Knight Orc

Knight Orc was a “text based” adventure game from the 1980s. My brother and I got it for our Commodore 64. It was sort of Zork-like, and I remember playing a fair amount of it, but for some reason I fell out of the loop and my brother and his friend Tony became obsessed with completing it. (Tony was also the first black guy I ever played a tabletop RPG with — MERP — and I still remember the brief awkwardness when he created his first character and Tom asked him what race he wanted to be, and Tony said something like “I don’t care, I’ll be white” and we had to explain that ‘race’ meant ‘species.’ In hindsight I should have been more proud of the fact that most RPGs recognized the siblinghood of humanity, especially as we were living in the Midwest where Tom & Tony were repeatedly stopped by the police when driving around, I guess for “driving while integrated” or something.)

Anyway Knight Orc appealed to me because I really liked orcs and half-orcs and the back of the box suggested that this would be a game where a lowly orc rises up and turns the tables on the merciless adventurers who usually have the upper hand. In fact, the game quickly changed (I think in Act II) to a surreal, fourth-wall breaking adventure where you discover that the whole thing is taking place inside a sort of virtual-reality/LARP theme park place, and you are not an orc but a robot, and the adventure becomes more like Westworld from the robot’s perspective.

I briefly thought about adding something like this to my campaign — a pocket dimension where the PCs realize they are being used as pawns by a bunch of nerds in someone’s basement, etc., but realized that it would be the end of the campaign, either because I would have finally pushed my players’ sense of what D&D is too far, or because they’d find it insulting, or because it would destroy any semblance of “realism” and immersion, or all of the above. There is irony and there is cynicism, and maybe that level of irony is just too cynical for a fun game. It seems a little too clever and snarky and hip, and may even be disrespectful to the players in a way.

A while back when I was sorting through some papers I found the “hint sheet” we had sent away for when Tom & Tony got stuck at some point in the game and it struck me that you really don’t see text-based games any more, as far as I know. As a kid we marveled at Zork and I briefly flirted with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy adaptation, but text-based games really couldn’t compete with graphics in the long run. Even so, we took up Knight Orc AFTER we’d played through the entire Ultima III game, so there must have been something about the text adventure games that could appeal even to jaded gamers.

As an afterthought I checked a little around the web and apparently there are
a lot of text-based game sites (the modern term is “interactive fiction”). Cool.

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 9:05 am  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Tony was a great guy last I heard he had like 12 kids.

    What most akward for me is realizing that every non-white race in Tolkien was evil.

    • Yeah, come to think of it the “Variags” were the closest thing to Africans in MERP and I think they were cannibals. Not that Tolkien was a racist or anything. A lot of MERP stuff was made up at ICE.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Tabletop games and adventures

Cigar Box Battle

An online resource blog for gamers and geeks focused on wargames miniatures and board games and role playing games

Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

Hey Did You Know I Write Books

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut


Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.


Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.


An encyclopedia of the Cirsovan empire, thoughts on Gaming, Music and more.

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Inside the Shadowbox

Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides


A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer Archives

This site is no longer being updated. Check out the new site at

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time


Just another site

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"


gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead


Role-Playing Games, Medieval History, Assorted Legends and Myths, and My Stupid Life.

%d bloggers like this: