How to Play IF

The instructions on this page are also available within The Dreamhold. Type “help”, and then hit enter, to display it. To read more, type “help” followed by whatever it is you want to get help on.

All of these topics are general information on playing IF. If you are stuck on a particular puzzle in The Dreamhold, type “help hint” for a single hint on what to try next.


These are the commands you will use most often.

For more about these commands -- or any command used in this game -- type “help” followed by the command word. For example, “help look”. You might want to start by looking at the help information for all of these basic commands.


These are the most common ways of interacting with the game’s world. It’s usually worth trying these, in almost any situation. You never know what might happen -- or what you might learn.

These commands do what they say. Common sense applies. There are many more possibilities -- every game has its own variations, depending on what actions make sense in a particular situation.


Communicating with other characters is a tricky topic. Different games handle it in different ways. One approach is to present you with a menu -- when you meet someone, you can choose what to say from a list of phrases or questions.

Other games leave the interaction up to you. The game tells you that there’s another person in the room, and then presents you with the usual command prompt. The possible commands will vary from game to game, but these are usually available:

You can also talk to a person by typing “person, phrase”. (The comma is important.) For example, to answer a question, you could type “morgan, yes” or “morgan, no”. Saying “pirate, hello” can begin an interesting conversation -- or a deadly one. To order someone around, you could use a command like “jeeves, get my umbrella” or “ensign rosen, stop the ship”. (Naturally, not everyone will be willing to obey your commands!)

System Commands

These commands help you manage your playing experience. (They’re not actions you take inside the game world.)

Special Commands

This is a somewhat miscellaneous grab-bag of commands which help you in playing a game. Not all games will support all of them, or handle them all the same way!


Every text adventure is different. But here are some simple ideas which will help you in nearly any game.

And remember, the game world is a world. It has its own logic -- whimsy or dream logic perhaps, but still sense. Find the game’s time and reason, and follow it. You will find a way through.

Play The Dreamhold now.