Video Game: Zork: Grand Inquisitor

"I'm Dalboz. Dalboz of Girth. They used to call me the Dungeon Master... at least until I got stuck in this lamp."

Obey! Conform! Abstain! Ignore! Deny! Refrain! Cease! Appease! Shun! Avoid new sensations. Avoid all sensations! Avoid any sensation! Avoid unnecessary pleasantries! Avoid necessary pleasantries! Avoid libation! Avoid fermentation! Avoid all these in combinations. Save often! Floss regularly! Floss meaningfully! Floss athletically! And above all, never forget who is the boss of you. ME! I am the boss of you! I am the boss of you! I am the boss of you!
Mir Yannick, Grand Inquisitor

Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a humorous 3D Point-and-Click Adventure Game, part of the Zork series, combining high quality (for 1997) 3D pictures, slightly lower quality animations, and text to describe the ending and the death scenes.

(Full back-story can be found here, though parts of it conflict with the story in the game.)

About a hundred years before the start of the game, two fellow wizards-in-training, Mir Yannick and Dalboz of Girth became friends. However, while Dalboz was the most powerful and promising wizard in training, Mir was found to suffer from M.D.D. (Magic Deficit Disorder), and flunked out of the school. The two friends had a falling out, as well as Dalboz accidentally casting an immortality spell on them, and they went their separate ways. Dalboz retired to a cottage underground and became extremely bored (yet unable to kill himself), while Mir joined the Zorkastrian Seminary and advanced its ranks. During this time, magic began to decline, aided by Mir's use of the Totemizer, an ancient invention he refurbished, which rather than killing a magical creature or user (and thus allowing their magic to escape back into the environment), it would pulverize them and squish them, sealing them in a tiny token, forever unable to escape without the use of magic.

Dalboz came out of retirement to confront Yannick, but in the ensuing struggle Dalboz was nearly killed, but was transformed into a lantern (which Mir didn't see), and forgotten about.

With magic on the decline and the world in his hands, Mir Yannick ruled the land with an iron fist, using Totemization for the smallest crimes, and banned all magic use, instead forcing everyone to rely completely on technology, which had previously just been a supplement to magic (Zork has a technology level somewhere around World War II. They can harness the power of electricity, and have radio, television, and movies, but don't have the technology for cars, planes, or firearms).

Enter the player, a vacuum salesman from Parts Unknown, who enters Port Foozle moments before curfew, and must find someplace to stay before he's found by Inquisition guards.

This game provides examples of:

