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The Guild of Thieves

by Rob Steggles


Web Site

(based on 23 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

Steal yourself a world of fantasy

Except you can't. Not yet. An amateur like you? Come off it! Now, if you were a fully paid-up member of the notorious Guild of Thieves, things would be different...

Mind you, it's not easy. You might find yourself ditched on a remote jetty by the Guildmaster. You might find that the Guild expects you to ransack a well guarded mansion. To go grave-robbering. Potholing. Or maybe - if they're really doubtful of your abilities - everything at once!

No problem, really, in a country full of helpful natives and friendly wildlife. Trouble is, you're not in a country like that ! You're in Kerovnia. Except that the place seems to have gone downhill since then...But you'll find that out for yourself soon enough. And just one final hint; don't try any funny stuff. The Guildmaster has seen it all before. So has the Gatekeeper. So has he...But why should we give you any hints?

Guild of Thieves, from Magnetic Scrolls, the people who wrote The Pawn, winners of numerous major awards. Graphic illustrations to blow your socks off. Puzzles to blow your brains out. Frankly, we doubt that you're up to it...

Game Details


34th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2011 edition)

Editorial Reviews


"Inside is a game more than likely to live up to everyone's expectations. As a burglar, complete with stripy sweat shirt and swag bag, you have applied for membership of the Kerovnian Guild of Thieves. To prove your criminal eligibility to join, the Master Thief has devised a test: explore an island and thoroughly sack it of all available treasure before returning.

The adventure begins in the Master Thief's boat. You jump confidently to the jetty and begin a survey of the expansive countryside. The numerous locations range from castle to cave and from scrub to snow-capped peak. The descriptions, even without the graphics much-praised on other formats, are extremely atmospheric; even the most commonplace objects have their own characteristics. Exploration has some very realistic qualities: as you wander through the castle you can run your fingers casually along the piano keys or try your skill at potting the billiard balls."
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The Magnetic Scrolls Collection
"It's a gas, really, until the end. Just too many timing-based puzzles for anyone's good."
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Magnetic Scrolls Collection
"None of the treasures is just sitting there, waiting to be picked up; you're going to have to work hard if you're going to join the Guild, crossing hot coals, sorting out a colourful maze and even breaking into a bank."
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The Digital Antiquarian
Thieves and Jinxes (or, When Michael Met Anita)
�.�.�. I certainly wouldn�t characterize Guild of Thieves as �easy.� I would, however, characterize it as a very, very good old-school adventure game, one of my absolute favorites of its type. You play an apprentice thief whose trial of initiation into the Guild entails looting a castle and its surroundings of valuables. Even in 1987 its plot � or almost complete lack thereof � marked it as something of a throwback, an homage to classic formative works like Adventure and Zork. You�re free to roam as you will through its sprawling world of a hundred or more rooms right from the beginning, solving puzzles and collecting treasures and watching your score slowly increment. Most of the individual puzzles are far from overwhelming in difficulty; for the most part they�re blessedly fair. The difficulty is rather more combinatorial. Guild of Thieves, you see, is a very big game. You�re quite likely to lose track of something in the course of playing it, whether it be a forgotten treasure or an unsolved puzzle. Still, it�s only when you reach the end game, which entails penetrating the Bank of Kerovnia to recover all of the treasures you�ve been �depositing� there for points, that a few of the puzzles begin to push the boundaries of fair play. .�.�.�
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Number of Reviews: 3
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Mid Era Magnetic Scrolls Classic, December 19, 2021
by Canalboy (London, UK.)
Related reviews: Parser, Puzzlefest, Magnetic Scrolls, Treasure Hunt

This game was apparently voted Adventure Game Of The Year at the Golden Joystick Awards (somewhat ironically for a text adventure) and has long been a lacuna on my adventure CV. The following review contains mild spoilers.

I had previously only played The Pawn and Wonderland by Magnetic Scrolls (this game was released between the two) and had found The Pawn rather intractable and Wonderland, well, wonderful. Magnetic Scrolls' games definitely improved as time passed. This is certainly one of the finest games of its genre.

The parser is superb for a game of its time; certainly I would compare it favourably with the Infocom example which is high praise indeed. There are also some graphical locations which were state of the art in their day but which I prefer to switch off. This isn't so much a question of speeding the game up as using my own imagination to evoke the long and clever descriptions; for me the hybrid trope of graphical adventure and text adventure has always been rather uneasy and I was surprised to discover that approximately two thirds of all IF ever written has been of this type (according to Graham Nelson I believe).

The game is unashamedly a puzzle fest in which you have to amass fifteen treasures and store them (there are in fact four places to leave your plunder which will then all end up in one place automatically) in order to join the emponymous Guild. The GO TO command is implemented enabling you to travel to any previously visited location via one command line instruction. You can also SEARCH for a lost object. Use these options thoughfully as it is all too easy to walk subliminally into a deadly trap.

When you have finished playing Croesus you are ready to enter the very tough endgame. This reminded me strongly of the Topologika games and the shadows of Dr Partington, Peter Killworth et al hang over it in a most satisfactory way.

I played the version from the Magnetic Scrolls site via DosBox-X and found only five or six trivial grammatical errors which is pretty good for such a complex game. It did crash on me four or five times however, and I am not sure whether the game file or DosBox-X itself was the guilty culprit. You also need to type in a word from the What Burglar? feelie if you start a new session but as this is now freeware and available to view online it shouldn't present any problem. You are also given three attempts to type the correct one in.

