Rings of Kether

By Andrew Chapman

Rings of Kether is the second book by Andrew Chapman, after Space Assassin.  In the book you play an undercover narcotics officer who is looking to infiltrate and stop a drugs exporting ring on a planet called Kether.

My Rolls:

Weapon Strength: 12

Shields: 4

Skill: 9

Stamina: 18

Luck: 8

Certainly not great personal stats there, that low luck score is going to come back to haunt me..

Before I left for Kether I was reminded to keep undercover in order to successfully infiltrate the drugs rings – this is something I kept in mind as I approached the system.

My first choice was whether I wanted to investigate some asteroids, the moon or the spaceport on the planet.  Before landing I decided to take a gander at the moon.  I stayed in orbit for a few days, watching some mineral prospectors but was told there was not much going on and decided not to land on the surface but instead to go on to the Space Port.

On landing at the space port, I had my “spy ray” confiscated.  I’m not sure what a spy ray is, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t have one – odd.  Not the best start to my undercover career…  Then the customs officers leave me alone and I wander the space port looking for clues.  This didn’t get me anywhere so I made my way to the Canteen and mingled with the clientele.

I briefly spoke to a deranged starship navigator who mumbled something about the moon and a fat lady playing cards at a table.  As I had already been to the moon, I decided to join the card game.  Her name is Zera Gross and she owns an import/export business.  I must have some sort of verbal diarrhoea, however as I then blurt out the following: “More export than import, I’d wager, the nature of the drug business being what it is! Ha! Ha!”  Unsurprisingly, this comment earned me a beating that cost the reduction of two stamina points permanently.

In the morning, I decided that a visit to the library would be a bit safer. I read a bit of the government transport stats and found that the figures seemed to be being fiddled somehow so I left to take a look at the State Computer File Centre.  Unfortunately the public are not allowed to look at any of the information so I bribed the receptionist who let me take a sneaky peek.  It seems that there are a huge number of spaceship flights not being recorded in the stats.  This is enough for me to leave and investigate the Starport again.

First I go to the admin centre.  Remembering the undercover nature of my mission, I ask some off duty pilots if they know anything about illegal traffic!  Surprisingly they deny all knowledge and run off so I then head to the hangers.  Here I find another pilot and am amazed when he answers that he has seen some illegal space traffic!  He mentions a mysterious asteroid as being particularly dodgy.  I am pleased for this info but decide against heading off on the say-so of one pilot so I go to the city itself to try and verify this information.

When I get to the city I am promptly kidnapped and taken to Zera Gross’ house.  Unsurprisingly, given how subtle I have been, she seems to think I am a federal investigator…  She then sends me on an errand to pick up some “documents” for her.  Sadly this turns out to be a set-up and a sniper shoots us both, steels the documents and rushes off in a car.  I go over to the woman I was meeting but she is already dead.  The sniper has also just escaped in the car so I feel I have no other option to leave and investigate this mysterious asteroid.

On arriving at the asteroid, I enter through the emergency exit hatch and find myself inside.  I stop to read an interesting poem to “Thuvald” before walking on.  I arrive at a branch in the passage, and on hearing voices down one corridor, decide to head in the other direction.  I enter the next room I encounter and the doors slam shut before a strange serpentine creature with steel teeth wraps some of it’s legs around me.  Thinking of nothing else to say or do, I recite the poem I have just read to it.  The creature then stops and in a bit of a Yoda type voice, informs me I have been misled and should be speaking to the customs officials.  Next the creature screams at me to “Begone” so I decide it prudent to heed its advice and pay a visit to the customs officials.

On arrival in the customs area I decide to hide in a locker and wait for anyone to walk past blabbing about illegal activity. Then something quite strange happens.  A customs guard starts searching all the lockers one-by-one.  Before he gets to mine, I sneak out and hide somewhere else until he is finished and return to my hiding place.  After a while, a helipilot arrives with some boxes that seem to contain drugs.  The customs agent just passes after looking inside.  I decide to put a stop to this law breaking and leap from my locker, baring my gun!  This scares the pair into blabbing about an isosceles tower and a communications satellite.  Ah, now I might be getting somewhere… I lock the two of them in my spaceship (surely that must be illegal??) and go to have a look at the satellite.

On finding the satellite, I decided to don my space suite and space walk over to it.  This involved several tests of skill but I made it with fuel to spare.  I find out that the satellite is receiving communications from an unknown asteroid and sending them to the top floor of the Isosceles tower.  I don’t know where the asteroid is so I head off to the tower.

On arriving in the correct office, I find the door ajar so I sneak in hugging the right wall.  I come to a small anteroom and get into a tangle with two thugs who I manage to kill.  Unfortunately as the smoke from the fight clears I am attacked by a bureaucrat with a paperweight!  I am unlucky and he knocks me out.  I never wake up…

A bit of an inauspicious end there – I was hoping for my second success in this book as it is not supposed to be very challenging.  I did not really get into this story sadly and I have to confess that it is not one of my favourites.


Temple of Terror

By Ian Livingstone

Temple of Terror is another book written by Ian Livingstone and is a sequel of sorts to Forest of Doom. It is not a book I have particularly strong memories of so I am looking forward to a playthrough.

