Zork I

"The Great Underground Empire: A History" by Froboz Mumbar

Frobozz Magic Book Company
Copied right in the year 896. All rights reversed.

02/06/897 09/22/918
03/03/898 05/13/919
09/19/900 02/21/948
Please take care of me...
library books belong to everyone.

The Bellicose King

In 659 GUE*, the Kingdom of Quendor was relatively small, encompassing
seven-and-a-half provinces on the western shore of the Great Sea, an
agrarian land whose major products were rope and mosquito netting. It
was the thirty-first year of the reign of Zilbo III, part of a dynasty
dating back more than six centuries to Entharion the Wise, the first
King of Quendor. However, that dynasty was about to end with the
ascension of Duncanthrax to the throne of Quendor on the final day of

Little is known about what became of Zilbo after 659. Some say he was
killed during a palace revolt, or simply died from too much reveling
while celebrating the upcoming New Year. There is evidence that he was
exiled to a villa where he invented the card game Double Fanucci.

Likewise, historians disagree about Duncanthrax's life prior to 659.
A petition signed by palace guards in 657, asking for an increase in
the mosquito netting allotment, bears a signature that looks
suspiciously like "Duncanthrax." Some historians insist that
Duncanthrax was general of the Royal Militia. One legend even suggests
that Duncanthrax was a demon who assumed human form. Another legend
describes him as a former rope salesman.

Whatever his origins, Duncanthrax quickly developed a reputation for
cruelty, bloodthirstiness and aggressiveness, thus earning himself the
nickname "The Bellicose King." He raised a tremendous army and began a
systematic conquest of the neighboring kingdoms. Within three years,
Duncanthrax ruled an empire that controlled virtually all the land
between the Great Sea and the Kovalli Desert.

An ancient villa on the outskirts of Mithicus, similar to the one where
Zilbo may have lived in exile.

* Adding "GUE" after a year did not become common practice until the
latter part of the eighth century.

Questions, Discussions, Projects and Further Readings:
1. Would you have left a job as a rope salesman to become King of Quendor?
List the pros and cons.
2. Find Quendor on a modern map. Is it a large area? What natural features
of the area would have helped Quendor to conquer all the neighboring
3. Do you think that Duncanthrax was a mean king for attacking other
kingdoms? What other reasons besides meanness might he have had?
4. Stage a mock peace conference, with one of your classmates playing
Duncanthrax and other classmates playing the kings of the surrounding
lands. The other kings should try to convince Duncanthrax not to
attack them.
5. Read _The New Year's Revolt_, by Jezbar Foolion.

An Empire Goes Underground

In 665, the forces of Duncanthrax vanquished the Antharian Armada at
the famous battle of Fort Griffspotter. The island-nation of Antharia
was, at the time, the world's premier sea power, and this victory gave
Duncanthrax undisputed control of the Great Sea and put the superb
ship-building facilities of Antharia at his disposal. (The conquest of
Antharia also gave Duncanthrax possession of Antharia's famed granola
mines. Unfortunately, no one in Quendor liked granola.)

Within months, Quendor's navy was returning from voyages with tales of
a magical land on the distant eastern shore of the Great Sea.
Duncanthrax was incensed that this vast land existed outside his
dominion, and spent many nights storming the halls of his castle
bellowing at his servants and advisors. Then, one day, he had a sudden
inspiration: assemble a huge fleet, cross the Great Sea and conquer
the lands on the eastern shore. Not only would he extend his empire,
but he'd finally have a market for all that useless granola.

As Duncanthrax's invasion swept across the new lands, he made a
startling discovery: huge caverns and tunnels, populated by gnomes,
trolls and other magical races, all of whom loved granola. Even as
Duncanthrax conquered this region, his imagination was inspired by
this natural underground formation. If these caverns and tunnels were
possible in nature, so might they be formed by humans! Duncanthrax
realized that by burrowing into the ground he could increase the size
of his empire fivefold or even tenfold!

The Frobozz Magic Construction Company (the forerunner of the modern
industrial giant FrobozzCo International) was formed to undertake this
project in 668. For the remaining 20 years of Duncanthrax's reign,
cavern-building continued at a breakneck pace. The natural caverns in
the eastern lands were expanded tremendously, and new caverns and
passages were dug in the western lands, chiefly in the vicinity of
Duncanthrax's castle, Egreth. By the time of his death in 688,
Duncanthrax ruled virtually all territory in the known world, above
and below ground.

[Two Pictures]
In 666, Duncanthrax's navy returned from its expedition to the eastern
shore of the Great Sea with tales of a magical underground civilization
(left) and giant red x's (right).

[Three pie charts:]

580 GUE

14% Military
2% Royal Bureaucracy
18% Construction of Roads and Bridges
66% Other

680 GUE

33% Military
8% Royal Bureaucracy
54% Construction of Caverns
5% Other

780 GUE

1% Military
68% Royal Bureaucracy
2% Other
29% Construction of Dams, etc.

These pie charts show the fiscal priorities of the Empire under
three kings who ruled centuries apart: Bozbo IV, Duncanthrax and
Dimwit Flathead.

Questions, Discussions, Projects and Further Readings:
1. What would it be like to live underground? If there are any caves
near your home, spend a week underground to see what it's like.
2. Read _Construction of the Empire_, by Mumboz Agrippa, _Wouldn't It
Be Fun To Live Underground?_, by Lorissa Frob and _The Seventy Year
Snidgel_, by Harv Dornfrob.

