Chasm of Doom, searching for the search party

Tonight I start The Chasm Of Doom, the fourth of the Lone Wolf series.

I’ll be using the character which survived the Caverns of Kalte. I have a full backpack of food left from my journey to Kalte, 17 combat, and 20 for endurance. This character is your classic ranger: sixth sense and tracking, camouflage, and talking to animals, and shorts word proficiency and mindblast to buff up in a fight.

It seems that a wagon full of gold has gone missing. The king sent his army, but the army vanished. So let’s send a small group of rangers to do but the entire army could not. Typical.

As we’re traveling through the amber waves of grain, with no idea where to start looking, we come across a hut in which a strange man reads me a poem.

Further along the road, we come across a performance troupe who invites us to camp with them for the night. It’s our job to protect our subjects, and they might know something, so we take them up on it. During the night, I find Captain D’Val’s sword! The performer who has it says that he didn’t know it was stolen, and tells us that he bought it at a tavern in Eshnar. I’m inclined to believe him, so I take the sword and move on.

The next evening, we stop at a tavern, which has been reinforced and fortified. It seems they’ve been under attack by bandits lately. Again, it’s our job to protect our subjects, so we stay the night. The bandits do indeed attack, and I make that swashbuckling move of leaping out the upper story window through the roof of the stable, and killing the bandit in one stroke. Aww yeah!

On the third day, we find the turnoff to Eshnar. We head into town, and despite my sixth sense telling me that this is not a good place, I want to investigate that tavern where D’Val’s sword was sold. We are immediately ambushed, and in the fray I was killed in a cut scene.

Well, that’s too bad. At least it was bloody and in combat.

So far, I don’t have much impression of this book to make a judgment. So far we’ve just covered squalid prairie and fields.  But I didn’t make it that far, and have no idea what still lies ahead.

Mapping the Caverns of Kalte

I have played through this one many more times over the last few days, in the process of mapping it all out for the website. As with the first two, Joe and Gary managed to put a lot of complexity into this book.

There are four distinct entrances to the Cavern. The glacier path really is more dangerous, but may give more loot. There are at least four places to pick up a blue triangle keycard, some of which don’t involve a kolkath. And the quickest path to the Vonotar means missing almost half of what’s there, there are so many paths that work.

It’s all basically one castle and some ice, and not an epic quest like Fire and Flight were, but once I dedicated myself to playing more combinations to get it mapped out, I am quite impressed with the scope of what is in here.


Victory in the Caverns of Kalte

I rolled up a new character… again. The last two, one highly competent and accomplished and the other mediocre, ran afoul of some truly unfortunate dice rolls in combat, dying on their first few steps into the Caverns of Kalte.

This fella though, made it largely through a combination of dumb luck.

Starting off: a 19 combat, weaponskill and I’m picking my damn weapon skill to match the weapons I can get, and some food. My favorite skillset of tracking and sixth sense too. And 27 endurance; not bad… let’s supplement that with the overpowered Healing skill.

We set off across the icy plains, again. Encounter the wumpas and this time get some outrageously lucky dice rolls, killing it in two hits. Smear myself in wumpa juice to keep warm (I thought they smelled bad… on the outside!) and off we go.

Meet some of the unfriendly locals, and this time I don’t get dragged into a lengthy combat but instead knock the guy down and finish him off while he’s down. I grab his kid as a hostage and take off. (our hero, ladies and gentlemen!)

The Healing skill being as overpowered as it is, I find my way into the cave in full health. Aww yeah.

I jump nimbly over the water this time, then kill some cave dwellers and steal their food. (wow, this guy’s a jerk!) I also steal a blue triangle I find on them, because we know how gamebooks work.

By this time I’m remembering, that in Flight From The Dark I won on my first playthrough by being a coward: flee from everyone, don’t touch anything. I’ve had good luck so far this play, but we know it can’t last.

Find my way into a large chamber and the entrance to the fortress. When some of the ice comes to life and turns into a snake, I take the better part of discretion and run for it. Turns out the blue triangle is a RFID card, and I’m out of there and into the fortress!

Strangely, the first room of the fortress is the trash compactor, followed by a T junction! I go this way and that, find some potions and ignore them, find a chest and ignore it, find some stairs and a temple but keep running any time it allows me the option not to pick a fight.

I find myself in a hallway with a pair of windows into cells down below me, like a jail or something? One guy is a wizard in a pentacle and I’d just as soon skip that. The other is an old man, and despite my newfound love for cowardice I decide to help.

Turns out he’s a wizard, and he’s been taken prisoner, and he’ll lead me to Vonotar. I’m dubious, but the book doesn’t let me back out now. The guy heals me up, I kill some barbarians while they wait for dinner and help him poison another one (so heroic!). And then… holy cow, it’s Vonotar.

