Archive for the ‘adventure-448’ Tag

Adventure 448 (1978-1979)   10 comments

Adventure 448 is a variant of Adventure that isn’t listed (as of this writing) on Nathanael Culver’s giant list of variants, nor does it appear anywhere in the archives. As far as I can tell it simply has been dematerialized from history until very recently. I came across it in rather a strange manner —

Last year, early source code for Zork (circa 1977) was unearthed from MIT archives and put up at Github. This later became playable via a telnet link, which I tried out, but didn’t dive into deeply (I will eventually write about 1977 Zork more in depth, but it hasn’t been a priority).

Unrelatedly, Aaron Reed has recently embarked on a “50 Years of Text Games” series, writing about one text game each week; in 1977 he covered Zork. As part of that he mentioned being able to play Zork online, linking to Andrew Plotkin’s page.

Out of curiosity, I tried the link which included these instructions:

You can try the ITS environment online! Telnet to, port 10003 (telnet 10003). When it says “Connected…”, hit ctrl-Z. Then type :login yourname. (Any name will work.) Then type :zork to play. :advent is also available; that’s the original Crowther version. You can also try :games;adv350 and :games;adv448.

This boggled me for a second — I wasn’t looking at Zork, but rather the last statement, about adv448. I’d never heard of such a thing, and after checking all my sources, nobody else had either. I consulted with Lars Brinkhoff (one of the main people behind the MIT archive finds) and he said someone else had added adv448 to the PDP emulator that Zork was on, and he gave the credits from the source code:

C Modified for the Brown University system, April 1978
C Dave Wallace ’78
C Dave Nebiker ’79
C Eric Albert ’80
C Modified for the ITS system, July 1979 by EJS@MC

The actual game itself doesn’t list any of the names, but just states “Additional features added at Brown University.”

For most mainframe games with a long time span, the vast majority of the work was done early, and the later dates involve bug fixes (like Warp, Haunt, and Battlestar). Given this game passed through at least four different pairs of hands, I’m not sure if the same metric applies; however, for mainframe games I’ve been going by “first time available to people other than the authors”. I can’t definitely say what happened here, but to be internally consistent with the other versions of Adventure I’ve written about I’ll be shelving it on my big All the Adventures list as 1978.

ADD: Arthur O’Dwyer made the point that the years ’79, ’80’ and ’82 are probably graduation years, so that means it was done all in one go at Brown in 1978, with the “modified for the ITS system” happening a year later in 1979. That makes sense to me (and otherwise the sequence listed is a bit mystifying) so I changed the title to be just 1978-1979.

I knew I had to make this game priority on my queue, not just due to the mysterious circumstances of it being unearthed, but due to the generally ephemeral nature of telnet servers (although I hope the Zork one stays up a long time!)

While I’ll need to do another test run, it looks like nothing outside is changed, but the famous building is slightly different.

You are inside a building, a well house for a large spring.
There are some keys on the ground here.

There is food here.

There is a bottle of water here.

I didn’t make a typo: there is no lamp! The game forces you to use the iconic grate before reaching the lamp.

You are in a 20-foot depression floored with bare dirt. Set into the dirt is a strong steel grate mounted in concrete. A dry streambed leads into the depression.

The grate is locked.

unlock grate

The grate is now unlocked.


You are in a small chamber beneath a 3×3 steel grate to the surface.
A low crawl over cobbles leads inward to the west.
There is a shiny brass lamp nearby.

I find this an interesting change, and not one I’ve quite seen before. Other versions allow skipping unlocking the grate altogether and blazing through with already-known magic words, but here the authors wanted to force one particular narrative.

That means in Adventure 448 there should be a lamp in this picture. Detail from map by Dennis Donovan.

I haven’t checked far enough to see all the differences, and assess if the changes are major or minor, but here’s the room north of the Hall of the Mountain King.

You’re in the throne room where the walls are covered with large brightly painted murals of Colossal Cave and the lands surrounding it. In the center of the room is a large throne on a raised dias. To the south can be seen the entrance to a large hall while a low passage exits to the north heading slightly downwards.

There is an old crown sitting on the throne!

The resemblance is strong enough I’m wondering if there’s some relation to David Long’s Adventure 501

You are on the east side of the throne room. On the arm of the throne has been hung a sign which reads “Gone for the day: visiting sick snake. –M.K”
An ancient crown of elvin kings lies here!

but I’ll need to get in deeper to tell. My suspicion is this is just coincidence caused by the fact that the named “Mountain King” strongly hints to writers who want to extend the game that it would be appropriate to insert something royal nearby.

