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Video Game / TaskMaker

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TaskMaker is a Western RPG, first designed as a Tabletop Game and later adapted for the black-and-white Macintosh in 1989. While almost nothing is known about the board game, the computer version was fairly popular, especially after a 1993 rerelease as Shareware by Storm Impact added color graphics. (The company had previously done the same with MacSki.)

The player is an agent of the title character, sent to fetch objects from various towns and dungeons while gaining experience. Along the way, he has to fight various monsters. The player can also go to shops to buy useful potions, weapons and scrolls to enhance his fighting ability, as well as not-so-useful items. Stats are measured in bars such as food, spirit, health, stamina, etc. — these stats can be depleted and restored at any time, but leveling up increases how much overall he has of each. He can also cast various preset spells to aid in killing monsters, replenishing stats, etc. For the final task, the player is asked to kill a prisoner, revealing the true nature of the TaskMaker to the player.


A sequel entitled The Tomb of the TaskMaker was released in 1997. Due to management issues at the corporate level, the sequel was largely rushed and had many unused dungeons, as well as several glitches. Developer Storm Impact collapsed soon afterward, and the game was never heard of again until David Cook, one of the programmers, released a version 1.0.1 of Tomb on his personal website in July 2008.

Not to be confused with the similarly-named comic book character Task Master, nor with the similarly named British comedy series Taskmaster, or with wrestler Kevin Sullivan who also uses "Taskmaster" as his wrestling name.


Tropes present include:

  • All There in the Manual: The shareware version came with a manual, including maps of every town and dungeon.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The player cannot die or go hungry in the Tutorial.
    • A spell in "Other spell to invoke" can turn off the stepping noise every time a player moves, the "ooph" sound when they run into a wall, and the appearance of random monsters. It can also make the game automatically save upon changing screens (i.e., entering/exiting a town or dungeon).
    • If the player loses a battle to a Devil while in Hell, and is still near the entrance, the Devil will disappear to prevent the player from being cornered.
  • Awesome, but Temporary: Magic items (wands, potions, scrolls) can only be used up to five times before they disappear.
  • Bag of Holding: The player's pouch can hold up to 41 items, regardless of their actual physical size.
  • Bee Afraid: Zig-zagged. Various places have Worker Bees, who are of a Good alignment, very low health and strength, and will not attack unless provoked. Giant Wasp, Giant Hornet, and Giant Killer Bee, on the other hand, play this straight.
  • Big "YES!": The sound effect for leveling up.
  • Bottomless Magazines: All projectile weapons (bows, blow gun, pea shooter, poison darts, slingshot, etc.) have infinite ammo.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • If the game has not been registered, the TaskMaker will break the fourth wall after the second task and tell the player to register the game to continue playing.
    • One NPC says "This game is too tough." when frightened.
  • Cheat Code: Many spells can be entered into "Other Spell to Invoke", including one which summons a(n expensive) food shop, another which summons a(n also expensive) key shop, one which blows away any force field in the player's path, one which returns the player to the docks at the start of the game, one that summons a ship when facing water, etc.
    • One version of the game accidentally left in a spell meant only for game testers and debuggers,note  that allows the player to wish for any object as often as they wanted. Using the spell in subsequent versions sends the player to Hell and force-quits the game.
  • Critical Hit: Called "Double damage."
  • Death Cry Echo: Heard when a player is sent to Hell.
  • Death Is Not Permanent: A player can die and go to Hell an indefinite amount of times. Also, dying while in Hell returns the player to its entrance.
  • Dem Bones: Various enemies are reanimated skeletons, including Skeleton, Aged Skeleton, Skeleton Warrior, Bonecrack, Wight, and Lichened.
  • Developers' Foresight: As mentioned above, the player cannot die in the tutorial; any action that would normally result in death will instead reset the player's health and display a message stating that the player would have gone to Hell under normal circumstances. The presence of this warning shows that the developers were aware of potential ways for a player to die despite the Tutorial having no monsters and very few hazards.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Tutorial level gives an Ethereal Potion, which can either be sold for a high price to get powerful weapons early on, or used to phase through walls near the TaskMaker's throne to access several extremely powerful weapons (which are otherwise inaccessible until the last task).
  • Dual Wielding: It is possible for a player to wield two one-handed weapons.
  • Dungeon Bypass:
    • Invoked in Poet's Nightmare. After deciding that it was too tough in earlier versions, the programmers added a staircase hidden behind a wall. Just one Passwall or Ethereal Potion will get there.
