Zork: Endgame   31 comments

Your score in the end game is 100 [total of 100 points], in 52 moves.
This score gives you the rank of Dungeon Master.

Spoilers ahoy.

Notable things about the endgame:

The scoring trick. I never did quite make it to 616 out of 616 points, but I’m not worried in that a.) knowing how things went down throughout my game, it might’ve just been a bug and b.) The score resets anyway to a separate “endgame score” out of 100 points.

INCANT. Upon entering the endgame the player is instructed to INCANT “word of their choice” and the game responds with a passkey to use to warp to the endgame (so I did INCANT “STUFF” and it told me to keep “INCANT ZEAAA”). This can be done without a save game (saving no longer works in the endgame, anyway).

Object choice. It’s somewhat unclear what is needed if anything in the endgame. It turns out the sword is necessary but it’s very hard to realize such other than it seems the iconic thing to be carrying around. Fortunately, warping to the endgame with INCANT also drops the lamp and sword in the player’s inventory, so I took that as a hint.

Life without objects. The sword gets used fairly early and the rest of the puzzles use no objects at all. Given how much Zork relies on objects, the style is rather different, almost like Myst

> go in
Inside Mirror
You are inside a rectangular box of wood whose structure is rather complicated. Four sides and the roof are filled in, and the floor is open.
As you face the side opposite the entrance, two short sides of carved and polished wood are to your left and right. The left panel is mahogany, the right pine. The wall you face is red on its left half and black on its right. On the entrance side, the wall is white opposite the red part of the wall it faces, and yellow opposite the black section. The painted walls are at least twice the length of the unpainted ones. The ceiling is painted blue.
In the floor is a stone channel about six inches wide and a foot deep. The channel is oriented in a north-south direction. In the exact center of the room the channel widens into a circular depression perhaps two feet wide. Incised in the stone around this area is a compass rose.
Running from one short wall to the other at about waist height is a wooden bar, carefully carved and drilled. This bar is pierced in two places. The first hole is in the center of the bar (and thus the center of the room). The second is at the left end of the room (as you face opposite the entrance). Through each hole runs a wooden pole.
The pole at the left end of the bar is short, extending about a foot above the bar, and ends in a hand grip. The pole has been dropped into a hole carved in the stone floor.
The long pole at the center of the bar extends from the ceiling through the bar to the circular area in the stone channel. This bottom end of the pole has a T-bar a bit less than two feet long attached to it, and on the T-bar is carved an arrow. The arrow and T-bar are pointing west.

…except Myst is really awkward and difficult described as text. At a basic level this puzzle isn’t too difficult (the mirror is a vehicle you have to control) but just reading the words is brain-jumbling.

Master of the Dungeon. I was warned about this one: you get to a door, knock, and the Master of the Dungeon comes and asks a trivia quiz about Zork.

It’s clear some of the questions are meant to test alternate solutions or methods of transport:

‘What can be done to the mirror that is useful?’

(Touching the mirror warps to the other mirror.)

Others are more, mm, trivial:

‘What is the absolute minimum specified value of the Zorkmid treasures, in zorkmids?’

And one of them’s just evil:

‘In which room is ‘Hello, Sailor!’ useful?’

(If you know your Zork mythology, you can answer this even if you haven’t played the game. I’ll answer in the comments.)

The Final Puzzle. After the quiz the Dungeon Master starts to follow you, and there’s a room with another Myst-like setup:

There is an object here which looks like a sundial. On it are an indicator arrow and (in the center) a large button. On the face of the dial are numbers ‘one’ through ‘eight’. The indicator points to the number ‘four’.

The trick here is that you can direct the Master of the Dungeon just like a robot from earlier in the game, with TELL MASTER ‘DO ACTION’ as the syntax. This is one of those odd cases where pre-Infocom syntax was my nemesis; I admit it never occurred to me (even though the Master says he is yours to command) that I could even give him directions. This seemed to be because the syntax felt like a special-case thing for earlier in the game and it wasn’t incorporated as part of my puzzle-solving reflexes.

The ending scene. After puzzling out the business with the dial comes the end:

> go out
Treasury of Zork
This is a room of large size, richly appointed and decorated in a style that bespeaks exquisite taste. To judge from its contents, it is the ultimate storehouse of the treasures of Zork.

