Key & Compass presents:
Alias 'The Magpie'
by J. J. Guest

Alias 'The Magpie' is a Glulx interactive fiction game written with Inform 7 and is © 2018 by J. J. Guest. It was an entry in IF Comp 2018 where it won 1st place overall; it also won Miss Congeniality. At the 2018 XYZZY Awards, it won the Best Individual PC award for the Magpie; it was also the finalist in six other categories (Best Game, Best Writing, Best Story, Best Setting, Best NPCs, and Best Implementation). In the 2019 edition of the Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time, it placed 46th.

In this game, you play as Sir Rodney Playfair who is secretly the notorious gentleman thief called "The Magpie". It would delight you to unburden Lord Hamcester of his extremely valuable Egyptian jewelled scarab and a chance overheard discussion has provided you with an opportunity. You shall visit Bunkham Hall disguised as the noted psychiatrist, Doctor Cornelius Drake, supposedly to treat the Lord's adled brother-in-law who is suffering from delusions.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 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.


CountryLane Study Drive MusicRoom LumberRoom Major'sBedroom Library GreatHall DrawingRoom WestGallery Landing EastGallery CollectionRoom Saloon DiningRoom BlueRoom OldNursery GreenRoom GravelSweepWest Terrace GravelSweepWest WestBalcony EastBalcony KitchenGarden Lawn Shrubbery Ha-Ha Orchard Park Yew Alley GorillaEnclosure The Folly x x (to town) u/n s d (tranquilised) (THE END)


Lord Hamcester's Study

> say no. (You read the telegram.)

> ask about sensitive matter.

> ask about majororask about lady.

You're to pretend you're Hermes Perroquet, your arch-rival, in front of the Lady. The Lord doesn't want his wife to know he's called a loony-doctor to check out her brother.

> x clipping. (of Lord winning comp for a sixth year)

> x photograph. (of Lord as Pirate King in a black beard)

> x watercolour. (of Bunkham Hall by the Lord; it sticks out a bit)

> x pamphlet. (He won't let you read it.)

> s.


We'll explore the house and grounds quite a bit first before knuckling down and solving its puzzles.

> x floor. x books. g. g.

> take psychology. read book. g. g. g.

> take newspaper. read it. (You read about the obsessive collector.)

> e.

Great Hall

You hear a commotion to the east.

> x escutcheon. e.

The Drawing Room

The Major is attacking a draught excluder with a poker.

> x excluder. (He swings it over his shoulder and leaves.)

> x armchairs. x ornaments. x cake. x pull.

> x amphora. x milkmaid. x cow.

> n.

Music Room

> x piano. open it. x strings.

> x table. x photograph. (You learn of the Jaroda pearls!)

> x gramophone. x Gazza. turn crank.

> x bed. x chair. x case. open case. (It's empty.)

> s. s.

Dining Room

> x table. x chairs. x cabinet.

> x rabbit. x unicorn. x shepherdess. x doves. x seal.

> w.


Lady Hamcester welcomes you, "Monsieur Perroquet", to Bunkham Hall and bids you follow her to the west.

> x lady. w.

Collection Room

Someone's stolen the scarab already, but by someone in this house.

> x plinths. x booby. x bust.

> x case. (You learn you've lost your cigar case of tools.)

> x statuette. x creamer.

> e.


> x carpet. x porcelain. x vase. x clown. x lamb.

> s.


The Lady asks Hives, the butler, to take Pompon, the dog, upstairs.

> x brochure. x statues. x balustrade.

> ask lady about brochure. ask lady about lord.

> ask lady about major. (He suffered a shock in the Amazon.)

> ask lady about Hives. ask lady about dog.

> ask lady about scarab. ask lady about display case.

> ask lady about Leghorn.

> w.

Gravel Sweep West

You cannot climb the ivy.

> x bush. x balcony. x ivy.

> e. e.

Gravel Sweep East

> x balcony. s.


> x flowers. x Amos.

> ask Amos about flowers. (You can't really talk to him.)

> w.


> x man. x shears. x hedge. x archway.

> ask man about hedge. ask man about Leghorn.

> ask man about special ingredient.

> ask man about fertilizer.

> w. (Only the Lord and Amos are permitted in.)

> s.


> x banana. take it. s.


The bull blocks your way to the orchard and its ladder.

> x bull. x cattle. x orchard. x ladder.

> e.

Yew Alley

> take banana. x door. (locked)

> s. (Perhaps the key will turn up later.)

> w. n. n. n. n. u.


You hear a struggle to the east.

> e.

East Gallery

> x earl. x portraits. n.

Major's Bedroom

> open wardrobe. (Major emerges, battling a coat, then leaves.)

> x wardrobe. take shoebox. open it.

> x scarab. (Alas, it's a fake. Prompted to show it to the Lady.)

> x blowpipe. take it.

> search cot. (You take a banana.)

> x souvenirs. x photograph. (Major with another man.)

> s. s.

Green Room

> x bed. x cabinet. open it. x bottle. take it.

> close cabinet. s.

East Balcony

> x Amos. x shrubbery. x park. x folly. x orchard.

> n. n. w.


> x window. x door. (painted shut.)

> w.

West Gallery

> x maid. x knob. x Brasso.

> ask Maude about knob. s. (She won't let you in.)

> n.

Lumber Room

> x furniture. g. x tapestries. x candlesticks.

> x curtains. open curtains. x trunk. open it.

> x record. take it. x beard. take it.

> search trunk. (You take a ruby ring.)

> x ring.

> s. e. d. s. s.


> show scarab to lady. (The key to the case is in the Lord's breast pocket.)

> close shoebox.

> n. e.

Dining Room

Hives is setting the table. Note the red tablecloth.

> take tablecloth. g. (The Major demolishes the curio cabinet.)

> n.

The Drawing Room

> pull pull. (Hives leaves a tray.)

> x tray. x syphon. x decanter.

> put drop in whiskey. take tray.

> w. s. s. e. s.


> give whiskey to Amos. (He keels over.)

> remove moustache. wear beard. (You now appear to be Amos.)

By the way, if you disguise yourself as Amos indoors, Hives finds you and instantly escorts you out to the terrace. You also cannot wear the moustache and beard simultaneously.

> w.


Amusingly, since you couldn't understand the real Amos, no one can understand you as "Amos" either.

> ask man about cucumber. w.

Kitchen Garden

> x frame. x cucumber. open frame.

> break frame. (If you could dampen the sound...)

> x bedsorx vegetables.

> e. s.


> wave tablecloth. (The bull charges into the saloon; the cloth is gone.)

> w.


> take ladder. e. n. n. w.

Gravel Sweep West

> drop ladder. u.

West Balcony

> put drop in blowpipe. n.

Blue Room

> shoot dog with blowpipe. take pearls. x pearls.

> x bed. x table. x fireplace. x curtains.

> x elephant. x shepherdess. x infant. x horse.

> e.

Old Nursery

> x painting. x doll. x plaque. x horse. ("Rosebud")

> w. s. d.

Gravel Sweep West

> take ladder. e. e.

Gravel Sweep East

> drop ladder.

> remove beard. wear moustache.

> u. n. n. w. d. w. n.

Lord Hamcester's Study

> take pamphlet. take watercolour.

You discover a safe behind the watercolour requiring a six-letter word. The saloon has gone quiet.

> drop watercolour. (You put it back.)

> x pamphlet. (The Lord returns.)

After the Lord speaks his mind, he's in no mood for questions.

> s. e. s.


You don't have to break the vase or lamb, but c'mon, you know you want to.

> x vase. x lamb. break vase. break lamb.

> e.

Dining Room

> x silverware. x cabinet.

> w. s.


> ask lady about bull.

> go to music.

Music Room

> take gazza. put maraca on gramophone.

> turn crank. (The Major rushes in with a mace. He finds nothing in the piano; leaves.)

> s.

The Drawing Room

> pull pull. ask Hives about Maude. ask Hives about Hives.

> ask Hives about Major. ask Hives about Woodcock.

> ask Hives about Amos. ask Hives about Boyle.

> ask Hives about bull. ask Hives about dog.

> ask Hives about cucumber. ask Hives about competition.

> ask Hives about Leghorn.

> go to study.

Lord Hamcester's Study

> spray Lord with soda. take key.

> go to collection.

Collection Room

> unlock case with key. (The Lady arrives.)

> tell lady about soda.

> ask lady about Woody. (Learn the snake that ate him was in a piano.)

The Lady puts the fake scarab into the case.

> ask lady about revenge.

The Lady grabs the key, locks the case. She'll claim she found the key on the dresser. You should dress for dinner. She leaves for the terrace.

> e. s.


Hives regets that dinner will be delayed indefinitely. He offers bread and treacle, but the Major attacks the wasps and the treacle is spilled.

> x wasps. x treacle. ask lady about treacle.

> put newspaper in treacle. (Get a treacly news sheet.)

> go to music.

Music Room

> take case.

> go to shrubbery.


