Saturday, April 30, 2011

April A to Z - Z is for Zharradon Marr

He needs to feed his
 pets properly.
Appears in:  Creature of Havoc (Fighting Fantasy 24) by Steve Jackson.

Background:  Zharradon Marr is one of the Demonic three.  After his apprentiship ended with the murder of his master, he managed to get ownership of a gold mine and with the gold, he bought a training ground for his soldiers and mananged to capture a flying ship.  He is currently experimenting with creating new creatures with the aim of making a perfect monster for war.

Prominence:  Creature of Havoc has a very in depth background which highlights a lot of people from Marr's life.  You can meet most of these people in your wanderings.  9/10.

Hardness:  You cannot kill Zharradon Marr and if you annoy him, he will use his magic on you.  you can only win if you have a crystal club and the vapours of life.  And even then, you don't kill him.  you only destroy the portal to his dimension.  10/10.

Ambition: Marr wants to conquer Allansia 9/10.

Style:  Zharradon Marr has worked hard to get a smooth operation and a big organisation.  He has a cool flying ship, a castle in a forest and a gold mine.  His most trusted henchmen are very individual with the half troll Thugruff, the sadistic Darramous and the sick and wrong Quimmel Bone amongst many others.  8/10.

Diabolical genius:  Marr can create life forms.  You are his creation and your whole quest is a test of your abilities.  Marr has several sadistic traps such as a portal that creates endless chaos warriors, a robe that causes hunger and a zombie that shoots flames out of its eyes.  9/10.

Total score:  Marr is a tough adversary to get the better of and you don't actually kill him in the end.  You can only destroy his portal.  45/50.

Friday, April 29, 2011

April A to Z - Y is for Yourself

He's not a nice man.
If you meet him, you
may feel cut up about it.
For this post, I will count the mercenary leader in Crimson Tide as yourself as that is one of the interpretations of what you are told in the book.

Appears in:  Crimson Tide (Fighting Fantasy 47) by Paul Mason.

Summary:  The mercenary leader wears a demonic mask and leads a band of mercanaries.  They raze your village, kill your father and carry off your mother to be a slave.  The aim of the book is to avenge them.

Prominence:  The leader and his men appear a few times in the book before the showdown, including in your mind as well.  5/10.

Hardness:  The mercenary leader has a skill of 12 and a stamina of 18, making him very hard.  He is heavily armoured.  There is not much chance of slaying him in combat although he is vulnerable to magic.  7/10

Ambition:  He just wanders around the country causing trouble.  Of course, he may be some aspect of your dark side so it's pretty hard to tell.  5/10.

Style:  It's all about the mask.  Is it magical?  does it represent you being taken over by your rage and hatred?  If you put it on, a crimson tide descends forever.  Your opponent has a face similar to yours when you finally see it.  Beyond the mask, he's just a tough warrior.  4/10

Diabolical genius:  He's probably a good tactician but he has no grand plan.  4/10

Total score:  You should be glad that your dark side is just basically a powerful warrior with nothing else to do.  25/50

So that is 'yourself'.  However, there are plenty of times when you are your own worst enemy in gamebooks and in a future post, I will list stupid decisions that you can make in gamebooks.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April A to Z - X is for Xakhaz

I'd hate to be his tailor.
Appears in:  Beneath Nightmare Castle (Fighting Fantasy 25) by Peter Darvill-Evans.

Background:  Was an archmage of the despicable gods of Zagoula.  He was defeated three centuries ago and his spirit was sealed beneath the city of Neuberg.  He has been awakened by a sorceress who has gained control over the ruler of Neuberg, Baron Tholdur and has moved into his castle.  He is now sending lots of disgusting beasts into the town and killing innocents.

Prominence:  Almost all of the encounters in the book are because of Xakhaz.  The swordsmen are there because they want to raise Xakhaz from the dead.  The Lovecraftian monsters are Xakhaz's creations.  There are many other sadistic encounters such as being attacked by Baron Tholdur's daughter who is wearing a crazed suit of plate mail or by a crazy goo driven robot who calls himself Skarlos (the hero who slew Xakhaz three centuries ago).  Xakhaz clearly likes to revel in his insanity.  9/10

It's not a barrel of laughs.
Hardness:  You have to pass a willpower test to fight him.  If you do, you will realise that the huge mound of limbs that is Xakhaz is way more powerful than even the strongest adventurer - skill 14, stamina 32.  He can be killed or severely weakened if you have both the Talisman of Loth and the green glass globe.  There are also several skill enhancing items so you can even the odds a bit as well.  8/10

Ambition:  Wants to become lord of all Khul.  9/10

Style:  Xakhaz is Lovecraftian through and through.  Neuberg Keep his not his place, but he's making it his own with his tentacled horrors, diseased mutants, 'head juice' to drink and general terror that could snap you sanity at any point.  Unlike most other sorcerers, he is a huge mound of limbs and other body parts that have been sewn together.  Great.  9/10.