The treasures are described in intricate detail (I’ll post all of it in the comments), and this could’ve been the end of it, akin to being carried off by cheering elves in Adventure. However, there’s one final paragraph:

As you gleefully examine your new-found riches, the Dungeon Master himself materializes beside you, and says, “Now that you have solved all the mysteries of the Dungeon, it is time for you to assume your rightly-earned place in the scheme of things. Long have I waited for one capable of releasing me from my burden!” He taps you lightly on the head with his staff, mumbling a few well-chosen spells, and you feel yourself changing, growing older and more stooped. For a moment there are two identical mages staring at each other among the treasure, then you watch as your counterpart dissolves into a mist and disappears, a sardonic grin on his face.

The last sentence is remarkable. That was the ending?

I was stuck by it as a lens of sorts: here is a new art form, one raw and unrefined, with the potential to be serious and profound.

For me it was the most gratifying moment of playing Zork.

I’m not entirely done with Zork. I’m planning a “backtracking post” at some point to discuss Hunt the Wumpus and related games. Zork has two parts that definitely show Wumpus influence and I’ll discuss them with the same post.

In the meantime I’m moving on to 1978 and Bill Wolpert’s Mystery Mansion, a game with almost ridiculous ambition for its time.

Posted April 29, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

Tagged with

31 responses to “Zork: Endgame

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. HELLO SAILOR is useful nowhere at all, the quiz answer is “NONE”.

    Also, here’s the complete ending text.

    > go out
    Treasury of Zork
    This is a room of large size, richly appointed and decorated in a style that bespeaks exquisite taste. To judge from its contents, it is the ultimate storehouse of the treasures of Zork.
    There are chests here containing precious jewels, mountains of zorkmids, rare paintings, ancient statuary, and beguiling curios.
    In one corner of the room is a bookcase boasting such volumes as ‘The History of the Great Underground Empire,’ ‘The Lives of the Twelve Flatheads,’ ‘The Wisdom of the Implementors,’ and other informative and inspiring works.
    On one wall is a completely annotated map of the Great Underground Empire, showing points of interest, various troves of treasure, and indicating the locations of several superior scenic views.
    On a desk at the far end of the room may be found stock certificates representing a controlling interest in FrobozzCo International, the multinational conglomerate and parent company of the Frobozz Magic Boat Co., etc.
    As you gleefully examine your new-found riches, the Dungeon Master himself materializes beside you, and says, “Now that you have solved all the mysteries of the Dungeon, it is time for you to assume your rightly-earned place in the scheme of things. Long have I waited for one capable of releasing me from my burden!” He taps you lightly on the head with his staff, mumbling a few well-chosen spells, and you feel yourself changing, growing older and more stooped. For a moment there are two identical mages staring at each other among the treasure, then you watch as your counterpart dissolves into a mist and disappears, a sardonic grin on his face.

  2. I’m pleased to see that Confusion on Windows worked well enough to get to the end!

    • Thanks for helping on that. There’s so many ports to choose from it’s easy to forget each one represents a lot of work.

      The one part I nearly got foiled was at the balloon. After tying the wire to the hook I could not get it untied with a crash.

      Fortunately when redoing the section from the start the problem didn’t crop up.

      I still have the save game from there if you (or Matthew) wants to see it. I think it might be an “authentic” bug though.

      What might be a not-so-authentic bug is how restoring doesn’t reset the state of burned objects (I mentioned the burned out torch thing in an earlier post).

      • The balloon bug sounds like it’s likely to be beyond me: possibly Matthew would get further, but getting in contact with him is not easy. I will make a note to look into the start of burned objects issue.

  3. “the mirror is a vehicle you have to control”

    I reread the description at least twice looking for the mirror before I noticed the name of the room. This is not really the description’s fault (I was up late making up an exam).

    • I was also confused here. Before getting to that room the mirror ‘swings open’ revealing a panel, and the only syntax that works (at least on the MDL version) is GO IN, and I didn’t realize beforehand there was anything to go in.

      I’m still not sure how to visualize the whole setup.

      • The Zork III map/Invisiclues had a diagram, which helped somewhat. (Do a Google Images search for “zork mirror box”.) The mirrors are of course on the exterior surfaces of the box.

