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The Citadel of Chaos

YOU become a student magician who takes the fight to Balthus Dire and his legion of nasties. I’ll quote from the book.

“The lawful goodfolk of the Vale of Willow have for some eight years in fear and awe of the demi-sorcerer Balthus Dire. In awe – since his power is truly awesome – and in fear ever since word leaked from his domain that his ambitious plans of conquest were to commence with the Vale itself. […] From within the caverns of Craggen Rock, Balthus Dire had recruited an army of Chaotics and was preparing them to attack the Vale within the week.”

“You are the star pupil of the Grand Wizard of Yore. […] The battle could be avoided without bloodshed if Balthus were to be assassinated before his army could be amassed. […] You leave the Vale of Willow on the long hike to the Black Tower. At the foot of Craggen Rock you can see an outline against the dark sky…”


Review and Opinion

This one was a lot of fun, but was tough. As with #1 there were a few must-have pathways in the gamebook, and a bunch which simply made the voyage much easier.

I really liked the addition of Magic, and that conditional capability to “opt out” of some puzzles or battles. Then again, it wasn’t a panacea: a fair amount of time the spell would do little of interest and was wasted. And showing up to a fight missing that one spell could be really not good.

The game gives lots of opportunities for healing up, in the form of wines and potions and healing assists, and nutritious prison food. But these often come at the expense of something else, e.g. getting the heal means not taking the path you need. So pack a few stamina spells anyway.

And when you get to the end, Balthus Dire is tough: Skill 12 and Stamina 19. If you pack Stamina spells and have a +1 sword or a Pocket Myriad, you may just win.


Tips and Spoilers

When fighting Balthus Dire, you have several options. Creature Copy ticks him off and he turns into a Gorgon; show him a mirror and he’s in trouble. And if you read in the Library, you’d know that he has a weakness.








Written by Steve Jackson

Illustrated by Russ Nicholson and Malcolm Barter


Book 2 in the series


Other Players and Links


Tags to Other Adventures

1983 Allansia Castle Malcolm Barter Russ Nicholson Steve Jackson Titan

The Comments Section

One comment

  • Vicky Hancox says:

    Great review and I love that you’ve put your maps up too – you can tell a lot about a person from their FF maps…..
    Mine are more in the style of floor plans, so read into that what you will 🙂
    You’re not convincing me on the Spells though. I’ve never played the books properly so it didn’t really add anything to it for me.
    And yes, you’re right about Balthus’s weakness – there was I mocking the drapes…..

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First published September 26, 2014. Last updated May 19, 2023.