Key & Compass presents:
by Linus Åkesson

Tethered is a Z-machine interactive fiction game written with Dialog and is © 2018 by Linus Åkesson. It was an entry in IF Comp 2018 where it took 23rd place.

In this story, you'll play as two characters: Charles Wong and Judith Robinson who begin the game climbing a mountain. As Charles, you are forced to cut Judith's rope when it pins your arm. Fortunately, Judith doesn't fall far, but that doesn't mean she's safe. As Judith, you will try to survive in the Swallet cave system while Charles goes to get help. Years later in his apartment, Charles will relive what he imagines Judith experienced.

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


d (tobalcony) Swallet cave system Charles' apartment (tobackyard) d u u d u cut rope By thestream Inter-section Caveentrance Study Bedroom Stalactiteroom Tunnel Belowthe cliff Top ofstaircase Easternend ofcorridor Northernend ofhall Kitchen Dry streambed Middleof thehall By thecrevice Bathroom Vestibule In thepit Southernend of hall Bottom ofstaircase Livingroom Snowcave


By the crevice

> x me. (Charles Wong, 29, aspiring writer and mountaineer)

> i. (helmet, clothing, harness, rope pinning your right arm hard)

> x snowflake.

> x crevice. (Rope disappears over the edge)

> x rope. (Over your arm, over crevice, to where Judith dangles)

> x Judith. (She's a short distance from the ground.)

> x harness. (Has tool belt and rope.)

> x belt. (Has a pocket knife.)

> talk to Judith. (Too far, and loud voice could set off an avalanche.)

> cut rope with knife.

You begin the climb down to get help. Snowstorm gets worse. Darkness.

In the dark / Snow cave

It's not immediately obvious, but you're now playing as Judith. This silent switching of characters will happen again later.

> about. about Dialog.

> x me. (Judith Robinson, 30, physicist)

> i. x rope. x helmet. x harness.

> listen. smell.

> x clothing. x gloves. x boots. x overall.

> x hard trousers. x soft trousers.

> x shell jacket. x insulation jacket. x jumper.

> d. touch ground. x snow.

> take snow. drop snow. (You learn which way is down.)

> u.

Below the cliff

You need to find shelter. The snow cave will soon fill up with snow and be inaccessible.

> x cliff. x opening. n.

Cave entrance

> x column. x passage. listen. (Hear faint dripping)

> tie rope to column.

> w. w.

In the dark / By the stream

This location is initially dark, but you'll be able to see a turn later as your eyes adjust.

> listen. look. x stream.

> s.

Stalactite room

> x stalactite. x shaft.

> d.

In the pit

> smell. n.

Dry stream bed

> x fungus. smell fungus.

> s. e. n.

Middle of the hall

> x boulder.

> n. (rope stuck somewhere)

I admit it's not obvious why you'd want to start pushing boulders around in a cold cave when you're tired, but if you move the boulder to the pit, you can climb up and down the boulder there without needing to be tethered by the rope.

> push boulder south.

Southern end of hall

> push boulder west.

In the pit

> u. n. e. e.

Cave entrance

> untie rope. w. w. s. d. e. n.

Middle of the hall

With the boulder moved, there's a western opening.

> smell odour. (decaying.)

> w.

Dry stream bed

Yes, you've been here before. You just have a different way in now.

> e. n.

Northern end of hall

> x tap. (The weirdness begins.)

> x curtain. x stalactites.

> s. s. w.

Bottom of staircase (formerly In the pit)

> w. (No more business outside.)

> x closet. open closet. x cleaning. x toolbox.

> take toolbox.

> e. n. n.

Northern end of hall

> fix tap. (You need a new washer. Where did you put it?)

> s. s. w. u. e. n.

Bedroom (formerly Intersection)

You've changed characters once more. You're now Charles, not Judith, and the entire cave system is now Charles' apartment.

> x dresser. x bed. x mirror. (Old man looks back at you.)

> x me. x pyjamas. get in bed. sleep.

> stand. w.


> x window. close it.

> x picture. (of snowflake)

> x desk. x computer. x bag.

> take bag. s.

Top of staircase

> x chandelier.

> d. e.

Living room

> x chair. x window. x table. x photograph.

> x lamp. x books. x threshold.

> n.


> x coat. x shoes.

> n.


> x fridge. x freezer. x cooker.

> x oven. x dishrack. x curtains.

> fix tap. s. w.


> x tub. x shower. x toilet. x basin.

> x mug. x mirror. x towel. x litter box.

> brush teeth.

> clean litter box. x bag. e.


> wear coat. (You quickly get rid of the litter and put the coat back.)

> s. w.

Bottom of staircase

> put toolbox in closet.

> xyzzy.

> u. e. n.


> enter bed. sleep. (Too hot.)

> remove pyjamas. sleep.

Judith died after exploring the Swallet cave system. You can't help but reenact what happened to her.

*** You are tethered. ***

> amusing



An interactive roleplay by Linus Åkesson.
Release 1. Serial number 180926.
Dialog compiler version 0a/08. Library version 0.10.

Thanks, first and foremost, to my diligent betatesters: Małgorzata Reczko, Mike Carletta, and Brian Rushton.

In addition, I would like to send a special shout-out to Ryan Veeder and Jenni Polodna. It is chiefly because of their delightful podcast, Clash of the Type-Ins, that I have finally been able to keep my mind on interactive fiction well past the end of an IFComp judging period.

The present story is implemented in a new, experimental IF language that I call Dialog. Type ABOUT DIALOG for more information on that.

About Dialog

Tethered is implemented in a new rule-based IF language called Dialog. The story file has been compiled with my own tool chain, and I have implemented the parser and world model from scratch.

In this endeavor, the Z-machine Standards Document has been an invaluable source of information and insight. I stand in awe of the dozens of people who reverse-engineered and documented the Z-machine back in the 1990s, and described their findings in such a well-written and concise reference work.

Furthermore, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Graham Nelson and (where applicable) Emily Short for developing and releasing Inform 6 and 7, for writing the Inform Designer's Manual and Writing with Inform, and for distilling so many years of community experience into the default Inform world model and Standard Rules. These treasure troves are overflowing with so many good ideas that it would have been irresponsible not to steal a substantial part of them, and incorporate them into my own standard library. Any shortcomings in the Dialog world model are of course my own fault.

More information about Dialog will be published after the competition.


Have you tried...

I have no idea how to complete the game without tying the rope. Just waiting for the end won't work. Nor can I find any alternate way down into the pit.




About body parts:

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