        I wonder, though, doesn’t this all make it somewhat ambiguous what mirror the DM is referring to when he asks “What can be done to the mirror that is useful”? I know he’s referring to the teleporting mirrors, but it seems to me that “opening” this mirror (i.e. the side of the mirror box) is also useful!

  4. My inner 16 year old is quite pleased.

  5. HELLO SAILOR is actually useful. If you use it in Zork 3 when the ship is visibile in the Flathead Ocean, you’ll get a vial. You can then drink the contents of the vial to turn invisible for a few moves. It’s an alternate solution to get past the Guardians of Zork right before you go to the final dungeon.

    • Huh, that’s interesting. The portion you refer to doesn’t occur at all in mainframe Zork, but I hadn’t hit upon that solution back when I played Zork III.

      • Way late here, but I happened to come across this. The original MDL source prints “Nothing happens here.” when you say “Hello sailor’, except that every tenth time it says “I think that phrase is getting a bit worn out.”, and every 20th time it says “You seem to be repeating yourself.” That’s the only code that has anything to do with the phrase. A brutal red herring, especially because the book in the temple strongly implies that “Hello sailor” has a use somewhere. It’s also impressive, imho, that in Zork III they actually did reward the diehards for using it. :-)

  6. Pingback: Blogging Infocom: Zork I | 6502 Lane

  7. Pingback: » Zork III, Part 2 The Digital Antiquarian

  8. Awfully late to be commenting on this, I know, but I just came across this site. I got a real kick out of reading this, having played mainframe Zork in whatever incarnation it would have been in at MIT in the early ’80s. I do recall getting up one night at 3 am having just figured out a puzzle and shlepping over to the computer lab to login (uphill both way, you ungrateful youngsters!).

    Having been caught by the red herring that is Hello Sailor (until I finally asked one wiser than I where it was useful), I was delighted to see that you could use it in Zork 3. It’s not necessary to solving the game — you get an invisibility potion, but there’s an alternative solution to whatever puzzle it solves (sorry to be so vague, but it’s been a very long time).

    It’s so cool that these games are still of interest (if only to dedicated researchers), and to see how lively the IF community is now!

    • Wow, that’s neat! I’ll need to try that out.

      I’m pretty sure normal people still play Zork. I get at least 5 people a day who need to know the answer to the well riddle.

  9. Has anybody here played zdungeon.z5, the FROTZable 646-point version of this game? It’s great to be able to save the game in multiple stages, and undo as many as 10 moves if I die or walk into a wall, but I can’t get into the mirror box in the end game even after I break the light beam and push the button! If I try to “go in”, the parser asks: What do you want to go in? Then I type “mirror” and the response is: “That’s not something you can enter.” And, unlike the similar end of Zork III, the “n” command earns me “There is a large mirror blocking your way.” What the bleep is going on here? Is the hallway including and beyond the mirror disabled in this version?

    Stephen Barry Einbinder
    • Hi Stephen – If you get the chance and read this I am at a stuck point and you seem to be the only one that has played a 646 point version. I am up to 628 points, from everything I have read I have all the treasures, and have wandered and waited an inordinate amount of turns. I am playing on the iphone/ipod Frotz app “release 13 Inform v6.14”. Thanks for any help or clues.

      • Here’s the points spoiler:
        ZORK (DUNGEON) TREASURES (and points; 1st number is for pick-up, 2nd for putting in case, 3rd is total):

        coins (10,5) 15
        torch (14,6) 20
        emerald (5,10) 15
        bracelet (5,3) 8
        necklace (9,5) 14
        figurine (5,5) 10
        grail (2,5) 7
        picture (4,7) 11
        portrait (10,5) 15
        stack of bills (10,15) 25
        trunk (15,8) 23
        trident (4,11) 15
        bar (12,10) 22
        coffin (3,7) 10
        chalice (10,10) 20
        card (10,15) 25
        egg (5,5) 10
        diamond (10,6) 16
        ruby (15,8) 23
        zorkmid (10,12) 22
        stamp (4,10) 14
        small statue (10,13) 23
        crystal sphere (6,6) 12
        blue sphere (10,5) 15
        red sphere (10,5) 15
        tin of spices (5,5) 10
        violin (10,10) 20
        Dimwit’s crown (15,10) 25
        pot of gold (10,10) 20
        brass bauble (1,1) 2
        canary (6,2) 8
        Don Woods stamp ( 1) 1


        getting in kitchen: 10
        getting in cellar: 25
        getting in E/W passage: 5
        getting in strange passage: 5
        getting in thief hideout: 25
        getting in lower shaft: 10
        getting in sooty room: 35
        rising in well: 10
        getting in Land of the Dead: 30

