame from Colossal Cave) and expanded it. I love Zork III to death, but if you never experienced the original endgame, it is fantastic. A short master-class in puzzle design where you have everything you need in front of you and you just have to put it all together. Zork III provided an alternate solution which demeaned one of the puzzles (an invisibility potion) but did a good job of keeping much of the spirit intact, just a bit more diffuse. The time machine puzzle though is fantastic.

      I have researched and reviewed the first thirteen Infocom games so far, including mainframe Zork, over on TAG. I also discuss a few of the differences between mainframe Zork and "Dungeon", the copy that was "stolen" and became the more common branch on the Internet. The original didn't resurface until relatively recently. The last couple of puzzles (such as the palantiers and the completely unfair coal chute and matchbook puzzles) were added after Dungeon split off.

      If you google me with "Zork", you should find those posts if you are interested. I am sensitive that I "advertise" too much on Chet's blog as it is.

  6. Grues are a running gag of Infocom's games (particularly Zork), most commonly turning up to eat you if you're foolish enough to go around without a light source. They're usually (always?) left undescribed, because of course if they only eat you when it's dark, you never get to see them. Seems like you fought one in broad daylight, though?

    1. Yes, which is why I was saying that it was maddening that the game wouldn't describe it. It can unlock and drop stuff, so I guess it has hands. I'd always pictured them as large worms with teeth for some reason.

      But as I noted in the post, see here from Infocom's Journey: the Quest Begins:

      "There are many names for these evil denizens of the earth--goblins, grues, orcs." Thus, canonically, grues are just orcs.

    2. The problem is that Infocom had already gone to the well at least twice on the whole "describing a grue for the first time" thing: in Planetfall (where grues are among the menagerie of beasties in the finale) and Sorcerer (where you can find mutated grues that do not fear the light). Perhaps later ones as well but I haven't played those games.

      It is revealed in Starcross that a spacefaring alien race had discovered grues underground on a distant planet, heavily implied to be the planet where Zork takes place. They put the grues in a zoo and then had an Alien-like set of encounters because of course they got free. They were GRUEs.

      Planetfall and Stationfall supposedly take place even further in the future and at that point grues are spread across the galaxy, presumably dropped off by every infected ship...

      With a few exceptions (Infidel, for one), most of the early Infocom games were implied to be tied together in an overly complicated universe. I suspect it was less about world-building and just about being cute with dedicated (and detail-oriented) players. Even Suspended, the least Infocom-like game of the era, linked with the other sci-fi games if you searched hard enough.

    3. That's interesting. I didn't know that grues appeared in Infocom's sci-fi titles, too, nor that they all existed in a single universe.

  7. That screenshot of an "alternate" way of dealing with Setmoth is hilarious. It would've made a funny alternate ending.

    "Setmoth might have won initiative, but the party won his heart."

    1. Just once, I want the evil demon to come out of his crypt after 400 years and say, "Yeah, I know I used to be a world conqueror and all, but I've had 400 years to think. Do you know how long that is? Really, all I want now is a stiff drink and something to read. I promise I won't kill anyone. We cool?"

  8. "I wish I had gotten this without help."

    Basically how I feel at the end of every adventure game I play. I grew up with all the Sierra games, and loved them, but never finished any until I got older and started using walkthroughs. These days I can usually get through most of an adventure game without hints, but there's always at least one puzzle where I fail to make some logical leap, or miss some essential pixel. I think the concept of an rpg/adventure hybrid is perfect and should be done more often. If done right (quest for glory,) it can play to the strengths of both, and solve the weaknesses. An rpg can sometimes feel empty in the way it prioritizes player freedom over the narrative power of a staged scenario. Adventure gameplay can get boring, poring over the same few screens, over and over again, looking for the one stupid thing you missed. A hybrid ideally would allow you the freedom to develop the skills of your character in your own way, and use those skills to solve the narrative problems you encounter (without having to depend purely on combat as a plot device,) pushing you forward in a controlled story, but in the way that best suits your way of thinking/playing. Why aren't there more of them??

    1. I think, it is a problem with the Sierra games and games where other developers emulated their gimmicks. I was able to finish at least "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis", "Shannara" and "Simon the Sorcerer 1" without any hints. And that was in the second half of the 90s, when I was about 11-14 years old.

    2. I finished Loom (expert level) without any hints. I was so proud. Grim Fandango, on the other hand...

    3. One of the Simon the Sorcerer games had a puzzle where to get past a guard dog you actually had to pick it up. I felt like punching my monitor after several hours of trying everything only to randomly try that and have it work! Invariably all adventure games have a couple of puzzles like this where the developers probably thought they were being clever but it was really just annoying. Of course there’s also Discworld where the entire game consists of them.

