Emily Short


One of the strengths of interactive fiction is that it is able to simulate a rich world, even one that has unusual physical and magical laws. In Savoir-Faire, the (usually cliché) elements of a treasure-hunt and a world suffused by magic are situated, unusually, in 18th-century France; a young man has come back to his childhood home to ask for a loan and has found it oddly abandoned. The special workings of Savoir-Faire's world open memories and unlock relationships between things, adding resonance to this intricate, difficult play of puzzles.

To Begin ...

Mac: Download and install Spatterlight if you do not already have a z-machine interpreter. Download and open the resulting file Savoir.z8 in your interpreter.

Windows: Download and install Gargoyle if you do not already have a z-machine interpreter. Download an unzip and open the resulting file Savoir.z8 in your interpreter.

Author description: The beautiful life is always damned, they say. As for you, you've overexpended yourself: fifteen years of prominence, champagne, carriage rides in the Tuileries, having your name whispered behind manicured hands, getting elegant ladies out of elegant fixes -- and you're in debt. Bound by oath and honor to a pack of scoundrels. Your father, old peasant that he was, could have warned you against their type.... Savoir-Faire is a story of magic, secrets, vengeance, and true love, taking place in a richly modeled interactive environment. It won four XYZZY awards for interactive fiction, including Best Game of 2002.

Instructions: Type commands to the main character at the ">" prompt and press enter. Input can take the form of imperatives such as "look," "examine the pedestal," or "touch" followed by some object. Typing the names of directions, such as "north", "east," and "south," can move the character. Other possible verbs include "remember" followed by a topic to remember and "link" which links one object to a similar object. This last ability, the "link" command, reflects a magic power of the character and, as Savoir-Faire unfolds, more is revealed about how to use this power to solve puzzles and overcome problems in the piece. There are many other possibilities for interaction. Type "help" to learn more.

Previous publication: The first version of Savoir-Faire was published by Short in 2002 and has gone through many revisions since. Version 8, released in February 2004, is available on the IF Archive, at Savoir-Faire is also available as a web-based Java version,

Short's work (the file Savoir.z8) is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. The Mac OS X Spatterlight interpreter is available under the GNU Public License. According to the readme file the Windows Gargoyle interpreter "is free software, and uses many components by various authors. The components are covered by their respective copyrights and licenses."