Chasms of Malice

By Luke Sharp

Chasms of Malice has a bit of a reputation and if playing by the rules is probably unplayable.  For this blog I shall be playing by the rules so I will not be successfull.

My stats are:

Skill: 11

Stamina: 16

Luck: 11

Not too bad but that stamina score is rather disappointing.

In this book I play a third assistant rabbit skinner working in some kitchen.  Apparently I am a long distant relation Tancred the Magnificent and only I can kill the evil dude who is about to take over the world and repair a broken shield.  Or something…

My underground adventure starts with a choice of various different cracks that I can go down so I decide on the one on the left.  That leads onto a tunnel that soon splits in two so I decide to go left again.  As I walk down this tunnel, my cat (oh yeah, I also have a pet cat on this adventure, she is a goddess apparently) runs off and fetches me a furry worm to eat.  I reluctantly choke it down and am surprised to learn that it is delicious!

Moving on, I come to a dwarf lying on the floor clutching a metal collar.  Nearby I hear some orcs, evidently searching for the Dwarf.  I decide to help him out and fight one of the Orcs.  I kill him, but the other one grabs the metal collar from the Dwarf and runs away.  The Dwarf is dying but with his last words he tells me that the people in the Dragon’s Breath Inn may be able to help.  I set off in search of this pub.   The tunnel eventually splits in two, and one of the new tunnels has a picture of a dragon over it.  This looks like it may be the place I am looking for…

Sure enough, the tunnel opens up into a cavern that contains the inn and as I am about to enter, a large drunk figure stumbles out and falls at my feet. I help the gentleman up but he turns out to be a Troll and calls me scum before lunging at me with a sword (a scene no doubt being replayed in many UK towns every friday night).  I have to kill him before entering the tavern.

On entering the pub I walk into a room that contains only Orcs wearing distinctive tunics of clenched fists.  I decide that this looks like trouble so I leave and enter another room. This looks marginally more friendly and I get taking to the serving girl.  I tell her my story and she invites me upstairs.  Just when I think I am going to get lucky here, she introduces me to her father who tells me that I should seek out and old man in the iron cave.  Hopefully this isn’t going to be a wild goose chase but I head off again after having a bite to eat.

I am given good instructions so head off.  Some time later, some stone darts start raining down on my head from the roof but luckily I am able to avoid most of them.  I then hear another cry of help coming from a crack in the wall so I check it out.  As I step through, I am immediately pounced on by a huge spider but I fight it off and the grateful chap who cried for help tells me which door to go through up ahead.  I take his advice and find myself in the iron cave with the old man.  Once he has satisfied himself that I am legit, he goes on to teach me the ancient language of runes that is used down in these caves and that I will need to temper my sword in the flames of the Heartflame.  I thank the old man before leaving and turning right at the next junction.

Soon I arrive at a cavern with three doors guarded by three statues.  Each statue states a different thing about each of the other doors, blah blah – I’m sure you get the idea.  I guess correctly and step through the door on the right.  This marks the start of a bit of a maze.  I go through various doors, get stuck in numerous traps and fall through some trap doors, losing some skill points each time it happens.  To cut a long story short, I eventually find the correct trapdoor and fall through into an area that contains the heartflame.

The flame itself is surrounded by several figures and when I plunge my sword into it, one of the figures clutches its left knee.  Odd.  Anyway, my sword is now tempered so I head off!  Next I come to a cave containing a well so I decide to do what any sane person does and toss a coin down.  Sadly this only succeeds in summoning an Evil Spirit that I have to fight before using the rope to climb down the well.  When I get to the bottom, I see two holes and head through the one on the left.

I feel along the cave (it is very dark) and bump into a “Dark Monster”.  Due to my reduced skill level, this fight really takes it out of me but I survive and carry on.  Next I encounter some Orc guards with about a dozen Dwarves all wearing the same metal collars I saw before.  Two of them run towards me and fall to the ground clutching their necks.  I try to help them but one of the dwarves stabs me in the back (literally).  I think the collar made him do it but he then walks off with the guards in the other direction.  They don’t seem at all interested in me any more so I head off.

I have a bizarre encounter where a spirit gives me a spell of life and tells me that I am entering the most dangerous part of my journey.  I see a guard post so try and crawl past it but the ground opens up and I end up in a pit.  When I come to, I find out that I am now captured by the Orcs.  It seems they are about to start some sort of hunt, where I am the prey.  I am let go so that they can chase me down and I go down a narrow ledge to the right.

At the next junction, I go down another ledge to the right.  I run into a group of Orcs but manage to fend them off before I am attacked by a Gryphon that I manage to kill.  I am a little worse for wear now and head down a ledge to the left.  I then slip and drop my sword just as two Orcs attack.  The second Orc kills me but I use the spell of life and am resurrected – hurrah!  I grab my sword and carry on.

This is when things get silly.  As I am on a narrow ledge, I have to resolve combats as “one strike combats” where basically I roll a dice for my opponent and then one for me and whoever rolls highest lives and whoever rolls lowest falls to their death.  I have to do this twice here as two Orcs attack but I knock both of them to their deaths and head down a slope to my right.

As I continue this way, I am attacked by a big hairy beast and manage to kill that in one strike combat too.  Moving on I come across another Orc who I knock off.  What are che chances of 4 successfull one strike combats?  I make it about one in 16!  Just when I think this might actually go my way I bump into another Orc who knocks me off the ledge to my death.

I am not sure if there is an easier way through this book but this one strike combat completely ruined the book for me.  It is pretty much unplayable with this rule in place, which is a shame because in spite of the nonsensical plot, I was quite enjoying myself.


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