Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:13:25 GMT
vastariner: Ooo, I like this one. Seems to have been retconningly shoehorned into Titan!, especially when the Hachiman chaps and chapesses are meant to be an isolated society yet have dynastic links with the Isles of the Dawn (see Crimson Tide). And it's so bloody obviously Japan! At least with the Luke Sharp things nobody really knows much about the Khans or Turkestan.
Tourney of the Planes; nice idea, interesting planar encounters. A bit mis-guided, after all you can slay the fat frog yourself, yet if you send the Golden Company after them they get chomped up. Then again what do you expect when their major totem is a war fan? Or maybe it's not meant to be the sort you fold up, rather they're the military equivalent of the Bay City Rollers. And I'd feel a bit guilty at slaying the last-ever Giant Elk a bit earlier. But the planes are a thing that Titan has totally omitted, I for one would be interested in finding out more about the Necrotic Plane of Q'yaan as that's almost the only other mention of them in adventure. That and the Abyss.
The village of the Rokuro-Kubi...oog, freakout time. And if your Honour reaches zero, surely you would not kill yourself on the basis that you are honourless?
When one gets down to it, it's the common-or-garden kingdom-will-be-destroyed-and-guess-what?-we-are-sending-one-man-rather-than-an-army scenario, but artfully written, atmospherically embracing and unfolds like a paper crane. Good stuff.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:14:07 GMT
wilf: I love the fact there are two different routes to take before you reach the Tourney. It's a very atmospheric book, too, but I do remember it being a very simple one, and you have to be a bit cloth-headed not to discover the secret of the Singing Death (assuming you reach that point).
I like SotS, but I'm not expecting it to give me too much trouble in my marathon. But then again, I'm the guy who got himself killed in the Citadel Of Chaos despite knowing that book pretty much inside out, so what do I know?
(Nah, the FF version of that catchphrase still needs work...)
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:16:28 GMT
hynreck: Okay guys... I'll admit it, I suck at riddles... ...especially riddles not in my native tongue. I'm always afraid it's going to be some dumb wordplay that I can't know about, something about double meaning and such. Any clues you can give me (without spoiling it) for the Dragon riddle? The first one? Any bits of help that could steer me in the right direction would be appreciated. Thanks!
Okay guys...I'll admit it, I suck at riddles......especially riddles not in my native tongue. I'm always afraid it's going to be some dumb wordplay that I can't know about, something about double meaning and such.Any clues you can give me (without spoiling it) for the Dragon riddle? The first one?Any bits of help that could steer me in the right direction would be appreciated.Thanks!
A different riddle with the same answer is asked of Bilbo by Golem in "The Hobbit". Is that enought of a clue?
(328) Despite your best efforts, you find yourself decaying in front of a computer screen. Your adventure ends here.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:18:45 GMT
hynreck: This was another new one for me... and wow! I ended up very impressed. A perfect gamebook? Not at all (if there is such a thing) but did I enjoyed it? Immensely.
First thing first: This is another book that I skipped when I was young because of the cover/thematic subject. I was hardcore fantasy medieval when I was young, slay the dragon, destroy the undead; not so much sci-fi, pirates... or samurai. Boy, did I miss out on something back then, but then again, what a joy now to rediscover lost gems or missed opportunities.
It's been said by others, and probably better, but the atmosphere in this book is awesome. Both path offer a wide variety of adventures, none alike. Hell, the whole book is completely original - not the basic premise - but the encounters. Maybe a Japanese person, or someone versed in Japan's folklore - it's rich myths and legends - would find that book pretty much banal, ordinary stuff, but to me, it gave me a full impact. It's not just a matter of Japanese mythology, though. Any books in any settings can present original and devious encounters; it's not just a matter of cultural background. Some fail at that and present pretty ordinary tales, that, while enjoyable, are far from novelty. This book offer novelty and ingenuity with well-thought set pieces deliciously augmented by a, most of the time, spot-on atmosphere. I'm especially delighted as I thought Talisman of Death, the authors previous book, was full of imagination, too much perhaps, that didn't quite gel well together.
