The Grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth with insatiable appetite. Its favorite diet is either adventurers or enchanters. Its appetite is only tempered by its fear of light.
"It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue."
Zork I


They are famous for their horrible fear of light: No grues have ever been seen by the light of day, and only a few have been observed in their underground lairs. Of those who have seen grues, few ever survived to tell the tale. Grues have sharp claws and fangs, and an uncontrollable tendency to slaver and gurgle. They are certainly the most evil-tempered of all creatures; to say they are touchy is a dangerous understatement. "Sour as a grue" is a common expression, even among themselves.


In former days it was believed that all grues were eradicated from the face of the world during the time of Entharion the Wise, many by his own hand, and his legendary blade Grueslayer. Nonetheless old hags used to scare little children by telling them that grues lurked in bottomless pits of the Empire.

It is now known that uncountable hordes of grues escaped the blade of Entharion until they were accidentally released in 883 GUE by a peasant who would eventually become the First Dungeon Master. At this time the grues quickly spread to every part of the Great Underground Empire, including passages underneath Festeron, Antharia. It is there that a Festeron postal worker stumbled into the nesting place of a family of grues. A close call on the part of this postal worker demonstrated that only the mother-instincts of a female grue are strong enough to overcome a grue's fear of light.

Grues play a minor role in the tale of the demon Jeearr. During his control of the area surrounding Egreth Castle, Jeearr was using infernal machines to breed mutated grues that were not afraid of light. Luckily for mankind, these grues were never released into the world at large.

An interesting historical footnote concerning grues is the fact that one grue lair was, for many eons, the resting place of one of the Cubes of Foundation. In order to recover this cube, in 966 GUE the Head of the Circle of Enchanters was forced to temporarily turn himself into a grue as a part of a quest that would eventually result in the end of the Age of Magic.

See alsoEdit

Appearances in Infocom gamesEdit

In games Grues are referred to as having "slavering fangs" and "razor-sharp claws," and producing "horrible gurgling noises". One of the repeated references in Zork's backstory was to an ancient king who directly fought grues in combat.

Zork I Edit

If you go up the stairs of the house and head north or west you'll die by a Grue.

Under some conditions typing the command "eat grue" may cause the following message to appear

(first taking the lurking grue) Your hand passes through its object.

The game will then deny it exists

Zork II Edit

A can of Frobozz Magic Grue Repellent can be found, but it is useless.

Zork III Edit

The Magic Grue Repellent works and lasts for several turns.

Enchanter Edit

This game is perhaps the only one in the Zork series in which no grues appear.

Wishbringer Edit

The player can stumble upon a baby grue and look at it before its parents return.

Spellbreaker Edit

The magical plane of darkness almost entirely populated by grues and forced the player to survive by using magic to take the form of one of the beasts. It also mentions that grues' eyes give off a very small amount of light that lets them navigate in darkness.

Beyond Zork Edit

A player of a sufficiently high level and equipped with certain items can kill attacking grues.

Sorcerer Edit

Describes a grue glowing after a light spell has been cast on it. The player can also find a Frobozz Magic Company secret prototype "anti-grue kit" containing a grue costume which the player can use to remain among grues unharmed.

Zork: The Undiscovered Underground Edit

The player can see a grue and states that he/she is the first to do so, noting that it had a "fish-mouthed head, razor-sharp claws and glowing fur all over". He can also disguise himself as a grue and infiltrate a literal grue convention, complete with lectures, entertainment, and souvenirs. When the player unmasks the initial disguised grue and it is caught in the light, it shrieks in terror before it spontaneously combusts.

Return To Zork Edit

Turning the light off in a hotel bedroom creates the danger of a grue attack; the only solution is to place a piece of lightly glowing rock on the nightstand, providing only so much light that it is still possible to sleep.

Zork Nemesis Edit

Failed attempts to capture or domesticate grues are mentioned. A book with an illustration captioned "The Grue In Its Natural Habitat" (a blank black square). It is also possible to be eaten by a grue in the depths of Malveaux's monastary.

Zork Grand Inquisitor Edit

Mentions the game "Grue, Fire, Water", a variant of Rock, Paper, Scissors wherein "Grue drinks water, water douses fire, and fire scares grue."

Starcross, Planetfall Edit

The phrase "You are likely to be eaten by a grue" is used in Starcross. In Planetfall grues are said having been unwittingly taken from their home planet and introduced to Earth (by the alien ship in Starcross), then spread around the galaxy alongside man and become a universal pest for human civilizations.

Suspect Edit

A racehorse is named "Lurking Grue"

Appearances in popular culture Edit

  • Grues and several references to Infocom's text adventures have appeared in the comic strip User Friendly, such as this one that provides an explanation for the Northeast blackout of 2003.

External linksEdit

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