Grues are a mainstay of the Zork franchise, but one of the characteristics of a grue is that they only attack in pitch blackness so the player never sees one directly.

I know there are some conflicting first-hand descriptions of the physical characteristics of a grue, but have there ever been any images produced or condoned by the developers?

  • I can't find the exact quote with a quick google, but Zork: The Undiscovered Underground contained a full description. – Coxy Apr 3 '17 at 13:08
  • In this video on Youtube, Dave Lebling (co-author of Zork and co-founder of Infocom) says no one knows, because no one has ever survived an encounter. – Steve Apr 3 '17 at 14:37
  • Going to hazard a guess that they're quite gruesome. – Jules Apr 3 '17 at 19:09
up vote 45 down vote accepted

Sorcerer (second game in the Enchanter trilogy) provided this image as a feelie (a physical artifact included with the game):

Image of a grue, depicted as yellow eyes peering out of darkness.

As you can see, this gives a thorough understanding of grue anatomy. The text claims that grues are believed to be "black and black and red and black and purple," but this information is only included for the purpose of a puzzle (as a primitive form of copy protection; if you copied the game but not the feelies, you would be unable to reproduce these colors).

Image sourced from The Zork Library.

  • 1
    I think even Return to Zork used just the eyes in the stained glass death screen. – Radhil Apr 2 '17 at 2:03
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    Huh, I always thought grues were sometimes green and sometimes blue. – jwodder Apr 2 '17 at 5:33

If you are looking for a more detailed picture than the existing answer, you may also want to look into images of Grue drawn from author Jack Vance's work.

Vance was the original creator of the "Grue"; however, he never actually describes it fully in his work. The hints he gives when it does appear are often contradictory or unhelpful. Zork's use of it as an unseen/undescribed monster is a joke referencing Vance's refusal to explain exactly what a Grue is.

There are no canonical images of the Grue that I am aware of; however, there are descriptions, the most helpful(?) of which are:

From the nearby forest of sprawling kang trees came the moaning of a grue, arousing the hairs at the back of Rhialto’s neck.

From: Rhialto the Marvellous, chapter 5

This is the skull-stone of a grue, and at this moment trembles with force.

From: Cugel the Clever, page 160

She manifests the brooding carelessness of a forest grue.

From: Cugel the Clever, this page (no numbers provided)

GRUE: man, ocular bat, the unusual hoon.

From: Tales of the Dying Earth, this page (no numbers provided) - from a listing of creature descriptions written by Follinense, wizard of Mad King Kutt.

  • Could you provide relevant quotes? – Gallifreyan Apr 2 '17 at 15:47
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    Provided. Sorry I don't have more - the whole point of the Grue was that it was never well described. – Theodore Apr 2 '17 at 16:23
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    Which works are the quote from? Dying Earth? – Gustav Bertram Apr 2 '17 at 16:58
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    Yes. They are all from the dying earth, thanks for asking me to clarify - I changed the answer to make that clear. I don't have the page numbers, unfortunately, but I know the first quote is specifically from "Rhialto the Magnificent" and the last one is from "Eyes of the Overworld" – Theodore Apr 2 '17 at 17:06
  • I'm not 100% certain, but I don't think Zork grues were ever intended to be the same thing as Vance's. AIUI, Infocom just borrowed the name. – Jules Apr 3 '17 at 19:22

I found two additional "images" for a grue, although neither of them show more than Kevin's image I felt like I should add them for posterity.

First one is this death to grues in Return To Zork, thanks to Radhil for reminding me of it: RtZ Death

The second is from the book in Zork: Nemesis titled Interview With A Grue:

enter image description here

There is an image of some grues in one of the Zork "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. Bizarrely, they look not unlike the Genestealers from Warhammer 40,000. The image is not coloured.

  • 2
    Can you provide the image? Or at least a link to where we can find the book? – Edlothiad Jun 1 '17 at 22:05

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