Zork Pinnacle
The start of this adventure felt like a Zork game, and I already had a notion to adventure on a floating island, so that's how the name came about. I'm using the Fate Accelerated Edition rules for this game.

Here's my character, in classic Zork fashion:

HIGH CONCEPT: Ambiguous Adventure Person
TROUBLE: Where The Hell Am I?
ASPECT: Proactive Danger-Deal-With-It-Er
ASPECT: Always Pressing Someone's Buttons

REFRESH: [ ][ ][ ]
STRESS: [ ][ ][ ]

Careful +2
Clever +3
Flashy +2
Forceful +1
Quick +1
Sneaky +0

Spellbook (Fire, Dispel Magic)
Compass (Destination spell: lead user in circles)


As consciousness returns to me, I find myself lying on the floor, awakening within a strange marble building. It's sparse, save for a bookshelf, a desk, and light flooding in from the nearby window. I sit up groggily, and glance around. Do I notice anything else of interest?


My eyes settle on something hanging from a wooden rack on the wall. What is it?

Carry / Benefits.

It's a large pack for carrying supplies and items. I get up and pop open the bag, searching. Is there anything inside of it?


Is it some kind of weapon?

No, but...

Inside the bag, I discover a small silver compass. It feels quite cold to my touch. There's no cardinal directions on the compass, but the arrow instead moves on its own accord. Right now, it's pointing outside. Taking the pack and slipping it over my shoulder, I search the room for anything else of use. Do I find any other items or equipment I can use?

Yes, and...

Inside one of the drawers of the desk is a sharp-looking dagger. Perusing the bookshelf, I also discover a strange black tome with archaic text. Amazingly, I can understand the title - a book of sorcery! At least whatever's dropped me here gone out of their way to provide for this adventure. Slipping the spellbook in my pack and sliding the knife between my belt, I head outside through the doorway - the building has no door. Unfolding before me is a small town of similar marble buildings, with columns that make them appear like mini Grecian temples, joined by cobbled pathways that fuse into one street. The street heads off in the distance towards a set of heavy iron gates. Behind the gates, a path begins spiraling towards the mountains in the distance. At the top is a large, black-stoned castle.

Above me are clouds and the sun, shining past them through the blue sky. It's also a bit chilly...where in the world am I? I look around. Besides what I'm seeing, does anything else take my eye?


Nearby is a strange golden sign, shaped like an angled arrow. It's pointing towards the gates, and says, a bit rudely, "This way towards the gate - those without passes are bum out of luck!" Oh yeah? Bet I have an unlock spell to deal with your crap. But if I could get a pass without any hassle, all the better. I check the other nearby buildings - any of them open for business?


Like the previous building, they're all unoccupied. I search them quickly. Do any of them have gate passes?


Do they have any other things I could use?

No, but...

I tip a book out of one of the bookshelves (praying for an easy access to a secret passage) and lo and behold, the bookcase slides away to reveal a secret passage! Just as nature ordained. I take a look inside. Do I find anything useful?


Of course, anything good has long been cleared out. Does the passage lead somewhere, though?

Yes, but...

As I travel down the passageway, I smack my face into some invisible force. "OW! Son of a-" Rubbing my nose, I step back. A forcefield of some kind? Ah ha, someone must want something to be protected if this kind of thing is up! I whip out my spellbook and pour through the pages. Do I have some kind of dispelling spell that can help remove this barrier?


In the middle of the book, I find it: a simple magical dispelling...spell. As I read over the words of power, they glow, and I lash my hand at the barrier while shouting them. Does the barrier break?

Yes, and...

The barrier glows purple and shatters like glass, its illumination brightening the tunnel. Slapping my book closed with a satisfying sound, I venture forth towards the end of the tunnel. Does it lead outside, maybe around the gate?


Hot dog! Daylight breaks through as I slide open another panel and find myself outside again. To my left, I see the iron gates, still shut firmly. Looks like whomever lived in that house last used the passage to get around the whole toll thing. Judging by my spellbook and the barrier, wherever I'm at is certainly steeped with magic. I look around - are there any interesting other buildings or such nearby?


Just the path leading upwards towards the mountains and the stronghold above. At that moment, I suddenly wonder if there's anything guarding the paths ahead. I shield my eyes, looking up the road. Is there any other sign of life?