My stats:

Skill: 10

Stamina: 20

Luck: 12

Not too bad, so let’s go.

The antagonist this time is an evil wizard called Malbordus.  He is trying to prove his worth to his dark elf carers and is overheard talking about finding five dragon artefacts to create an army to take over the world. Mwwahhhah (evil laugh).  It was that wiley old wizard Yaztromo (remember him) who was evesdropping and it is he who sends me on my way to defeat Malbordus.

After Yaztromo has taught me some spells I am off and my first choice is whether to go via a small boat to Port Blacksand or overland through the Desert of Skulls.  I decide to go overland, which may have been a mistake.  I am walking South through the scrub and before long see some smoke coming from a hut, going to investigate I see a man shot in the chest by the arrows of some dark elves so I rush over to slaughter them.  I take some of their gold and their bow but cannot save the man.

Carrying on South I see a blackened piece of earth with a medallion sitting in it.  Now, I know I shouldn’t touch it but I can’t help myself and it burns the letter M into my hand (luckily only with a penalty of 1 stamina).  A bit miffed but not that surprised I carry on.

Next I am attacked from above by a Harpy.  I was not taught the “Magic Arrow” spell by Yaztromo so I have to fight it by hand.  It is not too strong though and I carry on after killing it.

Moving on, I am sent a note from Yaztromo basically telling me to get a move on as Malbordus is already ahead of me.  To help me with this, I am sent a Giant Eagle to ride South.  The only problem is I am then attacked by a Pteradactyl.  Again, not having the Magic Arrow spell is a problem (I am definitely learning that next time!) and I miss with the bow I picked up from the Elves so the Pterodactyl attacks the Eagle.  It is far stronger than the Eagle and kills it easily.  Sadly this means I plummet to my death!  Bah!

I didn’t really get much of a chance to make much of an opinion on this book but I felt my death was a little unfair.  Perhaps I went the wrong way?


Freeway Fighter

By Ian Livingstone

Freeway Fighter is another book that is not set in the fantasy land of Titan but on a near future Earth.  The difference here is mainly due to the fact that you are driving a car.  Therefore, as well as rolling dice to determine your own skill, stamina etc you will also be determining the car’s stats.  Here are my stats this time:

Skill: 9

Stamina: 34

Luck: 9

Firepower: 11

Armour: 32

It is the year 2022 and England have actually made it to a world cup final.  Not only that but all they have to do is beat USA in the final for ultimate glory.  What could go wrong?  Well, sadly, a virus was released that killed 85% of the World’s population.  And England never won a world cup again.

In this new Earth, there are people who want to rebuild society and those that revel in the anarchy of not having any rules to live by.  I live in a town of people who want society to be rebuilt and we have identified a town in the South who have some petrol to sell.  Luckily we have some seeds that they want to I am sent to make the trade in my modified car.

I set off and before long I hear a gun shot.  I get out of the car to investigate.  It turns out that it was fired by a man who was attacked by crazy dogs.  He seems friendly so I tell him about my mission.  He tells me not to stop at Joe’s garage as they will just rob me.  I thank him for this info and continue on my way.

I soon arrive at Joe’s garage but heeding the man’s warning, I don’t stop.  I am speeding down the motorway when I am attacked by a Red Chevvy.  I destroy it but and continue South.  Before long I come to a large pile-up of vehicles and can go no further so I decide to leave the road to the East.

Soon enough I see an Ambulance so I get out to investigate.  It is deserted so I try and open the doors to see if I can find anything of use.  Unfortunately it is booby trapped and it blows up in my face.  I hide in the grass to wait for whoever may have set the trap.  When he returns he shoots into the grass but luckily misses me.  I shoot back and kill him.  I search his body and find some money and a pair of knuckledusters.  Getting back into the car, I head off again.

I ignore a turning to the South and eventually come to a road block.  I fire a missile, which destroys the blockage but immediately I see some bikers rushing out from behind some bushes, no doubt waiting in ambush.  They fire at me and rush off.  I decide to head after them…  I soon catch up and fight them – I manage to destroy the bike and find both the riders dead.  I do, however, find some handcuffs, some money and a map in the pannier of the bike.  The map has my town circled and also indicates where the bikers were from – the town of Rockville.  These bikers were looking to attack my home town!  Nasty!

I drive on and soon come to road signposted to Rockville.  I decide not to meet these raiders and head on East.  I am unfortunate and run over some metal spikes.  I soon find out who laid the spikes as a man appears and chucks a Molotov cocktail at my car!  Ouch!  My car is not destroyed and I get out and shoot this bandit dead.  The bandit does not have anything useful on him so I get back in my car and carry on.

I come to another junction and am funneled South.  Unfortunately at this point I promptly run out of petrol and fail my mission.  Doh!

So, what do I think?  Well the back story here is truly excellent and the premise is quite good but the actual adventure never seemed to live up to the promise.  This is not one of my favourite books.


Space Assassin

By Andrew Chapman

Space Assassin is the second Sci-Fi Fighting Fantasy book and is not one I remember much as a youngster.  In this story I am an Assassin sent to kill a mad scientist who intends to experiment on my home planet using nucelar isotopes and deadly viruses (I guess he has a few weapons of mass destruction burning some holes in his pocket).

