An interactive conspiracy

Gareth Rees, August 1995.

When your brother Malcolm sends you a telegram inviting you to visit him at Biblioll College in the ancient university town of Christminster, you imagine that the mysterious discovery he alludes to is nothing more than some esoteric bit of chemistry, and that you'll have a pleasant day out in beautiful surroundings.

But when you get to Christminster, nothing is as you expect. Where has Malcolm vanished to? What are the unpleasant Doctor Jarboe and the positively repulsive Professor Bungay up to? And what do long-forgotten alchemical treatises have to do with the modern day?

Christminster is a text adventure game written in Inform and playable on almost any modern computer. The version 5 story file is available by anonymous FTP, and you should read these instructions to find out how to get an interpreter to play it on.

A sample transcript

You haven't seen your brother Malcolm since he received his fellowship at Biblioll College - pressure of work was his excuse not to come down to London. So when you received that telegram from him you leapt at the excuse to come up to the university town of Christminster for the day and visit him.

An Interactive Conspiracy by Gareth Rees.

Please type "help licence" for details about the absence of warranty and about how you may distribute "Christminster". Type "help" for instructions.
Release 1 / Serial number 950731 / Inform v1502 Library 5/11

Chapel Street
It is a hot summer's day in Christminster, the kind of day that makes you think of strawberries and cream and punting on the river. The morning sunlight beams down on the cobbles and on the great wooden gate of Biblioll College to the east.

The gate is closed.

>knock at gate
The gate is so large that you're not sure if your knocking can be heard inside, but after a short wait the wicket gate opens a crack and an old man peers out at you. "Sorry, love," he says, "but we're closed on Sundays." He shuts the gate.

Somewhere in the distance, the clock of Biblioll College chimes the half-hour.

You are carrying your handbag (which is closed).

>open bag
You open the handbag, revealing a telegram and a map of Biblioll College.

>read telegram
The telegram reads, "Dearest Christabel. Work goes well. Amazing discovery in prospect. Come at once. Will tell all when you arrive on Sunday. Your dearest brother, Malcolm."

You turn right into Bridge Street.

Bridge Street
Bridge Street runs east to west and is bounded to the south by the brick wall of Biblioll College. The street broadens into a square here.

A busking magician stands behind a folding trestle table, exhorting passers-by to come and watch his tricks. On the table are three inverted cups (one red, one green and one blue).

A police constable strolls up the street towards you.

"Roll up! Roll up!" calls the busker.

>constable, hello
"Morning, ma'am," says the constable. "Lovely day!"

"Who'll come and see my magic?" calls the busker.

>look under red cup
There's nothing under the cup.

"Three perfectly ordinary coloured cups," says the busker. He lifts each in turn to show that it is empty. "Nothing under any of them," he says.

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Gareth Rees