The Gilsoft Adventure Systems

Let’s journey back in time to the early days of home computing. The year is 1983 and Gilsoft, a small software company from Barry (Wales, UK) makes computer history by releasing The Quill, a groundbreaking editor that allows the creation of machine-code text adventures with no programming knowledge required. Initially released on Sinclair ZX Spectrum, it was ported to nearly every 8-bit platform available and it’s notably considered the de facto standard for writing 8-bit text adventures down to the present day. The Illustrator, released as an add-on in 1984, allows the creation of graphics which can then be appended to your adventure database. A successor to both tools emerged in 1986, named PAWs (Professional Adventure Writing System). It had a very advanced parser but was restricted to Sinclair ZX Spectrum and CP/M. The growing interest in retro computing made these tools relevant again.’s Stefan Vogt worked closely with Tim Gilberts of Gilsoft to preserve the latest versions, including an enhanced 4-word-parser variant for the Commodore 64, which was never released before. Now you are able to create your own text adventures and share them with a scene that is more vibrant than ever these days.

The download includes Quill A06, Illustrator A03, quick reference cards and manuals. Additionally included is an exclusive 4-word-parser variant, Quill A06.4wd and Illustrator A03.4wd, which was used back in the days to create the commercial game “Bugsy”, now publicly available for the first time in more than 30 years. Please refer to the 2017 version and incantation documents, as these have been added by Tim Gilberts of Gilsoft and contain interesting information that has been prepared for you.

Quill & Illustrator for CBM 64

The downloads include Quill A08, Quill C04, Illustrator A00, as well as PAWs A17C and all manuals. Note that Spectrum-only Quill add-ons like Press or Characters are not included.

Quill & Illustrator for ZX Spectrum   PAWs for ZX Spectrum

The download includes the disk version of Quill A04, Illustrator A02 and all the manuals. In addition, a download to PAWs for CP/M is provided. Note the latter cannot be run on a standalone Amstrad CPC without booting into CP/M.

Quill & Illustrator for Amstrad CPC   PAWs for CP/M

The download includes the long lost Quill A03 (disc version) and the manual. We added a regular .SSD file, which allows using Quill with a Turbo MMC interface. It will also work in B-em and other BBC Micro emulators. In addition, the disc version comes with QCDT, a tool that allows you to convert a database created with the cassette version for the use with the disc version of the Quill. This process will also release around 4k of memory due to the larger database allowed with the disc version. Note that the conversion for BBC / Electron was made by Neil Fleming-Smith and is not based on the Gilsoft codebase like all the other variants.

Quill for BBC Model B / Acorn Electron

The download includes Quill for Oric-1 / Atmos as well as the manual.

Quill for Oric-1 / Oric Atmos

The Quill (C64)
Quill (C64), location editor
Bugsy (1986), made with Quill & Illustrator
important note

The software on this page is still copyrighted and may be used if these conditions are met. highly encourages you to make a donation to Tim Gilberts, especially if you plan to use the software on a regular basis and / or if you’re going to use it to create games for commercial distribution either in digital or physical form.

The authors of the original software as such are: Graeme Yeandle (The Quill), Tim Gilberts (The Illustrator), Neil Fleming-Smith (The Quill port for BBC / Electron). PAWs (Professional Adventure Writing System) has been developed by Tim Gilberts, Graeme Yeandle and Phil Wade.