= W =
wumpus /wuhm'p*s/ n.
The central monster (and, in many
versions, the name) of a famous family of very early computer games
called "Hunt The Wumpus'. The original was invented in 1970 (several
years before ADVENT) by Gregory Yob.
The wumpus lived somewhere in a cave with the topology of an
dodecahedron's edge/vertex graph (later versions supported other
topologies, including an icosahedron and Möbius strip). The
player started somewhere at random in the cave with five `crooked
arrows'; these could be shot through up to three connected rooms,
and would kill the wumpus on a hit (later versions introduced the
wounded wumpus, which got very angry). Unfortunately for players,
the movement necessary to map the maze was made hazardous not
merely by the wumpus (which would eat you if you stepped on him)
but also by bottomless pits and colonies of super bats that would
pick you up and drop you at a random location (later versions added
`anaerobic termites' that ate arrows, bat migrations, and
earthquakes that randomly changed pit locations).
This game appears to have been the first to use a non-random
graph-structured map (as opposed to a rectangular grid like the
even older Star Trek games). In this respect, as in the
dungeon-like setting and its terse, amusing messages, it prefigured
ADVENT and Zork and was directly ancestral to the latter
(Zork acknowledged this heritage by including a super-bat colony).
A C emulation of the original Basic game is available at the
Retrocomputing Museum, http://www.tuxedo.org/retro.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.