Although it might be interesting and even therapeutic to 'review' or at least play your own book.
Author of 'Hellfire', 'Riders of the Storm', 'House of Pain' (sequel to House of Hell) and 'Deathtrap' (prequel to Deathtrap Dungeon). All are available for download here or at: www.ffproject.com/download.htm
What's it about? Shouldn't of skipped it. Not all of us has read it.
Well anyone who wants to read it could always give it a go (can download it here - issue 10)! Anyway this is the synopsis: Things are not going well for the slayer of Balthus Dire. Not only have you lost your left hand, but the widow of your former enemy has joined forces with the High Priestess of Vatos to unleash the power of the Juggernaut, an unstoppable automaton that will bring chaos and destruction to all of Allansia. Luckily, you are not alone on your mission to stop them. Not so luckily, your companion is a being every bit as evil as those you seek to stop: a Ganjee!
Do a playthrough anyways, who knows, you might defeat it.
My attempt at Brett’s previous adventure was all too brief so hopefully with this one will go better. Pretty solid stats of Sk 11 St 18 Lu 11 should help greatly in that matter. This tale begins in Stonebridge where I am hailed as a warrior who has saved Stonebridge on more than one occasion. Perhaps I am then the hero of Forest of Doom and Temple of Terror. Or perhaps not - Stonebridge does seem the kind of place that winds up in grave peril every other Tuesday. This latest peril to befall the dwarf village is a dark elf sorcerer named Mor Orthor who has been experimenting with elementals upon the dwarfs of the Iron Hills and likely has his eyes set upon Stonebridge next. Not sure why he needs to experiment on dwarfs specifically but perhaps time will tell. So with a sword, ten provisions and a Potion of Fortune, it’s time for some old school wizard-slaying.
As I leave the village, a white haired dwarf gives me a bag of six elemental rune stones, key to fighting other elements. Oddly, I can choose what kind of stones the six are even though the dwarf was the one who selected the six, not me. Eh, I guess I’ll go with 2 water, 2 earth and 1 each of air and fire.
Suitably equipped, it takes me a mere paragraph to reach the old mine where Mor Orthor has his lair. Wow, no messing about before I’m into a dungeon - this is old school alright. I open the first door I come to and find a small room, with old bones, bloodstains and a length of rope that I take with me because why ever not?
I reach a junction where sits a box carved with symbols of death and topped with a green jewel to lure anyone foolhardy enough to ignore such symbols. Think I’ll pass thanks. I take the path left.
Another doorway and this one has a faint buzzing coming from beyond it. I open it and narrowly avoid being crushed by falling rocks. Three energy balls shoot out of the darkness at me. I throw a runestone of earth back and the villainous cave wisps are defeated but there’s nothing else going on in here so I return to the corridor.
Ignoring a side passage to the right, I soon find myself buffeted by a pneumozone, some manner of air elemental. I could beat it instantly with an earth stone but it’s fairly weak so I fight it the old fashioned way and kill it without a scratch.
The tunnel ends at a stone door and some muttering can be heard from the other side. Opening it, I find a defaced dwarf shrine that has been turned into some sort of dark altar. I disturbed a dark elf’s prayer so he comes at me with a dagger for my sacrilege. He maybe should have hit the gym more often rather than praying as I dispatch him easily and help myself to a water stone and a hooded cloak from his corpse. I then return to the side passage.
I come across a hole in the ground and, foolhardy as it doubtless is, I can’t resist sticking my arm in there. My fingertips encounter something smooth and soft which turns out to be a cave snake which responds to my questing hand with a good hard bite. Luckily it’s not venomous and is easily killed. I press on.
A door partially blocked by rubble is soon uncovered to reveal a dead dwarf clutching a bottle of some purple liquid. Whatever killed him tore his face clean off so I swipe the bottle which turns out to be a Potion of Skill and am soon on my way again.
The sound of dripping water can be heard beyond another door. I open this to find a large room with a worn statue. Offerings have been left at its feet so I place one of my three water stones there and am rewarded with a sacrificial knife which is revealed from a cavity within the statue.