No, and...

No people. Or animals. Hell, some of the trees on this side are even bare of leaves and dying. Looks like I'm flying solo here. Still, as I'm a paranoid sort, I pull out my spellbook and flick through it. There's some sort of combat magic in here, right?


Whew. Good ol' reliable fire magic. Burning things has never been more convenient. Quickly committing the words to memory, and hoping I can spam it freely, I start up the path. Whatever may come...here's hoping it burns real nice!
I start my trek up the mountain path. It winds high towards the top, towards that looming stronghold overhead. Hopefully it's got some kind of answers or clues to why I'm here, and ideally, not full of unpleasant things like death. As I go forward, does anything of interest pop up along the way?


At least this road has its act together - just a straight path. Good thing I have some decent shoes for this trek. I saw this game once where someone got dropped onto an island and he had to walk EVERYWHERE, so at least if I have to do that, I'm ready. Does the mountain path take me straight to the stronghold?

Yes, but...

The path, while arcing around the craggy mountain, is straightforward. Soon I see the end in sight, stopping before the large gates to the black castle. It looms above me, and if the sun wasn't behind my back, there's no doubt the height of this structure would blot it out. As I approach, I notice a large moat cut around the stronghold walls like an uneven circle. Even worse, the bridge is drawn up! Are there any other obvious ways into the castle at first glance?


Hold the phone, what's this? There's a rope tied to a nail in the ground, extending over the moat and reaching up to a window in the stronghold. I tug on the rope - seems good and firm, nicely taut. Now what in the world would require someone to tie a rope to the castle window like this? Maybe someone had to get out - or get in - in a hurry. But better make sure - any signs of a scuffle nearby?


Hmmm. Nothing else suspicious. But, while this rope's here, I might as well use it. I'm no Adonis, but even I can climb a rope given enough time. Carefully grasping the rope and wrapping my legs around it, I begin to pull myself up. Does the rope keep together while I'm climbing?

Yes, and...

The climb is less intense than I figured it'd be, and I scurry up its length, easily slipping over the threshold into the castle proper. Would love to take the rope with me, but it's bolted down, and I figure I'd better keep moving. I take a look around. What kind of room have I ended up in?

Angrily / Bizarre.

I find myself in a bizarre room, resembling the same black architecture as the stronghold itself. Even the furniture is pointed and mean. What kind of room is this?

Dominate / Liberty.

How fantastic! It's a full-fledged torture chamber, with black racks and cold chains dangling from the brick. Oh, and an iron maiden! How lovely. It's everything I wanted in a place I never wanted to be. There's also a table of delightful - and hopefully not freshly used - instruments. Clearly, whomever wanted to torture people in here wanted to save on electricity so he got the room placed near a window. The place also seems to double as a prison, with cages about the room. Ah, so that explains why there was filed metal that I almost nicked myself on when I entered - they were former prison bars. There aren't any fresh bodies or prisoners in here, I hope?


Whew, that's a relief. All right, customary room scouring. Any useful tidbits I can throw in my pack?

No, but...

Well, I'd rather not take any of these blood-stained torture toys, but I do find some papers over on a nearby counter. More like parchment, really, maybe ripped from scrolls. I review them - do they offer any clues as to what's going on here?

No, but...

Most of the papers are surprisingly bureaucratic leftovers describing terms of punishment for certain prisoners, along with torture procedures to use, such as the "Jollyknocker". Freaking sickos. However, one of the scrolls does mention a particular bit of interesting information. What kind of info is it?

Oppress / Nature.

A passing reference in a report to the...Scepter of Order? Golly gee, that doesn't sound important at all. Here is five bucks - I'm betting right now this scepter is tied to the current state of this place. I reread the line again. My error - it's called the SPECTER of Order. Which sounds a lot worse, admittedly. Which means I'd better hightail it out of here before the specter pays me a visit, if it's still around. Carefully opening the door to the torture prison, I peer outside and look around. This isn't just one room in an entire castle full of prison cells, is it?

No, but...

As I figured - the entire stronghold is one huge prison, with empty blacksteel cages hanging from the ceiling, rows of ajar doors leading to other cells and presumably torture chambers. However, that's not the only feature of this place. What else do I see?

Pursue / Fears.

Numerous statues resembling blank-faced knights litter the place. There's at least two guarding the doorway to the room I came out of, with sword and shield folded against chest. There's a pair of knight statues for each other room, too, as well as rows of them facing the open ground floor, leading up to majestic and cold stairs that allowed prisoners access to the upper floors. They don't look scary, but I've used magic so I'm not sticking around to see if they leap to life. I walk down the walkway and trot down the stairs, keeping an eye out.

So...the front gates are locked, but we're still getting light in here through the windows and whatever those blue shimmering orbs against the walls are. But why was the place locked up? To keep something in? (Let's hope not.) And is there another way out, maybe to the other side of this mountain? (Let's hope so.)

I head towards the back. Maybe there's an exit to an exercise courtyard, or a kitchen with a place to go outside and load in supplies, or something. Is there?


One of the working doors in the back leads out to a small hallway, and that hallway leads outside to a courtyard. At least the sunlight is still shining down - the courtyard is dusty and dead, but hey, I'm glad to have natural light than that depressing funk back there. There's nothing waiting for me out here, is there?

No, but...

I find something lying in the middle of the courtyard. What could it be?

Increase / Weather.

It's a small red umbrella. Comically small, like the kind cartoon characters would open over their heads in a failed attempt to protect themselves from a falling boulder. Looks to be in good shape, though. I dust it off and open it up to check if it could still open properly. In an instant, the sky overhead grows dark, and rain begins plummeting from the dark stormclouds that have gathered. In shock, I close the umbrella quickly, and the rain instantly ceases, clouds parting to reveal sunlight once more.

An insight reaches me, and I whip out my compass, seeing where the arrow is pointing. Is it following the umbrella?

No, but...

Is it pointing towards a nearby door out of the courtyard?


As I figured, it's aiming towards a destination. Probably the goal of whatever quest the fates have decided to send me on. I think things over - is there a place I've passed before where this umbrella might be useful?


Well, maybe down the line it will be. Stowing the umbrella in my pack, I take off and go through the door ahead of me to enter the second half of the stronghold. Does anything different show up here, or is it more cells?


Like what?

Triumph / Power.

Looming above in this wide-open room is a large statue of some huge figure. Its armor resembles the armor of the knight statues I happened upon earlier, but this one has its fist held high in triumph. It's also pointed away towards the door I came in. So does that make this another entry hall?


Is the statue facing gates that are open?

No, and...

Not only are the gates ahead closed shut, but long chains are drawn across them. Looks like my earlier theory of something being locked up in here is steadily holding more water. Probably this Specter of Order I've heard about. Well, that's great and all, but getting through here is something I'd be fond of doing, if you don't mind. I dig into my handy item sack - it sure feels roomy in here! - and I whip out my spellbook. Do I find any spells for removing or unlocking chains?


Do I find any spells that can help me get rid of these chains?

Yes, but...

Here we go...a powerful spell designed to release an energy wave that can cut through even the thickest of steel. But it requires an appropriate sacrifice to use as a spell ingredient...like a blade! Drawing my dagger, I point it at the chains and chant the words of power. The blade shimmers with light and fires a bolt from its tip, a bolt that expands into a long line that smashes into the chains and rips them apart with a clatter. As they fall heavy and useless to the floor, the dagger turns grey, as if all the color's being drained out of it, and dissolves to dust in my hands.

Well, I would have liked to use that dagger to stab something, but whatever helps me get ahead. I check the compass again - it's definitely pointing towards the gates. Looks like I'm hoofing it outside again. I approach the gates, brace myself, and push against them, spreading the doors open slowly with a heavy creak. What do I see unfolding before me outside?

Awkward moon.

Spilling down before me is a vastly different town than the one I woke up in, comprised of golden cylindrical towers extending high, the walls polished, the buildings topped off by green domes. In the center of this town, hovering above, is a small, flickering orb of sickly blue light, its illumination washing over nearby structures. Any sort of chill here is replaced by a weird electric tension. Now where the heck am I?
Well, this place is certainly a different side of the story. Much more alien and mystical than the town I woke up in, which seemed very Roman or Greek-ish. Did the prison divide these two places like dividing the upper and lower classes? Whatever the reason, this miniature city's probably as abandoned as the rest of this place so far. I start heading down the curling golden stairs leading towards the town's central square. Do I notice anything of interest on the way down?


Like what?

Communicate / Extravagance.

Golden, wide-rimmed horns stand tall on poles, spaced evenly down both sides of the street. As I pass one, it suddenly emits a pleasant and calming tune that rolls down the street, the other horns joining in. I can't help but feel relaxed by it. Oh, sure, the place is abandoned and crawling with God knows what, but I have this music, so I'll be fine, I guess. I glance around. Maybe my earlier theory about separating the upper and lower class was right - this town is outright mystical and futuristic compared to the other. Plus these guys got sweet music all the time. As I walk down the street, I look for any open doors, because hey, might as well loot. Do I find anything of interest?


With a nice soundtrack to my impending robbery, I begin entering any of the unlocked buildings I can find. They're just as tall inside as the outside, with smooth green walls and ceilings that extend high up. Sunlight weakly filters through the glass dome above, but there are also orbs of blue light hanging on the walls like the ones I saw in the prison. One house has a cylindrical book rack instead of a bookshelf. Rustling through someone else's personal belongings, do I find anything useful explaining the city or more about what's going on?


Bah, nothing. What is it with these people and their inability to write down everything I wanted to know? Oh, well. Do I find any interesting items, at least?

Yes, but...

One building has a particularly impressive wooden chest. I give it a cautious tug to see if it'll open, but the instant I do so, the relaxing music outside changes pitch into a low, blaring alarm. This thing has a security system?! I bolt outside and take a quick look around. Nothing's swooping through the streets to attack me, is there?


And, let's hope, there's no automatic attack system to come after me, is there?


The horns spin around on their poles, revealing their backsides, pointed with ball-tipped rods like cheesy futuristic ray guns. But then the tips charge with energy and fire lasers at my direction! I yell real loud and leap away, mustering all the speed my body can get!

2 = 3[d3]+2[d3]+3[d3]+1[d3]-8+1

I'm no major-league athlete, as I've said before, but even I can move fast enough to avoid lasers. I bob and weave, leaping up just as some lasers strike where my feet were a moment ago, and I bolt down the street, weaving between buildings to avoid all the horns which have suddenly decided to become expert security turrets on me. What's ahead at the event of this street?

Spy / Misfortune.

As I spin around a corner to avoid turret fire, I smash into something hard that's also moving down the alleyway. With a whoof I land on the ground, and the thing I bashed into also falls in a clatter of metal. Quickly recovering, I look ahead at what I hit - it appears to be a wiry brand of automaton, curved silver metal wrapped around some interior, shimmering light. Just as quickly, it notices me. Does it hang around?

Yes, and...

Is it friendly?

No, but...

The strange creature lashes out and seizes my favorite shirt collar in its metal hands. Before I can shout something mean, it throws me deeper into the alleyway. I land on my side in a momentary snap of pain, and as I look up, the thing's moved out into the streets. It raises its hands, and the horns stop glowing with power, flipping back around and resuming the music.

Getting up, I dust myself off as the automaton walks back in the alleyway with a powerful trot. "Thanks," I said, checking to make sure all the contents of my satchel were still in place. "I didn't realize those horns had an attitude."

"Who are you?" the automaton speaks, in a wavering, ethereal manner. "What house do you belong to? And why are you wearing those strange clothes?"

"House?" I asked. "I don't know what you mean, but I'm new to the neighborhood. Actually, I woke up here on the other side of the mountain. I don't even know how I got to this place in the first...well, place." Does the automaton buy my (admittedly honest) story?

Yes, but...

"You...woke up here? On the other side of the -" Almost as if realizing something, it grabs my collar again, pressing me into the metal wall nearby. "How did you get past the gate? It was locked with magic!"

I try to hold up my hands out of habit. "I used magic to unlock it. There was a rope leading up to a window from the gate at the mountain pass. Look, whatever's going on here, I didn't know, okay?" Does the automaton calm down?


"Magic?" The creature pushes its metal limbs harder into my chest, getting too close for personal comfort. "Magic is forbidden in the Lower Houses! How are you able to use magic?"

"Dude, calm down!" I said. "I found a spellbook, okay? I didn't know it's banned over there, I literally have no idea where I'm at or what's going on. You're the first person I've seen today and I don't even know what you are! So can you let me go so we can talk about this?" Does it?

No, and...

The automaton easily lifts me up and throws me away like a ragdoll, smashing me into the ground hard.

"I do not know who you are or how you gained access to a spellbook, but you have no idea what you have done," the automaton says. It coolly walks towards me on the rounded points tapering the ends of its legs. "Your actions might have released the Specter of Order and doomed this entire island."

"Can you stop beating me up so I can understand what exactly I did wrong, you magic tin can?" Gritting my teeth, I sit up, scrambling to my feet. "What is the Specter of Order and why are you so hellbent on keeping it locked up?" Does it answer my question?

No, and...

"That is none of your concern." The shell of plates that make up its forearm part, and its fingers detach, spiraling about its wrist like a halo. The blue light within glows more intensely. "Now perish." A bolt of magical energy launches from its arm right at me! [+2 Laser VS. +1 Quick]

2 = 3[d3]+3[d3]+1[d3]+1[d3]-8+2

4 = 2[d3]+3[d3]+3[d3]+3[d3]-8+1

Fortunately, I'm good at dodging lasers of all varieties today, and I leap to the side, my shoulder smacking against another metal wall, as the laser flies past and hits something, its energy dispersing. "Son, I am not in the mood right now!" I shouted. Then, whispering the magic words, I feel warmth ball above my open palm - a small ball of flame, churning and ready to act. With a shout I lash my hand at the automaton, launching my flame right at it. [+2 Flashy VS. +0 Dodge]

1 = 2[d3]+1[d3]+2[d3]+2[d3]-8+2

-1 = 1[d3]+3[d3]+1[d3]+2[d3]-8

My fireball explodes forward fast enough to splash over the automaton's surface, sending it reeling back out into the open. As I follow, I see the smoke wisping from its body. Still, that doesn't stop it from drawing another bead with its laser arm and firing again. [+2 Laser VS. +1 Quick]

-1 = 1[d3]+2[d3]+1[d3]+1[d3]-8+2

1 = 3[d3]+2[d3]+2[d3]+1[d3]-8+1

With more room to maneuver, and my opponent's precedent for generally crummy aim, I leap away again, this time towards a wall as the laser explodes against the cobbled street. "You're not really good at this!" I remark, charging another firebolt behind my cover. "Maybe you should quit while you're ahead!" When I'm fully charged, I lean out and sweep the air to release another fire blast. [+2 Flashy VS. +0 Dodge]

3 = 3[d3]+2[d3]+2[d3]+2[d3]-8+2

-1 = 1[d3]+2[d3]+2[d3]+2[d3]-8+0

The blast strikes the automaton full force, knocking it on its back. Black smoke pours from its damaged chest. I cautiously step out of my cover, keeping a spark of magic active in case this guy tries anything again. "Now do you want to spill about this Specter of Order?" I ask, carefully approaching the defeated foe. Does he?


"It...does not concern you..." the automaton weakly repeats.

"Oh, come on!" I say, throwing my hands up. "Throw me a bone here! I just want to get out of this stupid place and the first guy I meet has tight lips! All I've got to go by is this compass I have, and even then I've got no clue where it's pointing!" I growl, lower my hands. "Man, whatever. If you're going to be like that I'll let you rot and find my own way out of here." I turn around and start walking away. Does the automaton decide to change its mind?

Yes, and...


I stop, and glance over my shoulder. The automaton weakly lifts its torso, its arm transforming back as it settles on its elbows. "The compasses are set to point to a preselected location, which can be changed with magic. Did you also find the compass in the Lower Houses?"

"...yeah," I said, turning fully back around. "Came with my satchel. What about them?"

"I can tell you where your compass is pointing by analyzing the magic cast on it. I cannot change it to point you towards a way home, but perhaps it's pointing in a direction that can assist you."

"Well, all right." I walk up to the automaton, crouch a bit, and extend my hand. Grasping its metal fingers in my more fleshy ones, I help it up, and then dig the compass from my pack, handing it to the robot-thing. "Take a look."

The plates comprising the automaton's "head" part, revealing more of that unearthly light (same color as the orb in the square, I just realize) as it looks at the compass. What does it find?

