Secret Kingdom: Revenge of the Random Number Generator   11 comments

From Sharpsoft User Notes #6, showing all three of the initial Sharp models (K, A, and B) merged together in an Escher-like contraption.

So, since my last post this has mostly been a pleasant experience. Alas, the wolf was not destined to be my friend.

Specifically, the wolf has a fairly low chance (I’m thinking 2%? 3%?) of attacking, as shown above. It can be defeated specifically with the SWORD that was in the lake (USE SWORD) although another wolf will return eventually. So the wolf serves a function something like the dwarves in Crowther/Woods Adventure. I should point out, though

a.) the dwarves weren’t truly and completely random — they had physical locations on the map and moved around, and there was a limit where eventually you kill them all

b.) (more importantly) they can’t kill you immediately upon sight

Regarding b.), at least a couple times through the game I’ve walked into a room to have a newly-spawned wolf only to die immediately after without a chance to even type a command. Adventure did make it possible to die with no chance (you miss with an axe by random luck, they hit with a knife by luck) but that at least felt like going through an unlucky dice roll rather than instant death for mysterious reasons.

In addition to the wolf being random, the fish that gobbles you in the lake is random.

I was able to get the sword, swim over to the nearby island, grab a torch and *silver goblet* (my first treasure, with the asterisks around it), then swim back safely. On a second swim (and there is a reason for a second swim) I died instantly. Fortunately saving isn’t too rough on my emulator (it has save states); the original used tape saving which would no doubt be slow.

The asterisks strongly put this in the territory of Scott Adams clone, which it already had the vibe of. I’m not checking the source code yet (spoilers, arr) but it is possible the author even used a magazine reprint of Adventureland or Pirate Island.

Fortunately, other than those two elements, there’s only been one other random number element. I mentioned getting frozen in the snow last time. It turns out sometimes you can survive going a step through. Using some save state shenanigans I made it all the way to the end of the two mountain branches which resulted in … the game looping back to the lake again.

I also tested out dropping an item in the snow room, and found out that you see it over and over again (that is, if you drop the STAFF, there will always be a staff in the room as you go north). The game seems to be making it a “fake room” to save space. It will actually keep track of how far north you’ve gone, so if you take four NORTHs and then try to turn around, it will still take four SOUTHs to get back again. The whole section is mysterious and even though I’ve solved quite a number of puzzles after (as you’ll see) this section remains mysterious.

Also, on the left branch, the snow doesn’t exist as an item, and the right side, it does and you can pick it up.

Moving on, I still felt like the HEADLESS man from last time had to now be dead. I was reading the room wrong: there’s a tower very clearly described, but despite “there is a tower in front of you” being right there in the text my brain mentally sorted it as being “in the distance”, but no, it is supposed to be right there. If you ENTER TOWER when the man is alive, he’ll stop you; after becoming headless, he will not, hence is clearly dead.

The lever opens an upper level (with no parser feedback, I originally thought I hit a bug). At the upper level there’s a TREASURE CHEST (which I won’t open until later) and an OLD PARCHMENT which SEEMS WORTHLESS. It is of course highly suspicious and it probably is in actuality valuable but I don’t know how to get it to change over.

In the cellar, going down:

I’ve already been to the inside of the tree; that’s where the treasures go.

The warm clothing, of course, lets you survive the snow without any random chance of death, but I still haven’t found anything useful out there. While I was at depositing my first two treasures, I also went ahead and lit my torch (acquired from the lake island) with the flint and cedar box. It does nothing with the cold area (I was hoping to maybe melt the snow).

Prodding further at things, I found that the SEALED DOOR I ran across earlier is described as being made of salt. I had a WATER BAG from the lake that was filled with water, so I tried POUR WATER. This caused part of the door to dissolve and allowed me to enter.

This drops the player into a small cave system.

To the west there’s a pit of snakes; if you have the torch you can safely drop in as the snakes are scared of the torch.

The chain mail syntax is annoying here. You have to use the verb REMOVE to get it off, you can’t just TAKE MAIL.

Going to the south, there’s a rope and a shovel. You then find yourself at the bottom of the well from earlier; you have to THROW ROPE in order to make a route to escape. I appreciated the inversion here; I expected to find a rope and eventually climb down the well, but instead the well was exited from the other side.

