City of Thieves

By Ian Livingstone

City of Thieves is the second book writen by Ian Livingstone on his own.  The hero of the day (me) is looking to bring down the evil Zanbar Bone to save the people of Silverton – this seems quite noble and I am looking forward to starting this adventure.

Skill: 9

Stamina: 22

Luck: 10

Not too bad, but I am a little disappointed with that skill score.  Still, if I find the “true way”, I should be ok.

I am given 30GP to spend in Port Blacksand, the titular City of Thieves and make my way to the gates.  I am stopped by a guard who asks me my business.  For some reason I decide to lie to him and say that I’m trying to sell some stolen goods.  He doesn’t believe me but doesn’t seem to mind and lets  me in anyway. I pay him 3 gold for some advice and he tells me I should try and get hold of a pass.

Once in the city I decide to go East down Clock street and the first thing I come across is Mad Man on the side of the street.  I try and help him but he leaps at me with a dagger so I dispatch him and take his cloudy glass ball.  I resist the urge to smash it on the floor and stash it away in my pack.

Shortly the road turns to the North and I see a house.  Of course I am going to investigate and I find an upset Ogre who has had his food stolen.  I decide to give him some of my provisions, but the ungrateful wretch tells me to get lost after gobbling them down.   This is enough provocation for me to attack him with my sword.  The fight is actually a pretty tough one for someone of my skill but I defeat him and find some gold, some gems and a pair of white gloves.  I know I shouldn’t but for some reason I can’t resist putting them on.  Sadly it tightens around my hand, causing me to loose 2 skill points.  My skill is now 7, which with the best will in the world, doesn’t fill me with confidence.

My next encounter is with a small boy who sells me some water for 3 gold pieces.  It restores 1 point of stamina but this did not seem like a good deal so I shake my fist at him.

As I turn the corner I am attacked by a group of dwarves looking to rob me.  I fight them off and run after them down an alleyway to give them a piece of my mind.  Sadly this is a trap, I am caught in a net and they steel all my gold.  I think that this adventure is pretty much over now but I carry on anyway.

Next I arrive at a flower shop.  I am sold a magic flower for 2 meals.  I am pleased that I am able to acquire items without resorting to thievery due to my lack of funds.  The next shop is a Jewelers.  I am able to sell the Ogre’s gems here and get enough money to buy a ring of ice.  Hopefully this will come in handy, I thanks the jeweler and take my leave of the shop.

The road arrives at a junction but I see a crowd of people going North and decide to follow them.  The street opens up into a square and I am pickpocketed of 1 gold piece by a woman offering me tomatoes.  Shortly I come across a musician who offers to sing me a song for 3 gold pieces.  Unfortunately I have no money left so I have to ignore him.  I then see a rather homo-erotic man holding a cannonball.  He asks if I want to play his game of catch with the ball for 5 gold pieces.  Again, with no money I can’t take part in his games so I walk on.  I walk straight past the next stall selling lots of useful items (still no money).  Then I pass a clairvoyant but knowing that I will probably be asked to part with money and also knowing that my weak skill score means I would be unlikely to fight my way out of trouble, I walk on.

It starts raining so I take refuge in a nearby house.  I take a seat but after a while I notice that I am surrounded by a group of snakes.  I try and hack at them with my sword but they attack me anyway.  Due to their venom, they do 4 damage to my stamina each time they hit me. They are not that strong, but with my terrible skill score the are too much for me and I am killed by the snakes.

Killed by snakes

Sadly I died before I really got into this story.  A combination of bad choices really put the writing on the wall.  From what I saw, this book did seem like a Forest of Doom in a City but was still rather enjoyable. 6/10.

 

Starship Traveller

By Steve Jackson

Starship Traveller is the first book to divert from the fantasy settings of the first few books and attempts to portray a sci-fi environment with mixed results.

My Captain:

Skill: 12

Stamina: 21

Luck: 11

So, the best rolls yet but sadly the least important.  The story here is that you are the captain of a spaceship that has just stumbled into a black hole.  Instead of ripping the ship apart, the black hole has deposited it in another universe.  The quest is to find your way home and it is notoriously difficult.