The puzzles themselves tend to become more difficult as you progress into the game and several objects are red herrings. There is also one garden based scenario which appears to be a set piece puzzle but isn't. This was something I banged my head on for some considerable time before realising it wasn't actually a puzzle at all. So I buzzed off and tried another puzzle elsewhere.

There is a conundrum towards the end which strikes me as unfairly described; if a slot is mentioned I tend to think of something long and thin and not die-shaped. As I was carrying four long and thin objects and there were four slots I made a natural but inaccurate deduction which held me up for a long time.

In the manner of games from this era there is an inventory limit and many chances to make the game unwinnable but there are no lamp timer or hunger / thirst daemons. There are also no mazes. As you progress you will come across a number of human (and non-human) NPCs in the game with some of which, thanks to the parser, it is possible to have fairly sophisticated colloquy and you will need to do this to find out vital information to finish the game. Likewise the game is littered with pamphlets, books, magazines etc. which contain more information necessary to bring the game to a successful denouement. Remember in particular to spend plenty of time in the Library; it contains a very large collection of volumes and the subjects range from the merely humorous to the very helpful.

There is a wonderful humour pervading the game, at times dryly sparkling and at others Pythonesque to remind you that "hey, this is only a game!"

As an old fogey I find it a shame that practically no-one writes long parser-based puzzle fest IF of any pith or moment any more. If modern players tried this they may be inspired to write something in a similar vein rather than short and Twiney.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A big, illustrated classic game with devious puzzles and a good map, June 5, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: more than 10 hours

I did not like the first Magnetic Scrolls game, The Pawn, at all. It was juvenile, and the puzzles were unfair.

Guild of Thieves is much better; it's still unfair at times, but not so much, and the juvenilia have been cut back.

You play a thief who has to steal a large number of treasures from a castle and its environs. It's a very Zork-like setting. The map felt large at first, but eventually it was easy to picture it all.

There are treasures absolutely everywhere. It's easy to find several treasures, but I doubt anyone's found all of them on their own. Magnetic Scrolls aren't know for their fairness, anyway, but you can get a lot of enjoyment out of this game right from the getgo.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Ace of Spades *, February 11, 2021
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Heist

Magnetic Scrolls' The Guild of Thieves was high on my to play-list for a long time. Not anymore! See, it was abandonware for a long time, but none of the DOS-downloads I tried would work in DOSBox. Then the game was reworked for play on smartphones so it wasn't abandoned anymore. Now you have to pay for it. But... the nice people over at the Magnetic Scrolls Memorial website have put up the reworked version for free play in-browser. Thank you, nice people at Magnetic Scrolls Memorial!

In this online version, the gameplay of the original has not been changed as far as I could tell (comparing to older reviews and to other games of the same period). UNDO doesn't work, so RESTORE is your friend (trust me, when you've locked yourself up in a tight cramped space with no exits, it's your best friend in the whole wide world...) X object doesn't work either, but you can use L object instead. Lastly, you can make an account to get access to your saved games from different devices.

The Guild of Thieves starts out on a wide stretch of woodland and wheatfields. To earn your membership of the Guild, you must find all the valuables in the surrounding region and steal them. There are three big areas of interest you need to gain access to, and each of these has its own locked doors and other bottlenecks to get through. I loved this map. The feeling of a wide world to discover with enticing puzzles to get around that next corner. Also a lot of fun for the mapmakers among us. (I color-coded my map...)

At first, the different parts of the map seem disconnected, not only literally but also in atmosphere. There's a temple, a castle (not the medieval type but the later, overgrown lordly manor type), an udergound section,... that don't seem to have to do much with each other. As you solve puzzles and the map slowly opens up, the different areas are brought together nicely by the solutions of the puzzles. Information you need for a tunnel is found in the temple for example.

The puzzles are great... They are all understandable in hindsight...

No, seriously. The first few puzzles you'll encounter are well hinted and logical. The further you progress in the game though, the more difficult it becomes to deduce the logical steps of a solution from the clues. Add to that that some puzzles require you to make preparations on the other side of the map before attempting to solve them and you will understand why, yes, RESTORE is your best friend. This does mean that when you finally understand how the different pieces work together and the solution *clicks*, it's very satisfying. Also, the nice people at Magnetic Scrolls Memorial have provided a very good narrative walkthrough should you become overly frustrated. Thank you, nice people at Magnetic Scrolls Memorial!

The writing is what it needs to be in this type of adventure. Good descriptions, the occasional joke and a more verbose passage here and there in an important location. The Guild of Thieves is a rather serious game. Stealing the treasures and becoming a Guild member is important to you, so there's not too much goofing around. Fortunately, the Master Thief who's following up on your progress brings some comic relief to the story now and then.
The game's responses to failed attempts are mostly unhelpful, but don't let that keep you from trying to solve the puzzle. You may well be on the right track. Rewording commands can do wonders for a parser who doesn't know that much English.

When I started playing, I was pleasantly surprised that there were beautiful pixel pictures of the locations. It later became apparent that these are not very well adjusted to the flow of the game. It can be distracting to read about the field of golden grain you're supposedly in while you're seeing a dank cave above the text.

The story is just the barest excuse for a puzzle romp, but an engaging and entertaining romp it is. Highly recommended!

*You'll get it when you play it.

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The Guild of Thieves on IFDB

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