Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:35:13 GMT
masterchief: _________________________________________ I was wondering how everyone here treats the infamous Kris Knife 'bonus' ? As it is written, the weapon in question will give you a bonus of three SKILL points for the adventure's final encounter, but there has been plenty of argument over the years from fans that this was meant to be taken as an attack strength bonus. As it is written, the Kris Knife is more or less useless for lower skilled characters therefore I have always played with the forethought that if I get that far, I will apply it as AS instead of SKILL. However, as maningray pointed out on the official forum some time back, the SKILL bonus could be deliberate; after all, you are taking on a bona fide demon with nothing but a small, wavy blade. In Greenspine's recent play through here, he played it as a SKILL bonus as written, to balance out his 'fudging' of the other pain-in-the-arse fact about this otherwise superlative adventure: The FEAR score. What do YOU do?
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:39:10 GMT
hynreck: _________________________________________ I'd like to tell you what I did, Masterchief... but the fact is: I cheated! Like I do these days... Or else I'd still be playing right now: Getting the right way (and not dying of fear) is so darn difficult! But if I'd played it straight, I would have used Skill bonus as described; after all, I'm not a pro like most of you guys; most of the time I don't question myself on matters such as possible mistakes made by the author, unless they are of the obvious type... I'm no good at spotting those.
Anyway, what an awesome book. Maybe it's hard and frustrating, really merciless, take a wrong turn and you are doomed, but what an atmosphere! I remember, playing this book when I was young, Le manoir de l'enfer, I always got scared. The writing, the drawings; they got to me.
Not so much today, but it's still creepy. Some of the contents, some of the illustrations, still makes me uneasy. The hangman, the bleeding goathead, that bleeding cultist at the front door (whose reason to be there are beyond comprehension), that Ghoul, that freaking Zombie! I'm not a big fan of Tim Sell's illos, but he did create some disturbing images from some disturbing text by our friend Jackson.
Ian Miller's original cover is also creepy-scary. His whole style seems haunted. The new cover is okay, well done, but not as appropriate or strong as the original. Some argue that it's too spoilerish. I would argue that unless you know the story, it is not: It's vague enough that you can't quite recognize who is on the cover and what's going on. Basically, you have to have played the book, you have to know. Myself, first time I saw it, thought it depicted something happening to the player: Torn by the forces of hell or something. It's only after a while that I went: Oh yeah, that's supposed to be Franklin? Looks like a business guy being torn by the demons of useless office meetings.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how well it still holds, today. Well written, scary and disturbing, I'm not sure I would classify this book as being for children. More for teenage/adult readers, really. I still winced when I passed through the sacrificial altar (I know, my game ended not too long after) and had to watch helplessly as the cultists stab that poor girl and then played around with her blood.
Some things worth mentioning about my French edition: The small voodoo pin cushion illo is missing from it; don't know why; don't know if it offended somebody out there. Also, translation can be a funny thing. Some stuff are lost in translation, some are altered, for the better or often, for the worst. Here are two samples: If you try to free the girl on the sacrificial altar, Steve Jackson gets really mean to you by telling you that basically, you are stupid and deserved to die. That's what I also believe and find that little bit extremely funny. Anyway, in French, your gesture is also labelled as stupid, but instead of finishing by telling you how you deserve to die, it says that you died a hero!! Really? I did not manage to save the girl, I did not make a difference, and still, I'm a hero? Somebody in the French publishing house must have objected to the idea of insulting the reader...
The other one is a the end. Whereas, in the original, it's: a fitting end for a house from hell, or something close, we have the same in French, but they decided to add a little humour at the end, something close to: But where the heck, at this hour, am I going to find an open garage shop? Yea, right, after I went through hell and back, barely escaping with my life, I'm back to mundane problems. My car. My appointment. Why not? Bother, I do not want to walk back anywhere after that ordeal. Let's go ring the bell of the next haunted house. Maybe they've got a phone there. Silly me.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:42:03 GMT
jamus: _________________________________________ I was playing this the other night for the first time in a couple of years.
I played completely fairly, starting over and rolling new stats whenever I died. Despite my previous experience a few years back, I was still shocked at how insanely difficult this adventure is. I knew it was hard, but I didn't remember it being this infuriatingly difficult!
This could be partly due to the fact that I refused to say the correct password without first finding the relevant clue for it, which I don't think I did last time. Anyway it took me over 20 attempts to finally finish it. Of course, I interpreted the +6 SKILL as +6 Attack Strength.
Like Masterchief, I would also like to know people's opinion on this bonus for the final battle. I believe that Jackson intended the bonus to be for Attack Strength. My reasoning is as follows:
In the initial battle against human Franklins, you are instructed to gain +3 to your SKILL score if you wield the Kris Dagger. This makes sense because it is in keeping with the bonus you receive for other knives.
Then, after Franklin's transformation, you instructed to add +6 to your SKILL. What is the purpose of this bonus? The standard +3 SKILL for having the weapon would almost certainly be enough to bring you up to your Initial Skill. An additional +3 SKILL seems kind of pointless.
What would make more sense is if the +6 applied to Attack Strength, as this would give the player a reasonable shot of winning the fight. I don't think its too far fetched to assume the Kris Dagger has a magical power which activates in the presence of Hell Demon, thus justifying the +6 AS bonus.
In addition to this, Steve Jackson has never before left the player to fight an incredibly high skilled enemy without some other method of defeating it. It is not his style, which supports the theory that it is an error.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:44:21 GMT
kieran: _________________________________________ I definitely agree that it was intended as an Attack Strength bonus. Whether it was supposed to be +6 or +3 I'm not sure.
I find it odd that the rules provide the term Attack Strength yet pretty much every FF author seems to have forgotten the term exists and either use Skill by mistake (leading to readers not knowing if they're cheating or not) or unneccesarily cumbersome instructions like "this sword will allow you to exceed your Initial Skill by 1 point in combat situations only".
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:48:29 GMT
odo_ital: _________________________________________ This is my all time favourite book of the FF series. I've always been a great fan of the horror genre in general, and Steve Jackson is fantastic at creating a chilling atmosphere, and interesting and innovative encounters, so you always have something new to face in each room, and yet for all the different encounters the house still feels as being lived in and haunted by creatures that makes sense to have in the house. That is not something that is easy to achieve, but Jackson does it really well. Maybe that's why I got into the series in the first place as this was also the first FF book I read.
My biggest problem with the book is that it is extremely linear. There are so many interesting encounters that you can only get to encounter if you enter a path that ensures that you cannot complete the book (the sacrifice of the girl, the ghoul in the kitchen and the goatfaced cultist you meet when you try to leave the house are good examples of this), and that is a shame, but that is also one of the reason that I love making complete maps of the books to find encounters that you would not normally experience.
As for cheating in the book, I usually take the Skill bonus for the kris knife as an attack strength bonus, since otherwise the battle with the Hell Demon would be ridiculously difficult, and I think that was also Steve Jacksons intent. As I recall the oldest books usually just gave Skill bonuses, which were intended as attack strength but in the later books I seem to recall the authors getting better at using that terminology, but in many cases this is up to individual interpretation.
I do make a mini-cheat when creating a character for the book. When I roll my stats I start with my Fear score and if I roll less than 9 I roll again, knowing full well that this is the minimum requirement for completing the book. I prefer to roll 10 or higher since this gives me enough fear to meet the ghostly woman, who can give a lot of information about the house, since the trip through the house seems so much more complete, if you are given that information.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:49:29 GMT
masterchief: _________________________________________ Hi odo_ital! I agree with the linearity of the main path. The clever design is all the more apparent for cartographers like myself (as you mention, you draw a map so that you can see places not seen in the true path) and the layout of the house feels coherent and makes sense, but it is frustrating that so many options lay of the true path. However, let's be honest, we've all seen those encounters a lot, especially if you haven't played the book for a few years and have forgotten how to progress!
Recent playthroughs have left me baffled, much like I always end up with the endless waves of Chaos Warriors (or whatever they were) in Creature of Havoc, in House of Hell I always end up having to ring that damn bell.
As I recall the oldest books ususally just gave Skill bonuses, which were intended as attack strength but in the later books I seem to recall the authors getting better at using that terminology, but in many cases this is up to individual interpretation.