This book introduces blaster combat, which is worked out somewhat differently that hand to hand combat in other books thus far.  It also includes an Armour score that protects me from some hits.

Here are my skills:

Skill: 12

Stamina: 19

Luck: 11

Armour: 9

Not too shabby then, so off we go!  When I arrive aboard the ship I see a choice of hatches to crawl through and some refuse on the floor.  I decide to take a closer look at the refuse and it turns out to be a small creature wearing some sort of pack.  I take the pack and for some reason immediately press the red button on it.  Nothing happens thankfully but I am not sure what good ever came of pressing unidentified red buttons.

Noticing that the creature came out of the hatch on the right and is now dead, I decided to go through the one on the left.  As I open the hatch, a load of live cables falls down.  Luckily they all miss me and I am not electrocuted but I decide instead to go through the other hatch.

Crawling along the tunnel behind the hatch, I come to another one on the left.  Looking through I can see a robot guarding some prison cells of some sort.  I decide to talk to the robot, but it doesn’t seem to be that friendly and starts shooting at me!  A quick firefight ensues in which the robot becomes terminated.  I jump into the room and look into one of the cells…

Inside there is an old man who is clearly pleased that I have rescued him.  He gives me some interesting information about the ship’s pilot.  I then decide to look into the second cell which contains a small furry imp.  I let it go free and it repays me by biting me!  Ungrateful blighter.  There is no option to blast it and I see no other exits so I return to the hatch that I entered through.  Moving on, I see another hatch opening out into a room.

There is nothing in this room so I jump down and walk across to the door in the far wall.  In the next room there are some rodent like scientists so I threaten them with violence.  They were clearly not expecting me and they stick their paws up in the air, terrified.  I steel their security card and tie them up.  I use the card to leave the room via the door.

The door opens up into a corridor with another door on the left.  I go through this door and find a kitchen.  I steal some energy bars and carry on.  The corridor ends in a circular room with a guard robot, err, standing guard. I try to bluff my way through which doesn’t work so I resort to blasters again and the robot is soon destroyed.  I search the robot and notice that below where it is standing there is a safe in the floor with three buttons (red, blue and green).  I am not given the option of ignoring the safe so I figure green is probably the safest colour….



KABOOOM!  I am blown to pieces!  Oh dear.

This book doesn’t tend to be that popular but I must say I quite liked it – it was a bit like a dungeon crawl through a spaceship.  Just a shame I didn’t get any further.


Talisman of Death

By Mark Smith & Jamie Thompson

Talisman of Death is the 11th Fighting Fantasy gamebook and is the 2nd that was not written by either Ian Livingstone or Steve Jackson.

Skill: 12

Stamina: 19

Luck: 11

Excellent stats, I stand a decent chance here…

In this adventure, you are from Earth and have been transported to another universe called Orb. You have been asked to destroy the Talisman of Death, which, if allowed to remain in Orb will eventually destroy the world if it falls into the wrong hands.  The only way to destroy it is for a person from another world to take it with them, through a portal, to their own world.  So, this is not a quest for personal riches, but a whole world is at stake.

The adventure starts with a meeting with four adventurers who I blab all to.  Thankfully, they are good and noble people so they lay down their lives so that I can be transported away from the approaching creatures.  I find myself near a chasm and I need to make my way to the town, Greyguilds.  I decide against going over open ground and head towards the forest.  On approaching the forest I come head to head with a Wolf protecting her cubs.  I decide the best course of action would be to back off, and it works, she is not interested in me.

Heading on, I see a Basilisk asleep on a rock.  Luckily it does not notice me as I creep past and I can continue on my way.  Next I come to an old woman drowning in a pool. I decide to help her but it turns out not to be an old woman at all and is in fact a Grendel, a betentacled creature with a large beak.  I slay it without any real trouble.

Before long, as I am walking along the plain, I am approached by 20 warrior women on horses.  I stupidly tell them that I am not from this world and they tell me to hand over my sword so that I can be taken to Greyguilds.  I decide that there are too many of them to argue with so I do as they say.  Eventually we arrive at Greyguilds and I am taken to Hawkana.  I am searched and she snatches away the Talisman.  She seems delighted to have it in her possession – Oh dear,  I will have to get that back! I am then throw out into the street outside.

I am now free to explore Greyguilds so I head off down a street called Smith Street.  I duck into an Armorers and am able to buy a new sword to replace the one I lost – excellent, I can restore 2 skill points.  Walking further down the street things take a turn for the worse, however, as a Minion of Death tries to take the Talisman from me.  It does not believe me when I say I no longer have it and attacks me anyway.  It’s icy touch reduces my skill somewhat during this battle but I defeat it.

Before long this street turns into Silver street and I overhear some thieves talking about how they are going to rob a jewelers down the road.  I run off to warn the jeweler and he is very pleased when I help him fight them off.  In fact, he is so pleased that he gives me some gold and a large ruby.  This ruby comes in very handy later on in this adventure.  I bid the jeweler farewell and soon see some Monks entering a large building so I decide to investigate.  There is not much of interest in this building except for a red book, which upon reading it I discover to be a Tome of Misfortune.  I lose another luck point.