Returning once more to the passageway, I come across a door with a “Do not disturb” sign and screams coming from the other side. Well, can’t resist having a peek. The torturer definitely did not want to be disturbed in his work of seeing if he can use a rack to make a dwarf tall. My cloak makes him think I am a fellow dark elf albeit a short one as Princess Leia might also wryly observe. He wants the sacrificial knife but I don’t really want to help him murder an innocent dwarf. However, the text is a tad confusing here - it asks if I have the knife, not whether I want to give it to him. But saying I have it makes me give it to him whereupon he unsurprisingly murders the dwarf and then I feel ashamed of my action. Since I definitely wouldn’t give it to him even though I have it, I feel it’s not cheating to attack him instead. It’s a short fight and I then rescue the dwarf, a grateful chap by the name of Kalion - and here’s me thinking all FF dwarfs had stupid names like Bigleg, Littlebig and Sweetcheeks. Apparently Kalion was a treasure hunter who got captured. He came with a partner Ulfar who he presumes is dead. We part ways, he heading towards the entrance, me venturing on.
A door with scratching noises beyond appears along the passage wall while a side passage swings to the right. I open the door and easily kill the four giant rats beyond. While I’m searching the room though, a much bigger rat pulls itself through a hole in the wall. A fight ensues and a tough one at that, but I prevail and hurriedly flee the room before more rats show up.
For some reason, I cannot now explore the side passage so I continue along the main passage. It starts to get very hot so I’m forced to discard my cloak. Eventually I reach the source of the heat, a stream of lava. I could use a water stone to get past it but I decide to leap instead and just about make it. I continue on.
The passageway soon ends at a dead end but I espy a secret door and open it to reveal a junction. I turn right on a hunch. Not an actual hunch mind you, just one the text tells me I am having. Real Me has a hunch that turning left would have taken me to an alternate way through the mine that would have caused no end of continuity problems but maybe I’m just cynical. Anyway, the rightward passage soon gets incredibly cold and discarding my cloak earlier means I am now hard pressed to continue. Luckily though I’m tough enough to survive and soon reach a wooden door. Opening this, I find a manic dwarf who turns out to be Ulfar. I calm him down but he is then killed by a manticore who has snuck up upon us while we were talking. He fires some spikes from his scorpion tail at me but luckily they miss and I’m able to rush my foe. I prevail but lose half my Stamina in the fight. Ulfar has a healing potion which may help in that regard at least so taking it off his corpse I press on down the tunnel the manticore came down.
I come across a wooden barrel and peek inside to find its full of eyeball and severed limb soup, but a box at the bottom gives me the courage to plunge my arm in to haul it out. Something nips me, causing me to drop the box. A second attempt pulls it out but as I don’t have the key to open it I guess I must leave it here. Forgoing the chance to drink some of the soup, I press on (incidentally, there seems to be an error in the section number for drinking the soup at this juncture - should be 98, not 32).
A growling can be heard from a side passage to the right and since I have been reluctant to explore side passages hitherto, I’ll give this one a look. I’m attacked by a fog elemental, but kill it without having to use an earth stone. A small door covered in cobwebs can be found further along the passage, which I open to find for flames blazing in a square chamber. The door slams shut behind me, and a booming voice tells me I must choose one of the flames to plunge my hand into in order to be deemed worthy. I opt for one labelled Courga’s Grace and a successful Test of Skill rewards me with one Luck point (when I’m already on full Luck) and the door opening again. Feeling somewhat short-changed, I continue to follow the side passage.
I decide not to reach into a hole I pass after the last time I did that made me literally once bitten, twice shy. The tunnel sinks lower into the earth and is soon so badly water-logged that I have to swim to continue. Or at least I would have to, but I use my air stone to dry up the water and then walk along the passage normally. The passage ends in a massive pair of iron double doors. I have no key, so I knock upon them and the door is opened by a rock demon who looks a bit like Berk from Trap Door. Rather than join me in a grumble about the Thing Upstairs though he attacks me. Using a fire stone to weaken him a bit allows me to prevail without taking a scratch and I step over him into the room, hoping Drut won’t be too heartbroken.
I find myself in Mor Orthor’s personal study and there awaits the man himself (or elf himself I guess). He seems rather unbothered by my arrival and summons a water elemental to kill me. Maybe he shouldn’t be so smug though as I kill the elemental easily. Oddly the text said if I use an air stone against the elemental it has no effect so just as well I had none to use. The sorcerer is too far away to engage in close combat just yet so I chuck the sacrificial knife at him. It hits him in the chest but it’s far from enough to kill him. He throws a lightning bolt at me and it does some serious damage. Hmm would it be cheating to down my Potion of Skill before I close in for combat here? I think, as Ross Geller might say, it isn’t against any rules but it is frowned upon, but I don’t mind the odd frown so down the hatch with it. Now time to fight the sorcerer. I hit him a few times (and fairly easily so maybe I needn’t have invited any frowns after all) and then he flees straight through a wall. I take a look round his study. As I do so, three fire sprites attack me. I use a water stone to take out one, then dispatch the other two by more conventional means. I quaff my healing potion, then take a few elemental stones and a Potion of Stamina that were sitting on Mor’s desk. I then find a button in the wall and push it to be sucked through the wall as Mor was.
I find myself in a chamber with a chasm bridged only by a thin causeway of rock. Oddly, the illustration of this shows a big rock monster at the far end of the bridge but there’s no mention of this in the text. Either this is a mistake or this is actually an illustration for a different section which also features a rock bridge over a crevasse. Anyway, as I cross the bridge it starts to come apart, but an earth stone soon fixes that issue.
I race on to a stone temple where Mor stands before a statue of a bat demon and proclaims himself master of all the elements (though Zagor and Balthazar Sturm may disagree with him there). Still, he next does something neither of those pretenders ever did and turns himself into a combination of all four elements - an elemental supreme. I down my potion of Stamina and Fortune then stride towards him.
Wow, this is a tough fight. Not only does he have Sk 12 St 18, but he also has an arsenal of special abilities though I can use my remaining runestones to lessen their impact slightly. With 6 Stamina remaining, I beat him thanks to a bit of luck and Luck. And then I read that at the start of the fight I could have used any runestones I had left (4 in my case) to reduce his stats to Sk 8 St 6. Well, that’s annoying, just as well I still triumphed the hard way I guess. Anyway, Mor blows up, I break his staff then return to Stonebride to get pissed with King Gillibran.
Victories so far - 2/15
Decent enough dungeon adventure that, though I imagine it would be a bit too old school for some tastes. Pretty fair though and I feel for a weaker character more tactics would be needed in knowing when to use runestones. There were also many references to helpful sounding items I must have missed somehow. The elemental concept is well handled - not as full on as Stormslayer but less arbitrary than in Return to Firetop Mountain though it’s a bit disappointing that the book explores an idea that has been done twice already. The final battle was quite climactic though not fully reading the rules made it a bit more so than it was intended to be.
In Search of the Mungies' Gold by Warren McGuire Don’t recall ever trying this one before, not that my previous attempts at the last two adventures helped me much. I start by rolling some abysmal starting stats: Skill 7 Stamina 17 Luck 7. Perhaps this is one of those gamebooks where any player can persevere no matter how low their initial dice rolls? We’ll see.
Well pretty much everything went wrong there and mostly down to bad dice rolls it seems. Very well written adventure though - the forest feels alive with colour and brooding with atmosphere.
Nice one Kieran. You were a bit unlucky and made some bad choices; there is an easy-ish path through the adventure (including past that green hairy ape), but alas you missed most of that!
Dear Lord, that’s a freaky cover image. Probably why I hadn’t dared try this one yet.
Nothing strange or startling as regards extra rules here, and with starting stats of Sk 12 St 23 Lu 9 I may well have a shot. Perhaps my stats are overkill in fact as my mission seems deceptively simple: the High Priest of my temple has tasked me with recovering the titular veil which rumour has it has been stolen from its place in the inner sanctum of a convent, probably by a disgruntled nun. My experience of nuns from 14 years of Catholic school was that they were very rarely gruntled so this seems a highly plausible theory.
