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Author Topic: Gamebooks  (Read 9282 times)

Funt Solo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #270 on: 23 May, 2022, 10:21:12 PM »
Fuck you, Sir Ian!

An appropriate response. It should be the official Fighting Fantasy battle cry.
++ map ++ thrills ++ coma ++

Barrington Boots

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #271 on: 24 May, 2022, 02:03:31 PM »
Sir Ian would doubtless respond by asking us if we had three implausible objects, before telling us 'your abuse ends here'

Excellent writeup Richard and a really fun read! I'm impressed we basically all died at the same point.
Having played the book several times to finish it I think the first bit is the best bit (although strictly speaking the art is the actual best bit)
I'm playing HoH still - I've started mapping it as it's very easy to get turned about in there. I WILL finish it!
You're a dark horse, Boots.

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #272 on: 24 May, 2022, 02:33:07 PM »
Sir Ian would doubtless respond by asking us if we had three implausible objects, before telling us 'your abuse ends here!'

🤣

Great write-up, Richard! Every time I start writing a new one I wonder why I'm doing it to myself, but then other people's are so much fun to read!
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Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #273 on: 24 May, 2022, 04:53:55 PM »
Thanks guys!

By the way, Steve Jackson's new book Secrets of Salamonis will be illustrated by the prog's Tazio Bettin!

https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/fighting-fantasy-the-secrets-of-salamonis-fighting-fantasy/steve-jackson/paperback/9781407188492.html

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #274 on: 24 May, 2022, 08:21:06 PM »
By the way, Steve Jackson's new book Secrets of Salamonis will be illustrated by the prog's Tazio Bettin!

https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/fighting-fantasy-the-secrets-of-salamonis-fighting-fantasy/steve-jackson/paperback/9781407188492.html

That is extremely cool news! The new artwork for the Scholastic editions has been generally awful.
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Funt Solo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #275 on: 26 May, 2022, 01:33:13 AM »
I got distracted by making node maps and so never really got going in the right order on this project. Also, I was curious about Jimbo's approach. To that end, I've gone back to play the first book - with one chief advantage - which is that I node-mapped it a few months ago and (even though I haven't looked back at the map) I do know the correct route through the dungeon (and that it follows a simple rule), and I've built that foreknowledge into my roleplay.


The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Skill: 12      
Stamina: 18      
Luck: 9
Potion of Fortune


Well, I can't help it if I'm attracted to married women, can I? And they can't help themselves in return, which leads to … trouble. My dueling skills have kept me alive, and many widowed – but when it comes to gambling, my luck has not held, and I find myself under pressure from my creditors – to such an extent that my sword arm won't quite cut it.

Frankly, I'm in need of a windfall, and I've heard of a chap who's sitting on more than his fair share of treasures – all I need do is persuade him to share it. To shore up my wayward luck, I've invested the last of my coin in a Potion of Fortune – which the hag in Anvil swears is blessed by Sindla herself. Luck is one thing, but surety is worth more, and to that end I spoke with a seer who swore he witnessed events both past and future. In return for a solemn promise he told me that I should follow my sword arm to find what I seek – which I've taken to mean holding a right hand course throughout the legendary maze I now approach.

Firetop Mountain is two miles from the backwater civilization of Anvil, which might explain Zagor's rather lax security, which consists of some skulls on poles. Looks like the work of orcs, which ties in with the rumors back in Anvil. I swagger in, smash down a door and fall head first into a midden. It's this kind of thing that makes me doubt the wisdom of seers, but in for a penny, in for a mark. Continuing my trademark lack of luck, I then awake an orc sentry despite my best efforts to sneak past, and run the ugly brute through in what was, frankly, a dismal martial display on his part.

Not to bore you, but I went through the orc guard quarters like a dose, finding a paltry gold piece, a bronze key, an incantation to defeat evil dragons (or perhaps the ravings of a lunatic – hopefully I'll never find out) and a well-made shortbow with a single silver arrow. Keeping to my right-hand rule I move deeper into the tunnels, freeing a lunatic from his captivity and revenging a dead dwarf by killing his torturers.

