By Robin Waterfield
Mask of Mayhem is a book that I remember really enjoying in my younger days, so let’s see how I got on.
That’s quite a disastrous skill score but by choosing a potion of strength at the start, I may be able to get quite far nonetheless.
In this book I play the leader of Arion. It appears a sorceress known as Morgana (that name sounds familiar). I am told about the mission by my right hand man, a wizard called Ifor Tynin, who seems to know a lot about what is going on.. in any case I don my special helmet and set off north.
I soon come across a large lake and thinking that trying to make a raft and sail across it is probably asking for trouble, I set off round it’s East bank. The journey is pretty uneventful during the first day but I do find some Sorrel… that was the highlight! As night is starting to fall I am given the option to set up camp or carry on. Settling down for the night tends to be a dangerous thing to do in these books so I continue into the night. Shortly I come to a campfire so decide to take a closer look. I then trip over on the slope (no test of luck or skill, it just happens!) and end up falling to the feet of the creatures around the campfire.
It turns out the creatures are Blackhearts and they are not too happy with my intrusion. It is a grueling fight but I kill them in the end and decide that I can’t let this campfire go to waste so I stay the night here. I sleep well and in the morning search the campsite and find some rope which may come in handy. This morning the weather conditions have worsened and it is a bit foggy so I decide to wait it out instead of blindly stumbling around. When the mist does clear, I can see a number of buildings which seems to be a disused mining complex.
The first building I take a look at is a small hut. On entering the hut I see evidence that it is inhabited so I wait around to see if I can find the man of the house. Turns out he was there all along and he emerges from the shadows to give me a sceptre that is inscribed with the words “There should be just one ruler”. He tells me he was expecting me because the voices told him I would come. Interesting, I have a feeling that this might be a useful item – what a strange way to acquire it! Next I explore the outhouse, which was a little less fruitful as it is falling apart and I am attacked by a gang of vermin (rats, centipedes etc strangely attacking as one). There is nothing else of interest in this building so I check out the mine shaft.
Looking down the mineshaft, I see some rusted steps that I don’t like the look of that much. Therefore I use that piece of rope I acquired earlier to get down into the mine. When I get to the bottom it becomes apparent that I can’t get back out again so I have to explore the tunnels. I head off East. It seems that this mine was a copper mine and I manage to pick up a bit of copper ore (not sure what I will use that for, but you never know) and before long I come to a branch in the path which is described as being foul smelling. Unable to contain my curiosity I investigate. All that I find in this tunnel are a load of bats that attack me. After defeating them, I head back to the main path and carry on.
Next I come to a puddle of stagnant water and am given the option of jumping over or wading through. I decide that wading through is probably the lesser of two evils and it comes as no surprise that the puddle was home to a sea snake that coils itself around my leg. I try and stab it with my sword but only succeed in stabbing my own leg! I get across the puddle and it amazingly turns out that the snake is not poisonous! Wow! I get rid of the snake and continue down the corridor.
The corridor branches in two so I head down the right branch. It soon comes to an area that has suffered a cave in and I think I can escape out of here. I try and scrabble away at the cave in with my hands but this only succeeds in reducing my stamina so I have to go back to the branch in the tunnel and go in the other direction. After a long time the tunnel seems to come to an end and I can hear the sounds of the outside. Sadly I can also see the silhouette of a large beast. I sneak forward but am too noisy and the Nandibear notices me and attacks. This is an epic battle, both the Nandibear and I are down to one stamina point and with it’s much higher skill score I assume I will be dead but amazingly I prevail and kill it! My reward is the outside world so I leave the mineshaft behind.
I now trek towards Fallow Dale and am told that if I have 2 or less provisions I need to lose 6 stamina. It is not clear whether I lose all my provisions too so I use my last provisions to regain that stamina. After a long time I arrive at my destination. I decide to make my way to Lord Hever, of Fallow Dale, through a village. I ask the way to a healer’s place and am told that with the addition of some Sorrel, she can make a potion to restore some stamina… hoorah! What are the chances? I just happened to pick up some sorrel a few days ago.
On leaving the village I walk down the road to Hever’s castle. On my way I am accosted by some local hoodlums so I put down my sword and engage them in the “noble” art of fisticuffs. After hitting them three times, they run away. Finally I meet Lord Hever who invites me to a feast. As I am tucking into my food, some of his men take my things up to my room. As I expected, it appears some of my belongings have gone missing as Hever’s men were ambushed in my room. I wait for Hever to assemble some men before we go after the thieves.
We have no trouble in catching the thieves and it seems they are a band of Pygmy Orcs and they actually wanted me rather than my belongings. I am very relieved I waited for some men to be assembled and we dispatch the orcs without too many problems and head back to Fallow Dale. When we get back, Hever invites me to listen to a bard so I ask him to sing me a tale of my adventures. To my surprise he sings of a sceptre and orb that need to be wielded by a true ruler. Now, I already have the sceptre so I guess I should now be searching for an orb.
Next I have to broach the tricky subject of Hever’s Horn, which is the item I have come to see him about and something that would be very useful to me on my quest. He is understandably reluctant to part with it, however, and not having anything that he considers valuable enough to use as collateral (he doesn’t want my bit of copper ore!) the only way I am going to get my hands on this horn is if I track down and kill a Sabre Toothed Tiger that is harassing his lands. I agree so I am given some hounds and we go hunting.
The hounds are quite good at tracking down the Tiger and they attack it when they find it. Stupidly, however, I call the hounds off to “finish off” the Tiger myself. The Tiger has a skill of 11 though compared to my 8. I don’t stand a chance. I fight it for 4 attack rounds, losing each one before my spear breaks and I have to fight it with my sword. At this point, it’s successful attacks cause me even more damage and I realise I will soon be dead if I continue with this so I break off the fight and return to Hever dejected. He doesn’t give me his horn.
As I am preparing to leave the Vale, I have an unexpected visitor. It is Kevin Truehand, my trusted armorer and he is not in good shape. He tries to tell me about some dark magic but dies at me feet. I decide to ask Hever about this but as I do, Truehand’s body turns into a Hellfire Spirit. Hever and I fight it off between us. Now it is really time to leave and Hever has stocked my provisions back to 10! Excellent, I needed that as I did not have any left.
I set off on the next part of my adventure through Pikestaff Plane. It is a featureless landscape of grass but I see a small trail of ants which are apparently Treasure Ants who hoard treasure. I wait to see if any of the ants carry anything of use past me and in doing so do not notice the Spit Viper that is now attacking me. The viper spits acid in my eyes, but luckily it does not do me much harm. I kill it fairly easily. I wait almost a day by the ant trail but see nothing else of interest and continue on my way North.
I decide to head slightly North West but find that something strange is happening to my shadow. Before I can work out what is going on, it turns in to be a Shadow Monster and attacks me. I am eventually able to kill it but get scared off from my northwest route and head northeast instead. Before long I come across a caravan being pulled by a Water Buffalo. It is a trader and he is offering to sell me some of his goods. Sadly I have no money so have to continue on my way.
That night I am attacked by a couple of Mordidas, one of whom is rabid. Thankfully I can cut out the bite and don’t get rabies! I do lose another two stamina, though.
Several days pass by uneventfully before I am confronted by a huge bush fire. First I try to find it’s Western most point but it is too large and I cannot travel around it in that direction. Next I decide to run away from it and come across a canyon that would act as a natural fire break. As the fire approaches I trek West around the cliff face but I cannot find a way down the canyon and am burned to death.
I do like this book, it seems like a good, standard adventure and I got quite far even with a very poor skill score. I am not sure how I was supposed to escape the fire, though…