It's bizarrely inconsistent. In TWoFM there's a sword with a SKILL bonus before the river, and one with an Attack Strength bonus after it. IIRC, the sword from the leprechaun in CoC has an Attack Strength bonus, but the light sab- sorry, the completely different and in no way Star Wars-influenced Sun Sword gives its bonus to SKILL. On two of the roads leading from the first junction in CoT, you can get an item that adds to Attack Strength, while on the third (and in the second half of the book) any bonus is for SKILL. And after that, I think Ian forgets about the term 'Attack Strength' altogether, more's the pity. CotS might even be playable if you could use every bonus.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:52:34 GMT
symm: _________________________________________ Hi everyone,
What do you think about the HoH-movie that will be produced in the near future? I think that this is a good way to destroy a personal picture of the house as everybody has a more or less own image of the interior.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:53:28 GMT
hynreck: _________________________________________ I believe the book will stand on it's own, like it already did for the last 25+ years. And the movie will be it's own thing, with its (hopefully) strength and (inevitable) weaknesses. Are you telling us that you are afraid a movie will steal your imagination? What's yours is yours.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:55:48 GMT
symm: _________________________________________ No, I wouldn't. In my opinion not all books are meant to become movies. Especially not good books. The mind creates the pictures when one is reading. That makes the movie dispensable.
Most notably if it is about a book that is meant for people with a vivid imagination. Wouldn't you agree?
Don't get me wrong there. I like certain movies very much. But I won't let anyone mess with the Fighting Fantasy world in my mind.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 15:56:30 GMT
hynreck: _________________________________________ Well, I can respect that. I for one own lots of books and even more movies (say in the thousands). I am a glutton for a story, be it good or bad, frankly (good is better, obviously).
So it doesn't matter for me if a book is turned into a movie, it happens all the time in my world. The book is it's own thing and so is the movie. They are separate entities, with a life of their own. I see no conflict.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 16:00:08 GMT
9673672: _________________________________________ I think I remember reading an article in The Sunday Times back in the 80's during the D&D 'Satanic Panic' that some people had claimed that the House of Hell had given children headaches and chest-pains whilst reading it, and that there was a rumour the book was somehow cursed.
While this is great playground lore, I think Steve and Ian flatly denied being part of any satanic conspiracy. Does anyone else remember reading the article, or even better have a copy of it so I can discover if my aged brain is playing tricks on me!
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 2, 2013 16:03:14 GMT
9673684: _________________________________________ I loved this book, it was like a naughty holy grail for me as a kid. My folks did not want to get it for me to add to my collection as my mom had also just entered into a serious christian mindset. (I'm christian too) (She also had a problem with the City of Thieves cover but I smuggled it, HA!)
Much to my parents amusement/disappointment I was fascinated with horror as a kid. While other kids my age read 'Famous 5 get mugged in the East End', I was reading Graham Mastertons 'Charnel House'.
I used to page through it at the bookstore and play as much as I could just by following the page prompts. The old lady in the bed was awesome and I loved the cultists at the door. I knew the goat headed cultists would FREAK my mom out.
I like both covers, original is best of course, but I do like the new cover as well, with the painting in the background on the mouldy walls. Book is hard as nails though, I still have not finished it.
Post by deadshadowrunner on Apr 28, 2014 5:31:26 GMT
As far as I know,they decided to stop work on the movie.
1 You are in a dark corridor. You can go forwards (go to 2) or backwards (go to 3). 2 You walk forwards. After a while, you pause. Go to 1. 3 You turn around and walk forwards. After a while, you rest. When you finish resting, go to 1. 400 Eh? How did you get to this section? No matter, for the Deadshadowrunner has found you. The last things you see are a pair of sly eyes and a grinning mouth with sharp teeth floating in the darkness.
My TUFFF playthrough, restored from an unexpected backup:
As this is one of the very few books where it is literally impossible (rather than merely vastly improbable) to succeed if one of my attributes isn't up to snuff, I'm throwing 5 dice simultaneously and picking what goes where. The book still makes the standard 'any player, no matter how weak on initial dice rolls, should be able to get through fairly easily' claim, but that is demonstrably untrue, as I shall demonstrate if only I get the right door at the appropriate time and don't wind up having to visit the kitchen.
Having fudged character generation, I shall feel obliged to be a stickler for the rules rather than assuming that Mr Jackson meant Attack Strength rather than Skill when describing the Kris bonus.