The Flatheads

After Duncanthrax, the throne was occupied by a long series of his
descendants. These were unspectacular rulers, who took on the surname
Flathead, for obscure reasons not necessarily related to the planar
shape of their pates. During this period, there was very little change
in the Empire, as the conquered kingdoms were assimilated into Quendor
and the frantic pace of tunneling gradually abated.

In 770, nearly a century after the death of Duncanthrax, his
great-great-grandson, Dimwit Flathead, assumed the throne. Lord
Dimwit, as he liked to be called, was a colorful character, but was
also the single worst ruler the Empire ever produced. His vanity was
surpassed only by his outrageous sense of proportion. For example, his
coronation took 13 years to plan (and therefore took place two-thirds
of the way through his reign), lasted an additional year and a half,
and cost 12 times the Empire's GNP.

Dimwit was the first king to call Quendor "The Great Underground
Empire," and within a few years the new name had completely displaced
the older one. Dimwit also renamed the Great Sea "the Flathead Ocean,"
and seemed to prefer the newer lands on the eastern shore. He even
moved the Empire's capital from Egreth (in the westlands) to
Flatheadia (in the eastlands).

While Dimwit certainly inherited Duncanthrax's ambition and
ingratiating personality, he directed them in a somewhat less
productive fashion. Whereas Duncanthrax used his power to expand his
empire, Dimwit was motivated to realize his bizarre whims. Raising the
kingdom's tax rate to just over 98%, Dimwit began a series of
grandiose projects that soon earned him the title "Flathead the
Excessive." Among these projects: the construction of mammoth Flood
Control Dam Number Three (a massive edifice with virtually no useful
purpose, since it never rains underground), the creation of the Royal
Museum (to house the crown jewels), the defoliation of four hundred
thousand acres of lush forest (to erect a nine-bloit-high statue of
himself in the Fublio Valley) and the production of the enormous
granola smelters of Plumbat.

Just before his death in 789, Flathead was rumored to be planning his
greatest dream: the creation of a new continent in the center of the
Flathead Ocean. The outline and contours of the new continent would
have been a gigantic reproduction of his own visage.


Cultural Events:
668 FrobozzCo International Incorporated
691 1st Double Fanucci Championship
732 Frobozz Philharmonic Founded
777 Royal Museum Dedicated
841 Elvis Flathead's First Concert

Political Events:
659 Duncanthrax Ascends Throne
666 Underground Caverns Discovered
668 Duncanthrax Dies
770 Dimwit Flathead Ascends Throne
789 Dimwit Flathead Dies
865 Granola Riots
883 Great Underground Empire Falls

This time line shows the dates of some of the events that shaped
the history of The Great Underground Empire. Cultural events are
listed above the time line and political events are listed below.

Lord Dimwit erected a nine-bloit-high statue of himself to lend credence
to the Royal motto, "A truly great ruler is larger than life."

Questions, Discussions, Projects and Further Readings:

1. How many things can you think of that are named after the
Flatheads? Make a list.
2. Try to collect 10 zorkmids from everyone on your block, telling
them that the money will be used to erect a giant statue of
yourself. Use force if necessary. See if the others on your
block begin to resent you.
3. Read _The Lives of the Twelve Flatheads_, by Boswell Barwell.

Fall of the Empire

Although Dimwit was certainly the most flagrantly indulgent ruler in
the history of The Great Underground Empire, most of the Flatheads who
followed him did their best to uphold the tradition of excessiveness.
The high level of taxation continued, although the money was
increasingly spent not on massive construction projects but on
extravagant parties and long vacation trips for members of the Royal

In 883, after countless years of decadence and over-taxation, The
Great Underground Empire collapsed, the Royal Treasury was sacked and
everyone moved somewhere else.


The Entharion Dynasty The Flathead Dynasty

Entharion the Wise 0-41 Duncanthrax the Bellicose 659-688
Mysterion the Brave 41-55 Belwit the Flat 688-701
Zylon the Aged 55-398 Frobwit the Flatter 701-727
Zilbo I 398-423 Timberthrax Flathead 727-738
Bozbo I 423-429 Phloid Flathead 738-755
Zilbo II 429-451 Mumberthrax Flathead 755-770
Harmonious Fzort 451-477 Dimwit Flathead 770-789
Bozbo II 477-481 Loowit Flathead 789-813
Thaddium Fzort 481-545 Duncwit Flathead 813-843
Mumbo I 545-569 Barbawit Flathead 843-845
Bozbo III 569-575 Idwit Oogle Flathead 845-881
Bozbo IV 575-619 Wurb Flathead 881-883
Mumbo II 619-628
Zilbo III 628-659

This table shows the rulers of Quendor, later known as The Great
Underground Empire, through its collapse in 883 GUE.

Questions, Discussions, Projects and Further Readings:
1. Collect several horses for yourself and your classmates. Ride through the
center of your town, pillaging stores, burning homes and slaughtering young
children and old women. Afterwards, ask people around town what it was like
to live in a lawless state.
2. Read _The Dark Age of Frobozz_, by Sybar Zeebin and _So You Want To Sack an
Empire_, by Uncle Frobizzmus.