Key & Compass presents:
According to Cain
by Jim Nelson

According to Cain is a TADS 3 interactive fiction game and is © 2022 by Jim Nelson. It was an entry in IF Comp 2022 where it took 6th place overall; it also won 1st place for Miss Congeniality.

In this Bible-inspired game, you play as a novitiate Indagator of the Academy. The Provost orders you to discover the answer to this ancient mystery: What is the Mark of Cain? You are sent back in time to East of Eden to investigate.

Content warning: This game contains descriptions of murder, animal abuse, self-mutilation, and incest.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Version 5 of the game.

SPOILERS AHEAD. Reading a walkthrough prematurely can sometimes diminish one's enjoyment of an interactive fiction game. Please make an honest effort to play the game before reading this walkthrough.


Map 1: Approaching the settlement

Well East ofEden A tree A YoungEarth Approach-ing theriver Crossing Riverbank Salt bed Plain A FragileEarth Sulfurdeposits u d

Map 2: The settlement

Cinnabardeposit Shrineto theFirstlingsof theFlock Landslide /CavernEntrance Cavern Lair Shrineto theFruitof theGround Corpse In branchesof thegreat cedar Bottomof well Well Foot ofgreatcedar tree Fire pit Outsidethe hovel Hovel A darktunnel Riverbank In thewheatfield Outside aslaughter-house Insidethe tent AnUncertainEarth Clearing Slaughter-house Edge ofbarrenfield Sagefield Beehive Base ofmountain Animaltrails Mountainpass Magmapool Camp in d u in out d d u d out in u sw. se. e. n.

Map 3: Following where Cain went

AWanderingEarth Blocked Trapped Field ofthorn andthistle Clearing Tunnelentrance Edge ofbarrenfield


Do you want music? YorN

Do you want graphics? YorN

I. A Young Earth

East of Eden

> about. x path. x Eden.

> x me. i. x bracelet.

> e.

A tree

> take rucksack. x it.

> x arsenic. x lymph. x black. x phlegm. x yellow.

> x crow. x tree. x roots.

> e.

A Young Earth

> x magma. take cloth. x it.

> e.

Approaching the river

> take tome. x it. look up first principles.

> look up indagator. (MEMORIES and RECALL are two of your powers.)

> look up truth. look up alchemy. look up essence.

> look up remedy. (blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm)

> look up poison. (lymph, chamomile, arsenic, and sage)

> look up excipient. (salt, sulfur, grease, ash, wax, royal jelly, spirits, and mercury)

By now, the game suggests you continue moving and get back to the Pharmakon later.

> e.


> take envelope. x it. x seal.

> look up Primes. (salt, sulfur, and mercury)

> look up Scholasticism. look up Clergy.

> x bridge. x river. x eucalyptus.

> e.

You cross the river, but the bridge breaks and your bracelet is lost.

II. A Fragile Earth


> x pond. x river. x ditch. x gate. x field.

> x lever. pull lever. (can't: jammed)

> ne.

Salt bed

> take salt. sw. se.

A Fragile Earth

> take gem. wear it. x it.

> look up lumens. look up ostendo. (salt and sulfur)

> d.

Sulfur deposits

> take sulfur. u. nw.


With the aid of your gem, the sluice glows blue.

> apply salt to sluice. apply sulfur to sluice.

You learn that phlegm and sulfur unlocks the sluice's memory. You may now apply the ostendo compound directly to things.

> apply phlegm to sluice. apply sulfur to sluice.

You learn that Abel jammed the gate with a wedge.

> x wedge. take it. (You lose it, but the gate is now unjammed.)

> pull lever. (The pond empties into the ditch.)

> n.

River bank

This is where the bridge used to be. And the crow is back.

> n.


> x well. x crossbeam. (missing its rope)

> apply ostendo to well. (Its key is yellow bile and ash.)

> e.

Foot of the great cedar tree

> take cups. x cups. wear cups.

> x tree. x crow.

> e.

Fire pit

> x stones. x pit. take ash.

> apply ostendo to stones. (Their key is arsenic, sulfur, and Adam's Humour.)

> look up Adam. (perhaps phlegmatic?)

> look up Humours.

> w. w.


