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Messages - Dark Jimbo

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 536
1
Announcements / Re: 2000 AD - The Ultimate Collection
« on: Today at 09:27:30 PM »
Updated list - though this doesn't really change too much.

111 - Strontium Dog: Repo Men
112 - ABC Warriors 7
113 - ABC Warriors 8
114 - Strontium Dogs 1
115 - Strontium Dogs 2
116 - Strontium Dogs 3
117 -
118 - Mean Arena 1
119 - Mean Arena 2
120 -
121 - Cradlegrave
122 - Brass Sun 1
123 - Brass Sun 2
124 - The Returners
125 -
126 - Finn 1
127 - Finn 2
128 -
129 -
130 - Ro-Busters 1
131 - Ro-Busters 2
132 - Rogue Trooper: War Machine
133 -
134 - Revere
135 - Samantha Slade
136 - The Fall of Deadworld
137 - Sin/Dex 4
138 - Sin/Dex 5
139 - Sin/Dex 6
140 - Sin/Dex 7

Only 6 gaps left, and we know that the following 4/5 are coming:

Devlin Waugh
Blunt
Necronauts
Blackhawk
Leviathan (probably twinned with Necronauts)
[/quote]

2
Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: Today at 12:35:21 PM »


Having now played roughly a third of the gamebooks that I own (thanks to this thread), here’s a recap. What do we learn from this? Er... nothing revelatory. I need to get better at winning the things, that’s for certain – though in fairness I ‘ve not cheated once, and generally only attempt one playthrough per book, whether that means death or completion. Perhaps there’s a slight reptilian bias to the creatures that have killed me, but I don’t really seem to have made any obvious nemeses yet. Onward!

3
It's always a bit surprising when I find myself voting against the Wizard of Northampton, but I have to give this one to The Fall of Deadworld, a darkly compulsive saga that I recently binged for the first time when I got the three hardbacks for my birthday. Proving that the Dark Judges are not played-out has-beens is...not nothing, by any means.

4
Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: Today at 11:48:17 AM »
What a great write-up! You've inspired me to give Sorcery! another go (although I'll still try WoT first as it's new to me).  What was the reason it lost half a point?

The only real fault for me (and this may have been entirely a result of my missing the relevant encounters) is that the Sansas/Vik plots didn't seem to be resolved. I thought at least one of them was being set up as the 'big bad' of the game, but I eventually left Khare having never met either one. Felt a bit unsatisying, after so much careful seeding of their plots.

5
Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 23 June, 2022, 06:53:52 PM »
And so my adventure ends there. [Well, not really – having come so far, of course I immediately got back on the horse and had another attempt, but for now this first death seems a nice enough place to end the write-up. I really don’t want to ruin all the surprises of Kharé…]

The Verdict
If nothing else, this is a massive game. The above is about half of my eventual (complete) playthrough, and - having already maxed out the character limit for a forum post(!) - I left out an awful lot of detail even from the part I did write up; the Festival of Thieves, the bathouse, a lot of the smaller, low-key encounters and swindlestones games with various citizens of Khare, a lot of the items I picked up for use in spells (didn’t want to ruin all the fun of exploration for you), and two main overarcing narrative threads – the attempt by the mysterious Vik and his agents to take control of the city (Vik for First Noble!) and the story of what exactly happened to the various members of the ruling Council. It becomes clear pretty quickly that First Noble Sansas has recently made a powerplay and moved against most of the others – Moulas, Loragg, Shinva, Theeta – but where are the others? Alive? Dead? …Something else? Something worse? Where is Sansas himself? What does he have planned next? And what will happen when Vik tries to take the city for his own?

I love that your character arrives in the aftermath of most of these events, and has to gradually tease out the truth by a myriad of little clues and NPC encounters. It’s interactive narrative at its best, and the antithesis of Firetop Mountain’s tedious ’Having gone left, you arrive at another junction. You can once more either go left or right.’ The worldbuilding is exquisite – like the street where people have to use ladders to get into or out of their houses, as they’ve all bricked up the downstairs doors and windows in a final exasperated defence against the thieves of Kharé! Steve Jackson creates such an immersive world here that, when I finally reached the North Gate, I just wanted to turn around and dive back into Kharé.