    • Large portions of Enitsirhc can be bypassed by pass-through walls.
  • Easter Egg: Several.
    • Nearly every dungeon has a hidden message in the walls, usually accessible with x-ray vision or an Ethereal Potion. Pentamerous has a very long one that explains the game's history in detail.
    • Attempting to recycle a task object will result in a funny message such as "You can't recycle that! It would turn you into a tuna fish sandwich."
    • There are several amusing easter-egg spells based on Other Spell to Invoke:
      • "Kiss" on a monster or guard drains the player's Spirit and displays the message "You should seek professional help."
      • "Fuck" or "Shit" sends the player to Hell with a message of "Watch your language!"
      • "Eggs" displays the message "Why did you say eggs?"
      • "TaskMaker" cues up the introductory Voice of Dramatic.
  • Empty Room Psych: Played with in Lupercelia Lemma. The whole village is completely abandoned, with nothing but a few random rooms that have nothing in them. The flavor text upon entering the town says that wandering monsters may appear from the random monster generator, but even this is rare.
  • Escaped from Hell: The tricky thing about monsters is there tend to be a limited amount, and randomized ones are rare unless the player stocks up on Make Monsters scrolls. This makes level-grinding tricky, especially for players who just want to kill monsters. When the player dies, he has to make his way through a fiery maze in Fire and Brimstone Hell back to the living, while avoiding respawning devils (three of which are blocked off and can't hurt him). The player can get sent to Hell by casting a spell with a swear word in it. (Or use an item like a Hell Scroll or Adam's Apple that Randomly Drops). Also, the devils re-spawn if the player saves in Hell and reopens the file…
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Attacking an NPC with a Good or Neutral alignment will anger all other NPCs on-screen, even those with an Evil alignment.
  • Excalibur: The name of the most powerful sword. It's found in the Island Prison.
  • Fetch Quest: The main premise.
  • First Town: The player must go to Castle Hall before proceeding to anywhere else.
  • Forced Tutorial: Subverted; there is an option to skip the Tutorial level. However, it may be wise to play it anyway due to Disc-One Nuke.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • If the player's Food drops to 0, the Health bar will deplete very rapidly unless the player finds food. Should the player not have food on hand, it may be difficult to return to a shop before dying again and again. Even more so if the player doesn't have the money to buy food.
    • Unlike when a player dies from loss of health, using an item or spell that sends the player to Hell will not drop inventory. Any items taken into Hell, or looted from Devils within Hell, will be "seized by Hell's customs agents" upon reaching the exit. This means that if a player goes to Hell while carrying a task item, that too will be confiscated, and will not be re-accessible unless the player can revert to an earlier save made prior to entering Hell (or casts "restart place" in the town containing the item).
    • Due to the way the game's built-in virus protection works combined with how MacOS 7-9 handle memory allocation settings, attempting to change the memory allocation to enable the use of display modes higher than 256 colors will render the game unusable, and will require a fresh install.
  • Get on the Boat: Required to get to Vidair's Tower, by sailing out of Pentamerous.
  • Healing Potion: In addition to the traditional one, there are Extra Healing and Instant Weekend, the latter of which gives a bit of restoration to all stats. Various scrolls will restore health and/or other stats to various degrees, including Fully Revive Health and Instant Vacation (which restores all stats). Dagwood Sandwiches and Spinach will also replenish all stats if eaten.
  • Hell Hound: One appears in the graveyard in Castle Hall.
  • Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: The tutorial shows an example of a conveyor belt being used to deny exit from a room, and tells the player to deactivate it by using a switch. However, this particular setup does not occur anywhere in the actual game, and it can still be thwarted by rapidly pressing the arrow keys or casting Haste.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: One of the items available at a shop (or as a random NPC drop) is "Old Empty Chest," which is empty and has no value at all.
  • Intangibility: Ethereal Potion makes the player briefly intangible. The player may walk through walls and resist enemy attacks while intangible, but cannot interact with doors, switches, or dropped items until the effect wears off.
  • Intoxication Ensues: The game features various types of beer, which do nothing but render the player "happy and carefree". Movement will be impaired, fighting skills temporarily lessened, and if the player is drunk enough, he will be unable to properly transact with NPCs or shopkeepers (the game will just say "You've had a little too much to drink" instead). There is also a ring called the "Rich Ring", which will cause the player to heal faster but also intoxicate them.
