Friday, March 29, 2019


Another restart and now armed with a map giving me a good idea of where to go in the GUE, I returned to the dome room and lowered myself down below with a rope, where I found a magic torch. This item would prove immensely useful, an unending light source, though with some restrictions. We can’t make things too easy, now can we? This room below the dome also had a connected “tiny room” with a massive and locked door that my skeleton key did not work on.

Not far at all from the dome room was a room filled with ice on the western wall. I tried melting it with my torch, but drowned in the resulting deluge. I tried throwing it, and this safely melted the ice, but also washed away the torch, which I found extinguished in the next room over by the stream. Past the ice was a passageway with a “moby ruby” leading to the base of the volcano, where a deflated hot air balloon awaited. As I had to extinguish the magic torch to reach this area, I’ll have to save it for much later, when I’m pretty sure I’ve done everything else there is to do.

I scooped up and deposited the treasures that I could get a hold of, which so far included:
  • The coins in the maze
  • The painting from the studio
  • The platinum bar from the loud room
  • The necklace in the pearl room past the round room and engravings cave

Upon depositing these treasures and returning to GUE, the trapdoor no longer slammed behind me. This would certainly be convenient for making return trips.

Other treasures that I’ve seen include:
  • The painting in the guarded bank
  • The ruby past the ice wall
  • A Fabergé egg found up a tree – in one of Zork’s meaner puzzles, there’s another treasure inside, and you need the thief’s help in opening it
  • The gold coffin in the Egyptian room, which is too big to squeeze through any of the passages leading to or from it
  • A silver chalice in the thief’s lair

Unlike a lot of later adventure games, you can’t just pick up everything that’s nailed down and carry around a giant sack of completely useless thingamabobs. There’s a tight inventory limit, as did Adventure, but now it’s based on weight capacity rather than an item count limit. An expedition takes planning. To retrieve the four easy treasures in a single run, I had to leave my heavy sword behind in a safe spot. The white house’s living room with the trophy case seemed as good a base camp as any. A single puzzle involving multiple inventory items might already max out your weight limit and require an entire expedition; you may have just enough space to bring along the items you’ll use, a light source, and just enough free space left over to hold onto the treasure that you are rewarded with from solving the puzzle.

I played around with Flood Control Dam #3’s buttons, and found that pressing blue button drowns you. Neat. Some more fiddling around with the controls, and I drained the reservoir, where I found a pump on the other side.

I knew I could inflate the boat near the dam with the pump, but the parser decided to be difficult.

Dam Base
You are at the base of Flood Control Dam #3, which looms above you
and to the north.  The river Frigid is flowing by here.  Across the
river are the White Cliffs which seem to form a giant wall stretching
from north to south along the east shore of the river as it winds its
way downstream.
There is a folded pile of plastic here which has a small valve
A sharp stick, which appears to have been broken at one end, is here.
> inflate plastic
with what?
> with pump
I can't make sense out of that.
> pump plastic
I can't make sense out of that.
> inflate plastic with pump
The boat inflates and appears seaworthy.

Finally! I knew better than to bring a sharp stick into the boat. But the parser remained stubborn about trying to launch it.

> get in boat                                                    
You are now in the magic boat.                                   
> launch boat                                                    
You can't go that way.                                           
> put boat in water
Nice try.
> leave boat
You are on your own feet again.
> push boat
Pushing the magic boat is not notably useful.
> push boat into water
I can't make sense out of that.
> get in boat                                                    
You are now in the magic boat. 
> launch                                                         
Frigid River                                                     
You are on the River Frigid in the vicinity of the Dam.  The river
flows quietly here.  There is a landing on the west shore.       
You are in the magic boat.                                       
The magic boat contains:                                         
 A tan label                                                     

About time. Reading the label:

> read label
          !!!!  FROBOZZ MAGIC BOAT COMPANY  !!!!

Hello, Sailor!

Instructions for use:

   To get into boat, say 'Board'
   To leave boat, say 'Disembark'

   To get into a body of water, say 'Launch'
   To get to shore, say 'Land'


  This boat is guaranteed against all defects in parts and
workmanship for a period of 76 milliseconds from date of purchase or
until first used, whichever comes first.

   This boat is made of plastic.                Good Luck!

Yeah, I could have used some of those instructions about 25 or so moves ago. Thanks a lot, Frobozzco!