Refuse / Travel.


"What is it?" I ask.

"The arrow on this compass is not pointing to a specific location," the automaton said. "Rather, the spell cast on it is intended to keep its user traveling in circles."

There go my hands up again. "Greaaaaat. I get a compass that doesn't do its job. Wonderful. It's every major political body manifested as a single navigational tool."

"And you found this in the Lower Houses?"

"Yeah," I said. "Any reason why anyone who lived over there would go through all the trouble of having a compass that leads nowhere?" Does the automaton know?


"I am not sure," the automaton replies, handing back the compass. "But someone went through great lengths to smuggle it to the Lower Houses."

I look at the faulty device. "So I guess I'm flying blind here. Do you have any idea of anything around here that might reasonably provide a way home besides relying on this?" Does it?


"No," the automaton says.

"Great." I slide the compass back into my satchel. "Well, listen, uh...I don't know about this business with the Specter of Order, but if you don't think I should be messing with it, I'll leave you alone to handle it. Sorry for roughing you up back there."

"You are forgiven."

"Can you at least tell me more about this place? I'm assuming these are the Upper Houses or whatever. Is it a class thing?"

"Yes." It gestures towards the tops of the buildings. "The Upper Houses are where the upper class citizens of this island used to live."

That caught my interest. "This is an island? And they USED to live here?"

"Yes." It looks at me. "You are currently on the island of Pinnacle, an island suspended by magic in the Northskies. This island is called Pinnacle as it is the island that stands the highest above all others."

"There are other floating islands?" Oh, boy, what kind of mess did I stumble into this time? "So...I'm going to chance a guess here, and I'm going to assume this Specter of Order has something to do with this island being empty save for you."

"It is not your concern, as I said." It turns away.

"But do you even know how to stop it? Can you stop it?"

Does it know how to stop the Specter?

No, but...

"I...am not sure how to do so." It clenches a fist. "But I will not stop until I find a way to destroy it for good."

"Well." I scratched my head. "I'm...sorry you have to do that. It sounds like mean business. Have you considered looking to the other islands for help?" Has it?


"I have," it says.

"And have they provided any?" Have they?

Yes, but...

"...it came at a great cost." Though it didn't have a face, I could tell the sinking in its voice, what I assumed to be evocative of its mood. "To bind the Specter, a great amount of sacrifice was required. My king had no other choice but to offer the lives of all on Pinnacle to account for his mistake."

"Oh. Oh, man." I slapped my hand on its shoulder. "I'm sorry that had to happen."

"But as long as it remains, it will strive to bring all of the islands under its rule. And that, I cannot allow."

Well. This got high-intensity pretty fast. Still, this inhuman thing definitely sounded like it cared about the population that used to be here. Not sure what I could do to help, but... "Hey, listen, if I find anything that can I help, I'll pass it your way. I figure it's only fair."

"Thank you."

Does the automaton have anything else to offer me?


"All right," I said, pulling my hand away. "Listen, I'm gonna mosey out of here, but I hope you find out how to stop that specter for good. And again, sorry for roughing you up."

"Good luck on your own journey," the magical creature says. "I hope you find what you seek."

Saluting briefly with two fingers and readjusting my pack, I turn about and start walking down the street. The calm music is still playing uninterrupted, but now with what I've learned, it seems more eerie than before, especially with the pale magical light I keep seeing. That just confirms how bad news this specter is. I wonder if it's got a part to play with my sudden arrival here, if anything.

But now what? If the compass was truly busted, then...well, let's get to the end of this island and maybe see if we can't find a way down. Maybe I can stair-step down islands and find my way back to planet Earth again. I mean, let's hope so. I don't want to find out how bad at heights I am otherwise.
It looks as though you are trying to simulate Fudge dice with the 4d3-8. Do you know that there is a one-click "Roll Fudge" button that rolls Fudge/Fate dice?
I was mostly using the other dice roller to add modifiers along with it, but I guess some mental math could easily replace that.
Ah, modifiers. Of course. I didn't account for that. Sorry. I wonder if there needs to be a modifier box for this too.
Interesting story. You made me laugh with the crack about the magical compass.
I figured some humorous commentary would keep things lively. Probably the closest way this story resembles Zork at this point.

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