Honestly, the worst thing this game did was end. I’m already having swindlestones withdrawals! This is pretty much the gold standard, by which all other gamebooks will now be judged. 9.5 combat dice out of 10.

6
Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 23 June, 2022, 06:52:31 PM »
Sorcery! – Kharé, Cityport of Traps

The Playthrough – Lower Kharé


The roaring of the manticore still rings in my ears as the mighty city walls of Kharé finally loom into view. Outside I share a ration with a fairly affable beggar, and we’re soon chatting away like old friends. It’s from Tomas (for such is his name) that I learn it’s as hard to get into Kharé as it is to get out again. There’s only one South gate, guarded by a whole regiment of gaurds; and one North gate, locked by a spell, proverbially impossible to open. I can’t believe that. There must be a way, or all is lost. Tomas and I – he with his password, me with my key – help each other get inside the city. Slipping through the gates first, Tomas breaks into a run, leading the guard (deliberately or otherwise) away from the yard. I seize my chance to duck into the city myself, trying not to think about the fact I might never emerge from inside these walls again – but if I can’t survive the admittedly infamous streets of Kharé, I was never going to survive the Fortress of Mampang anyway.

The guard catch me on the backfoot, returning before I’ve even left the yard, and I’m forced to duck into the only building in sight. It looks to be a prison, and the door is locked, of course – but what’s a locked door to a master of sorcery…? The only prisoner inside is an old man with one arm, who seems less bothered about being locked up than he is delighted to have someone to play swindlestones with. When I admit I don’t know the game, he takes it upon himself to give me a crash course.



[Swindlestones is a new addition for the app. You’ll spend  a lot of time playing this highly addictive but sometimes frustrating minigame, beloved of both lowborn and highborn denizens of Kharé. A bit like Liar’s Dice, it’s a great way to win some gold and – most importantly – gossip. The Sorcery! 2 app adds in a ‘clue’ section to your inventory. Everyone loves a gossip while playing swindlestones, and by playing lots of games, you can learn all sorts of interesting things about the city that’ll help you in your mission. The higher the bids and the longer the game goes on, the more useful the conversation – so sometimes you’ll have to weigh calling your opponent’s bid in the near-certainty he’s bluffing; or choosing to ignore the bluff (and maybe sacrifice a win) to keep the conversation going. You can also get clues just by talking to people, or by keeping an ear open as you wander the city.] I learn a bit more about the North Gate and its spell – only the City Nobles know the spell, and the spell lines were split between them for safety. So I’ve got my work cut out for me. That’s four separate Nobles (and their spell-lines) to locate, as well as the right order…



When things have quietened down outside, I take the opportunity to slip out, turning downhill and putting as much distance between me and the Gates as possible. When I happen across a lonely inn, I duck inside. Being used to the prices asked in the villages of the Shamutanti foothills, the going rate for a room here in Kharé  makes my eyes water. As the innkeep says ‘Try sleeping outside for a night, and you’ll soon see why the rooms cost what they do.’ Keen to put my new skills to the test, I offer to play him at swindlestones for the price of the room. I trounce him in two games running – not to brag, but I think I’m something of a natural! Then I do something I’m not sure my character would ever have done before leaving Analand – decide to go and sleep outside instead, and pocketing the gold. The innkeeper’s plaintive ‘But I thought…’ escorts me out into the night.

I make camp in the shadow of the city walls, but I’m not asleep for long – I become aware that there seems to be a wolf, or something like it, slinking through the trees. I snatch up my sword, and then it comes for me – and I’m more than a bit startled to see that it’s wearing armour! Once I’ve run it through, there’s an even bigger shock in store, as the body of the wolf becomes that of a young woman. A WEREWOLF…? But… it isn’t even a full moon. Curiouser and curiouser. I make time to bury the corpse, and try to catch a little more sleep before the sun rises, wondering what my time in the cityport will bring if this has been an accurate taste…

Next morning I hug the city wall, heading roughly Northeast, although there’s not much to be found in this portion of Lower Khare – just the bones of old farmhouses, tumbled and broken. The first complete dwelling I find turns out to be a chainmaker’s forge, whose chains twist and rattle eerily from the ceiling. For some reason I don’t immediately announce myself, but steal softly inside to start a gentle ransack of the place… I’ve turned up some gold pieces and a copper key when the chainmaker, a none-too-gregarious svinn, surprises me. I manage to bluff it out, although I’m forced to buy a silver chain to stop him being suspicious. I don’t like who I’m becoming in this blighted city – five minutes here, and I’m already swindling innkeepers and stealing from honest tradesmen!