Beyond a sturdy portcullis I find myself beyond the orc quarters in less trammeled hallways – and it's here that my greed lands me in a spot of bother with an animated iron cyclops! Perhaps the battering I received was worth it, as the jewel I pried from the bludgeoning automaton seems valuable and inside the now-still workings of the brute I discovered a second of the rumored keys to an even greater promise of treasure. After a brief skirmish with a poorly trained dullard sporting a battle axe (with, I must say, some apparent difficulty in the cramped conditions) I found myself briefly entranced by a portrait of Zagor, the warlock whose treasure I seek! As his evil magic drained my will, in desperation I held aloft the jewel I had wrested from the iron golem and this instinct proved well for me, as it broke the spell and made me chance that I had lucked upon an artefact of some significance in the battle to come.

Having survived an attack by an animate rope, I am starting to wonder if my provisions have been tampered with – yet the burns on my arm seem real enough. Not helping my grip on reality, as in the legends, I come upon a black river beneath the earth, with multiple methods of passage, all foreboding ill. Short on funds for the advertised ferryman, I trust to my skill and take to a poled raft – but take care to sup a draft of my potion prior to my endeavor. Despite the dark, swirling waters and the deliberations of the raft to ditch me, I stumble upon the north bank, only to discover signs of the undead – is this warlock a necromancer?

I am bludgeoned from behind and stunned cold for a moment before coming to in a room packed with zombies intent on my demise – as you might imagine they are no match for my sword arm, despite my concussion, and I quickly dismember them. A poor wretch who fell victim to these unfeeling vagabonds carried with him a silver crucifix and, as luck would have it, an enchanted blade superior to my own!

My new found confidence is soon shattered as I enter a dank crypt replete with several coffins. Given the other signs of necromantic control in this area (skeletons building boats and zombie thuggery) it seems more than clear that I should move quickly through this area to the nearest exit – and yet! What of keys, and the chance of treasure? Naturally, a vampiric figure rises from its slumber and attempts to dominate my will – I scrabble in my pack for the wooden stakes I found earlier and strike it through the heart, hoping to end its evil reign – and even though its body crumbles to dust before my eyes, some part of it survives in the form of a bat and flies away to regain its strength.

Moving on through the hallways beyond the crypt I fight a maggot-ridden ghoul and recover an old, worn map of The Maze of Zagor, whatever that may be. The maze of passageways beyond do not befriend tarrying, and I am set upon by a clumsy troll, before finding myself playing cards with four dwarves – this is my penance, for whenever I find myself in even moderate coin, gambling seems to materialize around me. True to form, I leave my purse lighter, thus reiterating the original need for this entire mission. My recent companions let me know that I am indeed within the maze for which I have a somewhat ruined map, and should continue my course. Of interest, their directions fit with the directions from the seer, and I aim to maintain my right-hand course.

I do wonder, though – this course has led me to a furious minotaur, although my enchanted blade makes short work of him and I receive only a nick from his brutish horns. Traversing the maze I even meet the Mazemaster, who tries to trick me and send me back the way I have already been. I felt that perhaps that would be all the wiser as I was confronted by a large dragon nesting in a high cavern, but I recalled the incantation I had read earlier and, in desperation, chanted it. Much to my surprise and delight, this seemed to set the beast aflame by its own fire, and it charged away in some bellows of agony.

Moments later I enter an inner sanctum and come face to face with the warlock, who flits around the room like a nonchalant humming bird, oozing malice, and seemingly unperturbed by my intrusion. Recalling how his portrait's willpower wilted in the presence of the jeweled eye of the cyclopean golem, I brandish it aloft and a magical beam ages the magician to naught but a smear on the floor beneath his robes. Well, I wasn't expecting that! With the warlock's bizarre demise, I am left to seek his fabled treasure, and am not disappointed to find a large chest, bound by magicks, with three ornate locks. I hold three ornate keys, and so the treasure, and perhaps the mountain itself is now mine! Of course, the safest thing to do would be to pay off my creditors as soon as possible – they are not known as mere trifles. On the other hand, my luck recently has improved…


Post-Match Interview

Starting with a Skill of 12 makes this book pretty straightforward, despite a below average stamina and luck. By the end I hadn't needed more than two provisions (even skipping a couple of offered meals), had only quaffed half my Fortune potion and had picked up a magic sword!

The real key is knowing that (in this version of the text, at any rate) you follow the right-hand maze rule, and it takes you all the way to the end with the correct keys. That's with the caveat of exploring all doors, even if they are on the left. The only issue that cropped up was not having enough money to call the ferryman (I had only 1GP at that point), so opting for the dangerous raft instead.
« Last Edit: 26 May, 2022, 01:36:54 AM by Funt Solo »
++ map ++ thrills ++ coma ++

Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #276 on: 26 May, 2022, 11:28:31 AM »
I love that you stuck to your keep right advice, even knowing IRL that your first right turn was the wrong way!

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #277 on: 26 May, 2022, 02:18:25 PM »
I love that you stuck to your keep right advice, even knowing IRL that your first right turn was the wrong way!

I always find it hard to know how to play that sort of foreknowledge (usually gained from a previous playthrough). If I know that a given choice is not a great one, but my character would realistically have no way of knowing... what do I do?
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Funt Solo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #278 on: 26 May, 2022, 03:35:38 PM »
I love that you stuck to your keep right advice, even knowing IRL that your first right turn was the wrong way!

I always find it hard to know how to play that sort of foreknowledge (usually gained from a previous playthrough). If I know that a given choice is not a great one, but my character would realistically have no way of knowing... what do I do?

I'd considered the notion of flipping a coin whenever you're at a blind "east/west" type choice, but they even say in the books themselves that you should take notes and it'll take multiple goes to reach the 400. I figure you can roleplay that in as "rumors in a local tavern", or whatever.

As mentioned by the local innkeeper, those Ganjees are right bastards!
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Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #279 on: 26 May, 2022, 05:51:15 PM »
Yes, the best way to deal with the Ganjees is not to visit the Citadel in the first place!

Caverns of the Snow Witch -- playthrough 2

This time I max out my stats, and follow the same route I took last time, up to the elf with the obedience collar in the Caverns. This time that encounter goes better, and he gives me his cloak to disguise myself, and tells me which way to go at the next junction so I don't fall into the goblins' pit.

This means I get to go straight to the kitchen, where despite the hospitality of the chef I decide to murder the kitchen staff for no real reason, and then burgle the place. This turns out to be a good move, because I find the artifact I needed to kill the Snow Witch last time but didn't have. Hooray! I also find a flute.

Next up is the Ice Demon, and because I have the elf's cloak nobody bothers me. I rescue the annoying dwarf again, and he gives me the weapon I will need to defeat the giant later. I then meet the Illusionist, and this time I have an option I didn't have before -- to bluff my way past him by pretending I'm on my way to play the flute for the Snow Witch's entertainment. This backfires somewhat, as he tells me that to get to the Snow Witch I must take the left door, but I don't want to do that! I want to take the central door, since that route worked pretty well last time. After some pondering, I decide to fight him. But this time I manage to correctly guess which of the three images is my real opponent, and I defeat him without loss of stamina.  I follow my tried and tested route to the Snow Witch, and easily kill her with the rune stick I stole from the kitchen.

So far this adventure has been a roaring success. I even defeated the Crystal Warrior really easily, who clobbered me so badly last time. I still have high scores. I easily beat the next encounter, a magical sentinel who is guarding the Snow Witch's treasure. I am given the option to steal up to 600 gold pieces, at the cost of discarding one item of equipment for every 50 gold pieces. I identify seven items which I have already used or appear to be useless, and take 350 gold pieces! (I suspect that how much treasure I take will not really matter in the grand scheme of things, it's probably just a devious trick to make me get rid of something important, but I think I've been careful! Anyway, money is the whole reason I came here, so it wouldn't really make sense for me to leave empty handed.)

The book moves into the next phase: escaping from the caverns, with my two new acquaintances, an elf called Redswift and a dwarf called Stubb. They are not particularly helpful,* but their presence does sort of add a sense of a plot developing. (They last a lot longer than poor old Mungo from FF7!) But from this point on, my fortune changes and I start to fuck up. Within just a few more paragraphs I have lost 3 skill points and 12 stamina! I then pick up a dagger which turns out to be a magic booby-trap, and it forces me to stab myself to death, despite the completely ineffectual efforts of my two crappy companions trying to disarm me.

* There's even an encounter where the book says I tell them to leave this fight to me and they can go on ahead, and instead of saying "no, all for one and one for all!" they just fuck off and leave me to it. Then when I catch them up they have both fallen into a trap. Twats.

Playthrough 3

Rather than start again, I just go back to where I found the dagger, and I leave it well the fuck alone. Next I am compelled to share my provisions with Redswift and Stubb, who haven't done anything to earn them. Then there's another "left or right?" choice with no info about either, and I head right purely on the basis that that has been working well enough so far. We find a parchment written in another language, which only Redswift can read, and he looks very troubled and won't tell us what's wrong. (This is presumably the Death Spell which we will learn about in phase 3 of the book.) But I never find out what that's all about, because the very next encounter is the bloody Snow Witch again! Although physically deceased, her spirit now resides in a globe, and this scene is the one depicted in the front cover of the Puffin edition. I watch her kill the orc in that picture, and then I fail a skill roll and she instantly kills me!

Playthrough 4

Carrying on from where I died, I assume that I pass the skill roll, and I attack the Snow Witch. My attack is completely ineffective. She conjures up two zombie replicas of Redswift and Stubb, who both have 9 skill points -- the same as my drastically reduced skill score -- and more stamina than me. The result is a foregone conclusion, and I am killed again.

I could have easily got further than this if I hadn't lost three skill points getting here. I'm not sure I've ever come across a more brutal penalty in a gamebook before! This one is tough.
« Last Edit: 26 May, 2022, 05:54:02 PM by Richard »

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #280 on: 28 May, 2022, 09:43:50 AM »
They last a lot longer than poor old Mungo from FF7!

Too soon.
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Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #281 on: 28 May, 2022, 10:51:22 PM »
So instead of attempting a fifth play through of Caverns, I just read the book from where I died last time. If you manage to defeat the witch you progress to phase three, which is an interesting story where once you leave the caverns you have to find a man called the Healer to break the Death Spell you unfortunately picked up earlier. This takes you to Stonebridge and eventually to Firetop Mountain, while also mentioning Fang and Deathtrap Dungeon. I liked the nods to other books. But it's quite an unfair book, as there are a couple of paragraphs where if you make rational decisions they lead to an instant death paragraph quite a bit later on. That's quite off-putting for me, so I'm not going to try and complete the book properly.

Despite that criticism, it's still quite a fun book, and as I've said before, I like the art, and the companions who join you for the middle part.

I then moved on to House of Hell. I started with maximum stats, went through the front door, got drugged unconscious and woke up to find myself tied up. I escaped and wandered around the first floor for a bit, exploring every room, until I died of fright.

Instead of attempting a second play through, I just carried on reading until I eventually figured out the One True Path through the book -- and there really is only one, from which you cannot deviate at all. This is a phenomenally hard book! I can see why it's unpopular (and it's a shame, because it is well written). There is one paragraph you have to get to early on, and if you don't you are unavoidably killed much, much later on in the book. It feels unfair that you can make so much progress after that point while having already lost. There are so many things you have to do which are indispensable to success, as well as a left or right? choice where you have a 50% chance of losing. Given that these are books for children (as much as I still love them), I think this one would have benefited from a little more editorial interference to make it a bit easier or fairer. To legitimately complete it without cheating and reading around would take a huge number of play throughs.

I'm going to stop here for a little while. I don't have FF11, but once someone else has done that one, I'll resume with FF12.

Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #282 on: 29 May, 2022, 12:46:26 PM »
Have been looking at House of Hell a bit more today, and have worked out that the minimum number of Fear points you can pick up on the way to paragraph 400 is nine. Given that your maximum capacity for Fear is between 7 and 12, you have a 50% chance of losing with a die roll before you even turn to paragraph 1!

I, Cosh

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #283 on: 29 May, 2022, 03:58:25 PM »
Assassin/Avenger
I've enjoyed these so much, I'm not sure why they never reached a larger audience.
...
One thing I really like is that there's no 'do you have item x, if not game over' moment. Having certain items or skills makes your life a lot easier, and you can definitely box yourself into a point where a lack
Really enjoyed your write-up of these Way of the Tiger books. They were always head and shoulders above any other series I played so I'm also a bit surprised at their lack of renown. The sense of progression and the world around you were so good. The only other series I remember trying to do this was Lone Wolf and that was a lot less complete. Read somewhere (potentially earlier in this thread) that the whole setting of Orb was one they'd developed over a few years of D&Ding which was why it worked so well. On the other hand, it could be that the idea of an ongoing series is what put people off picking up a random one like you could with FF.

I really liked the same authors' sci-fi series, but that seems more of a niche thing. Think it was called Falcon?
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Leigh S

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #284 on: 29 May, 2022, 09:02:04 PM »

Agreed!

By the way, Steve Jackson's new book Secrets of Salamonis will be illustrated by the prog's Tazio Bettin!

https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/fighting-fantasy-the-secrets-of-salamonis-fighting-fantasy/steve-jackson/paperback/9781407188492.html

That is extremely cool news! The new artwork for the Scholastic editions has been generally awful.