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Author Topic: Gamebooks  (Read 7312 times)

sheridan

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #90 on: 12 December, 2021, 11:49:36 PM »
We're well behind - only just 'finished' Warlock tonight and I really want to catch up as Forest is one of my favourites.

So, we'd done the first half properly, playing the stats we rolled and carrying out all the fights, one die roll at a time.  As mentioned above, we got killed by zombies, so we did it all again.  On the second stab we went a different route from the goblinoid section to the river, but still ended up getting killed by the zombies, so ditched the pure method and just read through it.  After going around and around the maze (most recently while having coffee and cake while out shopping) I decided enough was enough and I backtracked along Funt Solo's nodemap to one of the crossroads we'd visited most times and then played from there, not fighting the fights and just going through the choices.  Not that that helped us as we'd only fought the minotaur and not the cyclops so had no hope of getting to 400 either way!

I've held off reading everybody's write-ups of Citadel, so we'll have a quick stab at that (playing by the rules) and (if we don't get to the end) we'll carry on at our first death so we can get on to Forest asap...

Funt Solo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #91 on: 13 December, 2021, 12:00:43 AM »
When they re-published Warlock of Firetop Mountain in Warlock magazine's first two issues, they re-wrote the key system to change the numbers and locations. I'm not sure what the correct path is in *that* version.

I suppose a perfectly pure gamebook would allow you to choose any path and still win - although that would rather deteriorate the replay value.

In some computer games (Borderlands is a good example) the developers were concerned that the player wouldn't be looking in the right direction when they'd triggered some visually astounding scene - so they occasionally grab control of the player and spin them round to the Exciting Thing Happening Right Now.

Perhaps Roguelikes are the computer game equivalent of a gamebook. Play and die, doesn't matter: play again. Eventually, you'll see all of the content.
++ map ++ thrills ++ coma ++

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #92 on: 13 December, 2021, 09:25:25 AM »
I suppose a perfectly pure gamebook would allow you to choose any path and still win - although that would rather deteriorate the replay value.

Some later FF books have a 'hub' mechanic that almost works like that. In Night of the Necromancer you play a ghost trying to avenge your own murder; as a ghost can't strictly be killed, your first four or five 'deaths' instead send you back to the hub, to keep trying - and the game actually incentivises a few deaths, with boosts to stats.

Doesn't Scorpion Swamp do something similar, too?
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sheridan

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #93 on: 13 December, 2021, 09:47:41 AM »
Scorpion Swamp had clearings that you could revisit (similar to the room in Zagor's Maze where it asks whether you've been there before).

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #94 on: 13 December, 2021, 10:27:20 AM »
Ah, that's it. So not quite the same, then.

Charlie Higson's recent The Gates of Death definitely does; lots of 'checkpoints' you can go back to.
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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #95 on: 13 December, 2021, 10:37:10 AM »
Forest at least lets you return to the start if you reach the end without both bits of the hammer, unlike the auto-death scenarios in books like Deathtrap Dungeon or Appointment with FEAR if you get to the end without everything on the 'shopping list'.
I like the idea of a book where there is no 'true path' but I assume this is to keep you trying again and again. Interesting that newer books have checkpoints of sorts - I was just talking to someone this weekend about video games having checkpoints now whereas in the 80s you die, it's back to the start. I wonder if that's influenced this idea at all.
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Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #96 on: 13 December, 2021, 10:45:32 AM »
Interesting that newer books have checkpoints of sorts - I was just talking to someone this weekend about video games having checkpoints now whereas in the 80s you die, it's back to the start. I wonder if that's influenced this idea at all.

I wonder if it was a value-for-money thing? Nobody was quite as flush back then - there was maybe an expectation that you'd be replaying the same game/gamebook A LOT, rather than buying a new one every time.
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Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #97 on: 13 December, 2021, 11:43:49 AM »
Forest of Doom

Well I'm sure you all know the drill here - it's off into the Forest of Doom to find two halves of a Hammer, to save the dwarven village of Stonebridge...

The Playthrough
This book is mental. Apart from Yaztromo, I don't really meet any characters. I don't solve any puzzles. I don't follow a trail of clues. What I do is kill things. A lot of things. A Shape Changer. A Barbarian. A Hill Man. Another Hill Man. A Cat-woman. A Dwarf. A Giant. Three Death Hawks. A Wyvern represents my first serious test - having gone into the fight with 14 Stamina, I come out on a mere 4! After a rest to eat and recover, I rummage through the Wyvern's nest and discover a gold ring and an iron gauntlet. I've read Tolkien, so I leave the ring well alone, but the gauntlet gives me a permanent +1 to my Skill. Result! Climbing out of the nest, I'm set upon by a group of five bandits, demanding items from my bag. Having single-handedly killed a Wyvern, these sorry specimens hold no terrors for me - add another five souls to the death-count (16, if you're wondering).

