Sunday, February 02, 2020

Eamon is turning 40!

We don't know the exact date the first version of the Main Hall and Beginner's Cave were created. This is largely thanks to the fact that Apple II's DOS 3.3 didn't keep timestamps on files, and authors didn't always record the dates in their file comments. Some knowledgeable people have done some research, and estimated that development on the first Eamon adventures must have begun in 1979. The first specific date we know for sure is January 30, 1980, the publication date of Adventure #3, Cave of the Mind, which is now 40 years ago!

In honor of the occasion, I thought I would take a look back at the history and how things have changed over the years.

The Apple II Era

1979-80: The first DOS 3.3 version of Eamon is released for the Apple II Plus. It supports 40-column text, all uppercase, and is designed to work on machines with 48k of RAM.

1984-1989: Eamon sees widespread distribution and over 150 adventures are published during this time.

1985: The Graphics Main Hall is released, providing a richer experience and several additional shops.

1985: Thror's Ring is the first adventure released with support for 80-column text.

1988: Tom Zuchowski releases v7.0 of the Main Program. This includes a small compiled program that drastically sped up monster and artifact search routines. It also introduces group monsters and revised combat logic that emphasizes Agility as a primary combat stat.

1990: Zuchowski begins converting several adventures to Prodos, intending to make them easier to play on the Apple //gs.

Mid-1990s: Authors continue submitting new adventures, even though the Apple II as a platform is in decline. Zuchowski also manages to locate a number of older adventures that had either languished on floppies since the 1980s, or had been started and never finished.

1999-2013 - Eamon Deluxe

This is a port of Eamon to MS-DOS by adventure author Frank Black. It has gone through several revisions over the years, and about 200 adventures have been ported. Frank upgraded most of the adventures, fixing bugs and broken room connections, as well as updating the command parser and some of the combat logic.

Frank also wrote some new content for several adventures, intending to make them a more unified storyline. Several NPCs could now appear in multiple adventures, if they survived the adventure where you first met them.

2017-present - Eamon Remastered

I had always dreamed of making an updated version of Eamon that could run in a web browser. In the 21st century, this seemed to be a good way to bring new players to Eamon and to keep alive all the hard work done by dozens of adventure authors.

The original Eamon was written in Applesoft BASIC, being a common, low-barrier-to-entry programming language in its time. So, it only made sense to use today's common, widely known language, JavaScript, for the rewrite. Data and file storage have also come a long way since the 1980s, and Eamon adventure data seemed a good fit for a relational database.

So, in December 2015, I started planning the rewrite of the game engine. This meant a major update in game features for some of the older adventures, which now all have the updated commands and combat logic that the newer Apple-based adventures and Eamon Deluxe had.

Since the official release of Eamon Remastered in February 2017, 34 adventures have been ported to Eamon Remastered. There is still a long way to go; there are currently about 275 total adventures, of which about 180 are actually playable on the original systems (a prerequisite to porting them) and are of good enough quality to be interesting.

The Future

There are still many things in store for 2020. I am currently working on a brand-new adventure titled Malleus Maleficarum. In this one, the adventurer joins a friend from the Guild to save her homeland from fanatics who are persecuting magic users.

Even more new content will be coming soon as well. The next project will be a port of Derek Jeter's unpublished adventure, The Treachery of Zorag, which Derek developed for Eamon Deluxe but which was never included in any of the Eamon Deluxe 5.0 releases. This is a large, complex adventure with lots of special effects and puzzles. It will be a great addition to the catalog.

Until next time, happy adventuring!

Friday, February 02, 2018

Eamon Mystery - William Trent and the "Search for the Key"

It's Groundhog Day! To celebrate, let's look back at a letter that Dr. William Trent wrote to the EAG way back in March of 1991:
Dear Tom,

One of my favorite games is a short game (only 20 rooms) called "Search for the Key" (#80) by Donald Brown.  For the casual player this game probably doesn't do much for them.  You cannot enter this game with a powerful character but as a beginner.  I note that it is rated as a 2.  My rating for it since it is such a challenge would be about 7.  I have played it at least 200 times and have lost only about 5 times in the last 150 times.  I would say that I know more about this little game than the author.  Usually I lost because of broken weapons so that I had no way to eliminate the black panther.  I usually finish up with $80,000 to $100,000 and four of the best weapons that money can buy.  I don't know anyone who ever was able to get more than two weapons.  At one time I was running it as the Eamon Challenge on our BBS offering anyone who could come out of the game with $40,000 a $25 prize.  No one solved the mystery so I have not revealed it.  I doubt if the author even realized the quirk in the game which allowed me to win this way.  I wonder if you or any of the other adventurers can 
figure out how I do it.   -  Wm. Trent