Walking further down the street, I notice that night is starting to fall.  I am too busy not looking where I am going, however, as I walk right into a mantrap that snaps shut around my foot.  I am then surrounded by some dodgy looking priests who ask for the Talisman.  For the second time in this town, I am quite pleased I don’t have it anymore.  I tell them this and they seem displeased but are scared off by the City Guard.  They do not help me out of the trap, however, and just leave me where I stand.  Thankfully before long someone does arrive to help me out.  He seems like a kind man so I accept his offer of a bed for the night.

He has no ulterior motives and I have a nice restful sleep and in the morning tell him my story.  He listens and tells me that I stand the best chance of recovering the Talisman if I enlist the help of some thieves.  I decide to take his advice and head towards the Red Dragon Inn (Red Dragons are a bit of a theme in this adventure, the tome of misfortune was made from red dragon scales) but not before the man gives me a ring that increases my skill and invites me back that evening.

On my way to the Inn a couple of arguing monks walk past and drop a tiger broach.  Like the good samaritan I am, I pick it up and give it back to them.  I gain some luck for being so honest.

On arrival at the inn, I chat to the barman for a while who tells me a story of a man called Tyuchev.  He seems to be a nasty sort of chap so I make a mental note not to get into a fight with him.  I then introduce myself to a group of thieves.  I tell them I need some help with some unfinished business and they tell me to meet them later on in the Thieves Guild.  Just at that moment, a man enters with a young lady.

It seems that this new arrival is Tyuchev.  At this point I should have run away but for some reason I stayed where I was when he sat opposite me.  I must have tourettes or something as when he insults me, I taunt him!  I have to fight them both and they are both strong opponents.  In the end I reduce Tyuchev’s stamina and he calls on the God of Anarchy, who enables him to escape.  Phew.

On my way to my dinner appointment with the Sage, I am accosted by a small child. He seems to want to show me something so I follow him to see what he wants – a small child can’t be luring me into a trap, right?  Turns out he is employed by some scholars who have  successfully genetically engineered a nasty beast and they want to test out it’s fighting prowess on a willing volunteer.  That happens to be me!  I end up killing their creation, however, and they appear a bit sad and don’t give me the reward they promised.  I push the point, however, and they hand over a potion of Agonising Doom!  Sounds like something I had the other night!  I say goodbye and head off to my dinner date.

Over dinner the sage tells me I need to head to a mountain in the East to find the portal home.  He also tells me that to get out of Greyguilds, I need to find a gate in the cemetery and that if I ever get into serious trouble I can call on the Earth Mother god who will save me.  This is great advice!  It is also good food and I add 4 stamina points.  I leave and head off to the thieves guild

On my way to the guild, I see a magician.  I decide not to stop to take a closer look, however and hurry into the guild.  Sure enough, there are plenty of thieves there!  I decide that telling them  exactly what we are looking for is a good motivator and it seems to work, they take me to the temple where the talisman is being held.

We reach the temple in no time, and they are very adept at gaining entry and disarming traps.  They did, however, miss an old serving man so I decide to knock him out to silence him.  I am given the option of running him through with my sword but can’t bring myself to do this so instead just bash him over his head.  I stop the other thieves from killing him but sadly this means that I knock a dagger out of one of their hands.  It alerts the guards.  Oh dear, I’m in the dog house!

The thieves disappear and I carry on, running ahead.  I come face to face with a guard and kill her quickly (I must do this within 5 rounds, which must be hard if I had a lesser skill score). I step over the fallen guard and find myself in Hawkana’s inner sanctum.  She is none too pleased to see me and sends a fireball towards me.  I get out of the way but not before it burns me a bit.  I decide to use the Agonising Doom on her and it seems to cause her a lot of pain.  She is injured but still very powerful so it is a close fight but in the end I kill her.

I snatch back the Talisman from her corpse and run for the door.  To my horror, the door slams shut and I look back to see Hawkana has risen again.  Damn, will she never die?  Thankfully she is much weaker this time and it is an easier fight.  This time, when she is down I see a ring on her finger which I take – it is a ring of regeneration so I put it on myself.  I decide to leave this place but have to get past the thieves and warrior women first. I manage this but on leaving the temple, I bump straight into Tyuchev…

Seems he wants the Talisman and he is not alone.  I am surrounded and all seems hopeless but I remember that I can call on the Earth Mother so that is what I do.  I am then swept up by a huge Eagle and taken away from the rather miffed Tyuchev.  I am put down somewhere else in the city and waste no time in trying to find the cemetery.  I have an odd encounter with a moody monk before finding the graveyard.

On arrival at the cemetery I decide to investigate a lantern.  It seems that it is not only moths attracted to light as I am also attacked by a Ghoul.  Remembering what happened in the Warlock of Firetop Mountain, I was a little concerned but managed to kill it without too much hassle.  Thankfully soon after this I find the gate and can leave the city!

Hoorah, the country air again – I can see my destination in the South East and have a choice of how to get there.  I decide to head South first, then East.  Nothing much happens on my first day out of the city but during the night I dream of Hawkana – she is even haunting me in my dreams!  The next day nothing much happens again but once again I dream of Hawkana.  This time I have to fight her spirit in my dream – this is getting to be a bit of an obsession!

