Cold Iron is copyright 2011 by Andrew Plotkin ( It may be distributed for free, but not sold or included in any for-profit collection without written permission from the author.

This game was created for the 2011 Interactive Fiction Competition. It was a serious (albeit snack-sized) entrant; however, it was also part of a secret plan. I conspired with Kevin Jackson-Mead, Doug Orleans, and Mike Hilborn to create four games with a joint metapuzzle. By connecting shared elements between the games, a player could discover a secret ending.

Sadly, nobody figured this out during the competition itself. (Although several people remarked on the "coincidental" shared elements.) A few days after IFComp ended, we posted an announcement that there was a metapuzzle spanning the four games. That was all it took; a group on IFMud (notably Carl Muckenhoupt and Michael Martin) worked out the rest within hours.

Cold Iron would not exist but for the help and support of the People's Republic of Interactive Fiction, and Kevin Jackson-Mead, who suggested the original idea. Naturally, we four metapuzzle authors beta-tested each others" games; thanks also to Adri Mills and Brendan Desilets. Plus, of course, everybody who played the game in the first few days of the IFComp. (Play transcripts were made available to authors, to aid in game updates.) The "look for axe" command is dedicated to you.

(The original release credited "Bates College", a joke gotten by exactly nobody. The metapuzzle was built in the spirit of the Bates Discordian Icehouse Team.)

If you want to try the metapuzzle yourself, play Cold Iron, Playing Games, Last Day of Summer, and The Life (and Deaths) of Doctor M. You can also read the walkthrough originally included with the game (which does not spoil the metapuzzle), and the MUD discussion in which people solved the metapuzzle (which emphatically does).

Play Cold Iron now.