        Stephen Barry Einbinder
  10. Never mind. Workaround found. All I need is to type “enter”. Not “enter mirror”, just “enter”. Game finished and case closed.

    Stephen Barry Einbinder
  11. I am stymied. The total points in the list adds to 464, but when one subtracts the 30 points for entering the Land of the Dead it comes out to 616. I am up to 628 and not in the LotD yet. Might be a different scoring system. I have everything in the trophy case and have wandered around a lot, but still no clear path to the LotD. Thanks

  12. OK. This is the SPOILER! To get to the LotD:
    Go to the Temple. Pick up the bell. Then go to the Altar. Pick up the candles and the book. Then go to Entrance to Hades. Drop the candles. Ring the bell. Pick up the candles. Read the book. You can now enter LotD.
    As for the scoring, there’s one other possibility. Are you playing release 12 or release 13? If you’re playing release 12, then if the thief picks your pocket at the moment you try to pick up a treasure, the pickup points are gone forever, even when you kill the thief and retrieve the treasures he stole from you. So if you’re playing release 12, google release 13, then try it.

    Stephen Barry Einbinder
    • Thanks. The spoiler you gave gets me into Hades, not the LotD I think. I am trying to get through the door into the crypt. I guess I confused LotD and the crypt. I have wandered for “days” and no one shows up to offer me passage into the crypt. Playing release 13 on the iPod Frotz app.

  13. How many points do you have now that you got to the Land of the Dead? 628? Did you take the canary out of the egg (after the thief opened it) and put it in the case separately?
    If all is lost, maybe I can send you a script off this list. But I’m playing using Frotz on my old PC. It might have different nuances from your iPod.

    Stephen Barry Einbinder
  14. Also, remember, if you get killed (and come back to life), there’s a 10-point penalty. Those points are gone forever.

    Stephen Barry Einbinder
  15. Endgame reached!! I got all 646 points in the main game. So, off we go.

    I did have to use the candles; the lamp went out on the way back from the volcano. It’s probably possible to have the lamp last to the end, but I’m not going to try again.

    On we go to the end.

  16. Ta dah! I won!!

    On to Mystery Mansion, a game I’ve NEVER played before and didn’t even hear of until reading this blog. Let’s see how it goes.

  17. Having played the commercially released games many times over the years, I just played through the PDP version last week.

    Your comment about it seeming like a remixed version of the Infocom releases really resonated with me. The beginning of the game was like: Yep, the overground is as remembered. Yep, the underground is as remembered. Yep, the– WHAT IS THE ROYAL BANK DOING HERE?!? X-D

    Overall, the experience was fascinating, frustrating, and A FRIGGIN BEAST TO GET THROUGH! One of the biggest problems is that there is VERY little help one can find online for the mainframe version – as opposed to the commercially released trilogy. And of course even less information about what is different / missing / added for the differing PDP versions! (I played the 646 point one.)

    Spoilers abound:

    After a lot of mapping, solving puzzles, and planning out a hyperefficient route to preserve my lamp… I found I wasn’t able to progress to the endgame, as I only had 643 points out of 646. Googling found a couple of other people who had the same problem, but seemingly never found what they were missing. Eventually, I discovered I was missing 3 points from picking up the gold coffin – despite having stored it in the trophy case!

    Replaying again, I realized the problem. One tip I had found online indicated that the way to get the gold coffin – since it’s too big & unwieldy to get out via several of the surrounding exits – was to visit it once so that the thief could pick it up, and then later on kill the thief in his lair and take all the treasures he may have nabbed (including the coffin). When I re-attempted this, however, I verified that picking up the purloined coffin from the thief’s corpse does NOT get you the 3 points you would normally get from taking it!

