The trilogy consists of:
- Enchanter (1983) by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling — The protagonist, a novice enchanter, is sent on a quest to defeat the evil warlock Krill, in the hope that he will be able to pass under the radar where a more powerful enchanter would be detected and defeated.
- Sorcerer (1984) by Steve Meretzky — The protagonist, now a full member of the Circle of Enchanters, investigates when his mentor acts strangely and then goes missing.
- Spellbreaker (1985) by Dave Lebling — The protagonist, now head of the Circle of Enchanters, investigates when the foundations of magic itself become unreliable.
The main magical mechanic involves learning magic words, such as BLORB, FROTZ and NITFOL, each of which has a particular effect.
The tone of the series gets darker as it progresses, and the puzzles more difficult.
For the arcade pinball game called Sorcerer, click here.
This series provides examples of:
- 1-Up: In Sorcerer, the GASPAR spell effectively lets you set a free respawn point anywhere on the map. Quite a lifesaver in dangerous places, like the infamous Glass Maze.
- Absurdly Long Stairway: The Endless Stairs. The endlessness is actually an illusion which can be broken with the right spell.
- All Just a Dream: At the very beginning of Sorcerer, you find yourself in an unfamiliar, nightmarish realm with Everything Trying to Kill You. You have no choice but to let something kill you. Thankfully you wake up in the Guild Hall lodgings, realizing that it's all just a dream. However, when you find the AIMFIZ spell and use it to locate Belboz, you get warped into the same forest path, turning this into "Or Was It a Dream?"
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In Sorcerer, if you wake up on time instead of oversleeping, you leave the guild hall to get on with your day (instead of your companion leaving without you). You return to find the entire Guild Hall sacked and destroyed by the forces of Jeearr.
- And I Must Scream: In Enchanter, if you wait too long in the endless fall, you'll eventually die from falling forever. Same goes for when Krill casts you into the void near the end of the game.
- Animorphism: In Enchanter, the CLEESH spell turns someone into a newt. In Sorcerer the FWEEP spell turns the caster into a bat, and in Spellbreaker the SNAVIG spell turns them into any kind of animal they wish to be.
- Apocalypse How: In Enchanter the days grow darker and darker as Krills evil spell takes effect:Everything you see is grey and lifeless, as though covered with a veil of ash. Sound is muted and there is a faint acrid odor.
- Auto-Revive: In Enchanter, there is the black OZMOO spell scroll that can help you "survive unnatural death". If you memorize and cast it at just the right time, you'll survive the Human Sacrifice ritual in the temple.
- Bag of Spilling: The only three spells to make it through all three games in the series are GNUSTO, FROTZ, and REZROV. IZYUK is the only other spell from Enchanter to make it to Sorcerer, while YOMIN and MALYON are the only two spells from Sorcerer to make it to Spellbreaker. Justified in both cases. You lose your spellbook and most of your heavier possessions near the end of Enchanter, thus explaining why you don't have most of those spells in Sorcerer. Likewise, you ruin your spellbook at the end of Sorcerer by diving underwater. Additionally, in Spellbreaker, magic is falling apart at the seams and much of your spellbook has been rendered useless.
- Baleful Polymorph / Bewitched Amphibians: The CLEESH spell turns a person into a frog or a newt.
- Bittersweet Ending: Spellbreaker for the entire trilogy; to not only foil the Shadow but also prevent another one from someday arising from within another powerful sorcerer who may succeed where yours failed, you are forced to recreate the entire universe without magic.
- Black Cloak: As part of Evil Wears Black: The large, black-robed figure in the Temple, which is later revealed to be the Big Bad Krill himself.
- Black Comedy: There is some throughout the entire series, but the funniest part has to go to Sorcerer:>e
Entering the ocean is certain death.
- Bottomless Pits: There is one that is a result of the KULCAD spell on the Endless Stairs in Enchanter, and since it's literally bottomless, you'll eventually die from falling forever.
- Burma-Shave: In Enchanter, if you keep going west from where you started at the Eastern Fork, you can read the signs that go like this:Why
- Chekhov's Boomerang: The GIRGOL spell in Spellbreaker. And it has to be used at the last second the first time around. It will soon come back to save you once again toward the end of the game.
