Key & Compass presents:
The Problems Compound
by Andrew Schultz

The Problems Compound is a Glulx interactive fiction game written with Inform 7 and is © 2015 by Andrew Schultz. It was entered in IF Comp 2015 where it took 24th place.

In this wordplay game of changing what's-thats to that's-whats, you play as Alec Smart, the sort of dork who likes useless games that are more like IQ tests than something fun or social. But in the Problems Compound, you'll meet lots of people more social than you who'll pose real-life problems, especially the Baiter Master, also known as the Complex Messiah.

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


in out out d d enter arch open hatch enter flat FreakControl StandardBog Account-ableHold Court ofContempt QuestionsField PotChamber SchemePyramid TemperKeep SpeakingPlain CrazyDrive InterestCompound ClassicCult DisposedWell ChipperWood JerkCircle JudgmentPass IdiotVillage TruthHome The BeltBelow BottomRock MealSquare PressurePier DownGround JointStrip VarietyGarden TensionSurface VisionTunnel SinisterBar A RoundLounge SmartStreet in u u

Locations not shown:


(before the game begins)

Is minor profanity/innuendo okay? y

Are you using a screen reader? n

Smart Street

Guy Sweet calls you over; he wants to TALK.

> x me. i. (Carrying nothing.)

> x shell. x flat. x Guy. x games.

> talk. 1. 2. 1. 2. 1. 1.

You only need to play one of these games to get a gesture token, but we'll play all of them:

> x necklace. play necklace. g.

> x boat. play boat. g.

> x cube. play cube. g.

> x chess. play chess. g.

> x jugs. play jugs. g. g.

> x hanoi. play hanoi. g. g. g. g.

> x nim. play nim. g.

> x sticks. play sticks. g.

> x peg. play peg. g.

We're done here.

> x gesture token.

> enter flat.

A Round Lounge

The way back is locked behind you.

> x hatch. x chair. x stick. x screw.

> screw a round. x off tee.

> stand on chair. open hatch. (You proceed to...)

Tension Surface

> x mush. x arch. (It talks and wants documentation.)

> talk to arch. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.

> w.

Variety Garden

> x leaves. x dirt. x rails. x weasel.

> talk to weasel.

Note that an italicized choice is something you'd like to say, but don't have the guts for. If you do try such an option, use RECAP to redisplay your current conversation options.

> 1. 1. recap. 2. 2. 2. 2. 2. yes. 2. 2.

> e. e.

Vision Tunnel

> x wall. x hole. (You see your story, including future bits.)

> x earth. w. w.

Variety Garden

> give token to weasel. (He gives you a pick.)

> x pick. dig dirt. e. e.

Vision Tunnel

> dig earth. (You take a proof of burden, then bury the broken pick.)

> x proof. (It needs to be signed.)

> w. w.

Variety Garden

> give proof to weasel. (He signs it.)

> e.

Tension Surface

> give proof to mush. enter arch.

Pressure Pier

Howdy Boy welcomes you.

> x boy. talk to boy. 1. 3. 1. recap. 3.

> w. (Not yet.)

> s. (No way back.)

> e.

Down Ground

> x bench. sit on bench. (Sleep to...)

Tense Past / Tense Present / Tense Future

While sleeping, you can only LOOK, WAIT, or THINK.

> think. think. think.

You're woken up by the toad, who gives you a boo-tickety with a quarter of a seal on it.

Down Ground

> x boo.

> x Fritz. talk to Fritz. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.

> e.

Joint Strip

> x bear. take bear. x toad. x stool.

> talk to toad. 1. 1. 1. 3. 3.

> s.

Sinister Bar

> x Sucker. talk to Sucker. 3. 3.

> x Lily. x dress.

> talk to Lily. 1. 1. 1. 2. 2. 1. 1.

> talk to Sucker. 1. 2. 2. 3.

> x brew. drink brew. (You take a sip.)

> give brew to Lily. (Outraged, she leaves; Sucker gives you a second boo tickety.)

> talk to Sucker. 2. 2.

> x wine. drink wine. (You take a sip.)

> n. (Toad gives you a 3rd boo, and tosses your wine away.)

> drop boo. (You get a 4th boo for littering. You fold them into a trail paper.)

> x paper.

You have nothing further to say to bartender, toad, or Fritz.

> n. w.

Down Ground

> give bear to Fritz. (He tries to give you a boo, but you decline it.)

> w.

Pressure Pier

> give paper to boy. (You can now go west or north.)

> w.

Meal Square

CAUTION: If you take the cookie, you'll go on a sharp tongue rampage and end the game prematurely.

Note: I never found someone to give the mint to, but it doesn't hurt to take it.

> x peanut. x picture.

> x cookie. x mint. x waffle. x lolly.

> take mint. eat it. (No, for someone else.)

> take waffle. (No. Too heavy.)

> take lolly. (No. You're too old.)

> e. n.

Jerk Circle

You find the jerks too intimidating for now.

> x jerks. w.

Chipper Wood

Playing the Assassination Character's games is entirely optional, but the prize is access to premium game hints, so if you wants those hints, it's best to play his games sooner rather than later.

> x AC. x paper. get on paper.


A 5-by-5 grid is displayed using ASCII graphics; The A is AC; the U is you:

You're trying to catch AC, and you'll use compass directions to move around. Go southeast three times:

> se. se. se.

In mathematical terms, you've changed your parity to be the same as AC's, getting to an intersection in three turns that would normally take four turns if you just used cardinal directions the way AC is doing.

Now head towards AC, alternating between north and west and box him into the upper-left corner.

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

Defeated, AC leaves with the chase paper, and a hole downwards is revealed.

> d.

The Belt Below

> x terminal. (8 questions with multiple choice answers.)

I don't really enjoy solving this sort of puzzle, and I don't remember how I figured it out the first time, so I'm just going to tell you answer, okay?

> abadface. (The Terminal cracks, revealing a tunnel below.)

> d.

Bottom Rock

> x crib. (These are hints.)

The hints are context-sensitive and divided into three sections. The red hints relate to Brother Blood's puzzle track, the blue hints relate to Brother Soul's puzzle track; and the big hints relate to Brother Big's puzzle track.

I'll assume you don't need any hints because you're looking at a walkthrough, but feel free to go off-script and look at them if you want to.

> u. u. w.

Disposed Well

> x well. enter home.

Truth Home

> x Psycho. x Fool. jump.

> talk to Psychoortalk to Fool.

You can't cut into Psycho's bluster and win an argument. Come back here when you have something that can help with that.

> out. w.

Classic Cult

> listen. x bowl. (Needs another flower.)

> x Faith. x Grace. (Mirror images of each other.)

> talk to Faith. 1. 1. 2. 2. 2.

Come back here when you have a flower.

> e. n.

Scheme Pyramid

> x child. x hedge. yes.

> x contract. (Unsigned.)

> x seed. (Dollar sign shape.)

> n. (You need a signed contract first.)

> sign contract. (You're unwilling to.)

> s. e. e. e.

Judgment Pass

Petty says there's no good reason for you to go to Idiot Village.

> x counter. x Petty.

> talk to Petty. 1. 1. 1. 1.

Come back here when you can show Petty something he wants to see.

> w. n.

Speaking Plain

> x Uncle. x Turk. z. z. z. z.

You eventually decide that none of their advice can help you. Ignore them.

> w.

Temper Keep

> x vent. x Sal. open vent. (Not with Sal anxious.)

> talk to Sal. (He doesn't want to smell you.)

Come back here when you have something for Sal to smell.

> e. e.

Crazy Drive

> x string. take string.

> e.

Interest Compound

> x Art. x Phil.

> x crack. (Art describes a random book.)

> x swan. (Phil describes a random song.)

> x wax. (It fluctuates through many shades of grey.)

> take wax. (Denied. It's both music and art.)

> talk to Art. 1. 2. 2. 2. 3.

> talk to Phil. 1. 2. 2. 2.

Come back here when you have things they can't tolerate.

> w. n.

Standard Bog

> x machine. talk to it.

> put contract in machine. (Hm, maybe something else.)

> s. in.

Pot Chamber

> x Penn. talk to Penn. 1. 2. 2. yes. 2.

He gives you some wacker weed to deliver.

> x weed.

> out. w. n.

Questions Field

> x Big. x Blood. x Soul.

> talk to Big. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.

> talk to Blood. 1. 1. 1. 1. 2. 2.

> talk to Soul. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.

Come back here when you can help solve their issues with the right gifts.

> w.

Court of Contempt

> x Buddy. talk to Buddy. 1. 1. 1.

He gives you a long tag and shoves you back to Questions Field.

Questions Field

> x tag. (Bearer allowed to visit Enough Fair.)

Time to do a lot of running around. Deliver that weed to Fritz in Down Ground:

> s. s. s. e.

Down Ground

> give weed to Fritz. (He gives you a dreadful penny.)

> x penny.

Head back to the Pot Chamber:

> w. n. n. e. in.

Pot Chamber

> give penny to Penn. (He gives you some poory pot.)

> x pot. smell pot. (Sickly sweet.)

> out. w. w.

Temper Keep

> put pot in vent. (Sal passes out.)

> open vent. (You take the relief light.)

> x light.

Hold onto that light for awhile and revisit Officer Petty:

> e. s. e.

Judgment Pass

> give tag to Petty. (He accepts it and leaves.)

> e.

Idiot Village

> listen. x monkey. x suit. x magician.

> talk to monkey. (Mimes planting and growing a plant.)

> give seed to monkey. (He gives you a fourth-blossom.)

> give contract to monkey. (He signs it.)

> x blossom. x contract.

> talk to magician. (He's Sly Moore.)

> 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.

Come back here when you can help Sly with his magic act.

> w. w. w. w.

Disposed Well

> put string in well. (You get a fish.)

