Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth

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Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth
Designer(s)Scott Schmitz and Ken Updike
Platform(s)"Classic" Mac OS, NEC PC-9801, Sharp X68000
Genre(s)Interactive fiction/role-playing video game
Mode(s)Single player

Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth is an interactive fiction role-playing video game developed by Scott Schmitz and Ken Updike and released by Infocom for Macintosh in 1988. The game features a text parser, graphics, a dynamically updated map, and a graphical interface that incorporates Mac OS hierarchical menus.


The player takes the part of Titus, a former blacksmith sent by the Druid Council to explore the remains of an underground colony of druids who vanished without a trace. During the course of his adventures, Titus may befriend other characters and persuade them to join his party. Character skills improve with practice, and the game tracks the hunger, thirst and energy levels of characters.

Release history[edit]

Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth was based on Quarterstaff, a game released by Simulated Environment Systems in 1987.[1] Simulated Environment Systems designed the game to support add-on modularity, and planned to create a town module to serve as a hub from which to send the characters of Quarterstaff on other adventures, retaining their inventories and experience.[2]

Activision purchased the rights to the game from Simulated Environment Systems in 1988, and released the game with improvements including color graphics, an upgraded interface,[3] and writing input from Amy Briggs.[4] The box cover art was by Ken Barr and was reproduced in a color poster packaged with the game. Versions for the Apple IIGS and IBM PC were announced but never released.[1] A planned sequel titled Storm Giants was never released.[5]

StarCraft, Inc. released Japanese language versions of Quarterstaff for PC-98 in 1990 and Sharp X68000 in 1991.


The Simulated Environment Systems version of Quarterstaff was reviewed positively in Dragon, which called it "among the finest fantasy role-playing games available for any system" and "the most true to form FRP game we've found". Dragon praised the game's NPC artificial intelligence and the need to coordinate the actions of player characters.[5] The Dragon reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[5]

Macworld reviewed the Simulated Environment Systems version of Quarterstaff, praising its UI, stating that the "Interface lets you concentrate on solving game puzzles, rather than on the quirks of the interface". Macworld furthermore praises its "flexible" gameplay, expressing that "Quarterstaff offers a refreshing degree of flexibility in the types of activity it will accept. You can divide your group to explore different rooms ... In combat, you can engage in missile fire across room boundaries - Eolene can stand out of harm's way and fire arrows at a monster in the next room while Bruno and Titus charge in and attack face-to-face. The ability to direct individual or group efforts gives you a certain amount of tactical creativity." Macworld also praises the sound, automap feature, graphics, and lack of 'instant death' traps, instead allowing the player to escape triggered traps, or bring other members of the party to rescue them. They call Quarterstaff "a new approach to an old computer-game genre." Macworld however heavily criticizes a fatal glitch in their 1.0 review copy; one of the puzzles required to complete the game is unable to be completed.[6]

MacUser magazine rated the Simulated Environment Systems version of Quarterstaff four out of five mice, calling it a "must-have" for fantasy role-playing fans and saying that it "closely approximates what it's like to play a non-computer fantasy role-playing game." MacUser suggested that newcomers to role-playing games might prefer a lighter, less time-intensive introduction to the genre.[2]

Tilt gave the Infocom version of Quarterstaff 18 out of 20, singling out the game's digitized sound and high quality writing, and describing the interface as a model of flexibility. Tilt praised the game's blend of role-playing and adventure game elements and called Quarterstaff the best game they'd seen on the Macintosh that year.[7]


Infocom included extra novelty items called feelies with their packaged games. Included with Quarterstaff were:

  • A parchment, titled "The Path to Enlightenment"
  • A wooden druidic coin, which could be used in conjunction with the parchment and an in-game wand to identify items
  • A color poster


  1. ^ a b "Quarterstaff: Our first role-playing fantasy" (PDF). The Status Line. VII (3): 3. Fall 1988. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  2. ^ a b BT (March 1988). "Quick Clicks: Quarterstaff". MacUser. Ziff Davis. 4 (3): 90–96. ISSN 0884-0997.
  3. ^ "rec.games.int-fiction FAQ 2/3". 2004-02-15. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  4. ^ "Amy Briggs". www.infocom-if.org. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  5. ^ a b c Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (May 1988). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (133): 46–47.
  6. ^ Waldorf, Otto (February 1988). "The Dungeon with a Difference: Quarterstaff 1.0 Review". Macworld. Mac Publishing. pp. 205.
  7. ^ Scamps, Olivier (November 1989). "Quarterstaff". Tilt (in French). No. 71. Editions Mondiales S.A. pp. 142. ISSN 0753-6968.

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