I took the boat down the river, disembarking on every shore that I could for the sake of map completion. The first of them was a rocky shore that I had been to previously, and it felt really satisfying connecting the dots in this manner, even if it did require some map layout rejigging. The penultimate stop, just before the Aragain Falls, led to a cliff side which had been visible from a canyon right at the beginning of the game, a rainbow spanning the gap between the two cliff sides. I had to rearrange the map even more severely to keep things coherent!

There didn’t seem to be any way to get back to the dam, as the river rapids prevented upstream piloting (how was I even steering the boat in the first place? Magic?). But I did find a conspicuously placed, human-sized barrel looming on the edge of the cliff.

> get in barrel                                                       
You are now in the wooden barrel.                                     
> look                                                                
You are inside a barrel.  Congratulations.  Etched into the side of the
barrel is the word 'Geronimo!'.  From your position, you cannot see   
the falls.                                                            
> geronimo                                                            
I didn't think you would REALLY try to go over the falls in a         
barrel. It seems that some 450 feet below, you were met by a number   
of  unfriendly rocks and boulders, causing your immediate demise.  Is 
this what 'over a barrel' means?                                      


A good chunk of mapping done, there remained one unexplored avenue; the area past the drained reservoir. A series of rooms revealed two new treasures, a trunk full of jewels, and a crystal trident. Further up north was a coal mine, serving as yet another maze, with some points of interest near or just past the entrance:
  • A room with a giant mirror on the south wall
  • A “bat room” with a cute reference to Hunt the Wumpus as upon entering, a giant bat guarding a jade figurine drops you deep within the maze
  • A “shaft room” from which a wicker basket can be lowered to and from a room in the dark depths below
  • A smelly room right above a “gas room” that explodes if you bring the torch inside, but has a sapphire bracelet inside

I mapped out this area and the maze with some difficulty, and at one point the thief came by and stole my torch, leaving me to get eaten by a grue in the dark. Trying again, this time bringing my torch and lamp, I finished mapping it, and found a few new things on the other side of the maze:
  • A ladder leading deep down into the mine
  • A lump of coal
  • A big piece of timber
  • A snug passageway

That passageway was so snug that I couldn’t even carry my lamp or torch inside with me! So I returned to the shaft room, put the torch in the basket and lowered it into the darkness. Then I lit my lamp, and doubled back to the passageway. Sure enough, the lit torch now provided light on the other side of the tunnel! So I dropped my lamp and crawled through the passage, safe from grues as there were light sources on both ends of the tunnel. This side of the tunnel led to a strange machine, which was obviously intended to be operated by a screwdriver (“The switch does not appear to be manipulable by any human hand unless the fingers are about 1/16 by 1/4 inch”), and I had seen one in FCD#3’s maintenance room.

Lastly, I went back to the round room to see if I would randomly stumble in any new directions, and I did. A winding passage and grail room led to:
  • A two-room temple, complete with an altar, bell, book, and candle.
  • Another mirror room, described identically to the one in the mines.
  • The entrance to Hades!

One detail I've been glossing over, is that when you die, your treasures are scattered across the map and you are warped to to Hades, but are still free to wander GUE in an incorporeal form, unable to interact with anything. You can get another shot by praying at the temple, which zaps you to the forest. I would instinctively just restore, though, as recovering my treasures was too much work, and I don't even know if beating Zork after dying is possible (beating Zork I is not).

Zork is pretty much mapped out at this point, with just a few small areas not yet charted. The volcano is probably the biggest remaining task. My todo list of things remaining to be done:
  • Reservoir:
    • Get the trunk and trident
  • Coal mine:
    • Steal the jade figurine from the bat
    • Get the bracelet from the gas room
    • Operate the machine
  • Rocky crawl:
    • Retrieve the golden coffin
    • Open the giant locked door
  • Bank:
    • Steal the portrait
    • See if the vault can be robbed
  • Temple & Hades:
    • Get the Grail
    • Enter Hades alive
  • Circular Room:
    • Raise the bucket
  • Treasure Room:
    • Kill the thief, get the chalice and golden canary
    • Solve the thief’s puzzle room
  • Frigid river
    • Find a use for the shovel (it can’t be a red herring, can it?)
    • Find a way over the Aragain Falls
  • Volcano (to do last!):
    • Get the ruby
    • Operate the balloon in the volcano

My map so far:

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