The next day is a little more eventful.  I am attacked by a Roc.  I decide to stand up to fight but it just picks me up and takes me to its nest.  It then tries to eat me but I fight back.  It is a tough beast but thankfully I manage to stick my sword in its eye early on and it flies a way.  I take a feather as a souvenir.  Thankfully this night I do not dream of Hawkana and in the morning head off again and come to a waterfall.   I decide to take a closer look…

On closer inspection I see that there is a cave behind the waterfall so I go enter to have a look around.  I head down the right hand tunnel and find a room with a rectangle column in the centre of it.  I read a message on it that indicates that there is a deadly poison furthest from the Scarab beetle.  I am not sure what this means but I remember it nonetheless.  Just at that moment I notice that the ceiling is falling down at quite a pace.  I am just able to jump through the door opposite before it crashes to the floor.

The next room contains various different columns and I am told by a message that I can only read one.  I pick the circular one and read the message that tells me behind the symbol on the first door is what I am looking for.  This sounds helpful and the other pillars disappear so I move on.

The next room contains four doors with the following pictures on them:

  • Snake
  • Monkey
  • Scarab
  • Dragon

I remember that the one furthest from the Scarab is probably deadly and the first one is the one I want.  Therefore I avoid the snake and open the Dragon door.  Behind the door is a crypt containing a dead adventurer clutching a Scimitar and a Spear.  I decide to partake in a bit of grave robbing and take the spear.  The spear has “Dragonsbane” written on it.  Hmm… That’s promising!  Just at that moment, though, the body rises from the dead (no doubt a bit upset about my thievery) and launches an attack on me.  It is a Mummy and I have to kill it.  Once it dies, I look around and find an escape route that takes me to a position above the waterfall.

Walking on, I notice a landslide but I flatten myself against the cliff and the boulders fall past without harming me. Pressing on I reach the plateau and I see some hairy Hogmen.  I tell them that I mean them no harm.  They still seem a bit dubious and I remember that I have a nice shiny ruby.  I decide to give that to the Hogmen and they seem delighted.  So much so in fact that they take me to their village.

At the village I talk to the chief and ask about the portal.  He tells me that the portal is guarded by a Red Dragon and it must be slain before I can enter the portal.  He also says that the only thing that can deflect the dragon’s fiery breath is a shield made out of it’s scales.  He gives me a gourd of Amber Pine Gum that I can use to stick the scales together to make the shield.  I will have to get the scales myself.

I eat with the Hogmen, then go on my way.  Before long I find the lair of the Dragon and it smells heavily of Sulphur.  I enter the cavern and see a small tunnel heading off to the right so I duck down it.  The dragon is asleep and I sneak in and take some of the scales scattered around it.  It doesn’t notice me so I leave it’s lair and stick the scales together to make a shield.

I finally arrive at the summit and I can see the portal!  Predictably though, the dragon rushes up to block my way.  At first I try and reason with the dragon, telling it that I need to go through the portal to save the world.  The dragon agrees to let me past but tells me I cannot take weapons through the portal so I must place them on the floor.  Hmm.. this seems a bit dodgy so I refuse.  It tries hard to convince me but luckily I am not taken in by the dragon and rush forward to attack.  Luckily the spear I have is very effective against dragons and I can cause 5 points of stamina every time I hit it.

With the Spear, the combat is not too hard and I quickly get the Dragon’s stamina down to 5 and suddenly it turns into an old man and begs me to spare it’s life.  I consider it but remember the words of the Chief Hogman that I must slay it so I ignore his pleas and go in for the kill.  And then the dragon is slain!  There is nothing between me and the portal so I walk through with the talisman.  I have saved Orb and this is the first book I have managed to complete!

Overall I rather enjoyed this book.  There were a few tests of skill and luck that may have been harder with a weaker character and the Hawkana encounter was certainly testing but I found the book quite winnable.  I am delighted to finally complete one of these books!



House of Hell

By Steve Jackson

House of Hell is an interesting Fighting Fantasy book.  It is set in present day earth and I think this is the only one that is.  There is also another stat that you must roll for – Fear.  Your fear starts at 0 and if your fear ever reaches the number rolled at the beginning then you are frightened to death.  It is also very difficult.  I have never beaten this book – there seem to be so many traps and opportunities to get scared but let’s see how I got on this time. This is me:

Skill: 11

Stamina: 21

Luck: 9

Fear: 9

It was a dark and stormy night, somewhere in the distance and owl hooted.  My car broke down so I ran to the nearest house in order to get help.  Sadly the inhabitants of this house were not very helpful.  As I arrive, I consider ringing the bell but the place is already giving me the creeps so I walk around the house to a window with a light on.  I overhear an interesting conversation between two inahabitants and when I believe they are gone, I try the door.  It is locked but “luckily” I am heard so the men come and investigate.