- Controllable Helplessness:
- In Sorcerer it is possible for the protagonist to end up in the Chamber of Living Death. There, the protagonist 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.'
- Also, in Spellbreaker, the Big Bad freezes you in the final confrontation, leaving you unable to do anything but watch him carry out his evil scheme.
- Copy Protection: Only two games in the series each have one.
- In Sorcerer, you need to unlock the trunk containing the AIMFIZ spell in the cellar of the Guild Hall by looking up the creature name in Belboz's journal and referring to the Infotater (packaged within the game) to search for the combination color code for one of the twelve creatures in said Infotater.
- In Spellbreaker, when Belboz asks you a test question in the String Room, you'll need to look up the six Enchanter Cards (also packaged) to find the correct answer in one of them. Whether you get it right or not, Belboz will give you a key. If you gave the wrong answer, it's booby-trapped.
- Cutting the Knot:
- In Enchanter, there is a jeweled egg with all the Gordian handles and buttons needed to open it. There are a few ways to open it, and besides the time-consuming way, you either break the egg to get a shredded scroll, or you can use the REZROV spell on the egg... only for the egg to open and reveal a shredded scroll anyway. The puzzle isn't opening the egg, it's fixing the scroll.
- Later on, you come across a jeweled box with the MELBOR protection spell, bound shut by magical coils of thin Gordian rope that prevent the box from opening (and not even REZROV can open it). You only need a knife to cut the rope, and the only way to obtain the knife is by Human Sacrifice... provided that you have the right kind of spell that can help you cheat death, of course.
- Darker and Edgier: Than Zork. You're thwarting the plans of Evil Overlords instead of just searching for treasure in a cave and getting rid of a senile wizard along the way.
- Spellbreaker is this for the trilogy itself. The ultimate source of the problems is Inherent in the System, since any sufficiently powerful sorcerer will have an evil shadow; and even if you were to win, it would only be a matter of time until one managed to destroy everything. Of course, you don't even manage to win cleanly, leading to a Bittersweet Ending.
- Death Is Cheap: Most of the games have a mechanism for bringing the protagonist back to life. Examples: In Sorcerer dying actually simplifies a certain puzzle (if you have the GASPAR spell enabled); in Spellbreaker you get brought back to life at the Boneyard (the place for the Death Cube) after you get killed. In Enchanter, with the OZMOO spell enabled, you die briefly via Human Sacrifice... only to return to life in the same place seconds later... with a sacrificial dagger in your chest and no pain in your body at all, even when you pull it out. (Toward the end of Enchanter, Krill seems surprised at your "revival", as he thought he had ritually killed you in front of his hairy ogre servants.)
- Demonic Possession: This is what's behind the mentor's strange actions in Sorcerer. Letting the demon possess you is... not a good idea.
- Downer Ending: In each game there is the possibility of screwing up so badly that you are awarded a massively negative score and the title Menace to Society:
- In Enchanter, make Big Bad Krill irrelevant by releasing the Unseen Terror.
- In Sorcerer, release Jeearr from Belboz's body without shielding your own mind, allowing it to possess your younger, stronger form.
- In Spellbreaker, allow the Shadow to complete the cubic ritual and become omnipotent. If you take the first step needed to stop the ritual but not the second, you instead destroy the world (getting the same rank).
- Dreaming of Things to Come: In Enchanter, if you sleep in bed in a tower a few times, you'll encounter dreams of wandering in a darkened place without any light or possessions while being surrounded by strange faces; or of a cartoon version of yourself wandering up the endless spiral staircase. All of these are clues that may help you press on through the game.
- The End of the World as We Know It/The Night That Never Ends/The Bad Guy Wins: In Enchanter, this is the fate of what will happen to the entire Zork universe if Krill is not stopped after over 1,400 moves. Also counts as a Non-Standard Game Over.