It reminded me of Lone Wolf, which may explain a bit why I liked it so much: you play a highly skilled and honorable warrior, with a strict code of conduct and disciplines to boot (you only choose one, but then again, this is only one book, not a whole series). The only thing I wish for is if that book could have had a director's cut of sort: the story flows very fast, from settings to settings, and sometimes it feels like bits are missing, especially near the end. It's possible that the story was supposed to be bigger (planed, anyway) but that in the grand scheme of keeping it in the 400 sections mold, it was trimmed of unnecessary parts... parts that would have made the book seemed more connected, perhaps. In any case, I wanted more, so that would have been nice.
New cover by Mel Grant, a take on the bridge with the undead Samurai, looks a-okay and the original looked fine too. Inside illos are overall nice. Alan Langford did a good job on most. The guy's got a tendency to always draw illos the same way, so he is easily identifiable, but still, some of his work is striking, so not too painful on the eyes.
It's funny how this book just rocketed itself on my favourite list out of nowhere, but nice. I'm not sure if it's gonna stay there long, got plenty more to read, but in all cases, it's definitely fallen on my good side forever.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:19:50 GMT
jamus: To be honest I found this one a little disappointing. I actually preferred "Talisman of Death".
Firstly I think it was a little too difficult. On the optimal path with the best special skill, you still need a SKILL of 10 or higher to have a good chance of making it through. Its still playable with a SKILL 9 (i'm estimating about 40% chance of success, depending on your stamina and luck) , but any lower and you can forget it.
Secondly the combat rules for fighting with two swords are poorly explained and unclear. I still don't really understand how you are meant to do it. In addition to this, there is a scenario where you enemy can't "fight back" for two attack rounds. How are we meant to interperet this? <MINOR SPOILER ALERT> I also take issue with the Tatsu's second riddle. Surely the answer to this riddle is "secret"? Its a much better answer!
Finally the Tourney of planes really seemed out of place with the Japanese-style setting. Gameplay-wise it could have been better as well. Choosing the right creature to fight for you is really a matter of luck. And there are no varying degrees of success - either your ally will kill one of your enemies or will be killed without even harming your enemy.
Anyway the book certainly has its good points - the theme and style is well done and unique, the quality of the writing is excellent and I enjoyed most of the encounters up to the tourney of Planes. But I think its flaws really let this book down.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:20:29 GMT
oakdweller: ***SPOILERS AHEAD***
Back in '86 I had very little idea what a Samurai was. All I knew was that they were warriors from eastern Asia. (I faired better than one of my class mates who had been told by someone else that FF book #20 had been published and misheard a critical detail... "This time you're given a name! You're Sam O'Rye"). Getting my first taste of medieval Japanese culture was a mystifying experience which threw me into some situations that were an intriguing culture shock, whereas others left me feeling detached from the character and situation. I was continually buffeted between these two feelings, which made it hard to assess the overall book.
Since then - partly due to an impressive collection of old Japanese artefacts at the Ashmolean, including a complete set of Samurai armour - I'm a bit more familiar with Japanese history. That fantastic monster wiki that others have mentioned has helped enormously too; having insight into the original mythology behind the likes of the Kappa and the Tatsu makes encountering them in Sword of the Samurai so much better. It's a pity that the confusion concerning Rokurokubi and Nukekubi happened, but considering that the former have a tendency to imitate the latter, its understandable, especially if the authors were under time pressure. (Was this corrected for the Wizard reprint by the way?) Another problem which makes comprehending the Hachiman culture murkier is that there are myths and legends from non-Japanese cultures mixed in. In standard fantasy FFs there are of course ideas cribbed from all sorts of cultures: Ancient Greek, Roman, Ancient Egyptian, Irish, Old English... Having such mixtures works fine usually, but when aiming for a culture and feel that is as specific as medieval Japan, it's definitely better not to include a phoenix (Egyptian/Greek), a kraken (Norse) or the 'English' Golden Company. There are plenty of Japanese myths that could have be used instead.
The gaming aspect has two significant weaknesses. First of all, it's too short. Some paths are longer than others of course, but which ever way you turn it's only a hop, skip and a karumijutsu heroic leap until the Hub is reached. It wasn't until I mapped this one out last year that I realised just how limited the range of the geography is - the most direct route to the Hub only includes four potential encounters. It's also too easy, not the leisurely swim of the previous book, but still achievable in somewhere between two and four attempts (or one attempt for cheaters!) The only really tough part is the trek through the Spider Fens, an extremely dangerous place to explore, brimming with sudden death moments of Robin Waterfield proportions. (Again, this would be easy if you cheat, so my advice to anyone reading this who has never played Sword before is to play straight if you want to avoid the disappointing ease of victory). Whichever route is taken, by the time you're through the Hub, as long as you've found the secret of Singing Death and have at least medium stats, then defeating Ikiru is a breeze.
There are plenty of solid characters from the outset, which help with the acclimatising to the unfamiliar culture. Everyone from the world-weary charcoal-burners to the frustrated ronin Ginsei are given sufficient coverage in the text to make Hachiman throb with life. The immoral Moichi is a bit different to temporary companions from past FF books, as he is an annoyance that matters of honour require you to take along with you. His master, the gross Lord Tsietsin, is a valuable inclusion too, being the type of sly bully-boy that is a pleasure to defeat.
The Hub section uses up a large number of references to work, but thankfully it earns its keep by preparing the reader for an unusual battle, the manner of which is quite different to that used by any other FF book. Visiting the seven potential allies and persuading them to join you is a highlight of the adventure because the bizarre characters on offer are so varied. The battle against Dai-Oni's minions requires some trial and error (as well as willpower for cheat addicts) to win through, but selecting which allies to send into battle is the most entertaining FF moment since... Erm, well, riding that seahorse actually. I'm aware that this style of battling is distinctly Japanese and forms the basis for the Pokémon cartoons, but I don't know much about that because I found myself unable to sit through such puerile trash.
Alan Langford's earthy, reliable style suits the text perfectly. The 'rokuro-kubi' (155) picture is my favourite, making these creepy unfortunates even more disturbing by having them face different directions. I'm also taken by the Kappa (201) (I love the secret weakness that these monsters have), the spectral Mukade (378) (no entry on the monster wiki for this) and the great serpent (97), but then reptiles are Langford's speciality.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:22:41 GMT
craze b0i: I love this book. As others have alluded it is Titan but not Titan. I like the fact that you get to pick special fighting skills. Also the fact that unlike some books, where the incentive is to evade combat as much as possible, this book rewards you for taking risks and being heroic - notably via the award of honour points. Its quite a unique structure as well because in paragraph 1 you basically choose between 2 pathways and these 2 paths don't rejoin until the final showdown. The only gripe I have is that path 2 is significantly harder and you probably need Skill 12 to be sure of getting through, also path 2 does not award honour points which is a shame. I thought the hub section at the end was a really nice idea, maybe it has been done elsewhere in FF but I am not aware of it.
In the hub there is an element of 'trial and error' to pick the right combatant to each fight, but there is also a sort of pattern. Beast vs beast and humanoid vs humanoid. The Ki-Rin, a being of holiness, is obviously meant to be saved for the end.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:24:11 GMT
vagsancho: Are you sure? I haven't got the book here but if my memory doesn't fail, what we find there is a different object, a horn i think, with the form of a serpent, which we use to get the big snake as our ally and not the tiger.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:25:00 GMT
vagsancho: I think that there is one thing in this book that gives a lot of frustration!! - the path where we find the rokuro kubi, we can only win 1 point of honour, so the maximum will be 4 points, and for that reason, we can not make the Ki-Rin as our ally!! am I mistaken about this?
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:25:17 GMT
greenspine: So take the other path. It would be a problem if there were no way to get more than 4 Honour, but the fact that one of the viable routes through the book makes things a lot harder for you, including denying you one valuable ally, is hardly a problem.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:26:05 GMT
sylas: It would have been nice if the two paths weren't so unbalanced in difficulty. You choose Game A or Game B right at the start. Choosing the safer route means a LOT of paragraphs are wasted on the other. It's not like you can accidentally go on the harder path either, not after a couple of attempts at least. Could have easily been a winner imo. But as it stands, it just feels like another wasted opportunity.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 12, 2013 0:26:21 GMT
greenspine: I wouldn't call the paragraphs on the tougher route 'wasted'. They may not get as much attention as the easier path, but a player who wants a challenge may still give them a go. It's not an ideal set-up, but it's better than things like the incorrect routes in Temple of Terror and Armies of Death, which are completely redundant once you realise that there's no way of acquiring an essential item on them.
