Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Missed Classic: Dungeon - Gold Carded (Request for Assistance)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Pushing against the wall. Literally.

Welcome back! Last week, I became a “Winner!” in Dungeon, at least according to the score, but am not quite at the end yet. I have played for more than 24 hours and suspect that I could give it a fair rating, but a victory seems hollow while there are still puzzles to solve and a mysterious “endgame” to find. I’m pumped! Unfortunately, I’m also pretty stuck. This post will bring you up to speed on the final puzzle that I managed to solve, where I am with several puzzles that I have not, and request your assistance for how I move forward. I hope I need only a nudge or two to drive this first game in my marathon to its conclusion.

As soon as I got my “winning” score last week, I searched all of the map again to see if any new areas had opened up. I vaguely remember that something did when I beat Zork I two decades ago, but I do not recall where and I have no idea if Dungeon bases that off the score or the number of treasures in the case. In the end, I gave up and looked at the various puzzles that I had left. I suspected that there was treasure in the dead-end pit room after the Thief’s den, if only because he told us that there was none. Last time, I became trapped and had to restore, but this time I thought of something new: pushing the wall. It gave way and opened up a brand new area!

Map of the sliding puzzle maze.

With the wall pushed out of the way, I find myself in a strange little area. The “maze”, if we can call it that, consists of sandstone and marble walls arranged in a grid. We can push the sandstone ones, as long as there is nothing behind them, but the marble ones are fixed in place. It doesn’t take long to realize that I am in an oversized sliding tile puzzle. I map out the entire thing onto graph paper, carefully noting the original positions of every block that I move. It takes a couple of reloads to complete since we cannot “pull” any of the blocks back into place if we push them against a wall. Fortunately, all the rooms turn out to be square so this approach works well.

I discover a few things:
  • Our starting location is the only area to have a hole in the ceiling. 
  • Two of the sandstone walls have ladders on one face, one west and the other east. Since neither of them are under holes, we cannot climb up, but it implies a potential objective. 
  • Under one of the sandstone blocks (the one I labeled “S4”), I find a “gold card”, a pass to the Royal Zork Puzzle Museum. I do not know if this is where I am now or somewhere that I will need to find later. I push every block at least once to check for other things under them but to no avail. 
  • In the south of the maze, I find a security door with a card slot. I can use the gold card to open the door, but the card is sucked inside in the process. Poking my head outside, I realize that it is the steel door near the thief’s room. 

Even though I found the exit, I did not find the treasure that the thief had hinted at. The obvious solution was that I needed to use the ladders, but there were no holes other than the one that I came in through. Is the gold card the treasure? At first, I did not think there was any way to maneuver the ladders into a position where I could climb out of the original hole, but after sitting down with pen and paper and working it out like a logic puzzle, I found a solution! It takes twenty moves, but I am able to get the west-facing ladder in a spot where I can climb back out of the hole. I wish I had the talent and time to make a nice animated GIF, but at least you can see the end state:

Is there a simpler solution?

With that, I escape with the gold card and place it in the case. My new total is 501 points! I worry that I missed something with the east-facing ladder, but I can’t move it anywhere useful.

What I Have Left

Although I am stoked I made it as far as I did, with help from my twenty-year old memories of Zork, I admit defeat. This is my formal “Request for Assistance”. I hope that you will be gentle with me and leave your hints in rot13 with escalating levels of obviousness; I’d still like to figure out as much of the rest as I can but I need a little push.

The entire dungeon, so far. Orange denotes an unsolved puzzle.

I have been working on:
  • Glacier Room - I am unable to pass the wall of ice. It seems to melt easily but always with my death. I have not found a way to melt it from another room yet and gigging didn’t work either. 
  • Volcano - I can enter the volcano and view it from a ledge, but I can find no way either down or across to a ledge on the other side. Can I build a bridge or to jump the distance? Or is there another way to the other ledge? 
  • Explosives - I have explosives with a fuse but nothing to blow up. There’s a wall with a crack that I initially thought might be bombable, but this is not The Legend of Zelda
  • Implementer Crypt - I can find no way to interact with either the heads or the crypt itself. The room breaks the fourth-wall and I fear there is some “creative” solution that I’m simply not thinking far enough outside the box to find. What about the Coke bottles and line-printer output? 
  • Poisoned Flask and Magic Cakes - I still have the flask and some cake left from Wonderland. The cakes don’t seem to work outside that area but a poison must be useful for something. 
  • Suicide Knife and Other Items - What good is a knife that kills you when you use it? I also haven’t found a use for guano, the burned-out lantern, or a few other items. The chalice, grail, and coffin are containers but never used as such. Do I need one of them to solve a puzzle? 
  • “Granite” Wall - There are a couple of walls labeled or called “granite” in an obvious way. Is there something to it? 