Giddy with my own prowess I swagger out of the Forest and into Stonebridge like a Lord, trailing bloody red footprints behind me. Except that, without either part of the Hammer in my possession, the dwarfs don't want to know. And here a neat mechanic kicks in, whereby I'm given the option to go back to Yaztromo's tower and try again, items and skills intact (as opposed to 'Better luck next time!')

The Play through - Redux!

So it's back into the trees once more to clobber things with my sword. A Hobgoblin. Another Hobgoblin. A Sting Worm. An Ogre. The Ogre has a captive Goblin in a cage, and as soon as I open it of course he attacks me (Is nobody in this Forest open to just talking it out? Or has my gory reputation preceeded me?) Anyway, he too falls, and I retrieve from his corpse... One half of the Hammer!

Except that the bloody thing is clearly cursed, for it's at this point that my good luck all deserts me. Looting the Ogre's cave, I get blasted in the face by a noxious gas, at massive cost to both Skill and Stamina points. Mazed and reeking, I stagger onward. Climbing up into a tree house is probably not the wisest idea in my current condition, but the end of the adventure is clearly within grasp and I'm desperate to find the hammer head...

I can't loot the tree house because the Ape-Man who lives here is at home, and - unsurprisingly - he'd rather fight than talk it out. On top of my already lowered Skill, I have to subtract 3 from my Attack Strength every round as the Ape-Man's too agile for me! It's... a pretty one-sided fight. As the darkness closes in and breathing becomes difficult,  I look into the Ape-Man's simple, bovine eyes, and find I can't really judge him too harshly. If you had a blood-spattered, sword-wielding maniac attempt an unprovoked home invasion, reeking of death and poison gas, wouldn't you fight back? And I think back on the bloody swathe I cut through the Forest today (21 at final count) and, like David Mitchell's Nazi, I'm finally forced to wonder... Was I the baddie, all along?

The Verdict
The stakes of Forest  are very different from the two books thus far, which is a nice change of pace. It's still a fairly basic dungeon crawl at the end of the day - in many ways it even feels like a step back from WoFM. The vast array of offerings for sale from Yaztromo initially seem like they'll almost be the equivalent of Citadel's magic spells, but in practice they don't add much to the gameplay, as you can only use them when told, and some of them don't seem to appear at all. On the plus side, I didn't encounter any insta-death paragraphs, so that was nice, and I liked the mechanic that gives you multiple chances to get your mission right. There are still plenty of redundant 'Do you go east or west?' passages, though - great for map-making, not much of fun narratively.

Fun but... forgettable. 5.5 combat dice out of 10.
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sheridan

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #98 on: 13 December, 2021, 01:49:51 PM »
(Is nobody in this Forest open to just talking it out?


It's the Forest of Doom, not the Forest of - uh, something clever and witty which encapsulates communication and rhymes with doom.

sheridan

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #99 on: 13 December, 2021, 01:50:45 PM »
(Is nobody in this Forest open to just talking it out?

It's the Forest of Doom, not the Forest of - uh, something clever and witty which encapsulates communication and rhymes with doom.


Commune (icating)

Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #100 on: 13 December, 2021, 03:15:02 PM »

I like the idea of a book where there is no 'true path'

There are very few books like that, but Beneath Nightmare Castle (FF 25) is a good example. There's one path where if you can collect everything you can significantly reduce the end villain's skill and stamina and generally improve your odds, but there are alternative routes which are harder but still survivable.

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #101 on: 14 December, 2021, 09:41:36 AM »
(Is nobody in this Forest open to just talking it out?

It's the Forest of Doom, not the Forest of - uh, something clever and witty which encapsulates communication and rhymes with doom.

 :lol: Good point!
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Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #102 on: 15 December, 2021, 12:08:07 PM »
It occurs to me I haven't said much about the art in these books thus far. Malcom Barter's art in Forest of Doom is worthy of comment, if only because it's so damn fleshy and squishy and... generally weird.

Pick of the lot for me is the Catwoman I fought, who just makes me deeply uncomfortable -

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #104 on: 02 January, 2022, 03:00:56 PM »
Sir Ian Livingstone, I presume!


Ahhh Fighting Fantasy. I had the first 6 in their original cover art (before they besmirched them with the green top border and FF crest). I remember my faves being Starship Traveller (as I was more sci-fi than fantasy back then), and Deathtrap Dungeon. In fact I played Deathtrap Dungeon with my son when he was about 7 on a long bus ride from South London, where we were staying with friends, to the centre. We were off to the Science Museum and when we got there, there was a hell of a queue so I entertained him by ad libbing my own FF-style adventure for him to play.

I never kept my FF books, which I regret. I also had the first issue of Warlock magazine, and Avenger! which is the first book of a rival series of books called Way of the Tiger with a Ninja character. Anyone remember that?