  • Aliens in Cardiff: One possible death sequence involves being totemized, tossed through a wormhole, and ending up spending eternity as a piece of litter lying on the side of the Jersey Turnpike.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Stand around after curfew, and you'll be Totemized. Use magic, and you'll be Totemized. Climb into the Totemizer machine and you'll be Totemized. (Also, the penalty for solving a puzzle incorrectly is almost always a gleefully narrated death.)
  • Always Close:
    • Averted when you pour Cola onto Zork Rocks, making them go critical. It takes about a minute to explode, but only four seconds to get rid of them.
    • Played straight with the Flood Control Dam puzzle, as it will always be solved just as Antharia Jack is about to step into the Totemizer.
  • And I Must Scream: The process of totemization traps a creature's soul within a small totem, leaving them fully conscious but unable to move. And yes, it can happen to the player (although the game mercifully spares you the details of the long-term effects except in text form).
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Dalboz in the ending. You end up taking over his role as Dungeon Master.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Great Underground Empire.
  • Big "NO!": Over an uncooperative vending machine.
  • Bottomless Pits: You don't die at first, and raise a family with someone else who fell down the bottomless pit. (But it's still a Nonstandard Game Over.)
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: If you enter the well as soon as you get the rope when you start the game but not the lantern and wait. You hear loud snarling, chomping and then a belch. The game-over text says "You were eaten by a Grue, what was going through your head? A pitch black cave in a Zork game, what did you think was going to happen?"
  • Calvinball: The player can find a rulebook for Double Fanucci in a locker that describes an assortment of bizarre cheating methods. When simplified by Kendall, it simply reads "the only way to win is not to play."
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: You encounter this a few times through the game. Drowning out noise with a loudspeaker in Port Foozle is part of the solution to a puzzle.
  • Continuity Nod: One of the Cosmic Keystones is kept inside the white house. The one with the mailbox. The Coconut of Quendor was also featured in Beyond Zork, as the perfect container for the knowledge of magic during magic's destruction.
    • The Cube of Foundation was the main plot device in the last game in the Enchanter trilogy, Spellbreaker. And many of the spells in the game first appeared in the Enchanter trilogy.
    • Flood Control Dam #3 features in several earlier Zork games.
    • When the player gets the door to Dalboz's house drunk, he says "Want some rye? Course ya do!" This is an oft-repeated line from Return to Zork.
      • The bartender at Port Foozle (in the past) thinks this when Lucy reads his mind.
      • Boos's Mill (where the line originated) is shown as a painting in Dalboz's bedroom.
    • Scenes from Zork: Nemesis appear as images on the pillars puzzle at G.U.E. Tech, and there's a reference to Thaddium on the soda machine (appropriately enough, the time-delayed explosive item shares some similarity with the Irondune breakout puzzle in Nemesis).
    • The flickering and bickering torches at the white house were first seen in Zork Zero.
    • At the end of the game You take over the title of Dungeon Master, which also happened to the protagonist at the end of Zork 3
    • If you climb inside the Totemizer with it set on "Inquisition Hall" the game states that you lay there in complete boredom for hundreds of years and eventually become Ms. Peeper's Paperweight.
    • Indeed, the game can be seen as one big Continuity Nod to the earlier Zork games.
  • Control Room Puzzle: Two of them, one at the dam and the other in a prison.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Totemizer.
  • Cosmic Keystone: A Cube of Foundation, the Skull of Yoruk, and the Coconut of Quendor.
  • Cutting the Knot: That cage surrounded by chessboards? All you have to do is smash it with a wooden plank.
    • Also, the easy solution to the Hades Shuttle Courtesy Phone is to cast Kendall, the "Simplify Instructions" spell.
    • When you face a six-armed invisible guard blocking your way on a rope bridge, you cut away the bridge, letting him fall to his death. You then build a new bridge using magic.
  • Discard and Draw: Near the end of the game, the Inquisitor confiscates your spellbook and throws you in jail. Y'Gael gives you a scroll shortly after you escape, reversing the effects of everything in the book.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The two-headed beast's opening monologue.
    Let's cut the crap, okay? You got this far, you know the drill: you're the adventurer, I'm we're your basic two-headed guardian-of-Hades-type creature. You're looking for treasure, mana, crystals, red pages, blue pages, whatever. It's all the same, really. The point is: you wanna get by. They always do. And we gotta kill ya. We always do. There's a little banter, a little slaying, chop-chop-chop yada-yada-yada, and then I gotta string your entrails all over the place and make a big mess. [...] Yeah, that's right, pull out the old inventory! Something's gotta work!
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Flickering Torch's flicker and psychological ailment.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Charon, the ferryman to hell, is depicted as a cab driver, wearing a cabbie's hat as jazz music plays on his boat.
  • Expy: Antharia Jack plays an Indiana Jones style character on television, but is quite cowardly in person.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: Curfew starts seconds after the game begins.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Former Trope Namer: it was once called AFGNCAAP.
  • F Minus Minus: Apparently, Mir Yannick's overall grade at G.U.E. Tech was a Z minus. That's a record, even for this trope.
  • Forgotten Superweapon: Lampshaded, as Dalboz points out a certain spell you've had since the beginning that would be really useful for finishing the game.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Part of a puzzle to summon Charon and cross into Hades.
  • Fourth Wall Observer: Dalboz is quite familiar with the mechanics of the game, especially saving and clicking.
    Dalboz: A token, a slot. But how to put it all together without my "insert-token-into-slot" spell?
  • Global Currency: Zorkmids can be used anywhere in the Underground, provided you can find change from a bill first.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Antharia Jack strips himself down to his heart-print boxers in a game of Strip Grue Fire Water.