I appreciate any advice that you can provide! If it turns out to be something silly, I will be disappointed but sometimes you miss the obvious when you stare at the same thing for so long.

Treasures Found: 23* (Painting, Portrait, Pearl Necklace, Coins, Platinum Bar, Grail, Sapphire Bracelet, Jade Figurine, Crystal Trident, Ivory Torch, Stack of Zorkmids, Emerald, Diamond, Statue, Gold Coffin, Chalice, Fancy Violin, Crystal Sphere, Tin of Spices, Clockwork Canary, Glass Bauble, Pot of Gold, Gold Card)

(* Last week, I neglected to remove the gold egg after it was replaced by the clockwork canary.)

Time played: 2 hr 30 min
Total time: 27 hr 00 min


  1. First of all: note that the egg IS a treasure in its own right (so the canary shouldn't "replace" it in your list of treasures found).

    As to your request for assistance:

    1. Gur chmmyr gung'f obggyrarpxvat lbh vf ubj gb trg cnfg gur tynpvre.
    2. Lbh jrer noyr gb zryg vg orsber, ol ubyqvat n yvg zngpu gb vg; ohg gur ehfu bs jngre xvyyrq lbh.
    3. Lbhe thrff vf pbeerpg gung lbh arrq gb zryg vg (naq fheivir).
    4. Lbh arrq gb or fyvtugyl snegure njnl sebz gur tynpvre jura lbh zryg vg...
    5. ...ohg lbh pna'g zryg vg sebz na nqwnprag ebbz. Lbh arrq gb or va gur Tynpvre Ebbz vgfrys.
    6. Ubj pna lbh gbhpu n synzr gb gur tynpvre jvgubhg ubyqvat vg gurer lbhefrys?
    7. Jung qvq lbh qb gb trg gur ener gva bs fcvprf?
    8. Unir lbh gevrq guebjvat n zngpu ng gur tynpvre?
    9. Unir lbh gevrq guebjvat fbzrguvat zber nrebqlanzvp ng gur tynpvre?
    10. Lbh arrq gb znxr n fnpevsvpr urer.
    11. Guebj lbhe gbepu ng gur tynpvre. Ubcr lbhe ynagrea fgvyy unf onggrel yvsr!
    12. (Erzrzore gur gbepu vgfrys vf n gernfher rira vs vg'f abg yvg. Fb qba'g sbetrg gb svaq naq ergevrir vg.)

    1. Argh! You are right about the egg. It's still sitting in my inventory. I thought it was consumed. Sorry about that.

      I will review your tips tonight.

    2. In the grand Invisiclues tradition, they are all tips for a single puzzle, with escalating obviousness as you go down the list. So as soon as you've figured out the puzzle - and it will be obvious when you do - you don't need to read anything further.

      (Well, you might want to consider reading clue #12 - which is a side comment on the ramifications of the solution - if you feel like it leaves a concerning loose end.)

    3. Good news: I only needed to get to Tip #2 to solve it. Once I knew it was the glacier next and that melting it was the key, I had a search space that I could deal with.

      BUT... I think I'm dead-ended. My lantern had some charge left, but perhaps not enough and it dies before I can finish exploring the volcano. Since I do not have an alternate light source, I'm going to need it for whatever comes next... and that's not very good. \

      Another hint: Is there a way to recharge it that I haven't found? Advent had replacement batteries...

    4. Unfortunately there is no way to recharge the lantern.

      I may be able to assist in another way, though. Sending you an e-mail shortly.

    5. So... to progress, I'll need to replay the whole game over again from the beginning while being extremely careful with battery life?

      I will need the lamp in the coal mine and up to the point where we can get the torch. Then I do the WHOLE game with the torch up to where I am now. Then finish the volcano and whatever comes after with the torch?

      I can't say that I'm looking forward to doing it over again for a third time...

    6. A bane of the early adventure games - it isn't enough to just solve the puzzles, you'll also have to do it in right order, using the least number of moves and preserving your limited resources.

      That said, you've done amazing job, Joe, in getting this far without any request for assistance. The old Zorks weren't the easiest games to begin with and this seems like putting couple of them together, with a cruder parser.

