Grue (monster)

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Artist's conception of a grue

Template:Zork universe A grue is a fictional predator from Jack Vance's Dying Earth universe. Vance probably took the name from an archaic/dialectal English verb meaning shudder, now most commonly encountered in the word "gruesome".

Grues have become a staple of the hacker mythos and computer games. They were incorporated into the Zork series of interactive fiction games by Infocom, and into several of the roguelike games, including Ancient Domains of Mystery (ADOM).

The first mention of grues in the Zork games is the following ominous sentence:

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

Further investigation (by asking the game) will reveal more about their nature:

> what is a grue
The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its favorite diet is adventurers, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its fear of light. No grue has ever been seen by the light of day, and few have survived its fearsome jaws to tell the tale.

This warning is not to be taken lightly. If the player fails to get back into the light, or activate a light source, death at the fangs of a grue follows promptly.

Grues were invented to limit players' options when faced with unlit areas. Without them, a player might attempt to blunder about in the darkness, perhaps (for example) to reach a lighted area beyond a dark passage. The presence of grues ensures that such tactics will fail, and forces players to solve any light-related puzzles first. For comparison, Zork's predecessor, Adventure, used pits to achieve the same result. An adventurer who attempted to move about in darkness in that game invariably fell down a pit and died. Strangely, these pits could never be located once a light source had been acquired. Grues, on the other hand, create no such discontinuity by their absence.

Grues feature in each of the Zork games. They are never seen in any games of the main Zork series, as they are only able to be found in the dark. However in the game Sorcerer, part of the Zork-linked Enchanter series, it is possible to get a brief description in the following scene:

There's a flash of light nearby, and you glimpse a horrible, multi-fanged creature, a look of sheer terror on its face. It charges away, gurgling in agony, tearing at its glowing fur.

Also, in Zork: The Undiscovered Underground (a text game released in 1998), the player was able to see a grue and its appearance was described in detail.

Grues are also present in the Kingdom of Loathing browser-based RPG, as a nocturnal fighting familiar.

Zork Nemesis features a book titled "Interview with a Grue". Inside, there is a page with a photo, entirely black, with the caption, "A picture of a Grue in its natural habitat."

Grue is also the name of a municipality in Norway.

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