Key & Compass presents:
The Frenetic Five vs. Sturm und Drang
by Neil deMause

The Frenetic Five vs. Sturm und Drang is a TADS 2 interactive fiction game and is © 1997-1998 by Neil deMause. It was an entry in IF Comp 1997 where it took 13th place. At the 1997 XYZZY Awards, it won the Best NPCs award and was a finalist in the Best Individual PC category. This game is also episode 1 in a series; the next game is The Frenetic Five vs. Mr. Redundancy Man which was published in 1999.

In this game about under-powered superheroes, you play as Improv, leader of the Frenetic Five. You use common objects in surprisingly useful ways. Bob, your contact at Supertemps, hires your team for a new job: defeat the melodramatic supervillains Sturm und Drang who have holed up in the abandoned flange mill at the waterfront.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Version 1.1 (the post-competition release) of the game.


Map 1: House and nearby bus stops

MaineStreet Sidewalk MainStreet On a bus LivingRoom Kitchen On a bus Backyard Bathroom Hallway TheClapper'sroom (to otherbedrooms) enter bus sit d enter bus u sit The wrongside of thetracks Routes14, 22, 83 Routes2, 61, 97


Map 2: Abandoned flange mill

(endlessdesolatewastes) On theroof Insidethe Mill On theroof On a fireescape Millentrance Pier DarkAlley MillSquare TheWharves The wrongside of thetracks EvilMart throw pelletat ground jump overskylight sit u climb fence d d vault overtracks On a bus


Note that there are some unusual commands in this game:

Living room

You get nine free turns before there's knocking on the front door.

> x me. (You're Brett, aka Improv.)

> i. x ID card. x bus token.

> x sofa.

> x TV. (It's MacGyver.)

> search sofa.

> x TV. g.

Someone pounds on the front door yelling "Extra! Extra!"

> stand. (Lexicon and Pastiche rush in.)


The game banner text is displayed.

> open front door. (Newsboy enters.)

> ask Newsboy about news. (Sturm und Drang have returned.)

> ask Newsboy about Sturm und Drang.

> look. turn off tv.

The phone rings. Loudly. It's Bob from Supertemps with a job offer. Just listen to him; he doesn't respond to questions.

> answer phone. z. z. (Bob hangs up.)

> drop phone.

Bob said the villains are in an abandoned flange mill.

> ask Newsboy about flange mill. (Note both the direction and bus number. They're random.)

> ask Lexicon about flange. (He's not an encyclopedia.)

> x Newsboy. x Pastiche. x Lexicon.

> x armchair. take tape.

> x desk. search papers.

> open drawer. read schedule. (it's out of date.)

> e.


> x glassware. search it. (You take a shard.)

> x shard. x sink. x dishes. x fork. take fork.

> x screen door. s.


> x appliances. x bedsheet. x socks. x clothesline.

> untie clothesline. take it.

> take bedsheet. (You're carrying too much.)

> fold it. take it. (so it's less bulky to carry)

> n. w. u. w.


> x schedule. x mildew. x toilet.

> e. s.

The Clapper's room

Feel free to pet Tractor, Clapper's cat, if she makes an appearance.

> x mess. x Clapper. x bed.

> wake Clapper. (The Clapper is now following you.)

> n. d. n.


> x house. x roof.

> eorw. (You won't leave without locking the front door.)

> s.

Living room

> Clapper, find key. (Beeping from armchair.)

> look in hole. (You find the keys!)

> n.


> close door. lock door.

Go the correct way:

Maine Street or Main Street

> read sign. (note the emphasized WAIT)

Enter the correct stop:

> z. (Wait repeatedly until your bus stops.)

> enter NUMBER bus.

On a bus, by the driver.

> put token in farebox. (Clapper, Lexicon, and Newsboy do the same.)

> Pastiche, take token.

> Pastiche, put token in fare box. (if she doesn't do it herself)

> sit on seatsorstep behind yellow line.

On a bus, on a bench

After a long ride, you disembark at the abandoned flange mill.

The wrong side of the tracks

CAUTION: Don't put anything on the tracks.

> look. x pole. x tracks.

> ask Newsboy about tracks. (The rails are all electrified.)

> take pole. vault tracks. (The team does likewise.)

The Wharves

> x pier. x structure. n.


> x pile. search pile. x harbor. catch fish.

> z. (Wait until Lexicon finds a magazine.)

> x magazine.

While Lexicon has the magazine, he will periodically comment on an article he's reading. These comments are more oblique hints on how to solve some of the puzzles.