Vonotar goes all HP Lovecraft on me, summoning some hideous tentacle-monster beast-creature thing from another world, a place where things ain’t as they be here… and the thing’s tough! And… I only have five combat rounds to finish it. (I don’t know what happens if I don’t finish it off, but nothing good ever comes of that)

Phenomenal luck plays its role, as I get two 9s and a 0 and kill the thing with ease. The wizard meanwhile, has been psychically attacking Vonotar, and casting entangling vines. I don’t even have to fight Vonotar; he’s brought down by magically enhanced salad!

And victory.

Starving in the Caverns of Kalte

I missed my old character. A 19 combat goes a long way. But seriously bad luck went far as well, and he is now a Kai-sicle floating in in an underground river.

I started by rolling up a new character for Caverns of Kalte. A 14 combat is mediocre, but after the last play where I barely made it to the Caverns with a 19 and my +8 Sommerswerd, I am not feeling optimistic. I make my character into the warrior-tank type with mindblast and a weaponskill (and weapon) and a shield.

I feel like that guy playing Oregon Trail, who buys 30 guns and no food nor blankets.

Our ship goes off course, and we take off across the plains toward the fortress. We encounter the local yeti equivalent, and I get torn up badly with some truly unfortunate dice rolls. We meet up with a native scouting party and I get torn up again. Their scores don’t even seem that tough, but I’m rolling 1s and 2s here!

A little frostbite layer and I find my way to the cave and into the Caverns… with only 1 endurance remaining!

This time I jump across the icy river just fine, and am asked to eat a Meal or lose 3 endurance. Well crud… Starved to death.


A Warrior’s Death in the Caverns of Kalte

My brave Kai warrior has survived the first two books now, in the meantime having met the king, liberated the Sommerswerd, and been given land and title. With a 19 combat and a +8 sword, he’s destined to go far.

As far as the north freakin’ pole, it would seem.

A wizard I’ve never heard of before (Vonotar, who was passingly mentioned in Flight From The Dark and easily missed in Fire on the Water, despite being on the cover) is a long-hated enemy of the people, and one of those who was responsible for the surprise attack back in Book 1. He has fled to The Great White North and taken command of a tribe of native northerners, and it’s my job to bring him back here for trial.

After landing in Kalte, we have a long trip across the glacier to get to the fortress. We choose the easier route along the plains, and are beset by non-copyrighted versions of Wumpas. I knock them off without much difficulty and a few scratches. The next day, we’re attacked by a native scouting party. I get away from them after some more fighting and taking some damage, but my companions are killed in action.

Again, a 19 combat and a +8 sword is really… overpowered.

I find my way to a cave. The cave opens up into the famous Caverns of Kalte, the underground route to the fortress which I seek. I’m finally on my way!

After some uneventful spelunking, I find the door into the fortress but it is guarded by a lion with a poisonous tongue. (yes really; I did not have a stroke while typing, that’s in the book) I dispatch it easily but do take 1 point of damage, … and find out that kolkath venom is instantly and infinitely poisonous. Brutal! One point of damage and it’s insta-death!

And thus dies my hero of two gamebooks in a row.



Fire On The Water… Extinguished

Finally, after many tries, I completed Fire On The Water, book number 2 of the Lone Wolf series. I rolled up a new character who had a combat skill of 19, which really improves the odds during combat!

This time, I knew right where to go. Pack extra food instead of a shield (having a 19 affords me that luxury). Skip the fishermen rescue, pick a fight with a would-be assassin at the inn, … and be sure to take the path to Port Bax which gets a Magic Spear or else you’ll die in the Tarnalin tunnel.

From there, it’s basically home free. A cut scene to the Sommerswerd, and home to a battle against an enemy navy.

The Sommerswerd gives +8 to your combat skill (and stacks with your +2 weaponskill with swords, if that’s your thing) and does double damage against undead. Did I mention that navy? Did I mention that it’s a navy… of zombies? The Sommerswerd cuts them down like a lawnmower on grass.

Then we’re treated to the Sommerswerd nuking the invading hordes with explosive beams of cleaning magical light, and the hordes of nasties scattering back to Mordor for another century. Hail to the king, baby!


Two Deaths in One Hour

Fire on the Water is just tearing me up.  Two playthroughs in the last hour, both very doomed to near-immediate failure.

Play One

I rolled a combat skill of 10, and 27 endurance. This means that when I encountered the ruffian on page 1, I got ripped all the way down to 9 endurance.

The journey by ship went uneventfully, until the big storm and the swim to shore. I flagged down that fishing boat again and got robbed again. Yeah, I really shouldn’t have done that.  I wandered around Ragadorn mapping out the place, lost the last of my money at the gambling house, and had to stow away on the coach to Port Bax.

We made it as far as the inn, before the innkeeper turned me away for not having a coach ticket. I slept in the hayloft, and was murdered in my sleep.

Play Two

Again a 10 combat and 27 endurance.  Again, I got beaten down pretty savagely by that imposter on page 1. Get on the Green Scepter, running to pirates, and I’m cut down in short order.

I think that play through was seven pages. A new record.


I did mention that Flight From The Dark was suspiciously easy. This one, proving to be more of a challenge.



