There doesn't yet appear to be a thread for these here. Given the lack of activity in the Fantazine threads, I don't think it's worth creating a separate thread for each individual Warlock adventure, but I think it's worth having somewhere to rehost my playthroughs from the old forum that we can discuss them.
Since the document in which I'd archived my playthroughs up to Deathmoor includes the Warlock minis, I may as well repost them here. Might even spark some discussion, so I'll spread them out rather than doing them all at once.
The Dervish Stone by Paul Struth.
It uses the standard FF set-up, though you start with only 5 Provisions as the adventure's half the usual length. The Background is too short to get its own header - it just mentions the legendary Stone of Shanhara (Terry Brooks' lawyers can join the queue behind the bunch from Lucasfilms, who have a stronger case), which is in a long-lost cave full of traps, and gives spoilers for paragraph 1.
After rolling a Skill 7 character, I'm probably doomed, as I remember that the Golem of Inconsistent SKILL has it in double-figures whichever variant you have to fight. Still, let's see how far I can get. I am, for no adequately explained reason, descending a hill near the town of Alasiyan, on the borders of the Twin Sun Desert. Either one of the suns is unique to the desert, which would be odd (maybe Fenestra let her captive Serpent go after the Archmage died, and it wound up making its new home around here), or they have some pretty rubbish conventions for naming places round here. If I see a signpost to the One Sky Lake, I'll know for sure. Anyway, I sit on something sharp and find that it's the tip of a dagger, strangely buried point upwards. Close by are human bones, armour, and a chest inscribed with the name Jakor One-Eye. I'm guessing that wasn't what his parents called him (unless he was a Cyclops, and they were inspired by the local maps). The chest contains 20GP and a note that, in effect, says, "I've found out roughly where the Stone of Shanhara is, but for reasons I can't be bothered to explain, I'm going to die and leave my discovery and adventuring nick-nacks to whoever finds them. Love, Jakor. P.S. Beware the Guardian."
To be honest, what he's learned about the stone's location isn't much: 'the Lost Cave of the Dervishes' (bit of a giveaway, that bit), which is 'somewhere in Twin Sun Desert'. Okay, so it's an improvement on 'somewhere on Titan', but 'X marks the spot' it ain't. Nevertheless, I am apparently fool enough to abandon whatever plans I had before discovering Jakor's remains and embark on a search of the desert. Jakor's note mentions a potion he hid in a rocky cleft, so I go looking for that. After finding it, apparently I rummage around in the cleft some more, as I've already read the label on the bottle when I hear a hiss and get bitten on the hand. This isn't Fire Island, though, so the damage done is minor. Assuming that the Guardian is long dead, or got fed up and wandered off (because obviously Jakor must have been referring to something that would watch over his remains, rather than some End Boss sitting by the Dervish Stone, ready to mutilate any hero who gets past all the traps), I head into Alasiyan to stock up on adventuresome goodies.
Town Guards demand to search my pack, but that potion was Essence of Jedi Mind Trick, and the Guards are too slow-witted to stop me from downing it, so I just tell them that I don't have the droids they're looking for, and they let me past. I get a Luck bonus for this, even though it is physically impossible for me to have used any Luck yet, and the rules have the standard 'no exceeding the Initial score without a note from your mother' clause.
Spotting a Nomad telling tales, I join the crowd in the hope of getting some handy exposition, and he transforms into a tradesman. Aware that I'm planning on heading into the desert, he offers to sell me appropriate items like Gas Capsules, a Glass Eye and a Sword. This is tricky, actually. Is the sword there because the Guards confiscate the swords of anyone who didn't get the potion, or does it have an Attack Strength bonus that will reduce the likelihood of my being turned into a red smear when I run into that Golem? It costs half of what I have, and the Glass Eye is so random and pointless that it has to be important, but I may need funds later on. I think I have to risk it.
First I get the Glass Eye, which turns out to be magical, working 'just like a pair of binoculars'. Wouldn't a comparison to a telescope be more appropriate and less anachronistic? The Sword... is magical. Yes! With an Attack Strength bonus, rather than one of those rubbishy Skill ones. The improvement in my prospects is marginal, but I'll take what I can get. After that I can only afford one Gas Capsule (poison gas, for throwing at enemies), but I have enough money left for the inevitable drink in the inevitable bar.
Proceeding to the town square, I am informed that I can stop to eat Provisions. As the adventure has the post-TWoFM standard rules, I can actually stop to eat Provisions anywhere I like (except during battle, as I'm not Jon Pertwee), but thanks for telling me that I'm allowed to do what I know I'm allowed to do. Next paragraph I may even get permission to breathe, too. Or not, as I have espied a large house with Hobgoblin Guards, which means I probably get the option of looting and plundering some local dignitary's home, what with the vaguely Marxist attitude gamebooks tend to take towards the wealthy (except, of course, when it's you who has the money, in which case anyone trying to take it is evil peasant riff-raff in need of a good eviscerating).
I stroll over, and am informed that this is the Governor's residence, and I need an appointment to enter. The adventure asks if I have an appointment. Is it possible to get one when having your pack searched by the other Guards ("If you would like to register a formal complaint about having your stuff confiscated, His High-and-Mightiness has a window in his schedule several minutes from now.") or is this just a really carelessly written opportunity to bluff your way in? Giving Mr Aussie Expletive the benefit of the doubt, I deny having an appointment, and rather than informing me of how I can arrange one, the Hobgoblin tells me to get lost. So I deck him. The other one joins the fight, exposing the adventure's lack of policy on combat against multiple opponents. Do I take them on one at a time? Roll one Attack Strength for myself and apply it to both opponents' Attack Strengths (as in, for example, The Seven Serpents) or roll separate Attack Strengths against each of them (as in the likes of Talisman of Death)? I take the latter option, for all the difference it makes.
One of the Hobgoblins has a key. The door to the house is locked. Thankfully, the text suggests that the key might fit the lock, because I'm not sure such an unlikely situation would ever have occurred to me without the hint. Everyone knows that keys in gamebooks are found some distance away from the locks they fit, in the possession of characters who have no good reason to possess them. In a shocking twist, the key works. Entering the house, I am faced with a choice between stairs and a door, from behind which comes the sound of singing and laughter. Evidently the Governor runs a fairly informal office.
Not wishing to attract the inhabitants' attention, I head upstairs and encounter a wealthy-looking man with a Hobgoblin Guard. Declining the option to run away very quickly, I get hit with a ZAP spell and discover that the Hobgoblin is actually a Troll/Hobgoblin/Ghoul hybrid. I don't even want to think about how they crossbred that. It has the standard 'free paralysis with every fourth wound' ability, but that lightning bolt has left me with just 7 Stamina, so the fourth wound will kill me before the paralysis can take effect, and won't that just make the Thoul (seriously, that's what they call it) look silly?
Actually I use Luck whenever I hit the thing, and kill it, which makes it look even more of a fool. The man introduces himself, and then casts HOT. It's like the Monty Python sketch with the butcher who alternately insults and speaks politely to his customer. His aim with fireballs is lousy, but that's scant consolation, as he then casts YAZ and attacks me with an invisibility bonus on Attack Strength. As if his Skill of 10 wasn't enough of an advantage anyway, and me down to my last Stamina point. He's probably wasted the Stamina he spent casting that spell, and if he wins, I bet it'll keep him up at nights, brooding, for the rest of his life.
An epic battle ensues, in which I very nearly survive to the end of the first Attack Round.
Last Edit: Jul 21, 2014 12:54:13 GMT by greenspine
It makes sense. But given the similarities between the two names, the fact that the places are completely unrelated to each other just appeals to my sense of humour.
Dungeon of Justice by Nathan Ford.
I have vague memories of turning my attention to this after losing interest in the stalls at a coffee morning or jumble sale to which I'd been dragged along.
It may be another adventure that justifies fudging, because it beat Black Vein Prophecy to the 'you must fail a certain roll to have any chance of winning' gimmick, but the roll occurs some way into the adventure, so it might be possible to take a hit in the relevant attribute before then. And fudging was not required, as the dice gave me 7 Skill anyway (and 12 Luck).
