Key & Compass presents:
Letters From Home
by Roger Firth

Letters From Home is a Z-machine 5 interactive fiction game written with Inform 6 and is © 2000 by Roger Firth. It was entered in IF Comp 2000 where it took 12th place.

This is a game about pangrams, sentences that use every letter of the alphabet. You are an unnamed member of the Angram family visiting the Angram Priory for the last time. You have a couple hours to pick up a few things before the taxi arrives to take you away to the station.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 4 of the game.


Map 1: Downstairs

u u u in Cellar Top of Stairs d d d out N F O P H U T V A Q Y C Office Scullery Kitchen DiningRoom (upthe tree) Drawingroom Landing Enclosedcourtyard (in thefireplace) Foot ofthe stairs In frontof thePriory Entrancehall Study Billiardsroom Library

Map 2: Upstairs

Tutor'sroom Guestbedroom Musicroom Alcove School-room Longcorridor Nursery Gallery Top ofStairs Attic Sewingroom Papa'sdressingroom Mama'sbedroom Papa'sbedroom M E G S X W K I J D L B R Z Landing u d



The game begins at 8:48 am.

Note: The game auto-drops items you no longer need whenever you go to another room. For example, if you take the scrabble tile, you leave it behind when you leave the landing. So don't bother taking things you don't really need, or worry about dropping them either.

> x quotation. (Job 1:21)

I'm not sure why that quotation is there, unless it alludes to the fact that you enter the Priory with no inventory and you will leave with no inventory as well.

> x clock. look in it. x tile. (It's an "X".)

I think the Scrabble tile is here to let us know that this game is all about wordplay.

> d.

Foot of the stairs

Note that all written letters are auto-drop items.

> x tea. take tea. ("T")

> read letter. i. x t.

> read note. (You learn that Andy has the attic key.)

> sw.

About the workmen

There are five workmen in the house: Andy (the tall man), Bill (the fat man), Carl (the bald man), Dave (the nervous man), and Eric (the elderly man). The first four wander around randomly; Eric is sleeping in Papa's bedroom. Since these NPCs might be anywhere, you need to watch out for them and react with them as necessary.

You must find Andy (the tall man) — or better yet, let him find you — and "ask Andy about key" to learn that Bill now has it. Then you must find Bill (the fat man) and "ask Bill for key" to actually get the attic key. If you ask Bill for the key before asking Andy about or for it, you'll just be told Andy has the key.

You can ask the workmen (except Eric, of course) about various topics.

You can usually follow the workmen to adjacent locations, but they'll sometimes leave the building via various doors, re-entering via another door.

Entrance hall

> enter fireplace.

Entrance hall (in the fireplace)

> x ashes. search ashes.

> take clue 5D. (Deep voice: 6 more to find!)

> read 5d. out.

Entrance hall

> x bicycle. x lamps. x front lamp. x rear lamp.

> x saddlebag. look in it. take oil can. x it.

During this part, you'll learn that the front lamp has a good bulb but no battery, and the rear bulb has a poor bulb but does have a battery. So you want to swap the battery from rear to front lamp. Also, a lamp won't work unless its compartment is closed.

> turn on front lamp. (Nothing.)

> turn on rear lamp. (Dim red.)

> open rear lamp. take battery. open front lamp. put battery in it.

> close front lamp. turn it off. take it.

How do we know to take the V?

> x fireplace. (Date: MDCCXXXVI.)

> x date. take five. ("V")

> look. read typed letter.

> s.


> x view. x village. x church. x desk.

> x notes. x maps. x invoices. x will. (Try another article!)

> take article. (definite or indefinite?)

> take indefinite article. ("A")

> look. read scruffy letter. read folded letter.

> n. se.

Billards room

> x curtains. x table. x rod. x ball.

> take cue. ("Q") take ball.

> look. read dusty letter.

> look under table. take chalk.

> e.


> x books. take why. ("Y")

> look. read dainty letter.

> x portrait. x armour. x shiny. x rusty. oil rusty.

> x shiny sword. x rusty sword.

> lift shiny sword. lift rusty sword. (Secret doorway opens!)

> e.


> turn on lamp.


> x pool. take water. ("C", sea.) x flagstone.

> look. read damp letter.

> x pit. look in pit. take bottle. (You drop it and it smashes.)

> look. take clue 7A. read it.

> w. turn off lamp. w. nw. ne. ne.

Enclosed courtyard

> x tree. x plaque. x sky. climb tree.

The branches are too high. Go get the bicycle by pushing it here so you can use it as a step-up. (Seriously? Wouldn't a chair have made more sense?)

> sw. sw. push bicycle ne. g.

With the bicycle here:

> climb treeoru.

Enclosed courtyard (up the tree)

> x bird. x nest. look in nest. x egg.

> take egg. (Gull stops you.)

> put ball in nest. take egg. drop egg. d.

Enclosed courtyard

Note if you take the tree before taking the egg, you'll never be able to obtain clue 9A.

> take clue 9A (from broken eggshell). read it.

> take yew. ("U")

> look. read scrumpled letter.

> ne.

Drawing room

By the way, the patio door to the east is permanently jammed.

> x pencil. take pencil. x symbol. take it. ("H")

> look. read well-worn letter.

> x pad. (The pad illustration references the pangram "Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.")

> take pad. n.

Dining room

> x floor. x crack. take pea. (Crack is too narrow.)

> jump. take pea. (You miss, and it's back in the crack.)

> jump. put pad on crack. take pea. ("P")

> look. read crumpled.

> w.


> x cupboards. x range. x sink.

> x earrings. take earrings. i.

> x left earring. (A negative electrode a.k.a. a cathode.)

