Laura Bow: The Colonel's Bequest

Released: 1989
Published by: Sierra On-Line
Developed by: Sierra On-Line
Author(s): Roberta Williams, Chris Hoyd, Chris Iden, Douglass Herring, Ken Allen, Gerald Moore, Jacqueline Austin

EGA 16-colour graphics



Set in the 1920s, you are Laura Bow, a student studying at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Your best friend Lillian invites you to stay the night at her Uncle Henri's sugar plantation. When Henri decides to gather his relatives for a reading of his will during dinner, tensions explode and the bickering leads to murder.

Did You Know?

Jacqueline Austin, The Colonel's Bequest's creative designer, was a screenplay and novel writer. This was the only Sierra On-Line title she worked on.

As the drama unfolds you must evade the dangers that await you as you explore the gloomy estate in an attempt to discover who is murdering the Colonel's guests, and why. Expose the killer before he or she strikes again, and survive the long night... if you can!

Like a play, the game is broken up into eight 'acts', which take you through the full story. Within each act you must complete certain tasks in order to progress the game to the next act.


System Requirements

System Requirements Intel 8088/8086 CPU (80286 recommended), 512 KB RAM (640 KB on Tandy/PCjr)
Graphics support for Tandy/PCjr, Hercules, CGA, EGA (max. 320 x 200 in 16 colours)
Audio support for PC Speaker, Tandy/PCjr, IBM Music Feature Card, Ad Lib, CMS/Game Blaster, Casio CT-460/CSM-1 Sound Module, Yamaha FB-1 FM Sound Generator, and Roland MT-32/MT-100/LAPC-I/CM-32L/CM64, or Casio MT-540 Keyboard.
Keyboard and Mouse supported.
Original Media Ten 5.25" 360 KB (DS/DD) floppy disks and four 3.5" 720 KB (DS/DD) floppy disks (both media types included)
Installed Size (MB) 3.2 MB


Andy's Recommended Setup
"The Colonel's Bequest (A Laura Bow Mystery) is one of Sierra's older adventures. Actually they tell you this is more like an interactive story than a puzzle adventure, so don't go into it expecting another King's Quest or equivalent. It's a game of exploration and investigation where the key characters you interact with are pivotal to the gameplay.

The game will run on an XT but a fast 80286 is ideal. Confusingly, the box shows MCGA and VGA as graphics options, but the game maxes out at EGA in 16 colours (plus dithering effects) with a maximum resolution of 320x200. Despite this limitation, the background artwork drawn by Douglas Herring and Jerry Moore is top notch.

Definitely play it with the MT-32 audio option though, as it adds more immersion to your gameplay (the soundtrack was written by Ken Allen using a Roland MT-32 and then converted to the other formats). There was only one version of the game released for DOS, so no need to concern yourself about patches."

How to Setup

The game can be played from the floppy disks, but it's preferred to install to your hard disk. To do so, insert Disk 1 and run 'install'. Once you have completed the configuration (and optional hard disk installation), run 'sierra' to start the game.

Did You Know?

The Colonel's Bequest was one of Sierra's last EGA SCI0 games, before the VGA-capable SCI1 interpreter became the standard with the launch of King's Quest V.

The Colonel's Bequest has a combined setup and installation program called INSTALL. Just run this and follow the on-screen prompts. At the end of the configuration options, you will be asked if you want to install the game to your hard disk. You can skip this by pressing ESC, or hit the key the corresponds to the drive letter of your hard disk.

NOTE: For hard disk installation you must be running INSTALL from floppy disk, not from a subdirectory on your hard disk with all the contents of the floppy disk files in it!

1) Intro screen

2) Graphics mode selection:

3) Sound/music hardware selection:

4) If you picked the Roland option you are instructed how to set it up:

5) Keyboard type:

6) As with all Sierra On-Line adventures, they ask that you have NUM LOCK off so you can use your numeric keypad for arrow directions.

7) Joystick option:

8) Mouse option:

9) Installation to hard disk option:

After going through INSTALL the first time, a file called RESOURCE.CFG is written to your game directory (or to Disk 1) - this file contains the configuration options you picked:


Copy Protection

The game has manual copy protection. In the original game box was a red-lined fold-out with images of fingerprints for each of the 24 characters in the game.

The copy protection screen

Using a special red lense "magnifying glass" the fingerprints become readable. Getting through this copy protection is a simple task of matching the on-screen fingerprint to one of them in the fingerprint fold-out, then highlighting that person's name on the screen. If you matched it correctly, the game begins. If you fail, even once, you will be taken back to the DOS prompt.


Copy protection succes (left) and failure (right) messages

Incidentally, Sierra weren't the only software house to use red filters for copy protection! Go down to Supporting Documents for a copy of the fingerprints sheet, without the need for a red filter.

