Key & Compass presents:
by Deane Saunders

Mingsheng is a Z-machine version 5 interactive fiction game written with Inform 6 and is © 2004 by Deane Saunders. It was an entry at IF Comp 2004 where it won 7th place. At the 2004 XYZZY Awards, it was a finalist for the Best Setting award.

You play as a Chinese individual who has left their village in search of a legend, a wise old man who has somehow combined two schools of thought: martial arts and spirituality. You wish to learn his combined philosophy and teach it to your village.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1 of the game.


山梯(shan1 ti1)Mountainstairway (shan1)Mountain 宁静的湖(zhu4 jing4de hu2)Serene lake 山门(shan1 men2)Mountain gate 竹林(zhu2 lin2)Bamboo forest 神道(shen2 dao4)Western endof spirit way 神道(shen2 dao4)Eastern endof spirit way 寺庙的坟场(si4 miao4 defen2 chang2)Cemetery 洞穴(dong4 xue4)Rocky tidalcavern (ya2)Cliffs (ta3)Inside pagoda 崖底(ya2 di3)Cliff base d u

Pinyin is a standardized method of writing down how Chinese words are pronounced. The numbers at the ends of the syllables indicate a tone; roughly, this means your voice should be 1) flat, 2) rising, 3) falling-then-rising, 4) falling, or 5) neutral when you say it.

> y (if you want Pinyin on.)

竹林 (zhu2 lin2) Bamboo forest

> x me. take bag. x it. x knife.

> x thorns. x trees. se.

崖 (ya2) Cliffs

> x sky. x path. d.

崖底 (ya2 di3) Cliff base

> x debris. search debris. x stick.

> x water.

> u. nw. s.

洞穴 (dong4 xue4) Rocky tidal cavern

> x cleft. x snake.

> poke snake. (Using the stick; the snake leaves. The stick is lost.)

> take pebble. x it. (The pebble description suggests skimming it.)

> x rocks.

> n. n.

宁静的湖 (zhu4 jing4 de hu2) Serene lake

> x crane. x boulder. x lake. drink water.

> x fish. x sand.

> skim pebble. (The crane is startled and leaves.)

> s.

竹林 (zhu2 lin2) Bamboo forest

Snake and crane fight each other. Push SPACE several times until they're done, with the snake winning the battle by avoiding all the crane's attacks.

Then wait five turns and consider the battle in terms of Yin and Yang.

> z. z. z. z. z.

> e.

神道 (shen2 dao4) Western end of spirit way

> x statues.

> x dog.

> x ram. x vine. take it.

> x horse. x red moss. take it.

> x lion. x green moss. take it.

> x qilin. x archway. x dragon. x door.

If you try to walk through the door, it'll slam shut under the gaze of the Qilin. Note that blocking their sight is hinted at by the carving on the door.

> put red moss on left qilin.

> put green moss on right qilin.

> e. (The Qilin can't stop what they can't see.)

神道 (shen2 dao4) Eastern end of spirit way

> x bush. x leaves. take leaves.

> x crack. x pavings. x cypress.

If you watched the snake and crane battle, you will be able to bypass the mist barrier and enter the cemetery; otherwise, you will be blocked.

> e.

寺庙的坟场 (si4 miao4 de fen2 chang2) Cemetery

> x mound. x shrine. x hole. x ash.

> x small stones.

> search mound. x incense. put incense in hole.

A presence thanks you with a small gift:

> take slip. read it. (It describes how to make Perfect Tea.)

> x pagoda. x pillars. x windows. x door.

> s.

塔 (ta3) Inside pagoda

> x man. x tray. x teapot. x feathers.

> put leaves on tray. take knife. cut leaves.

> put leaves in teapot. (The old man gives you a key then goes with his tea.)

> x key. n. n.

山门 (shan1 men2) Mountain gate

> x gate. x wall.

> unlock gate with key. open gate. nw.

山梯 (shan1 ti1) Mountain stairway

> rest. (Hinted at by the room description. You are treated to a dream of blank verse about opposites.)

> e.

山 (shan1) Mountain

> x tree. x birds. x cemetery.

> x box. open it. (You can't.)

> x latch. take box.

If you drop the box, it'll bounce down the stairs. Try it if you like; it won't open the box nor damage its contents. I'm just going to carry it down.

> w.

山梯 (shan1 ti1) Mountain stairway

> rest. (You are treated a second dream of blank verse, this time about empty spaces.)

> se. s. w. w. w. s.

洞穴 (dong4 xue4) Rocky tidal cavern

Remember the sharp rocks? We'll use them to open the box.

> tie vine to box. throw box.

The box and vine disappear. Hopefully, we can find the box where we know debris ends up.

> n. se. d.

崖底 (ya2 di3) Cliff base

Oh good, the box is here.

> take box. open it.

> x painting. x sword. x symbols.

Let's practice the five martial art stances, in the "Control" order shown on the sword:

> earth. water. fire. metal. wood.

Return to the pagoda with this new knowledge:

> u. nw. e. e. e. s.

塔 (ta3) Inside pagoda

The old man tests you. Counter each of his moves with the move that controls his:

> control-move.

> control-move.

> control-move.

After successfully countering the old man's moves three times in a row, the test will end. (And yes, he may repeat himself. His choices are chosen completely at random.)

> drop key. (You can't return the key to the old man directly.)

> n. w. w. w.

竹林 (zhu2 lin2) Bamboo forest

> take sword. cut thorns with sword.

You have a choice. Take the sword home or leave it behind?

Ending 1: Take the sword home

> w.

Your family puts too much faith in weaponry and possessions.

*** You have lost ***

Ending 2: Leave the sword behind

> drop sword. w.

Your teachings of Taiji will endure for centuries.

*** You have won ***

> endnotes

Chinese ideographs used in this game

I don't know any Chinese, but the internet is great for looking things up. Links are to their respective pages on Wiktionary. My apologies if I've gotten any of this wrong.

3 strokes: 4 strokes: 5 strokes: 6 strokes: 7 strokes: 8 strokes: 9 strokes: 10 strokes: 11 strokes: 12 strokes: 13 strokes: 14 strokes:

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