Wow. How do you do it, Bill?   - Tom 
Well, I've looked at the program myself and couldn't find out what he was talking about either. So, back in 2003, I wrote him a letter to ask for the solution. He responded in December 2003 as follows:
In 1983 I had an Apple computer which had very few capabilities but it did have Eamon games which I played a lot.  After a couple of years the Apple changed to Macintosh and upgraded to a format which was not compatible to the Apple.  As a result I became disgusted with them and switched to an IBM computer and did not play Eamon games any longer.
 At that time you had to write almost any program yourself as there were very few except Appleworks typing programs.  I wrote one Eamon game myself "A Trip to Fort Scott" which was my home town in Kansas before I joined the navy.  (I'm a Pearl Harbor Survivor)
 That has been too long ago for me to remember anything about my early computer years.  I am sorry but at age 84 I can't remember anything about the Eamon games.  In fact one of the things that happens to you when you get old is your memory goes.
 I can go to a movie and a year later my wife will say, "We saw that movie".
 I will say, "I never saw that movie."
 I am on the computer quite a bit but have to keep reviewing to be able to remember the programs I use most of the time.  I "bookmark"  anything which I wish to find on line with the computer and keep most of the program icons on my desktop so they are easy to find.
 I keep a very descriptive index of all the files I have on the hard disk.
 I am very sorry but I do not remember anything about any of the Eamon Games.
 Dr. William H. Trent, DDS (retired for 18 years)
So, my question for the Eamon community is, what was he talking about? The data file doesn't indicate that it's possible to have that many weapons or to earn that much money. The MAIN PGM is likewise rather mundane. Was it possible that he got some customized version from a non-EAG source?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Eamon Remastered

Keith Dechant has done a great job porting Eamon to run on a web based platform with no need for emulators or other softwares. He has already ported 15 adventures from the EDX platform.

Check it out at

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eamon database

Derek C. Jeter scoured the Eamon database and came up with this handy way to examine all of the Eamon Deluxe adventures. You can inspect each adventure's rooms, artifacts, monsters and effects. If you get stuck in an adventure, this is great place to find all the hidden doors and embedded artifacts.

Check it out at

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Two Eamon-Related AGT Adventures

Recently, Michael Detlefsen, one of two individuals who ported Eamon to the Atari ST, has posted two Eamon-related items for the PC to the Internet Archive. Each is an AGT (Adventure Game Toolkit)-authored adventure game, playable on MS-DOS and hence (presumably) Windows. Detlefsen shepherded his Atari port by hosting it on GEnie, writing the single Eamon newsletter, and manually translating several adventures to the platform. However, Detlefsen at some point abandoned Eamon development and embraced the AGT platform.

The first is an expanded version of Evan Hodson's Quest for the Holy Grail, a riff of the Monty Python film. Holy Grail was one of the Eamons Detlefsen ported to the Atari ST; after adopting the AGT platform, he made additional enhancements to the game by adding puzzles, rewriting descriptions, and making further changes. The Misadventure of the Holy Grail, the enhanced version of Quest for the Holy Grail, can be downloaded here.

The second is a port of Detlefsen's aborted Eamon adventure The Star Portal. Detlefsen made a report on his progress in the Atari Eamon newsletter, mentioning that he has "blocked out" sixty rooms for the map, but never completed the Eamon version. After abandoning Eamon and adopting AGT, Detlefsen resumed work on Star Portal, winning an honorable mention in the Second AGT Game Contest. A review can be found here and the game itself can be downloaded here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eamon Mapper at HackFest

KansasFest, the venerable Apple II gathering running for a quarter of a century, hosts a recurring contest called "HackFest." The winner this year was none other than Margaret Anderson, the author of four Eamons (Peg's Place, The Beginner's Forest, Treasure Island, and The Pirate's Cave), who submitted an "Eamon mapper" as her entry. While the site is not presently hosting a disk image of her winning entry, it appears that disk images of entries are posted from time to time at

Margaret Anderson also wrote an article "Mapping the Unknown: An Adventure in Eamon" about her entry in the September 2013 issue of Juiced.GS. I don't have a subscription to Juiced.GS, so I'm unable to describe the contents of the article. But I'd love to hear a synopsis in the comments (or see a disk image of Ms. Anderson's entry!).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pat Hurst's Eamon Gazetteer

Pat Hurst, over the course of his universally highly regarded Eamon adventures, attempted to unify the details of the fictional planet Eamon, providing an coherent story concerning Eamon's geography, politics, and pantheon. The Main Hall, according to Hurst's continuity, lies in the city of Evenhold, on the coast of the Malphigian sea. Beyond his four adventuresThe Pyramid of Anharos, Buccaneer!, Grunewalde, and The Dark BrotherhoodHurst's ideas informed Mike Ellis' Well of the Great Ones (as well as A Runcible Cargo). Hurst's portrait of Eamon was made concrete by a sort of "series bible," the Eamon Gazetteer, mentioned several times in the EAG Newsletter. 

Huw Williamssuper sleuth that he iswas able to not only track down Pat Hurst, but also coaxed him into scanning a copy of the fabled Gazetteer, a copy of which may be found at Both scanned and transcribed versions are posted. It's a very entertaining read and a very rich component of Eamon history, so make sure to check it out.