My first choice is which of three star systems I want to travel to.  I decide to head towards one of the life bearing systems but before I get there I am intercepted by a Ganzig ship.  I decide to listen to the alien’s demands and he beams aboard.  The commander seems eager to see my computer room so I divert him with a guided tour of the ship.  All goes well until he sees an eagle – in a bizarre coincidence I just happen to have the one creature that this alien in another universe considers sacred on board my ship.  After attacking the Eagle, the alien collapses in a blubbering heap and orders the release of my ship.

Next I arrive at a large red planet called Prax.  I beam down and am greeted by an alien before he is blasted to death my a member of my crew.  I then proceed to a large library (while being fired at – I now assume there is some sort of hallucinogen in the air) and while there find out there is a black hole in sector 288.  A bit dubious due to the strange goings on here, I beam back up with this information.  I later find out the tragic story of this planet – due to an accident, the whole planet was dowsed with a strong hallucinogen that caused the demise of their civilization.

Next I moved onto a star cluster and came across a meteor shower.  I stood fast and my shield held.  Unfortunately it now seems that the on board freezer is on the blink so I am obliged to beam down to a planet to get some more food.  I choose the lush looking green planet.  After beaming down I hear a huge beast coming towards me.  Realising too late that these books rarely like you hiding, I hid from the beast.  Sadly my Security officer is quickly stomped to death by another of the creatures!  I set my phasers to stun and slay one of the animals to eat later.  I then go looking for vegetation but get attacked by a plant.  I use my phaser to escape but it overloads it, making it unusable for my next encounter with the local fauna so I kill that with my bare hands and head back to my ship.

The next planet is the blue-green planet, Cliba.  I encounter some strange, short legged aliens who agree to take me to their leader.  Once I speak to him, I find out that their people have become famished due to the “rain lord” not favouring them.  I tell my medical officer to help their sick, she becomes ill but it is nothing she cannot shake off.  I then decide to pay the rain lord a visit.  Turns out the rain lord is an alien who has crashed landed with some weather equipment that has malfunctioned.  I beam down my science officer who has it working in a jiffy and find out that I need to travel toward the black hole at warp 3 to enter successfully (I find out later that I don’t need this info though – shame).  I leave the people of Cliba to their new found good weather and carry on my journey.

Before long I come across a deserted Grey planet that I decide to investigate.  I find a crashed spaceship that is also deserted so I beam it up aboard the ship.  This, it appears, is a mistake as it seems to  be making my staff sick.  I decide to quarantine the landing party but this is my second mistake and more of my crew die.  Luckily they are nobodies and I mange to seal off the craft and contain the poisonous gas.  I decide to evacuate all the air from the affected areas and this seems to stop the rot.

Cursing my decision to land on the grey planet, I head towards a fast moving spaceship.  It turns out this belongs to my old friends the Ganzig.  They do not appear that friendly, however, and they escort me to their space station. Once there, they let me roam the station and I speak to someone in charge who tells me about a black hole due to appear on stardate 77.  This could be the one I am looking for…  I thank him and leave.

I spend the next few hours speeding through space and my mutinous crew seem to want to go home. I have some details about where and when I expect the black hole to be so I set course for this.  Unfortunately this is the last thing I ever do and I never wake up again.

Went through the wrong black hole.

As I expected, I was not successful in this adventure. The story was a little more interesting than I remembered but there is an odd bit about the warp speed for entering the blackhole that doesn’t seem to mean anything.  Overall I felt the story was a bit lacking, but it is good to experience a new setting.  Finally, I thought the artwork was a little lacking in this book.  5/10.

 

The Forest of Doom

By Ian Livingstone

This is another story I remember from my youth, and the first that is written by Ian Livingstone alone.  The first thing I would like to say is -what a great front cover – the Shape Shifter that is depicted really stokes the fires of my imagination.

My character:

Skill: 12

Stamina: 16

Luck: 9

My character in this book encounters a dying dwarf who relates a story of hill trolls attacking his village but the king needs the sacred warhammer to “arouse” the villagers (yes, that is the word used in the book!).  My character sees pound signs here and thinks there will be a great reward for helping the dwarfs so he loots the body of the dead dwarf and heads to Yaztromo’s tower, the home of a wizard who has many artefacts that will be useful in my quest that I can purchase with my newfound gold.