Posted February 21, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure 448: The Shape of a God   7 comments

I’ve gotten through all the new material and found all the new treasures (all six of them). The ending is apparently unchanged (and I’ve, uh, seen it before a few times) so I skipped getting to that. Special thanks to Arthur O’Dwyer who came up with a full walkthrough that I needed to refer to multiple times.

Just to clarify from my last post, the years ’78, ’79, ’80, and ’82 are almost certainly graduation years. So the initial crew of four at Brown University (Dave Wallace, Dave Nebiker, Eric Albert, Les Wu) did their work in April 1978, and Eric Swenson (“EJS@MC”) converted the game for the MIT system a year later.

April 1978 is extremely early; there were no adventures for home computers as of yet, the first coming out in summer of that year (a conversion of Adventure for Heathkit). Adventureland and Pirate Adventure came later. The authors had Zork to refer to, but other than than that they almost certainly hadn’t seen anyone else’s efforts (like Mystery Mansion, Wander, or Acheton) so this is in the earliest depths of adventure gaming, where people were making it up as they went.

The immortal bird and snake fight, which I’ve now seen on loop across many iterations of Adventure, including Crowther’s original. Even this scene has had additions — in particular Don Woods in his “version 2” Adventure put a scene where you can bring the bird outside to a forest — but it generally has been left untouched. Picture from the AMC Halt and Catch Fire version of Adventure.

When I approach one of these games, I always started with my Trizbort file of 350-point Adventure, assuming it gets used as a base, and then run through the map marking as I go which rooms have been checked. Once I start to hit new geography I add new rooms with a special color so I know they weren’t part of the original map.

I found the Throne Room last time, but I had the bad luck of finding the last extra rooms right at the end of my survey. I had been starting to think the Throne Room was the entrance to all the new material, but no: the new stuff is shuffled up next to the entrances to the mazes (all alike and all different).

Some tweaks are minor; the silver bars got moved to a new room, the pirate lair got moved slightly for some reason. The essential “main attractions” are a wizard tower and a druid temple. They are essentially independent of the main game, with one exception.

Here is how the wizard tower opens:

You’re on a spiral staircase lit by torches with an eastern door.

The game uses Adventure’s unfortunate feature of “probabilistic exits” to make the geography messy here. If you go up one floor, going east kills you

You enter a thick, cold, gray mist. You seem to be falling forever and the light slowly fades away.

If you go up twice (without interference from the random number generator) and east, you can find a dagger

You’re in a small hexagonal room with a single door in the west wall.

There is a short ornate dagger here.

but in all likelihood you’ll hit a few “loops” that make the staircase seem endless, and if you aren’t being careful, kill yourself as shown above. This has been a source of endless suffering for me in the past (see especially the “secret exit” room from a maze in Adventure 500) but at least here it was thematic — I totally expect a wizard tower to have weird, TARDIS-like geographical oddities going for it.

Incidentally, going one room up again — with an identical staircase room — and trying to go east leads to death

A hoard of angry dwarves charges through the door as soon as you open it. They are brandishing all manner of weapon and you get crushed in their rush downstairs.

but we can get in there from a different direction. Still, the preponderance of confusion and deathtraps feels slightly off from 350-point Adventure.

There’s something higher if you keep going up but you need an item first to reach the top, which you can find from the magician himself, who you’ll find by going down rather than up.

You’re in the Magician’s Chamber, a large pentagonal room with a spiral staircase leading up from the center of the room.

The magician’s staff is leaning against the wall.

The Magician is here gesturing frantically in front of the elven door.

There is a massive stone Elven door set into the western wall. The surface of the door is covered with indecipherable runes.

Just like the dwarves, violence is the answer to this one.


Your dagger strikes the Magician, who stumbles back in astonishment and vanishes in a cloud of orange smoke.

It maybe should have occurred to me I just killed a Gandalf-analogue, frustrated at trying to get an elven door open, because the next step is the magic word FRIEND. The source code has the text “Speak, friend, to enter” but I wasn’t able to get it to appear; READ DOOR or READ RUNES don’t work.

(The famous door showed up a year later in a game set in actual-Tolkien-verse, Ringen, although in that game you had to nerd out and use the Elvish version of the word.)


You’re in a long straight corridor ending in a massive slab of stone to the east. To the west a slightly smaller corridor continues while there is a passage leading up to the northwest and another leading down to the southwest.

