Still Mapping the Chasm of Doom

After nearly a month, I picked up the book to get back to mapping the rest of it. This is four times in a row, out of four books, that I’ve been surprised and impressed with the amount of detail and the complexity of pathways which Joe managed to cram into each of these books. After over a dozen playthroughs and two victories, I have two cramped pages of notes and maps, and still see pathways I haven’t explored yet. The previous books’ mapping, occupied 3 to 4 pages apiece as well. Nicely done, Joe!

So even though I haven’t been posting about every play through, I have been at it off and on, and I expect to have Chasm of Doom mapped out and written up in the next few days.

Rescued From The Chasm of Doom

In last night’s episode, our party was overwhelmed by a small army of bandits and driven into a mine. My companions were wiped out by some vicious attack cats, and I eventually found my way out of the mine and to the surface.

The city of Ruanon is destroyed. Some soldiers are defending the last tower, and I make a desperate run to the tower with bandits and hounds behind me. I’m saved by Captain D’Val, leader of the previous search party that we were trying to find. However, I was rescued with only 4 endurance left, so this may be a very short reprieve.

I meet the baron, whose mind has snapped in the awfulness of the last month of siege. Unfortunately, the story he tells is entirely believable: he tells me that the bandits are being led by a warlord, who intends to sacrifice the baron’s daughter to call up an army of undead soldiers. Yeah, this just got REALLY ugly.

There’s another attack on the tower, however this time it’s not bandits but soldiers. I only had 4 endurance points, and I’m killed a couple of pages later in the first fight.

Tough book so far. Multiple bandit ambushes whittled us down, but some bad luck when fighting the wildcats really cut me down. I went through 3 laumspur potions but just couldn’t recuperate quickly enough. I may need to pick up the healing skill next time; it’s so overpowered it feels like cheating, though. Hmmm…

Ambushes and Mines

Another run through Chasm Of Doom.  I reused my character from previously: 17 combat, 24 endurance, the usual ranger skills, short sword and mind blast.

Again, the strange man with the poem, but this time we decide to skip out on the performers and just stay on mission. Same for the tavern that gets rated by bandits: I know it’s our job to protect our subjects, but right now we’re busy. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that’s even our job; that’s the militia and we’re more special forces types…

The weather turned foul,  and a few of my scouts went missing when I told him to look around for signs of bandits. Not a good sign. We went looking for them, and found the entrance to a mine…  As well as a force of bandits that overwhelmed us, forcing us to retreat into the mine.

We do indeed find the bodies of the previous scouts, having fall into a pit to their deaths. Sad! We continue forward however, and find an underground river with a boat. It’s just myself and two men now, and we take the boat and head down river. We find a landing and stop to take a look. We subdue some guards in a convenient cut scene, then I open a door into a shelter for feral cats. Doesn’t sound too awful, but it kills both of my companions and knocks me down to 9 endurance. Bad kitty!

At this point, I stop to take my breath. I was forced into the mine by an army of bandits, not just a small band. I’m next to a spiral staircase that goes up and down, so that’s a minimum of three stories of underground structure. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but this is well beyond even a lucky or well-organized bandit party.

I decided I need to get out of here, so I take the stairs upward which I hope is towards the surface.  I climb for several minutes, then find a tunnel that goes on for several miles. Aside from avoiding one guard, not very eventful… Until I run into a crew of slaves and their driver. I make a run for it, and escape from the mine and into the trees.

What I see is not pretty. The city of Ruanon is burned to the ground, notwithstanding a small force defending one tower. I’m spotted by guards and I make a run for it.  Thanks to a few lucky dice rolls, I’m only lightly injured… And am rescued by Captain D’Val!


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.

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.

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.

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.

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