The Background section has more substance to it than the one for The Dervish Stone, but that just makes it more nitpickable. Mr Ford cannot be blamed for the fact that Sapphire City, to the south of the Desert of Skulls, is conspicuously absent from all official FF works, but this is the least of its problems. My character is hoping to find work there, and is about to cross the Desert (because obviously there's no way of detouring round it for a longer but much less hazardous journey, now is there?) when he witnesses the murder of 'an obviously important Elf' by a dagger-wielding Goblin, who runs off. For no readily apparent reason it is pointed out that the dead Elf is clutching a blue diamond - even if such things do exist, wouldn't someone who only sees the gem clutched in the corpse's hand be more likely to assume that it's a sapphire, especially with them on his mind thanks to the city name? Suddenly a horde of Elves descends upon me and, seeing their dead Chief with a dagger wound in his chest, and me with my blood-free sword in hand, naturally they won't believe my claims of innocence. Where's CSI:Allansia when you need them? Anyway, they take me to their Dungeon of Justice and announce that to prove my innocence I must find the Golden Idol concealed within it. The fact that it's possible to fail this adventure proves that there can be no divine guidance for the innocent inside there, so frankly, this place has about as much to do with justice as the Gladiators studio.
Still, with two dozen arrows pointed at my torso, I'm not sure that a cry of 'Objection!' would be in my best interests, so in I go.
Okay, to be fair, Fordy does acknowledge that the title's a misnomer in paragraph 1, as I 'sigh at the injustice of it all'. Only one direction I can go, but heading that way still gets a new section. Almost immediately I run into a black-clad man whom I identify as a Thief (so it's not just the Elves who make snap judgements about people's guilt), and we fight. Okay, so with that Skill he's more likely to be a Thief than an Assassin, but still... His possessions include a mouldy triangular fruit, which I think could be the legendary life-prolonging Xentos, but discard because of its manky condition. Oh, real smart.
Continuing down the road (well, that's what the text calls it), I reach a junction. I'm pretty sure that it doesn't matter which way I go, so I ignore the turning. Another side turning, also ignored. Such behaviour is usually suicidal in gamebooks, but as I recall, the roll that makes all the difference is reached from a section you cannot avoid (except by dying beforehand), and so the more encounters I avoid, the less chance I have of being killed before I get there. Pass a door inscribed with a cross. Another side turning, which the adventure makes me ignore because the floor's in a bad state. Yeah, I bet even the guy who re-killed Razaak is afraid of potholes.
Yet another side passage, while up ahead is either a dead end or a corner. Just keep going. At this rate I may 'prove' my guilt by dying of boredom. Oh, it is a dead end. So I can search it (because that always works so well in the Maze of Zagor, doesn't it?) or go back and east. Keep moving. New junction, at which I suffer the traditional FF adventurer's aversion to heading south. Okay, so as a metagamer I know that the Idol isn't around here, but if I were playing this for the first time, I might get a little peeved at being denied the opportunity to make a really detailed search of the place. Knowing that one's life depends on finding the McGuffin is a strong incentive for thoroughness.
Pass a locked gate for which I don't have the key. Even my character is getting fed up of this dull plod, but though 'beginning to despair', I ignore the next door, too. Maybe if I had 9 or 10 Skill I'd be a bit more adventurous (and have significantly less chance of finding the Idol), so I could poke fun at more interesting aspects of the adventure, but I'm playing to win, so that means extreme caution. There's a truly bastardly trap (not cunning, not clever, just a kick in the teeth for the player when encountering it for the first time) in here somewhere, but as I don't know exactly where, and opening the wrong door may lead to combat against something with a high Skill, I'm not going to risk looking for it just so when I find it I can say, 'However, I know that that's not actually the real Idol, and the tripwires are just there as a distraction from the descending ceiling that'd splat me as soon as I stepped through the door.'
New junction, another bout of what I will call votiosophobia (with apologies to any Greek speakers, as I'm sure that's a horrendously wrong way of rendering 'fear of going south'), and I find myself on a ledge half way up a massive cliff. The phobia is now so strong that I don't even contemplate turning back, and as I don't have any means of levitating, I have to climb down a convenient rope. At least I'm certain to be Lucky at this stage. Oh, and another Test of Luck follows straight away. I think the 35 in 36 chance of succeeding at that one justifies not glugging down my Potion of Fortune while hanging onto the rope. It's good.
Safely reaching the bank of a fast-flowing river, I spot a rickety-looking bridge, and as I approach it, I observe that it is being devoured by giant two-headed termites. The illustration is impressive in its wrongness: the termites only have one head each, and are so big that there's no way I could spot the condition of the bridge yet fail to notice them - it'd be like reading the registration number of a car, and having to get closer before I can see that there's a cow on the roof.
Anyway, here comes the make-or-break moment. As the spirit girl from Deathtrap Dungeon might say if she were to relocate here:
At the river, cold as fridge, Do not cross the termites' bridge, But take a breath and jump right in, Hoping your next roll you won't win.
And I take the plunge. Carelessly, I get told where to turn if I roll under my Skill, and there's a section number for if I roll over it, but the idea of my rolling equal to it is apparently just crazy talk. And... I succeed. Bother. So I make it across the river, and wind up on a beach identical to the one on which I'd have wound up if I'd been swept downstream, only without the Idol. Seriously. The 'Idol-finding' section leads to the exact same paragraph as the 'making it across the river' section, even though these have to be set in completely different places, unless a freak wormhole unnoticeably teleports you upstream and then winks out of existence before you reach it again. Ford could have combined section 1 with the one into which it fed, and used the paragraph thereby freed up for a transition that realistically takes the lucky player to Convergence Beach, but no, he chose to create a geographically impossible location.
So I've crossed the river which is spanned by an unreliable bridge, and on the north side is a beach that leads up to a cliff with three doors set into it. When Zagor resurrects, he's going to sue your pointy ears off, Elves of Injustice.
Except that what lies behind the doors is rather different. Wish I could remember which one leads to the Skill 12 opponent. I suppose I should be thankful that there is a route or two which avoids that particular foe, given the need to fail a Skill roll just beforehand, but there's still a 1 in 3 chance for anyone who doesn't remember where each door leads to wind up having to fight the wretched thing.
I pick a door, and it's locked. The sounds from behind it suggest that this is the room with the Skill 12 Birdman, but I don't have a golden key, so I can't unlock it, which means I get to... try and charge it down, in spite of its being covered in sharp studs. *headdesk* Or rather, headdoor, as the way the paragraph is written, it implies that I pad my shoulder and then charge at the door head-first. Well, given that my character didn't even consider going back and trying another door, I'm guessing that there's precious little to damage inside that cranium.
On my fourth attempt, the door opens, and oh joy, it is Galon the Birdman (apparently instantly recognisable for being green, though what such an infamous character is doing in a dump like this, I dread to think). He has an all-consuming lust for metal, so naturally I draw my sword, rather than attacking bare-handed or trying to show him the shiny (all right, in places bloody) iron studs on the door.
And I win the first Attack Round, and am Lucky! Didn't remotely expect that. Jaw drops. I win the next round, too. His starting Stamina is 8, so a further successful Test of Luck brings him down. I have just defeated a foe whose Skill was 5 above mine, without taking a scratch in the process. That has to be one of my most awesome feats in over 25 years of playing gamebooks.
And now I have to carry on and get shot by a tribe of bastard Elves for not finding their stupid Idol.
That is, assuming I get that far. Because while I'm searching for another way out, a horde of maggots consumes the body and, their appetite not yet satiated, they advance on me. It's like time lapse photography's evil twin is manifesting in the room. Luckily, I find a secret door, and make it to a crossroads. Guess how much choice I have regarding which path to take? Well, I can carry on north, or I can choose to turn neither east nor west, or I can continue in the same direction I was already going.
