Eamon: The Lair of the Minotaur   2 comments

This is the first “full length” game for Eamon past the Beginner’s Cave, and is written by Donald Brown himself.

“Girlfriend” as a choice was automatic. If your character is female it assumes “boyfriend”.

In order to play I had to take a character through the Cave first to gather enough experience in combat, then port that same character into the Lair. I can’t emphasize enough how pleasing this sort of continuity feels; I’m fairly sure this is part of the reason Eamon took off.

There’s sort of a plot?


This doesn’t play nearly as fun as Beginner’s Cave. That game was tight enough that it felt like a genuine dungeon crawl and all the features had a chance to shine. This game has the same problem as Greg Hassett where more space for rooms leads to more rooms that do nothing.


(Click on the map for a larger version.)

Mind you, the RPG system is still relatively strong, and I had emergent sequences like this one:

  • I ran across a “black knight” whose heavy armor was very hard to penetrate in battle; fortunately, the knight fumbled and dropped their sword which I was able to grab. It then proceeded to run away. This led to a weird inversion where I was chasing a black knight trying to hit it (for the weapon experience, of course) like I was the relentless stalker of some horror movie. Eventually I got tired of trying to knock the knight’s hit points down to zero and let it live.
  • In the process of knight-stalking I came across a “wandering minstrel eye” who was friendly and started following me around. Not helping in combat, mind you, just following, like a small puppy.
  • I met an (evil?) priest in a room full of ancient books which I bested in an extended combat. Unfortunately, in the midst of battle the priest decided the wandering eye was a valid target and slew it in a single blow.
  • I found the girlfriend in need of rescue tied to an altar with another evil priest. Unfortunately I was low on health and died before I could free her.

Related to health, I had enough money to come in with a spell this time (HEAL) which predictably healed some damage from prior combats, but as far as I could tell only worked once during the game. It’s almost more like I bought a consumable potion rather than a spell. Maybe it regenerates after enough turns or some such but I wasn’t able to figure out a way to use the spell again.

After the debacle above I made a second character which I first ran through the Beginner’s Cave again trying to get better statistics. That character fumbled and killed himself with his own sword before he could even make it out of that game. Whoops.

I repeated the sequence with a third character and much more successful character before bringing to the Lair. This time I was a bit more selective in my combats and managed to free the girlfriend, who then was able to contribute to combat. I then made my way through the maze (see map above; the “loops” connecting bottom to top were non-obvious) and defeated the minotaur mainly by hanging alive long enough for him to drop his weapon.

The strongest aspect of the game past the regular Eamon system is the amount of optional activity. Since no treasures are “required” and simply result in more gold at the end of the adventure, monsters and puzzles can be ignored to an extent there’s a “branching plot” feel.

For example: There’s a stone with the word “CIGAM” on in and if you SAY the right word (I’ll let you guess which) an emerald will pop out. There’s a portion that appears to be recently dug and if you bring a shovel you will find some gold coins. There’s a room with 5000 silver coins which are tractable to carry if you find a magic bag in another part of the map.

There’s also two “neutral” monsters: a blacksmith with a golden anvil (who is neutral upon you entering his room, but you can kill and rob because D&D) and a gypsy with a wicked looking sword. The charisma stat also comes into play here. I suspect it’s possible to make friends with the black knight with a lucky enough reaction, for instance.


There’s even one “backup item” branch. At the beginning there’s a coffin with a skeleton; if you kill the skeleton you get a “skeleton key” you need to unlock a gate later. If you skip fighting the skeleton (not unusual to occur, there’s a river after which is a one-way trip), the previously-mentioned priest with the ancient books has a skeleton key you can use instead.

While this game and the next couple Eamons are early enough in history I wouldn’t want to miss them, I do suspect enough of them tip far enough into the “RPG” category I may start skipping them in my All the Adventures list. As is, though, Eamon won’t be coming back until I’m out of 1979.

The obligatory Adventure reference.  This is more useful than it might appear, because it makes influences clear; when Jimmy Maher was trying to apply a date to Eamon he was unsure if Donald Brown had seen Adventure at all.

The obligatory Adventure reference. This is more useful than it might appear, because it makes influences clear; when Jimmy Maher was trying to apply a date to Eamon it was otherwise unclear if Donald Brown had seen Adventure at all.

Posted September 5, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

Tagged with ,

2 responses to “Eamon: The Lair of the Minotaur

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. “I had enough money to come in with a spell this time (HEAL) which predictably healed some damage from prior combats, but as far as I could tell only worked once during the game.”

    Sounds like D&D’s Vancian system, maybe, where each spell only works once per adventure (unless you can rest overnight to recover them)? I imagine that would’ve been the dominant idea of a magic system at the time.

    Hmm. I wonder what video game first had a magic system based on regenerating magic points. I thought maybe NetHack ancestors but the screenshots I can find for Rogue and Hack don’t have spell points.

  2. The HEAL spell can be used more than once, but it depends on your spell casting ability.

    From the Players Manual “When you learn a spell, you will start with a random ability in it from 25 to 75% (you will not know what your ability is). As with combat experience, this can be increased every time you successful cast the spell–If a random percentage roll is less than your chance to not have cast it, your ability will go up by 2%. However, there is a catch in casting spells– due to the tiring effects of sending all this power through your body, every time that you attempt to cast a spell REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT THE ATTEMPT WAS SUCCESSFUL your chance for the rest of the adventure is halved. Thus, old Hedric who knows a spell with a 200% ability will always cast it the first time. His second try will also always work (100% of the time). His third try will only work half (50%) of the time. On the fourth try the chance is down to 25%, fifth try 12%, and sixth only 6%. Fortunately for Hedric, however, if you know a spell your chance of successfully casting it can never be less than 5%, so Hedric can use his spell for the rest of the adventure at the same odds.”

    So, as a rule of thumb, you can continue to cast Heal until you are fully healed. The only caveat is there is a 1 in 100 chance that your attempt to cast the spell will overload and you will not be able to cast it for the rest of the adventure (you’ll be told if that happens.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: