The First Dungeon Master, 948 GUE
          cloaked at Shadowlands (A)
          in form of old man (A)
          beyond Guardians of Zork (A)
          overlooking parapet (A)


It was on a fateful day in the year 883 GUE, one last treasure-seeker, a peasant from an unheard-of village in an obscure province set forth from his home for Flatheadia on the twelfth of Mumberbur to stop the Curse. This is the one who would be the first to don the title of “Dungeon Master.” He knew that he had an important advantage: an ancestor of his, a servant in Lord Dimwit Flathead’s court, had witnessed Megaboz casting the Curse, and had obtained a small scrap of wizardly parchment that had fallen from the mage’s pocket. This parchment scrap, containing a spell from the secret notebook of the great magician, had been passed down from generation to generation, and was now in his possession. Thanks to this family heirloom, he knew what none of the other would-be Cursebusters knew; he alone knew what had to be done to stop the Curse!

By the time of the peasant’s arrival at Flatheadia, most of the treasure-seekers had given up and returned to their homelands. In fact, he discovered that most of the population, including all figures of authority, had fled to distant provinces. And when he awoke on the hard floor of the castle on Curse Day (the fourteenth of Mumberbur), he found that even the looters and the most persistent adventurers had departed.

After he disappeared in the ball of fire at the time of Dimwit’s death, Megaboz was assumed dead. It is now known that he took the guise of a Royal Jester, Barbazzo Fernap in the court of Wurb Flathead, and magically assumed other identities, including the famous painter Frobesius Fublius and the Flatheadia inspector, to ensure the success of his Curse to overthrow the Empire. Oddly enough, Megaboz chose to assist this last cursebuster in the guise of the jester. This servant of Wurb Flathead used the parchment, now a family heirloom, to attempt to halt the Curse. To do so, he had to assemble two items from each of the Twelve Flatheads into a cauldron which still remained in the castle of Flatheadia:





Dimwit Flathead

gaudy crown (Flatheadia outer bailey)

scepter (Flatheadia throne room)

John D. Flathead

diploma (underground stream)

stock certificate (Flatheadia vault)

Stonewall Flathead

saddle (underground stable)

lance (Flatheadia library)

Sebastian Flathead

violin (pit at Philharmonic Hall)

metronome (Flatheadia torture chamber)

J. Pierpont Flathead

zm100,000 bill (Flatheadia game room)

silk tie (aerie at Antharia Caves)

Thomas Alva Flathead

screwdriver (Flatheadia laboratory)

brass lantern (Flatheadia lower levels)

Leonardo Flathead

landscape (Flathead Fjord)

easel (Flathead Fjord)

Lucrezia Flathead

flask (Flatheadia dungeon cell)

fan (Fenshire Castle hothouse)

Ralph Waldo Flathead

manuscript (Flatheadia pyramid room)

quill pen (Granola Mines)

John Paul Flathead

seaman’s cap (Flatheadia oubliette)

spyglass (from Otto at Frigid River Delta)

Frank Lloyd Flathead

scale model (Mirror Lake chalet)

t-square (FrobozzCo Building)

Babe Flathead

club (Flathead Stadium)

dumbbell (Flatheadia gym)

Unfortunately, on this same dark day, uncountable hordes of the horrible and ferocious race of grues which had escaped the blade of Entharion were accidently released from the incredibly quantity of bottomless pits beneath Flatheadia Castle. Innocently seeking to cross the pits in order to acquire Thomas Alva Flathead’s brass lantern on the far side of the cavern, this peasant tossed into them a Frobozz Magic Anti-Pit Bomb. As the pits filled, a legion of dark and sinister grues welled up and lurked into the shadows. Unhindered by the darkness, they quickly spread to every area of the Great Underground Empire and beyond. Deathly afraid of light of any kind, the grues began occupying the abandoned underground empire, preying mercilessly upon any adventurer foolish enough to explore their realms without a source of light at hand. (More packs of grues would be forced out of the remaining bottomless pits sometime in the intervening years between 883 and 948 GUE, when Implementor Bruce Daniels worked for weeks to fill in most of the remaining bottomless pits in Zork.)

Megaboz, whose motives are extremely unclear always appeared to the servant when he least expected. The quixotic jester tested him with riddles and games, spinning rhymes for his amusement, springing some deadly tricks, and giving helpful nudges in the right direction. The peasant successfully found the items necessary to stop the Curse, but throughout, Megaboz laughed at some tremendous joke. For his Curse was apparently much more complicated than had been presumed. After the twenty-four relics were tossed in the churning cauldron, and the sacred word uttered, the huge outer gates of Flatheadia burst open and the entire structure began to shake and tremble. The peasant made every effort to escape the castle in haste.

The following is an excerpt from the peasant's own journal:

I dove through the doors as the castle began its final tremors! Landing on soft grass, I rolled to a stop, and turned to see the castle’s final moments. But, oddly, though it was collapsing, it didn’t seem to be getting destroyed. Instead, it was merely shrinking, shriveling... I rubbed my eyes in disbelief, as the once mighty castle transformed itself into ever tinier structures. At long last there was stillness, and the dust began to clear…

I was standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There was a small mailbox there.

While staring dumbfounded at the white house, the jester appeared, laughing as though at some supreme trick. Then, a low moaning wind began to blow, and slowly, ever so slowly, his appearance shifted, until all that was seen was a wizard of incredible age and obvious power. His hoary visage stirred an ancient ancestral memory. He spoke in a new voice, tired but commanding of instant respect. “I am Megaboz,” he stated, and my skin tingled at the presence of a legend.

“Yes, I still live. I have waited a long time for this day; to meet the one who would guard after I am gone. The Great Underground Empire is no more; but Quendor remains. The white house will stand as a warning and reminder of the excesses of the Flatheads. Some day, a new Empire may rise; you – and your successors – shall watch over the land, and ensure that future Empire be benevolent. Henceforth, you shall be known as ‘Dungeon Master’. As promised by Decree, half the wealth of the kingdom is yours!”

My mind was suddenly filled with images of a vast underground Treasury, piled with unfathomable wealth. But the image was tempered by the ironic knowledge that I would never have use for such wealth. As the image faded, I heard tinkling bells and the voice of the jester, who was Megaboz:

“Well, I'm outta here! Over to you, Dungeon Master!”

I found myself alone, left to ponder the years ahead, long years of keeping watch over Quendor and searching, ever searching, for my successor…


Thus, after centuries of rule over the farthest reaches of the world, countless years of decadence and over-taxation, the Curse of Megaboz fell upon the land and the Great Underground Empire collapsed, reducing Flatheadia into a small white house. And for no known reason, Megaboz awarded this nameless adventurer with the title of Dungeon Master, inheritor of the Eastland Underground Empire, and showered him with magical abilities and wealth beyond measure. This servant assumed total control of the caverns of the Great Underground Empire and became known as the first Dungeon Master. He would fiercely guard every entrance to the old underground realms, insisting that no one would enter until the time was right. To this day it is not entirely clear why Megaboz chose to aid someone who was attempting to halt his Curse, nor is it known why this individual was rewarded by Megaboz for his actions. In any case, Megaboz was responsible for the downfall of a kingdom that had survived for over 800 years, since the age of Entharion the Wise.

The deeds of the elusive Dungeon Master were quickly overlooked (if they had ever been looked at even once), and his fame scarcely known
—for all eyes were focused upon the proud General Syovar. The powerful and mysterious Dungeon Master also founded his inner sanctum in the third level of the Dungeon of Zork, the deepest and most mystical abyss of the Great Underground Empire. As the years passed and the underground caverns became the stuff of legend, the existence of the Dungeon Master was forgotten.

When Syovar finally attempted to lay claim to the abandoned underground caverns, he found that the Dungeon master had beaten him to it. Nearly every tunnel and cavern in the Great Underground Empire had come under his control, from the massive Flood Control Dam #3 to the farthest flung underground highway. Blessed with good fortune and aided by the Implementors who created and control our world, the Dungeon Master had come to own the vast fortunes that once belonged to the kings of the old empire. It was rumored that he even possessed a controlling share in the immense FrobozzCo International, the infinite conglomerate that had once held a monopoly over every magical scroll, spell, staff, or magical device of any kind that was produced within the borders of the realms of Quendor. But through all the wars and conquests and dreams to unify Quendor above ground, the tunnels and caves of the Eastlands would remain relatively stable under the watchful eye of the Dungeon Master. He only allowed the fantastic assortment of mystical creatures within to roam freely. It was not until 947 when Syovar was allowed to enter. What was puzzling to many was why he permitted the murderous Lucien Kaine to freely roam the caverns from 947~8. As for what the Dungeon Master sought, and what motivated him to seek it, these secrets have been lost in time. Despite the massive power and wealth as his disposal, he almost never chose to interfere with the affairs of the world above ground, instead biding his time for the moment he had been appointed to wait for.