Heading the opposite of south, I reach a door with a parchment on it. Not a Death Spell, but it might as well be. It states (in several languages, at least I'm assuming that the text in unfamiliar languages says the same thing) that anyone who gets this far must have great courage. Now, I had been planning to heap scorn on it, on account of my having done everything I could to avoid encountering anything hostile on my way to the river, but hey, this is the hero who butchered a vastly superior opponent unscathed. That might not exactly show courage, but it's still pretty impressive. Regardless, now I 'must live with courage or die with courage'. Well, I know which of those it's going to be.
Behind the door I meet an elderly human (why not an Elf? What's this git doing aiding and abetting the Elves of Negligible Justice?). He asks for the Idol, and as there are no numerical inscriptions on it, I could just lie and say I do have it, but I'm not letting Ford's atrocious gamebook design turn me into a cheat. "No, I do not have the Idol, you repellent little collaborator. I hope the Goblins get you and your wouldn't-know-justice-if-it-smacked-them-around-the-head-with-its-scales-while-running-them-through-with-its-sword friends."
He takes me to the Elves, the leader of whom is glad of the excuse to have his troops repeatedly perforate me.
The Dark Chronicles of Anakendis by Andrew Whitworth
This was in the first issue of Warlock to be published by Games Workshop, and among the changes brought in by the new publishers was a new look for the mini-adventures. The font's not the same, and the illustrations are quite a departure from the norm. Artist Mark K. Dunn (who would go on to provide rival magazine Proteus with a variety of scantily-clad females and gruesome monsters) has a crude intensity and a flair for the grotesque unlike anything previously featured in the mag. Tim Sell's illustrations for the House of Hell mini come closest, but they're as distinct as Dali and Picasso.
Anyway, enough waffle. Let's get adventuring. On the way to Fang (visiting a friend rather than seeking to get myself killed in Deathtrap Dungeon) I stop in the village of Kokbridge and learn that the locals are having problems with the villainous Anakendis, a wizard who lives in some nearby caves with assorted minions. Like Zagor, he has a spell book (the eponymous Dark Chronicles). Like Balthus Dire in one 'fail' variant of TCoC, he has subverted an adventurer who went to kill him. Like Zanbar Bone, he's using vicious dogs to intimidate the people, and demands tribute of the female kind (though he wants two fresh maidens a week, rather than just the headman's daughter, which really isn't going to be viable in the long term). Naturally, the Kokbridgers appeal to me to destroy the wizard and his book, and, being a generic adventurer, I agree.
Being a not very good generic adventurer, I'm unlikely to succeed. But here we go anyway. So, I set off, reach the cave mouth, enter, and soon reach a left/right turning. Any similarities to the opening of TWoFM are completely dispelled by the fact that it took me just a day and a night to get there, rather than two days. Oh yes.
Turning right, I reach a room with two exits and an alcove. Checking out the alcove, I find only a bellrope hanging down, and decide to pull it. This reveals Mr Whitworth to be something of a Doctor Who geek, as the monster that smashes through the walls is straight out of an obscure story broadcast in 1967. It also shows him to be a little harsh, as there's nothing to be gained (other than extra-hurtful wounds - 3 Stamina damage per blow) by fighting the Macra. There's no Escape option, either, so I wind up dead even faster than expected.
This has a significantly longer 'Background to the Adventure' than any of the previous Warlock mini-adventures, and its Scorpion Swamp-esque lack of linearity means that it's likely to take longer than most (unless I die early).
I am a student at a School of Magic (apparently on Earth, given the reference to Chinese Taoism), though so far I've only studied theory. Only those who survive the testing get taught how to actually cast spells. Unusually, character generation forms part of the background - I watch the Grey Oracle tossing bones (using dice to simulate the bone-tossing), and where they fall determines my Skill, Stamina and Luck. It could be argued that the ritual is a way of mystically divining the capabilities of the one being tested, rather than establishing what they are, but it's a bit odd all the same.
What I roll is far from promising. Still, equipped with TWoFM-style starting gear, plus some vaguely mystical hints (one of which is flawed, as water is omitted from the generational sequence of Elements, but not the conquering one), I commence the test, finding myself at the easternmost extremity of a circular passage with no exits (the entrance vanished just after I used it). I'm not sure it matters which way I go at this stage, so I'll try widdershins. Five minutes later I'm back where I started, but I keep going, picking up the pace so it doesn't take me as long to complete my second circuit. Refusing to turn around, I plod onwards, and upon completion of the third circuit, a door appears for just long enough to let me through to a semicircular room with three exits in the facing wall.
Choosing the southernmost door, I find a square room containing a cluttered desk and basin, which provide me with such dubious treasures as paper clips, rubber bands, a shaving mirror and some 'disreputable' toothbrushes. According to the rules, anything I take from this room will not be replaced until I have been through at least five others (though opponents automatically respawn the moment I depart). Not that there's anything to stop me from cheating and repeatedly going to and from the semicircular room until I've amassed several hundred dirty flannels. Except maybe sanity.
Exits to all points of the compass, so I go south. The next room contains a strange 'car-like' machine and five boxes. A quick look at the machine gives no hints as to its function, or even how to switch it on, so I open a box, picking the second one more or less at random. Inside is something green with fangs and claws, so I slam down the lid and sit on it, at which point similar beasties emerge from the other four boxes. Drawing my sword, I leap to my feet to defend myself, and the Gremlin I had been trapping bursts out of its box. This is going to be a fun fight...
Well, that could have been worse, especially as they attacked three at a time. One of the boxes also contains a Bluesteel Chalice, which I grab. No east door (which makes sense), so I go south again. Another semicircular room, containing a swimming pool, towels, and five exits set into the straight wall to the north. Douglas Adams fan that I am, I cannot resist the temptation to grab a towel, after which I test the water. It is just water, so I decide to have a swim, which heals a little Stamina, and would also restore some Skill if I'd lost any of that. Worth remembering in five rooms' time.
Favouring a methodical approach, I try the door next to the one by which I entered. Beyond it is a room in which two Orcs are wrestling, with a third acting as referee. Unfortunately for me, all three decide that 'stab the human' is a more fun game than wrestling, so I have to fight again, and it's simultaneous combat, too. One Orc dies, and I wound another twice, but in the end the Referee puts me out for the count.
A mysterious adventurer on a world where seasons are a matter of geography, not time, I am close to the border between Winter and Spring when I overhear a nearby massacre, arriving too late to save anyone, but seeing an Eagle leaving the scene of the crime. The one doomed survivor says enough to convince me that I have a chance of achieving fame and fortune in the fabled Floating City. All I have to do is rescue Lord Karon's favourite Dwarf from the Eagle which has, apparently, abducted him for the second time.
For a while I head into the lands of Winter, eventually reaching a point where the path splits near an abandoned-looking hut. Naturally, I check out the hut first, and spot a harpoon hanging on the wall. Walking over to grab it, I almost fall into a concealed pit, but not even a double 6 can stop me from being Lucky. Peering into the pit, I discover that it is occupied by a slavering predator known as a Bear-Trap (you'd think that I might have noticed that while I was dangling from the edge, trying to pull myself up, but apparently not), and decide to kill it in the hope of looting the remains of its past victims. I don't even have to jump into the pit to do so, as the Bear-Trap clambers out (making it all the stranger that I didn't get attacked while hanging precariously). The treasure's not that special - 2GP, a pair of earmuffs, and a scale (possibly from a snake) - but the fight was pretty tame, considering the way the Bear-Trap was described before its stats were revealed. I also grab that harpoon, which turns out to be made of a precious metal that I can make heat up with the power of my mind. Could be nifty.
Emerging from the hut, I decide to investigate the nearby glacier, there discovering that I'm the kind of wimp who loses Stamina by walking on uneven surfaces. A crevasse tries to ambush me, but times its opening badly, so I don't fall in. Catching sight of what looks like someone who did fall in, I decide against fishing for corpses with my harpoon, and climb down to see what can be plundered. More gold, a jewelled dagger, and a bone.
And then the crevasse closes up again, leaving me as doomed as the corpse I just robbed. D'oh!
The letters page in the issue of Warlock in which this adventure appeared included one letter about colouring in the illustrations in gamebooks with watercolours. Regrettably, I had access to some watercolours at the time I got the magazine, and was 'inspired' to try doing just that with some of the pictures accompanying the mini-adventure. The results do not look good.
Anyway, on with the adventure. I am squire to Sir Falfax the Fair, who is the latest of many fools to be captured by the evil wizard Throngard's minions and imprisoned in the dungeons beneath the eponymous castle. In the hope of rescuing him, I decide to conceal a knife and a picklock on my person (but not, alas, a compass) and contrive to get myself taken prisoner, in the hope that breaking out will be easier than breaking in and then out.
My stats are promising (though, unless there's some serious anti-meritocratic stuff going on around here, I can't help but wonder just how hard Sir Falfax must be to have a Skill 12 squire). Writing this up may also help negate one of the most problematic aspects of the adventure as I remember it from playing it back in the '80s: with no compass, all directions are left/right or forward/back, which made it easy to get lost, as what's to the left when you're on one side of the corridor is to the right when you're on the other. Keeping note of the directions I turn might help me get a better grasp of what is where. Time will tell.
So, ostensibly armed with just a wooden stick, I go wandering in the wood of Ergon, and am ambushed (by three men rather than a silly-looking featherless chicken-dinosaur-biped thing). Even my paintbrush-wielding twit self could tell that putting up token resistance and allowing the thugs to believe that they'd overpowered me was smarter than instantly surrendering or properly beating up the goons I want to abduct me, so I throw the fight, and am coshed into unconsciousness.
Coming round, I find myself chained up in a cell, but my captors didn't search me thoroughly enough to find the knife and lockpicks, so before long I have my chains undone. Pick the lock on the door, or wait and see what happens? There might be something to gain by ambushing the jailer, so I'll twiddle my thumbs for a bit. Before too long, I hear a key in the lock, and hide behind the door. A guard enters bearing water and mouldy bread, and - whoa! - I slit his throat. None of this hippy 'knocking out' stuff for me. Grabbing the dead man's cudgel (but not his keys, because that would make things too easy), I exit the cell and step into a corridor. Another door across the way, or I can go left or right.
Door first. It turns out that my cell is opposite the provisions store. A guard is shelf-stacking, but I convince him to take an extended break, and relieve him of his sword. Back to the corridor, and... right. Which would've been left if I'd turned aside as soon as I left the cell (and the section numbers agree with that). This takes me past a door with a strange runic inscription, which I decide to leave well alone, and I stop when I reach another pair of doors facing each other. The one on the left (which should be the same side as my cell) has a peephole, so I look through it, and see an old man muttering about revenge. He also says, "Throngard was right," so unless I've missed hearing the words "out of order to have me locked up, and the next time I see him, I'll smash his face in," straight afterwards, it's probably not in my best interests to free him.
Section numbers indicate that directions to go are accurate for someone facing the door rather than emerging from the cell, which makes sense. Still, there's the other door to investigate before I go any further along the corridor. That leads to a storeroom containing a rope, a canvas bag, and a selection of wooden stakes. Metaknowledge tells me that there's a Vampire around somewhere, but the rules say I can only take a stake if I have no other weapon, and must discard it as soon as I obtain something better. How very tiresome. Directions still correct upon emergence from the storeroom, and I turn right to continue the way I was heading.
Further along is a door with a grille in it, and the sounds emanating from within suggest that behind it is an extremely distressed prisoner or a pack of dogs. I have the option of advancing, turning back, or trying to think of something else. 'Something else' probably only works if I have something with which to distract the dogs, which I don't. I can't even misspell 'stake' to gain some raw meat. Not wishing to risk having the alarm raised, I turn back.
Past the two doors, past the door with the runes (which I don't even have the choice of investigating this time) and back to where I entered the corridor. I reenter the provisions store and kill the replacement stacker because now I have a bag, I can put some spare food in it, and there's nothing in the text to say I can't (whereas it's explicitly stated that repeat visits to the storeroom will not yield multiple bags, ropes and tantalising stakes).
Back out, and now I go left of that door. It's becoming increasingly apparent that my confusion back in '86 was purely the result of lack of concentration on my part. A compass and NESW directions would have made this easier, but so far the subjective bearings have been right every time, and I take back whatever nasty things I may have said about the author as regards directions all those years ago.
Another two facing doors. If the pattern holds up, the one on the right should be a cell, the other something else. Right first, then. It's locked, but I have my lockpicks and oh! It's an armoury. I get to choose one item of armour (more would be too cumbersome, apparently), and go for a shield. It works like the one in TWoFM, only twice as effective. Better than nothing, I suppose.
The other door is also locked. But not for long. Behind it is an unusually lavishly decorated cell, with an occupant who beckons to me. If he's a prisoner, he's someone important. If not, I doubt I'd have the option to slam and lock the door (nice work with just picks). I'll risk seeing what he has to say for himself. Turns out he was Throngard's tutor, imprisoned when the wizard turned evil, but given a five-star cell out of gratitude for services rendered. He teaches me an invocation to temporarily immobilise Throngard so long as I don't attempt to harm him, and tells me to look in the library upstairs for more secrets. He won't try to escape, as he was responsible for Throngy's rise to power. It could have been fun to see the two of them fight a magical duel, but then again, I wouldn't want to be collateral damage from that, so I just continue on my way.
Up ahead is a corner, but there's another pair of doors first. On the left is a guard room. Oops! Try to sneak away before they spot me, and Luck is on my side, so I vanish round that corner. Stairs lead up, so I ascend and go through a door. More corridor action, with another door straight ahead. Open it, of course. Beyond it is a passageway to another door, this one locked. Out with the picks, and I attract the attention of the two guards and Puma on the other side. Double oops! Still, I survive the fight, and my younger self has pencilled in the missing 'If you win, turn to...' reference in accordance with the correction in issue 10, so the adventure can continue.
I step through into the entrance hall, and attract the attention of Throngard's pet Dragon. Triple oops with hot oops sauce and grated oops on top, it has 15 Skill and there's no Escape option. Shoulda left that door alone and gone looking for a bow and arrow. My shield protects me from its breath attack, but I'm still probably doomed. Well, here goes nothing...
Yep, I'm dead. Hit it twice, but even with Luck it'd have taken four blows to kill the thing. I was starting to get into the adventure, too.
Warlock 10 introduced the pointless and irritating gimmick of making the mini-adventure dual-system, giving stats for playing it by D&D rules as well as FF. The editorial indicates that this was an attempt at pleasing 'serious' gamers, which insults FF fans, and misses the point that any hardcore D&Ders who looked down on the FF books were more likely to be doing so because solo play lacks the flexibility of a GMed adventure, rather than on account of the rules.
The adventure itself was reprinted (minus D&D waffle) in The Fighting Fantasy 10th Anniversary Yearbook. A few sections had been moved around, for no obvious reason (41 still leads to 42, so if they were trying to separate out the sections better, they didn't do a very good job), and I think the most egregious typos were cleared up, but no changes seem to have been made to the adventure itself, more's the pity. I assume RM was chosen for the Yearbook because Graeme Davis, the author, had had a full-length FF book published (unlike all the other mini-adventure authors), and was easier to contact/already had a contract/had signed away his soul to Puffin. It seems highly unlikely that the adventure was selected for reprinting on grounds of merit.
Anyway, that's more than enough blather. What of the adventure itself? A down-on-his-luck adventurer, on trial for attempting to rob a fat merchant, I face either the death sentence or a fine of one right hand (and no, somebody else's will not suffice). Before sentence can be passed, a representative of the Guild of Magicians turns up and asks if they can have me, and I am promptly handed over. It transpires that the Guild wants me to deal with Galthazzeth, a former member expelled for general naughtiness a century or so ago, who has taken up residence in an abandoned mine and plans to conquer the world. Or the Guild could just confiscate my innards, if I'd prefer. Guess what I choose.
So I trek to the abandoned mine and attack a Goblin guard while it's snacking on a human arm. Sloppy writing (fixed in the Yearbook) implies that I enter the mine, come back out to loot the Guard, and then go in again. Maybe I'll wind up doing the Hokey-Cokey before this adventure is over.
Soon I reach a crossroads, and go west because it doesn't matter. Reach a door, listen at it, overhear chatter in Goblinese, and burst in to do some killing. Loot, find a strange pendant, search the room, find an indentation shaped like the pendant, do the obvious, and a secret door opens to reveal yet another Goblin, this one with some magical ability, but a bad aim. Dodging his fireball, I slice him up and grab a potion and a magical scroll.
Next door is a Goblin temple, with a ruby-eyed statue (wonder if I'll find the Eye of Argon around here somewhere) and assorted torture implements. Normally I'd be a little cautious around statues with jewelled eyes, but as I recall, there's only one Instant Death in the whole adventure, and that's set between the death of Galthazzeth and total victory, so I plunder away. A magical trap costs me a whole 2 Stamina, but after that I have the gems, and return to the crossroads.
East next. Passing through an uninteresting room, I go north, then east at another junction, and find a storeroom. A quick search turns up an amulet, which I find every bit as non-ominous as the statue's eyes, and less harmful, to boot. Wander around some more, find another door, and it turns out to be an Imitator. Isn't that a trick Davis uses in Midnight Rogue? It's not the only element of the adventure that he'll rehash, either. Indeed, straight after the Imitator, I encounter a Scitalis (though the amulet enables me to see through the illusion and avoid getting caught). I kill it in case it has any useful loot, and find a magic sword. Attack Strength bonus, hurrah!
Continuing on my way, I run into a Bandit. Not the chocolate bar, if anyone remembers them. Not much of an opponent: I club him down, then knock him to the floor again (which would make me a double-decker), smack him be-twix-t the eyes, and one more blow causes him to flake out. After nicking his stuff, I am given the option to push the body through a nearby door, which is such an odd choice that I just have to take it. The corpse is promptly siezed (sic) by a huge Giant Beetle (as opposed to one of those tiny Giant Beetles that go around confusing people by looking like ordinary beetles), and I leap to the attack. An epic struggle ensues, and while I do survive, I'm now low on Stamina, and only allowed to eat Provisions when the text says. What's worse, the Beetle's treasure is just a mound of Gold Pieces - very useful in the civilised world where an impoverished hero can get his hand lopped off for trying to pilfer a crust of bread, but a fat lot of use in non-Livingstonian dungeons.
Having exhausted the options in this section of the mines, I retrace my footsteps to an earlier junction, wander around some more, and eventually find some more Goblins. They provide bonus loot (if I'd known there were Potions of Fortune just lying around here, I'd have brought a Potion of Strength with me) and, more importantly, a chance to sit down and have a bite to eat.
Further wandering leads to an encounter with an Antman. I'm going to be generous and assume that, as Galthazzeth is known for magical hybridisation, this is one of his creations, rather than evidence that Davis has forgotten about Xoroa. Indeed, given its acid-spraying ability and sub-Xoroan Skill, this has to be a different species. Once I've stomped it, I listen at the door it was guarding, and hear sounds implying the existence of more Antmen beyond. I risk opening it (could be another snack break in there), and realise that they heard the fight and have their acid jets ready. Fortunately, their aim is as bad as the Goblin Shaman's, and they're worse fighters that their counterpart outside the door was.
The Antmen have some precious stones and shields. A shield gives a Skill bonus (not Attack Strength - boo!), but I can't carry one and a spear at the same time, and I looted a spear from the Goblin guard. Shields have uses other than providing redundant bonuses, but the spear might come in handy too, so I'll stick with that.
There's a door other than the entrance, so I try that. One thing I will say in this adventure's favour: it has much greater freedom of movement than most FF dungeons. I could probably return to the initial crossroads from here (though I can't actually leave the mines before completing my mission, owing to an aversion to being magically sought out and forced to watch as the Magicians extract my still-beating heart and mix it into some potion), but I don't think there's anything to gain by so doing. There is, technically, nothing to stop me repeating any of my previous encounters, which is something of a flaw, but there are no rewards so impressive as to make it worth doing so again.
Behind the door is a flight of stairs, which I opt to ascend. At the top I find a door and a passageway, and behind the door is Galthazzeth's workshop, operated by Worker Antmen and the Zombies of adventurers who failed at this quest, supervised by the big G himself. Just the sort of place where that Firestorm scroll could do some satisfactory mayhem. Alas, I'm no Wizard, and botch it. What's worse, my bungled attempt attracts Gally's attention, and he sets his Zombies on me. They don't get far, though, as a medallion I took from the Goblin guard, inscribed with a 'G' rune, causes them to back off. Could be a magical ward, could just be that they really don't like the font it's written in. These things bother some people, and geekery that intense is liable to persist even after death.
Recklessly, I attack the Antmen, and despite not being armed with a kettle, I prevail. Galthazzeth prepares to cast a spell, but this is where my having retained the spear pays off, as I get a chance to distract him by throwing the spear. Okay, so I could have done just the same with one of the daggers I grabbed from some other denizen, but I gave up an insect-themed shield for this spear, so I'm going to use it! I have to roll to see if I hit, and score equal to my Skill, but Mr Davis is no Andrew Chapman, so that's good enough. A typo here implies that Rincewind has turned up out of the blue, but he's gone before he can complicate matters.
Before Galthazzeth can try casting another spell, I close with him, and find that his Skill is equal to mine plus my Attack Strength bonus. Could be nasty, but I downed one of those Potions of Fortune during a quiet moment, and use Luck to hammer his Stamina into the ground. He teleports away from what should have been a killing blow, but only manages a short hop, so I give chase, cornering him in a laboratory, where he sets his Clone Slime on me. It's not much of a fighter, but keeps spawning humanoid figures (which are even worse in battle) to attack me until it finally runs out of Stamina.
Being a traditionalist, I set the laboratory ablaze before resuming my pursuit of Galthazzeth. He's not doing too well himself, and I catch sight of him across a gorge spanned by a rope bridge. Three guesses as to what he's trying to do. Trying and. alas, succeeding (shoulda had another of those Potions of Fortune after my little act of arson - I do so even as the bridge falls). Still, it's only a shallow gorge, and I hope that the river running through it is similarly shallow. Well, it's deep enough to house a Man-Octopus, but my renewed Luck enables me to make short work of the thing.
Meanwhile, the G-man is out of luck, and out of clever tricks by the time I catch up with him. Mission accomplished, but I still have to get out alive. Luckily for me, he has a Potion of WHAT? Skill? I'm sure it was Strength in the Yearbook. Quick check, and yup, I'm right. But I'm playing the original version, so I must remain hanging onto life by a thread for now. Kick the corpse for carrying something so unhelpful. Then again, if it had been a Potion of Strength, the sensible thing would have been for him to neck it and restore his Stamina before I caught up to him, so maybe it's for the best.
He also has a scroll, but he's not the Snow Witch, so I need not worry about reading it. It is, in fact, a map, depicting a nearby maze with a star marked at the centre. Curiosity gets the better of me, compelling me to see what the star signifies. Oh, just the source of Galthazzeth's power. Might as well smash it while I'm here. Except that there's a guard, and this ain't no Goblin. As much Skill as the man himself, and two attacks per round. Even with Luck, two hits will take me down.
They do. So near and yet so far (and why couldn't I eat Provisions before entering the maze, eh?).
This is a sequel to The Floating City, and the last Warlock mini to have D&D stats alongside the FF ones. Several years ago I wrote a review of it (now archived at Demian's gamebook site), and from my repeated attempts at the adventure back then, I remember an extremely annoying unavoidable bit in which 3 out of 4 choices lead to Instant Death. Regrettably, I do not remember which is the non-lethal choice.
An unspecified length of time after The Floating City (a variant in which I didn't get swallowed up by a glacier, that is), I get homesick and decide to return to the lands of Summer. From where I am, the best way to get there is through the Autumn region, which is reputed to get pretty freaky at times. Still, there's no alternative here, so off I go...
There's little likelihood that the character I roll up could have survived the climactic battle in TFC, but stranger things have happened coughGalontheBirdmancough. Entering the forest that is Autumn, I soon get the sense that I am not alone, and decide to tread carefully. This enables me to spot and avoid a concealed net, and makes me far more confident than is likely to be good for me.