Fire On The Water: Shortest Offensive Of All Time

So, my previous character finally got killed after a very good run through the first book and into Port Bax in this book. I rolled up a new one, starting here in book 2. Compared to my previous fella, this means:

  • Only the starting set of 5 superpowers, and not 6
  • 10+d10 gold, instead of the 40 from last time
  • A randomly-selected weapon skill, for the axe which is not a weapon stocked by the quartermaster
  • Two meals of food, in lieu of a second item
  • 20 endurance and 14 combat, contrasted with my prior 26 and 19

Yeah, thanks to a very stingy quartermaster who won’t even stuff my backpack with tempeh sandwiches, let alone let me have an axe and a shield, I decided to name him Sir Not Long For This World.

Off we go!

I meet Ronan and beat him down, and make my way onto the Green Scepter. The journey is, as usual, random rolls: we see a pirate ship and outrun it, there’s a fire, the storm wrecks the ship and I swim.

This time, I get picked up by some fishermen… who rob me. I am now in a completely different Ragadorn that on my prior playthroughs! (neat!) I need the Seal of Hammerdal, and I know that I need at least 25 gold for the coach to Port Bax. I find their boat and a mace (I’m not skilled, but it’s a weapon) and a matchbook for their tavern of choice. I find the louts and recover the Seal from one of them who got drunk and knocked himself out on a curb… but my sixth sense tells me that any further night-time skylarkings would be a bad move, so back to bed.

In the morning, I am some 20 gold short of being able to afford the coach to Port Bax — so I take up gambling for a while. It was touch-and-go and a bit hair-raising at times, but it worked out and eventually I got to buy my ticket and rejoin my previous adventure.

As before, we arrive at an inn and someone buys me a poisoned dinner. I bust downstairs to kick their butt… and realize that with a non-proficient weapon, no shield, and a 14 combat I’m outmatched! I get knocked from 20 endurance to 1 before I sneak out the back door, steal a horse, … and starve to death the next day.

An ignominious end for our brave hero!


Arrival in Port Bax

When we left me, our  brave hero, I had taken a coach with some strangers, bound for Port Bax. At a stopover, one of the other passengers tried to poison me. I don’t take kindly to such things, so I went downstairs to have words with the would-be assassin. And by words, I mean I whipped out my sword and ran them through, then rifled through their purse for money.

The other passengers, and the barkeep and patrons, found this behavior inappropriate, and a moment later the guards came in and a mob formed outside. Being a brave hero and elite Kai Lord, I hid in a hay wagon until they passed, then stole a horse and took off. Ever your brave hero, ladies and gentlemen.

I rode all night, then had to ditch my horse when the forest became impassable dense. As major highways often do… I met some guards and showed them the Seal, and got an escort into Port Bax. Whew!

Finding my way to the harbor was no problem, involving a little paperwork and showing off my Royal Hall Pass. I meet up with the Lord-Lieutenant and we organize an escort for the rest of my trip.

The trip is largely uneventful, until we are attacked by ring wraiths… Or the generic knockoff brand of ring wraiths here in Magnamund.  Being an elite assassin, I take off running into the woods.  Eventually, we wind up at the entrance to the tunnel leading to my destination, the city of Hammerdal.

I take only a couple of steps inside, before one of the wraiths drops from the ceiling and I’m instantly dead because I don’t have a magic spear. Bummer.

Tunnel wraiths. Hate ’em.


A Journey by Coach

Yesterday, I started on the second stage of my adventure.  The king  has sent me on a quest to the east, to pick up the magic sword. Our ship got about halfway there and was destroyed in a mysterious storm, the origins of which may not have been purely meteorological. I swam to shore, then sat pondering my map for a little bit to figure out how I’m going to get the rest of the way.

Fortunately, I wasn’t that far from the road.  The next morning, there’s a coach headed to the next city, where I’ll be able to catch another coach straight to  Fort Bax! Piece of cake.

I have plenty of money from the previous book, so when we get into town I have no problem picking up a new sword, then a ticket for the coach. Aside from being a rundown and depressing place, it was a very quiet layover. I didn’t even run into any gangs, corrupt town guards, or other such adventure. Next thing I know, I’m on the coach.

There’s a random roll to see what sort of problem we encounter on our first day. This time, it was a troll guarding a bridge, who wanted us to pay the toll. Last time, there was an uneventful stop over at the shrine for I picked up some edible plants. Finally, we arrived at the interesting part of the trip …

I’m hanging out in my room at the inn, and the innkeeper brings me dinner, courtesy of one of the other people on the coach, but they won’t say which one. Obviously, this is a classic poison-dinner trap.  I’m pretty unhappy by this, so I had downstairs and see that one of my companions has the serpent tattoo same as the fellow who tried to kill me earlier. I kill him in two shots, the town guard busts in, and I flee out the back door, steal a horse, and disappear into the night. Remember, forks, I’m the hero!

And that’s where I am now. Sleep deprived, on the run from a mob, and still 50 miles from Port Bax.

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