The sun climbs high into the sky as I walk among the fields. My stomach begins to let me know in no uncertain terms that I missed breakfast, and sitting on a rock to eat some bread and cheese turns out to be an extremely good idea. There doesn’t seem much more to be found here, at the poor end of a poor district of a poor cityport, so I turn West, away from the city walls at last, and deeper into the metropolis. An intriguingly high fence around a seemingly empty field attracts my interest – despite appearances to the contrary, there must surely be something worth protecting inside, right? A quick cast of BIG grows me momentarily to gigantic proportions, and I simply step over the barrier. Strange. It really does just seem to be a field of plain old grass. Why would someone– And then I see something glinting among the green. Aha! I don’t waste any time, but stoop to grab – May the Whale protect me! Something in the grass – or maybe the grass itself – has got hold of my wrists, and starts pulling me deeper, and deeper down… A desperate prayer to my guardian spirit releases me, and I’m straight back over the fence, trying not to think about what might nearly have happened there… I spend late morning scything wheat for a farmer for a little gold, so when I pass a fortune teller’s stall I don’t mind sparing a coin to hear my fate. She seems to have a genuine gift, as she knows a lot about my quest thus far – and she seems to think that I ought to visit a priest by the waterfront for a further important clue.

Further on, and a bundle in the gutter actually looks, on closer inspection, to be a person. Of course, this could well be a trap, and there’s nothing to stop me walking by… The other citizens of the city certainly are, with that sullen, studied expression of disinterest that I’ve already gotten so used to in my short time here. No. Determined that Kharé will not corrupt me, I pause to check if he needs help, as the Analander of old would have done, back in the Shamutanti Hills. As I shake the shoulder of the… thing, the head rolls toward me, black lips peeling away from rotten teeth in something that might be a mockery of a grin. He starts to get up, but the movement is somehow all wrong – the way the elbows and knees are bending beneath the blanket doesn’t seem to make any sense. And as the covering falls away, I understand why – the limbs aren’t attached to each other. I’ve woken a LIVING CORPSE, and the ensuing fight is one of the most disgusting I’ve had since leaving Analand (and I had to fight a skunkbear, so I know whereof I speak).



Finally, mercifully, the sundered appendages fall back to the ground. A cheery little gnome thanks me for putting him down, saying that it should be another month before he rises again. The districts of Lower Kharé apparently dump this obscenity on each other with regularity, happy for it to be someone else’s problem until the next time. Truly, this city is a cesspit. Having already put a few new sword-holes in it, it’d seem pointless to quibble about quickly searching the body for clues or gold before I move on. Just as well I do, as there’s an extremely interesting scrap of parchment lodged in the throat. That wasn’t just any old common-or-garden zombie, but the mortal remains of Second Noble Moulas, and I now have the first of the four spell lines to open the North Gate!

Later I come across a burnt house beside the road, which is intriguing, so I climb in among the blackened timbers, looking for clues or treasure. A young man watches me ransack the smoking ruins from across the street, and rather pointedly asks if I knew the owner. I suspect he knows the answer full well, but I admit I didn’t. “Oh? Just thought you’d have a little poke around and help yourself, did you?” he asks. Chastened, I mumble an excuse and hurry away. [Brilliant. I think this is the first time a gamebook has actually called me out on this sort of thing!] Further up the road is the grandest house I’ve seen yet, but it doesn’t have a very lived-in feel. I seem to very much have the taste for breaking and entering now, as – having made sure nobody’s watching me this time – I slip quickly inside (in my defence, this does look exactly like the sort of place a City Noble might live).



