We continue The Chasm of Doom, in which I’m looking for the bandits who stole a royal shipment of gold. I had 50 rangers at my command yesterday, but 40 are walking home, 2 are dead, and 8 turned tail and fled when we were attacked by a legion of unusually well-armed and well-trained bandits.
Now I’m back in my native Fighting Fantasy environment: a solo adventurer, crawling through mines.
But I should point out, that I have the mines mapped out and know the shortest route. Only three pages later, I can see the exit from the mines, and with a little help from one of the slaves I’m off into the woods two pages later. And down below, I see the city of Ruanon. The local lord is there, and soldiers, and maybe answers.
Or, maybe the city has been burned down, and the remaining center of the city is under siege by a mix of bandits and armed, trained soldiers dressed as bandits.
There’s no combat, though: just running, and some random rolls. In a glorious cutscene, I’m terrorized by hunting dogs and a sniper, and am saved by Captain D’Val who isn’t dead after all!
It’s a sad scene here in Ruanon. Most of the population is dead or enslaved, the rest have been besieged for over a month. The bandits are indeed not bandits at all, but soldiers of a warlord named Barraka. The local baron has completely snapped under the strain and horror of seeing his land and people destroyed and his family killed. And it gets weirder: Barraka kidnapped the baron’s daughter as a human sacrifice to raise a legion of undead Darklords according to a prophecy.
My power-playthrough continues, as I do the first five Lone Wolf books in one sitting (well, a few evenings). It’s… The Journey of the Kai Marathon. Today we open The Chasm of Doom, book 4.
The story arc of the previous war against Helgedad has petered out, and now I’m being sent to investigate a missing wagon full of gold. The king already sent a troop of 100 men, and they went missing. So, he’s sending the best — me.
But, unlike the usual adventures, this time I’m accompanied by 50 rangers. I wonder whether they’ll really do anything, or just be a plot device…
We’re heading south through the wide open farmlands, the great plains of wheat and other food crops. Not a lot to see, until we meet up with a troupe of entertainers. They seem like a friendly lot… and then I notice that one of them is carrying a genuine Sommlending cavalry sword. Upon investigation, it turns out to be Captain D’Val’s sword… the leader of that troop that went missing!
Fortunately, we forgive and forget, sleep well, eat a hearty breakfast, and take off.
At dusk we find ourselves at a inn, where everyone is really edgy. They almost didn’t let us in, because they thought we were the bandits who have been attacking them every night. They’re a determined bunch of bandits, too: despite the band of soldiers here, they attack anyway. I make a swashbuckling leap through the roof of the stable, shake off a mild concussion, and kick some ass. But it was a hollow victory: only 11 horses remain so 40 of my men take off back home on foot, a legion of Sirs Not Appearing In This Film.
But, they’re better off than the troop that came before us. The next day as we’re riding, we see a flock of carrion-eating birds… and the bodies of 40 of the previous troop. They were apparently set upon by an unusually large host of bandits… that’s weird.
We continue onward to the village of Eshnar. That one entertainer who had Captain D’Val’s sword, said he bought it here at the inn. We get into town and my Spider Sense tingles like crazy… but not in time to save us. The whole village is bandits, and they’re hucking sawblades at us! Two of my men are killed, and the other 8 take off running home, as I run into the woods.
That answers that question of my platoon of soldiers. They were really just narrative text, and not something effective. Darn.
As I flee through the woods, I come to the entrance to the mines. I figure I haven’t had a good ol’ dungeon crawl in some time, so I head into the darkness.
When we last saw Lone Wolf, he was dead in the Caverns of Kalte. He took 1 point of damage from a kalkoth, and its venom is Your Adventure Ends Here material. So, I reloaded from a save and played through the book again.
Fast forward: off course, over land, a baknar and some Eskimo, our brave hero being very not brave and very un-heroic, falling into a cave, jumping over some ice. This time, I attack those old men to steal their dinner… and get a blue triangle keycard. Hey, I know what this is for!
I scare off a snow snake on a cliff, then pick a different tunnel and sneak past a sleeping baknar… and find myself back in the room with the door. I rummage through the skeletons and fight the snake again, coming out of it with a silver key and a giant diamond, but also lightly injured because I didn’t roll so lucky this time. But, I do have a blue keycard from the old men in the cave, so I’m spared a fight with a venomous lion.
And, I’m in the fortress proper!
The entryway is a trash heap, where I find a coil of rope that takes up 2 backpack spaces. But when climbing mountains and exploring caves, that’s gotta be useful at some point! A bit further along, I find a room with a bunch of potions which I don’t take with me since my backpack is already full, then I find a second room with a magical +2 helmet. I toss out my old helmet (+2 endurance) for this one. Nice!
Moving on, I find my way to a landing which has an obvious secret panel. Behind it is a swirly gateway to the realm of demons, the same which are trapped in those overhead lights. Sounds like a great place to visit, so I step inside!
I find myself in a temple. A statue comes to life and starts lumbering toward me. I know that books like this, such a creature usually has the magic gem that I need, but then again maybe not! I run.
I stop for wind and find myself in a jail cell block, which is guarded by a barbarian who fortunately was not paying attention to my clomping nor to my wheezing and panting. I wander the cells, and one of the prisoners is a wizard of the same order as my old friend Banedon from book 1. The wizard tells me that Vonotar kidnapped him so as to get teleported here to Kalte, and is apparently off the Darklords’ Christmas list since their invasion tanked. That’s good; it means he probably isn’t protected by anything tougher than barbarians. The good news continues: Vonotar has this wizard’s magic staff of teleportation too, so I won’t have to walk back to the ship after I kill Vonotar.
Together, we creep down a hallway and encounter the kitchen. I one-shot-kill the barbarian there, and the wizard starts rummaging the cabinets for herbs. And get this: he crafts me a healing potion, makes up a sleep-gas bomb with some other herbs, and packs his pockets with magical reagents. Nice! I know now to never underestimate herbalists in this world.
We creep our way down another hallway, and find… Vonotar in a big ol’ throne room.
The wizard distracts him by engaging in psychic battle, while Vonotar distracts me with this horrible tentacle monster thing. Fortunately, the Sommerswerd is absurdly O.P. and the thing goes down in two hits. Vonotar comes at me with a bolt of magical energy, forgetting that the Sommerswerd also consumes magic; and the wizard puts Vonotar down in one hit with a fistful of herbs that turn into an entanglement spell. I like this guy!
And that’s it; turn to 350. The wizard was great, the boss fight was easy, the Sommerwerd is O.P., and now that bastard is in prison. I’m assured that the prison is 100% totally inescapable, so we’ll never be hearing from Vonotar again. No-sir-ee!
In our last episode, our brave hero Lone Wolf, bravely watched his party of three redshirts wiped out by Eskimo with arrows, then heroically took a child hostage at knifepoint. He then expertly fell down a crevasse and found himself in the Caverns of Kalte.
Good job, Lone Wolf. You’re a credit to the Kai name.
The caverns are clearly illuminated, as caves always are in movies or books. In this case, it’s because of magical lighting bowls built into the ceiling by The Ancients. So I guess Magnamund was formerly home to aliens or something? The illumination is very useful as I jump over an icy river, and find my way.
I smell meat cooking, and go to investigate. I see two old men, and when I try to say hi they scream and run. Undaunted, I devour their food and steal their portable fire. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
Moving on, I am bedazzled by the beauty of the ice caves, which are decorated with crystals and brightly it by the magic lamps. It’s really evocative writing here, really gets my imagination going. I have a brief run-in with a snow snake, but otherwise am not impeded at all until I get to the room with The Big Door, the door into the ice fortress.
The door takes a blue triangle keycard, which I don’t have. But it does have a giant crystal snake which attacks me! Fortunately the Sommerswerd +8 is so insanely overpowered that I kill it in one shot. The noise attracts a kalkoth, which is basically a vicious, giant lion with a barbed tongue.
