When in Rome 1: Accounting for Taste — 14 of 31

Emily Short

Release 3

Section 1 - Creature behavior in the park

[Here we use a quite simplified set of behavior for the park proper]

Understand "roll over" or "roll" or "roll around" as a mistake ("If you even look like you are going to lean down, the animal panics and grips more firmly.") when the player is in the Underpass.

Rule for printing the name of the creature while getting handbag is happening:

say "creature". [Because it's more specific than the other rule for printing..., this will override the usual rule that randomizes the creature's name sometimes as 'visitor'.]

Every turn during Getting Handbag:

if the creature encloses something delicious (called the snack)


try the creature trying eating the snack;


if the creature carries something (called the refuse) which is not delicious


now the refuse is rejected;

try the creature trying dropping the refuse;

end if;

end if.

Rule for writing a paragraph about the fedora when Getting Handbag is happening:

say "Your [fedora] lies on the ground[if the newspaper is unmentioned and the newspaper is in the Underpass] next to [a newspaper][end if], where it was knocked off in the scuffle."

Report the creature trying dropping something when Getting Handbag is happening: if the girl is visible, say "[The creature] chucks [the noun] back at [the girl][if at least two things are rejected], who mutters something unladylike[otherwise], who blinks in irritation when struck[end if]." instead.

Report the creature trying eating something when Getting Handbag is happening: if the girl is visible, say "'[The creature] has just eaten [the noun],' the girl reports to you. 'Maybe it will be happier now.'" instead.

Report the creature trying eating the handbag when Getting Handbag is happening:

if the girl is visible, say "There is an ominous ripping sound next to your ear, followed by chewing. 'What's going on?' you demand.

The girl looks disgusted. 'There goes my handbag,' she says. 'My mother never liked it anyway. I just hope it doesn't want the matching shoes, because I don't have them.'" instead.

Report the creature trying eating the fedora when Getting Handbag is happening:

if the girl is visible, say "'I'm afraid it's eaten your hat,' she says. 'It stuffed the whole thing in at once.'

'You think this is funny.'

She giggles a little hysterically, then claps a hand over her mouth. 'Sorry! I don't know what's gotten into me.'" instead.

Report the creature trying eating the letter when getting handbag is happening:

if the girl is visible, say "'Lovely,' says the girl. 'It's eating my letter from the employment office.'

'Did it say anything important?'

'Only if I ever want to escape my current boss.'" instead.

Report the creature trying eating the heels when Getting Handbag is happening:

if the girl is visible, say "The girl watches, frowning more and more deeply, while the creature makes disgusting eating noises behind your head.

'It's eating your shoes, I presume?' you gasp.

'My best ones,' she replies, in a martyred voice." instead.

A thing can be loved or rejected. A thing is usually loved.

Check the girl trying giving a rejected thing to the creature (this is the no repeat refuse rule): stop the action.

Central Park Underpass is a room. "The path you were on takes a dip and passes under the road above. At this time of the evening, it's dark down here, even though the rest of the park is still in the pale, lucid stage of twilight[if the Underpass is unvisited].

As you step under the bridge, the girl shrieks.

Before you have time to work out what this is about, something warm and strong drops on your head and shoulders. The animal. Its legs grip you firmly, pinning you so that you cannot move easily; its arms are around your throat[end if]."

Rule for writing a paragraph about the girl:

say "[The girl] hovers nervously near [a random fixed in place thing in the location][if the Underpass is unvisited]. 'Shoo!' she says. 'Scat! Be gone!'

The grip around your throat does not slacken[end if]."

Before going nowhere from Central Park Underpass:

say "You try walking, but the creature squeezes your throat convulsively, so that you think you will strangle. Spots appear in your eyes. You stop, and the pressure eases.

'Okay,' you whisper hoarsely. 'Not going anywhere, then.'" instead.

The girl is a woman in Central Park Underpass. The description of the girl is "You glance at the girl again: still pretty, still faintly irritating[if the girl carries something]. She is carrying [a list of things carried by the girl][end if]." The girl is active.


Instead of examining the creature when Getting Handbag is happening:

say "You cannot see it at all, of course, since it's on your back and shoulders. Nor are there any handy surfaces in which to observe yourself. You will just have to rely on the girl to tell you what is going on."

The girl wears a dress. Understand "frock" or "skirt" or "gown" or "attire" as the dress. She carries a pair of heels. The heels are wearable. The description of the heels is "Sharp-heeled and sharp-toed, either an instrument of torture or a clever weapon." Understand "shoes" as the heels. The heels are ambiguously plural. The description of the dress is "Without a good eye for women's clothes, you can mostly tell that it is a good cut and material but somewhat past its prime, as though she used to have much more money than she does just at the moment." The description of the girl's hair is "Ruffled and tossed, with a strand or two that insist on curling above her eyes." The description of the girl's eyes is "It's hard to be sure of their color when it's so dim here. They might be blue, or possibly grey, or maybe light green." The description of the girl's nose is "It is if possible even more pert than when she first addressed you."

Strangulation is a scene. Strangulation begins when Getting handbag is happening and the creature is starving. [2]

Strangulation ends when everything is safe.

To decide whether everything is safe:

if the creature is not starving, yes;

if Getting handbag is not happening, yes;


When strangulation ends: say "The desperate grip on your throat slackens somewhat."; change strangulation counter to 0.

Every turn during Strangulation:

if the creature is not starving, rule succeeds;

increase strangulation counter by 1;

if strangulation counter is greater than 2


say "You pass out from lack of air.";

end the game in death;


choose row strangulation counter in the Table of Strangling;

say "[stage entry][paragraph break]";

end if.

Strangulation counter is a number that varies.

Table of Strangling

"The squeeze on your throat is beginning to make you feel dizzy."
"Spots are dancing thickly in front of your eyes. You're not going to be able to take this much longer."

Instead of dropping the creature during Getting Handbag:

say "You're not exactly holding it."


[1]. Here we introduce a different object from the one which will represent Esther most of the rest of the time, because she behaves quite differently from Esther in the rest of the game. It would be possible to use the same object, but the code would become more cumbersome.

[2]. This scene, unlike most others in the game, can repeat as necessary.