How to talk about things that aren't necessarily things.

Hello, I’m working on my first serious IF project (well I’m working on it seriously, the game itself will hopefully be humorous) and I’m a bit stuck. This project is rather dialogue heavy, and though Eric Eve’s Conversation Framework extension has helped considerably, I’m still having trouble asking characters about certain things.

For example, the player wakes up with no memory of themselves (cliche I know). I want the player to be able to ask other characters about amnesia, but Inform wouldn’t let me do that. So I made Amnesia a thing. It seemed to work, until I tried actually asking someone about Amnesia, then all I got was “There is no reply”. The second part of the problem is that when I try to ask someone about a room, I also get “There is no reply”.

Is there something in the manual or the recipe book that I’ve missed that explains this? Or another extension that can help me?

Eric Eve’s Conversation Framework relies on Epistemology, and asking-it-about involves this bit:

Understand "ask [someone] about [any known thing]" as quizzing it about.

That is, if the player has never seen the ‘amnesia’ thing, they won’t be able to ask about it. (It also won’t work for rooms, since rooms aren’t things.) The way that Epistemology handles abstracts like amnesia is to call them ‘familiar’: that way they’ll be known even if the player has never seen them. So this:

amnesia is familiar.

should let you ask about amnesia.

Rooms are a bit trickier here. You may just want to fake up some abstract things with the same name as existing rooms, perhaps? Though that’s kind of ugly.

In its simplest form, you could just add a rule to deal with it, like so.

Check asking someone about "amnesia", say "(your text response here)" instead.

Hope this helps.

Of course! I totally forgot that conversation framework uses Epistemology, should have checked the documentation for that extension. Making amnesia familiar has totally worked. The rooms are a bit tricky, but I seem to have gotten one to work so far, but if they take up too much time I may just drop it altogether, I didn’t have any plans for it to be necessary to ask about rooms.

This does work, but because I want different NPCs to respond differently to the same question, it seems like it will be easier for me to just make something familiar than to make a new rule for each one. However I could be wrong, and I’ll try both to see what works best for me.

Thank you both for the speedy responses!