> apply yellow bile to well. apply ash to well.

The well's memory tells you that Adam was actually choleric; therefore, his Humour is yellow bile.

> e. e.

Fire pit

> apply arsenic to stones. apply sulfur to stones.

> apply yellow bile to stones.

You learn that salt and ash re-ignites an old fire. This compound is known as encyp.

> look up encyp.

> apply salt to pit. apply ash to pit.

You learn that Adam instructed Cain and Abel to begin a ritual of sacrifice to the northeast. Charcoal is also revealed. You can now apply encyp directly.

> s.

Outside a slaughterhouse

> x shack. s.


> smell. x stump.

> apply ostendo to stump. ("Abel's Humour, poison of phlegm, and salt." Also, phlegm is Cain's Humour.)

> look up phlegm. (Its counter is sage.)

> x bones. take bone.

> x knife. take it.

> n. w.

In the wheat field

> x wheat. take wheat.

> x scarecrow. (You remember the ocu compound.)

> look up ocu. (arsenic and phlegm)

> x eyes. apply arsenic to scarecrow.

> apply phlegm to scarecrow. (See vision of Cain struggling with an enormous rock and Abel's taunting.)

> s.


> x rock. x core. x handprints.

> apply ostendo to rock. (fail: You need more knowledge.)

> sw. (fail: You get lost and return.)

> s. (fail: The bees smother the sage.)

> se.


> x tree. x bees. x hive. x shard. (wax only)

> look up bees.

> take shard. (You acquire wax.)

> x royal jelly. look up royal jelly.

This is not the time to try for the jelly.

> nw. n. n. e. e.

Outside the hovel

> x bandage. take it.

> x tent. x hovel.

> in.


> x straw. x silk. (It's blond hair.)

> apply ostendo to hair. ("Eve's Humour, poison of Adam's Humour, and wax.")

> x strips. x basket. take basket. (can't)

> look under basket. take slab. x it.

> x reflection.

The slab has a face too, doesn't it?

> apply ocu to slab. (You learn that Eve has melancholy. Therefore, her Humour is black bile.)

> look up melancholy. look up depression.

> look up madness.

> w. s.

Inside the tent

> x rope. untie it. (can't: too tight)

> cut rope. (fail: Your knife is too dull.)

You now remember there's a compound for renewing old or worn items.

> look up renewal. (Novo restores simple man-made objects, using sulfur and black bile.)

> apply sulfur to knife.

> apply black bile to knife. (The knife is restored.)

> cut rope. take rope.

> x post. x equipment. x wheel. x table.

Novo is unable to restore either the spinning wheel or the table.

> n. w.

Fire pit

The bees avoid smoke, so take some charcoal to the sage field.

> take charcoal.

> w. s. s. s.

Sage field

> drop charcoal. take sage.

> x chasm. x chamomile.

> n. n. n. w.


> tie rope to crossbeam. d.

Bottom of well

> x stream. n.

Corpse / Crado's corpse / Crado's last breath

> x crow. x crevice. x corpse.

> take band. x bracelet.

You need to make a serious choice here and I can't decide for you. Please know I never found the original bracelet again. This bracelet is your only way home back to the Academy. If you want to keep it, you should wear it. But if you're willing to make the sacrifice to send Crado's corpse back to the Academy, put the bracelet on the corpse. You will not be rewarded for this sacrifice and you will be stranded. Yes, the crow is watching you. What choice do you make?

Whatever choice you made, you're done here.

> s. se.

A dark tunnel

> x jug. take it. s.

An Uncertain Earth

> x chamomile. take it. look up chamomile.

Head back up:

> n. nw. u.


> untie rope. (You take it back.)

> e. e. e. e.


You've learned that Eve's Humour is black bile, and the poison of Adam's Humour is chamomile.

> x hair. apply black bile to hair.

> apply chamomile to hair.

> apply wax to hair. (Eve orders Cain to sleep with his sister Awan. The hair is gone.)

> w. w. s. s.

Slaughterhouse / Abel's slaughterhouse

By process of elimination, Abel's Humour must be blood. The poison of phlegm is sage. You need both the restored knife and the bandage when cutting yourself for blood.

