By Robin Waterfield
Phantoms of Fear is a book that I have been looking forward to. It has a very unique atmosphere and is different from most other Fighting Fantasy books. The stats are mostly the same, but there is a Power stat which determines how succesful your dreams are and also enables you to cast spells.
Not bad – the power score could be a bit higher.
In this adventure I play a Wood Elf and have been tasked with saving my forest home from an evil prince who is amassing an army below it. The prince’s lair has an opening in the forest and around this opening the forest is blighted and badly affected by evil.
I head off and am immediately given a choice of heading North, South or West. I chose South. The way South is, at first, fairly easy. The forest looks healthy and everything seems good with the world. After some time, however, a strange mist descends and it turns out that this mist is a Fog Devil which I have to fight. It is a really tough fight and I don’t want to be killed at this early stage but I manage to defeat it. Continuing on, the forest is still looking pretty good and it seems I am not getting any closer to Prince Ishtra’s lair so I change direction and head West.
As I continue West, this time the forest is starting to change. The animals seem somewhat panicked and are hording food. I decide that I should probably do the same and hunt for provisions for my journey ahead. As I am searching, I am attacked by a Moose that I have to kill before finding some food for the journey ahead.
Continuing on, I am attacked by some hornets but a fire spell quickly puts an end to them. Shortly after this, however, I am caught up in a net and captured by Pixies! The pixies are working for the Riddling Reaver who seems to want to help me in my quest but also wouldn’t mind killing me… so, I am given a riddle to work out. I count up the number of words and head to the correct paragraph. For getting the riddle correct, I am given a choice of rewards and pick a horn made out of dear antlers.
After leaving the pixies, I head North towards the blighted area of the forest. I am soon set upon by an Artolyce, which is a cross between a bear and a wolf. It is quite a fearsome creature but I overcome it. Night is starting to fall and this area of forest is becoming rocky and contains a few caves. I decide it prudent to find a cave to bed down for the night. I find one that seems empty and go to sleep. I do not sleep well but do manage to have a very positive dream that increases my power by 2 (I know that feeling!)
In the light of the morning I see that there is a small tunnel at the back of the cave so I decide to investigate. I crawl along on hands and knees down the tunnel that goes along for a long way. After a while the tunnel opens up into a cavern. There is a glow coming from the cavern, and it seems to be coming from some strange lichen that is on everything except for the floor. There is also a skeleton here that has a large lichen covered boulder on its hand. I decide that it is probably not a good idea to fiddle around with this skeleton so I continue down the tunnel that continues on the other side of the cavern.
The tunnel ends on the side of the hill and from here I can see the blighted area of the forest very well. It is close now so I head down the hill towards it. As I am continuing, I am hit by a blast of hot air coming from the diseased part of the woods. Luckily I am breathing out so all that happens is that is knocks me to the floor.
Before the blighted area starts, there is a last bastion of good forest. Here the birds are singing and everything seems good – it is obviously enchanted against the evil ahead. I stop and bathe in a pool which heals some of my wounds. I then drift off to sleep and dream of fairies who are tending this area of the forest. They ask me to stay and help them. This is very tempting to me but thankfully I resist the temptation and wake up to continue on my mission to stop Prince Ishtra. When I wake up, the beautiful glade has gone and there is only one tree standing here now.
I now enter the diseased part of the forest. Everything looks sick and I can sense the evil. The branches of the trees fling acid at me and I am attacked by some tree roots. I destroy them before moving on. Next I come to a trail heading away from the path. My curiosity is piqued and I decide to investigate. At the end of the path, I see a hut and decide to wait in the bushes for its owner to return. Return he does and puts his heavy boot on my neck, telling me to throw my sword away.
He marches me to his hut and I decide to talk to him. He finds my story hilariously funny and I decide that he is a lunatic. I sit and talk for some more time, missing the opportunity to grab back my sword. His mood suddenly changes and on a whim he lops off my arm with his axe. I pass out and never wake up…
A shame it had to end that way! I was really enjoying this book, perhaps the most out of all of them so far. There is a really palpable feeling that the forest is sick and that my character is very much affected by this.