Cracking Stuff
According to, while this copy protection can be cracked with a single byte change in SCIV.EXE, doing so also breaks the randomness for the entire game (and it's used a lot!), as it causes the built-in random number generator to always return zero. I tried his final 'patch' with SCRIPT.414, but the game then crashed with a 'Resource Type Mismatch' error message.


Did You Know?

Douglas Herring was the sole animator for The Colonel's Bequest so all the character designs were his. He also created the backgrounds with Jerry Moore. Both Douglas and Jerry worked on many other Sierra titles between 1986 to 1993.


Symptom: I'm not hearing any music after choosing my sound card in INSTALL.
Cause: SCI0-based games were known to have numerous problems with audio.
Resolution: Try using an audio driver file from a later SCI game, and be sure to run the game on period-appropriate hardware, e.g. XT or 80286 CPU.

To Quit the Game

To quit the game, press Ctrl-Q or choose 'Quit' from the File menu (press ESC to show the menu bar).

Supporting Documents

This section provides you with all of the original documentation found in the game box, plus any third-party guides I've discovered.


Save Games

Did You Know?

The game's murder mystery storyline, plot, and characters were written entirely by Roberta Williams, who used many elements from Sierra's first game, Mystery House, eight years earlier.

If you are playing the game from floppy disks, be sure to have a blank formatted floppy disk available for you to store save games onto. To save the current game, hit F5, then use the TAB key to move to 'Change Directory' if required and enter in the destination drive/directory for the save game.

Save game files are stored in the directory you chose, and following the naming convention CB1SG.000, CB1SG.001, CB1SG.002, etc., and then a single CB1SG.DIR file that contains the textual descriptions for each save game.

The restore (load) a saved game, hit F7 and choose 'Restore' from the File menu (press ESC to bring up the menu).


Versions of the game known to exist

Version Date Comments
Demo 21 Sep 1989 A non-playable demo of The Colonel's Bequest which introduces you to the story and the characters. The INSTALL utility for this lists 3 graphics options not found in the public release: CGA with RGB Monitor- 2 colors (Preferred) and CGA with RGB Monitor- 4 colors as well as an option for PCjr with RGB or Composite monitor (16 colors). It also omits the Casio and Yamaha audio options.
1.000.046 13 Dec 1989 Uses SCI interpreter version 0.000.631. Inside the game box you have a Misty Acres Map, a card magnifying glass, Laura Bow pencil, Tulane University notepad, fingerprints sheet, game manual and Sierra's 10th Anniversary product catalogue.
1.000.046 1994 Budget re-release on KixxXL label (3.5" floppy disk version only). Same SCI0 interpreter and game version as original release.
1.000.046 Early 1997 Roberta William's Anthology (CD-ROM), which comprises the first 7 King's Quest titles, The Colonel's Bequest and its sequel The Dagger of Amon Ra, numerous older Sierra Apple II titles, and Mixed Up Mother Goose.
1.000.046 Late 1997 Collection Series (CD-ROM includes King's Quest collection)

Original Floppy Disk Contents

The original game's box contained both 5.25" and 3.5" low-density floppy disk sets, 14 in total!
These have no volume label. The KixxXL re-release came with a pair of 3.5" high-density disks, and had volume labels of CB1_XL and CB2_XL.

Here are each disk's contents:

    Original Game
    Disk 1 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 001       108,032  13/12/89   8:51
    SIERRA COM 538 29/11/88 13:44
    SCIV EXE 76,419 11/12/89 10:47
    INSTALL EXE 24,064 11/12/89 10:47
    EXISTS COM 574 09/09/88 14:52
    SPACE COM 500 04/05/89 9:17
    GODIR COM 507 05/09/88 9:24
    CB BAT 24 22/10/89 21:26
    INSTGAME BAT 827 12/11/89 1:47
    __INSTH BAT 2,025 17/11/89 2:49
    RESOURCE MAP 12,030 13/12/89 9:09
    EGA320 DRV 1,952 13/03/89 11:35
    MCGA320 DRV 1,626 16/06/89 16:22
    TANDY320 DRV 1,667 28/07/89 10:50
    CGA320M DRV 2,029 20/09/89 9:38
    HERCMONO DRV 2,193 11/12/89 10:15
    PCJR320 DRV 1,660 13/03/89 11:36
    STD DRV 2,471 11/09/89 7:59
    JR DRV 2,990 11/10/89 10:44
    IMF DRV 2,290 09/08/89 15:22
    MT32 DRV 3,162 04/12/89 11:41
    ADL DRV 8,997 05/12/89 14:49
    CMS DRV 5,807 09/08/89 15:39
    CSM1 DRV 2,549 15/11/89 8:10
    FB01 DRV 2,459 09/08/89 15:28
    MT540 DRV 2,529 15/11/89 8:09
    IBMKBD DRV 446 11/04/89 11:57
    TANDYKBD DRV 473 11/04/89 11:55
    JOYSTICK DRV 536 09/10/89 9:22
    INSTALL HLP 8,661 21/11/89 0:16
    README 206 13/12/89 16:08
    RESOURCE CFG 74 06/07/90 15:12
    32 file(s) 280,317 bytes
    0 dir(s) 66,560 bytes free