Diabolical genius:  Xakhaz's ways are defeating you are unique in the sense that death is one of the better options.  Madness is his main weapon.  Xakhaz has also created his own unique monsters that can drive someone insane as much as tear them to pieces.  In fact, Xakhaz doesn't kill many people unless he wants some body parts.  He's actually quite efficient.  He also has a sick sense of humour.  Instead of locking up the baron's daughter he puts her in a suit of plate mail which attacks people.  He lets Senyakhaz control the baron's mind and he creates a mockery of his former killer.  What a joker.  9/10.

Total score:  Xakhaz is great.  Most evil sorcerers like to cause terror and mayhem but most evil sorcerers also prefer to have the boring bipedal body structure and just employ orcs to do their dirty work.  Most evil sorcerers are also not completely insane.  These sorcerers have a lot to learn from Xakhaz.  44/50

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April A to Z - W is for The Winter King

He thinks he's so cool.
Appears in:  Night of the Necromancer (Fighting Fantasy 63) By Jonathan Green.

Summary:  The Winter King lives in the tower of Frostfinger which also holds the Spirit Stone, gem which holds the souls of many people.  The Spirit Stone can be used by you as a powerful weapon against Unthank, but the Winter King will not just let you take it.

Prominence:  He owns his own tower, but he plays no other part in the book.  2/10

Hardness:  His tower is tough to infiltrate.  If you can't fly, you have to fight several ice ghosts to get across a frozen lake to the tower.  When you enter the tower, you climb stairs which seem to take an eternity to cross and then you may have to fight a hellhorn, a coldclaw and a hellhorn champion.  When you do get the spirit stone, you then have to face the Winter King himself who first sends 1-6 ice ghosts against you before fighting you himself.  He has a skill of 11 and a stamina of 14, which makes him a tough opponent.  In addition, being killed by the Winter King means that your adventure is over for good, unlike most combats in Night of the Necromancer where you get another chance.  8/10 

Ambition:  He really wants to keep the Spirit Stone, live in his tower and stay king of winter but that's about it.  5/10

Style:  He ccertainly fits the 'winter' bill.  Less so with the king thing although you may have just caught him in his armour rather than his royal gear that day.  Ice based villains occur quite often.  The Winter King has the added extra of an army of ghosts, so bonus points there.  6/10

Diabolical genius:  He basically sends lots of creatures to fight you and then fights you himself.  1/10

Total score:  The Winter King is a strong opponent but we don't really get a wider picture of his power beyond trying to steal the Spirit Stone.  22/50

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April A to Z - V is for Vonotar the Traitor

It's a blast.
Appears in:  Fire on the Water (Lone Wolf 2), The Caverns of Kalte (Lone Wolf 3), The Prisoners of Time (Lone Wolf 11) all by Joe Dever.

Background:  Vonotar was a member of the wizards' guild of Toran but he betrayed them for the magical power of the Darklords' wizards.  He then ends up in Kalte, controlling the mind of the ice barbarian chieftain.  You catch him and Vonotar is thrown into the shadow gate which leads to another dimension.  You also get thrown into the shadow gate a few years later where you come across him again.  And he's annoyed.

Prominence:  Vonotar or his servants are not prominent in any of the books, but he is one of the few recurring gamebook villains.  Bonus marks for this.  6/10.

Hardness:  With a power ring he wields, Vonotar has a combat skill of 30 and an endurence of 21.  He is immune to Psi surge and mindblast.  His endurance is quite low, but his combat skill is quite high for an ordinary wizard (I expect the power ring improves it).  He also manages to blast you and damage you for five endurence points before the combat and before you get near to him, you have to fight five notorious criminals from Sommerlund which have a combat skill of 38 and and endurance of 46 together.  Killing him and the five criminals is a pretty tough job even with all of the combat skill raising weapons and skills you have.  7/10.

Ambition:  Vonotar's orginal ambition is more magical power, but then he tries to take over ice barbarian tribes.  His ambition in the Prisoners of Time is to get home.  Ultimately, Vonotar is a lackey to the Darklords and so can't get too high a score in ambition.  4/10

Style:  Quite typical wizard with a typical modus operandi of wizards.  4/10

Diabolical genius:  He manages to get the Kai Lords killed but after his initial betrayal, his genius kind of stops there.  4/10

Total score:  When it comes to Lone Wolf's enemies, Vonotar is a small fish that resurfaces more than once.  25/50.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April A to Z - U is for Unthank, the necromancer

The kitchenware salesman
really had a unique sense
of style.
Appears in:  Night of the Necromancer (Fighting Fantasy 63) By Jonathan Green.

Summary:  Unthank is the chamberlain of your castle, but he has secretly being making pacts with evil spirits and sacrificing innocent people in an attempt to cheat death and take over the Old World.

Prominence:  Unthanks and his servants appear in a few scenes in thebook before the final confrontation.  He is also responsible for the nasty spirits that hang around your castle.  7/10

Hardness:  Since you are a ghost, he is able to banish you.  He is also well passed his sell by date and he should have died years ago.  If you face him in combat, you will have to fight a skill 11 stamina 10 opponent which is not too shabby for a wizard.  In fact, the combat skill of wizards on Titan seems to range from reasonable to completely awsome.  If he summons the Sahdow King and the Shadow King kills him, he comes back from the dead as a skill 9 stamina 8 opponent, which is quite good for a dead man.  8/10.

Ambition:  First, he wants to live forever and has managed that quite well so far.  He also wants to summon a powerful spirit and rule the Old World with an army of the dead.  9/10

Of course he's evil.
Style:  He looks a lot like a villain which makes me wonder why you didn't kill him ages ago.  The beard alone should have been reason to.  6/10

Diabolical genius:  He's managed to become the chamberlain of your castle while simultaneously taking part in all of his nefarious sorcery.  He's managed to get you killed and, if his schemes are not thwarted, he will sacrifice your sister to some evil spirit.  Lots of diabolical with a side of genius.  7/10

Total score:  He's a cunning necromancer and a worthy adversary.  37/50

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My wishlist for 2nd edition Advanced Fighting Fantasy

Priests also get
cooler costumes.
Here are a few things that I would like to see changed in 2nd edition Advanced Fighting Fantasy.

Priest rules

In Advanced Fighting Fantasy, the priest spell list and the wizard spell list are too similar.  For example, priests have an equivalent of fire bolt and wizards can cast healing spells.  However, the priest spell list was smaller than the wizard spell list and priests were restricted by the morality of their gods.  Priests need something more to make them a competitive option compared to wizards.

I wish I could use a two handed sword
Nonhuman rules

Dungeoneer has rules for elves and dwarves and Allansia includes rules for centaurs, goblins, orcs and trolls.  However, each non human race must take some skills, some of which may not be completely useful.  Elves have to take magic, reducing their initial skill by at least one point.  The initial skill for goblins and orcs is 1d6 + 4 trolls can only buy a number of skill points equal to half their initial skill in addition to having to spend at least three of those points on strength, darkseeing and a large weapon skill.

Centaurs are the only non human race who do not have to buy certain special skills but some actions involving climbing and sneaking have penalties due to their size and shape.

In D and D, humans are the 'base' race with other races being better at some things and worse than others compared to humans.  Dwarves do have darkseeing, but they do not have precious skill choices restricted.

Armour rules

She's grumpy because the chainmail
doesn't actually do anything.
(Check out female armour from Realm of Zhu)
The Fighting Fantasy combat system is quick and simple but it didn't leave much room for effective armour.

Since only 2 stamina points of damage are dealt per hit, it doesn't leave much room for damage reduction.  Jonathan Green gets around this in Stormslayer by having armour reduce damage by 1 on a roll of a 1 or 1-2 or 1-3 on one die depending on the armour.

Increasing your attack strength, even by one point makes a big difference in combat, which would make your effective skill too high.  This led to the chainmail in Legend of Zagor which did nothing apart from reduce some damage if you fell into a pit an increase the damage you sustain in an electrical trap.  Not good.

Advanced Fighting Fantasy used a variable damage system which could integrate armour.  However, it said nothing more that if heroes don't wear a few scraps of armour then the damage rolls from their opponents must have two added to them.  Allansia! also has the heavy armoured combat skill in order to fight sucessfully in heavy armour but it
does not mention what the benefits of heavy armour are.
The spell to animate this golem
costs 4 stamina points.  It takes
two spells and 9 stamina points
to make a potion of stamina.  

Making magical items rules

Blacksand has the enchant item spell which allows a hero to put a spell into an item.  It states that it requires costly requirements in terms of magical paraphenalia but there is no formula as to how much it costs.  It then gives a formula for the cost in stamina and the time it takes.  It states that:

'The basic Stamina Cost for endowing an item with a particular spell is the 6 points for Enchant Item, plus the cost for the spell itself, cast three times into the item over a period of hours equal to the total Stamina cost for the entire operation in days!'

I get confused.  So if I cast ironhand on a sword to give it a +1 bonus to attack strength, it costs 6 for the enchant item spell, followed by 3 for the three ironhand spells.  So it costs 9 stamina points, but is it over 9 hours or 9 days or 9 hours a day over a period of 9 days?  And how much does all this cost in gold pieces?

Why bother
paying stamina?
How long does this enchantment last for?  Is it a 1 use item, a multi use item or is it permanent?

And what about potions?  Would anyone really pay that much for a one use item?

Minor magic rules

Some minor spells are too powerful.  In my opinion, the biggest offender is the Hold it! spell where the caster can freeze time for two seconds.  In combat, two seconds is loads of time.  In Dungeons and Dragons, Time Stop is a level nine spell and that only lasts for 2-5 rounds.

When's the Lonely Planet on Khul out?
More about Khul and  the Old World

The three continents of Titan all have their own distinct character.  I like the dark, chaos tainted, horror infested continent of Khul.  It would be nice to see encounters for the Chaos Wastes, mutation rules or a detailed description of the places and personalities in the city of Ashkyos.
As far as the Old World is concerned, I would love to know more about the War of the Four Kingdoms or the denizens of Kakhabad.
Please, no more
silver arrows.

Better treasure tables

I know that the treasure table says that you can substitute your items onto the table, but the items are too powerful.  Humanoids get a special item on the roll of a 5-6 and then that special item could be a magical weapon on the roll of a 2 or 12 on two dice.  That gives a 1 in 54 chance of a humanoid carrying a magical weapon.  I know it sounds like a lot, but I don't think that magical weapons are that common.  I guess that it's just my opinion, but I do not want quick power creep to happen in the adventures.  I want it more to be about character development than grabbing the best items.

What skill do I need
for this situation?
Streamlining of skills

Some skills need a bit more clarification such as heavy armoured combat, which implies that if you are wearing plate mail, that you calculate your attack strength from this skill, rather than any weapon skill you may have.  That doesn't sound right.

Do there have to be so many skills for mass battles - battle combat, battle tactics, siege combat and siege lore?

Also, why does fighting on horsebakc require both the ride and mounted combat skill.  Couldn't they be rolled together?

Does world lore cover too wide a range of knowledge?  Should it be broken down into other lore skills?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April A to Z - T is for The Titanium Cyborg

How does he shower?
Appears in:  Appointment with F.E.A.R. (Fighting Fantasy 17) by Steve Jackson.

Background:  The Titanium Cyborg's real name is Vladimir Utoshki.  He is an expert in enhancing the human body with robotic parts and he is also the leader of the Federation of Euro-American Rebels (F.E.A.R.).  You need to catch him.

Prominence:  Most but not all of your criminal adversaries are working for F.E.A.R. in this book.  8/10.

Hardness:  At skill 18 (the highest in a Fighting Fantasy book), stamina 20, the Titanium cyborg is impossible to beat in normal combat.  He will also kill you within three attack rounds with his lighting eyes.  You can only win if you get a circuit jammer and then he becomes a puny skill 9 stamina 10 opponent.  8/10

Ambition:  He wants to gain control of a satellite (A Star Wars satellite - is this a comment on the Cold War?) capable of destroying cities.  He will use this to control the world.  10/10

Style:  There aren't many cyborg villains with lighting eyes.  He also has an interesting collection of super villain underlings, although the other five heads of F.E.A.R all look disappointingly normal.  8/10.

Diabolical genius  From killing JFK the unnamed president to taking over an army base to collapsing a stand at a football match(?), the Titanium Cyborg certainly has a wide array of super villains with different powers to draw on.  8/10.
Total score:  This guy has Titan city crawling with criminals and gets to within inches of ruling the world.  42/50

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stylish blogger award

Many thanks to Scott Malthouse and Gamecaster for their Stylish blogger awards.  They both have great blogs that focus on Tunnels and Trolls an RPG system started in 1975, but still going strong and it its 7.5th edition.  Tunnels and Trolls also has several solo adventures, some of which I have bought along with the 7.5 corebook.  The rules are fun and easy to learn.  

The award comes along with a few fun rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person giving 
you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself
3. Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

Seven things about myself:
  1. I'm an obsessive podcast and audiobook listener.  If I enjoy a podcast, I have to go on the RSS feed and download all of the episodes.  In order to listen to more podcasts, I listen to them on a faster speed setting.  
  2. I also enjoy singing and I am part of a choir.
  3. There is no food that I don't like.  I enjoy eating too much.
  4. I like choral music but I also like Muse.  
  5. My favourite TV series is Peep Show.
  6. Away from the blog, I'm a science teacher.  I do most of my gamebook writing in the summer when I have long holidays.
  7. I can't remember the first film my fiance and I watched together(!), but our first meal was at a tapas restaurant.  We are getting married in just over five weeks!!!!!!!!!

Ten blogs I would recommend:
  1. Fantasy Gamebook by Andrew Wright - a brilliant gamebook blog by an active member of the gamebook community and author of great gamebooks including Catacombs of the Undercity.  Andrew also pulled me out of period when I wasn't posting with this post.  It showed me that someone was reading and cared.  
  2. Trollish Delver by Scott Malthouse.  I'm giving the reward right back at you for writing great RPG advice, also liking H.P Lovecraft and calling me a really nice guy.  Thanks Scott :).  
  3. T and T Liasha World by Gamecaster.  I found this from Scott's Trollish Delver site and I enjoy reding about the construction of this world.  
  4. Fabled Lands by Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson - As well as keeping us up to date on everyone's favourite sandbox gamebook series, the blog also publishes material on many other interesting topics.  
  5. Adventures and Shopping by Billiam Babble - here Billiam reviews RPG and gamebook products and sells his great wares including dungeon sections, dice mugs and game books.  I'd like to thank  Billiam for selling me Black Vein Prophecy (my copy was very worn).  
  6. Fighting Fantasist by Coopdevil - eclectic mix of book and magazine covers, reviews, playthroughs of gamebooks where YOU decide and much much more.  
  7. The realm of Zhu, by Zhu - great blog showing artwork, miniatures, RPG characters and gamebook material.  
  8. Turn to 400 by Murray - The hilarious stories of Murray's attempts at the Fighting Fantasy series.  Complete with skeleton count.
  9. Jonathan Green author, by Jonathan Green - I know of Jonathan through his Fighting Fantasy books, but he is also the author of many more things.  Here, you can read all about his many creations.  
  10. Ascii, Dice and Why by Akhier, the dragon hearted - a young blog I found on the April A to Z challenge.  His A to Z posts have contained some great things to think about in regards to RPGs.  Looking through the old posts provides plenty of Ascii for the roguelike fans.  
  11. Titan, the Fighting Fantasy Blog by Gallicus - I love the fanzine so I was glad to see that Gallicus has also started a blog to keep us tied over between issues.
  12. Trivium Academy by Jessica.  As a teacher, I would like to give my students some good tools for learning.  I read a book called The Trivium by Sister Miriam Joseph.  I enjoy reading about how the Trivium is being put into action.  
  13. The Lone Delver by Dan.  I've bought Tunnels and Trolls 7.5 and several solo books and getting into them is on my to do list.  It is great to see a blog that focuses on Tunnels and Trolls solos.  