I have rolled a great skill score here and from my memories, this book is not that hard so I am feeling very confident going into this adventure.

When I arrive at Yaztromo’s tower, I consider running the old man through with my sword (really, that is an option!) but I somehow control my bloodlust and end up buying a number of trinkets that I predict will be useful in the adventure ahead.

After heading East my first encounter was with a talking crow.  After I paid it 1 gold piece, it told me to travel North.  Turns out Yaztromo turned a man into a crow and he was looking for 30GP to turn him back… I listened to the bird and went North.

I soon heard some voices but was overcome by cowardice and hid in the bushes to wait for them to pass.  Before long I cam across a hole in the ground covered in slime.  Unable to resist a slimy hole I decided to take a look.  Sure enough I encountered the hole’s owner, a Sting Worm.  After slaying the worm I found some gold and a bottle of liquid.  Thinking this could go one of two ways I decided to drink the liquid, which turns out to be a potion of weapon skill that enabled me to add one to my attack strength for the next two fights.  Nice.

Next I saw a cave so decided to investigate.  I saw an Ogre with a pet creature in a cage.  I could have let them be but instead thought I’d try and free the creature so I throw a rock at the Ogre.  Not having purchased the Glove of Dexterity from Yaztromo, my feeble throw sailed over his head so, quite rightly, the Ogre decides to attack this intruder.  He was quite sturdy but did not have a skill to match mine so the fight was pretty one sided.  The creature in the cage was a Goblin with a shiny black rod round it’s neck (promising).  I let the Goblin out, but the ungrateful thing proceeded to attack me.  It was rather week so I killed it with two swipes of my sword.  It did, however, have the shaft of the lost warhammer round it’s neck!  Excellent, that is half the quest done already – I had a good feeling about this.  Before I left the cave I saw a silver box.  Emboldened by my recent find but thinking I have probably already been rewarded for this encounter I opened the box.  Sure enough it contained poisonous gas.  Luckily I have purchased nose clippers from Yaztromo so emerged unscathed.

Walking further down the path I am caught in a man-trap.  Luckily I am able to escape and never found out who set the trap.

Moving on, the next set piece was a tree house with a rope hanging down.  I decide to climb up and see an Ape Man going about his business.  Remembering that I seem to be rewarded for aggression in this book, after breaking into his home I decide to attack the Ape Man with my sword.  The Ape Man defended himself well but in the end I was too strong so having broken into his house and murdered him I decided I should probably steel some of his possessions too.  I found a Copper Bracelet.  Again, this could go one of two ways so I was a bit apprehensive when I put it on.  Bonus.  It was a Bracelet of Skill bestowing a permanent +1 attack strength.  Hoorah!

Next I came to a junction and went East.  The path then turned north before I encountered some tangleweed!  This didn’t sound too dangerous but I broke out the Potion of Plant Control that I bought from Yaztromo in any case.  The tangleweed obeyed and let me pass.

The path then ended in a river.  There was no bridge but a “magnificent” Centaur standing there.  I was given the option of conversation this time (as well as hostile action) so I struck up conversation with him.  The Centaur rather cheekily asks for 3 gold to carry me over.  I decide to accept and note the green river probably contains creatures waiting to attack me.  I make it across without any problems.  Carrying on I set up camp and go to sleep.

I was rather rudely interrupted by a Giant Spider before it was easily slain.

Further up the road, there is a path to the East which I take.  It ends in a cave so I check it out.  I see a sleeping Cave Troll but my character’s eyes bulge when he also sees a leather bag containing his possessions.  I lack a net of entanglement (another possible purchase from Yaztromo) so I decided to try and sneak in for a bit more thievery.  Hopefully he wouldn’t wake or I’d have no choice but to slaughter him.  Luckily I am getting good at this thievery and half inch his bag without waking him.  Inside the bag I see some gold, and more interestingly a brass bell.  I take these and head off again.

I come across some junctions and head West.  After some time I find a well.  I toss down a gold coin, thinking I might be able to make a wish.  I wish for the head of the hammer but nothing happens so I decide to head down the well.

The well turns out to be a lair of several Gremlins.  They seem to be a factory making ceramic human hands.  To cut a long story short, I kill them all, take a big ingot of gold, a medallion and a clay hand.  Pleased with my haul and the relative feebleness of my opponents, I carry on West.

I then encounter a Gnome sat on a large toadstool.  He is sleeping so I give him a shove to wake him up.  The Gnome then falls of the toadstool and wakes up.  Understandably he is not happy but I bravely suppress the urge to run him through with my sword and start a conversation with him.  In the end, I pay the Gnome 5GP for some information and he tells me he thinks the hammer head is in a tomb to the North.  Hmm.. thanks.

The path then turns north and I see a hut that I decide to investigate.  I rummage around a bit and find a vase.  I am given the option to put my hand in or to drop it.  I don’t like the idea of putting my hand in a strange vase so I decide to add vandalism to my adventure.  This was evidently the wrong decision.  It pretty much starts an earthquake and lacking a potion of stillness (another of Yaztromo’s wares) I am unable to stop the Earth Elemental from escaping.  This doesn’t seem to do much but I am obliged to lose some luck in any case.

Shortly I turn East and encounter a Cat Woman.  She “looks like she is about to pounce” so I draw my sword and attack.  She is no match for me and I take her gold earrings before I head off.

Soon I come across a Dwarf sat on a log.  I am given the option of talking, attacking, and hilariously, pushing him off the log and running away.  This is too funny to resist so I do this and carry on.

Eventually the path turns North and I hear a large creature approaching.  Remembering the disappointing outcome earlier when I hid, I decide to hold my ground.  It turns out to be a Forest Giant who is rather hostile (likely my reputation precedes me).  He attacks me so I have to kill him.  He drops a lantern, which in the text I am told could be magic.  Therefore I decide to rub it rather than light it and it turns out to be geenie.  He restores my luck and then disappears.

The twisting path continues and I am attacked by three Death Hawks. They are so feeble, they may as well be Blue Tits so I make short work of them.

I come across a sign that says Stone Bridge is to the North, so rather than realising I don’t have the complete hammer and search on, I am forced to go towards the Dwarf town.

Continuing, I see a lair of a beast.  In the nest I see something shiny so me being me, I just have to take a look, drawn like a moth to a flame.  Turns out the lair belongs to a Wyvern.  Luckily the fireball it fires misses me but sadly I don’t have a flute so I have to fight it.  Turns out, this is a tough battle but I kill it and find a variety of treasure.  I find some gold, a gold ring and a gauntlet.  I am given the option of trying both on so I try the ring.  I picked the wrong one as it is a ring of slowness.  The Gauntlet of Weapon Skill went some way to counteracting it’s negative affect on my attack strength, however.

Before I arrive at the village, I am accosted by a group of bandits.  They demand 5 gold pieces to pass so I decide to give it them and they let me through.

After arriving in Stonebridge I have to tell the dwarfs I have failed so I am sent back to the start to look for the hammer parts again.  On my way back I am attacked by some Wild Hill Men but luckily I am able to run away.

So, after all that I am back at Yaztromo’s tower.  Strangely the old wizzard doesn’t seem to recognise me.  Not so wise, after all I guess.  I buy a few more items and head off West this time.  I continue West past another junction and the path then turns North.

Shortly I see a man stuck in a trap.  Resisting the usual urge to attack everyone on sight I decide to help him.  As a thank you he steals two of the items I bought from Yaztromo.  That will teach me a lesson!

The next encounter is a Goblin sat on a tree trunk.  I remember the lessons I have learned and decide to attack him on sight.  Unfortunately it doesn’t pay off and he starts to metamorphose into a Shape Shifter.  This is the chap on the front cover!  I am rather pleased but he turns out to be a tough foe and he does some damage on me.   As a reward for killing him, I am able to eat some mushrooms.  Surely everyone would eat some random purple mushrooms seen in a forest, right?  Well it turns out this was the wrong decision – my excellent skill score is swapped with my mediocre luck score.  This is where things start to go downhill for me on this adventure.

I turn East at the next junction and come across some Treemen.  I have some  Fire Capsules purchased from Yaztromo so I scare them away with these.

