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Video Game: Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth

Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth was a Western RPG made for the Apple Macintosh and released in 1988 by the Activision-subsidiary incarnation of Infocom. The plot was simple. You, the blacksmith Titus, are charged with finding out what happened to the Tree Druids living underground.

Something very bad. And that's not even getting into the Sealed Evil in a Can.

The gameplay was remarkably complex. If you got more characters to join you, you could have them go their separate ways; and The Dev Team Thinks of Everything; many actions had results that were unheard of at the time. However, Guide Dang It issues quickly required a Strategy Guide to be built into the game, and even that didn't cover everything.

One such thing was the utterly complicated Feelies/Copy Protection. A wooden "coin" covered with letters, and when added to a compass, and when one solves 4 different riddles; gives you the magic words you use the Identify Wand. Curiously, one could technically beat the game simply through Save Scumming the effects of items; (although most wands also had activation words.)

Oh, and by the way. "Gurz" identifies Keys; "Nesoe" identifies Potion; "Odeeps" identifies Wands, and "Falp" identifies Scrolls. It's ancient abandonware.


The game contained examples of the following tropes:

  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: You can actually do this. Commanding someone to shoot an arrow at a weapon held in someone's hand or their inventory and being successful (this can be tricky) actually results in the item being dropped. Everyone can drop their weapon.
  • Guide Dang It: Oh, very.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The Granite Statue in the Circular Hall has 1000 HP (most have around 100-200, and a successful hit takes off 10-20 damage) and can kill you in 2-3 hits. You are expected to run through the room, beat the puzzle to open the door to which way you want to go, and lick your wounds on the other side.
  • Missing Secret: There is no secret room behind the L-shaped corridor. Examining the gamecode shows this.
  • Save Scumming: How anything is accomplished.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Curiously, the game doesn't really hint that Setmoth is able to get out. You mostly break into his Tomb because you can. Better be able to kill the demon, because otherwise...
  • Strategy Guide: Built into the second version of the game.
  • Title Drop: The Subtitle "The Tomb of Setmoth" is obvious enough; but "Quarterstaff" is rather curious. There are a couple of Quarterstaves in the game (and the one in the Grand Druid's sepulcher is one of the best weapons against demons (it's Cold Elemental) but there's nothing mentioned in the backstory.


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