April A to Z - S is for The Sorcerer

Big boots.
Appears in:  Siege of Sardath (Fighting Fantasy 49) by Keith P. Phillips.

Background:  Not much is known about the Sorcerer.  He is leading a city of Dark Elves who want to take over Allansia and he has kidnapped a Storm Giant with the idea of learning what he knows.

Prominence:  From paragraph 1, you learn that the Sorcerer's shapeshifting (and sometimes bat winged) dark elves have infiltrated all communities in Northern Allansia in order to drive them apart and cause strife and warfare.  He is smart enough to send servants to a tomb in order to retrieve a magical amulet that will cause his downfall.  He also cuts of Sardath with a magical storm.  8/10

Hardness:  You never get to know the sorcerer's stats because if you try to fight him, he utters a spell preventing your attack and then drains your life.  Unlike most gamebook villains, the sorcerer does not underestimate you and converses with you to discern your weaknesses.  You can only defeat him if you have the amulet, have the right number on the back and say the correct things.  However, once you know the correct conversation, you will always win.  7/10

Ambition:  Taking over Allansia for the Dark Elves.  9/10.

Style:  The Sorcerer has a very imposing figure despite his profession.  His Dark Elf lair also has some insanity inducing architechture.  Also instead of the standard villain lines, you can also have quite a pleasant conversation with the sorcerer.  It's almost like he's a bond villain, who are always very stylish.  8/10.

Diabolical genius:  He has created bat winged dark elves and a shapeshifting potion.  He is also trying to break the will of a storm giant.  In fact, simple combat is the last thing this guy would take part in.  8/10.

Total score:  The Sorcerer is a sophisticated villain who has covered all of his bases and requires a lot of effort to take down.  40/50.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April A to Z - R is for Razaak

Seven heads are better than one.
Appears in:  Crypt of the Sorcerer (Fighting Fantasy 26) by Ian Livingstone.

Background:  Was once an apprentice to a lawful wizard but turned away from that and demanded that several nobles relinquish their power to him.  When they didn't he, sent lots of plagues and tormented them until a warrior killed him.  He was sealed in a tomb but it was decreed that the tomb should not be opened for one hundred and ten years or Razaak will return and destroy all life (which idiot did that?  Shouldn't they have just decreed that Razaak will be dead for all eternity).  Someone didn't get the memo.

Prominence:  Razaak's servants are all over the place, causing havoc for you or anyone who lives in Allansia.  His servants include a dragon so he has some serious firepower.  Most of your encounters are caused by Razaak.  8/10

Hardness:  Razaak has several spells that will instantly kill you if you don't have the correct items. He also has a skill of 12 and a stamina of 20 making him a formidable warrior, but the kicker is that if he hits you twice in a row, you automatically die.  He can also only be killed by one weapon which will turn you into a skeleton eventually.  It is not for nothing that people say that Crypt of the Sorcerer is unfair. 11/10

Ambition:  The destruction of all life.  10/10

Style:  He lives in a bog standard evil sorcerer crypt and he has a horde of everyday chaotics but he has also recruited Ungoth, the Skeleton King (he must be good if a king is taking orders from him), a dragon and lots of undead.  5/10.

Diabolical genius:  Strapping Yaztromo to a pentagram, sending a dragon against you, having an undead skeleton king ask you weird questions are all part of Razaak's repertoire (I've just made him sound like a stage magician).  Most of Razaak's servants just attack you, however and if he was really clever, he would have had one of his own servants find his sword first and not have left it in a lake for anyone to take.  5/10.

Total score:  An powerful and almost indestructable sorcerer has recruited powerful and almost indestructable servants to destroy all life.  He could have worked harder on some details but killing Razaak is an almost impossible challenge.  39/50.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April A to Z - Q is for Quezkari

He's got a talented
Appears in:  Bloodbones (Fighting Fantasy 60) by Jonathan Green.

Summary:  Quezkari is the god that your pirate enemies follow.  After killing Cinnabar and piercing his heart, Quezkari comes to avenge his death.

Prominence:  He's appears at the end of the book but a lot of your enemies follow him.  6/10

Hardness:  He has a skill of 13 and a stamina of 18.  Unless you are protected with a charm, his blows deal 3 stamina points of damage.  He can only be harmed by magical weapons.  That's quite hard.  Also, unlike some villains, he cannot be killed of by a single item.  There are a few items that weaken him, but he will still be a challenge.  9/10

Ambition:  He is described as a manifestation of all the souls turned into zombies by Ramatu and all of the people killed by Cinnabar so I guess his ambition is lots of death.  8/10

Style:  He's a voodoo death god.  I suppose he appears quite typical for a voodoo death god.  5/10.