    I don’t recall if you get *permanent* points from just picking a treasure, or if you lose them again when you put them down (as opposed to in the trophy case). However, a different PDP walkthrough I found – even though it was for the 616 version – showed me that there is in fact a *legitimate* way to get the coffin out of its starting area: You simply have to drain the reservoir first, then you can take it across and down the slide to the cellar.

    After that, the biggest problem I had to contend with was that of the dying lantern. I’m actually a bit flummoxed by this, as I experimented a bit with doing the early game entirely with the lamp, and it didn’t seem to start dying until quite later than I expected! However, if I made my first course of action (after defeating the troll) to be getting the torch and turning the lamp off, and then didn’t use the lamp except for the gas rooms in the mine, it would STILL start dying as soon as I lost the torch’s use after throwing it at the glacier. At this point I don’t know if the lamp really does have just a set period of use (I didn’t specifically time how many moves it takes to die out)… or, cruelly, if the lamp timer jumps ahead to “Danger Times” as soon as the torch burns out.

    One misconception I had that ended up wasting my lamp light on previous attempts: I had thought the entire Coal Mine maze was made up of flammable rooms. That is NOT the case, I later realized, so that I didn’t need to waste my lamp light during the (still brief) section where you have to go into the maze, grab the pile of coal, then bring it back to the basket.

    I also realized other ways I could save my lamp. When you put the guidebook in the balloon’s receptacle and light it, you can (and should) immediately turn off your lamp. The burning guidebook not only acts as fuel for the balloon, but also a light source! Similarly, the two “ledge rooms” you have to visit only require a couple of actions inside, so you can enter those rooms, then just light a match – which is, efficiently, necessary for lighting the brick. When you’re done with both of those rooms, you can get back in the balloon and close the receptacle to get back down to the bottom. You’ll be in Darkness as the balloon descends, but since you’re not actually exiting a room during that downward journey, there’s no danger! You just have to light the lamp again before resuming your journey. (The game won’t even let you exit the basket if you’re in darkness.)

    Even with all of that, the lamp STILL wasn’t enough to get me back to the trophy case, put in my last treasures, and then get back to the Land of the Dead. For those final steps, I had to use the candles. And even then, I think I barely made it in time!

    One final note about the candles by the way: There’s an extra (extremely cruel) step that I *think* was taken out of the commercial release of Zork I. On one of my previous playthroughs, I had passed through the temple area, but didn’t have enough space to pick up all the items inside. When I came back later, I grabbed the bell, book and candles then made my way to Hades. At which point I discovered that I could not light the candles… because in this version, the candles are *already lit when you find them*!! Meaning that if you don’t EXTINGUISH the candles as soon as you find them, they’ll keep burning on their own, and then be completely melted by the time you need them. UGHGHG…!!

    Anyway, given the utter dearth of info online about mainframe Zork, I figured this might be one of the best places to record my own findings, and perhaps help anyone else attempting this in the future. :)

    • That’s the first I have heard of that coffin issue, wow.

      I do plan to return to Zork mainframe one day because the earlier versions got discovered and released (so I can play the actual playable one from 77).


      • Oh, that’s awesome to hear!

        Yeah, I don’t know if the “take treasure” points being lost by the thief nabbing an item first is by (intentionally cruel) design, or a bug. I played the Z-machine port, so either could be true.

        Honestly, that’s one more example of why I wish there was a resource somewhere detailing what elements were put in / taken out / changed from the differing versions of “ZDungeon”. (The original Adventure, with its various releases, is a similar case.) For instance, in this final post of yours you said you weren’t able to get the full 616 points in your playthrough… but apparently that didn’t stop you from being able to progress to the endgame? Well, that’s definitely not the case in the 646 version I played! In that one, if you don’t have the full 616 points, then YOU SIMPLY CANNOT PROCEED. :O

      • I switched to Confusion (to play based off the MDL source directly) simply because the Thief behavior was clearly so different. I didn’t document any changes otherwise.

        Confusion now works on a fair number of the other released versions, like the one at the end of 1977. There’s one June 1977 that’s the earliest known that I don’t think quite runs yet, but the page I linked ported it to ZIL (so it’s Zcode, just like ZDungeon)

Leave a Reply to Stephen Barry Einbinder Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: