By Ian Livingstone
Ah, Deathtrap Dungeon…. many people’s favourite book and I can see why. There is a great backstory and the creatures and traps withing the dungeon itself are wonderfully realised. It is rather punishing, however, as I am about to find out.
Things started well and I managed to roll up a mighty warrior:
The dungeon itself is a constructed test for several aspiring adventurers. The winners get a huge purse of gold and all the fame and fortune they could ever need. People come from miles around to cheer on the contestants and the town of Fang, where the dungeon is located, is thronged with people who come to watch. Basically it is a slightly more dangerous version of Big Brother.
I entered the dungeon fifth, after most of the other contestants and still had the cheering croud ringing in my ear. My first choice was fairly simple. I came accross a box with my name on it. Inside there is 2 GP and a nice little note from the chap who organised the whole contest. Excellent.
Shortly I come to a T junction with a large arrow pointed to the left. I decide to follow the arrow and ignore the next turn off to the North that I come accross and I then see a large bell. Unable to contain myself I ring the bell and let off such an enormous din that it starts to hurt me, reducing my skill and stamina scores. I decide to do something about it and manage to stop it with my boot. Phew.
I turn a corner and some find a pair of Hobgoblins fighting over a package. I decide this must be valuable so I decide to talk to them like the reasonable guy I am. They don’t take kindly to this and attack me. They are easily slain, however and I find a jar of liquid. I am given two choices: Do I want to drink the liquid or drop a piece of cloth in it. Hmmm…. if only I got this choice every time I find some liquid in a Fighting Fantasy book! I smell my milk before I pour it on my cereal so this is least I would do if I find a strange liquid in a dangerous dungeon full of traps! So, of course, I dip some cloth in it. Turns out to be Acid. Lucky I didn’t just chuck it down my throat, huh?
The tunnel ahead turns right and there are several large poles stretched across the path. Well, this looks like a trap but do I want to walk on them or walk in between them. In a fit of stupidity I jump on the first one, and walk along the top. One of the poles splinters and showers me with sharp shards. I suffer a huge stamina loss but survive and head on.
I follow a pair of footprints and end up in a cavern containing a large idol that has jewels for eyes. Now I know that in order to win this book I need some gems so I decide to climb up and get one. I don’t have a rope – no matter I will just be bit more careful. So, I am given a choice of the left or right eye. I know from past experience that one of these is bad news. So, 50/50 chance. I go for the right eye. It smashes and released a poisonous gas sending me to the floor and to my death. I am not sure if it is the gas or the fall that kills me, but I guess it doesn’t really matter!
I am rather disappointed to not get further in this book. It is unfair in places – my death was the result of a 50/50 choice. Perhaps I missed a clue somewhere and maybe the rope could have saved me but I am still rather peeved. I still love this book, though! Even now it conjures up such a strong image in my mind, and the front cover ranks up there with Forest of Doom as being one of the best – that beast just looks nasty!