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IF's regular reliance on heavily-armed genres (heroic fantasy, space opera, detective mystery), together with the excitement of action, ensure that there are plenty of games in which the player has access to weapons. However, many of these games feature combat incidentally or not at all, and thus weapons frequently have to serve other purposes to justify their existence.

Verb list

  • LOAD / RELOAD x (WITH y)
  • CUT / CHOP

General Considerations

  • Authors tend to be cautious about the damage weapons can potentially do to their NPCs and soft furnishings. Most will therefore place restrictions on how, when and were you can use weapons. You may not be able to take them into certain places, or may have to conceal them; more often, you will just get responses along the lines of 'That would be wrong! And pointless! And you'd be thrown in prison!' when you try to wreak havoc.
  • An obvious use of any weapon is to threaten someone without actually attacking them. IF doesn't deal with this much; either it'll happen automatically (e.g. in a cutscene), or it won't happen at all. Don't expect there to be a command (SHOW x TO y, THREATEN x WITH y) that'll do this. If an author wants you to use such a command, he should really be sure to let you know about it.
  • Some IF games, taking influence from RPGs, include random combat in which better weapons give an advantage. Make sure that you are using your shiniest sword.


Most modern firearms have a great many controls (safety-catches, magazine releases, hammer releases...) but IF guns are usually pretty simple. It's not much fun to have your player blow their leg off because they forgot to clear their firing chamber, or to make them go through every step of preparing a muzzle-loading matchlock. Generally the game will silently assume that you've automatically dealt with all that.

  • An IF gun might have an ammunition listing. Usually you won't be able to play with individual bullets; they'll be handled like money. Often the bullets already in the gun are all you'll ever get, but sometimes you might have access to more and be able to RELOAD. The author might make you PUT AMMUNITION IN GUN instead. The ammunition clip neatly avoids the issue of individual bullets, and is a boon to IF authors and players alike.
  • Firearms can be sabotaged, most simply by putting something into the barrel to obstruct it; this will usually cause the gun to explode when fired. This can be a simple way to disable a dangerous NPC.
  • Futuristic firearms are less likely to have limited ammunition, and may have more settings. True to the sci-fi genre, they may fire beams of some kind, which can be deflected by mirrors, refracted by prisms and so forth.

Edged weapons

Knives, swords, axes; anything with a blade.

  • The obvious use for these is to CUT things. Most IF authors will not be happy about you chopping up everything in sight, and are likely to say as much. Rope is probably the most likely target. Axes might be used on tougher things - particularly wood.
  • An author with a particular interest in combat may be inclined to let you PARRY.
  • It is a convention of IF (originating in Zork, which almost certainly got the idea from the behaviour of certain swords in Tolkien) that magical swords glow blue when enemies are nearby. This might act as a light source or just an early-warning system.
  • Edged weapons can sometimes be used as pry-bars.
  • Knives are occasionally useful to DIG with.
  • Pointed weapons might be used as a crude writing tool.
  • Sharp weapons may be jammed into wood, ice or earth to act as hand or footholds.
  • Fine-pointed blades might work as screwdrivers.

Blunt Instruments

The joy of a blunt instrument is that it doesn't need to be a weapon, but can be any object heavy enough to do damage but light enough to handle. Maces, truncheons, staves and so on are all very well, but you might just as easily use that otherwise-useless paperweight.

  • These will often be heavy, and might moonlight as anchors or counterweights.
  • Other than that, they're mostly just good for smashing things. Doors. Walls. Cocktail ice. Lions.

Ranged Weapons

Bows, crossbows, slingshots (see also Firearms above).

  • An arrow or crossbow bolt can be tied to a cord and then fired across a gap, creating a means of crossing over - or fired at an object, which can then be pulled towards the PC.
  • A message can be attached to an arrow (or wrapped around a rock) and then dispatched using a bow or sling shot.
  • The string of a bow can be removed and used as a strong cord (eg. to tie something up).
  • A bow can be used to rapidly rotate a stick and light a fire.

Seige Weapons

Catapults and such like.

  • Unportable, but may be mounted on a platform that lets you change the way it is pointing.
  • If mimesis is stretched a little, a player with a parachute and a knife (to cut the rope) could go far ...
  • Almost invariably, these work on a sudden release of power, which could be harnessed for other uses; for instance, a rope between the firing arm and the handle of a locked door.

Exotic and Unusual

  • Some weapons, for instance tasers, stun on touch. You may prefer to TOUCH x WITH y, or trick an NPC into touching it themselves.

Bare hands

In some games you can also use your bare hands as weapons. In some games no other choice is available.