It’s also a poisonous tongue. Although I killed it in two hits, the poison is to poisonous that my adventure ends here.
In preparation for playing Lone Wolf Book 6, the Kingdoms of Terror, I’m playing through books 1 through 5 again in a couple of power sessions.
Last session, I finished book 2, in which the invading army was destroyed by an energy blast from the Sommerswerd. As a result, the war is basically over…
… Until we get news that the magician who sold out Sommerlund and let the enemy get such a surprise attack on the whole kingdom, is still alive in the Great White North. So the king is all like “Hey, you go get that hoser, eh? Take off already!”
CS of 17 +8 for the Sommerswerd and +2 for weaponskill, +2 for a shield, +2 mindblast when applicable That’s a whopping 31!
26 endurance +2 for a helmet.
A backpack full of food and laumspur healing potions, because every book gives me more and I also have healing power. And also because this book didn’t offer me anything useful for arctic adventuring such as ropes and blankets.
Kai disciplines of weaponskill, mindshield and mindblast, tracking and camouflage, sixth sense, healing, and mind-over-matter.
Our expedition starts off badly, when a winter storm blows us some 30 miles off course. Rather than waste a day sailing back to our intended landing zone, I and three redshirts elect to spend several days crossing overland in sledges. Hm, interesting choice…
The overland crossing is cold and awful, as expected. We’re attacked by wild animals once, but no harm is done. And then we encounter the natives, a fantasy parody of Eskimos: they ride on skis, and a carry a child in a backpack who has a bow to provide fire support. The three redshirts are killed in a cutscene, and I kill one of the Eskimo myself. In a desperate act of heroism and bravery, I take a child hostage and bravely threaten to cut his throat, as I make my heroic and noble escape on one of the sledges.
Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. Our hero.
Riding off into the snowy wastes, the rest of my journey is uneventful. It gets dark and I hole up in a cave, where I fall down a hole and find myself inside the Caverns of Kalte.
Journey of the Kai: a power session to play through the first five Lone Wolf books. We’re in Fire On The Water, and it’s been a long and hard journey so far. Lone Wolf and Rhygar (a warrior, and Sommerlund ambassador to Durenor) are headed to the capital of Durenor, Hammerdal, to fetch the Sommerswerd. Halfway there, they were attacked by Helghasts and had to run for their lives.
We are at the entrance to the Tarnalin, a forty-mile-long tunnel under the mountains and into the capital city. I am given the opportunity to give away my magic Helghast-killing spear to Rhygar so he can defend the entrance, but my sixth sense tells me that I’ll encounter another of those things and need this. Sorry, Rhygar.
My intuition proves right. I am attacked by one, and I get to kill it without a fight.
Next thing I know, I come to a barricade by the king’s soldiers. I show my credentials, and get a ride into town. One page later, I’m meeting King Alin of Durenor… and picking up the Sommerswerd.
It bombards my mind with magic and visions. The visions tell me that the sword is +8 and does double damage to undead. Oh hell yes. I feel like Muad Dib doing that “Emperor, we come for you!” thing. But also kind of like He-Man. Is that wrong?
The next few pages are a montage: fourteen days waiting for the navy to mobilize, while Sommlending people die in the meantime. And then when we get underway, most of the soldiers get seasick, … and then we’re attacked.
Out of a mysterious fog, the ship arrives. Crewed by the living dead, and still draped in the rot and seaweed from whence it came, the hulk rams into our flagship and destroys it in one hit. I jump onto the death ship, and start re-slaughtering zombies left and right. A Helghast comes into the hold at one point, but I get a really lucky roll of the die and kill it in one shot.
Back on deck, I’m looking for my next target. There! Fireballs are coming from the tower, killing Durenese soldiers. That seems like a mega-weapon worth destroying! But it’s not a mega-weapon… it’s Vonator the Traitor. The wizard Banedon mentioned this guy, said that he sold out the other wizards. Looks like he was right. Unfortunately for Vonator, the Sommerswerd is really crazy O.P. and it absorbs his magical attack. So he screams, hucks a smoke bomb, and takes off in a boat.
I try to go after him, but it’s no good. There’s too much fire and smoke, and a brief run-in with a kraan, and eventually I decide to take a breather on one of the Durenese battleships.
Finally, we pull into the coast at Holmgard. In an awesome cut-scene, I whip out the Sommerswerd, and it does this crazy Ark of the Covenant thing, blasting the undead demon army in one shot. Victory!
We’re continuing my adventure in Infinite Universe, a sci-fi adventure by Tin Man Games and Gamebook Adventures.
In our previous episode, I trusted some dude who erased my memory, got gunned down, and found out that it was a sim, and that I’m in the year 3021. My boss then bored me for 20 pages with educational videos about myself, and exposition about earth ruling the galaxy, and how an oracle prophesied me by name, to track down the leader of the rebel resistance and bring them to justice.
I’m always dubious when statists frame dissentors as terrorists, but they did offer me a lot of money… and awesome brain implants!
So, now it’s time to pick my skills. I spend most of my points on buffing my Fitness from its quite respectable 11, to an awesome 14. I pick up sharpshooting, melee and unarmed combat, and dodge. I’m a freakin’ space ninja! And for my undercover superhero name, I choose Clint Ironjaw! Blast Hardcheese! Buck Beefwit! Slab Manchest! No…
Our hero then takes a slipgate to Heathrow Spaceport, where I’m to catch a flight to Tau Ceti and start my investigations. The trip is punctuated with dark humor, and a few random rolls to see if our quantums get entanglemented, but I arrive just fine.
I meet my partner Judas, but have a funny feeling about him. Turns out it’s an impostor and we have fisticuffs in an alleyway. I beat him down badly, he mouths off, so I kill him and rifle through his stuff. I also find the body of the real Judas. I then get picked up by the cops and… Slab Manmeat’s adventure ends here.
Today I fire up Infinite Universe, by Tin Man Games who makes Gamebook Adventures. I have played their first 12 adventures set in the swords-and-sorcery world of Orlandes, and despite gripes about the combat system have found them a lot of fun. Infinite Universe, though, is a sci-fi adventure. So let’s check it out…
I’ll be a lady, and her name is automatically set to Joanne. I’ll find out on later playthroughs that this is to make room for a lot of jokes about my being a “regular joe” I roll 43 health and 11 fitness. Aww yeah!
I wake up with some guy standing over me, and over two dead bodies, holding a helmet. Coincidentally, my memory has been erased. Is there a connection here? Nah! Seems legit.
He leads me past a barricade and down a hallway, where he meets with a cloaked alien who sneaks him some grenades. Okay, this guy is starting to sound a bit shady. But hey, I don’t remember anything so maybe this is normal? He then has me open a door, throw in a smoke grenade, and just start shooting everybody in the room. Our brave hero here doesn’t have any internal sense of right and wrong, so… okay!
It doesn’t go so well. A few truly unfortunate dice rolls later, and I’m sizzlefried with lazors. … Which makes it doubly surprising when I wake up in a stimsim suit, where my prospective employer says that the training sim didn’t go so well, but that’s okay because we learned something today.
The next 20+ pages are expositional monologue. I hear about the earth alliance (yay earth, the good guys of the galaxy, woot!) and the rebel freedom fighters who want to overthrow it (should that say terrorists? I’m not to judge). And that I’m the chosen one by an Oracle (seriously?) to end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy! “I’ll never join you!” I shout. But you get 1000 credits, a lazer gun, and skillsoft upgrades for your brain. “Sounds awesome!” I amend.
Following up on Caverns of the Snow Witch, in which I have long since lost my patience with a Test Your Luck on every page, as well as the tedious and overly-lengthy walk home.
In our last episode, I cheated to have a 12/24/12 character, who was whittled down 1 TYL at a time and 2 stamina at a time, until death. Death in this case was an unlucky rattlesnake bite.
Because of the curse and other injuries, I had a 10 skill (out of 12). I’m cheating here and allowing the +1 sword, the +2 amulet, and +1 shield to count for a magnificent 14 attack strength. Still, there’s a lot of combat and the curse too, and I was whittled down 1 and 2 stamina at a time… from 20 when I left the cavern, to 9.
Now, let’s pretend that I drank my Potion of Luck. Not only am I not dead, but now I have 12 luck (12 increased to 13, then -1 for passing the snakebite’s TYL). That’s more like it! Still, 9 stamina isn’t a lot, and this book hasn’t had a single healing since we left the Caverns.
Further down the canyon where I’m wandering, I find a treehouse. Hoping to find an eccentric shaman or doctor, I find a half-orc and I take 2 points of damage (stamina 7). Next page is a barbarian; I kill him without taking a hit, and get a +1 armband of strength (attack strength now 15).
Finally, I find the cave of the The Healer. First order of business in healing me: lose 1d6 stamina. You jerk! Fortunately I only rolled a 2, leaving me 5.
The healing process consists of two Test Your Skill checks, with a penalty if I lack some trinkets, and instant death if I fail. Eventually, I am told to go to Firetop Mountain where the curse will be lifted. How I get there, depends on whether I have a silver trinket to offer for a ride. (Though if the healer could have healed me too, that would be great; I’m still at 5 stamina)
I don’t have any silver, so I get to walk to Firetop Mountain. Along the way I only have one brief encounter, with a hobgoblin. I kill him without breaking stride, and arrive at the mountain… where we TYL again (seriously?).
I get to the top of the mountain, and fall asleep. I have vivid dreams of a flaming bird who gives new life, but can’t quite remember what it’s called… oh right, yeah I do. I wake up on page 400.
So yeah, I finally made it. But only by egregious cheating for max stats and extra potions and food. Well, at least this one is off my list.
Caverns of the Snow Witch is starting to get old. I’ve already taken a few breaks on to other books, hoping that a second wind would give some insight. So far, it’s only confirmed that there are a minimum of 7 Test Your Luck rolls, with the best path. This means that a initial Luck of 12 would be a meager 5, meaning snakebites and avalanche injuries and your adventure ending here.
On my last playthrough I cheated and still couldn’t get through. I’ll skip a lot of the details, as the adventurous part is covered in the previous postings.
I started with 12/24/12 stats (yeah, I cheated), and I play with two house rules: a) Only lose a Luck point if you pass the TYL roll, and b) shields and the amulet of courage etc. don’t add 1 Skill, but add to attack strength so they’re not subject to the initial Skill score.
After defeating the yeti, I cheated again by collecting my 50 gold and refilling my provisions back to 4. So I enter the Cavern with 4 food, 20 stamina, and 11 luck.
I fight my way through the critters, the temple, and the wizard. I evade a giant, and raid a alchemical stockroom, outsmart a rat, and garlic-stake the snow witch’s vampire form. So far so good; 10 luck left, and still 16 stamina and 4 food. Then the tiresome bit of curses and traps and loot, and the snow witch in a snow globe — with two more TYLs for the battles and our escape. Luck is now 8, stamina 18 after eating 2 food leaving me 2 more.
During the journey home are 3 mandatory TYLs: bird men, a werewolf while camping, and the trolls at Stonebridge.
In combat, I’m feeling pretty great or even overpowered. My 12 skill, a +1 sword from the trolls, my +1 shield, and the +2 amulet of courage, gives me a kickass 16 attack strength. But with a luck of 6, I’m not feeling very confident.
But then that curse kicks in. I lose 2 skill, and am losing stamina on every page. I run into a critter in a cave with a skill 11, and it rips me down to 9 stamina, and cost me a TYL (failure would have been instant death, somehow I rolled a 5 and passed), then I run into a rattlesnake and a failed TYL kills me outright.
Yeah, I really don’t know what to think of this. Even cheating and house-ruling, the sheer number of lethal TYLs here, combined with a nearly-complete absence of healing and luck regen, makes it phenomenally unlikely to win with the best of stats.
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