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Messages - Richard

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Off Topic / Re: This is the News!
« on: 09 August, 2022, 12:09:55 PM »
The FBI raided Trump's home in Florida to execute a search warrant and opened his safe.

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 09 August, 2022, 11:05:19 AM »
I've just re-read your write-up of Usurper on page 20 -- you certainly had an easier time than I did!

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 09 August, 2022, 10:46:09 AM »
Thanks! It turns out I did manage to recruit Golspiel to my cause. I also used the Shin-Ren skill to realise he was planning to betray me, but actually that doesn't make any difference to the outcome! It's just an extra paragraph to add something to the encounter. It all just depends on how you answer his questions.

Luke Kirby

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 08 August, 2022, 08:23:49 PM »
I enjoyed that write-up! I'm surprised the army still exists in that post-apocalypse America.

I finally finished Usurper! today. I managed to beat the demons by deliberately losing (with the help of punches and lucky dice rolls) the first two attack rounds against the first demon, to avoid losing the endurance points you lose if you hit him, and then managing to win two rounds against the second demon, without taking the health potion until the other two demons show up. Then I managed to beat the second demon (while the knight fought the newcomers), and somehow didn't lose any endurance in that fight. Then I noticed a loophole when fighting the Usurper again: if you didn't hit him earlier, the book doesn't tell you that if you hit him you only cause half damage! So I was able to legitimately inflict normal damage, which I doubled with Inner Force and finally dispatched him!

After that there are no more decisions to make. The knight leaves, and I go to the roof of the palace to take down the Usurper's flag, the signal for the revolution to start. Since I successfully recruited the peasants, the shieldmaidens, and apparently even the untrustworthy merchant (he has some mercenaries), the Revolution is successful. Even my 100 samurai all show up! It turns out that they only survive if you send them via Doomover, not Tor! I am crowned Overlord of Irsmuncast!

I have ordered the fourth book!

Events / Re: Gosh - Bolland, McMahon & Wagner
« on: 07 August, 2022, 11:55:53 PM »

I forgot to mention, Wagner said he is going to finish writing Spector after all!

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 07 August, 2022, 09:11:04 PM »
Way of the Tiger 3: USURPER!

This is a tough book. Rather than describe each playthrough, I'll just describe the two main routes through the book.

At the start, if you have played the previous books, you can roll one die and the result may increase your various skill modifiers. I rolled a five, which was a great result, adding one each to my kicking and throwing abilities.

At the start of the adventure the chief monk tells me about my true identity as the son of a murdered king, and that my destiny is to return to the city-state of Irsmuncast and reclaim my birthright from the usurper of the title. He teaches me a new special skill of my choice. Since if I succeed I will be ruling a city, I think that the skill of reading people's hearts and intentions (not telepathy, just very astute reading of body language and micro-expressions) will come in useful, instead of another combat skill, so I go with that. When I'm ready to embark on my quest, I next encounter someone from the last book, the lord who I won a battle for by assassinating the enemy general, and in gratitude he offers to send 100 samurai to assist me. They will need time to prepare so they will be following me later.

I now have to choose between two routes to Irsmuncast, both for me and also, separately, for the 100 samurai who will be following me. The shortest and most direct route is to sail to the port of Doomover, a dangerous city I visited in the first book, which is full of my enemies. Alternatively, I can go to Tor, which is further away but friendly, where I can meet an ally, Glaivas, a minor character from the first book (a bit like Mungo except he didn't die). On my first playthrough I choose Tor for both me and my samurai army, and in my next six playthroughs after I die I return to this point or to a later point, so confident I am that this is the right strategy (it isn't!).

Route 1: via Tor

I sail to Tor and meet Glaivas without incident. There's a funny paragraph in which we are looking at a map (each WotT book has a full colour, detailed map) and I point out to him that one of the cities is in a different spot to where it was in the map in the first book (which I have checked and it's true!), and Glaivas just shrugs it off as "a scribing error."

My new special skill comes in handy as I recognise an assassin who is trying to look all casual and that, and so I decide to avoid the roads and trek through the countryside. Glaivas comes with me. We walk through a forest (why don't we at least have horses?) and I'm attacked by a panther, but Glaivas makes himself useful and gets rid of it. I am then attacked by some demon or possibly deity from the Spirit Plane, which begins to materialise in the physical realm, but I escape to the Spirit Plane myself, and then find my way to an allied deity which defeats it for me. (From reading around this bit subsequently, this is a fairly large and detailed mini-adventure in which, somehow, I managed to make all the right choices on the first go! There are a lot of opportunities to fuck up and immediately die here.)

Unfortunately the land between Tor and Irsmuncast is the domain of a thousand year old undead git called the Fleshless King, and all the humans who live here are his slaves, kept in line by his army of orcs and halvorcs. (It's actually quite a good bit of world-building, and it hints at plenty of stuff you are not actually told about as well as the things you are told.) We have to fight some orc slavers (my first death), then escape from some undead Nazgul types, but Glaivas pulls his weight in all of these bits, fighting orcs, giving me holy water to throw at the undead, and casting a spell to fend them off. At the other side of this evil realm, the anti-Mungo says farewell and we part ways. It's a good section of the book.

I next encounter a knight (this I later find is where the two main routes through the book converge). This is a tricky encounter, as although he is not evil and is potentially a very useful ally to have later, there are several opportunities to fuck this up, and either having to fight him (he's tough) or having him just tire of you and wander off. But on my second attempt I get him to give me a ride all the way to Irsmuncast on his horse, and heal all my wounds -- and he is going to come back and help me later!