When they see me they ask if I am one of the brethren.  I decide to say that I am but mumble something about my car breaking down so I’m late.  This doesn’t wash with them and one of them crept behind me and knocks me out…

I wake up to find myself in a room, tied to a chair.  I manage to break the window and use the glass to cut myself free.  To my relief, the door is unlocked so I just stroll out and start investigating the house.  I turn right down the corridor and enter a room called “Azazel”.  It is some sort of lab so I investigate – I open one of the cupboards – bad idea!  I see two corpses and have to add 2 fear.  I hear voices come and go so decide to leave this room and move on.

The next room is the “Erasmus” room.  This door is locked and I cannot open it so I carry on.  Next I bump into a ghost!  She beackons me into a scary looking room so like any normal individual I follow the ghost into the room.  Thankfully she seems to be friendly and tells me that there is devil worshiping going on here.  She also says the master of the house can only be killed with the Kris knife – useful information indeed!  Sadly she is then attacked by ghostly hounds and cannot give me any more info.  I decide to help her nontheless and backtrack down the corridor.

The next new door I come to is the Balthus room so I go in to take a look.  There is a suspicious looking bulge behind the curtain so I take a look.  Ouch, it seems to be a Zombie!  More fear points are added and I have to fight it.  Thankfully I manage to defeat it.  I then turn my attention to the box on the mantlepiece – it holds a key which unlocks the door to the room – funny, I didn’t know the door was locked…

I enter the next room (Diabolus) and try and look for a means of escape.  The windows are barred so I won’t get out this way.  I do, however, attract the attentions of a headless ghost!  (2 more fear).  I decide to hear the Ghost out who basically tells me I’m going to die (2 more fear). Thanks for that, Headless Nick!  I decide at that point to leave the room and go back to the corridor.  This time I decide to check out the window in the corridor and see a message “Mordana in Abandon” – ooh, cryptic!  I memorise this and carry on to the next room.

The next door is unmarked and turns out to be a store room.  I root around on the shelves and find a meat knife (hoorah, a weapon) and some garlic, which always seem to come in handy in these books.  I also find some white liquid which I decide not to partake of and leave through a door opposite.  The door leads onto a hallway with several doors off it.  I decide to go into a room marked “Shaiton”.

On entering the room, it appears to be a bedroom.  I hear a strange voice and add another fear point.  This is enough to tip me over the edge and I am scared to death on the spot.

Despite it’s harshness, this has always been one of my favorite books.  I think it is the amazingly atmospheric story telling but the present day setting probably also helps set it apart.  It is, however, punishingly difficult and I suspect a lot of play throughs are required to crack the puzzle.


Caverns of the Snow Witch

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.

My guy:

Skill: 10

Stamina: 17

Luck: 11

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!


Scorpion Swamp

By Steve Jackson (USA)

Scorpion Swamp was the first book not written by one of the co-creators of the serious but in a very strange twist of fate, was written by a man called Steve Jackson!

Scorpion swamp is a maze of clearings in amongst the marshland and has always thwarted any attempts to map it because compasses don’t work in its twisting pathways.  Before this adventure starts, however, I am given a bronze ring that has two distinct advantages – it can detect evil and it always knows the direction of north.  I decide this is what I have been looking for to enable me to map the Scorpion Swamp so I decide to take on the challenge.

I soon find out that there are three wizards looking for errands to be run – an evil wizard, a neutral wizard and a good wizard.  I decide to pay a visit to the good wizard.  I head off towards Selator’s abode and having seen his picture, he doesn’t look very wizardly and a bit simple.  As it turns out, however, he is the right man and tells me that he has been looking for a plant known as Antherica that he maintains is somewhere in the swamp.  I agree to go on this potential wild goose chase for him and set off.

I tread carefully in the first clearing and head East.  I arrive at a clearing with a suspicious hole in a tree and a flat stone.  Being the lazy oaf that I am I decided to sit down on the stone and see what happened.  Sure enough as I lounge around on the stone, a shaggy bear emerges from the tree.  Now, I quite like bears so I didn’t want to hurt it so I ran away.

Heading east I come to a clearing that contains a very nasty looking beast.  It is none other than the Pool Beast from the front cover.  I  can’t believe I have met it so early as the front cover beast up to this point have been pretty mighty.  I hurridly wrack my brain for a spell to use and decide to incinerate it with a fire spell.  Unfortunately it is too slimy and the fire does not take hold so I am forced to attack it using less magical means.  As it happens, this beast was not that dangerous and it only hurts me twice before I make sushi out of it.

I grab the purple gem embedded in the beasts head and have to go back the way I came due to this being a dead end.  Unfortunately this means I enounter the bear again and have to kill it.  I backtrack all the way West and encounter the woodsman known as the Master of the Wolves.  He tells me to get lost so I befuddle him with magic and he then welcomes me with open arms. He tells me a way to subdue Wolves which I suspect may come in handy and I bid him farewell.

Heading north, I wade throught some water and end up bitten by leaches before arriving in a clearing that would have a big affect on my adventure.  This clearing containes Sword Trees and they quickly became the bane of my life.  They were surprisingly strong and damaged me three times before I destroyed them and left to the West. All that seemed to happen in this new clearing was that it contained s “Dire Beast”.  I didn’t like the sound of that so I cast an illusion on it and fled.  To my dismay, the only way I could go was back past the Sword trees and sure enough they had grown back and I had to fight them again.  This time they injured me 4 times before I left to the North.