  • Hammerspace: The players inventory can hold pretty much anything. Lampshaded by Dalboz when the player puts a large vacuum on a vending machine.
    Dalboz: Just where were you keeping that?
  • Have a Nice Death: Dying, being totemized or otherwise permanently messing up your quest results in a text scroll describing the aftermath of your last action. Falling down a bottomless pit, for example, leads to the computer describing how you fell for so long you died of old age.
  • Hypocrite: After running his entire regime persecuting and stamping down magic in favor of technology, the Grand Inquisitor succumbs to the temptation of the Coconut of Quendor's magic. This gets him killed.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero
    Lucy Flathead: Ahh, the Adventurer's Creed. Steal anything that isn't nailed down, even if it's a federal offence.
  • La Résistance
  • Large Ham: Y'gael the Enchantress. She tries as hard as she possibly can to sound ridiculously whimsical.
    • Y'gael is badly out-hammed by the Inquisitor himself, complete with [1] cheese. Also scenery chewing in later cutscenes.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the previous game in the series, the much Darker and Edgier Zork Nemesis.note 
  • Lottery of Doom: In the form of a multiple-choice scratcher ticket that immediately transports your soul to Hell if you choose incorrectly.
  • Mythology Gag (dozens of them, all from the Zork and Enchanter games)
  • Ninja Butterfly: Since the protagonist is a Heroic Mime, Dalboz provides commentary on everything found in the Underground and gives less-than-subtle hints if the player keeps trying something that will not work.
  • Painting the Medium: When playing other characters or impersonating other creatures with magic, your view changes according to how they would see
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Each time tunnel contains a fragment of Zork's past that only one of the totemized characters can explore. Griff can fly, Brog is strong, and Lucy can read minds.
  • Psychic Powers: Lucy Flathead's telepathy.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Early on in the game, there is a glass case with a sword, a map and a hammer that reads 'In Case of Adventure, Break Glass.' You can open the case to take out the hammer, but you cannot remove the sword or the map until you close the case and smash the glass cover with the hammer.
  • Reading Your Rights
    Wartle: Go ahead and read him his rights.
    Inquisition Guard: (opens tiny book and reads) You have no rights.
  • Retraux: Game Overs are described through classic Zork-style text prompts.
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors: "Grue Fire Water."
  • Schizo Tech
  • Schmuck Bait: A sign near the entrance to GUE Tech warns the player not to Throck the grass. Doing it anyway causes it to eat you.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Odibil, the spell for making yourself extremely attractive to other creatures.
  • Sharing a Body: The Hades beast, with two heads on one body.
    • After sending the Griff through a Time Tunnel, he'll start to complain about what you're making him do (stealing mail, touching a dragon's tooth, etc.). Is the AFGNCAAP sharing his body, or is it just a case of Breaking the Fourth Wall?.
  • Shout-Out: The Coconut of Quendor is an apparent parody of the Amulet of Yendor, the MacGuffin from Rogue (and subsequently NetHack).
    • Two types of things the Hades beast assumes you're looking for are red pages and blue pages.
    • If you try to gain entrance to the tavern whilst playing as Griff, you'll occasionally get;
    Floyd: We don't serve your kind here
    Griff: Okay then. I'll just wait out here with the droids.
    • Near the start of the game, there's a computer in Antharia Jack's store showing a screen from the text adventure game Planetfall.
    • In the endgame, an off-screen guard says "Oh my god, they killed Kenny!"
  • Spider-Sense: Dalboz and your glowing sword.
  • Spinning Papers: Shown in the intro.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: "The fastest way to get around in the underground".
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The previous Inquisitor "Tripped on the rug and accidentally strangled himself".
  • The Many Deaths of You: Lingering in the darkness, poking things armed with swords or Throcking the grass are just a few of the ways to die.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: At one point near the end of the game, Lucy Flathead time travels back to Port Foozle before the Inquisition took over, and ends up playing a game of Strip Grue Fire Water with Antharia Jack. If you lose, Lucy would run out of Jack's house in a panic and hide in a nearby building, where she eventually becomes the unseen fish merchant that you had to take a can of Mead Lite from at the beginning of the game.
  • To Hell and Back: The Underground's Underground stops off in Hades. Since it contains a party member, a scroll and a time tunnel, a lot of return trips are required.
  • Too Dumb to Live: You can climb out of the well at any time, despite Dalboz warning you not to. Doing so gets you arrested, Dalboz confiscated, and you totemized.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: "Sweet Yoruk!" and "Holy Hungus!"
  • Unwinnable by Design: At one point in the game, the Griff gets the Coconut of Quendor from within the mouth of a dragon, but then someone in the dragon's stomach says that he needs a coconut to make a piina colada and tosses you rope for you to tie to a tooth. If you decide to drop the Coconut of Quendor down the dragon's throat instead to appease the guy, the Griff will comment, "Somehow I don't think that was its intended usage."
  • Violation of Common Sense: There's a door in the Cathedral that's barred from the other side and cannot be unlocked with Rezrov. The only way through is to hurl yourself into the totemizer and let it transport you to a storage bin on the other side.
  • The Voice: We never actually see what Dalboz's human form looks like. It's even lampshaded in-game; when you find his student I.D he explains that he conveniently cast an "Turn embarrassing photo invisible" spell before you came along..
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Dalboz tries to kill himself in many ways, but cannot because of his immortality spell.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Upon defeating the Six-Armed Invisible Guard, Dalboz will inform you that "You gain 86 experience points and found a healing potion," before realising that he's being the wrong kind of Dungeon Master.

Alternative Title(s):

Zork Grand Inquisitor