I arrive in the city of my birth, explore it a bit and learn about it from various people. Basically the usurper is an evil bastard who taxes everyone into poverty and generally oppresses them, unless they convert to the religion of Nemesis the Cleansing Flame, the most powerful of all the evil gods. So there is a ready supply of downtrodden, resentful peasants, who I easily manage to recruit to my cause. Next I speak to the leader of some warrior women called Shieldmaidens, who used to be the city guard under my father's rule, and recruit her too (on my second try as I fail to impress her the first time). Then I speak to an influential merchant, and I have no idea if I have successfully recruited him or not. (Reading around the book a bit later on, there appear to be three possible outcomes of this meeting, one where he sends a werewolf to kill you, and two where he doesn't do that but I currently don't know which of those two is better.)

There is a fourth faction I could attempt to recruit, some lofty priests who don't care about current affairs and politics, and I decide not to bother. I infiltrate the palace, find a useful magical artifact, win a duel of minds with a telepathic weirdo, and reach the throne room, where I meet the Usurper. He turns out to be a demon. He summons a second demon, and then together they summon two more demons!

This is a savagely brutal fight, and not really a fair one to be honest. When you fight the first demon, he automatically injures you at the start of each round for 4 endurance points of damage (from a maximum score of 20), even before you roll dice and stuff to see who hits you. If you do hit him, your blows only cause half of the normal damage, and on the first hit you automatically lose 2 endurance points just for touching such a powerful demon (he's "a Duke of Hell"), so you are actually better off choosing whichever method of attack you have the lowest skill modifier for, because you are better off if you lose each round! And if he hits you, you lose three dice of damage! You can reduce this damage by 3 or 4 points if you have either of two magical items (I have one of them), but that's not much good if you roll three sixes! After two rounds of combat, he summons the second demon and then just watches you two fight it out. (When later on you fight him again, his reduced endurance score is given in the text, so it doesn't make a difference whether you hit him or not earlier.)

The second demon is less powerful than the first, but you can't use Inner Force (a damage multiplier) against him. After two rounds against him, the third and fourth demons are summoned. At this point you can drink a healing potion, which I don't have. Fortunately I didn't have to fight them, because the knight from earlier shows up and fights them both. If you manage to defeat the second demon, the knight has vanquished the other two, but is too badly injured to help you any further, and you have to fight the first demon alone. That fight is even more unfair, because instead of letting you choose between kicking (I have a +3 modifier) or punching (0 modifier), the text says you can now only punch him, even though I was allowed to kick him earlier! Fuck off!

This is just too much; the fight is completely unwinnable without the potion of healing. So I go back to almost the start of the book and choose the alternative route.

Route 2: via Doomover

The most annoying thing about this route is that when I arrive at Doomover, instead of entering the city I just get off the boat a couple of miles up the coast and skirt around the place instead. WTF?!!! If I had known that was an option, I would have chosen it in the first place!

Another slightly annoying thing about the Doomover route is that it has two healing potions! However only one of those is available to me, as the other requires a special skill I don't have.

The first encounter is an evil martial arts monk who challenges me to a duel. This is a really good section of the book, as the duel arena is a large area with many choices of where to go (and there's another map). A lucky dice roll means I get to stealthily take him out with a poison needle, instead of getting into a massive fight. But I have since read all of this section, and it's just very good indeed. (It reminds me of the car chase in The Rings of Kether.) I find the healing potion on his corpse. (There's another paragraph where if you injure him without killing him, he drinks it in front of you!)

On leaving the arena I encounter Honoric, the evil dude I thought I had assassinated with poison at the end of the first book, but he has survived. This fight is inconclusive, as after a while the fight is interrupted and you both live to fight another day. He's obviously going to be a recurring character in this series.

I am then pursued by a Golem, which I manage to shake off by leading it to a bottomless pit ("the Rift" from Talisman of Death), and then I reach the knight where the routes meet up.

But even with the healing potion, I still can't get past these bloody demons!!! They've killed me four more times!

Prog / Re: Prog 2294: East Wired
« on: 07 August, 2022, 01:16:43 PM »
This has been a very good Dexter though.

Events / Re: Gosh - Bolland, McMahon & Wagner
« on: 06 August, 2022, 07:08:12 PM »
I went to this today, and got my copy of Case Files 4 (with The Judge Child signed.

Had a nice chat with John Wagner, who confirmed he has no plans to retire yet!

I'm sure Gosh Comics will publish their own photos of the event, but in the meantime here is my own shitty one (since I didn't think to take it while I still had a good vantage point).


Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 06 August, 2022, 12:26:07 PM »
Oh dear, your character and his inconsistent conscience! Avenger wouldn't have been so sloppy!

Great write-up as always.

General / Re: Forum’s Fav Thrill - Low Life vs. The Out Rd 5 Heat 8
« on: 04 August, 2022, 04:53:33 PM »
The Out


General / Re: Forum’s Fav Thrill - Halo Jones vs. Shakara Rd 5 Heat 5
« on: 03 August, 2022, 07:12:59 PM »
Halo Jones

General / Re: Sideshow Vote II: You have been judged
« on: 02 August, 2022, 10:32:11 PM »
Kraken if he's eligible, and if he's not then Mortis.

General / Re: Alan Grant appreciation thread
« on: 02 August, 2022, 05:36:05 PM »
Definitely agree about Anderson -- almost always brilliant. Also Strontium Dog.

One of my favourite bits of Judge Dredd dialogue is by Alan Grant, from prog 660. From memory it goes something like this:

Dredd: "Your husband is under arrest!"
Wife: "What for?"
Dredd: "Whaddaya mean what for? For turning into a fly!"
Wife: "Is that illegal?"
Dredd: (pause) "... you know, you've got me there...!"

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