> sw.

Mill Square

> n.

Mill entrance

After you hear three clues from the doors, ask Lexicon about the password. The clues and password will be randomized.

This puzzle may have been inspired by the television game show Password.

> open doors. g. g.

> ask Lexicon about password. (He's too engrossed in the magazine.)

> take magazine.

> ask Lexicon about password. (He guesses it; the doors open.)

> give magazine to Lexicon.

> n.


The steel doors shut automatically! One-by-one, your teammates will be knocked unconscious, ending with you also being knocked out. You cannot prevent it, nor can you do anything useful in the dark, so just wait for it to happen.

> z. (Repeat until you're knocked out.)

You wake in...

Your bedroom, in bed

This isn't really your bedroom. This is your personal la-la-land inside your head while you nap. Listen to what the lobster says; there may be hints hidden inside the nonsense he's saying.

But it doesn't really matter what you do here, and if you like, as long as you've seen the lobster, you can just z repeatedly until you wake up.

> stand. (can't)

> x bed. x desk. x computer. x photo. (Something's wrong.)

> look. x lobster. x chair. x cigarette.

> yell. (The lobster speaks.)

> ask lobster about lobster. (Claims to be Bob in disguise.)

> ask lobster about me.

> ask lobster about mission.

> ask lobster about sturm and drang.

> ask lobster about cigarette.

> ask lobster about photo.

> ask lobster about noise.

> z. (Repeat waiting until you open your eyes...)

Inside the Mill

Note: While tied up, you can only carry one item.

> take shard. cut my rope with shard. (It's not sharp enough.)

At some point, Lexicon's glasses will have fallen off. If it hasn't happened yet, wait for that.

> Pastiche, push glasses. (She can't phase through rope.)

> x motes. x skylight.

> z. (Wait until the villains have left.)

I would never have guessed this on my own. I saw "motes", not "light", and "reflect" is hardly a standard command. I also failed to notice that the shard was described as reflective. (If you try this too soon, Sturm will take the glasses away.)

> reflect light at glasses.

You improbably reflect sunlight off the shard and focus it through Lexicon's glasses to burn through his rope. Freed, he quickly unties everybody. Pastiche picks up something gray.

Fun fact: Did you know that focused sunlight hits Lexicon's eyeballs every single day without burning them?

> take all. wear ID.

> x gray. ask Clapper about gray. (What Sturm was using to create his light show.)

> ask Clapper for gray.

> s. s. s.


You can't really do anything here, but still, it's a location you probably want to see. The beer and paperbacks are randomly mentioned if you try going in directions other than north.

> x racks. x commodities. x beer. x paperbacks.

> x youth. ask youth about Sturm. (He can't hear you.)

> n. w.

Dark Alley

> x fence. x fire escape. x crates.

> put fork in crates. tie rope to fork.

> pull rope. (The crates fall and scatter.)

> climb fence. u.

On the roof

When Sturm turns on his melodramaturge, all the local room descriptions change to something more dramatic.

> x box. x controls. x skylight.

CAUTION: If you try to jump over the skylight unassisted by anything inflated, you'll fall into the mill. If you're carrying the unfolded bedsheet, you'll land unharmed, since it will act as a parachute; otherwise, you'll be back in the bedroom with the lobster for several turns until you recover.

Question: How did the villains get up to the roof?

> unfold bedsheet. throw pellet at ground.

You fly across the skylight because the bedsheet billows like a hot air balloon from the pyrotechnics.

> push off button. look.

Sturm is entangled in the sheet and the other three are unconscious.

Weirdly, you can't tie up anyone with the clothesline. Fortunately, you have another option.

> put tape on Sturm.

*** Stay tuned for the further adventures of ... THE FRENETIC FIVE. ***



The Frenetic Five:

The bad guys:

Other characters you can see or interact with:



The response to CREDITS is:

Thanks to:

This game contains built-in help; if you find yourself stuck, try ASKing your fellow team members FOR HELP. Bug reports and other correspondence may be directed to Neil deMause at email redacted.


There's only the one ending, the winning ending:

Stay tuned for the further adventures of ... THE FRENETIC FIVE.

You cannot die in this game:

But there are ways to make the game unwinnable:


While there are inventory limits, you can get around them by folding the bedsheet so it's less bulky and by not carrying unneeded items. If necessary, you can also give items to your teammates and ask for them back later.

Honorable mention:


The only response to SCORE is:

Your mission has not yet succeeded. Evil is still afoot.

Thank You to my Patreon supporters

This walkthrough was funded via Patreon with