> x stump. cut me. (with the knife. You bandage your wound after filling a phial with blood.)

> apply blood to stump.

> apply sage to stump.

> apply salt to stump. (Cain recounts grimly how much Abel enjoys slaughtering animals.)

> n. n. ne.

Landslide / Cavern entrance

> x shale. x boulder. x ore. x mountain.

> look up iron. (need another search term)

> look up metal. (Learn the vulk compound.)

> apply arsenic to boulder.

> apply sulfur to boulder.

> apply wax to boulder. (The iron evaporates and the boulder collapses, revealing a crevice.)

> in.


> x face. apply ocu to face. (Cain and Abel enter their shrines with offerings, return to kneel before the face, and re-enter their shrines. Cain's offering wasn't touched, and Abel's is gone.)

> x pocket. (small and empty)

It's very difficult to guess what to put into the pocket.

> put slab in pocket. (You see into the northeast shrine.)

> n.

Cinnabar deposit

> x cinnabar. take it.

> s. ne.

Shrine to the Firstlings of the Flock

> x drawings. x altar. put bone on altar.

> sw. se.

Shrine to the Fruit of the Ground

> x drawings. x altar. put wheat on altar.

> x spoon. take it. apply novo to spoon.

> nw.


> kneel. x slab. (You see an animal take the bone!)

> ne.

Shrine to the Firstlings of the Flock

You find a crevice to the southeast.

> se.


> x badger. x tether. x hook. x grease.

> x stain. apply ostendo to stain. ("The remedy of the phlegmatic, the poison of the sanguine, and wax.")

> apply phlegm to stain.

> apply lymph to stain.

> apply wax to stain. (Cain discovers Abel's ruse with the badger and plans to free it.)

> cut tether. (The badger runs off.)

> take grease.

> nw. sw.


> take slab.

> w. sw. w. u.

In the branches of the great cedar

It seems obvious that you ought to give the spoon to the crow, but it doesn't help you in any way.

> x crow. look up crow. show slab to crow.

> show spoon to crow. give spoon to crow.

> x tree. x branch. x settlement.

> x hovel. x tent. x shack. x fire pit.

> x wheat field. x mountain. x cavern.

> d. s. s. s. s.

Base of mountain

> x block. x scratches. x scar.

> put slab in scar. (The block glows blue.)

> apply ostendo to block. ("A melancholic remedy, a phlegmatic poison, a binding excipient, and the Body of the Three Primes.")

> look up grease. (That's the binder.)

> look up salt. (That's the "Body".)

> apply black bile to block.

> apply sage to block.

> apply grease to block.

> apply salt to block. (You learn the scratches on the block is writing.)

> x scratches.

> look up language. (You learn about glos: blood, chamomile, grease, and wax.)

> apply blood to scratches.

> apply chamomile to scratches.

> apply grease to scratches.

> apply wax to scratches. (To navigate the animal paths, go southwest, southeast, east, then north.)

> u.

Animal trails

All directions but down take you nowhere unless you follow the directions you read on the obsidian block.

> sw. se. e. n.

III. An Uncertain Earth

Mountain pass

Once you've reached here, you skip the animal trails when going up and down.

> se.


> x lean-to. x kernels. x still.

> x pan. x mash. x lever. x troughs. x spout.

> put jug under spout.

> x pit. apply encyp to pit.

> pull lever. z. z. (Jug now contains spirits.)

> take jug.

> nw. s.

Magma pool

> x magma. x rocks. x tree. x pulley.

> x forge. x anvil.

> put rope in pulley. tie rope to forge.

> pull rope. put cinnabar in chimney.

> untie rope. z. take mercury.

> look up mercury. (It's the "Spirit".)

> n. d. n. n.


> apply ostendo to rock. ("Abel's poison. Cain's poison. Royal jelly. The spirit of aqua vitae. And the Spirit of the Three Primes.")

Time to get royal jelly, but first get charcoal.

> n. n. e.

Fire pit

> take charcoal.

> w. s. s. se.


> take jelly.

Are you certain you're ready? y

> nw.


> apply lymph to rock.

> apply sage to rock.

> apply jelly to rock.

> apply aqua to rock.

> apply mercury to rock.

