This was another one of the very first Fighting Fantasy books I played. Legend of the Shadow Warriors was one of the darkest ones I remember, although that may be simply because I was young at the time. I remember the story being rather nightmarish and ghastly, so I'm keen to see if it lives up to my memory.
I also recall this as being the first gamebook I couldn't win even by cheating. The titular Shadow Warriors were nigh-indestructible, and would always wind up overwhelming me in the end. Maybe that's why I remember it being so terrifying. The cover itself always creeped me out, a few levels more than the House of Hell cover... so yeah, this is my Halloween post! Enjoy!
One thing I do notice is that this adventure seems to incorporate an armour system. This is a nice touch, as it will hopefully diminish some of the damage taken. The armour itself has a level of hits it can take, so that replicates the idea of the armour degrading over time.
So let's begin.
|Hmm, could use these for
finishing these FF gamebooks
Nevertheless I agree to help the villagers, and am about to leave the comfort of the local tavern when I meet the city's most infamous gambler. He challenges me to a game of dice, which I quickly accept. I win, only to notice that he has cheated by using loaded dice. I take his dice, and throw him out of the tavern, loudly proclaiming him a cheat.
I head to the market in order to stock up for my adventure, buying some provisions, some firecrackers and a mirror. Midway through my shopping, I am stopped by a short well-dressed man, accompanied by several city guards. He loudly proclaims that he is the tax inspector, and demands that I pay upwards of 500 gold in back taxes. I don't even have a home, and have only pennies to my name, and he still wants me to pay excessive taxes. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you vote for the tories!
|The most terrifying vampire
in recorded human history
As I sprint down one of the alleyways, I start to wonder if this is the kind of adventure that my character had in mind when he first picked up his sword. Surely this is more of a 'mis'adventure. I do run face-first into my gambler friend and two thugs, who are wanting revenge for having humiliated them earlier. I'm in no mood for playing games, so I stab them repeatedly (hey, if I'm being chased by the guards for tax evasion, resisting arrest and assault, may as well add manslaughter to the list) and run into the alleyways.
Growing desperate, I dive into the sewer system. As we learned back during my adventures in Khare, the sewers are a happy place, filled with joy and fun. Or giant monsters made of poo. In this instance, you can guess what I find in the sewers. If your guess is that I find a giant monster made of poo, congratulations, you're king of the obvious. I chuck a firecracker at it and run like buggery.
But I do not die. My hate sustains me. Well, hate and provisions.
I head to the home of a wise hermit, who is sagely in the ways of such things. Two things I know about the wise hermit - the first is that he is a hermit. The second is that he is wise. The third is that he lives not far from a well, where I am assailed by a dandy highwayman. He tries to take my cash while looking flash, I kick him in the shin and finish my drink of fresh well water.
The hermit then tells me something very useful - that if I rip their masks off, the Shadow Warriors can be defeated. I suspect that this is valuable information. I thank him and head out on my travels, opting to cut through the fields rather than stay on the roads. Along the way the atmosphere of the game really starts to ramp up, with dramatic thunderstorms rolling in, lightning striking the earth, and some very creepy trees trying to kill me.
|In all seriousness, this
is a damn good comic.
As I stumble through the fields, I encounter a strange voice in the winds, a rustle of the leaves. The avatar of the wilderness, a demigod by the name of Jack-in-the-Green (who, being the incarnation of the forces of nature, will hereafter be referred to as the Swamp Thing), speaks to me and asks that I be his champion in defending the world from the evils of the Shadow Warriors. This is a really nice touch. It's a bit abrupt, but the inclusion of this type of anthropomorphic earth-god deity adds a lot of the mythical atmosphere to this game. I'm not even sure if I got this sequence in my playthroughs of this adventure when I was a kid. The character really came as quite an interesting surprise, and incorporates quite a few of the elements of the 'Green Man' style. If you're interested, there's a decent page on this on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Man
Huh... sorry, I've gone off on a rant now, haven't I?
|Still creeps the
hell out of me!
Soon enough I am over-run by them as I try to sneak into the witch's makeshift tower, and am dragged into her study. She explains that she is no simple witch, but is in fact a type of undead called a wampyre (like a vampire, but a bit more effete). She boasts about her fantastic power, and I tell her that if she is so powerful, she should try freeing her pumpkin servitors. She does, and they promptly chuck her into the fireplace.
In gratitude, Swamp Thing teleports me to stonehenge for a while, where a large number of mythological figures sit around in merry avalon-style frolics. The great horned god gives me a powerful spear of instant-death, and tells me that I can use this to defeat Voivod. This entire sequence is very nice, with some lovely and imaginative characters, and definitely ranks highly in the level of creativity it shows.
|Typical orc kitchen. Only cleaner.
So yeah, we come to a rather undignified end to this adventure. But curiously, I feel that I've been making a lot of right turns along the way too. Finding the method on how to dispatch the Shadow Warriors was a real strong hint, and acquiring the spear weapon was very portentous, hinting that I was on the right trail with those ones. Maybe if I'd have just been able to keep my mouth shut around the orcs, I'd have even managed to win this adventure!
I'm really impressed with this book. The atmosphere is very immersive, the sense of mythology and characters is excellent. You spend so much time meeting new and interesting characters that you quickly get involved in the story, which is not as insanely difficult as I remember it being. I've taken quite a fondness for this book. It's not your traditional Halloween gamebook, maybe you might prefer House of Hell, Vault of the Vampire, Blood of the Zombies, Howl of the Werewolf etc, but this one really fits for me, so don't count it out either. Give it a shot, eh? It really is very cool.