The year was not 1979. The place was not Racine, Wisconsin. In a playfully naughty mood, S. John Ross undertook ... ENCOUNTER CRITICAL,: A Science-Fiction Fantasy Role Play Game ... from another past!

>REGARD THE RUIN SLUG

It's an acid-spewing slug the size of a smallish elephant. Very rubbery, it takes a lot of punishment to defeat one. The RUIN SLUG is staring at you.

>JOURNEY IN

Thou art not stealthy enough to slip past a RUIN SLUG when the RUIN SLUG stareth upon thee with vast SLUG eyes and steely SLUG regard. You must ASSAIL the RUIN SLUG, or exist with it in peace.

>PARLEY WITH SLUG

RUIN SLUGS are not very talkative, but as you soon discover, they are excellent listeners.

>_

In the cruel kingdoms north of the Viraxian Empire, a barbarian seeks treasure - and vengeance! Having escaped the clutches of the Slaver King, he has vowed to pillage the wealth of the The Old Klengon Burial Grounds?kingdom ... then bring it to its knees. YOU are this barbarian. Weakened by your ordeal as a slave, wandering an unfamiliar realm filled with danger, you must use cunning, savagery, and something approximating English syntax to regain thy might, rally an army of friends to your cause, do repeated business with a Delicate Doxy, and do deadly violence unto the Slaver King!

Fans of Encounter Critical rejoice! The long-lost classic of text-adventure gaming is restored at last to a glory it never knew! Thrill to the savagery of the Sky Piranha! Marvel at the pathos of a love-struck Frankenstein! Mutate from exposure to unmodulated phasic radiation! Wield a rune-carved peg-leg Dwarf in your hand, and crush a wicked kingdom beneath your sandaled tread.

A tantalizing view of the high-quality cartography in Encounter Critical

Download and Play!

A Group of Pirates! Har!Mere words cannot contain a game made entirely of text! To understand the savage beauty of Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom, it's best to just click here to download it. The download includes the game itself, plus the spiffy documentation and a folder full of extras (including yet more PDFs, an alternate all-in-one game file, and even a kind of kick-start kit for those in the mood to write a sequel)! ToaSK runs on virtually any modern computer (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, even some portable devices) using the z-machine program of your choice (see below). Snag it, fire it up, and step into another chapter in the saga of Encounter Critical!

Groove to the Mighty Z-Machine!

ToaSK is a z-machine game (a format devised by Infocom for the Zork games back in the slightly more real 1970s). If you don't have a z-machine player installed, click here (Windows), or here (Macintosh) or here (Unix) or here (even more) for the free software you'll need to quest into the Slaver Kingdoms in a twisted (and sometimes very naughty) interactive EC adventure.

A tantalizing view of the high-quality cartography in Encounter Critical

Some Specs and Details [image of CogniKing logo]

Fair warning: if you consider yourself an "IF enthusiast," you should just back away slowly, now, and forget this game exists. It isn't for you, and it responds dangerously to sudden movements. Never break eye contact until you're ready to run, then run, run like the wind, and don't look back! Really. But if you're the kind to ignore such warnings with a roguish grin, a swirl of your cloak, and a defiant bite into your slightly dry dinner roll, here's the basic rundown:

  • ToaSK is a polite game on the usual IF "cruelty scale." While you can certainly get killed (oh, yes indeed), it's impossible to get into any kind of stuck-state. If your barbarian is still breathing and not currently being shredded/burned/electrocuted/stepped on by a foe or dissolved in acid or whatever, you're good to go. Crucial objects cannot be destroyed or irrevocably discarded, vital NPCs cannot be accidentally skewered, and you can't get trapped anywhere that doesn't kill you quickly. If your arm falls off, that's part of the story, I promise.
  • ToaSK is a long-form game. This isn't one of those dealies that can be played in an hour or less. This is a lay-in-a-junk-food-supply and crank-up-some-tunes epic of Encounter Criticalness. Final turn-count for most games will range from 1,250 to 2,500 or so, with an average of 20-25% of the turn-count relating in some way to the combat system, depending on options chosen and your play style. Reported playing times range from 6 to 15 total hours (if you go right for the hints, you could burn through it in less).
  • The game contains from 60-90 puzzles, depending on how you slice the definition, plus the mega-puzzle of the "monster maze," which can be disabled with the WIMP command if you'd rather just kick ass with impunity. It includes a dozen or two substantial scenes, a cast of odd characters, and (including rooms and people) about 200 "objects." There are 45 explorable locations, though "explorable" is a relative term ... The winning ending has several variables and variant versions (with the very-very-last bit coming in three different flavors of awesome).[image of Frosted Uplands]
  • ToaSK is not a CRPG. This is a puzzle-based adventure game with a veneer of wargame elements (and all kinds of other veneer). If you're looking for a text-based CRPG, they're out there ... but they're not in here. Maybe some other time; I'm certainly not averse to the idea!
  • This is an easy game and won't provide much challenge to hardcore lateral thinkers. The puzzles are heavily and redundantly clued (the more crucial the puzzle, the more frequent and solid the descending clue-stick) and the documentation includes a complete solution-set.
  • This game would be rated "PG-13," most likely, for bawdy innuendo (double and even triple-entendres, plus some fade-to-black naughty scenes), lotsa fights, references to alcohol use, smoking, drinking, poetry-reading, limb-trading, naughty-sounding hat-styles (bycockets!) and more. This is not a well-behaved game.
  • ToaSK is now and forever freeware (having completed its planned three-year commercial run), but if you find yourself with a gnawing urge to throw money in my direction, poke around the rest of the site and maybe you'll find something else to buy!
  • Finally, and it's important to stress this: this is Encounter Critical, which means it's designed to be a very good game while providing a thrill-ride simulation of a very, very bad one. If that sounds like a stupid idea, well, yes. Yes it is. And if that sounds great: welcome, friend, to the world of EC. See you 'round the mailing list ...

A tantalizing view of the high-quality cartography in Encounter Critical

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You!
"... the story is nearly non-existent ..."

"TOASS (how's that for an acronym?) ... it's like being slapped repeatedly."

"... decidedly retrograde ... a crude patchwork ... a setting that makes no sense ... I encountered ... bugs ... quite a few ..."

"I got through the game ... However, I spent the entire time ... plastered ..."

"Treasures ... is very, very bad ... The game's technical implementation ... is as adolescent as the writing ... stay far, far away."

"... walk away and play something else ... walk away ... This game is ... brain damage ... in a mildew-smelling basement."

"I imagine others can do better ... I scoff ..."

"... apes ... are liberally sprinkled throughout ... The result is a game that feels ... gratuitious ... potentially fatal ..."

"Instead of actually working ... It was jaw-droppingly over-the-top ... Whoops."

"Another ... cruel ... retro adventure, that never ... loved ..."

"... it can be comfortably established that the author is ... dim-witted ... and more or less progresses through life by killing and screwing everything and everyone in his way ..."

Finalist: Best Individual NPC
(Gunwar, the Rune-Carved Peg-Leg Dwarf)

22nd Place (Tied)

A tantalizing view of the high-quality cartography in Encounter Critical

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