I figured out why using the TASM .TEXT command was producing junk at times. It was because the 'pretty font' I used with Adventure II XE, font1.s, had the characters switched around and some were actually replaced with custom chars. Standard ASCII and ATASCII has lower case letters from $61 to $7A, and upper case letters from $41 to $5A. But this font1.s had upper case in the range $21-$3A. I had a temporary programming fix which got the upper case letters to work, but I kept noticing other problems. This character set uses descenders, requiring the use of Antic Mode 3.
I then edited the charset with Notepad, and carefully swapped upper case letters and the numbers rows back to where they should be to match ATASCII (and what the TASM .TEXT command was programmed to assume). So that's done.
Back in 2011 or so, when I started to use that new charset for Adventure II XE, I must have figured out where the character ranges were and adapted. Until now I wasn't aware font1.s didn't match the 'customary' ATASCII character locations. (I didn't use the .TEXT command with Adventure II, instead I used the .BYTE command for lists for the words / rankings).
The other thing I've been doing is working on the city street screens. AA user @LS_Dracon produced this Antic4 charset and 1st city screen for me back in 2010, based on some mockups I had made. So I'll use his designs from ... 12 years ago. LOL. I've started to make changes to some things and I added a few DLI color changes. Not sure if that cobbled street is too "busy" . Here is a sample of the work-in-progress city street , and I just copy/pasted the verbiage from another screenshot for now, to visualize how it would look. The Holmes text will be at top screen and is in Antic 3. The building and street graphics are Antic 4.