  • Invisibility Cloak: One is available for sale in the shops. Wearing it will lessen the chance of monsters or otherwise-angered NPCs attacking, but the player will also be unable to interact with shopkeepers or the TaskMaker, and all other NPCs will merely say "I can't see you!"
  • It's Up to You: The player has to do all the fighting, Item Getting, and everything else. None of the NPCs can help beyond sometimes giving hints.
  • Joke Item: Tons are available at the shops and throughout the game. These range from the obvious, such as garbage, skulls, and old bones, to less obvious ones, including several varieties of Macintosh, the aforementioned old empty chest, etc.
    • The Mac models aren't completely useless, as they are often found in dungeons and as monster drops, and sell for a decent amount of cash (early in the game, at least). Also, since they have a high value, bestowing them will work on just about any character other than the TaskMaker.
    • The Wisdom Teeth seem useless at first, but they will prevent the player from being teleported by the final boss.
  • Karma Meter: In a manner of speaking; the game keeps track of how many "good", "neutral" and "evil" beings you kill. In the first game, kill too many good beings (or the Prisoner) and the Big Bad insta-kills the player.
  • Lampshade Hanging: One of the monsters in the game is called a Cameron, a species made up for the game. When happy, it asks, "What's a Cameron anyway?"
  • Level Editor: Sort of. After winning the game, it is possible to edit all of the dungeons.
  • Level Grinding: Pretty much a necessity. It's possible to pull off in the tutorial despite that level not having monsters; just use the entry-level spells (Heal/Cure, Illuminate) enough times and the player can probably get to at least level 7, by which point all of the spells will have been learned.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Almost all dungeons are swarming with NPCs and/or monsters. There are even a few which appear in the Level Editor but are not actually used in-game (not even from the random monster generators).
  • Money Spider: Killing nearly any NPC will find at least one item on their body.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Quietwater was called "Fort McRaven" in early versions of the game. Later versions have an NPC named McRaven appear in Quietwater.
    • In early versions of the game, before Arbalest Catacombs were added, the fourth task was set in "Porta's Sands", a section of sands near Pentamerous. The sands are still there in later versions, but no longer have a name, and digging around them yields gold where the original task object was in the early versions.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Once the developers realized that players were using the secret "summon a ship" spell to access a powerful weapon in Castle Hall's fountain (and thus perform a Disc-One Nuke), later versions patched this by making said spell only provide a message of "We do not tolerate that here!" when used anywhere in Castle Hall.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: One of the randomized lines spoken by an NPC when it dies.
  • Playable Epilogue: After winning the game, a doorway behind the TaskMaker's throne reveals a gateway to "Acknowledgements", a mini-level featuring game credits, shout-outs to relevant people (including the first customer to purchase the Storm Impact version of the game), general messages of positivity, and several of the game devs as NPCs.
  • Player Nudge: If the player returns to the TaskMaker without the current task object, he will become angered and give a hint on how to find it.
  • Poison Mushroom: "Skeleton Scroll" temporarily drains player stats by about 10%, and "Depressions" knocks them down even further. "Devil's Scroll" goes so far as to lower the overall stats.
  • Power-Up Food: Dagwood Sandwich, Spinach, and Home-Cooked Meal replenish all stats along with food. Also inverted in that Instant Weekend or Instant Vacation will restore all stats including food, while Hungergone will instantly top off the Food bar.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: Hell is randomly generated every time the player dies, and again should the player save while in Hell.
  • Schizo Tech: Despite being essentially The Theme Park Version of a medieval setting, the game has "Auto teller" machines, recycling bins, and early-model Macintoshes for sale at some shops.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Pentamerous tricks the player with one of these. The purple TaskMaker floor path that one expects to be a path to the King's Bones actually leads to a room shaped like a devil's head, with encloses the player within thanks to a floor trap. The only way to get out is to use the Escape to Outer Terra spell (which also costs a level), or hope that you have something that lets you back out (such as a Teleport Scroll, an Escape to Outer Terra scroll, or a potion or ring that allows walking through walls).
    • Inverted with the Poison Potion, which will actually increase all stats.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Enitsirhc in the first game, a royal house led by a woman named Christine.
  • Shaped Like Itself: One of the randomly-generated "last words" for an NPC upon dying is "These are my last words."
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skeleton Key: Several towns including Castle Hall have key shops, whose keys that will unlock any door encountered by the player. While each key can only be used once, there is no upper limit on how many may be carried.
