Welcome to the Fifth Praser Maze, a product of Sadistic Software (on the Beat-Your-Nose Tour.) The Maze was designed, written, ported to the Web, and then ported again to Z-code by Andrew Plotkin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Wander around. Puzzles will be posed. Eventually you win.
Some games make their puzzles too dense, by packing too many puzzles into the same sets of clues. Some make theirs too sparse, by putting in too many red herrings. I have tried to achieve a balance, by doing both.
Playing the Game:
Type one of the highlighted words to go in a direction, examine an object, or talk to a creature. You do not need to use Adventure-style commands like "take sword" or "read parchment". A single word will work.
Type a creature's name to begin speaking to it. (Merely naming its species is rarely sufficient!) Creatures often ask questions, or pose riddles. When you are speaking to a creature, you will see a double ">>" prompt. You can then type a word or phrase to try to answer the riddle. If you are correct, you will be rewarded.
(You can still move in directions, and examine objects, at the ">>" prompt.)
- void will always return you to the starting location.
- look or l: look at the location again.
- about and credits: show this message, and the game's credits.
- save and restore: save your position to a file, and restore it.
- quit or q: end the game.
Don't make assumptions about what you're being asked.
- My thanks to Wean Hall; floors 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, and especially the stairwell behind the elevators, for their help in letting me pace around for hours at a time.
- Thanks to the cork bulletin board strip outside the Wean clusters, for letting me pound my head against it repeatedly when I found that goddamn extra semicolon.
- Also thanks to Mxyzptlk Dimensional Constructors for the use of the Astral Plane and environs, for the game's locale.
More seriously, PRASER 5 owes its entire inspiration to Cliff Johnson and The Fool's Errand. (I later went on to write a Fool pastiche called System's Twilight. I stole a puzzle out of PRASER 5 to put in it, too.)
The structure of the planes (and the Plane of Structure) were snitched from Roger Zelazny's The Changing Land -- a novel which still contains the best description of spell-hacking ever written in fantasy.
I designed PRASER 5 in 1989, in the form of a set of directories and files on a CMU fileserver. Listing the directories showed the room descriptions; reading the files displayed objects and showed clues. Some directories contained a binary you could run to answer a riddle. A correct answer got you access to the next directory. (Or rather, a correct answer dropped a message in my email, and then I would add you to the appropriate ACL.)
This was a hassle to maintain, so in 1994, I redesigned the game for the excessively new and hip medium of the World Wide Web. I wrote a custom web server -- this was after CGI, but either I couldn't get permission to run CGI scripts or I didn't want to bother -- anyway, I wrote a custom server that displayed rooms as Web pages and accepted answers as forms. (The introductory text made this clear, since forms were still an ill-supported extension to HTML.)
I left CMU in 1995, and the Praser server went down. I resurrected it in 1997, but that job didn't last too long either. The game has languished in the dark since then.
Now, behold. An all-new implementation for Z-code. (And recompiling the web code was an experience. Was I really still using K&R C prototypes in 1994? No, I must have imported some code from the 1989 version without ever updating it.)