Archive for the ‘eamon’ Tag

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

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Eamon: Beginner’s Cave (1979)   1 comment

Retro enthusiasts who follow this blog may be wondering why the only home computer featured so far is the TRS-80. I apologize; I did try with Lords of Karma to use a Commodore PET or Apple II version but neither was cooperating. Now, finally, we have our first game designed specifically for Apple II.

I prefer the title screen in monochrome to the color version.

I prefer the title screen in monochrome to the color version.

Donald Brown’s achievement with Eamon really is remarkable. He created essentially an “RPG campaign system” which lets you make a character that can then play in multiple adventures. I’ve occasionally heard talk in the interactive fiction community of a “shared universe of objects” that allows porting things between games, but it never really materialized; here it was done in 1979. (Definitely 1979 even though it’s been reported differently elsewhere; Jimmy Maher has a blog post about the issue.)

Failing at character creation can be deadly.

Failing at character creation can be deadly.

The game starts with you specifying a name (which corresponds to a saved character), choosing male or female, and then being handed a randomly-chosen set of statistics.

Character creation can be deadly even when you do follow directions.

Character creation can be deadly even when you do follow directions.

This is followed by a long set of instructions, which I’ll summarize: There are five weapons classes (clubs/mace, spear, axe, sword, bow) which I’ve just listed in order from easiest to use to hardest, although I gather swords cause more damage than maces and so forth. Armor (leather, chain, plate) makes it harder to be hit but also makes it harder to hit others, and shields are usable when not wielding a two-handed weapon.

You can carry weight up to 10 times your hardiness; your hardiness also serves as your “hit points” although the amount of damage felt is conveyed in text (“YOU DON’T FEEL VERY WELL”) as opposed to numbers. Agility affects your ability to hit monsters. Charisma affects the prices in shops and the friendliness of monsters (more on the latter point later).

There are some magic spells, although as far as I can tell stats don’t affect their use (other than them having effects *to* stats).


I mentioned a “shared universe of objects”; as noted in the screenshot above, it isn’t complete (one author can’t create a magical object which then affects other games) the persistence of money, weapons, and armor is non-trivial and makes the general experience of Eamon feel more like a modular set of stories rather than many distinct ones. (I should add many later Eamon games do end up customizing enough to be stand-alone; there was even an Eamon game in IFComp 2010.)

In any case, after choosing to embark an adventure the player is prompted to swap disks; without swapping disks, they are sent to the “Beginner’s Cave”. The game is emphatic about the “beginner” moniker — if your character is too experienced they won’t be allowed in.


The map is fairly straightforward but does have the feel of a room-by-room Dungeons & Dragons crawl.

The “charisma” statistic plays a big part in what happens. There is a “hermit” and a warrior named Heinrich, both which can be peaceful and follow you around. (There’s random chance going on here, so even with a higher charisma stat it is possible one or the other may not be friendly.) They will then fight with you in combats with monsters, which helps enormously with the chance of survival.


There’s a chest which is really a mimic, a bunch of rats, and a pirate with a sword with a magical flame (that will activate for you with the word TROLLSFIRE). The combat system does make the world does seem a bit dynamic; enemies can run away from you multiple times, causing monsters in one room to end up in another. One time I chased the rats into the room with the hermit. I hadn’t befriended the hermit yet but fortunately he turned out to be on my side and started killing the rats.

“Critical hits” and “critical misses” are in; you can fumble and drop a weapon in the middle of a fight, or kill an enemy instantly with a single blow. (The downside is the same can happen to you; once the pirate killed me in a single blow when I had full health.)

There are magic items, but fortune and death are dealt in equal numbers: There’s a bottle, which when drunk, will heal wounds. There’s a book, which when read, will automatically kill you.

The ostensible “goal” is to gather as much gold and items as possible and then leave once satisfied. However, there’s a secret door (which is revealed by hanging out in a room and LOOKing, just like Lords of Karma) which leads to a priest and a stereotype.


Once the battle against the priest is won, Cynthia will follow you around; rather notably for a videogame escort mission, if getting into combat she will run away to safety rather than get herself killed.

Since the game is essentially goalless, you can leave whenever you like:



Even though Eamon games seems to classify more as “RPG” than “Adventure”, it feels like their popularity at the time is not proportional to historical memory. There are at least 255 Eamon games. Donald Brown clearly provoked some sort of affection for his creation which lasted a long time.

This cover is from a dodgy plagiarized version with the author name stripped out. You can read more details at The Eamon Adventurer's Guild.

This cover is from a dodgy plagiarized version with the author name stripped out. You can read more details at The Eamon Adventurer’s Guild.

Posted September 1, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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