Although dead, the Twelve Flatheads foresaw that some cretin might tamper with their remains. Therefore, they took steps to punish trespassers with a curse. It is not exactly sure how all of the corpses reached the same destination nor were preserved, but the “Keeper of the Dungeon” (who was presumably the First Dungeon Master whose reign did not begin until 883 GUE) placed each of the bodies in the Tomb of the Twelve Flatheads with each of their severed skulls upon a pole outside the same crypt. It is assumed that the remains are still there to this day. During the reign of the Dungeon Masters, those who dared to defile the corpses quickly found their disrepect costing them their life, as the powerful guardian of the Dungeon of Zork placed their head upon a similiar sharp pole.

In 948, the Dungeon Master, who now had the appearance of an old, yet oddly youth man with long silver hair, had grown tired of his duties and began to search for someone to succeed him. He dressed simply in a hood and cloak, wearing an amulet and ring, carrying an old book under one arm, and quietly leaning on a wooden staff. A single key, as if to a prison cell, hangs from his belt.

All previous attempts to penetrate the underground had met with failure. All survivors of more than one expedition reported that their party had been killed by a mysterious thief (Lucien Kaine) who had mastered the inner workings of a complex and diabolic maze in the heart of the underground. But one adventurer, a brave unknown male adventurer, was soon to gain entrance into the underground through the mythical White House and would begin to explore the realm. For the Dungeon Master intentionally allowed the adventurer into his realm to test his worthiness to take over the title. This man, who would go on to acquire the title of Second Dungeon Master, sought the Great Underground Empire due to its reputation for containing vast quantities of treasure. Naturally, he wished to acquire some of it. The rumors led him to a White House over the ruins of the former capital city of Flatheadia, where a strange, though alluring, letter was discovered within the mailbox.

The first of the Dungeon Master's tests involved the vanquishing of the thief and many monsters, and the gathering of the Treasures of Zork from the first level of the Dungeon. When all but one of these Treasures had been placed simultaneously within the trophy case in the living room of the White House the First Dungeon Master appeared in the form of a sinister wraithlike figure, cloaked and hooded, seeming to float in the air. In a low, almost inaudible voice he said, “I welcome you to the ranks of the chosen of Zork. You have persisted through many trials and tests, and have overcome them all, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and danger. One such as yourself is fit to join even the Implementors!” He then rose his oaken staff, and chuckling, drifted away like a wisp of smoke, his laugher fading in the distance. As the wraith faded, an almost inaudible voice whispered in his ear, “Look to your treasures for the final secret.” For the Dungeon Master had left him an ancient map revealing the location of the hidden Stone Barrow, the entrance to the next challenge.

After conquered the Wizard of Frobozz with courage and cunning to become the master of his domain on the second level, this adventurer descended deeper into the underground realm. On the dark staircase, a magical force propelled the adventurer forward. He tumbled down and all about him were strange images, the chain ending with that of the Dungeon Master. He turned toward the adventurer slowly, his long, silver hair dancing about him in a fresh breeze. "You have reached the final test, my friend! You are proved clever and powerful, but this is not yet enough! Seek me when you feel yourself worthy!" The dream dissolved around him as the Dungeon Master's last words echoed through the void....

Here, on the third level, the First Dungeon Master followed and guided the adventurer on his quest, personally testing him with several skills of strength, cunning, cleverness, bravery, and compassion as he invented challenges the likes of which he had never known. The very present of the Dungeon Master defied explanation and was a great danger to the adventurer. If he proved himself worthy by unraveling the confounding puzzles, if he could turn the tide and learn the Dungeon Master's secret intentions, his reward would be inestimable. But if he failed, he would be most utterly destroyed. In the process the adventurer acquired seven pieces of the Dungeon Master’s costume: the hood and cloak, the amulet and ring, the key, the wooden staff, and the lore book.

Of the seven tests, only two involved the direct participation of the Dungeon Master. For the first of these, he donned the stocky appearance of a man of medium height, with several days' growth of stubble on his face. He set a chest upon a ledge north of the Shadowland. When the adventurer found himself trapped on the ledge with it, the Dungeon Master appeared at the edge of the cliff above, asking for the adventurer to tie the end of a rope to the chest so that it might be pulled up; then he would come back to help the stranded man. Daring to trust the disheveled man, the adventurer tied the rope to the chest which was quickly lifted to the top. Then he waited for the man to return to pull him up as well. The man removed all of the valuables from the chest, but in exchange handed the adventurer a plain wooden staff.