Shortly I arrived in a clearing that contained a Unicorn.  Phew, these things are never aggressive so I should be safe for now.  The text told me that it was injured so I blessed it to bring it back to health.  My reward for this selfless act was two more spells. The next clearing too I thought looked safe.  It contained some pretty flowers.  Sadly these flowers were “Fear Flowers” and they reduced my skill by 2 points before I could run past them.  This is going to make things rather difficult, given my rather lowly stamina remaining score.

The next clearing, however, was an antidote to my problems.  It contained the Master of Birds.  She was a delightful woman and not only restored the skill points that the flowers took off me but also told her pet eagle to help me on my quest.  It picked me up and carried me north, missing out several potentially dangerous encounters.  It set me down in a clearing and I headed off East.

The next clearing I got stuck in quicksand but was lucky and only lost 2 stamina escaping.  Moving on I see a Giant.  He does not attack me on sight but doesn’t want me to pass so I try and reason with him.  Turns out his wife has lost her favourite red handkerchief.  Sadly I don’t have it so can’t help him but he is happy to let me pass.

Next I bump into a pack of Wolves.  Aha!  I know how to get past them!  Sure enought the advice that the Master of Wolves gave me is sound and they turn into simpering little puppy dogs.  But what is this?  There is a strange plant with strange berries on it!  This is the plant that Salador wanted me to find for him… hoorah!  Half of the task is done, I just need to get out of this swamp now.  I am a little concerned as my stamina is very low but I am now filled with optimism.

Backtracking somewhat, I remember the quicksand and wishing to avoid it go a different way. I see a Giant Scorpion delivering the death blow to a hapless Dwarf.  Knowing that a battle against such a creature would probably be the death of me, I sneek  past.  The next couple of clearings are quite uneventful.  I cross a bridge over a river and sucessfully jump over some scorpions.

The next main encounter is with a man that my ring tells me is evil.  He is sitting on the floor, beckoning me over.  I don’t want to sit with him and a battle at this stage would surely kill me so I run away.  Unfortunatelly I must be quite slow on my feet as he runs up behind me and strangles me.  I pass out, lose a load more stamina and have all my magic items stolen.  Great!  I have 3 stamina points and no way to cast any spells!  I am pretty much dead by this point.

Moving on, I come to a part of the swamp that I recognise – I must be nearly home. Unfortunately the only way back that I know of is past the Sword Trees.  I don’t stand a chance against them so I have to find another way back.  I briefly encounter some Crab Grass that reduces my stamina to two before I arrive at my final clearing.

In this clearing is the Master of Spiders.  My ring tells me he is evil and without any magic my only options are to fight him or engage him in conversation.  As any battle now would be my last I foolishly try and talk to him.  As I talk, a spider bites me and paralyses me.  I am wrapped up in silk ready to be eaten at the spider’s leisure.  Superb!

Overall then, I quite like this book.  It is almost completely non-linear and there is a very neat workaround to avoid the problems encountered with continuity in The Forest of Doom.  There are also three different quests to try which gives it a lot of replay value.  Despite my nasty demise, it is also not that difficult so I think it makes an excellent introduction to the series.


Island of the Lizard King

By Ian Livingstone

Island of the Lizard King is another book by Ian Livingstone and has a tropical island setting which makes things a little different from the earlier books.

My hero looked like this:

Skill: 9

Stamina: 19

Luck: 10

The island itself was set up a as a penal colony with the Lizard Men as the guards.  One of the Lizard men became a bit of a control freak, however, and took charge.  Since then nothing has been heard from the island but people have been going missing, kidnapped by Lizard men so I decide to help them out and try and find out what is going on.

I team up with my friend, Mungo, and after sailing for a while, spot the island.  I have a choice of which beach to land on, so try the one on the right where I see some pirates hauling a huge chest onto the beach.  I can either go back to the other beach or attack them so I draw my sword and charge.  It turns out to be a difficult fight and poor Mungo is killed.  My reward for this is a chest full of iron bars – not the treasure I was hoping for, but it could come in handy later so I take one.

Heading inland, I end up travelling through dense jungle.  I decide not to rest near a suspicious looking plant and continue but I am then set upon by some Headhunters who I have to fight off.  After killing them, I eat their food and spot some smoke coming from their village so I decide to investigate. When I get there I see a man tied to a pole who, it looks like, is about to be killed. I think quickly and decide to set fire to some of their huts.  This has the desired effect and I am able to to rescue the man.  He then goes berserk and kills three of the other Headhunters leaving just the chief for me to deal with before he dies.  I pick up the Spear held by the chief and carry on.  A lot of hassle to go to for a measly Spear – hope it is useful…

Shortly the jungle turns to marsh and I see a Marsh Hopper and stupidly decide to follow it.  Eventually it leads me to the lair of a Hydra.  A-ha, I have a Spear so I throw it at the creature to try and kill it.  Sadly if misses so I have to fight it.  It is a tough fight but I eventually overcome it.  Unfortunately it is not guarding any treasure but straight away I have to fight a Giant Watersnake.  I slay it and am thankful when the ground becomes firmer and I walk towards a gorge.