    7. Frustrating to be stopped this late, huh? Well, as I'm sure you'll find, the torch is useless after you melt the glacier - it burned itself out. So yes, you have to restart, unless you want to be eaten by a grue - and even then, how do you plan to fix it after you died?

      My suggestion: Go for the torch RIGHT AWAY after getting below ground. Don't do anything else. Then, you will have more lamp turns left. (No, there is no way to recharge it.) This way you only need the lamp for something like 20 turns before you get the torch.

      Again, I'm surprised you made it this far. The guy over at "CRPG Adventures" needed a walkthrough when he had FIVE treasures to collect, and not counting the ones missing in your version, you have four, all of which are behind the glacier. (You've most likely seen at least one already.) And this is only one puzzle, he needed hints for several things (most of which you figured out on your own).

    8. Well, as for solving the puzzles, I have had two advantages: 1) I have played regular Zork twenty years ago and so I am sure that my brain filtered some of the solutions down even if I didn't consciously remember them and 2) I beat my head against some of these puzzles for HOURS.

      I have found two more treasures before I ran out of light, but I am replaying the whole game from scratch before I can even get back there.

    9. FWIW, even with maps and a general plan, it still took me just shy of three hours to get back to 501 points with more lamp-power. The things I do for winning a game...

      (Yes, I should have been playing Star Trek. Shhh.)

    10. So, I have a TON to report for next week. But in the interim, can anyone provide any hints to get to the endgame? It's not obvious and if I didn't know there was an endgame, I might have turned it off at this point...

      (I have a pretty good idea where it has to be, but not sure yet on how to trigger it.)

    11. I presume you have all 585 points? If so, here's two sets of clues. The first is on how to get where you need to go. The second is on what to do once you're there in order to unlock the end game.

      On getting where you need to go:
      1. Gur bar cynpr lbh unira'g fbyirq vf gur ragenapr gb gur raqtnzr.
      2. Znlor vs lbh jnyx gurer sebz gur gebcul pnfr, n fbyhgvba jvyy fgneg cerfragvat vgfrys.
      3. Be lbh pna whfg xvyy gvzr hagvy vg qbrf.
      4. N enaqbz ahzore bs gheaf nsgre lbh unir nyy 585 cbvagf, lbh jvyy trg n zrffntr sebz n "jenvguyvxr svther." Jnvgvat (jvgu lbhe ynagrea bss) ol gur gebcul pnfr hagvy lbh trg gung zrffntr vf cresrpgyl svar.
      5. Bapr lbh trg gung zrffntr, lbh pna qb fbzrguvat lbh pbhyqa'g qb orsber.
      6. Lbh pna bcra gur Vzcyrzragbef' gbzo.

      On what to do once there (which is, in my opinion, insufficiently clued):
      1. Ubj pna lbh nppbzcyvfu jung gur jenvguyvxr svther fhttrfgrq?
      2. Lbhe tbny urer vf gb wbva gur Vzcyrzragbef - svthengviryl fcrnxvat, ng yrnfg.
      3. Rira bapr lbh'ir qbar gur evtug guvat(f), lbh znl arrq gb jnvg n srj gheaf sbe fbzrguvat gb unccra.
      4. Nffhzr gur Vzcyrzragbef ner erfgvat va gurve gbzo (rira vs lbh pna'g frr gurz).
      5. Ubj pna lbh wbva gurz va gung erfg? Ab, fhvpvqr vf abg gur nafjre...
      6. ...rira vs gur nafjre srryf yvxr vg *jbhyq* shapgvbanyyl or fhvpvqr.
      7. Lbhe cerfrapr vafvqr gur gbzo vf vagehfvir. Ubj pna lbh znxr vg yrff vagehfvir?
      8. Ubj pna lbh znxr guvatf vafvqr gur gbzo rknpgyl yvxr gurl jrer orsber lbh neevirq (nfvqr sebz lbhe cerfrapr)?
      9. Ab bar orfvqrf lbh pna ragre gur gbzo naq yvir. Abg rira gur zbfg qnatrebhf bs zbafgref.
      10. Gurer ner ab tehrf urer.
      11. Juvyr lbh arrq gur ynzc gb trg lbh gb gur gbzo, lbh jba'g arrq onggrel yvsr nalzber sbe gur raq tnzr.
      12. Vapyhqvat evtug abj.
      13. Guvf cynpr jnf va pbzcyrgr qnexarff orsber lbh neevirq. Znxr vg gung jnl ntnva.
      14. Ghea bss lbhe ynzc, pybfr gur pelcg qbbe, naq jnvg.