Going to the IRON LADY with the newly-found chain mail, I was able to avoid getting spiked:

Inside there’s a *diamond* and a key. The key goes over to the treasure chest, revealing yet another treasure and a hammer.

For the hammer you’re supposed to think creatively. I did not. I wandered around doing USE HAMMER everywhere.

Ha! Ok, I admit that was clever. The stone incidentally is its own separate item I have yet to be able to use.

I was starting to run out of places to hunt for treasure. I did have the shovel so started of regimen of doing DIG everywhere, while being told NOT HERE. I am proud to say I realized fairly quickly the best place to try would be the island back in the lake.

One last treasure I eked out by getting the BOW and ARROW over to the bird and typing SHOOT BIRD. It dropped a gold ring.

This makes me sad.

Putting everything together so far:

I’m truly stumped now, though. Each treasure has been worth 10 points, so there’s almost certainly three left.

Pretty much I just have the snow area left un-prodded. There’s also the OLD PARCHMENT that still claims to be worthless, and the OIL that smells like FIERCE FISH I have yet to use. I have some RAGS where I feel like I could dip them into the OIL, then maybe set a trap for the big monster fish. Unfortunately, that’s just a feeling, because no verb I’ve tried has worked.

A source dive is still possible! We’ll see if I can hang on to the end.

(Oh, and if you’d like to try the game yourself, I have it packaged with an emulator here. Just load the third save state and you’re good to go.)

Posted April 18, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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11 responses to “Secret Kingdom: Revenge of the Random Number Generator

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  1. I’d wonder about holding the parchment over a flame (or finding some lemon juice?) to reveal invisible ink, but that seems like it might be hard to convey to the parser.

  2. But you said you could use the warm clothes to go into the snowed part without dying, no?

  3. “hence is clearly dead”

    At the very least, the guard’s newfound state of headlessness has definitely contributed to the dereliction of his guard duties.

  4. Maybe I’m overly suspicious of British games at this point, but the phrase FIERCE FISH feels odd enough that I wonder if it’s meant to be non-literal, an anagram or the like. Would FIRE CHIEFS be useful anywhere?

    • alas no

      I did figure out the oil though. It is slightly buggy. If you do it early enough in the game you can WEAR OIL. (somewhere along the line WEAR OIL will give a you-can’t-do-that message, I think once you have the warm clothes on, yet you can wear the oil and the clothes simultaneously)

      The RAG is also useful for doing USE RAG which gets rid of the oil. I’m not sure why you’d need to get rid of the oil but I suppose I should test it out.

      The whole purpose of wearing the oil is you are now 100% safe from the lake monster

      • ha! ok, if you have the oil on when you are holding the lit torch, it lights you on fire, oops

        since you need the shovel from the same cave with the pit of snakes, the right sequence it wants seems to be to skip the pit of snakes, get the shovel, get out, do the island again and use the shovel, and only then clean yourself off with the rags

        also, I was wrong on the OIL, it seems to be just it can only be in certain places so WEAR will work? I think maybe if you’re at water it won’t work

  5. I’ve discovered treasure number 8.

    1. Gur ireo yvfg gevrq rneyvre vf zvffvat n ireo gur tnzr erpbtavmrf.
    2. N ireo sbe n fcrpvsvp glcr bs zbirzrag, bayl ybtvpny va n fcrpvsvp glcr bs cynpr.
    3. QVIR.
    4. Ohg gelvat QVIR juvyr fjvzzvat va gur ynxr whfg pnhfrf lbh gb qebja.
    5. Gurer qbrfa’g frrz gb or nal cbegnoyr nve fbhepr be oernguvat gbby rvgure.
    6. Nabgure ireo vf hfrshy urer.
    7. Guvf chmmyr, V guvax, ervasbeprf gur vqrn gung gur perngbe jnf snzvyvne jvgu Fpbgg Nqnzf tnzrf.
    8. Cnegvphyneyl, Fnintr Vfynaq.
    9. UBYQ OERNGU naq *gura* QVIR.

    • avast! I was hoping your treasure 8 and my treasure 8 would be different

      I did go ahead and prod at source code but it hasn’t been super helpful on 9 and 10. There’s a “window” somewhere and there’s a location that’s on a window ledge but I haven’t been able to find that anywhere.

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