I am given the option to climb up one of the hills so I take it.  Sure enough, I miss a landslide that would have fallen just where I was going to walk. Having escaped that, I decide to go back down the gorge.  A message on a boulder tells me to “Go back or die”.  I decide to do neither of these things and I continue on.  Walking on I see a snuff box so decide to have a look inside it.  It contains a gold nugget and a note describing how I can get to the slave mines.  Excellent..

Moving on, I encounter a Giant Lizard which I must fight.  I manage to kill it and come to a pond.  I investigate the pond and as I was bending down to have a drink, a Spit Toad spits water in my eye.  Ouch, it hurts and I blindly swing my sword about, luckily one of my swishes of the sword impales the annoying toad so I am able to see what else the pond has in store for me.  Hoorah, there is a wooden casket.  It contains an assortment of treasures so I open a pouch, put on some boots, put a ring on my finger and drink some clear liquid (always dangerous!).  The pouch is magic and I can put all my stuff in it, the boots seem to do nothing, the ring is a ring of confusion (great, a skill reduction) and the liquid is a potion of confusion.  I feel a little miffed about these “treasures” but carry on regardless.

I carry on and see a tasty pig snuffling around.  Yum.  Oh, maybe my spear will come in handy after all!  I chuck the spear at the pig but am unlucky and for the second time my spear misses its target.

Soon I come to a river, and remembering the note I found in the snuff box I look for the boat that was left by the previous owner and find it in the reeds.  I start oaring down the river. I don’t expect this river journey to go well and sure enough, I see a Crocodile eyeing me greedily.  Thinking quick, I whip that iron bar out from my pouch and jam it in the Crocodile’s mouth.  Take that snappy!  I sail on in peace.  Further up the river I see an escaped prisoner so I decide to try and help him.  For my troubles, he tries to stab me so I have to kill him.  Note to self:  Don’t help any more old men!

After a while I come across the slave camp and see some Lizard men guards. Heeding the warning in the note, I sneak past them and manage to find the entrance to the mine.  I go in and head right.

I walk along the passage and see a dead dwarf lying next to a bore hole.  Hmm.. suspicious, should I have a look inside?  I start climbing into the hole and am told that it is very dark, am I sure I want to carry on?  I take the hint and get of that hole and continue down the passage. I turn right at the junction but am attacked by some stones.  Mindful of the fact that I was killed by a boulder beast in Forest of Doom I am a little concerned but they turn out to be fairly easy to fight off.  I backtrack and head the other way at the junction.  This ends in a dangerous looking shaft.  This is when my boots from the pond kick into life and I am able to walk down the side of the shaft.  At the bottom is a beautiful sword, which negates the skill penalty from the ring of confusion.

This is a dead end so I backtrack to the entrance to the mine and go in the other direction. In this direction I find another shaft with a ladder so I climb down and hide in the shadows when I hear a noise.  Sure enough it is another Lizard man.  I decide to creep along behind it but my potion of clumsiness rears its ugly head again and I kick a stone.  Pleasingly the Lizard Man seems to be deaf so it doesn’t notice.  I creep up behind it and knock it out.  Soon I come across the first of the slaves.  I start attacking their guard and the slaves revolt and join me in the attack.  I then continue with my new found friends freeing more slaves and overwhelming more guards as we go.

Once I have rescued all the slaves, I am told that the Lizard King is controlled by a parasite on it’s head which makes it stronger.  In order to find out how to defeat him I need to visit a shaman.  I decide to do this alone so take my leave of the freed slaves and continue.  I am told the river looks dangerous so I carry on by foot.  I find some berries that I decide to eat.  They are tasty but I am unfortunate and am found by a Giant Wasp.  I kill it but it stings me and that costs me a skill point.  Things are not looking good now – my skill is low, my stamina is getting precarious, I am running out of provisions and my luck is so low that I am pretty much never going to be lucky again!

Moving on I see some more food hanging from a tree.  Mindful both of the fact that I desperately need more provisions but there will probably be a downside to this free food, I cut it down and stuff my face.  It is tasty but sure enough, it attracts the attention of a bear. The bear is not friendly and is stronger than me. I manage to escape, limping and close to death.

I camp for the night and of course am unlucky so I am bitten by a vampire bat.  ouch.  In the morning I carry on and see a message from the shaman.  He asks me to arrive with a feather in my hair so he know’s I come in peace.  This is a bit weird but I remain mindful of this jaunty requirement.  Unfortunately I never got to meet the shaman…

Walking on, a large Hill Troll jumps out at me from behind a rock.  Haha.  What a funny joke!   Oh, he intends to kill me.  I don’t even hurt the Troll before he slays me in combat.

Overall I felt this book was an interesting diversion.  I liked the fact that it was set somewhere different and it was a story I could really get into – the lizard king and his parasitic controller is an interesting one and in fact one of my favourite video games, Star Control 2,  has a similar back story for one of its alien races.  However, the gameplay for this book was a bit samey.  Walk for a bit, fight a monster, walk a bit more, fight another monster.  Definitely the gamebook equivalent of a hack and slash.


Deathtrap Dungeon

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:

Skill: 12

Stamina: 19

Luck: 12

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!