Before long I reach a glade containing a stone with a hole bored in it. As I recall, that's none too far from the end of the adventure, which suggests that I've missed great chunks of story. Not good. I check out the stone, which proves to be self-bored, and thus inherently magical. Well, actually, thanks to a typo, this is identified as 'Self-Bored Stoned', which sounds like a group of out-of-their-heads hippies all going, "I'm not interested in being me!" Nevertheless, it is a stone, and folklore claims that magical things may be seen through it, so I peer through the hole. Who lives in a glade like this? Uh-oh, it's the Gwyllion, a bunch of supernatural nasties. I can only see them while looking through the hole, but I can't exactly fight them with my face pressed up against a stone, so I bravely run away. My high Luck ensures a safe getaway, but I expect that this is a brief reprieve.
Indeed, I soon discover that I am lost, and the epileptic trees start their rustling as I reach a junction. One direction seems as good as another, so I head left. All of a sudden Spring is here, but I anticipate little chance to go poisoning pigeons in the park. The time lapsey goings-on around me induce nausea, and I stagger along the path until I spot a Mazzamarieddu, a wind spirit that's probably not as useful in Scrabble as one might think. It 'can only travel when it sees the blood of a murdered man', which could form the basis for a very weird detective series, but that's beside the point. Somehow I can tell that this 'spinning cloud of air and vapour' is facing away from me, so I sneak past it.
Further on I see what appears to be a large, spherical bird's nest. Punctuation and lack of capitalisation suggest that that is a bird's nest which is large and spherical, rather than a nest belonging to an oversized representative of the possibly dreaded Spherical Bird species, so I take a closer look. Opening the door (I wasn't aware that they were a standard feature of birds' nests), I enter and see the Moss Maiden, who is doing six different household chores simultaneously. While women are reputedly much better at multi-tasking than men, that's just showing off.
If she were as good with weapons as she is with spinning wheel, needle, broom, saucepan and duster, she'd be a formidable opponent. Maybe a 1 got left off the front of her Skill, because as I remember, she's pretty useless. Not that that matters, as I'm not going to attack her this time. I give a friendly greeting, and get an unnecessary Stamina boost. She gives me a choice between helping with the housework and going to sleep, and I go for the slightly more heroic of the two. Boldly I attack the encroaching dust. Fearlessly I wield cold steel and give it a good shine. With remarkable tenacity I tackle grime. The pointed implement in my hand does not rest until every hole has been patched. And so on.
At last my work is done, and the Moss Maiden points out that my skills could probably have been put to better use. It's so nice to feel appreciated. She says she can turn back time and give me a chance to be braver and bolder and wash up the wine glasses *before* the greasy saucepans, or send me home, or give me what help she can in facing the perils that lie ahead. While going home was my intention at the start of the adventure, actually doing what I set out to do counts as failure in this adventure (Ruth Pracy has some seriously wacky ideas about what constitutes heroism), and I'm not sure that going onwards in my apparently ill-prepared state is wise, so I take the Cher option.
Despite being sent back in time, I am able to retain everything I acquired while getting this far. Which would be a good deal more impressive if I'd got anything other than a sensation of nausea. However, there is a twist to this 'back in time' lark, as I wind up not where and when I once was, but w&w I would have been if I hadn't been so foolish as to exercise caution right back at the start. Yes, I'm in a net. The captive of a mob of Brownies, and not the pre-Girl Guide type (though I'm sure they can be just as dangerous as the Little People in their own way). A cut rope brings me down to earth, and the Brownies indicate that they want me to go with them. Okay, I'll chance it, but if this ends in a camp-fire singalong of Kumbayah, there's going to be trouble.
They lead me to their village, which brings a Luck bonus redundant to anyone who hasn't done the Time Warp, and introduce me to an unpleasant-looking old woman beside a fire. No songs, but I don't like the way she's wielding that poker. Still, boldness appears to be what is required of me, so I take my place next to her. And she gets me between the eyes with a branding iron. But this is no Instant Death, just a test of fortitude (well, Luck), which I pass, receiving a Mark of True Sight (which reveals the woman's beauty, possibly inner) and a small horn I can blow to summon help. Now I'm starting to get somewhere.
The Brownies are impressed with my new look, and give me a hearty meal to restore the Stamina I lost falling from the net. The next morning they give me a tour of the village, providing me with an opportunity to steal a few diamonds from the cabbage patch if I'm that way inclined (some aspects of this adventure are so surreal as to be beyond parody), and then I set off again. Before I leave, I am presented with some extra Provisions (including a string of onions and garlic) and a Brownie knife. Back when I saw the Gwyllion, I was asked if I had a knife, so I suspect that this may come in handy if I find myself in the glade again.
On my way out, I see what could be an Ent, and go closer in the hope that the tree won't harm me. Some kind of metamorphosis commences, but I'm not feeling queasy yet, so I keep watching. Next moment, the tree's a green-skinned woman, who kisses extra Luck into me. At some point between now and the end of this write-up, I shall throw in a completely false bit of nonsense, and see if anyone can distinguish what I've made up from the more bizarre aspects of the adventure itself.
Soon I reach that glade again, and approach the stone to find out if the Gwyllion are still there. This time I see a vision things that wouldn't be out of place in the Book of Revelation: strange figures riding antlered steeds across stormy skies, frogs raising rabbits from the dead, evil things fleeing, the blowing of a horn like the one I was given... Oh, and the Gwyllion are still there, but now I have a much wider range of things to choose from, only half of which are in my inventory. In view of Ms Pracy's tendency to provide some options with the sole purpose of then saying, "You are SO stupid you deserve to die," to anyone who takes them, I'm guessing that brandishing the garlic will lead to a short and lethal lecture on the difference between Vampires and Gwyllion. From past attempts I remember that blowing the horn prompts the revelation that Gwyllion are like an arcane mute button, rendering that item useless. That only leaves the knife. Well, if I have my way, some of the Gwyllion are going to die.
Blimey! It defeats them without any of that messy combat nonsense. The stone sings a song and vanishes, leavng behind a crown, which I take. Continuing on my way, I reach a ruined tower, which I seem to recall contains a nasty but probably non-lethal fight. Evading it may not be in my best interests, so I risk entering. Inside is the dreaded rogue (and somewhat rouge) Brownie Redcap, who takes his name from his propensity for dyeing his headgear in the blood of his victims, and must be a welcome sight for bored Mazzamarieddus. Even taking the time travel into account, it's taken a remarkably long time to get into a fight.
Pracy evidently expects poor fighers in this adventure, as Redcap has 10 Stamina, but the only direction at the end of the section is for anyone who manages to survive 6 rounds of combat, with no acknowledgement of the possibility of actually killing him before then. Not that there's much chance of that here, but I get in a couple of decent blows before the time limit, after which I scare Redcap off by quoting Scripture at him, and take one of his teeth as a souvenir.
Continuing on my way, I reach the Moss Maiden's nest again, and my True Sight convinces me to pay her another visit. This time round the interior looks palatial, and its occupant beautiful. Her hugs still restore Stamina, though, and after that run-in with Redcap, I could do with the healing. Randomly getting the idea of giving her a present, I decide to find out if she moonlights as the Tooth Fairy, which proves an inspired choice. It turns out that Redcap teeth confer invulnerability on their bearers (though there was little indication of their doing so while in his mouth). I might have been better off keeping it for myself (though doubtless Pracy would have found a loophole and killed me sooner or later if I had done), but for handing it over I can have a reward. The choice is between my greatest wish and my heart's desire, and (while there's no indication in the text at this point) picking the wrong one means Failure.
I get it right, and my reward is the chance to go on a new quest. For some people, that might be on a par with socks for Christmas, but ruthless Ruth clearly thinks that it's the best present ever. I can learn how to get past the star-high mountains at the edge of the world and find the secret of the Universe itself (incidentally, section 42 is a 'use the wrong item and get redirected to Instant Death' paragraph), if only I swear to undertake the quest or die in the attempt.
Do I swear? ****, yeah! In response, the Moss Maiden gives me a crystal orb and a ball of yarn, tells me that her name is Lina, and the letter of it may help me, and reveals her secret, which is... that I should seek the holder of the secret. Well, that was certainly worth pledging my life for.