I go over some more junctions and eventually choose a path to the North.  Shortly some Pygmies shoot darts at my neck.  Luckily (I am very lucky now after the mushrooms) they both miss me so I hunt them down to show them who’s boss.  I manage to find 6 gold pieces on their resulting corpses.

Next I am attacked by a swarm of killer bees.  I don’t have a potion of Insect Control (again from Yaztromo) so I run away and jump into some nearby water.  This was a real mistake, however, as as well as escaping the bees, this has the effect of ruining all my provisions.  This combines with my lower skill score has just made this quest look a lot more difficult.

I use the bridge to cross the river before bedding down for the night.  This time I am woken by a pack of three wolves.  They are not mighty but I am weakened and there are three of them so they cause me a lot of damage before I kill them all.  I had to use luck during this fight and the lack of provisions mean I am now precariously weak.  I take the valuable collar from the Wolf as I leave.

Next I come to a hut which I investigate.  No one is home so I rummage around for some items to steal.  My search turns up a valuable ring which I take with me before heading off again.

My final act of curiosity involves some moving rocks.  Turns out they are Bolder Beasts and given my precarious stamina after the encounter with the wolves, they are too much for me and I am killed by a moving boulder.

 

This book, the first by Ian Livingstone gets some bad press from some quarters but I have actually really enjoyed this adventure.  The structure is very much one set piece after the next and my character is a bit of a bloodthirsty thief but the non-dungeon setting helps and some truly iconic foes mean that this book sticks in my memory long after I have failed.  Finally, the artwork by Ian McCaig is some the best in FF. 7/10

 

 

The Citadel of Chaos

By Steve Jackson

The Citadel of Chaos is the second book in the series and is one I don’t actually remember much about.  It is the first one to be written by Steve Jackson on his own.  My character is:

 

Skill:11

Stamina: 16

Luck: 9

 

Not too bad – a good skill score but a weaker stamina and a rather dubious luck score.  Still, I am supposed to be able to beat these books with low scores so let’s see how it goes.

 

The quest for this book is a little more noble than in the Warlock of Firetop Mountain.  I am a sorceror’s apprentice who has answered the call for help in order to stop a bad man by the name of Balthus Dire from amassing an army and invading a local kingdom.  All good stuff then as I set off towards the titular Citadel.

 

As I arrive at the gate, I am stopped by some guards.  I tell them that I am a merchant and conjure up some fool’s gold to distract them – this is enough and I am in.

 

On entering the courtyard I am given a number of options and decide to approach a group of creatures sat round a fire.  I confidently stride up to their party and sit myself down.  This takes them aback but they are soon taking to me like friends and they let slip that the password to get into the Citadel proper is “Scimitar”.  Hmm… useful info indeed!.   Unfortunately things get a little unsavoury when I start to take an interest in their phial of liquid and I am forced to kill them all.  The liquid turns out to be a magic potion, which allows me two more spells so I take this along with 8 gold pieces and a copper key.  No-one else seems that bothered that I just killed the group so I carry on towards the Citadel.

 

As I walk across the courtyard I come across a whirlwind woman.  I am a bit wary here because I remember having trouble with her before.  I try and distract her and get lucky – she falls for it so I make a dash for the citadel, tell the guards about the password I know and get in.

 

I have the choice of knocking on a door or sneaking down some stairs, I decide it prudent to take the stairs and after battering down the door at the bottom, I come across a leprechaun.  The first thing that happens here is that I am pelted with a tomato, sadly I waste a shield spell to find out.  Then after trying to shake the Leprechaun’s hand, I am zapped by an electric buzzer. I consider running him through with my sword but instead agree to his little riddle and go through the middle door.  After enduring more trickery (by this point I decide not to waste any more spells on O’Seamus, yes that really is his name!) I am sent on my way with a mirror and a battle sword!

My next encounter is in a wine cellar with a dark elf.  I decide on some rose wine but end up blabbing about my mission to kill the elf’s employer.  Oh dear, it was a truth serum and I have to fight him.  I loot 8 gold from his corpse and try some red wine before I go – this one sends me on some sort of hallucinogenic trip so I ignore the rest of the wine and head off.

The corridor ends in another room where I see a sleeping Golem and some chests.  I can see what is going to happen here but I decide to head for the boxes anyway.  Sure enough the Golem attacks so I destroy him.  After trying the two wrong chests first (and losing some skill and stamina for my trouble) I try the first box which has a key to the second, which in turn has a key to the third.  My reward is a spider in a jar.  Delightful.

The next room is a large hallway.  I am given the option of looking at the paintings or looking at the armour.  With the encounter in the Warlock of Firetop mountain still fresh in my mind I decide not to take in any art and check out the armour instead.  This was not a great idea as it hits me round the head (-2ST).  I hurry on and take the right flight of stairs.  There are some ominous creaking sounds but I make it up the stairs unscathed (by the clues in the text, I suspect this would not be the case had I chose the other flight of stairs). I am given a choice of doors so I pick the right one.

This room contains a dubious looking statue which turns to look and me and block my path.  I decide to thrust the mirror I got from O’Seamus in it’s face but it looks unimpressed and smashes it on the floor so I flee and go through the middle door.

This door contains some young Goblin like creatures so I give them a shiny tidbit from my backpack and leave them in peace.

Up a spiral staircase I meet the Micks.  They nick all my gold and warn me about the “Ganjees”.  This rings a bell somewhere in my mind and I head on with a bit of a bad feeling about the next encounter…

Sure enough in the next room I meet the Ganjees – some weird floating heads.  They scare me and I decide to:

a) Burn them:  they just laugh and knock me over

b) Create an illusion: Again they laugh and knock me down

c) Show them my spider in a jar – this has bad unforeseen circumstances.  It appears they are friends with the spider so I have to fight it.

d) Attack them with my sword – predictably this has no affect so I run away.

I run so fast that I forget I am several stories high and start falling. Thankfully I am able to cast a levitation spell.  Unfortunately the spell doesn’t work and I fall to my death.

The Ganjees are pesky things and I think I need an amulet to get past them – not sure where to get this from.

Overall then I enjoyed this adventure.  It is far more magical than the Warlock but somehow a little harder to capture my imagination.  There are some imaginative foes, however, so I am going to give this a 6/10.

Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review

This is the first book in the series and as such the first I am going to attempt to play/read. As a kid I remember there is a maze in this book that is a real bitch and sent me round and round in circles for ages so I’m not looking forward to that..

 

In this book I play a character who is looking for fame and fortune by travelling to a dungeon and stealing the horde of a warlock.  Apparently this is going to make me a local celeb so who am I to argue?  I have rolled up my character, who looks like this:

 

Skill: 9

Stamina: 21

Luck: 10

 

So, could be better – that skill score is a bit low but that stamina is quite beafy so I reckon I have a chance here.

 

As I set off, I am immediately given a choice of turning east or west.  hmm… I randomly decide to turn left towards west.  Almost immediately I see an Orc asleep at his post so I bravely sneek past and avoid waking him.  Before long I arrive at a door and decide to check it out.  I see another Orc asleep on a bed.  Perhaps I should sneek back out and leave the creature be but then a box on the floor catches my eye.  Remembering what my quest is, I decide I should try and pilfer the box – thankfully I am getting quite good at sneeking around and leave without waking the Orc.  On opening the box, I find a gold piece, and bizarrely, a mouse.  The mouse runs away but I am pleased to have thieved some gold!

 

Further down the corridor I see another door.  I decided to break into this room too but it is deserted.  I see another box so decide to nick this too.  Sadly, however, I open the box to find a snake.  Not sure how all these animals are surviving in these boxes but with a quick flash of my sword, the snake lies dead.  On further investigation I find a key with the number “99” stamped on it.  This sounds promising, so I pocket the key.

Further down the corridor is a third door, I can hear singing coming from inside and see some Orcs drinking and having a good time.  They are both very drink so I quickly slay them both.  After wiping their blood off my sword I see another box and am delighted to find a nifty dragon fire spell.  I suspect this will come in useful too so I stash this into my backpack.

 

After a few more twists and turns I come to a door at the end of the corridor.  I barge into a room where some Orcs are having tea.  Following with my theme of being rewarded for attacking first and asking questions later I slay 5 of them and am pleased to find a silver bow and arrow.  Might come in useful later.

 

The next door I come to is a little harder to get through as it seems to be locked and my pitiful skill score means I can’t batter it down.  Ho-hum, on to the next one.  The next one is locked too but I managed to break this door down to find an armory.  There is a funky shield that helps me a bit in combat so I take this with me, swapping it for the one I already have.  The last door in this corridor is not locked and I stride in to see two Goblins torturing a man of limited height to death.  Nice.  I decide to avenge him by killing them and after rifling through their pockets, I find some cheese!  I trouser this valuable treasure and continue on my way.

 

Before long I come to a portcullis and a some levers.  I decide to randomly pick the lever on the right side and this seems to work as the portcullis moves to allow me through.  I wonder what the left lever does…  I continue east when given the choice and see a bench.  I sit down and restore some stamina.  At the next branch I go right again and end up at a door.  I enter and see a large iron statue with a gemstone for an eye.  I know full well what is likely to happen here if I try and take the gem but once a thief, always a thief and I can’t stop myself from trying to pinch the stone.  Predictably enough the statue comes to life and is actually an iron cyclops – I fight it but the monsters are notably tougher in this part of the dungeon and it does me some damage before I kill it and steel it’s gem.  I am told it is worth 50GP so I take it and more importantly, also find another key, this time with the number “111” printed on it.  This, I am sure, will be useful later on.

 

So far things seem to be going OK, my slightly week skill score, apart from not being able to enter one of the rooms, has not let me down too much and I have found 2 keys so far.  Good progress.

 

I backtrack from this room and head north, coming to another room.  As soon as I am in the room, I am attacked by a Barbarian.  I manage to kill this mad freak easily enough and am rewarded with some sharpened wooden sticks and a mallet.  Hmm… I smell a vampire!

 

The next room I come to is where things start going pear shaped.  I see some pictures, including one of the warlock whose treasure I am planning on stealing so I stupidly stop to have a look at the artwork.  It makes me come over all strange and I lose a skill point.  I then make matters worse by looking into my backpack to use something against the painting.  I briefly consider throwing cheese at it but opt instead for putting a wooden stake through it.  I lose the stake (I still have four more though, I think) but I lose yet another precious skill point, with my skill now looking rather precarious at 7.

 

In the next room I find some rope so naturally I try and pocket this useful looking item.  Sadly the rope comes alive and tries to strangle me so I get lucky and throw it to the floor before leaving the room.  I get a strong feeling that things are not working out so well anymore!

 

I then come to an open cavern and some water.  I am given some options but decide to ring the bell for the boatman.  His advertised fee is 2GP, I only have one (plus the gem – not sure if I allowed to chip bits off and use that so I decide I can’t) but I figure I can probably barter him down.  Wrong.  He wants three and when I reveal I can’t pay he gets a but angsty and to cut a long story short I end up having to kill him…. It turns out he was a ware rat but I steel his boat anyway and get to the other side.  I really need to rest now as my stamina is precariously low…

 

As I enter the next room, I am immediately knocked unconscious and when I come to I can see 4 Zombies standing motionless.  I decide that this could be a fight too far and try and escape.  This doesn’t work, however, so I have to fight them.  I somehow manage to emerge victorious with a lot off luck usage and am blissfully happy to find some rum which restores a lot of my stamina! (just like in real life).

 

Through the door I come to some sort of crypt – ah, this must be the vampire that the wooden stakes are for.  Given my skill of 7, however, I don’t fancy this fight so manage to slip out of a door to the side of the room.  I then wander the corridors before walking down a flight of stairs.  When I enter the room I see some bodies lying on the ground.  I just can’t help myself as I decide to try and steel from them.  Sure enough, one moves and bites me.  It is now attacking me.  It has a similar skill level but less stamina.  Ominously however, if it gets hits on me it will paralyse me.   Sure enough, this is what happens and I am paralysed before being eaten alive by the Ghoul.  A fitting end.

Overall thoughts:  It is almost impossible for me to post a subjective review of this book due to the nostalgia I feel when I read it.  I do think that the book conjours up a good image of a dungeon and it has imaginitive encounters.  The gameplay is very fair, and there do not seem to be many enounters that are unwinnable.  I remember the maze being very irritating and there are some rules that have been changed for later books – only being able to eat provisions when instructed is one.

So, interesting & fair encounters, good imagery and steeped in nostalgia – 7/10