Night has fallen when I reach the foreboding convent to begin my investigations and the door is firmly closed. A parchment is nailed to the door which turns out to be an instruction to not bring any weapons into this holy place. Hmm, well my Skill is high enough that I’ll give the note-writer the benefit of the doubt and leave my sword behind even though I’m pretty sure this is likely to be the wrong choice. The text tells me I unconvincingly reassure myself that it is safe to do so which pretty much sums up how I feel right now.
I knock on the door, which is answered by a skinny monk which is not what I really expected to answer a convent door - have I gone to the wrong foreboding home for the religiously inclined? He beckons me inside and having no reason not to trust him, I enter. He praises me for my prudence and asks me to sit and shoot the breeze. Again, I can think of no role-playing reason for my character to refuse though my inner cynical player is getting some bad vibes here. Turns out he keeps his distance from the nuns and was once a priest adventurer like myself. That’s nice but still don’t trust you, mate. I tell him I must dash. He tells me to take the south transept to get to the convent proper. No idea what a transept is, though if this one is typical, they’re plain corridors with disturbing stained glass windows.
I hurry along and enter a vestibule where I ignore a seat to leave via the only other door. My decent Luck score means I don’t slip on the marble and make a buffoon of myself. Nuns aren’t keen on buffoonery if I recall correctly.
I enter a ceremonial chamber with an offering box. I pick this up and it rattles but I have no wish to risk the wrath of the Gods by swiping their donations so I put it back down and continue on. A bit further on I am presented with two doors and open the one on the right because why ever not. I’m asked if I have visited a library, not sure why, but the room I enter seems to be changing room of sorts. A nun enters from the doorway opposite and tells me off for sneaking into the ladies’ locker room. I apologise and tell her I’m lost. She despairs of my idiocy, gives me a white mark and tells me to go to the room behind her to find the sweetmeats I seek. No I don’t know either.
Anyway, I follow her cryptic directions to a large chamber where I am beset by bats. After fighting them off, I elect to leave by a door marked with a W. I enter a steam room, but any thought of cleansing my pores is dashed by the sight of a hand dripping blood dangling over the bath. A closer inspection reveals it’s a priest who has seemingly slit his wrists. No clues as to why he took his own life can be found so I leave.
I enter a more plush part of the convent, no doubt for senior members. A door is opened by a calacorm and having picked up bugger all with which to bribe it and with it being in no mood to let me pass, I am forced to attack it. I beat it fairly easily though lose a Luck point for killing a creature that is not evil, merely loyal to its master. Suppose it makes sense that a religious character might feel more badly about such things than the average FF hero.
Entering the room, I find a chained nun who has been badly whipped. I free her and she tells a templar got her pregnant then accused her of blasphemy and took the child from her leaving her fellow sisters to give her a whipping. She tells me where she thinks the baby is being held and the combination for the door. Between this, the suicides, the creepy cover and whatever that nun meant by “sweetmeats”, this is turning out to be pretty dark!
Following her directions, I find a corridor lit by gas lamps with a red metallic floor. Touching this to make sure it’s safe to walk on, I find it warm but harmless. Proceeding on, I am soon confronted by a statue of a warrior. I stare at it for a while and nothing much happens so I try creeping round it and Luckily (with a capital L) it doesn’t come alive or anything.
Continuing on, I find two numbered doors. Remembering what the beaten nun said I try door number 1 and use the combination code of which she told me. I enter a musty room with a basket which I presume holds the baby. It stirs ominously as I approach but hoping it’s just a feisty baby I come closer. No, it’s just a baby, albeit a stinky one. I am given the option to murder it, but as I have neither the weapon not the inclination for infanticide, I wake it up instead. It doesn’t cry. Instead it sprouts hair and long legs and turns into a nandibear. OK. Weaponless as I am, it gives me a bit of a kicking before turning into a fully healed minotaur. God I hope this isn’t going to be a Creature of Havoc-esque endless battle I’ve stumbled into. I punch the minotaur a few times and it turns into a goblin which thankfully is a bit weaker than its previous forms (except for maybe the baby which I’m regretting not murdering horribly). Despite some very poor rolls, I beat it with 1 Stamina point remaining and it turns back into a now dead baby. Yeesh, that’s disturbing.