> remove mustache. wear beard.

> w. w.

Kitchen Garden

> put sheet on frame. break frame. (Yes!)

> put cucumber in case. (Auto-closing the case.)

> e. e.


Switch from "Amos" to "Drake" before entering the house.

> remove beard. wear mustache.

> go to music.

Music Room

> open piano. open case. put cucumber in piano.

> close piano. (Can't, but it doesn't matter.)

> turn crank. (The Major destroys piano and cuke, singing.)

> x Major. (One of the few times he's stayed still long enough to examine!)

Major regains his senses. Then the Lord enters. The Major leaves.

> z. (You suggest the Lord lie down on the couch.)

> ask earl about doll. ("Myrtle!" he cries, before sleeping.)

> go to study.

Lord Hamcester's Study

> take watercolour. spin dial to myrtle.

> take scarab. (You put the feather in its place.)

> close safe. drop watercolour.

> s.


> e. (uh-oh)

The real Hermes Perroquet has arrived, looking for the gorilla. The Lady disbelieves him, and slams the front door in his face.

> e. s. s.


The Lady and Major are both here. The Lady tells you about the imposter.

> z. (The Lady mentions gorillas, and Major fishes out a large iron key and dashes to the folly.)

> go to yew.

Yew Alley

Major unlocks the folly and steps in.

> s.

The Folly

The gorilla complaining about his head asks who you are. You say you're Perroquet on the trail of the 'Magpie'. The gorilla, incredulous, asks if you think he's the 'Magpie'.

> yes. (He's actually Leghorn, trying to find out about Lord's cucumber.)

> x can.

> tell Leghorn about cucumber.

You also tell him the Hall is surrounded. Leghorn can't leave as a gorilla or as himself. Now what?

> give beard to Leghorn. (He unzips the gorilla suit, dons the beard, and leaves. The Major leaves too.)

> take gorilla suit. take banana.

> put gorilla in case. (You auto-close the case.)

> go to great hall.

Great Hall

> n.


> remove moustache.

> open case. wear gorilla.

> n.

Country Lane

Perroquet is here. With him is Constable Cramp with a tranquiliser gun, who fumbles it when he sees you.

> w.

Cramp shoots you and you wake up in...


Gorilla Enclosure

> i. (The kid stabs you with a long stick.)

> take stick. (The kid's head gets stuck in the railings.)

> x kid. take gum. (He runs away, dropping something.)

> look. put gum on stick.

> take case. (using the stick.)

> open case. x cigars. close case.

> push catch. unlock door. (with the set of lockpicks)

> remove gorilla suit. out. (locking the cage behind you)

You view several few clippings from the Magpie's secret cuttings book which tell you what happened next for nearly everyone involved.

*** THE END ***



Mentioned contemporaries:

Mentioned historicals:


This is the response to CREDITS:

Alias 'The Magpie' was written by me, J. J. Guest, between 2007 and 2018, using Inform 7.

I would like to thank my beta-testers, Mike Carletta, Brian Rushton (Mathbrush), Małgorzata Reczko (Luel), Hanon Ondricek, Neil Butters, Peter Mattsson, Laura R. King and Duncan Bowsman. I would also like to thank those early testers who, back in 2015, gave advice, encouragement and feedback when my willpower was failing and the project was foundering: Hugo Labrande, Hanon Ondricek, Neil Butters, Emily Short, Caleb Wilson and Jason Dyer.

The beautiful cover art is by Mads Weidner.

On Sunday, September 16th 2018, we presented Alias "The Magpie": The Case of the Bearded Victoria, an improvised immersive theatre event to celebrate the completion of the game. I would like to thank the improvisers who starred alongside myself as the 'Magpie': Liam Brennan (Wilbur Quail), Miriam Hall (Lady Hamcester), Greg Davies (Major Hilary Buff-Orpington) and Kevin O'Brien (Constable Cramp). Thanks also to Laura Barber for graphic design on the promotional postcards, and to Tamsin Bowles for printing them. Most of all I would like to thank the tireless Laura R. King for organising the event.

Alias 'The Magpie' is dedicated to Laura Barber, the cream in my coffee, and to Laura R. King, the best friend a boy could have.

Alias 'The Magpie' took first place, overall, and first place, Miss Congeniality, in the 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018). I would like to thank everyone who played, enjoyed and voted for my game, the competition organisers, and my fellow competitors for making the competition such a wonderful experience. Thanks also to Martin Höfler and Jack Welch, who both volunteered annotated transcripts which were instrumental in creating this new, improved, post-comp version.


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!