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Written By Jonathan Partington

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'All hail, great master, grave sir! Hail! Welcome ever smiles, and farewell goes out singing...'

In this light-hearted but immensely challenging look at The Bard's world throught he keyboard of modern man, you find yourself, after watching too many Shakespeare plays (or perhps reading them) wandering around a strange land. Here they use a richer language than usual and some of the scenes remind you of certain Shakespeare plays. How you are going to return succussfully to the present day is something that you will have to find out for yourself!

Why does the adventure take place on three different dates? What is the significance of the lady Portia's caskets? Why does Yorick sometimes say "Golesida" and sometimes something else? Why do you suddenly find yourself wearing an ass's head? These are just some of the tantalising puzzles that you'll meet when you welcome AVON...An exhaustive knowledge of the Shakepearean Canon is not necessary as, in most cases, just the problems rather than the solutions are taken from Shakespeare. If you get really stuck, Topologika's much-praised on-line 'Help' system is there to stop the sighing...

Avon is Jonathan Partington's first release since his best-selling Kingdom Of Hamil (also available from Topologika).

Hotel Topologika
1st April 1989

Little Seedbottom
Near Stratford

My Dear Aunt Jocasta,

How are you? How is Uncle George? I hope you got my letter from Paris. The Louvre was just amazing, and the hamburgers in the fast food opposite Gare du Nord were nearly as good as yours.

I will be eternally grateful to you both for enabling me to see Europe. Despite having been born and brought up in the States, I still feel, like you, so British! Seeing the land of one's ancestors in one's youth is surely better than hanging on for one's retirement. It's a shame your health wasn't up to the trip.

Thank you for your card. Yes, I had an interesting twentieth birthday. I treated myself to an excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's town. 'Treat' is probably not the correct word. It was the weirdest trip I've ever known.

It began like any other. According to the coach driver, we had six hours free. I tried to stay with Araminta (that girl I wrote you about from Paris) but she went off with some 'Nam veteran.

Anyway, Ann Hathaway's cottage was out of this world. I had a cup of English tea, then bought some postcards (I've put one in with this letter to save a stamp), then found this guaint old antique shop. That's when things started to go wrong. Well, not exactly wrong. They just started to, well, happen. I'll try to explain.

This old, brass cauldron in the shop window caught my attention as I walked by. The shop was run by these old ladies, and when I said that I was interested in viewing the cauldron, they flipped. I mean they seemed to think I really did want it, and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. Of course there was no way that I could have shipped it back to the States. It was even more enormous than that old rocking chair you used to have! (Did Uncle George ever fix it for you?)

My refusal seemed to offend them. They began to cluck and moan. I felt like I was in a Spielberg movie! I was out of there quick, I can tell you. I could swear one of them was after me with a broom. Outside the shop was this enormous pine tree which seemed to groan - yes, groan - as I ran past it. I took refuge in a pet shop a couple of blocks away, where an asp tried to bite me! I dived into the museum (strange to be in a country where people have to pay to check that no one has run off with their own heritage). I got out of there when an ass's head looked me up and down.

Well, all this had brought on a migraine, so I asked a policeman where I could find a drug store. He looked at me kinda strange, as did the chap in the drug store, shoving this green, bubbling phial under the counter as he sold me some pills.

Outside, the spring sun was still up, so I headed for the river. The Avon was as beautiful as Fodar's said it would be. I began to feel a whole lot better, strolling along, letting the pills and the fresh English air do their thing. Maybe I'd imagined it all. Maybe I was just overtired. I'd sure done a heck of a lot of travelling in the last few days. Maybe it was all just a bad dream, and I'd wake up in a minute or two back on the coach.

I must have taken a wrong turning. Suddenly I had the strangest of feelings. Don't ask me how, but right then I began to realise what was going on, and the thought sent a shock down my spine. Before my very eyes, the scenery was changing. The woods across the river looked like Scotland, the streets might have been Egypt, or London or Venice - anywhere. There was nothing I could get my bearings from. Modern Stratford was leaving me behind.

Even the ground at my feet looked different, unnatural. It was made of boards. I wondered if I was on some sort of platform or stage. Maybe I'd strayed onto some sort of riverside film set, I thought: that would explain some things. But the whole area looked too realistic: those were real trees, real buildings, and across the river, the suddenly muddy, boiling river, were real people.

But wait: why were they pointing at me? It was horrible; I hate people staring at me. This was worse: they were talking about me too, their voices drifting across the churning water: "Marry, 'tis a strange churl, that standeth over there. Methinks it knoweth not the time of day!"

Then I realised something even more horrible. Their clothing was completely different to mine. Where I was wearing Levis and my old football shirt (I know you disapprove of that, Auntie, but when one is travelling) these olde worlde hippies had on long flowing garments that swung stiffly in the increasingly chill breeze. It felt like winter, was winter, and it would be dark within minutes.

To cut a long story short, I was standing in a world that, although it was at that moment definitely not Stratford-upon-Avon, still had this Shakespearian flavour. I'd been transported into The Bard's world - the world of his plays - and players.

You're thinking your nephew's gone nutty, I suppose, that Europe has gone to my head. Please please believe me, Auntie. This really happened. I had to use all my wits to get back to the modern woruld. Luckily, I didn't need to know all that much about the Bard himself - or his works.