Diabolical genius:  When you face him, he just attacks you.  His servants also do not come up with anything particularly outside the box.  4/10.

Total score:  Sure, he's a god, but he's not the brains behind the operation.  32/50

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April A to Z - P is for Parsion

Ragadorn tour 5050.
Parsion is on the far right.
Appears in:  Fire on the Water (Lone Wolf 2) by Joe Dever.

Background:  Parsion is introduced to you as a priest who accompanies you on a coach journey between Ragadorn and Port Bax.  However, it turns out that he is an assassin whose job is to kill you and to prevent you from getting the Sommerswerd.

Prominence:  Parsion is not in the whole book.  He turns up for a few scenes.  4/10.

Hardness:  A combat skill of 16 and an endurence of 23 makes Parsion a fighter with some skill but he is no master.  However, he does manage a couple of assassination attempts before you finally confront him.  3/10.

Ambition:  He's been ordered to kill you by someone who works for the Darklords.  He's not too high up on the food chain.  3/10.

Style:  He's not too distinctive although maybe he's not trying to draw attention to himself.  You won't think about him once he's gone.  1/10.

Diabolical genius:  He pulls off quite a good impersonation as a priest and comes up with creative ways of killing you - trying to get you run over and by poisoning your food.  One mark deducted for wearing a blatantly obvious sign of his allegence.  4/10.

Total score:  Parsion, if's that his real name, provides and interesting challenge to you in the book but he ranks a little higher than mook in the hierarchy of the enemy.  15/50

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tags and a reminder

Hi all.  I've just noticed that my list of tags is a bit long.  At the moment, I have tagged every author and every gamebook title that I have used in a post.  I think I will change the tags from gamebook titles to gamebook the gamebook series and leave the author in.  I would like to put a list of tags up but I do not want to make it too long.

Does anyone have any comments/advice on tags?

Also, a reminder that it has been a month and a half since the Windhammer Prize for 2011 was announced and that the submissions close on the 7th September, so get writing.  I haven't started yet as I'm trying to scheldule my blog posts until the end of July at least, so I'm writing those at the moment, but I'm really itching to start.

Another reminder is that Arion Games will be releasing Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd edition.  You can pre order it here.

Have a nice week :).

April A to Z - O is for The Overlord from the Citadel of Chaos by Jamie Thomson

He auditioned for Tron.
Appears in:  Citadel of Chaos by Jamie Thomson (not to be confused with the Citadel of Chaos by Steve Jackson who is not to be confused with the Steve Jackson who wrote Scorpion Swamp.  We all clear now? Good).  This is the 2nd book in the Eternal Champions series.  However, just to clear it up, the evil ruler of Godorno is The Coils of Hate is also called the Overlord.  

Background:  The Overlord is a computer program whose(?) original aim was to make sure that humanity was well looked after.  However, soon got ideas of its own and starting trying to sap humanity's strength by making live a life of pleasure.  Anyone who objected was killed and replaced with clones.  Now the Overlord has taken over most of the World.

Prominence:  The Overlord himself(?) only shows up at the end, but you have to deal with his(?) its(?) servants all of the way through the book.  There are several underlings who you have to fight first.  9/10.

Hardness:  The Overlord's program is stored within an indestructible titanium cube so you can't destroy the hardware.  It can also go anywhere on the world wide web so it needs to so you have t trap it with a cybercage program.  If you do manage to face the program, it will be tough as the Overlord knows almost every martial art with only a few weaknesses in the program.  9/10

Ambition:  The Overlord wants World domination and the eradication of humanity.  10/10.

Style:  He's a computer program so he's not too hot on clothes.  He also doesn't mince his words and refers to you as a virus.  However, when he dies, he makes a nice multicoloured explosion.  5/10

Diabolical genius:  He manage to fool humanity that he was helping them while taking over the World.  He's also smart enough to take a lot of precautions to protect himself.  He has systematically gained control over most living things.  9/10

Total score:  He's strong, effective but not too fancy.  A bit like a computer program should be.  42/50

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How to break 1st edition Advanced Fighting Fantasy part 2 - some of my Advanced Fighting Fantasy heroes

Below are three AFF heroes who demonstrate how to max out the magic, combat and social skills in Advanced Fighting Fantasy.  They are accompanied by my debut artwork*.  Enjoy!

He's the spell caster.
Name:  Branwynn Magnus  Race/Profession:  Human monk of Hamaskis
Age:  24                             M/F:  M
Social scale:  5

Skill:  7  Stamina: 19 Luck:  11

Skills:  Priest magic (11), Magic (10), Unarmed combat (9), Dodge (8), Minor magic (8), Etiquette (8), World lore (8), languages (8).

Magic spells:  Stamina (1), Tongue twister (1), Iron hand (1), Weakness (1), Befuddle (1), Counterspell (2), Summon (2).

Priest spells:  Silence (1), Holy command (1), Darkness (1).

Minor spells:  Attraction, Hold, Hold it!, Honesty, Inebriate, Instil, Mistake, Pucker, Repulsion, Smudge, Stutter.

Money:  1GP, 1SP.

Equipment:  Amulet of Hamaskis, spell book, holy book of Hamaskis, pouch full of small pieces of weapons, food, horse hair and other small pieces of miscellaneous equipment for use with the summon spell, bag of healing herbs, bandages and a small bottle of alcohol for healing.

Background:  Born in Blacksand, Branwynn had to fend for himself at a young age.  He was enrolled into the Thieves' guild and took part in many nefarious activities.  However, the turning point in Branwynn's life came after he broke into the tower of the wizard Brabantius.  Curious, he started reading from a scroll and accidently summoned a demonspawn.  Brabantius saved his life that night and, instead of killing Branwynn, he realised the potential in him and made him his apprentice.

Branwynn had a knack for trickery and Brabantius taught him spells to disrupt the magic of other sorcerers.  Branwynn almost died when a rival sorcerer tried to cast the death spell on Brabantius and Branwynn countered it.  However, the exertion of countering the spell almost killed him as well as aging him by a year. Brabantius merely left him for dead.

Feeling dejected, Branwynn left Blacksand and wandered aimlessly for a while, before being taken in by the monks of Hamaskis who recognised his skills and enrolled him in their order which hunts down evil sorcerers, those who abuse the gifts of Hamaskis.

Personality:  Branwynn is pleasant and polite but reserved.  However, when there is a threat of evil sorcery, he springs into action.  He prefers to fight unarmed, knowing that sorcerers can animate hand held weapons or turn arrows into snakes.  He also tries to prevent sorcerers casting spells with silence, tongue twister and befuddle spells.

He only uses counterspell as a last resort, knowing how draining it is.  If he knows about the dangers he faces, he may summon up a useful item with his spell.  He also makes sure that everyone in his team is as healthy as possible.

He's the dude with muscles.
Name:  Aldoeron Salol  Race/Profession:  Human Warrior
Age:  20                        M/F:  M
Social scale:  3

Skill:  10  Stamina: 20  Luck:  8

Skills:  Dagger (12), Two weapon fighting (12), Dodge (12), Strength (11), Disarm (12), Minor Magic (11), 

Minor spells:  Hold, Hold it!, Inebriate, Instil, Mistake, Push, Slip, Sober. 

Money:  3GP, 4SP.

Equipment:  2 daggers.

Background:  Alderon was born into a family of mighty warriors from Salamonis and learnt his skills at a young age.  He was bred and trained to be the perfect warrior.  However, after a bad decision on a mission which led to some deaths, he took off and decided to be an adventurer.  He never talks about that incident.  

Personality:  Alderon's skill is only mached by his smug arrogance.  Despite being difficult to work with, few people say this to his face.  He skilfully wields two daggers simultaneously, favouring them over  larger, heavier weapons.  After all, with his strength, he still inflicts considerable damage on opponents.  He also knows some minor magic to get him out of trouble.

He once humiliated a rival warrior by making him drunk and then pushing him over with his minor magic.  Not knowing that sorcery was involved, the onlookers just thought that his rival could not hold his drink.

He's friendly but prepared if it turns nasty.
Name:  Gerard Thalos  Race/Profession:  Human Merchant
Age:  23                       M/F:  M
Social scale:  6

Skill:  9  Stamina: 19  Luck:  12

Skills:  Con (11), Leadership (10), Minor Magic (10), Bargain (10), Pacify (10), Etiquette (10), Languages (10), World Lore (10)

Minor spells:  Attraction, Enhance, Hear, Hold it!, Honesty, Inebriate, Instil, Mistake, Repulsion, Smudge, Sober, Stutter.

Money:  2GP, 4SP.

Equipment:  Sword, .silk robe (folded in backpack), 

Background:  Born into a merchant family in Salamonis, Gerard quickly showed his talent for buying low and selling high.  However, his family and all they own were wiped out by an orc tribe, a disaster he narrowly missed due to an illness that left him bed bound for weeks.

He sold his house and tried to start a new business.  Gerard had some minor successes and showed his true mettle in starting a business from scratch.  He has many contacts and allies amongst the merchants and mercenaries of Salamonis.  

Personality:  Gerard is charming, forceful and persuasive.  He can persuade almost anyone to do anything and is able to fit in with almost any society in terms of knowing how to dress, customs, language etc.  He also seems to know everybody and can pull in favours for almost anything.  He is a useful ally to have on a team.  

*  I do not accept responsibility for any black holes that open up in your room due to the sheer lack of artistic talent in these drawings.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April A to Z - N is for Necklace of Skulls

He's definately not 'armless.
Appears in:  Necklace of Skulls (Virtual Reality 4) by Dave Morris.

Background:  Your twin brother, on a mission to the great city, found it almost deserted, having being attacked by werewolves.  After a journey across the desert, he comes to the palace of the Necklace of Skulls but does not return.  It is up to you to find out what happened.

Prominence:  Until you get to his city, your encounters have nothing to do with Necklace of Skulls himself.  4/10.

