YOU become a hapless chump when your car breaks down. In a move straight out of Rocky Horror Picture Show, you see a castle with a telephone line and go ask for help.
Unfortunately, the castle is not populated with singing, dancing transexuals and transvestites (that’d be awesome), but a murderous earl and butler, a satanic cult, monsters and zombies and dead bodies, and other creepy-crawlies that may literally scare you to death.
Review and Opinion
An excellent book, keeping me busy for a few evenings.
The story opens with a pleasant dinner with the Earl — which often ends in being drugged, tied up, injured, and dosed up with fear. Ideally you would begin your quest conscious and not tied up, though you may also get beaten up by a door or a hunchback before you even leave the bedroom.
The rest of your quest revolves around trying to find a hidden room with a magic knife, and then finding the room where the final battle takes place. It doesn’t really follow a layout of chapters, as much as exploring a house with 3 floors, and that’s really quite something.
1. Stay awake and get a look at the hunchback, then get out of dodge. 2. A window introduces you to Mordana. 3. Mordana knows about secret doors. 4. Get into the cellar, sweet-talk a hunchback, find bats. 5. Secret room and knife. 6. Mirror, keys. 7. Boss fight.
The map is replete with red herrings and false clues, whole sections of map you can explore that lead to inevitable death, and secret doors that are well hidden. Some of the key rooms behave differently depending on how you enter them, so the map is only part of the story. To me, this makes a book more than amusing but well-crafted and deeply interesting to figure out.
The book is very light on combat and on test Your Luck, preferring instead to kill you with Fear or Your Adventure Ends Here situations. Most of the critters have a Skill under 9, and even the big boss’s 14 Skill is mitigated by your +6 magic knife. But that Fear, lurking in nearly every room, will kill you many, many times as you find the right way through.
Note that you cannot win with a Fear of 8 or less. The minimum possible Fear you can have with a perfect playthrough is 8, unless you cheat.
Mordana 2, Falling into the cellar 1, Bats 1, Mirror 1, Demon 3. If you don’t talk to Mordana , then you’re cheating when you use the secret door!
House of Hell is one of my favorites, for its unconventional atmosphere and unconventional play style.
The Mephisto Room is the room you started in, if you were drugged and bound. But it’s only called that on your way back from the right-side rooms.
Leaving the Abaddon room (159) or the Belial Room (329), drops the option to visit the third room which was present on 175.
From the store room (377) back door, the Asmodeus and Eblis rooms are not accessible. They’re mentioned only if you leave the Shaitan Room or Mammon Room, and in the context of bypassing them completely and being sent directly to 272 outside the Tutivillus Room.
Written by Steve Jackson
Illustrated by Tim Sell
Book 10 in the series