Resuming my journey, I reach a rock pillar engraved with four letters: A, J, L and Z. Pressing the right one will open the way forward, any other will kill me. Now, Lina did tell me that the letter of her name might help me, so you'd think that 'L' would be the right one. Ms Pracy presumably thought that that was too obvious, as I remember making that mistake and getting atomised (or was it drowned or crushed?) back when I was reviewing this.
That leaves three possibilities. I pick the one that didn't appear in the title of a televised Doctor Who story until 2007. It's another of the wrong ones. The ground turns to quicksand. That would be 'die in the attempt', then, so at least Lina's happy.
This is a sequel to Appointment With F.E.A.R., and as I won that one here, I shall dust off the character I used in that attempt. I must have bought the magazine on the way to school, as I remember the Silver Crusader rescuing a (non-supervillain-in-disguise) cat during the journey.
A little while after the defeat of Vladimir Utoshki and his cronies, an inexplicable power cut afflicts Titan City. Somewhat implausibly, at first everybody only notices that the radios and TVs aren't working, and only later does the shutting down of everything else attract any attention - even at midday, there are going to be a lot of lights on indoors, and I imagine that in the hospitals, the power loss would have been noticeable for reasons other than the abrupt interruption in the broadcast of Going for Gold being watched by assorted geriatrics in the common room.
The next day, there's another power cut, only this time the TVs and radios are unaffected, so the costumed criminal responsible can hijack the airwaves and gloat. The masked miscreant in question calls himself the Dynamo, and demands to be made ruler of the Earth, or he'll start doing really nasty stuff. Just to prove that his threats aren't hollow, he's going to destroy Titan City in a week. How very obliging of him to wait long enough that a superhero might manage to track him down before he can put his plan into action.
David Stevens' accompanying illustrations suggest that he has no interest in the 'could be male or female' aspect of the Crusader, unless the Ms Lafayette variant is extremely flat-chested and in the habit of wearing a tie to work.
My starting clues are that the villainous Mr Obesity is in town, and liable to be heading for a branch of McWimpy's, and that Cyanide Cecil will probably hit Titan City Chemical Plant before long. No villains from AWF appear in this adventure (not even the mentioned-but-unseen Ocean Behemoth), so any time author Gavin Shute wants a bad guy with a similar gimmick to one of Steve Jackson's creations, we get an inferior knock-off like CC here.
The adventure begins. None of the newspapers are taking the Dynamo's threats seriously. Well, it's not as if Titan City's ever been in any real danger from a self-proclaimed supervi- Okay, there was the Titanium Cyborg, but that was different, I mean this Dynamo hasn't even demonstrated any kind of ability to cause troub- All right, I live in a city full of morons! On my way to work I see a police car race round the corner, and gunshots ring out. Looks like I'm going to be late in again.
It turns out that the crime in progress is a simple hostage situation, without even a fancy-named villain. I'm too bored to do anything clever, and just kick my way into the building. The gunman panics and fires at me, missing, and I pull out the silly sound effects again.
BINK! QUAT! FREP! SAS!
Having done my duty, I catch sight of film star Richard Gears, but don't have the clue about him, so there's no point in joining the queue for autographs. Instead, I decide to go shopping (I'm not even trying to keep the day job any more, am I?), and wander into the local branch of Cottonworth's (groan!). Shute then proceeds to brutally murder Steve Jackson's self-referential gag from FF book 17 (18 if you're a Wizard type) by having Gerry the Grass recommend Appointment With F.E.A.R. to me.
The hole in the fourth wall leads to two other sections of the store, and I head for the electrical department on the grounds that it's more likely to attract criminal types than the clothes department. There I see a man slipping a computer into his jacket (in 1986? It must make him look like he's pregnant with Cheltenham!), and duck behind a scissor-action sandwich toaster to change into my costume. That done, I try to apprehend him, and he shows off a mouthful of metal teeth. This goon even has the same name as the Bond film second-string villain with a similar dental set-up, but his Skill and Stamina prove him to be no Richard Kiel.
TING! PYOK! WERB! DUMF! VALC! RINSE AND SPIT!
Not only does he have no clues, I don't even get any Hero Points for removing the jugular-chomping psychopath from the streets. Rip-off! Still, fighting him has made me hungry, so I get to choose between visiting a swanky restaurant or a burger bar. Naturally I choose McWimpy's, and what was Shute thinking when he came up with the 'humorous' burger name that is the Big Kak? Is he expressing his opinion of the quality of fast food? Predictably, in waddles Mr Obesity, so I fight the flab.
Once I've hit the fat man often enough to make him blubber, I threaten him with reduced rations in jail, and in less time than it takes to say 'lawyer alleges human rights violation' he's spilling his guts (not literally) about the Dynamo's hideout. Naturally he only knows the street, not the house number, but it's a start all the same.
Back home I watch some TV, and a weak pun of a newsreader reveals that practically everyone still thinks the Dynamo is a joke. If he had any real panache, he'd interrupt the broadcast to say, "Let's see you laugh this off," and shut the station down for the rest of the evening, but I guess he's too busy muttering, "My time will come, oh yes," to himself to actually do anything.
Next morning my Crimewatch summons me to the Chemical Plant. On my way there I see a small child crying, and stop to find out what's wrong. After all, what hero would pass up the chance to sort out a trivial problem just because lives might be at stake? Her cat is stuck up a tree, so I climb up (why not fly?) and rescue it, getting clawed in the process, and then the Chemical Plant goes up in a huge toxic fireball that engulfs me, the girl, the cat and the whole of Titan City. Only kidding - in fact, my delay in responding to the urgent call makes no difference whatsoever because the disaster's on one of those Hollywood countdowns that only actually change while the camera is on them, and kittens are more photogenic than doom-laden LEDs. Or something.
Actually, upon arrival at the Plant I am informed that a burst pipe has caused a leak of a non-harmful but very expensive chemical. I sacrificed my lie-in for this? Grumpily, I squish both ends of the pipe together and hold them in place while the Welder does his stuff, losing some Stamina as a consequence of being exposed to the harmless chemical that's leaking out. I'm willing to believe that the foreman has been spouting spin here, rather than assuming that Shute and the editors never spotted the contradiction. "Thank you, Crusader! You've saved out money!"
This is, no doubt, a diversion caused by Cyanide Cecil while he raids the 'Really Harmless Chemicals, Honest' cupboard, so once I've finished coughing my lungs up and bandaging the burns on my hands, I go looking for him. He's there, of course, and threatens me with a vial that purportedly contains enough deadly virus to wipe out the entire city. He wouldn't be so quick to try and intimidate me with germs if he knew where I'd been eating yesterday. I advance on him, he throws the vial at me, and while I'm performing a quick analysis to confirm that it only contains water, he orders a taxi and gets away.
Either it's the weekend, or I've given up on the job again, as I must now choose between going home or heading to the swimming pool for 'a relaxing twenty lengths'. Yeah, right. And what exciting new threat do you think Shute has come up with to confront me at the baths? Captain Kipper? The Chlorinator? Heavy Petting? Nope, it's the exact same situation as cropped up at the pool in AWF, only this time the frozen waters are the handiwork of embittered ex-ice cream vendor Mr Frosty. Reluctant to fight in just my trunks (unless Titan City Municipal Baths are remarkably liberal, I'm definitely a man) in case the paparazzi are about, I hurry back to the changing room and slip into my costume while Mr Frosty is searching for his locker key. I kid you not, the line below his stats begins, 'If you flay the frigid fiend...' Someone didn't bother looking up the meaning of a word there, now did he?
BRR! GNN! VVH! JJL! TTK! DEFROST!
After the fight, Mr F just keeps unhelpfully saying, 'Electricity.' Maybe he's a big OMD fan, and is singing the chorus of their first single to cheer himself up. In any case, it's preferable to lots of tiresome screaming aboout having had his skin removed, so I think I was wise to avoid taking the text too literally.