- Foreign Video Game Remake: In 1993, ten years after the original Enchanter, Japanese software development company SystemSoft developed and published its remake for the PC-9801 entitled Enchanter: Wakaki Madōshi no Shirén (エンチャンター ～若き魔導士の試練～; Enchanter: The Trial of the Young Sorcerer). Unlike the original, this game has some of the most common verb commands ("look", "take", etc.) that can be accessed by pressing a corresponding button (the player still has to type the name of an object, though), and enhanced graphics for the unique background pictures on which the text is super-imposed.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: The first scene of Sorcerer is absolutely brutal, and you escape from one peril to another like some kind of Death Course. It's All Just a Dream, though you end up in a less-deadly version of the same location later.
- Evil Wears Black: The large, black-robed figure in the Temple, which is later revealed to be the Big Bad Krill himself.
- From Beyond the Fourth Wall: In Enchanter, you can summon an Implementer (that is, one of the developers of the game), who will make a comment about "fixing bugs" and then disappear.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The Unseen Terror in Enchanter, a Cosmic Horror trapped under Krill's castle; you need to defeat Krill without letting it loose.
- Growling Gut: In Enchanter, this growling stomach comes up as the start of your hunger, meaning that you need something to eat. Sorcerer also has this at the beginning, but luckily, you can get a potion that will indefinitely satisfy both your hunger and thirst.
- Guide Dang It!: Spellbreaker was so hard the developers actually apologized and admitted most people would have to use a hint book to finish it. Spellbreaker is extremely linear in nature. If you're stuck on one puzzle, it's seldom possible to leave it and try another.
- Human Sacrifice: In Enchanter, hairy ogres make a sacrificial ritual in the castle's temple, and you are chosen as soon as you enter. And for good reason, too: it is necessary to get the sacrificial knife in order to cut the ropes that bind the jeweled box shut that contains the MELBOR spell... provided that you survive getting sacrificed with help from the OZMOO spell.
- I Fell for Hours: Played for drama and taken Up to Eleven: If your KULCAD spell turns the endless stairs into a Bottomless Pit, you'll fall down for hours. If you don't IZYUK yourself or if your IZYUK wears off, you'll fall forever and eventually die.
- If I Can Only Move: At the end of Spellbreaker, the Big Bad paralyzes you and then starts a Just Between You and Me speech that goes on just long enough to let you make one move at the last second to stop him. Unfortunately, by that point your options are limited. Even more awkwardly, you have to deliberately provoke him into paralysing you as soon as possible, so the paralysis wears off in time for you to act; if you try to remain under the radar he'll eventually paralyse you anyway and it won't wear off until after he's already won.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: In Spellbreaker, if you try to get the roc's feathers:You're an Enchanter, not a garbage collector.
- I'm a Humanitarian: In Enchanter, if you cast NITFOL on the guards while imprisoned, it is implied that the hunched and hairy shapes eat less fortunate people who were killed by Human Sacrifice... while being drenched in their own blood; and that you are too scrawny to be eaten while being The Chosen One.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In Enchanter, the large, black-robed figure (that is, the Big Bad Krill himself) prepares to stab you in the heart with a sacrificial dagger in a Human Sacrifice ritual. With the OZMOO spell on yourself, however, you'll Feel No Pain as the spell turns it into a Bloodless Carnage.
- Played straight, however, in the Engine Room, where if you set a Death Trap after getting the KULCAD spell, the sharp spears skewer you to death.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: In Spellbreaker, the LISKON spell is very handy in shrinking a giant snake that's blocking your path. It can also come in handy if you want to get inside an outflow pipe that contains the Change Cube.
- Invisible Monsters: The aptly named Unseen Terror from Enchanter.
- Left for Dead: It is confirmed in Enchanter that Krill has left the protagonist for dead after stabbing him in the chest with a dagger in a Human Sacrifice ritual. Thankfully, Krill's henchmen are too busy chanting to notice that the OZMOO spell the protagonist has prepared beforehand works wonders on him as an Auto-Revive spell.
- Light 'em Up: Besides lighting up objects in dark places, the FROTZ spell can be a weapon against dark enemies, such as the hunched and hairy shapes and even grues. However, there are some grues that are immune to light, and that is near the end of Sorcerer.
- Limited-Use Magical Device: In Enchanter, spells are learned from scrolls that are copied into one's Spellbook: Copying that spell causes it to vanish.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Toward the end of Enchanter, after you use GUNCHO on Krill, he recoils in horror before he utters a spell that makes the tower collapse as a final hurrah, leaving you to fall to your death before Belboz saves you at the last moment.