The background section is rather good (and indirectly establishes that the adventure is set no earlier than 1922 - some fans have tried to make out that it's in the past rather than around the time of publication (which is the past itself by now, hence your lack of mobile phone and GPS, either of which would have enabled you to avoid the whole adventure, unless random spookiness caused them to malfunction) - because that's when automatic windscreen wipers were originally patented). Mind you, the last line before 'NOW TURN OVER' would be a good deal more accurate if it read, 'Tonight is going to be a night to remember (providing you survive it)...' With optional 'Muahaha!'
The choice between knocking and ringing made a difference in the Warlock magazine condensed version of HoH, as the wrong option led to the acquisition of a couple of FEAR points and an encounter that never made it into the finished book. Here, it doesn't matter, and as I'm not in the mood for eavesdropping on ominous conversations, I'll just get on with gaining access to the house.
Knock-knock Who's there? Ken Ken who? Ken I come in and use your phone, please?
So the butler lets me in and Lurches away, and I take a look at the pictures, safe in the metaknowledge that the impending FEAR point is erasable. Lady Margaret of Danvers (1802-1834) advises me to get away if I can, or at the very least to avoid the white wine. Hope it's not fish on the menu, as I would not wish to appear uncouth.
Sinister italics and exclamations presage the arrival of the villain of the piece, accompanied by his faithful servant (this is still true even when the twist is taken into account - all that differs is who's who). I tend to imagine the Earl as being played by Christopher Lee, with Peter Cushing as Franklins. Apparently the phones are out of order (oh, quelle surprise), but I can have a room for the night, and a slap-up meal beforehand. At around midnight. Does the chef get paid overtime for rustling up a roast at this hour?
Off to the red dining room, where I remember the picture's advice and ask for one of UB40's hits. There is no indication that mine host never drinks... wine. For the main course I choose lamb, as it goes with the vin rouge, and duck is going to be more useful as advice than dinner. Conversation reveals that the Earl's sister died under suspicious circumstances aged 32, so (bearing in mind the dates on Lady Margaret's portrait) either it runs in the family, or he's looking remarkably good for his age. The estate is past its prime, having been abandoned by the superstitious (and probably impudent) peasants who used to work it.
Good thing I like coffee, as there's no final course option that excludes it. Not normally the best thing to be drinking before turning in for the night, but insomnia's going to be the least of my worries tonight. No cheese, thanks. It gives me blackouts.
Off to the Erasmus room (Wikipedia doesn't list any particularly sinister-seeming Erasmuses (Erasmi?), but does mention a South African footballer by the name of Kermit Erasmus), and my efforts at going for a wander around the house are thwarted by a sturdy locked door. Attempting to charge it down proves unsuccessful, but it's better than sitting in the dark and waiting for the FEAR. Glad to see that the door-charging roll is made on Initial Skill, as my lack of a weapon shouldn't make any difference in this instance.
Enter the decidedly un-PC Shekou, who looks a lot like Uncle Terry from the Monster strip in short-lived horror comic Scream (anyone else remember that?). I don't need to have any meaningful interaction with him to unlock the more worthwhile encounter with him later on, so rather than risk further depleting my Stamina, I dodge out and lock him into the room. Presumably whoever comes along, intending to collect my unconscious body following consumption of the doped nightcap lets him out, though that does raise the question of why nobody acts on the knowledge that their guest is now prowling around unsupervised. Maybe they just assume that nobody escapes the House of Hell. Their chief weapon is FEAR and undead. Their two main weapons are FEAR, undead, and locked doors. Three main weap- I'll start again.
Out on the landing, I emulate Donna Noble and turn left (and as I'm taking notes this time, I won't have the standard confusion about the direction from which I approached the Azazel room). The name is reminiscent of Azal from the Doctor Who story The Dæmons, who resembled the Devil but was a scientist, so it's quite appropriate that this should be a laboratory. The whole 'being startled by squeaking, and relieved to see that it's just lab rats' bit is odd. What terrifying squeaky thing was I worried it might be?