Not time for any more right now, Auntie. I'll write again in a day or so. Don't worry about me. How is Uncle George getting on in Kashmir?

Your loving nephew,


Screen Display

The top line contains a short description of where you are, together with your current score. The bottom section displays your current location in greater detail, together with your own input and the game's responses.

Specimen Commands

- takes the first relevant object
DROP - similar
HELLO - equivalent to saying it
LOOK - gives a full description of where you are
SAVE - stores your current position on disk
RESTORE - brings back the saved game
RESTART - begins at the beginning
VERBOSE - makes program always give the full description of where you are
NORMAL - makes program give full description the first time you arrive at a new place, with short descriptions for later visits
INVENTORY - lists your current possessions

The Puzzles

You may be puzzled why the EXAMINE command is of only limited use. The game is conceived in such a way that in solving the puzzles you are not involved in merely happening to discover things about the objects. It is only by manipulating them where possible, or combing them in some way, that the relevant features are revealed. Some locations, however, do contain hidden depths...

On-line Help

If you get completely stuck, on-line help is available by typing HELP. Look up your problem on the list of hints and give the hint number you require.

You will then be given some sort of clue. The HELP facility is structured in stages so that you will initially get a partial clue, and will be given due warning if the entire puzzle is about to be revealed to you!

Keyword     AVON Hints                                              Hint
ANGLER      What can I do with the angler?                            10
ARDEN       How can I get through Arden?                              65
            What can I do at the clearing in Arden?                   66
ASP         How can I avoid being killed by the asp?                  39
ASS         How can I avoid having an ass's head put on me?           33
BANQUET     What is the purpose of the banquet?                       49
BARGE       How can I get off the barge?                              40
BEACH       What can I do at the beach?                               35
BEAR        How can I get past the bear?                              21
BIRNHAM     What can I do in Birnham Wood?                            51
BLOOD       How can I remove the smell of blood from my hands?        48
BUTT        I can't get past the butt of Malmsey wine.                 7
CAPITOL     How can I avoid being killed in the Capitol?              32
CASKETS     How can I tell in which order to open the caskets...
               ...on January 6th?                                     17
               ...on March 15th?                                      31
               ...on June 24th?                                       42
CAULDRON    Which object should I shoose from the witches' cauldron...
               ...on January 6th?                                      1
               ...on March 15th?                                      30
               ...on June 24th?                                       46
CELLAR      How can I use the information from the Boar's Head cellar?20
CHEST       How can I get the large chest at the beach?               36
            How can I open the small chest?                           67
CLIFF       How do I get down the cliff?                              56
COLOSSUS    How do I get past the colossus?                           58
DRINK       I can't win the drinking contest.                          6
DROWNING    How can I avoid drowning in the river?                    29
DUCATS      How can I avoid having to give back the ducats?           38
DUNSINNIN   How can I get back from Dunsinnin?                        52
FARM        I don't know what to do at the farm.                       3
FOG         How can I get through the fog?                            55
GAOL        How can I get out of gaol?                                24
GHOST       What can I do with the Scotman's ghost?                   50
GOLDSMITH   How can I avoid the goldsmith taking my ducats as payment?62
            How can I avoid the goldsmith taking back the chain?      63
            How can I get past the goldsmith when I'm carrying        64
               neither the chain nor the ducats?
GRAVEYARD   How can I get east of the graveyard?                      41
HOUSE       How can I get into the house?                             25
            How can I avoid being killed in the house?                28
HOVEL       How can I get into the hovel?                             27
HUNCHBACK   How can I help the kingly hunchback?                      34
ILLYRIA     How can I tell which house to enter in Illyria Court?     15
LEAR        How should I advise King Lear?                            19
MAZE        I can't get through the maze of mountain paths.            2
MELTING     How do I avoid my flesh melting?                          44
MOOR        How can I avoid being killed by the Moor?                 14
MOOR'S CODE How can I decode the Moor's code?                         16
NAME        What name should I give when I'm asked?                   61
OBJECTS     Tell me the use of a particular object.                   69
PASSWORD    How can I interpret the jester's password?                18
PHIAL       What should I do with the phial?                          23
PINE        What can I do with the howling pine?                      26
PORPENTINE  What is a porpentine?                                     59
            How do I get the porpentine?                              60
SAVE        Why is saving sometimes regarded as an "ill deed"?        22
SHIELD      How can I get the shield from the Scotsman?               54
SHREW       How can I get the shrew?                                  37
    ARROWS  How can I avoid being killed by slings and arrows?        53
SPEAR       What do I do with the spear?                               8
STATUE      What should I do with the statue?                          5
TAVERN      How do I get into the tavern?                             57
TREASURE    What should I do with my valuable items?                   4
            I can't find all the treasure.                            70
    COUNTRY How can I get through the undiscovered country?           45
VASTY DEEP  What can I do at the Vasty Deep?                          11
            How can I call spirits from the Vasty Deep?               12
            How can I avoid being killed by the Vasty Deep spirits?   13
WARM        How do I avoid feeling warm?                              43
WATCHMAN    How can I get past the watchman?                          68
WITCHES     How can I persuade the witches to give me more than one   
               items at once?                                         47
WORM        What can I do with the worm?                               9