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Messages - Funt Solo

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Those one-parter series have highs and lows, but the format betrays them.

Survival Geeks is a solid gold modern 2000 AD classic. Yes: modern and classic. Also perhaps the best comedy they've ever done. And it seemed to know when to end, avoiding the wheel spinning of some other long-running series. Still - there's 'Splorers to enjoy now.

So, from my perspective (yes, the correct one), Fr1day is really a vote for The War Machine:

Storm Warning, on the other hand, doesn't force you to excise a large chunk of the published material as it's all pretty solid stuff. I liked how Storm Warning broadened out our view of the future UK beyond the borders of Brit-Cit. I'd like to see more.

Storm Warning, please.

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: Today at 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!

It's "binders full of women" all over again.

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: Today at 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.

Off Topic / Re: This is the News!
« on: 25 May, 2022, 10:30:01 PM »
Sorry to double post, but this is one of those days where the news is all just too grim to read.

Here's a macaque to cheer us up:

Off Topic / Re: This is the News!
« on: 25 May, 2022, 08:59:09 PM »
I expect he'll be quaffing champagne in celebration while Elsie, keeping warm in a bus, is driven past a few blocks away from Downing Street.

Isn't it still Carlos?

Not really - obviously King Carlos created Dredd in the first place (and catapulted the original concept from a near future One-Eyed Jack style cop to the further-future lawman we all know and love/fear/etc) but after those initial stories Carlos was away until the beginning of the Apocalypse War.  The scrawny early progger Joe with more functional knee/elbow/shoulder pads had morphed quite a bit in those four years.

Aye, indeed. My early-prog knowledge is weak - I only became a regular reader well into the 100s - so I think I'm not well placed to answer the question.

General / Re: Moonrunners series
« on: 25 May, 2022, 05:28:08 PM »
I'd definitely put it in the "quaintly sexist" drawer. It's that whole "aren't women fascinating creatures" kind of sexism. So fascinating that they're not allowed on board the ships they own. And they're terribly hot-blooded, and so can't wear too much.

Anyway - it's more "oh dear, really?" than, say, Babe Race 2000. (Although, even there, it's just copying some of the more tragic mores of Viz.)

Later, as the mega-palace drifted among the stars, I thought about war and rich people and all the utterly fantastic things that had, like, happened to me. All at once I understood just why it is that men fight each other. I suddenly saw the answer to all the senseless violence that afflicts us! But, like, I didn't write it down or anything and, like, y'know how it is - next morning I had totally forgotten what is was, man.

DR & Quinch, by an orange mile, Marlon.

Isn't it still Carlos?

General / Re: Moonrunners series
« on: 25 May, 2022, 01:13:23 AM »
AFAIK, never collected.

Series listing here.

Off Topic / Re: The Black Dog Thread
« on: 24 May, 2022, 07:30:56 PM »
Something about our culture is fundamentally wrong.  Always having to 'improve' but within a very narrow set of parameters.  I would say that I utterly failed as a teacher today on one level but massively succeeded on another level as a human being.  Which one is more important?

Teaching (or just, working in a school) I find to be continually challenging and confounding. There are just so many parameters to consider. The other day one of my students was doubled over in pain - turned out they were hunger pangs - they'd had no breakfast or lunch. I'm trying to teach them complex computer interactions - they're starving. What is success now?

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