By Ian Livingstone
Caverns of the Snow Witch is regarded to one of the harder Fighting Fantasy books, so considering I have not won a single one so far, I am not confident of victory here.
I thought long and hard about which potion to go for this time and given the many difficult combats I thought a potion of skill would be a good idea. In hindsight I should have gone for a potion of healing.
In this story I am the protector for a caravan of goods travelling North. I investigate an outpost and find that a beast has destroyed it and killed all the inhabitants. I am then sent on an errand to find this beast.
My first choice is whether I use an ice bridge to get across a crevasse. I assume this is a bridge made of ice and as such, sounds rather dangerous! Therefore I decide to go around. It is here that I encounter a Mammoth. Apparently they are hostile so I have to kill it. At this point I remember the days of Warlock of Firetop Mountain and the fact that the first encounters are with Orcs that have skill 5 or 6. This first encounter was a skill 10, stamina 11 beast!
Moving on, I am caught in a blizzard. I think quickly and dig a hole with my sword and shelter there. I do not lose any stamina but I guzzle down 2 provisions for no stamina increase (so I have effectively lost 8 stamina by digging this hole). The blizzard passes by without further event.
Moving on, I come across a hut. No-one is in so I decide to break in and make myself home (as you do). It belongs to a trapper and I decide to cook myself a meal (again, perfectly normal behavior). Yum, I gain some stamina. Then on my way out I steal a Spear and a Warhammer. I’m not sure how I carry all this stuff but I guess they will probably be useful. On leaving the hut, I follow some footprints in the snow.
The footprints end in a scene of carnage. There is a massive Yeti attacking the trapper, whose house I have just been treating as my own. He has just delivered him a fatal blow – if only I had come up sooner and not spent so much time using the trappers things, maybe I could have saved him? Anyway, I throw the trapper’s spear at the Yeti and for once, it hits it’s target. It does not kill the Yeti, however, and I still have to fight it – it is a dangerous opponent but I do defeat it. The trapper is still alive so I listen to his dying words. He does not seem bothered about my thievery but he tells me that there is an evil Snow Witch who is trying to bring about a new ice age for her own nefarious reasons. I decide I should go after the Witch and stop her! The trapper dies and I bury him in the snow before searching for the Witch’s lair.
Heading off I hear an avalanche. Luckily it is on a different ridge and is not a problem for me. Eventually I come to the hidden entrance of the Snow Witch’s domain and I see the mark that the trapper left. I walk through and find myself in a passage that ends in a junction. I head right and enter a cavern with a bowl full of liquid. This looks tasty so I try some. It turns out that it is a potion made by the Snow Witch for her followers and as well as tasting good, restores a few of my lost stamina points (and I just thought it was a bowl of soup!)
The cavern was a dead end so I head back the way I came. I almost bump into an elf. I nod to him and luckily he assumes I am supposed to be here. The tunnel branches and I hear footsteps running down the passage on the right so I go left only to fall into pit. After a while some Goblins arrive and throw down a rope, telling me to climb up after throwing them my sword. I don’t like the sound of this so I pull hard on the rope and luckily both Goblins fall into the pit with me. One is knocked out and the other is slain fairly easily. They have some gold, some salted fish and a candle so I take it all and climb out of the pit.
Moving on I arrive at another cavern. I see a frozen orc pointing at a sword stuck in the ground. There is also a Spear stuck in the ground. I decide to take the Sword and am pleased with my Sword of Speed. I would add one skill if I had lost any (I really should have chosen that Potion of Fortune at the start). I don’t seem to be interested in the spear but I do rummage in the Orc’s backpack and find a stuffed rat, a moldy loaf of bread and a pair of sandles. Wow, what treasure! I take leave of my senses and try the bread. It tastes moldy but I break a tooth on an iron key hidden inside – that must be a bit more useful.
Next I see a passage off to a room which I open to find a Minstrel playing music. I compliment him on his tunes and he seems delighted. He plays me a song that heals some of my wounds. Feeling a little better I say goodbye and head off. Moving on, I see a Hall of Worship with people chanting. I decide to sneak in to get to the door opposite. It seems to be going well until I am shouted at and spotted. I run for the door and luckily all of their attacks miss me and I get through the door. They don’t seem to follow me and I soon arrive at another junction.
I hear cries for help to the left so I go that way. I see a pit with a dwarf who seems to be trying to get out. He is being pelted by ice rocks from above. I get the dwarf out of the pit and he gives me a sling shot and some cryptic advice before running off. This is a dead end so I head off the way I came.
I soon arrive at the part of the glacier that turns into rock – this is where I can reach the Snow Witch’s lair. Unfortunately there is a man in my way telling me to go back. I don’t have a flute to bluff my way in and the only other option seems to be to attack him so I slash at him with my sword. Before I can do this he splits himself into three so I hit the middle image. Sadly it is an illusion and he merely laughs and stabs me in the shoulder with his dagger. I slash out again at all the images. I am unlucky and miss him again so he slashes me again. At this point my luck score is 4 and I am trapped in a loop where I am required to be lucky in order to hit him. I am not lucky and eventually my luck score is zero so I stand no chance of being lucky again. Eventually the illusionist stabs me to death with his dagger!
So, overall I quite liked this book. The monsters are noticeably more difficult than the earlier books and I doubt if anyone with a skill below 10 has much of a chance and my death was very annoying indeed! However, the story was fairly decent and my character seems to be quite a nice chap so I look forward to playing this again with a potion of fortune. I also need to find that flute!