Hardness:  Necklace of Skulls is a powerful sorcerer.  If you don't win the game with the hydra blood ball, he makes your partner disappear in a shower of sparks with a thought.  He can do the same to you if you do not act quickly.  He can be killed after a punishing combat but  if you have your brother with you, defeating him becomes a lot easier.  Killing Necklace of Skulls is not the hardest part of the book.  The hardest part is killing the sorcerer and leaving with your brother.  7/10

Ambition:  When you get closer to the Necklace of Skulls' home, people talk of strange beasts attacking their cities, but I'm not sure if that is down to him.  From what's explicitly stated, it seems that he just likes to hang out in the desert with his doggy friends which makes me wonder why people visit him so much.  3/10

Style:  Necklace of Skulls certainly has a unique look, a unique name and a unique place to live.  His servants are also brilliantly devious and enjoy revelling in your suffering.  9/10.

Diabolical genius:  Each of the Necklace of Skulls' challenges are diabolical, especially the end of the sacred game, where if you didn't win by throwing the hydra blood ball through the top hoop, he blows up your partner.  His rooms do not kill you but weaken you and terrify you, prolonging your suffering.  Necklace of Skulls really has some sadistic genius about him.  8/10

Total score:  A brilliant villain who just needs to get out more and something to aim for.  31/50

Friday, April 15, 2011

April A to Z - M is for Malbordus

This place is the pits.
Appears in:  Temple of Terror (Fighting Fantasy 14) by Ian Livingstone.

Background:  Malbordus is a human who was abandoned by his mother and raised by Dark Elves.  He showed a talent for Dark Elf magic.  As a test, he was sent to the city of Vatos to find five dragon artefacts and animate them so that they become dragons.  He will then lead an army across Allansia.

Prominence:  Most of your trials and tribulations come from your journey rather than dealing with Malbordus.  Even in the city of Vatos, the servants who attack you are servants of Leesha rather than Malbordus.  1/10

Hardness:  Malbordus casts one spell which will reduce your skill by three if you do not have a rind that will protect you.  It will make your battle with him harder, but it's hardly instant death.  You then fight him.  He has a skill of 10 and a stamina of 18.  Not too shabby, but there have been better stats for the big bad villain at the end.  6/10.

Ambition:  Conquering Allansia.  9/10.

Style:  He's a human raised by Dark Elves and likes a cool desert city, but there is not much about Malbordus that sticks out.  3/10.

Diabolical genius:  Malbordus gets a bonus mark for the messenger of death but other than that, there is very little that he has done to stop you.  The rest is done by Leesha.  3/10

Total score:  Malbordus is just at the start of his super villain career so he hasn't had time to develop his own brand and raise his own army.  If he had been allowed to live longer, he may have done a lot better.   23/50

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April A to Z - L is for The Lizard King

The nudist avenger.
Appears in:  Island of the Lizard King (Fighting Fantasy 7) by Ian Livingstone.

Background:  The Lizard King rules over Lizard men and other nasty creatures on Fire Island.  He also owns a gold mine worked on by slaves.  To make himself stronger, he has attached a gonchong to his head.

Prominence:  You only see the Lizard King at the end, but his soldiers are around a lot of the island.  They are also in the gold mine.  He does not own the island outright, however as there are tribes of pygmies and head hunters there.  7/10.

Hardness:  The Lizard king has a skill of 10 (12 when wielding a fire sword) and a stamina of 15.  He is immune to non fire attacks.  He also has a pet black lion with a skill of 11 and a stamina of 11, so you have some tough fights ahead of you.

You need a fire sword and/or a monkey to defeat him.  If you have both, you have an easy fight as you reduce his skill to 6.   If you have the fire sword without the monkey, he has a skill of 12.  If you have the monkey, he has a skill of 10 and you can increase your attack strength (I know it says skill but it won't work unless it says attack strength) by 2.

If you kill him, you have to make the correct decision to kill the Gonchong.  Whatever you do, you still have to fight a skill 11 opponent.  7/10

Ambition:  To rule over Fire Island forever (it is implied that the gonchong extends his lifespan).  Bonus mark for the forever part.  8/10.

Style:    The Lizard King lives in a pretty bog standard castle and his lack of clothing means that he is a bit limited on the personal style.  Bonus mark for attaching a wierd creature to his head.  3/10

Diabolical genius:  Old fashioned violence achieves most of the Lizard King's aims, so not really.  2/10

Total score:  The Lizard King has achieved a powerful rule over most of Fire Island and has increased his strength and lifespan with the gonchong.  27/50.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gamebooks for dummies - a request for questions

The for dummies guy has spotted
my need.
Hi all!  I hope you're having a great evening.

The April A to Z challenge is going well and I enjoy the comments and visits from all the people who have stopped by to take a look at my humble blog.

I have noticed that some visitors have not had much experience with gamebooks and in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience, I will be doing a blog post on the 19th June where I will do an explanation of what gamebooks are and give a brief overview of some gamebook worlds.

If anyone has any questions for me for that post, then please leave a comment on this blog (any post) or email me at by June 12th so that I can have the answers ready.

Have fun!