Do I risk the vials? Memory tells me that one is lethal, one harmful, one useless, and one beneficial, but which is which? Thinking about it, why would anybody go quaffing the contents of vials they find neatly racked in a laboratory anyway? Have we forgotten the rhyme that goes something like: This gamebook adventurer Lies dead upon the floor, For what he thought was H2O Was H2SO4? But this is a gamebook, and foolish risks are often necessary in gamebooks, so I'll take a chance (made less risky by the fact that I remember Kieran reporting on having been killed by a certain vial during an attempt on the Official forum) - and it's the good one. The next two wounds I take do no damage. Though that won't work if I skip getting the Kris and avoid all combat before taking on the Big Bad, but still, if you go swigging from a random test tube, you should be thankful to still be alive, not whinging about the way your temporary invulnerability doesn't work against one of the denizens of hell itself.
I went left to get here, so I must have come from the right, so that means it's the Mephisto room next. I had to read a book entitled Mephisto as part of my German degree. All about an actor during the rise of Nazism. But here, the room just contains a broken window and some frayed and knotted rope. Such as might have been left behind by an adventurer who got knocked out and imprisoned earlier in the book, then smashed the window and used the broken glass to cut his bonds. Not that any such thing has happened here tonight, mind you.
I pass by the Balthus room, aware of the Dire consequences for anyone who enters it, but pop through the unmarked door. Ignoring the Diabolus room (all pretence of subtlety now having been dropped), I read the writing on the window. A handy hint from whatever attenuated force for good is on my side here. Thinking about it, I wonder who actually contrived for me to wind up in this place? Other than Steve Jackson, that is. Was evil luring me to my probable doom, or did good think I was in with a chance of defeating Kelnor, and prod me in the right direction? Probably the former, considering that the old man who gave me the wrong directions is hanging around not far from here, but who knows for sure?
Choosing not to go downstairs just yet, I try another unmarked door, and find a weapon and some garlic. Not that I have any intention of going to the room where the garlic is required, as doomage would result (though that encounter is on a safe path in the Warlock version), but at least if I get my doors mixed up, I can whip up a quick chilli before my inevitable failure. There's also some white liquid, which you'd think would be milk, but maybe there are some vintages that aren't the standard translucent yellow. Or maybe the wine's reacted with the poison in it. Not that I'll be making the mistake of tasting it in this life. No, give me a test tube of unspecified chemical X any old day.
The far door leads to further hints that the late Lady Margaret was the Earl's unfortunate sister, but gathering such hints would lead to death, whether from FEAR, a run-in with George the Vampire (seriously, that seems likely to be his name), or just general Krislessness, so I shall leave the rather impressive world-building in which Mr J has indulged, and return to the landing.
A third unmarked door. I've studied the Monty Hall problem, so I know that this must be the one with the goat behind it. No need to check, just move along.
Stay on the landing at the junction. If I want to have a word with the Man in Grey, I'll use the forum software to PM him.
Next up, the Tuttivillus room, which contains an option that makes little sense here, but was quite appropriate in Warlock. No point going in.
Three doors, one unmarked, one Belial, one Abbadon. While I shall make use of my previously acquired hint, I know that there's a Stamina boost in one of the other rooms (plus a possible encounter with some closet undead, but have no FEAR, I shan't disturb them). So, back at full health, it's time to call on Mordana. Peculiarly, I get 2 FEAR for discovering that she's a corpse, but nothing for when she opens her eyes and starts moaning. And, frankly, the 'no pupils' business seems comparatively minor compared to the 'dead body moving' aspect.
Mordana turns out to be a dead, moving, pupil-less ventriloquist, which is a gimmick I have yet to see make its way onto the stage. And she can open sliding panels remotely, too. Or train Great Danes to open sliding panels in response to a signal, which is just as neat a trick. Either way, I'm into my first fight. Shouldn't be too much trouble, as I have a big Skill advantage, plus immunity to the first two bites, and the second Great Dane is far too polite to attack until I've finished with the first one.
As anticipated, I got them to play dead with little trouble. Mordana is reluctant to answer my questions, though (they do say that dead (wo)men tell no tales), and tries to throw me off with the old Rumplestiltskin trick. I know her name, though, so she has to tell me about the important secret door. This information comes with directions to a 'hidden' section number, meaning that there is no non-cheating way to find the secret door without interrogating Mordana, for a gain of at least 2 FEAR (3 if you're the sort of nut who thinks attacking old women in their beds is a smart idea).