The fish talks to you, but since you're not appreciating it, it wants you to show it someone who does, then TALK to it.

> x fish.

> w.

Classic Cult

> put blossom in bowl. (You now have a mind of peace.)

> x mind.

> e. n.

Scheme Pyramid

> give contract to child. (You may now go IN to the back room.)

> in.

Accountable Hold

> x safe. take safe. (paper underneath.)

> x paper. (It's a Finger Index.)

> take index. (You can't.)

The Index's pairings between initials and secrets is randomized; you should make a note of which initial has which secret. THINK will also remind you what the Index said at the proper time.

> s. s. e. e.

Jerk Circle

You realize that the seven mentioned in the Finger Index are these jerks.

> talk to jerks.

You learn they're Cain Reyes, Paul Kast, Warm Luke, Warner Dyer, Wash White, Silly Boris, and Dandy Jim.

> x Cain. x Paul. x Luke. x Dyer.

> x White. x Boris. x Jim.

> think. (redisplays the Finger Index.)

First figure out which jerks are associated wtih which letter as listed on the Finger Index. Look for the letters in their names.

Now that you know who's who, you can make accurate accusations.

As you make correct accusations, that option is removed from the list.


> talk to Paul. NUMBER-FOR-K'S-SECRET. 7.

> talk to Luke. NUMBER-FOR-M'S-SECRET. 6.

> talk to Dyer. NUMBER-FOR-D'S-SECRET. 5.

> talk to White. NUMBER-FOR-T'S-SECRET. 4.

> talk to Boris. NUMBER-FOR-L'S-SECRET. 3.

> talk to Jim. NUMBER-FOR-J'S-SECRET.

After making all correct accusations, they go to confront the Labor Child, and return to give you a bottle of Quiz Pop. Then they all leave.

By the way, you can't return to the Labor Child now; the Pyramid's boarded up.

> x pop.

> n. e. e.

Interest Compound

> talk to fish. (Art leaves.)

> open safe. (Phil leaves.)

> take wax.

> out. n.

Standard Bog

> put wax in machine. (You find a trick hat.)

> x hat.

> s. w. s. e. e.

Idiot Village

> give hat to Sly.

It helps him; he gives the hat back and gives you a trap-rattle too. He leaves. Thought is hard with the rattle.

> x rattle.

> w. w. w. w. in.

Truth Home

> give rattle to fool.

He counters the Psycho with it, driving him out. Then he wants the hat. You give it to him. He writes up a book for you: The Trade of Tricks. Then he leaves. (You keep the hat and rattle, too.)

> x Trade.

> out. e. e. n. n.

Questions Field

> give mind to Blood. (Brother Blood leaves.)

> give light to Soul. (Brother Soul leaves.)

> give Trade to Big. (Brother Big leaves, but warns you.)

> n. (You need a minor stimulant to get past the ambush.)

> drink pop. (You keep the bottle.)

> n.

Freak Control

I note that once you begin the converstaion with Baiter Master, you can't end it. You must keep picking menu-options until the game ends.

> x Master. talk to Master.

> 1. 2. 2. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.

BM storms out. You take charge until Admiral Vice leads a coup against you.

*** Defeat of agony? ***

> amusing

> swears


Amusing and Swears

There are two post-game commands. The response to AMUSING is:

Have you tried:

And the response to SWEARS is:

Well, that's not much. I planned to have a lot more, but I just got sidetracked with silly stuff like bug fixing and adding to the story. Sorry about that.



And in the rejected rooms:


From the response to CREDITS:

I was able to bounce technical and non-technical ideas off several other people. Wade Clarke, Marco Innocenti, Hugo Labrande, Juhana Leinonen, Brian Rushton and Matt Weiner offered testing and general encouragement and insight on what was a VERY short deadline given the game's size. An anonymous tester provided other direction.

Robert DeFord, Harry Giles and Steven Watson had ideas for the white paper and direction, as did the Interactive Fiction Faction, a private Google group. They include Hanon Ondricek, Robert Patten, Miguel Garza, Matt Goh and Joseph Geipel.

Jason Lautzenheiser's work on Genstein's Trizbort app ( was invaluable for big-picture planning and for adding in ideas I wasn't ready to code. If you are writing a parser game, I recommend it. (Disclaimer: I am a contributor, too.)

Many websites and resources helped me discover silly phrases. The Director's Cut has details on specific names, but was a big help with its idioms search/subdomain Various compound word lists gave me ideas, too.


There may be more endings that I didn't discover.


Rejected Rooms

If you finished the game, you learned about the magic command ANNO that turns on the author's annotations while playing the game. To reach these rejected rooms, enter annotation mode then JUMP. To return to the game proper, type JUMP again.

WindowBay MadnessMarsh EternalHopeSprings BrainsBest HumorGallows ChickenFreeRange Tuff ButtFair Ill Falls Mine Land Rage Road MusterPass OneRoute

Note that while in Window Bay, you can see fourteen more locations by switching the View of Points there.

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