Exploring the room in the hopes of either healing or a weapon, I find a magical sword that adds to my Attack Strength - giving me an effective Skill of 14 and 1 Stamina point - talk about a glass cannon. Nothing else for it, I leave and try door number 2. It requires another combination and I don’t know this one so I decide to give up on my mission, despite the fact there’s plenty of places I could still go back to explore. But I guess this is FF, not Grailquest.
Victories so far - 2/16
Not sure about this one. Never really got a great sense of what was going on, or what I was meant to be doing. It all seemed a bit vague. I suppose that was to create an air of mystery and there was definitely some disturbing stuff going on but I wasn’t really sure of the significance of it all. Maybe a bit like House of Hell this one might take several attempts to get a sense of the story behind it. Or perhaps the answers to everything lay behind door number 2…
Vast? Oh dear, no wonder I had no idea what was going on. Definitely one for a replay.
Ever seen or read The Name of the Rose? Some aspects of the adventure have a similar vibe.
Interesting - never read/seen it but I am vaguely familiar with the premise and have heard good things.
The film is a delight and helpfully when Sean Connery tells Christian Slater "it is elementary" this informs you it will be a Sherlock Holmes story in the medieval period with lashings of ascetic religious repression and a commentary on how if something absurd is repressed such as humour the "sin" becomes something to be transgressed as a fetishistic desire.
Hoping this time my merchant/adventurer will not get killed by angry antmen, I set out for another attempt at solving why the dead are coming back and making even more people dead.
Decent stats again this time: Sk11 St19 Lu9. Let’s hope my decisions are better.
Last time I avoided searching for a weapon as I remembered that was a waste of time. But since my playthrough of Return to the Icefinger Mountains revealed that my memory ain’t worth much, this time I will try to acquire one immediately.
Hmm, maybe my memory was better than I thought as I can’t find a single blacksmith. I persevere and, find a shop that’s closed. It’s now too late to do anything but drown my sorrows so I hit the pub. I go speak with a dryaden, more out of curiosity as to what a dryaden is than anything else. This dryaden is called Vannix. Vannix gives me some local gossip, offers to sell me a weapon and then hands me a slip of paper with some strange gobbledegook on it. Reading it backwards it spells: “One this is one Vannix’s nine note.” Hmm not sure I’m any the wiser. Maybe if I take out the numbers, it kinda makes sense, maybe?
I talk to a town guard next, slipping him 4gp to get his tongue working (not like that!). He tells me most of the guards are pretty shaken by the grisly goings-on and gives me the address of the healer I got last time from the monk and never found a use for. Attempting to talk to an older man just leads to him babbling about something being down a well (Sadako?) so I leave him to it and head home.
Arriving home, it turns out my faithful servants haven’t been so faithful and have scarpered so I have to cook my own food like a damn pleb. Next day, I am given an opportunity to visit that healer if I need to, but I don’t so I won’t. I try adding 30 to my section number to meet Vannix but it doesn’t work so guess I don’t try it just yet. Ah yes, I’m meant to do so in the next section. Vannix wants 18gp for a sword which seems a bit steep but I don’t see as I have much choice. I now have the choice of trying to rob Vannix to recover my money but that seems a tad drastic plus for all I know 18gp is a fair price so I forgo this option and head for the heath, more precisely the battlesite which I avoided last time and bumped into the xoroa.
Two crypt stalkers attack me at the entrance (not sure how a battlesite can have an entrance?). A tough battle and I imagine I’d be doomed without that sword. As it is I beat them pretty easily and set off to investigate a green glow. The glow comes from an arena where hordes of undead are busy practising swordfighting and building siege engines before they wipe out the town - seems a bit like overkill as pretty much no-one in Bandur’s Green even has a sword but whatever. Not wanting to get too close, I skirt the outside where I am attacked by a decayer. I beat it without being inflicted with the dreaded rotting disease which sounds nasty. The fight went unnoticed by the rest of the undead but I spot a robed figure stalking off with two bodyguards and sneak off in pursuit.
