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:
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.