The book decides that I want to go downstairs, and I agree. There's nothing more of use to be found up here. Passing up the unheroic option of opening the front door and running away (which I know to lead to a FEARful encounter with a particularly intimidating Trick-or-Treater), I must choose a door. I never could get the hang of the downstairs layout. Mapping the top floor was no problem, but at ground level I couldn't make it all fit together. At this point it doesn't matter too much, but later on my survival will depend on choosing the correct door.
Another left takes me into the drawing room. A little snifter restores some of the Stamina I didn't lose in the dogfight, and I choose to nose around for a bit. No bookshelves to study and see what books the homeowner and I have in common (not that there's likely to be much overlap between our tastes), so I shall read some of his personal correspondence instead. Much of it is apparently dull, but there is one missive from a Count Pravemi (why, that's an anagram of 'I've pram'!) revealing that he knows the Earl's password and, rather than hacking his account, has chosen to recommend that he change it to, say, the name of some personal correspondent who might have alerted him to a potential security breach, hint, hint.
There's also a concealed button, and the very act of my contemplating pressing it causes a couple of Fire Sprites to take an interest in me. I treat them like cats, and put them out. Back to the button, which activates a reasonably clever trap and drops me into the cellar. Add 1 FEAR, Test Luck to avoid a sprained wrist, and await the arrival of something ominous-sounding. It's just Shekou, who makes a bad pun of his own and fails to recognise that I'm the guy who locked him into the Erasmus room not that long ago. Even when I jog his memory. So I ply him with booze until he lets slip that the Earl did as Pravemi suggested, but then changed the password again, to an anagram of the name of the house, which he can't quite remember. Probably something borderline unpronounceable, like 'Eumrrd', then. Realising he's said too much, he dashes back into his room, and starts sounding sinister again now he can not be seen.
I'm not in the mood for being put on the rack while playing word games with a man whose name reminds me of Keith Harris' most annoying dummy (pray that no reality show producers get hold of this book, or a variant WILL end up on our screens sooner or later), so I wander along to the cells - no I don't, I've got my doors mixed up, and instead of gaining handy but inessential information from the balding man (who wears a grey robe, and may thus be the actual Man in Grey, rather than the scary one with white hair in the Asmodeus room) I've just become the next contestant on Wheel of Torture. Luckily for me, I'm better at remembering the answers than I am with doors: Drumer, Kelnor, Mordana, Abbadon, Shekou. And that's before I even turn to the first question.
Three in the wrong order there, but even if I only count the ones I said in the right places, it's enough to win me my continued survival. Reshuffling them into the correct order, I win the star prize of zero Stamina loss and a bit of grovelling from the Torturer. You know, apart from the eyepatch, he looks a bit like one of my PE teachers from back when this book first came out. Or am I just imagining the resemblance because they're so similar in character? Regardless, I'm never going to be able to read this sequence without imagining him speaking in that teacher's sarcastic adenoidal drone now it's occurred to me.
The stairs up are in sight, and I get attacked by bats (add 1 FEAR). Rather than adopt a superhero persona to strike terror into the hearts of the criminal underworld (that's book 17), I recall Mordana's grudging advice and go looking for the secret door. The list of password options is devoid of tongue twisters like 'Rdreum', so I'll have to ignore the not-even-close options, put on my best Taggart accent, and utter a word that scores zero points in the 'M' round of the Torturer's game. Goes to show that he doesn't know as much as he thinks. I'd put a 'tongue sticking out' emoticon here if the software supported it.
This business of the secret door not opening where you expect it to is rather neat, given the presence of a second, doom-laden secret door right next to what Pravemi (oops, there goes the other secret door!) referred to as the cache room. Well, time to pop in and claim the Kris (that door's not getting any more closed). I get my Luck back, too. And if I survive, I can probably get a handy price for the dagger on eBay. Not as much as if I'd held onto the box, though.
Back up to the ground floor, undisturbed by the bats, who've probably gone off to appear in the opening titles of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, and I try the door opposite. Yes, it's the reception room, and I gain 1 FEAR in a rather odd bit of business - why wouldn't I assume that the apparent mirror is actually an opening into an identically furnished room when I see that there's no reflection of me in it? There's time for a spot of looting before I do my Alice impersonation and confront the doors which will decide my fate. Or at least determine which room I die in.
