By Ian Livingstone
This is another book written by founder Ian Livingstone and in it you play the winner of Deathtrap Dungeon! With your remaining winnings you are tasked to raise an army and face Agglax, the shadow demon who himself is amassing an undead army to take over the world! So, here is how I got on:
The first choice I have to make is whether I want to continue on by marching on foot or take a boat down the river to my destination. I decide to give my small army a rest and travel on the river. As we set sail it becomes apparent that this ship is not in good condition. Anyway, everyone seems in good spirits and when I see a barrel in the water I order someone to go in and retrieve it. The barrel turns out to be fill of apples. Not a great haul but I decide to distribute them amongst the army. Mmmm dirty river apples! These apples are not just dirty but poisoned by a local Hag. I get sick and several of my men die! The book chastises me for this act of stupidity – a bit harsh I thought, but I carry on.
On turning a corner in the river, the ship is attacked twice by fireballs. Luckily they both miss the masts and the raiders row up alongside the ship. They have no chance with my army on board so I let them board our vessel. Sure enough as soon as they get on board, I capture them and recruit them to my army. I also take a shield from their leader – I am not sure how loyal they will be but it doesn’t seem to matter.
The next encounter is with a dead man floating in the water. I decide to investigate and find that the man is wearing a key around his neck. On further investigation, they key has a number on it, which in a Fighting Fantasy book means it is an important item! I let the poor man go into a watery grave and carry on.
On rounding a corner I see a ragged old man gesticulating at me. I sail over to investigate and it turns out be is the leader of a band of Northmen who have heard about my quest and want to join my army (for a price, of course) I agree with them and later that night Laas, one of the Northmen sidles up to me and asks if he can give me a gift. A little apprehensive at where this is going, I decide to agree anyway. The gift turns out to be a manky old Yeti tooth that will apparently keep Warewolves away. This is a nice gift, particularly as I have only just met Laas so I decide to keep half an eye on him.
Night is falling and I decide that we should sleep on deck. I’m not sure of the wisdom of this decision, however, as I am attacked by a quick moving assassin. I manage to fend him off but not before he has killed 5 of my men. The rest of the night passes without incident.
The next day, after sailing for some hours, we see some river pirates! I give the order to try and outrun the pirate vessel but this is a little silly as it is clearly a better ship than the one I am on. Sure enough it soon rams my vessel and it starts to sink. I order the men to swim to the shore but many of them drown on the way (dragged under water by their armour). After everyone gets together on the river bank I spare no time in marching for the town of Zengis.
The next day is uneventful, as is the night and in the morning I arrive at Zengis. I tell the men to pitch camp outside whilst I head to the local tavern to try and recruit some more. On the way, I pick up a gold ring that has a number inscribed on it. Then a huge man tries to tell me its his so I fight him over it. After I slay him I nick his axe before I notice the town guard arriving. I quickly loot the Axeman’s body and luckily I am able to convince the guard that I was an innocent victim of the evil Axeman. Pleased with my convincing skills, I head off to the tavern and open my spoils. Out of the pouch falls a scorpion which I am luckily able to shake off before I get stung. I decide to waste no more time and head to the tavern to recruit some more men.
I soon find the pub and everyone seems to be having a merry old time so I went to sit at the bar. When asked what I want, I make a bit of a faux pas and order apple juice! I am correctly ribbed for this strange choice and offered a mug of Devil’s Brew. I knock it back in one go and when challenged to do the same again, I gladly agree but feel a bit queezy afterwards and stagger towards a group sitting at one of the tables. These guys seem quite interested when I mention my mission (I seem to have sobered up rather quickly) and offer to show me where the Demon is and how I can defeat him. I hand over the money and he gives me a map and tells me that he resides in the Forest of Fiends but that I also need to visit the Oracle in the Starstone caves to find out how to kill him. Pleased with this new information, I head on.
Next I arrive at a pet shop and decide to check it out. Inside there are many different creatures but a small Hopper takes my eye so I decide to buy him. He costs me 50 Gold but can turn me invisible and understands the Troll language so I can see that he will come in handy at some point! The next shop is a Pawnbrokers where I go on a spending spree and pick up a Brass Owl, a Copper Lantern, a Helmet, an Ivory Box and a Green Vase. Pleased with my haul, I leave the shop.
At the end of the road I arrive at large barn where a pie eating competition is taking place. Not wanting to miss out on some fun I pay up and enter the barn. The champion is a huge man and I witness him destroy his last opponent so I decide to take him on. Fish and custard pie… mmmm…. Unbelievably I actually win and take the 100 Gold prize money! I decide to take this opportunity to try and hire some more men but as I am about to make my recruitment speech, a shadowy figure flings a dagger at me. Thankfully I manage to avoid it and he runs away before I hire ten new people for my army.
Shortly I see a small alleyway heading off the main road. Unable to control my curiosity I check it out and am ambushed by two Sewer Goblins who I dispatch without too much problem. I then have a look at a barrel and discover an old man hiding in the barrel. He seems a bit aggravated so I leave him be and descend down into the sewers. I hear some noises and feel a bit apprehensive as I walk down the tunnel but am pleased to bump into not a Goblin, but a man who is hunting them. He is pleased that I have killed two for him and tells me that I need to get a guide from Karn before I find the Oracle. I thank him and climb back up to the street before carrying on down the road.
The next encounter I have (this is all a bit linear) is in a building where a group of people are training in swordplay. They seem well trained and ten of them offer to join me for 200 Gold. This seems a bit steep so I try to haggle them down. I am challenged to land a blow on the leader, Max and manage to do just that so end up paying 100 Gold for them before leaving and turning a corner in the road.
It is getting late so I duck into a small B&B and see a man vigorously polishing his trophy. Unsure at first whether this is a euphemism I realise that he won it Sailing. He is a sailing bore but I decide not to be rude and let him carry on. One thing leads to another and he ends up giving me his sword that he had stashed away. Excellent! The next morning I have a great breakfast and head off again.
On my way out of town, I encounter a Dwarf being attacked by a Shapeshifter so I decide to help. The Shapeshifter is tough but I defeat him and the grateful Dwarf gives me some pills and a seal with a number inscribed on it – sounds promising. This is the last thing to do in the city so I head back to my army camped outside.
The next morning I take my army and head South over the river. My army have a drink but some scoundrel has poisoned the water. I wait with the army till they get better and get a bit anxious about my mission so decide to head straight for the Forest even though I know I still need to see the Oracle. When I arrive in the forest I see a small village so I take some men and investigate. The village has been destroyed but I see an enticing looking statue. I pick it up and am sliced apart by the trap. Ouch!!!