He comes to a group of huts surrounded by a red glow and enters one of them. I successfully sneak into the group of huts unnoticed and attack the two flesh golems who have been left on guard duty (one of these is illustrated and seems to be made of people's faces stitched together - ew). The dice are my friend today and I beat them both without a scratch then smash the door of the hut down. I catch the sorcerer inside by surprise which seems a bit unlikely after I’ve spent the last few minutes hacking apart two flesh golems just outside. The sorcerer ‘flashes his fingers at me’ apparently which seems to be an odd way of saying he ‘chucks a fireball at me’ but I dodge it easily. While I was distracted though the sorcerer has escaped. I dash after him, past his masterless and befuddled servants but the dice finally turn against me and three zombies hobble into my path. One of them has a Skill of 9 so I guess he’s one of these new-fangled running zombies they have these days. Well, the dice are my friends again and I chop through them without taking a single hit.
I catch up with the sorcerer who declares that ‘Casper will burn’ suggesting that, despite all his undead minions, he is not a fan of friendly ghosts. He shoots lightning at me Emperor Palpatine-syle which I dodge but then I am asked if I still have a ring that I’ve never heard of before. Turns out the sorcerer has this ring allows him to summon dead things which promptly tear me apart, leaving the sorcerer free to avenge himself on Stretch, Stinky and Fatso.
Victories so far - 2/17
I feel I got to the end game too quickly this time, probably because I wasted the early stages trying to get a sword. Having said that, I never found a ring last time either so even had the xoroa not killed me I probably still would have failed. Unless the ring is lying just behind the xoroa I guess.
Anyway, I still like this one and look forward to trying it again.
Been a bit of a long break, but time for the possibly evil priest of Verlang to give retrieving his sacred idol from its rightful owners another go.
This iteration of the priest is somewhat tougher if slightly less lucky: Sk8 St23 Lu8. Since I died in combat last time, hopefully that will help this time out.
So dropped at the shore once more with the captain’s probably-helpful-if-I-could-have-heard-what-she-was-saying advice lost to the winds, I decide which part of the caves to explore first. The Croaking Caves just scream "endgame" and I know from my previous attempt that there’s no point seeing the priests of Throff without a bit more cash. I died in the Tunnels of Ooze last time so I guess I’ll check out the goblin-infested Crystal Mines.
The entrance to the mines is guarded by two Dark Goblins who are described as pale skinned so I guess “dark” refers to their habitat. I use the POP spell and chuck a few exploding pebbles at them. I take out one of them then fight the other. He manages to hit me once before I beat him and I pocket his money as recompense.
Inside the mines proper, I find 3 tunnels labelled “Boss”, “Mines” and “Gear”. I check out “Mines”. It turns out the tunnels are held up by driftwood and bamboo. Hoping there are no hungry pandas on the loose, I continue on only for a portcullis to drop behind me and an alarm to sound. Pursuing feet can soon be heard. I use a MUD spell which causes the portcullis to sink into quicksand and then authorial diktat has me flee the Crystal Mines completely.
Well that’s annoying, especially as the text forbids me from returning anywhere I’ve visited before - no matter how briefly. Still don’t have much cash so I’ll try the Tunnels of Ooze next.
Confronted with the three caves from my previous attempt, I try the half submerged one this time. Wading up to my stomach, a giant clam tries to take a chunk out of my leg. I give it the slip and pull myself into a sandy tunnel where I am attacked by a sand squid. It’s a tricky fight as it’s difficult to stay balanced on the sandy ground, so I decide to Escape out a side tunnel.
I emerge into a cave where several tunnels meet so hopefully that means I’ve avoided the giant beetle that did for me last time. I walk towards a wooden door when I stumble into quicksand. Desperately I try a ROK spell, but it doesn’t work as it only works on living creatures apparently (guess I should have read the spellbook more closely!). That leaves me with only one spell I can cast: MUD. But wait doesn’t that create more quicksand? Yep and I soon sink into the new, improved super quicksand. Oh well.
Victories so far: 2/18
Bit disappointed that yet again I failed to see much of this gamebook. Maybe next time I should just avoid the Tunnels of Ooze completely. It’s what the captain advised me after all. Well, that and beware the grem- of course.