Struggling to cope with a crumbling Empire, troublesome peasants, and recently some ghastly Great War that your chums tell you you slept through, it's been a tricky business lately for the English aristocracy to keep the old wolf from the old door. Especially you, the Honourable Ampersand Fodge. You've already eaten, drunk and gambled your entire family fortune, so unless you want to be in the workhouse by Christmas, you'd better get some lolly rolling in pronto.

Cue dear old Aunt Cedilla, your only unmarried elderly relative. For the past few weeks she's been threatening to come round for tea. It may have occurred to her that she's getting on a bit, so if you can squeeze yourself into the old witch's good books, she's more or less bound to leave you a tidy sum. Then maybe you'll find some way of topping her, if you can stop the rozzers from taking notice. Murder's never been your forté, but needs must and all that!

How to play

Unlike most modern computer games, which rely on insanely complex graphics hardware to show you what's going on, the text adventure uses a technology of unsurpassed advancement - the English language - to project the images directly into your imagination.

The game tells you where you are and what's happening, and you tell it what you want to do. Type your instructions in the lower text box and press ENTER. (If pressing Enter doesn't work on your browser, click the 'ok' to the right of the text box instead.) Here is an example of a few lines of conversation with the game:

Front porch
A rickety wooden structure welcomes guests into your home with all the hospitality you wish to convey, i.e. none.
Aunt Cedilla stands here, quietly tutting to herself. She is clutching a leather briefcase.
"Ampersand!" she says, addressing you. "Have your butler collect my baggage at once!"
Of course, you dare not tell the dear old bat that you have no butler, never have had a butler, and never intend to have a butler in the future.

> take suitcase

Aunt Cedilla refuses to give up the suitcase.
"Certainly not! I will not have a nephew of mine doing servants' work."

and so on.

The game has a large vocabulary, and listing all the words it understands would spoil your enjoyment of playing. Here are some of the important ones, though:

north, south, east, west (or n, e, s, w), in, out
Move in the specified direction.

take <thing>, drop <thing>
Pick something up, or put it down (<thing> being the something in question.) take all will pick up everything in the room, and and drop all will drop everything you are carrying.

inventory, inv, list (or i)
Show a list of what you're carrying.

look (or l)
Look around at the room you are in, i.e. reprint its description.

look at <thing>, examine (or x) <thing>
Look closely at a particular object, character or room feature.

verbose, terse
Set the descriptive mode to either terse or verbose. With terse (the default), each room descriptions is only printed once (unless you explicity ask again by typing look). With verbose, room descriptions are reprinted every time you visit each room.

save <name>, load <name>
Save your game to a cookie, so you can resume playing later. You should be able to go away from your computer and come back to your game at any time, if you use this. It's also a good idea to save your game before doing anything particularly risky.

Undo your last command. This can get you out of bother occasionally. A history of up to ten commands is kept in memory.

delete <name>
Delete the specified cookie.

Print a list of all saved-game cookies.

restart game
Er, restart the game.

Show your current score. Hint: if you notice that some particular move causes your score to increase, chances are you're working along the right lines.

Other verbs you might like to try include (but are not limited to): fight, read, give, wear, climb, show, chat, kiss...

Finally, the special command transcript temporarily shows the text of your full game session (or since you last restarted), so you can scroll back through the story. Type your next command when you are done, and the game will continue as normal.


The "Aunts and Butlers" game and the Versificator text adventure engine were written by me, Robin Johnson.

The cover art is by Ed Carter. The in-game art is by me.

The technology is mine, but free. The art is free, but mine. You may download and reverse-engineer the Javascript source, and use the engine to create your own games, but you may not distribute copies, or modified versions, of any part of the actual game data (the writing, characters, place descriptions and so on.)

Please do not try to duplicate this adventure for other systems.

Thanks to: