Beneath Nightmare Castle

FF25-CoverYOU become the hero of Neuberg, a peaceful town in Khul, ruled by your good friend Baron Tholdur. All is not well in Neuberg. On your way into town, you’re ambushed, knocked out, and locked in a cell. (an arrow to the knee?) And that’s where your adventure starts: tied up and in a cell.

As you escape and go in search of your friend the good Baron, you discover than the ancient archmage Xakhaz isn’t as dead as people had thought, and that’s on account of a wizard holed up in the Baron’s castle along with a battalion of soldiers trying to bring him back into this world. We can’t let that happen!

So grab your trusty sword and backpack and brace your nerves… it’s called Nightmare Castle for a reason!

Review and Opinion

This is my favorite FF book so far. For three nights and a Sunday, I kept playing again and again, dying in really awful ways.

This book went dark, into horror themes — people with tentacles bursting out of their mouths, slime monsters, barrels full of severed heads. I mean, just look at these illustrations!

FF25-Image1
HOLY CRAP ! This thing would give HP Lovecraft nightmares!

This book adds a new statistic: Willpower. A Test Your Willpower is a lot like Test Your Luck: 2d6, less or equal, lose a point. And if you fail, something unpleasant happens like being distracted by an enchantment and taking some damage before a fight. BUT… and here’s an example of how horrifying this book was… if you lose a Willpower roll and your Willpower is less than 6, you lose. But it’s not just that you close the book cuz you lose, you turn to a paragraph and find out how horrible your fate was. Do you fall to the ground crying and babbling as the spiders bite into you? Do you snap and zone out, only vaguely aware that you’ve been chained to a table and used as a human sacrifice? Do you freeze in terror, helpless as the gelatinous pool creeps up over your feet, your legs, your chest, …?

Some of the horrible deaths I had in this book:

  • Dipping my finger into a pool of acid, and watching my finger burn right off. Then being so shocked, that an arm reached out and dragged me alive into that pool.
  • Attacked by a woman with tentacles bursting out of her mouth, then catching that magically-enhanced disease. Not that it kills me, mind you; just causes profound brain damage leading to irrational violence.
  • Being forced to put a hat full of slime with eyeballs (slime with eyeballs!) onto my head, where it then takes over my mind.
  • Having all the blood in my body, sucked out through my face when a slime attaches to it.
  • Being eaten by a banquet hall.
  • Being filleted by a sorceress.
  • Being eaten by undead frog monster things.

This was really a great time.

I have only one complaint about the writing: the Trident. I mention this in the Errors section later. If you skip that error, then the book is actually fairly open in the number of ways you can get to the end — there are buffs including the Amulet of Loth and the Trident of Skaros, but you don’t need them and you stand a fighting chance when you get to the big boss. I consider this a hallmark of a really good adventure book, that you can find victory in multiple ways.

Errors

When you meet the naughty sorceress on 391, you must have the Trident in order to continue (or you fall under the spell). Yet after that, there are 3 places where they ask again whether you have the Trident, and on 400 is said “whether you found the Trident or not”. I’m guessing that the sorceress’s spell meant to ask whether you had the trident head, as opposed to the whole Trident.

Also, the book was also unclear about using Provisions. The rules don’t state whether you can eat at any time (like Sword of the Samurai) or only when instructed (like Warlock of Firetop Mountain). But there are specific situations where it instructs that you may eat, which of course they wouldn’t say if you could eat any time you like. In my playthroughs I assumed that I could only eat when instructed… but that only happens twice.

Maps

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FF25-Map2B

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Publication

Peter Darvill-Evans

1987

Book 25 in the series

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