> x right earring. (A positive electrode a.k.a. an anode.)

There's a book in the guest bedroom upstairs that explains this part. The hydrogen, of course, isn't takeable.

> open lamp. take battery. drop battery.

> put left in water. put right in water.

> attach left to battery. attach right to battery.

> x gas. take oxygen. ("O")

> look. read brittle.

> w.


Through the window, a sequence involving a vixen and spaniel acts out the pangram "the quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog", just not in those exact words.

> x fridge. open it.

> read clue 2D. take it.

> x thermometer. (34 degrees.)

> take fahrenheit. ("F")

> look. read smudged.

> w.


The north door is permanently jammed, just like the patio door is.

> x press. open it. x type. (It reads, backwards, "By jove – my quick study of lexicography won a prize", which is a pangram.)

This is a tough one. That hyphen is actually an en-dash.

> x hyphen. take dash. ("N")

> look. read torn.

> e. e. se. sw. sw. u. u.

Top of the stairs

> x carpet. clean carpet. (It needs a brushing.)

> look under carpet. take clue 8A. read it.

> ne.

Long corridor

> x window. x sheep. take ewes. ("W")

> look. read fragrant.

> n.


The fire escape door to the east is permanent jammed.

> x telephone.

> x note pad. take writing. x pad. (See three dots on closer inspection.)

> x dots. take dots. ("S" in morse code.)

> look. read lilac letter.

> nw.

Guest bedroom

> x vase. smell flowers. (Fragrance of mimesis.)

> x table. open drawer. (The mimesis vase breaks.)

> look in drawer. x book.

> take slip. read clue 4A.

> x catalogue number. (2.71828)

> take number. ("E", the natural logarithm.)

> look. x tear-stained.

> open book. read book. (Connect immersed electrodes to an electrical source to create gas.)

> w.

Tutor's room

> x le monde. x photograph. x parcel. take m. ("M")

> open parcel. x pot. ("Miel" is honey.)

> look. read crumbling.

> sw.

Music room

The bow and the sheet music stay in the music room.

CAUTION: You must collect the G in this room. Taking the g-string when the violin is in another room doesn't work.

> x violin. x bow. x music. (Better known as "Air on the G String".)

> take violin. take bow. ("Bravo!")

> x string. (bottom, lower, upper, or top?)

> take bottom string. ("G")

> look. read scrawled.

> s.


> x blackboard. take x. (Solve it first.)

> write 3 on blackboard. (using the chalk)

> take x. ("X")

> look. read lavender.

> s.


> x seedlings. x gramophone. x records.

> x entertainer. take Kaye. ("K")

> look. read delicate.

> s.

Sewing room

> x cloth. x pattern. x gown. x chic.

> take cloth. x cotton. take it. ("L", ell.)

> look. read neat.

> look in packet. take clue 6D. read it.

> s.

Mama's bedroom

The radio originally plays Rhythm and Blues songs, but after you take the Rhythm, the songs all just Blues.

> x radio. turn on radio. listen. take r. ("R", rhythm.)

> look. read ragged.

> n. ne.


Note that all the Angram men are "P. Angram"; that is: PANGRAM, a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet.

> x portraits. x admiral. x eye. take it. ("I")

> look. read cream. read dog-eared.

> e. se.

Papa's dressing room

> take bee. (With your bare hands?) yes. (Har. If you haven't played Adventure, you won't get this joke.)

> x engraving. x brush. take it. x comb. take it.

Honey? Comb? Honeycomb? Get it?

> put comb in pot. wave comb. take bee. ("B")

> look. read creased.

> s.

Papa's bedroom

> x man. ("Eric.") x poster. (Explains SOS in Morse code.)

> x snore. take snore. ("Z")

> look. read pink letter.

> n. nw.

Top of the stairs

> brush carpet. x motif. take jay. ("J")

> look. read scented.

I assume you have the attic key by now. You didn't skip over my note about the workmen, I hope?

> unlock door with key. e.


> x junk. x skylight. x newspaper. take it.

> x newspaper. x caption. take D-Day. ("D")

> look. read cobwebby.

> read newspaper. (This time, you notice a crossword with missing clues.)

> x crossword. (It's displayed with ASCII art.)

> w. (It's too gloomy in the attic to solve the crossword there.)

Top of stairs

Two words, VELVET and CLOAK, are already filled in. This is likely a reference to Cloak of Darkness, an example game specification created by the author.

To complete the crossword, you'll need the pencil and all 26 letters of the alphabet. Ideally, you want the 7 clues as well, but they're not required. (See crossword clues if you don't understand any of them.)

Note that when you add a word to the crossword, its corresponding clue is removed from the game whether you've found it or not.

Finally, you ought to recognize that the clue answers are from the well-known pangram "Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz."

> write jackdaws in crossword. (from clue 4A.)

> write love on crossword. (from clue 6D.)

> write my on crossword. (from clue 9A.)

> write big on crossword. (from clue 8A.)

> write sphinx on crossword. (from clue 5D.)

> write of on crossword. (from clue 7A.)

> write quartz in crossword. (from clue 2D.)

> x crossword.

After filling out the crossword, head for the entrance hall; you'll leave pencil and crossword behind.

> d. d. sw.

Entrance hall

Around 10:55 am, the taxi pulls up outside; you can't open the main door until then. The taxi will drive away at 11:15 if you don't go out to meet it.

As you leave, the Priory catches fire and "elegantly blazes."

To win the game, you must have completed the crossword and leave the Priory while the taxi's there; otherwise, you lose.

> z. (If you're here before the taxi is, wait repeatedly until it is here.)

> open main door. w.

*** You have won ***


Alphabet summary

Crossword clues

Other tidbits

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