    Disk 2 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 002       354,680  13/12/89   8:54
    1 file(s) 354,680 bytes
    0 dir(s) 7,168 bytes free

    Disk 3 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 003       361,815  13/12/89   8:58
    1 file(s) 361,815 bytes
    0 dir(s) 0 bytes free

    Disk 4 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 004       339,714  13/12/89   9:00
    SCRIPT 052 6,962 13/12/89 22:21
    TEXT 052 2,734 13/12/89 22:21
    3 file(s) 349,410 bytes
    0 dir(s) 12,288 bytes free


    Disk 5 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 005       327,465  13/12/89   9:02
    1 file(s) 327,465 bytes
    0 dir(s) 34,816 bytes free

    Disk 6 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 006       328,390  13/12/89   9:03
    1 file(s) 328,390 bytes
    0 dir(s) 33,792 bytes free

    Disk 7 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 007       317,687  13/12/89   9:05
    1 file(s) 317,687 bytes
    0 dir(s) 44,032 bytes free


    Disk 8 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 008       352,345  13/12/89   9:07
    1 file(s) 352,345 bytes
    0 dir(s) 9,216 bytes free

    Disk 9 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 009       257,355  13/12/89   9:08
    1 file(s) 257,355 bytes
    0 dir(s) 104,448 bytes free

    Disk 10 of 10 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 010       356,093  13/12/89   9:09
    1 file(s) 356,093 bytes
    0 dir(s) 6,144 bytes free

    Original Game
    Disk 1 of 4 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD ver 1.000.046):

    Directory of A:\
    ADL DRV 8,997 05-12-1989 14:49 CB BAT 24 31-10-1989 13:46 CGA320M DRV 2,029 20-09-1989 9:38 CMS DRV 5,807 09-08-1989 15:39 CSM1 DRV 2,549 15-11-1989 8:10 EGA320 DRV 1,952 13-03-1989 11:35 EXISTS COM 574 09-09-1988 14:52 FB01 DRV 2,459 09-08-1989 15:28 GODIR COM 507 05-09-1988 9:24 HERCMONO DRV 2,193 11-12-1989 10:15 IBMKBD DRV 446 11-04-1989 11:57 IMF DRV 2,290 09-08-1989 15:22 INSTALL EXE 24,064 11-12-1989 10:47 INSTALL HLP 8,661 21-11-1989 0:18 INSTGAME BAT 827 12-11-1989 1:47 JOYSTICK DRV 536 09-10-1989 9:22 JR DRV 2,990 11-10-1989 10:44 MCGA320 DRV 1,626 16-06-1989 16:22 MT32 DRV 3,162 04-12-1989 11:41 MT540 DRV 2,529 15-11-1989 8:09 README 206 13-12-1989 16:08 RESOURCE 001 515,788 13-12-1989 9:11 RESOURCE CFG 74 26-12-1994 14:10 RESOURCE MAP 8,478 13-12-1989 9:27 SCIV EXE 76,419 11-12-1989 10:47 SCRIPT 052 6,962 13-12-1989 22:21 SIERRA COM 538 29-11-1988 13:44 SPACE COM 500 04-05-1989 9:17 STD DRV 2,471 11-09-1989 7:59 TANDY320 DRV 1,667 28-07-1989 10:50 TANDYKBD DRV 473 11-04-1989 11:55 TEXT 052 2,734 13-12-1989 22:21 __INSTH BAT 1,032 14-12-1989 8:39 33 File(s) 691,564 Bytes

    Disk 2 of 4 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD ver 1.000.046):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 002 721,381 13-12-1989 9:18
    1 File(s) 721,381 Bytes

    Disk 3 of 4 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD ver 1.000.046):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 003 667,468 13-12-1989 9:23
    1 File(s) 667,468 Bytes

    Disk 4 of 4 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD ver 1.000.046):

    Directory of A:\
    RESOURCE 004 683,807 13-12-1989 9:27
    1 File(s) 683,807 Bytes


Installed Directory Contents

Once installed, the following directory structure exists in the game directory:

    Full Install chosen

    Directory of C:\GAMES\COLONEL
    .            <DIR>         05/09/21   13:49
    ..           <DIR>         05/09/21   13:49