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Balances (balances_solution.txt)

"Balances" is a very short game, written by Graham Nelson to demonstrate the capabilities
of the "Inform" parser and to show that anything that Infocom could do, he can do too.
However, sufficient people seem interested in playing "Balances" seriously for it to be
worth writing a solution (after all, "Balances" is considerably longer than some of the
games to be found at the IF Archive!).

The magic system is much the same as that in the Infocom trilogy "Enchanted",
"Sorcerer" and "Spellbreaker".

"Spellbreaker" had a number of featureless white cubes that could be written on; it also
had a boneyard, a bazaar and a magic carpet (though the carpet was more difficult to operate than
the one in "Balances"!).

The "filfre" spell to "produce gratuitous fireworks" is a reference to the
scroll in Infocom's "Beyond Zork" that displayed the names of the authors of that

As "Balances" is a demonstration game, the source is available from the IF Archive at in the directory


and should be readable even to people who have never programmed in Inform.

Gareth Rees <>, 12/94


We should get get started with some information about the background to the game:

examine book
who is helistar
what is the great change
what is a magic burin

Then we should do what every seasoned adventurer does, and search everything in sight:

search furniture

thus uncovering a cedarwood box, which is locked. But a magic spell comes to our aid:

learn rezrov
rezrov box
examine box
look in box
get grimoire from box
examine grimoire
what is a grimoire

"grimoire" is another word for "spell book", no doubt to prevent the game having
to ask you which spell book you mean every time you read one. Helistar's grimoire contains a
"lleps" spell that may be cast upon spells you have memorised, and turns them into spells
that have the opposite effect. For example, you could learn the "mortin" spell (that
causes the immediate death of the caster), "lleps mortin" and then "mortin", in
which case you will have ensured your resurrection in the event of sudden death.

This is a walkthrough, and we're not intending to die, so there's no need for that (but if
you're curious, see the end of the walkthrough).

Now it's time to set off on the quest.


Our explorations have come to a sudden stop. But we know what to do!

search oats
examine shiny scroll
gnusto it

Now we have a spell to make animals grow wings, so following the example of Bellerophon, we grow
ourselves a Pegasus and fly away on it:

learn bozbar
bozbar horse
mount horse

We've discovered a featureless white cube, but we can't take it yet. Instead, we can
explore in search of some help:

learn yomin
yomin tortoise

"Somewhere inside the tortoise is a sense of wonder at the amazing blue canopy of the
sky". It would be hard to have been given a clearer hint!

learn bozbar
bozbar tortoise
get chewed scroll

We're not quite finished with the tortoise, yet. If you hang around for a few turns,
you'll see a tortoise feather fall to the ground.

take tortoise feather
take sapphire
examine it
examine book

I'm not sure I really understand the reasoning behind the sapphire puzzle (perhaps it was a
late night when Graham was writing it), but staring into the sapphire has implanted into your mind
the "caskly" spell (for causing perfection). In connection with the chewed scroll, it is
obvious what to do:

caskly chewed scroll
examine torn scroll
gnusto lobal

So now we have a spell for sharpening hearing, which will come in handy later. In the meantime, we
could pick up another useful object:

take carpet

and then enter the cave (but not before we have provided a light source):

learn rezrov
rezrov door
learn frotz
frotz burin

We have acquired out first cube! There will be others (such as the one we saw back at the snake), so
we need to write a label on it to identify it.

take cube
write balance on cube

Then we need to get the scroll. However, the cave won't let us leave unless the scales are
restored to balance, and the scroll happens to weigh just as much as the different in weight between
a bronze and a gold (or silver) coin.

There are two solutions. We could take the scroll and the bronze coin, and leave the silver coin in
place of the bronze. But we'll need the silver coin later, so that's a bad idea. Luckily,
it turns out that the tortoise feather weighs exactly the same as the scroll:

take crumpled scroll
put feather on left pan
examine crumpled scroll
gnusto urbzig

The "urbzig" spell, to "turn a dangerous object into a harmless one", is just
what we need to deal with the snake:

learn urbzig
urbzig snake
get cube
write snake on it

Now we need to take a ride on the magic carpet, but since it'll take us to a place where the
brandishing of spell books is forbidden, we had better learn the spells we need in advance:

learn yomin
drop carpet
get on carpet

A third cube is one of the prizes in the lottery, and since we haven't much money to waste,
we'd better cheat by reading the mind of the poor barker:

give silver coin to barker
yomin barker
get ticket 2306
give it to barker
get ticket 5802
give it to barker
write lottery on featureless cube
get on carpet

There doesn't seem to be very much to do now, but we haven't used the "lleps"
spell yet! It might be worth stopping to consider how the "lleps" spell might affect the
spells you know about, and experimenting. The opposite of "frotz" causes darkness; the
opposite of "yomin" allows other creatures to read your mind; the opposite of
"rezrov" closes and locks doors; the opposite of "bozbar" removes wings from an
object if it has any; the opposite of "lobal" causes deafness; and the opposite of
"urbzig" turns a harmless object into a dangerous one.

This last spell sounds the most promising. Let's try it (but not on an object we're
carrying, which is lethal):

get off carpet
drop elephant
learn urbzig
learn lleps
lleps urbzig
urbzig elephant

Oops! The cuddly toy elephant is replaced by a dangerous cyclops with a mace. Or is it a cyclops
with a dangerous mace? Let's find out which:

learn urbzig
urbzig cyclops
learn urbzig
urbzig mace

Obviously the latter! Now we have a fourth cube.

get cube
write cyclops on it
what is a cyclops

Now it is time for the endgame, which involves getting into the giant cubical temple. Let's spy
on the monks:

examine temple

The chanting is too faint to make out? We know what to do about that:

learn lobal
lobal me

The monks tell of "one who will some day enlighten their order". Could this be a terrible,
terrible pun?

learn frotz
frotz temple

I think so. Lots of disgruntled players complained on about this puzzle!
Anyway, there's not much left to do:

examine podium
clean podium
examine top left socket

Obviously the puzzle is to put the cubes in the correct sockets. It was a good thing we labelled
them, because otherwise we wouldn't know what to put where.

put lottery cube in top left socket
examine top right socket
put cyclops cube in top right socket
examine bottom right socket
put balance cube in bottom right socket
examine bottom left socket
put snake cube in bottom left socket

And we have won!

Perceptive players will have noticed that by following the above script we have scored 50 out of 51
points. The traditional "last lousy point" may be scored by finding the "filfre"
spell and casting it; to do so we could try the following commands near the start of the game:

learn mortin
learn lleps
lleps mortin
learn mortin
get worthless scroll
examine it
gnusto filfre
learn filfre