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 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 very sophisticated 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. I 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. Now you are able to create your own text adventures and share them with a scene that is more vibrant than ever these days.

Commodore 64

The download includes Quill A06, Illustrator A03, quick reference cards and manuals. Additionally you get an exclusive 4-word-parser variant, Quill A06.4wd and Illustrator A03.4wd, which had been used back in the days to create the commercial game “Bugsy”. Quill 4-word was never publicly available. Please refer to bundled documents. We also recovered the long lost Norwegian Quill B02, which had been distributed by Norace Computing.

>>> Quill & Illustrator for CBM64
>>> Norwegian Quill for CBM64

ZX Spectrum

The downloads include Quill A08, Quill C04, Illustrator A00, as well as Professional Adventure Writing System (PAWs) A17C and all manuals. Note that Spectrum-only Quill add-ons like Press or Characters are not included. The rare PAWs +3/disk version is available as a separate download.

>>> Quill & Illustrator for ZX Spectrum
>>> PAWs for ZX Spectrum 48k/128k (tape)
>>> PAWs for ZX Spectrum +3 (disk)

Amstrad CPC

The download includes the disk version of Quill A04, Illustrator A02 and all the manuals.

>>> Quill & Illustrator for Amstrad CPC

BBC Micro / Acorn Electron

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

Oric-1 / Atmos

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

>>> Quill for Oric-1 / Oric Atmos


The download includes the CP/M versions of the Professional Adventure Writing System (PAWs) for Amstrad CPC and PCW. You get all manuals and documentation. In addition, these versions include the graphics patch, which was released in 1990 and could be obtained by sending the disc to Gilsoft for them to add the necessary files to the disc.

>>> PAWs for CP/M – CPC & PCW

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. I highly encourage 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. The Norwegian Quill is copyright Norace.