West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.
Opening the small mailbox reveals a leaflet.
Zork was one of the earliest works of Interactive Fiction, written in 1977-79 by Tim Anderson, Marc Blanc, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling. In 1980, the game was split into three parts for home computers and sold on giant B: floppy disks (remember those?), where it became an immediate success, launching game publisher Infocom, and was followed by no less than twelve sequels.
Most of the series takes place in The Great Underground Empire.
At the bottom of the leaflet is a list of games in the series.
The Zork series consists of:
- Mainframe pre-original
- Dungeon (1977-1979, noncommercial)
- The Original Trilogy
- Zork I: The Great Underground Empire (1980)
- Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz (1981)
- Zork III: The Dungeon Master (1982)
- The Enchanter Trilogy
- Enchanter (1983)
- Sorcerer (1984)
- Spellbreaker (1985)
- Wishbringer (1985)
- Beyond Zork (1987) (adds RPG Elements)
- Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz (1988)
- Zork: The Undiscovered Underground (Activision, 1997)
- The Zork Quest "Interactive Comics"
- Zork Quest I: Assault on Egreth Castle (1988)
- Zork Quest II: The Crystal of Doom (1989)
- Graphical Games
Four novels set in the world of Zork also exist: The Zork Chronicles by George Alec Effinger, Enchanter and The Lost City of Zork by Robin W. Bailey, and Wishbringer by Craig Shaw Gardner. As well as four Choose Your Own Adventure-style books, The Forces of Krill, The Malifestro Quest, The Cavern of Doom, and Conquest at Quendor.
A bag of tropes is nearby.
Which tropes do you mean, the red ones or the blue ones?
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
- Acme Products: The many, many subsidiaries of FrobozzCo International
- Affectionate Parody: Pork 1: The Great Underground Sewer System and its sequel Pork 2: The Gizzard of Showbiz.
- Arc Number: 69,105
- Author Avatar: The Implementors in Beyond Zork
- Auto Cannibalism: The command "eat self" returns the message "Autocannibalism is not the answer."
- Back from the Dead and Death Is Cheap: You; most of the games have a mechanism for bringing the player character back to life, and in Sorcerer dying actually simplifies a certain puzzle.
- Although dying made some of the games unwinnable - Zork I, for example. You lose 10 points for dying, and can only complete the game by getting all 350 points.
- Control Room Puzzle: Subverted in Zork: Grand Inquisitor. The puzzle was impossible to solve unless you used a certain spell in addition to pushing buttons.
- Controllable Helplessness: In Sorcerer it is possible for the PC to end up in the Chamber of Living Death. There, the PC will be horribly torn apart and devoured by hideous parasites, only to not die but regenerate, over and over again, being unable to do anything about it because 'Your agony is too great to concentrate on such an action'.
- Crystal Skull
- Darker and Edgier: Zork Nemesis, which abandons almost all pretenses of comedy and light satire in favor of Gothic horror.
- The Enchanter Trilogy, too, where you're thwarting the plans of some flavor of Evil Overlord instead of just searching for treasure in a cave and getting rid of a senile wizard along the way.
- Zork III had a much darker and more serious tone than the previous two games.
- Darkness Equals Death: "You are likely to be eaten by a grue."
- Death Is Cheap: At least it is in the gamebooks, where if you die you're given a chance to go back and try again. Unless you fell for one of the cheater traps.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything
- Dolled-Up Installment: Zork Nemesis was clearly not originally intended to be set in the Zork universe
- Drop in Nemesis: "Oh, no! A lurking grue slithered into the room and devoured you!"
- Feelies: Like all Infocom games, all the text-based Zork games came with several feelies. Almost all were essential for completing their respective game.
- ...other than the original trilogy, which predated Infocom adding feelies.
- Featureless Protagonist: Former Trope Namer.
- Fox Chicken Grain Puzzle: In Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz.
- Gaiden Game: Wishbringer
- The Ghost: Grues. You never see what they look like since they only reside in total darkness.
- Global Currency: Zorkmids
- Guide Dang It: Some of the puzzles were ridiculous! For example, in Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz a wizard casts a hunger spell on you which will eventually kill you unless you eat something, but the only food in the game is a granola bar (which is bird food). The solution? Turn yourself into a flamingo! And even THAT was absurdly difficult!
- Notably, the Lighter and Softer and easier game Wishbringer has a bad one: the can with the rattlesnake has a false bottom which contains Wishbringer. The only hint is the item rattling even after it's opened, and considering that you likely dropped it after using it the first time, you're not likely to notice.
- Spellbreaker was so hard the developers actually apologized and admitted most people would have to use a hint book to finish it.
- Have a Nice Death: Suicide in text games is a wholesome and entertaining pastime.
- Hello, Sailor!: A recurring Catch Phrase in the first several games.
- Hell Seeker: The backstory has the legend of Saint Yoruk, who travelled to Hades to meet with the Devil and learn the secrets of magic from him. When Yoruk died, his soul went to heaven, but as he'd gotten used to Hades, he fought his way back there.
- Hostage for Macguffin: Wishbringer, subverted, the hostage is the MacGuffin.
- Inventory Management Puzzle
- Kleptomaniac Hero
- Lighter and Softer: Wishbringer, sort of; it's aimed at kids and beginners.
- The Magic Goes Away: Sets off the plot of Spellbreaker and Beyond Zork, the former starting with your spellbook.
- The Many Deaths of You: Zork probably pioneered this trope in computer games.
- The Maze: At least once per game in the text-based games, though only the first game really has straight examples.
- Methuselah Syndrome: Many characters, justified or otherwise: Dalboz and Yannick, Lucy Flathead, Zylon the Aged, and Antharia Jack.
- Mythology Gag: In various games, you can see the exploits of the player character in a previous game and either travel there or bring the character to you.
- No Fair Cheating: Most of the interactive Zork books had a selection that asked for an item that doesn't exist and called you out for cheating if you went for it.
- Non-Linear Sequel
- No Name Given: Not only is the AFGNCAAP player nameless, there's also a "lean and hungry gentleman" in the first game who has no name, and needs none.
- The hint guide identifies the "lean and hungry gentleman" as "The Thief". Still fits the trope, though.
- Nonstandard Game Over: If you mess up in the endgames of the Enchanter Trilogy, you can get a negative score and the title "Menace to Society" for unleashing a horror upon the world.
- Nothing Is Scarier: "It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue."
- Percussive Maintenance: The "impact revitalisation" that the lamp has undergone in "Zork: The Undiscovered Underground".
- President Evil (Lord Dimwit Flathead the Excessive)
- Schizo-Tech: Zork technology is roughly WWII level, augmented by magic.
- Series Mascot: Grues.
- Set Piece Puzzle
- Stable Time Loop: One in Sorcerer and two interlinked loops in Spellbreaker.
- Stock Puzzle: Nearly all of them, at one point or another.
- Stolen Good, Returned Better: One of the treasures you find is a golden egg... but if you let the thief steal it, when you find his lair later, you find that the egg has been opened, and it contains a golden singing bird -- much more valuable!
- Text Parser: See You Can't Get Ye Flask.
- To Hell and Back: Zork I, Zork Grand Inquisitor
- Unwitting Pawn: You, in Spellbreaker
- The Verse: In addition to the main games, the Zork universe contained Enchanter, Sorcerer, Spellbreaker, and Wishbringer. There are also a couple of hints that The Lurking Horror, another Infocom game, may also take place in the same universe, but nothing concrete.
- With This Herring: In Enchanter, you are a novice sent to kill Krill with almost no spells to start with. Gets a Hand Wave that Krill would detect a more powerful mage and raise appropriate defenses.
- Also, there is a prophecy saying that this is the only method that has a chance of working.
- You Can't Get Ye Flask: The Ur Example.