- Mage Tower: Krill's tower.
- Magic Carpet: There is a magical flying blue carpet with the magic cubes in Spellbreaker. And you'll want to get one from the merchant at the emporium... assuming you can make the right offer of either zorkmids or a rare opal eye.
- The Magic Goes Away: The threat of this sets off the plot of Spellbreaker. In the end, making it happen is the only way to defeat the antagonist. You get a rank of "scientist" for completing the game, since wizard is no longer a useful occupation.
- Mythology Gag: The series makes some cameos from the Zork series (namely, the Adventurer and the map, the Zorkmid, the Grue Repellent, and the temple of Human Sacrifice from the magic table in the Scenic Vista).
- Needle in a Stack of Needles: The cube in the vault puzzle from Spellbreaker, possibly the single hardest puzzle Infocom ever created. A dozen cubes, 3 uses of JINDAK, no room for error.
- Nintendo Hard: Enchanter was pretty modest by Infocom standards. Sorcerer was quite a bit harder, particularly the mind-bending coal mine puzzle. Holy Christ on a neon surfboard was Spellbreaker difficult! Considered one of the hardest games Infocom ever made, people actually criticised it for supposedly being unreasonably frustrating in an attempt to boost sales of the hint book, and it significantly negatively impacted the game's popularity.
- Non-Standard Game Over: If you mess up in the endgames, you can get a negative score and the title "Menace to Society" for unleashing a horror upon the world.
- No One Could Survive That!: Toward the end of Enchanter, when you come face to face with Krill, he seems utterly surprised to see you alive, as he thought he had killed you in a Human Sacrifice ritual in front of his hairy slaves.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Some of the spell names are a bit difficult to pronounce. Is it "MAHL-yon" or "MAYL-yon" (MALYON)? "LEH-sock" or "Leh-SOTCH" (LESOCH)?
- Some of the names would fit more into It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY", as in Sorcerer Jeearr is pronounced "JAY-ur" rather than "Jee-ARE" (which is ironic, since Jeearr's name is derived from the Hebrew word meaning "enlightenment"); and Helistar is pronounced "HEE-lie-star" rather than "HELL-lih-star".
- One-Word Title: Also Job Title, for Enchanter and Sorcerer, and possibly also Spellbreaker
- Press Start to Game Over: At the very beginning of Sorcerer, when you find yourself cornered by a Hellhound in the prologue, instead of waiting for the hellhound to kill you (and end the dream), you can wake up earlier than expected and go out shopping with Frobar... only to find the Guild Hall in ruins and everyone slaughtered.
- Religion of Evil: In Enchanter, there are hunched and hairy figures in the temple, making some bloodcurdling chant to a demon statue with dripping fangs and razor-sharp talons.
- Road Apples: In Sorcerer, you come across a hidden cave near Egreth Castle that contains a scroll with the FWEEP spell lying in a pile of bat guano near the BLORT potion. You can actually pick up both the guano and the scroll, since they both can be useful later. It is also said that Yipples have a nauseating fear of animal droppings among human waste.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: In Enchanter, your job is to defeat Krill without disturbing the Cosmic Horror that's sealed below his castle. The tie-in novel by Robin Bailey takes the tack that your character accidentally did release the thing, and now it's up to the book's protagonist to stop it.
- Self-Destructing Security: In Enchanter there's an mechanical egg with a scroll inside. No matter how you open it, the egg shreds the scroll so it's unusable. You later get a spell that allows you to reconstitute the scroll and learn the spell on it.
- Some of the spell names; for instance, NITFOL, which lets you talk to the animals, is named after Hugh Lofting, author of the Doctor Dolittle books, while YOMIN, which lets you mind-probe, is named after the late great Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Mr. Spock in the Star Trek franchise. The CLEESH spell, which turns enemies into newts, is named after John Cleese, who had a memorable line in Monty Python and the Holy Grail about being turned into a newt.