It’s a labyrinthine place, though inhabited now only by cobwebs and dust, and takes me a while to fully explore. There’s the usual sort of nonsense with snakes and trick staircases, but upstairs I find a badge – the Badge of the Seventh Noble, Theeta. Was this his mansion…? The most important discovery comes in a hidden room beneath the main house. A makeshift altar stands at one end of the room, dedicated to a deity named Courga. Someone has daubed the golden statue of the god with what I suspect must be clues to his ritual – the sort of thing that can only be useful to me, though it might not be for a while. Mayhap this is linked to the priest I was told to seek…? The same person – presumably – has also left bloodstained bandages on the altar, as if in offering, and scrawled the legend GIVE ME BACK MY EYES in vast letters of haemoglobin. Bleurgh. Thoroughly creeped out, I leave this mausoleum of a house to its ghosts, and press on, hoping I haven’t missed a spell-line. What gives me heart is that I didn’t find Theeta himself – hopefully he’s still out there in the city, somewhere.

Dwarftown is next. I draw many stares as I pass through the streets, but I seem to be viewed more as a passing curiosity than a threat, and I stock up on many interesting wares at a dwarf merchant’s. Beyond Dwarftown is the Artists’ Quarter (I’m slightly surprised that a sinkhole like Kharé has an Artist’s Quarter!), dominated by the vast bulk of the Market. The market is baffling to the senses, a cacophony of trader’s patois, energetic haggling, angry arguments. The air smells of incense, spices, glues and oils, conflicting smells all coming at me at once. And of course, this being Kharé, most all of the sellers and costermongers that I speak to try to rob me, kill me, or both. Of particular note is the armless artist that I speak to. Asking him how on earth he manages to paint such works, he invites me to look inside his studio – where I’m astounded to see a paintbrush  working by itself! As soon as I enter, a new canvas flies onto the easel, and the paintbrush starts painting anew. Suddenly uneasy, I ask it to stop. The paintbrush just gets faster. I try to grab it. I try magic. I can’t catch it, and it just gets faster. The bastard thing has soon finished the painting of me – and then I step out of the canvas!




Fighting myself is a… strange experience, to say the least. Back outside, the artist doesn’t deny that it was a trap. He doesn’t even have the decency to be ashamed! I see some recently finished canvas paintings of men that are surely City Nobles, and in a fit of pique I grab them. ‘For my troubles,’ I say. It turns out I now have paintings of Sansas, Shinva and Theeta – so I’ll know them if I see them. No Lorag, though. Heading back down into the slums, I descend into a well [perfectly normal gamebook behaviour, but why would someone really do this?!] It’s not pleasant, but hey – any trip to Kharé is a metaphorical wade through sewage at the best of times! I disturb a RATBEAR, but the fight is a small price to pay; scratched on a wall is the remnant of a four-line poem. Could it be…? I’m fairly certain this must be the spell for the North Gate – and though it’s too worn to help work out the spell, enough is legible to tell me the order of the four lines once I get them. Not a wasted trip, thankfully!

Back on the surface, a hand emerges from regions unknown, clamping itself over my mouth, and I’m gently persuaded into the shadows (the unseen blade between my shoulders helps). ‘Don’t worry,’ a voice whispers. ‘I’m a friend.’ I fully expect to now see my old assassin mate Flanker, here to repay his debt, but I don’t recognise the face of the man who’s ‘invited’ me into his house. Apparently an old adventuring buddy of Glandragor, the innkeep from Biritanti, he seems a gregarious sort, but… I dunno, something in me just takes umbrage at being accosted like this. While he serves us two tankards of ale, I slip on my skullcap to cast TEL and read his mind. I can’t say I’m too surprised to learn that the ale is drugged and he desperately wants me to drink it – but that’s about all I can learn of his identity or intentions, as he’s also batshit insane, with a mind like fractured glass. Politely declining the ale just enrages him, and suddenly VANGORN THE MURDERER, as he proves to be, is coming for me with sword in hand. (That’s right, he has ‘murderer’ in his name!) Afterwards, I ransack his hovel guilt-free.



After Vangorn’s I next come across a small shrine, where a white-robed priest is preaching to a crowd, calling for someone to take the Test of Slangg, God of Malice. Presumably this is the priest I was told to find, so after watching someone else fail the Test, I step up to the front. I’m offered an easy question – which will come with a sacrifice – or an impossible one. Apparently – so a woman in the crowd says to me – nobody ever chooses the easy question, and nobody has ever answered the impossible question. Perhaps I’m being too clever for my own good, but surely there’s an obvious trick here? If the ‘impossible question’ really is impossible – what’s the sense in trying it? Asking for the easy question, the priest asks if I will first accept Slangg as my God. Slightly apprehensively, I agree. Well, I don’t have to mean it, do I? The priest lays hands upon me, and I begin to feel my Guardian Spirit slipping away from me. I won’t be allowed to just pay lip service to the idea – this is really going to happen! My Spirit’s been good to me on my travels – I haven’t called on it often, but it’s always come through for me when I have, curing me of plague and preventing me being flattened by a boulder. I quickly chicken out – but it’s too late! Slangg is now my God whether I want it or not, and quite frankly he sounds like an absolute arsehole. I answer the easy question, then for my ‘reward’, I ask about the North Gate spell, and get a new clue for my troubles. Whether it was worth the cost remains to be seen…



Night is rapidly drawing in as I reach the docks, and I need to start thinking about somewhere to sleep. At a wharfside inn I play some swindlestones with a drunken sailor to wind down before bed. As I leave the table, a voice from the shadows asks if I’d care to try him, instead. It’s Flanker! Over a mug of ale, he gently questions me about my time in the city so far, laughing heartily to hear that I’ve now got Slangg for a deity. (Thanks.) Finally, he agrees to repay his debt by taking me to see the elusive Council – if I can first best him at swindlestones. If I don’t, he gets to kill me… Lucky for me that Flanker has no idea just how adept I’ve become at this game. Once beaten, he honours his word, and off we go to the Council. It's a really interesting escapade, where I learn some fascinating things about Portal Traps that I’m not going to spoil here – and the fact that there apparently is no Council running Kharé! This night of heady revelations puts the cap on my second, exhausting, day in Kharé.



The next morning I’m up with the crack of dawn, waiting impatiently for a little old man to let down the only bridge across the Jabaji. Whether karmic justice for my exasperation I don’t know, but my eventual journey across the bridge is accompanied by an increasingly ominous creaking, and I’m suddenly dumped into the river as the ancient planks break apart beneath me! An exhausting (and disgusting) swim gets me safely to the north bank, but everything paper-based in my inventory has been ruined, along with all my rations. Only my precious spellbook has survived. If there’s an upside, it’s that the dunking has drowned all the fleas I picked up thus far in the cityport. Not just me being cute – my character really had picked up fleas! It’s something of an inauspicious start to my time in Upper Kharé, and it’s about to get worse…

Walking west, I soon find I’ve blundered into an ethnic ghetto of some kind. All the creatures here are strange, sour folk with pallid skin and, weirdest of all, closed eyes. Unlike Dwarftown, the air here is stifling and oppressive. My prescence is not tolerated, but openly resented. Best not to tarry. Alas, I’m quickly surrounded by a gang of youths, and being surrounded by a gang of youths in an unfamiliar part of town has never ended well for anyone, anywhere, in the multiverse. It’s no different on Titan. The ringleader opens his eyes – just a crack – and I’m struck dumb with pain by the baleful red light beneath. No wonder they all keep their eyes closed! He threatens to look at me, all over, if I don’t do what I’m told, and I don’t think this is an empty threat. I’m sweetness itself as I talk to them, positively queasy in my politeness, but things quickly go south all the same. For the sin of being a ‘whiteyes’, I’m beaten unconscious. Upper Kharé is not kind.



I wake up on a stone cot in a prison cell, bruised and battered. No time to feel sorry for myself – I’ve got a mission to get on with. I’ve been carrying several keys around since my time in the Shamutanti hills, and I’m keen to finally find out what they do. Wouldn’t you know it – the first one I try in the lock is the one that opens the cell door? Blind chance? Luck? Or is Slangg not quite the capricious deity I’ve been led to believe? Whatever the truth, there’s a Red-Eyes guard to deal with before anything else; I take out my silver chain and whip it around him, totally incapacitating him in its coils. Except…. Except that being bound by a chain does nothing to stop him simply turning his head, and opening his eyes…

7
The Grievous Tourney Schedule of Colin YNWA (and the Boarders' Brain Cells Left in His Wake)

Bravo!

8
Announcements / Re: 2000 AD - The Ultimate Collection
« on: 21 June, 2022, 02:56:34 PM »
I've got the big 'phone book' edition of To Busters, with the black and yellow cover and the characters on front. Is this the same as the book that was printed later with Charlie on the front.

The book with the Charlie cover was Book 2 of 2. Between them they reprinted the whole of Ro-Busters - so, essentially the same as the phonebook - but with all the colour pages in colour rather than in murky black-and-white.

9
Megazine / Re: Meg 445 - Case of Questions
« on: 20 June, 2022, 03:24:53 PM »
The Progs a bit woddly at the moment and that's certianly not helped by a floppie which reprints material from like 34 minutes ago, or whatever. I mean really., REALLY.
Yeah, next month's is apparently that alleged Hook Jaw story from a couple of years back.

Well I'll be picking up an issue next month purely for the Hookjaw reprint, so... job done, as far as I'm concerned.

10
Announcements / Re: 2000 AD - The Ultimate Collection
« on: 17 June, 2022, 03:24:48 PM »
Ro- Busters 1 is here!

Contents is all the Starlord strips (with colour spreads intact); Earthquake Control, from the 1978 Starlord Annual; and Death on the Orient Express.

11
Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 15 June, 2022, 10:44:57 AM »
One of the reasons I rated CotSW a bit lower than it deserved is that dying in battle because of a succession of high skill fights sucks - especially when they seem a bit illogical (I can buy DD's ninja and pit fiend fights being super tough, but CotSW has a Skill 12 bird man who is just there with no relation to the plot at all).

The Bird Men are prominent antagonists in the Sorcery! series, where they infest the mountains of Kakhabad and do the biding of the Arch Mage. The third Sorcery! book came out the same year as CotSW, so I imagine it was a little tip of the hat from Ian to Steve.

Still doesn't stop him being plenty random, though. Like the useless bloody genie.

12
Give me a brief synopsis of these two thrills and ask me which I'd like to read, and hands down I'd go for 'orcs and wizards fighting aliens' over 'near-future resistance fighter' every time.

But in practice, Kingmaker now leaves me totally cold, whereas Savage was never less than readable and often really surprising in just how good it was.

13
General / Re: Sideshow Vote II: BFG no man it is GFD
« on: 14 June, 2022, 11:03:19 AM »
Fiends of the Eastern Front. A fun romp. nice framing device. Glorious one and done story.

Whilst i have enjoyed both reboots, I feel that they'd been better off being their own thing (with minimal changes needed) rather than linking to the original.

And the longer it goes on, the less sense it makes as a prequel. We're supposed to believe that the vampire who fought Black Max, Baba Yaga, Rasputin, Cain himself and all the rest of it was finally defeated by a policeman in a Berlin basement?

14
Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 14 June, 2022, 10:33:01 AM »
I know this one's a stinker on a low skill, due to the number of high stat enemies that you have to face, so I'm going to use a house rule that I've seen suggested. If I find an item that increases SKILL I'll allow it to go above my initial skill, up to a maximum of 12. I want to roleplay it, so if it's a weapon, then it'll increase my skill for combat (effectively a boost to attack strength), but if it's a skill test then I'll not apply the weapon bonus.

Apart from anything, this makes for a better user experience – it's a bummer when you get a boosted item if the boost doesn't apply because you haven't had the misfortune to lose any skill points yet.

I love this as a homebrew rule. It doesn't even feel like cheating, as skill-increasing items are hardly the most common of things - but at least now, if you roll a 7 or 8 Skill, it's going to feel like you have some kind of prospect of improvement ahead of you.


I know from reading others' playthroughs that the war-hammer actually makes your life tougher later on (as it stops you from getting a genie-wish or something)...

The only time in the whole book that the bloody genie actually comes good is in the fight with the Crystal Warrior, where he takes it out for you instantly - but only if you don't have the warhammer. If you do, then you have to fight it yourself, in which case the genie becomes the most useless aid it's possible to pick up! A truly bizarre bit of gamebook design which should never have made it past the first edit, frankly.

15
Other Reviews / Re: Spines
« on: 13 June, 2022, 12:01:07 PM »
With the demise of free hosting sites for pics, what's the best was to get pics up here?

There's still loads of free ones. I use Imgur.

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