A second direct involvement of the Dungeon Master occurred when the adventurer ventured into the Shadowland. The Dungeon Master took upon himself the countenance of the adventurer and donning himself in a cloak and hood and wielding a sword, went forth to duel. At his arrival, the adventurer found his elvish sword returned into his hands. The adventurer battled until the Dungeon Master was badly hurt and defenseless. He slowly removed the hood from his terribly wounded opponent and recoiled in horror at the sight of his own face, weary and wounded. A faint smile came to the lips of the Dungeon Master before the face reverted back to its original wizened form. The hood and cloak remained on the ground for the adventurer to add to his cache.

After all seven pieces of the Dungeon Master attire had been collected, the adventurer met the guardian of the dungeon once again. This time the Dungeon Master was guised with the weak and frail appearance of an old and wizened man with a long, stringy beard) who huddled, asleep, in a corner with loud snoring. His bright eyes were much younger and stronger than his frail body, appearing to see right through the body. The adventurer gave a piece of waybread to the starving man. Slowly, he ate the bread and said, "Perhaps what you seek is through there!" He pointed at the carved wall to the north, where there was the bare outline of a secret door. When the adventurer turned back to the old man, he was gone.

This was the entrance to the passagesway that led to the secret Treasury of Zork. When the adventurer reached the door to the inner sanctum iself, he knocked. The Dungeon Master unlatched the small wooden panel and peered through the bars of the great door before opening it. He revealed that he was the Master of the Dungeon who had been watching him closely during his journey through the Great Underground Empire. While he had shown kindness to the old man, and compassion toward the hooded one, displayed patience in the Royal Puzzle and trust at the cliff, desmonstrated strength, ingenuity and valor, according to some manuscripts, he still needed to ascertain whether this man met the stringent requirements laid down by the Great Implementors. Upon his successful answering of these riddles, the Dungeon Master was obliged to acknowledge his skill and daring and admitted him into the inner sanctum. However, within, some final test awaited. The adventurer was invited to request the aid of the Dungeon Master, to command him as he willed in order to complete his quest.

This final quest involved entering a certain cell and commanding the Dungeon Master to return it to its proper location by manipulating dials which could only be operated without the small chamber. When the cell was put in its proper position, the Dungeon Master's key was able to open the door and gain entry into the secret Treasury of Zork. The adventurer gleefully examined his new-found riches.

The Dungeon Master materialized beside him and said, “Now that you have solved all the mysteries of the Dungeon, it is time for you to assume your rightly-earned place in the scheme of things. Long have I waited for one capable of releasing me from my burden!” He taps the adventurer lightly on the head with his staff, mumbling a few well-chosen spells, and the adventurer felt himself changing, growing older and more stooped. For a moment there were two identical mages staring at one another among the treasure, then the First Dungeon Master dissolved into a mist and disappeared with a sardonic grin on his face. For a moment the Second Dungeon Master was relieved, safe in the knowledge that he had at last completed his quest in ZORK. He began to feel the vast powers and lore at his command and thirsted for an opportunity to use them. Thus began the reign of the second Dungeon Master, which presumably lasted until the end of the First Age of Magic in 966.

Some storytellers whisper that this moment was the fruition of the entire course of history. The ancient folk myths, some perhaps as old as Zork itself, had foretold of a treasure-hunting adventurer who would become a master of the magical arts, and rule throughout the deepest reaches of the underground. These prophecies, and even the very name of Zork, had been revered by all for untold generations. Many people believed that the completion of these prophecies and the dawning of the Age of Zork would usher in a new era of peace, prosperity, and happiness for the people of the Great Underground Empire.

The 882 GUE edition of the Encyclopedia Frobozzica oddly had no entry on this anonymous peasant, despite that at least at third of the people in his village had heard of him.
His mother's birthday was the third of Estuary (she was presumably still alive during 883).
On the twenty-ninth of Oracle, 883, he was scheduled to have dinner with the Bozbo's.
On the fifteenth of Augur, 883, he was scheduled for a dentist appoint at 1:50.

In regards to the Dungeon Master's powers against his adversities, several reports circulate that tell of him raising his staff, tracing a complicated pattern in the air, and when it was completed, his opponent instantly crumbled into dust.