- If you REZROV the toll gate in Sorcerer:
- If you try following the rabbit in the Meadow in Spellbreaker you get this message:
- Slain in Their Sleep: Sleeping in dangerous places can be an instant game over. In Sorcerer, you might wind up having to kill you mentor Belboz with the Gem-Encrusted enchanted dagger while he sleeps.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: The NITFOL spell in Enchanter allows you to talk to animals. Also a Trope Codifier, as NITFOL is named after Hugh Lofting, author of the Doctor Dolittle series, which became the former Trope Namer for "The Doctor Dolittle".
- Stable Time Loop: One in Sorcerer and two interlinked loops in Spellbreaker.
- Stepping Stones in the Sky: Spellbreaker has this as a puzzle solution ... though it makes a little more sense jumping up rocks when you've stopped time in the middle of the rock collapse.
- A Storm Is Coming: In Enchanter, when you first meet the old crone in the hovel, she says, "They've all left! A great storm is brewing in the east, my friend, and all have fled before it!", before giving you the REZROV spell.
- Super Speed: The EXEX spell is very useful for allowing you to move faster than normal. And it just might work on a turtle if you time it right.
- Taking You with Me: Toward the end of Enchanter, after you use GUNCHO on Krill, he recoils in horror before he utters a spell that makes the tower collapse as a final hurrah, leaving you to fall to your death before Belboz saves you at the last moment.
- Time Skip: Occurs throughout the series: Enchanter takes place in 956 GUE, eight years after the events of the Zork trilogy; Sorcerer takes place one year after the events of Enchanter; and Spellbreaker takes place at the end of the First Age of Magic in 966 GUE, nine years after the events of Sorcerer.
- Time Stands Still: The recurring Girgol spell does this.
- Time Travel: The time travel spell, GOLMAC, is used for a series of puzzles in Sorcerer, and a rather more fundamental method is used in Spellbreaker.
- Trust Password: In Spellbreaker, in order to prove to Belboz that you're not your Evil Twin, you'll have to correctly answer one of the six questions Belboz gives you based on the info on one of your six Enchanter cards before he can give you the key. Fail to provide the correct answer... and he gives you the key anyway, which will later become booby-trapped near the end.
- Turtle Power: In Enchanter, a turtle is one of the friendly creatures you encounter, and a useful ally in getting one necessary item.
- Twelve Coins Puzzle: Implemented in Spellbreaker as a puzzle involving the magical power levels of a set of physically-indistinguishable white cubes.
- Unnaturally Looping Location: The Endless Stairway, which you can climb/descend forever without getting anywhere as the whole thing is a magical illusion.
- Unwinnable by Design:
- In Enchanter, the KULCAD scroll can only be used once. It cancels magic. Since every puzzle you encounter is basically a magical trap, the spell allows you to "cheat" your way past any one puzzle in the game. Doing this gives you no warning that you've done anything wrong — until you get to the endgame and lack the spell you need to win.
- If you fail the copy protection in Spellbreaker, the game lies to you and tells you that you passed it. Many hours later, at the very end of the game, Belboz will suddenly appear and imprison you below the earth, with no warning as to why, what you did wrong, or when.
- Unwitting Pawn: In Spellbreaker, the player character.
- Vancian Magic: Spells have to be memorized each time you want to cast them, although apparently you can "master" a spell to retain it in your mind permanently.
- Video-Game Lives: Sort of played straight throughout Enchanter, as when you die, Belboz resurrects you and returns you to where you started in the Eastern Fork. However, his powers are limited, so you have to be very careful. Die too many times, and it's Game Over for you. Near the end, the KULCAD spell subverts this, because if you die during the long fall or the battle with Krill, it's an immediate Game Over.
- Sorcerer gives you infinite respawns with the GASPAR spell, but if you die without casting it it's Game Over.
- Spellbreaker has the same thing as in Enchanter, but this time, a shadowy figure will give you another chance at the Boneyard if you die. But you have to be careful though: die too many times, and it's Game Over for you. If you attempt to cast magic on Belboz, he'll imprison you below the earth, resulting in an instant Game Over (no ifs, ands, or buts).
- 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.
- Wizard Needs Food Badly: Enchanter requires you to eat regularly, or else die of starvation. Players found this so annoying that very early in Sorcerer you obtain a magical potion that enables you to go without food and water almost indefinitely. Spellbreaker dispenses with starvation mechanics entirely.