  • Speaking Simlish: The sound effect played when conversing with a player is actually the words "fine by me" sped up and multi-tracked. Similarly, the sound effect for reading a scroll is multi-tracked gibberish.
  • Sprint Shoes: Boots o' Speed double the player's speed, allowing two turns for each turn made by an NPC. The Haste spell and Potion o' Speed also give temporary speed boosts, but cannot be used if the player is also wearing said boots.
  • Take That!: Richard Garriott is held in the Island Prison, in a prison covered with feces. (He can only be accessed by phasing through walls.) He says "I don't make games anymore."
  • Teleport Spam: Inverted; the final boss can randomly teleport-spam the player (unless the player is holding Wisdom Teeth).
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: The title character.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The game can become this if you bestow a task item to an NPC and then kill them — quite often, it won't be on their person when they die. However, 1.) bestowing is optional in the first place, 2.) there are plenty of far better objects that can be bestowed, and 3.) using "restart place" will make the task item respawn in its original place.
  • The Unpronounceable: One of the tougher monsters is called the Xlozphroc.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Players who maintain Good alignments will find that their health will replenish much more quickly in the Lost Gardens.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: It is possible to kill off almost every NPC, then use "restart place" to reset the current area and re-spawn every NPC, although this will lower the player's score.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Killing an NPC with a Good alignment decreases Spirit. Also, killing Mom (in Enitsirhc) or Rusty (in Poet's Nightmare) will render the player permanently blind, deaf, and drunk. Both characters will warn the player that "you're making a big mistake!" when their health is sufficiently low.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: The game originally played this straight in two cases, but later versions averted it:
    • One of the tasks involves killing the rebel of Dripstone and bringing his head back to the TaskMaker. The rebel's alignment is given as "unknown" when he is met, and killing him reveals the head rebel to be a Good alignment (which, as mentioned above, will deplete Spirit; it will also anger every NPC in Dripstone). The subversion comes in all versions from 2.0.3 onward, where the player may instead choose to bestow a gift to the rebel, who will present the player with a slave's head and thus cause the TaskMaker to assume that it is the rebel's head instead. The game devs chose to add this workaround to avoid screwing over players who want to maintain a purely Good alignment.
    • The other occurs in the Island Prison from version 2.0 onward. As the prisoner is revealed to have a Good alignment, the player may once again choose to bestow a gift (or do nothing) before returning to the TaskMaker, who will then become provoked and attack.
  • Visual Pun: In Enitsirhc, there is a Skeleton hiding in a closet.
  • Voice of Dramatic: A deep voice says the game's name in the opening screen. The same clip plays again during any interactions with the TaskMaker.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The final boss is about 10 times more powerful than any monster in the game. He can also teleport, deafen, blind, or intoxicate the player, in addition to summoning monsters and healing himself. He used to be nearly ten times more powerful than that in 2.0, but was severely cut down.
  • Wallet of Holding: Zig-zagged. The player can carry forms of currency, but can't use them in a shop until deposited in an Auto Teller. As with any other object, forms of currency take up room in the pouch until deposited. Also, the player will lose any un-deposited currency upon dying. However, money deposited in the Auto Teller or earned from selling shop items has no upper limit, so a good looter can become filthy rich in a hurry.
  • Welcome to Corneria: NPCs and monsters have only four preset lines: one each for happy, neutral, angry, and frightened, plus a fifth randomly-generated "dying words" statement if killed.
  • What the Hell, Player?: As stated above, this happens if the player triess to recycle a task object. Also, if the player attacks a good or neutral NPC, any other NPCs onscreen will become angered and start attacking too, usually with WTHP?-esque statements. Attacking good or neutral NPCs in any town with Guards will also anger the guards and cause them to advance, regardless of how far away from the player they are.
  • Wishing for More Wishes: It's possible to use a "Wish for Any Object" scroll to wish for another "Wish for Any Object" scroll.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: One of the stat bars is Food. This is replenished by buying or finding any food, from Apples and generic Rations up to Home-Cooked Meals and Spinach, which replenish both Food and all other stats. Similarly, an "Instant Vacation" spell will also replenish all stats including Food, Hungergone potions will fill up the Food bar instantly, and a Food Ring will keep the Food bar full at all times. As mentioned above, the Food bar hitting 0 causes the other stats to drain very quickly until the player finds food or dies from his health hitting 0 (or by summoning an expensive food shop if in a pinch).
  • X-Ray Vision: The Vision Cloak allows the player to see through walls.