    4. I was really annoyed that Loom had an extra scene for the Expert level. I have really poor pitch discrimination ability, so understanding the melodies without the visual aids was exceedingly hard. I did manage, but it still left me with sour note against a game that I absolutely adore in every other way.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Replies
    1. You sure you want to waste your one question on that?

      Darklands is a 1992 game. I could see starting 1992 about mid-February. Optimistically, it may take me 18 months to finish the year. So depending on where it comes up in the random draw, the median time to expect Darklands is next November.

  11. Please, play "Daemonsgate" (1993)! I couldn`t find any screenshots or videos, showing the game outside of the start city, even on its Steam page...

    1. It's listed as a 1992 game so he'll get around to it at some point in the next couple years :)

  12. Gamefaqs has a message board for Quarterstaff that claims you can get the insane druid into your party by disarming him. I don't have an emulator to confirm though.

    As far as authenticity to a tabletop experience, I believe the very early D&D style play (as done by Gary Gygax) was very much a combat focused dungeon crawl without much plot. It wasn't until the mid 80s that organized plots started to gain traction in tabletop RPGs, so Quarterstaff was probably in development already when that started to happen. I'm specifically thinking of things like Ravenloft, Dragonlance and Warhammer.

    1. Organized plots were a D&D staple well before there. The first Dragonlance novel was published in 1984, and Ravenloft was published in 1983, as was the first version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

      Tabletop roleplaying evolved beyond the simplistic "kick door, fight monster, plunder dungeon, get stuffs" model long before this game would have started development.

    2. Yeah, Grayhawk and Blackmoor predate all of your examples. They were, IIRC, part of the "white book" D&D set.
      They really did put number crunching and combat to the front of the story. D&D grew out of tabletop war gaming, but it did become a running story with a living world and all that.
      From what I've seen of this playthrough, Quarterstaff really offers more pen and paper game play than just about any other game so far.

    3. I first playedD&D in 1979 at college. We had organized plots created by the local DM. Anyone who wanted to DM had to offer more than pointless combat.

      Talking to other people later, this week as the norm among college-age players. Younger players not so much.

    4. I stand corrected. I thought the commercial plot-driven adventures came later in the 80s. I'm not surprised that home games would focus on that earlier, although I wonder if developers at the time would look more to commercially available examples.

    5. Regardless of the timing, Quarterstaff not HAVING much of a plot would be a different thing (and perhaps more forgivable) than Quarterstaff introducing a plot in the manual that it doesn't reference during the game--indeed, that seems to contradict what happens during the game.

    6. Organized non-commercial plots existed in the early days of tabletop D&D. The commercial plot books cane later. But anyone active enough knew of the earlier stuff, presumably including most developers. But there is no way to be sure.

    7. > can get the insane druid into your party by disarming him.

      I saw that, too, a while back, and was intrigued enough that I started a new game of Quarterstaff just to try it out.

      It worked on my second try (had to reload the first time), and I had an Insane Druid in my party all the way to endgame. It definitely made the early battles easier with the extra actions & damage.

    8. That's cool. I wonder if there were any others. It would have been fun to have the CHIEF TORTURER in my party to the end.

  13. I finally finished playing this on my blog (link is to the Quarterstaff articles specifically).

    It sounds like you hit a lot of the same issues I did. It's pretty rubbish as an adventure game too.

    1. Sorry it took me so long to get to this. I just read your entries and really enjoyed them. I appreciate the depth you went into about the interface and the claims of the game materials vs. the reality of the gameplay.

      I don't think I encountered the "no man may pass/no woman may pass" message, meaning I missed some content (or I already don't remember major parts of the game). But your experience shows that you can really just ignore a lot of stuff and charge to the endgame.

      Your link above is broken, so I'll encourage everyone to go here:

      And read Jason's entries. His entries complement mine very well. I cover a lot of plot with less analysis, he deeply analyzes a few elements without covering as much of the map.

    2. From Jason's entries I learned that the magic code word to activate the identify wand is "ODEEPS". Which is SPEEDO backwards. Really? Too much of a coincidence, I think. How often are we still going to see rather groan-inducing examples of the backwards spelling trope?

      Also, a "Dwarven King under the Mountain" (screenshot below "game world" in the GIMLET above)? Hmm, sounds vaguely familiar... (sorry, Chet!). I understand it's an older and broader mythological concept, but still, combined with a dwarf to me the inspiration seems rather obvious.

      I assume Scott Schmitz never wrote to you after briefly showing up in the comments to the first post. Pity. He could have answered these and a couple other (more interesting) questions on the game. But, following up on your question where life took him, maybe he's too busy these days:

  14. Has anyone come up with a list of every single NPC that could join your party? I remember, having convinced myself it was possible, spending a ridiculous amount of time and gifts trying to recruit characters like the Insane Druid, Spike, Rufo and Boffo. Probably was never attainable.


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4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.