You learn that Cain killed and buried Abel here. The crow now beckons you to the southwest.

> sw.

IV. A Wandering Earth

Edge of barren field

> x river. x ravine.

> nw.

Field of thorn and thistle

> x vines. x tunnel. x light. x outcropping.

> x sign.

> apply glos to symbols. ("Cain's Field / Free Food for All")

> sw.

Tunnel entrance

> x man. talk to man. (no response)

> w.

There's an earthquake and you fall. You relive the horrible time the villagers believed you brought the grain-blight. They stripped you, assaulted you, and exiled you. Hester found you and brought you to the Academy.

In the dark / Trapped

> x crack. x torch. x heavy.

> apply encyp to torch.

> apply novo to bar. apply vulk to bar.

> stand. x rubble. x dirt.

> w.


> x portrait. x eyes. x lamb. x chest.

> apply ocu to man.

> open chest. (The hinge needs loosening.)

> apply grease to hinge.

> open chest. (You find a tunnel through the chest.)

> w.

A Wandering Earth

> x crow. x valley. x magma.

> x man. x knapsack. x light.

> talk to man. (You see Cain's face before he and the crow both leave.)

> break seal.

You make your report. If you have a bracelet, you return to the Academy. Now you sleep.

*** Finis. ***

> credits. sources. biblio.



Here are thumbnails of some of the artwork in this game. Please play the game to see the artwork in larger sizes.

I didn't include any sidebar art, which is mostly vertical slices of the art shown here. Note that the art for the start of chapter IV is just a horizontal slice of the cover art.

Also, GRAPHICS ON and GRAPHICS OFF toggle the display of artwork.


Seen in visions and memories:

Found dead:



The response to CREDITS is:

According to Cain
An inquiry
by Jim Nelson

Release 1 / Serial Number 220928 / compiled Sep 28 2022 with TADS 3.1

Copyright (c) Jim Nelson

Built using the TADS 3 system by Michael J. Roberts and the adv3Lite library by Eric Eve.

Beta testers: StJohn Limbo, Mathbrush, Christopher Merriner, Rovarsson, and Mike Russo.



Libraries utilized:

And the response to SOURCES is:


The Cain and Abel story is best known by the version related in the fourth chapter of Genesis (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”) I’ve relied on the King James (or Authorized) Version as a primary reference and for quotes.

The metaphysical exchange between Cain and Abel (“The world was created in goodness, but it is not governed according to the fruit of good works”) is paraphrased from the Targum Jerusalem. Awan (sister to Cain and Abel) is named in the Book of Jubilees (“Little Genesis”). The Cave of Treasures and The Book of Adam and Eve tell of the banished Adam & Eve unable to cope with their expulsion, and expands on Cain’s motives for murdering his brother. There are many more extracanonical texts regarding the Creation family.

The Quran’s version of the Cain and Abel story describes the crow advising Cain after the murder. The Mormon Pearl of Great Price presents a more traditional telling of an evil Cain forming a conspiracy (“a secret combination”) with Satan. It’s this text that names Cain “Perdition.”

Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose profoundly inspired my detective-like Indagator and the stodgy Scholastics.

Information on the Four Humours, Three Primes, pharmakon, and early-Earth catastrophism all derive from Internet research.


The in-game art mostly comes from the Hudson River School, a group of 19th-century oil painters who depicted the untouched American West as Eden reclaimed. Their landscapes shaped my vision of the family’s postlapsarian and antediluvian world.

The music is my attempt to fashion a soundtrack in the spirit of Peter Gabriel’s Passion: Music for the The Last Temptation of Christ. I am grateful to Kevin MacLeod and Serge Quadrado for making their wonderful music available on the Creative Commons.


For the most part, the game tries to prevent the player-character from self-sabotaging their mission:

But sometimes you can make the game unwinnable. For example:


Academy items





Simple tools (and other found items)


The command MEMORIES lists everything you've learned. You can RECALL any revelations you've experienced to see it again.

There are 16 possible revelations:

Alchemical compounds:

Family info:

Thank You to my Patreon supporters

This walkthrough was funded via Patreon with

Support me on Ko-fi

Ko-Fi is a way to send me small one-time donations. Every little bit helps, and thank you!