YOU ARE ALREADY the hero of Stonebridge thanks to your exploits in the Forest of Doom. While you’re chilling with dwarves and talking about warhammers… Yaztromo shows up with word that the evil wizard Malbordus is creating an army of dragons. Cancel vacation and grab your rucksack — it’s time to hunt a wizard!
But this wizard is at the far end of a treacherous desert… and you may not even survive the journey.
Review and Opinion
This one was fun, but not awesome. The mechanics are very basic; though it does add spells, the spells aren’t as well-played as in Citadel of Chaos. Many of the spells are useful only one time in the whole adventure, and the others just aren’t used as ubiquitously as it felt in Citadel. It could have been better.
I did like the multiple paths to get to the desert and through the desert. And either way, that desert is a brutal gauntlet. In a move right out of Legend of Zagor, there’s a mandatory battle with a sandworm (Skill 10, Stamina 20) and you have little hope of getting past that.
Once inside the dead city and the dungeon, the book felt much like they usually do. That’s not bad, but it’s not excellent either. Stumbled through a maze a dozen times, killed a wizard, turned to 400.
Layout, Tips and Spoilers
Part 1 is a choice of two paths to get to Abjul, a friendly desert nomad. Once you get to Abjul’s place you have a straight gauntlet to the city of Vatos and the wizard’s dungeon. Then of course, there’s the dungeon’s own twists and turns leading up to the final boss fight.
- Spells from Yaztromo: Most of these have only one use in the entire book, e.g. Creature Sleep only works on the lizard man, and Magic Arrow only works on harpies. I go with Open Door, Create Water, and Fire. Symbols has only 2 uses but they are life savers if you don’t know the symbols yet, so it’s a good one for your first few trips too.
- There are two paths to the desert: hitching a ride to Port Blacksand, or hoofing it and catching a ride on a giant eagle. (the yellow cabs of Allansia) They ditch you in the desert in different spots, and the desert is a gauntlet of doom until you get to Abjul’s place.
- Of those two paths, one of them is shorter and easier and also has some very helpful items, as well as a quest item. See the map if you’re interested.
- Port Blacksand is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. You can get mugged, and that’s not the worst!
- Create Water is a life saver in the desert, though its not vital since there are desert folk who can sell you water… if you have the right barter.
For the second act, you start off at Abjul’s place in the desert.
- Abjul’s wares: Most of them are useless, but three specific ones are life-savers.
Mermaid bracelet scares tentacle monsters, and that thing is quite tough; highly recommended. The Onyx Egg stops the Eye Stinger, which isn’t a really tough opponent anyway; I consider it optional. The Crystal Key opens a door to get you out of being crushed to death; a Fire spell does the same.[collapse]
- Right off the bat is a sand worm (Allansia, Arrakis; same thing?) with Skill 10. You likely won’t survive, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Then there’s the dungeon itself:
- Your goal is to find 5 dragon figurines. Only 1 of them has any sort of puzzle or dependency; the other 4 are just waiting for you to snag ’em.
The hidden one?
Find a telescope and a lizard man. This room can be a surprise: if you don’t have the telescope you still get an item, and may think you’ve explored the room thoroughly.[collapse]
- The dungeon isn’t really that twisty, and most wrong ways lead to a U-turn anyway.
- The DEATH message isn’t really alarming, since you’re unlikely to find all five letters. And you certainly won’t find them a second time. Still, a nice touch for the first few readings.
- On the map you’ll see a left-hand turn that puts you on the right-hand area anyway, so you don’t miss out on a sword and a +1 Skill. That’s kinda important.
- The Night Horror is truly awful, since he drains Skill. But in the desert you may have found something to scare him away…
Book 14 in the series
Links to Other Fantasy Fighters