Some time back I came up with a (fundamentally flawed, as it turned out) theory regarding a possible hint at the final twist in this book, and from that I seem to recall that the correct door is in the same position (relative to me) as the one at the bottom of the stairs that can't be opened. Which I didn't encounter this time round, instead picking the drawing room door on (checks above) the left. So right is right. Right?
Right! So I have a key with a number on (which can be combined with two from Firetop Mountain to get to the earlier book's orphan section in what's either a staggering coincidence or a phenomenally pointless in-joke), and can return to the dining room so long as I remember that this time left is right and right is wrong and we are all together goo goo g'joob.
So, the final encounter is pending, but at around this point Steve must have realised that he was running a few shy of the full 400, hence the padding-riffic option to search for traps and search some more and even waste a bit of Luck if you're really paranoid. Pity he didn't think to go back and create a niche for the growling stuffed animal heads from the Warlock variant instead.
BONG! You rang? This format doesn't really suit the joke, but 'Gunnar'. Gunnar who? Gonna' defeat the evil in this house or die trying.
In honour of the finest traditions of country house murder mysteries, I deduce that the butler did it, and thus disregard the Earl (who was already annoyed at having been got up at this late hour (or so he claims - like he wasn't really officiating at the human sacrifice in the cellar), so he must be really peeved that, having summoned him, I then ignored him) in favour of attacking Frankie boy. Though the butler is initially reluctant to fight, the moment I first wound him, he changes his attitude. Among other things. Add 3 FEAR for witnessing his shocking breach of etiquette.
Putting off the big fight, I'll total up the FEAR here: Visiting Mordana to find out how to look for the secret door: 2 points. Falling into the cellar to meet Shekou and get a clue to the password: 1 point. Reaching the vicinity of the door and getting attacked by bats: 1 point. Spotting the mirror through which you must pass to get the key: 1 point. Seeing Franklins without his make-up: Pricel- no, sorry, 3 points. There are some things Man Was Not Meant To Know. For everything else, there's the Master of the House of Drumer. Ahem. So that makes 8. Now, you die if you acquire FEAR equal to the number you rolled up, so anyone who gets 1 or 2 on the FEAR die has no chance. On technicalities, you could skip the trapdoor business and make a random and lucky guess down in the cellar, reducing the total to 7, but there is no way (other than undeniably cheating) to survive for the final battle if you rolled 1 when generating your FEAR score. The 'any player, no matter how weak' claim in the 'Hints on play' section is thereby proven to be a dirty great lie. Yes, you have more chance of beating Crypt of the Sorcerer with a 7-14-7 character than of winning this book with any character who gets a 7 for FEAR. But apart from that, this is a far more playable and better-written book than CotS.
So, in the red corner, our hero. 12 Skill, 17 Stamina, 9 Luck, invulnerability to the first two blows. In the other red corner, the villain. 14 Skill, 12 Stamina. I'll need to be very Lucky here. But what do the dice say? HD rolls double 6. I get 1 and 5. Even with the full Kris bonus, I'd lose that round. HD - 6&4. I - 6&4. He wins again. From now on I start getting hurt. HD - 5&2. I - 3&2. Ouch. 15 St. HD - 3&4. I - 3&1. Not going well, is it? 13 St. HD - 5&2. I - 2&6. Not quite enough. 11 St. HD - 1&5. I - 5&4. GET IN THERE! Luck it - 4&3, Lucky. He's down to 8. HD - 5&5. I - 4&6. Couldn't last. 9 St. HD - 1&2. I - 3&5. Gotcha! I should be so Lucky - 1&2. On 4. HD - 6&1. I - 6&4. And again! Dare I risk it? Dare I not risk it? Gotta take a chance...
Double 5. He's on 3. Bother!
HD - 2&6. I - 5&6. I'd have won if I hadn't used Luck that last time. But now, even if I'm Unlucky, it won't extend the fight any further, so I might as well try. And there's still a 5 in 12 chance of being Lucky, so here. I. GO!
(wait for it)
He's down. And he's not getting up again.
In celebration I whack Burning Down the House into the car stereo and try to figure out how I'm going to make it to that appointment that seemed so important back in the Background, what with being 15-odd miles from the nearest house not currently in flames.