My presence is requested at Laural's Rollerama, and I arrive just as a man is departing with his arms full of handbags and wallets. Yells of, 'Stop! Thief!' ring out. Nevertheless, it is not until a security guard emerges and indicates the departing man that I deduce the identity of the criminal perpetrating this machiavellian scheme. Considering how much my intellect is shining right now, it's not entirely out of character for me to respond by grabbing a nearby bin and throwing it at the man. Either I've missed an opportunity to lose Skill, or Shute has forgotten one of the fundamentals of Super Strength, as I must roll equal to or under my Skill on 2d6 to hit him, and if I get 14 or more, there's something wrong with my dice. Inevitably, the bin is on target. The guard gathers up the scattered wallets and handbags (and the way the passage is written, it appears that he also picks a couple of policemen off the ground), and I head off to the Police Station to see if anyone's handed in the IQ points I seem to have left lying around somewhere. On the way, I stop off for a free sample from the drugged orange juice stall that's just started doing business in the neighbourhood, and am startled to find myself blacking out...
Regaining consciousness (and probably saying something daft as I come round), I find myself strapped to a chair in a warehouse. The Dynamo is here too, both glowing and gloating, and apparently intent on getting me to take him as seriously as everyone else does. I mean, honestly! He has me at his mercy. A passing rat provides him with an opportunity to show off his Death-Touch. And what does he do? Tell me his plan, laugh maniacally, set an escapable-from trap and hurry off, no doubt to post his resubscription form for the Guild of Clichéd Villains. I break the straps, and even with my tartrazine-fuddled mind, I have no trouble working out that to deactivate the bomb I must cut either the red wire or the blue one. It is as obvious as it looks, and this is another 'no witnesses, so no Hero Points' job, so I gain only the chance to go home and sleep the hangover off.
My Crimewatch gets me up again, and today there are two emergencies immediately demanding my attention, one at the Dough-Play rubber factory, the other at Captain Fisheye's fish factory. Given Shute's sense of humour, the fish factory is liable to be a red herring, so I check out the other place.
An utterly redundant paragraph redirects me from where my last decision sent me to where the next encounter actually starts without telling me anything.
The manager greets me with, 'Hello, Silver Crusader. There's a strange plastic-like man running riot in my factory.' Positively Pinteresque dialogue, except for the words, which would make even George Lucas wince. Still, I figure out that master-contortionist Elastic Eddie is up to some kind of no-goodnitude here, and enter the factory, where I have to choose an aisle to explore - left, central, or right. I choose the correct one, and Eddie transforms himself into a giant fist and hurls himself at me. I choose to fight fist with fist, and his elasticity is facing a long stretch behind bars. He has on him a puzzle, the solution to which is the Dynamo's room number. Which makes perfect sense.
While I'm dropping Eddie off at the Police Station, I decide to see if anything interesting is going on there. No members of staff claiming to be from the early 21st century, but my old friend who's never been mentioned before knows absolutely nothing of use. Also present is Gerry the Grass, who is equally clueless. Well, that was a productive afternoon.
The next day, I must track down the Dynamo or he will put his evil plan into action. Now, unless that orange juice put me out for days, it's been nowhere near a week since he said, 'A week from now I will destroy Titan City just to show the rest of the world that I mean business. Muahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ha.' I guess he got fed up with the 'Laugh at the Dynamo' slot on News at Ten. Still, I know the street, I know the room number, and while some people might think that I'd be better off knowing which building on the street contains that room before I start kicking in doors, Gavin Shute and the Titan City Carpenters and Locksmiths' Union do not share such an opinion.
Led to the right house by my Crusadey sense, I find a massive computer and - dun dun daah! - the Dynamo, who promptly surrenders. Call me paranoid if you will, but that seems ever slightly too easy. I pay considerable attention to the man behind the curtain, who turns out to be somewhat less illusory than his 'It's a fair cop, guv!' counterpart over by the lethal booby trap. The real Dynamo is positively abuzz with electricity, and would probably be significantly affected by the Circuit Jammer I used on the Titanium Cyborg, but I don't seem to have that any more. Maybe I flushed it down the toilet to prevent the alligators in the sewers from developing their own technology with which to subjugate humanity, or something. Still, I can fight him without any risk of Instant Death even if I don't have an off switch for him: it'll just be more difficult.
This adventure may have suffered a little from poor timing: rival magazine Proteus had brought out a rather good Egyptian-themed adventure a couple of months before (it remains my favourite mummy-orientated adventure to this day - well, this hour of this day, as it's possible that the impending playthrough of Temple will result in a radical reappraisal), and the comparison did TTotP no favours.
Anyway, I'm an archaeologist, who has for some time been searching in vain for the lost Temple of Terratakamen, affectionately known as 'King Terror' because of the brutality of his regime. Fortuitously, I discover the hidden valley containing the temple during a solo flight in the desert. Less fortuitously, I then crash the plane, and while I survive, I'm a bit stranded in the middle of nowhere. I thus resolve to pass the time until someone notices my absence and sends out a rescue party by exploring the temple. Not entirely dissimilar to the set-up for House of Hell, except that I start off with a weapon and am sufficiently tough not to drop dead from fright.
The temple is surprisingly well-preserved - there's even still oil on the door hinges. I try a door, which opens (though not from the other side, as I discover after stepping through). So, wait for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, or blunder around like a cretin? I take the sensible option, and before long I can make out more doors. Keep waiting, attack the door I came through with an axe, or try a new door? Unusually for FF, south is an option, so I try that.
The door opens onto a room containing a gold goblet, a bowl of gruel (still hot, so it can't belong to the mummy bear), a rope and a spear. I may only take one of these items because mumblemumble, and as the spear carries an unhelpful Skill bonus, I pick the rope. Stepping back out, (and disregarding the already tried option) I only have the choice of trying the north door or waiting, which rather suggests that using the axe is as dim an idea as it looked. Or it's a one-shot chance at escape and victory, but unless there's a Skill penalty hiding behind the north door, that spear suggests it's more of a ticket to weaponlessness.
Behind the north door is a dimly-lit room, with wall paintings showing the torture and killing of many people. Some of the victims appear to be wearing modern styles, but I assume that the poor lighting is causing me to make mistakes, which just goes to show that it's not only the lighting that's dim. I've just come from a room containing hot food, so it's obvious that this place is still inhabited, and those paintings could be less than a week old. Ah, says head-Scully, but nobody's discovered this place in centuries, so your interpretation of the art is still anachronistic. Minor correction, points out my inner Mulder: nobody has discovered it *and returned to civilisation to tell the world*, and these pictures give a big clue as to why they never made it back.
A ladder leads to a higher level, so I investigate. The upper room is empty, but has a window overlooking a courtyard. The wall's a bit steep, but climbing down is the obvious way onwards, and isn't it lucky that I decided against a useless bonus, valuables of questionable utility, and the logistical fun of dragging around a bowl of hot gruel?
The courtyard is surrounded by an arcade on three sides. The far wall is exposed to the sun, has a door set into it, and is decorated with huge statues of warriors, plus the odd chained-up corpse. South has served me well so far, so I head that way around the arcade. Alas, it turns out that I'm not the only one to appreciate the shade. An assortment of venomous snakes can be found resting in the shadows, and they resent having to share. A fight ensues, and their poison does a staggering zero extra Stamina damage every time they win a round. Not that they ever do, since an archaeologist with an axe is always going to be a match for a bunch of asps that has him surrounded, right?
After that I'm forced to head straight across the courtyard to the door. There's an inscription on the statues' bases, which I translate as meaning that the statues are there to do bad things to intruders. None too surprisingly, they animate, and I must choose fight or flight, given that I have no items to use against them. The 'check your pack' option suggests that there may be interesting things to be found in the northern arcade. Either that, or the statues have an unfortunate vulnerability to gruel (is that really so much more unlikely than a Night Horror's being killed by a spot of bell-ringing?) Running away to a locked gate wouldn't be very clever, and I doubt that there's time to climb the rope, so I'll have to fight.
While their Skill is no higher than mine, they get lots of good rolls, and my Luck isn't high enough to be much help in battle. Guess there's going to be another dead body hanging on the wall.