Nearby you can get a “gleaming coat of Mithril chain mail” which you can’t wear (“The mithril mail is a small size, even for dwarves. You don’t stand chance of getting it on yourself.”) and explore some more Tolkien-fan-fiction room descriptions, before finally arriving back in the magic spiral staircase.

You’re in the Dwarves Great Hall where in the past were held great feasts and displayed the most beautiful of their craft. Now the hall look as if a great battle had been waged here. All the smaller passages leading out have been blocked intentionally. The only exits are wide staircases leading down to the west and up to the east.

Once you’re holding the wizard staff (which you can scoop up after killing the magician) you’re also able to get out of the loop in the spiral stair to make it to the top of the tower.

You’re in the magician’s tower, a small cluttered room filled with all manner of strange artifacts, the purpose of which cannot be kenned immediately. The walls of the chamber are themselves cloaked in shadows which seem to move of their own accord. There is one small window in the wall but it is far over your head and lets in a minimum of light. Torches set in the wall across from the window supplement the meager light but the entire room seems to disapprove of light and gloom clings to all the corners. In the center of the room a spiral staircase descends into to the lower levels of the cave.

There is a dusty old broom lying on the ground.

There is a large map on the wall.

There is an unadorned gold ring on a hook on the wall!

The Magician’s Book of Spells is here.


The map shows a small complex of rooms connected to the throne
room by a passage beneath the throne.


The book seems to be a big book of fairy tales. This particular tale concerns an adventurer wandering around in a cave.

The ring counts as a treasure and “being royal”. The ring and the crown from last time are useful for a scene elsewhere; one outside of the wizard tower, but only a few steps away.

You are at a crossover of a high N/S passage and a low E/W one. You are in a slightly sloping N/S passage which seems to fall off sharply not too far to the North. There is a ONE WAY sign pointing in that direction.

The new passage (heading north) leads down to a druid temple.

You are in a large chamber decorated like an ancient Druid temple continuing to the west with passages leading off to the north and south. A large stone dominates the center of the room.

The sword is firmly imbedded in the stone!

I needed to check the walkthrough here; GET SWORD just says “You can’t be serious!” and you have to PULL SWORD. You need to be sufficiently royal (wearing both crown and ring) otherwise you get this:


TUG! GROAN! It seems to be stuck. Shall I keep pulling?


Oh Dear! It seems I pulled a little too hard. The sword has shattered into many tiny pieces.

At least it asks before you step into your own softlock? If things go well, you get a treasure instead. (No, you can’t fight stuff with the sword.)


Voila! The sword has slid effortlessly out of the stone.

There’s a small area nearby where you can SWEEP with the broom from the wizard tower in hand to find a secret area.

The passage leads northeast and northwest.

There is a large piece of crystal here carved to the shape of a God!

If you have the crown and ring, you can escape and take a secret passage back to the Throne Room.

There is one more secret treasure; the broom is useful elsewhere. If you have your Adventure map memorized, you might know where it goes:

You are in a large room full of dusty rocks. There is a big hole in the floor. There are cracks everywhere, and a passage leading east.


Your sweeping stirs up the dust and reveals a piece of paper on the ground.




“Congratulations. Due to your extraordinary abilities as an adventurer, you have won a full four-year scholarship to the College of your choice — limited to Cambridge Massachusetts. Sorry, but Harvard excluded. Void where prohibited by law.”

The code is structured such that Arthur O’Dwyer and Nathanael Culver suspect changing the diploma from Brown to MIT is the only extra change when EJS@MC converted the Brown game to the MIT system.

I very much appreciate that this piece of early history got unearthed — even relative to other “mods” of Adventure this is quite early, only beaten by Adventure 366 (which only tweaked the game in a minor way) and possibly Crystal Cave (which is more like an entirely new game based on the Adventure base game, and where I’m still very uncertain on the dating).

The broom in particular applying both to the self-contained world of the expanded universe and making a new use for an old location was quite delightful. I think the randomizer was perhaps too heavily abused in the wizard tower, but at least there was a plot reason for it. Just to get very specific at the code level (referring to O’Dwyer’s work again), here is the spot on the stairs next to the dagger.

East goes to the dagger room.

Down goes two steps down with probability 60%, one step up with probability 15%, and loops to the room the player is already in with probability 25%.

Up goes one step up with probability 60%, two steps down with probability 15%, and loops to itself with probability 25%.

Just dropping a few items as reference alleviates the problem here, but it’s still a bit unnerving to play through.

One final update to mention: Adventure 448 is now enshrined within Nathanael Culver’s list of Adventure variants, which means it … exists for real, I suppose?

Posted February 26, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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