Spelunker Play-By-Post   30 comments

To recap: I found an obscure, probably-only-ever-played-by-a-literal-handful-of-people game in the October 1979 issue of the magazine Micro. Partly due to it being printed in a magazine, it’s meant to be played with a “guide” who reads the location descriptions printed therein.

We’re going to do a little experiment where you, yes, you the readers, get to play. I’m going to consider the map off the cover to be fair game:

as well as this verb list:

Opening screen:

As the guide, I can also say:

You are at the mouth of a large cavern. The sides of the entrance slope steeply upward, and a mysterious passage leads west into the cave.

There is a KNIFE, TENT, TRUCK, and LIGHT here.


1. Post a comment with one or more parser commands you’d like to do.

2. After a unspecified amount of time I will take all the commands and try to put them in some sort of sensible sequence. If one player wants to pick something up and the other wants to move to a different room, I will sequence the item-picking first.

3. If two commands are contradictory, but one commands has been “voted on” more than the other, I will go with the majority. If there is a tie (say one person wants to go west and the other person east), I will flip a coin.

4. I will be posting future screens / room descriptions / responses to this post until it gets somewhat full, then making a new one which summarizes the action and keeps things going. Also, I’m going to use “guide discretion” and may occasionally give responses not provided by the Apple II program, but I will specify when it’s the computer and when it’s me.

Good luck! You’re welcome to plan/discuss in addition to just giving parser commands.

Posted March 23, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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30 responses to “Spelunker Play-By-Post

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  1. take light
    take knife
    take tent
    drive truck

  2. TAKE KNIFE AND LIGHT (I suppose that doesn’t work, but)

  3. screenA

    Neither “DRIVE TRUCK” or “START TRUCK” was accepted, but I’m going to cut the frustration and note that going NORTH will do the equivalent.


    [ Congrats, you’ve made it home without exploring the cave or meeting any dangers whatsoever! Play again Y/N? ]

    I’m happy to rewind you back to where you have the light, knife, and tent, and you can continue from here.

  4. “drive s” – if not accepted, then just “s”

  5. DRIVE SOUTH just goes GOOD-BYE again (apparently the intended syntax was DRIVE NORTH but it didn’t bother to check if the direction was correct).

    For the other command:


    This narrow, fast flowing river is outside the cavern. It runs south for a few yards and then disappears underground.

  6. What’s with that directional box at the upper right? Is it suggesting that the only way out from here is back N? In any case, I’ll probably try “N” here to make sure it gets back to home, and if so, go S to get back here, and then try S again. If “N” doesn’t lead home, I’ll stop and read the new description while contemplating my next move. If “S” from here doesn’t work, I’ll try “DOWN” or “STREAM” to try and follow the stream.

  7. drink river

  8. Since everyone else is getting in there with the really useful commands, BITE ME.

  9. @David: It’s a compass rose giving possible directions, yes.

    Going down went back to the Mouth. “Stream” didn’t work.


    A towering, withered tree stands in what appears to be a dried up river bed. From it you seem to hear echoing sounds saying, “Water…water…water…”

    >BITE ME not understood.

  10. Go back to the river, then TAKE WATER

  11. Back to the tree, then USE WATER. Or THROW WATER. Or DROP WATER.

  12. PUT WATER?

    (Also, is it known that all commands are verb-noun at most?)

    • >PUT WATER, >PUT WATER ON TREE, >THROW WATER ON TREE, >USE WATER ON TREE all not useful. I think it’s time for GuideHint ™.

      [ For a towering tree in a dried up river bed, just throwing water on it doesn’t seem like it’d help. Maybe you should leave it alone for now. ]

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  14. I guess looking at the map, we have to unfreeze the river and then it’ll flow down to the tree. Ok then, perhaps we should go back to the mouth and go west. Perhaps we need to USE or START the LIGHT first, but let’s see.

  15. Yeah, I second what Dan said.

  16. Time to fuck around out of curiousity: Kill me, cut tent, put tent on truck, crash truck

  17. Nothing much from “Kill me, cut tent, put tent on truck, crash truck” except for this one:


    [ Congratulations, you have stabbed yourself to death. Good-bye cruel world! Play again? (Y/N) ]

    Ok, back to Dan’s idea. The tree room is already west of the mouth, so I’m guessing you meant >S from the tree room and then >USE LIGHT



    The writing room is a large, oval chamber with tall ceilings and massive stalagmites. The smooth eastern wall has some writing on it — cryptic characters that spell out, “THE SPIRITS OF THE FRUIT.”

    There is a BOMB here.

  18. TAKE BOMB, LIGHT BOMB (let’s see what happens!), then, I dunno, let’s go south to the swift river room

  19. Also, I would like to register a guess that “the spirits of the fruit” means like wine or brandy or something, although I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with it. Maybe pour it on the wall.

  20. OK, I have to backtrack on something. The game gave no feedback whatsoever on applying the water to the tree, so I assumed it was wrong, but there is in fact an item that wasn’t there before that pops up once you apply the water. I guess I’m supposed to provide the message.

    [ The tree groans thankfully, a little thirst quenched, and lowers a branch to reveal an apple. ]

    As you all seem to be greedy adventurers, I’m going to presume you grab the apple. Let’s return back to the action.


    LIGHT is a noun, not a verb in this game, but I can do USE.


    Unfortunately, your explosion caused part of the cave to collapse and you can no longer go north! Did you want to undo?

  21. Hunh, interesting! But it didn’t do anything good? I guess we used it in the wrong room so we should undo.

  22. screenL

    You hear swiftly running water as you enter this room, and you see a narrow, churning underground river flowing to the south.

  23. Go back to the writing room and try “USE APPLE”. (The spirits of the fruit might mean the apple, although maybe we’ll have to make some apple brandy at some point, or something like that.)

  24. Seems like using the bomb on the frozen river might also be worth trying. I’m making that as a suggestion, not entering it as a command–someone else can sign off on that.

    Maybe RUB APPLE in the writing room, also.

    Are there any easily accessible rooms we haven’t visited yet?

  25. USE doesn’t work, but BITE does.


    [ The apple is tasty, but you don’t feel low enough on energy to need any food right now. ]

    Also, good news! I figured out how to get the items to display in the room description (although the guide is still necessary to read room descriptions and “give hints”).

    Line 9320 in the source from the disk said

    9320 IF (STA(1) MOD 100)#LOC THEN 9360

    but it’s supposed to say

    9320 IF (STA(I) MOD 100)#LOC THEN 9360

    So any further issues like the apple appearing should be cleared up.

  26. Weird, so the game doesn’t provide any response to successful commands, you just have to intuit it was successful because it doesn’t give an error message?

    Anyway, hmm, let’s try going back to the river room and TAKE WATER and GO RIVER here to see if anything happens (perhaps we’ll be swept away to our doom). Then if that doesn’t work, we should go .. west, I think from the writing room, the way we haven’t gone yet.

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