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I've been trying to think of good ways to improve my narration of scenes when I can't actually practice firsthand with my group. On idea I had was to find some old text-only adventure/RPG games and learn from the techniques they use to create atmosphere and images with nothing but words.

Has anyone played some text-adventure games that they think could help? I'd obviously also prefer something that's as user-friendly as possible to minimize the frustration you get trying to do something that should be easy. (Nobody likes typing go up ladder for 15 seconds just to realize all they had to do was type climb ladder). Good storyline, interesting decision, interesting problem solving, and use of environment are also definite pluses.

If you can give me a brief description of the game and a link to download the game that would be amazing, but just a name or link to a list of text-adventure/RPG's would be fine.

I first asked this question on Gaming.SE, but it was closed as off-topic (they don't like recommendation questions, and with good reason), so I thought I'd come here. :D

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An alternative would be joining an RP-focused online multiplayer text-based game (MUD/MUSH/MUCK/etc). – SevenSidedDie Jun 19 '11 at 17:07
I'm not sure text-adventure games are where I would go for narration pointers. My advice would be to read books in the genre of your games and DM more. – okeefe Nov 4 '11 at 22:57

My favorite text based adventures from yesteryear are as follows:

Zork I - IV (

Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy ( Apparently you can play it online!


Related to the other thread, I highly recommend MUDS. (

You can visit or to choose which theme of a game you would like.

You will find great communities of people willing to help you, and if you ask in the channels, they will even point out the better described areas of the game.

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+1 ZORK! You were eaten by a grue... – BBlake Jun 20 '11 at 12:09

If you can find them, Any of the Infocom games, especially the Zork titles and HHGTTG, works well. Modern systems can run an inform interpreter, and most of the original games used separate data files and interpreters, so you can just pull the file, and run it in a modern z-machine.

Note that the graphical Infocom adventures (which you were planning on avoiding) require one of a subset of z-machines that support graphics. has a more info on z-machines. links to various lists by platform. is the front page of the Interactive Fiction FTP Archive HTTP (Web) interface. A collection of free works of interactive fiction in z-code for download; use with one of the z-machines mentioned above.

However, another excellent skill booster will be to listen to old radioplays... and there are a bunch of the old ones on-line.

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I like Zork as much as the next guy, but it's really not much of an atmosphere-creator. The place to browse for highly-rated material is Baf's Guide, where you can find the following things that I recommend:

One of the best actual Infocom games for atmosphere, I think, is the future dystopia of A Mind Forever Voyaging. I imagine you can find this to download somewhere; it's abandonware.

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Many of the best examples of text adventures in terms of story telling and atmosphere post-date commercial games. As a place to start I would suggest the following free games: Curses, Christminster, and Jigsaw. You will need a Zcode interpreter such as Frotz to play these.

For further good quality games, I would suggest looking at the Interactive Fiction Competition winners.

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I highly recommend A Change in the Weather, along with nearly any other game by Andrew Plotkin.

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