I must have originally got this book on a Friday, because I remember completing my first attempt at my grandparents' place. I picked the easier route straight off, but made a couple of silly mistakes along the way (notably, assigning a numerical value of 1 to the letter 'i' during a word-number conversion, and thus failing the Tatsu's test despite getting the right answer, and asking the wrong question of the defeated Dai-Oni).
This time round I will not make those mistakes. Assuming I last long enough to be in a position to make them.
As on my first attempt, I shall take Kyujutsu. Go west, young Samurai, and investigate the burning village, as leaving innocents to suffer would not be honourable. A treacherous Samurai charges me, but I have time to fire two arrows at him, which suggests that he's charging in slow motion. One shot misses, but the other hits, and I dodge out of the way of his spear-thrust. The subsequent fight doesn't last long.
With 12 Skill I can afford to do the honourable thing and challenge the other villainous Samurai to single combat. Only one of them proves remotely bothersome. I am rewarded with a headband, and spare the wounded raider because I know how much use he can be alive. A brief detour to convince his boss that rebellion is not the best policy shouldn't interfere with my plans for saving the world. It may be possible to deceive my way past the Shikome guards, but arrows through the windpipe are not so uncertain in their outcome.
With a former employee of the Pretender Shogun at my side, I have little trouble tracking down the fat traitor, and we carve him up without difficulty. The Honour bonuses come thick and fast in these parts, and the physical rewards are none too shabby, either. On the way out, a monstrous centipede disarms my ally, and I commit insecticide. Moichi joins the likes of Throm, Mungo, Redswift and Stubb, and I honour his memory by grabbing the useful loot available down here.
On into the Forest of Shadows, where I get through the riddling contest without difficulty ('i' is worth 9) and receive my umpteenth redundant Luck bonus. If it weren't for the Initial cap, I'd easily be in double figures by now.
Onward to cover illustration river, and a showdown with an Undead Samurai carrying a misspelled ad for a Sam Raimi film. After a while, I tire of its antics, and shoot it, as though I were the Samurai Indiana Jones. Ish.
The next day I encounter the dreaded Welsh villain Dai Oni, who challenges me to the Tourney of the Planes. Quick trips to an assortment of places with names straight off of a bad fantasy novel's map secure me a fresh batch of allies, including Lydia the Tatsu'd Lady, the Golden Company (who sound like they could be one of those dodgy businesses offering to buy precious metals at rip-off rates every ad break) and a Mountain of Ineffable Holiness souvenir Ki-Rin. I know Tourney Roshambo well enough to breeze through the preliminaries, and only have to fight once. My opponent gets in a couple of lucky blows when on his last legs. Why can't you just die, Oni?
After I force him to tell me the secret of Singing Death (sounds like an unpublished Enid Blyton book), he seeks revenge From Beyond the Grave, but I remember the advice given after the riddling challenge, and summon a Jizo to Blinovitch the Shura. Tat's u, folks!
Except that it's not over until the Dai-Katana sings. I proceed to Onikaru to face Ikiru and runhimthru. Activating the sword with the help of hair care products, I easily deal with his minions, and my Luck is sufficient that I need only hit Ikiru himself the one time to get all Sommerswerd on his Gnaag. A very comfortable victory.
Well, quick like that, and to stay in the gamebook world (as oppose to, let's say, asking help from the likes of Anakin Skywalker and Harry Potter), but still stretching beyond FF, I think I'd have pretty much all based covered if I asked Lone Wolf and Avenger to side by me...
Come to think of it, I'd most likely die, no matter how much asses I can kick in real life, but I would have at least some sort of solace thinking on how those two are then going to annihilate whatever comes at them.
Hey I'd want Razaak on my team, along with the Night Dragon, Titanium Cyborg, Zagor Demon and Lizardman Champion.
I would rather have the adventurer who beat Razaak in Crypt on my team
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.