Thursday, 31 March 2011

Stuff You Can Plagarise From Temple of Terror

I've semi-completed Temple of Terror (i.e. found the best route that collects all five dragon-shaped artifacts) and here are the funkiest elements you can half-inch for your own games.


Lost city in the Desert of Skulls, proper walled-town Arabian Nights style. Why abandoned? Not covered in book, perhaps a water source dried up or a caravan route changed.

Large scale underground, essentially as soon as you pass the gate you go straight down a flight of stairs and don't emerge again for anything other than a deathtrap. There is a route that exits through a one way door outside the city walls (a GAME OVER), so presumably lots of secret ways of ingress scattered around the desert. The ruler of Vatos is the priestess Leesha...


Buxom evil enchantress. Laughter causes paralysis (one of the GAME OVERs of the book). The only weapon that can harm her is the tooth of a Giant Sandworm (or perhaps that of a Purple Worm in a more vanilla, less world-specific D&D). You'll have to dream up exactly why both of these things work yourself.

Has a cadre of guards one is blind, another deaf-mute and probably eunuchs- typical fat, bald, bare-chested harem guard types with pyjama bottoms and scimitars. Sponsors an art competition, artists are granted Ring of Protections that leave them immune to harm, winner receives large prize, losers executed. That sounds an odd conceit but if you're the evil overlord why not surround yourself with nice things? There must be plenty of egotistic artists and poets who cannot comprehend not winning.

Remarkably underemployed by Livingstone, once confronted with the tooth does a runner and to the best of my knowledge never shows her face in an FF book again.


The real BBEG, basically just lodging at Vatos presumably with Leesha's favour. Interesting idea as it seems apparent that Vatos is not Malbordus's dungeon which is quite novel and a bit of an inversion of the usual arrangement.

Gnome Scavenger

Drop out living in rooms full of scavenged tat. Has a staff which turns into a deadly venomous snake when tapped on floor. Good example of a neutral character who may be an ally to the party who lives safely in a hostile dungeon by nature of his protective staff and presumably from being beneath contempt/notice.

Sword Arm Corridor

Four statue arms clutching swords sprouting out from corridor walls.

Messenger of Death

Spectral adversary, effectively shouts "Boo!" at the player and runs off. Leaves the letters D, E, A, T & H in five separate places ahead of the player, accidental discovery of each causes SKILL, STAMINA and/or LUCK loss, if all five are found, Messenger of Death materializes to watch the player expire (A proper No Saving Throw job).

Mummy's Curse

A corridor strewn with broken glass. Mysterious figure throws a glass bottle at party which breaks revealing a scroll in an unknown language. Read Magic or similar reveals it to be a Mummy's Curse with serious deleterious effects. A nice piece of gamebook design here in that the option to cast the Read Symbols spell tempts the player into triggering the trap whilst the broken glass should act as a hint not to.

Skeleton Warriors with Sphinx Headdresses

Just really cool.

Giant Fireflies With Random Electrical Attacks


Bronze Idol Statue

A bronze statue of a youth with two-handed warhammer. If the shadow is crossed, animates as Living Statue, Iron and attacks. If passed on the other side remains inert. (A neat Fire on the Water style visual puzzle - a dying man tells you to beware of a shadow and the illustration shows a shadow and then asks upon which side you wish to pass).

Sphinx Chair

Pass a test of general manliness to gain a boon, fail it to be punished.

Night Horror

Mutant humanoid fighting with a rod akin to the Well of Lost Souls key in Raiders of the Lost Ark. A sort of solar/laser attack from the gem in the rod. When dead, ceiling starts lowering just for good measure.

Iron Eater

Ferric-munching ceiling denizen. Harmless to flesh but destroys helmets. Presumably rolls one attack, if hit dissolves helmet (if worn), AC-1. Can do little else but sneak back to ceiling very slowly. An irritation to remind the players to look upwards even when there aren't obvious piercers stalactites.

Golden Chalice

A Golden Chalice that summons a Wind Elemental to fight for the wielder with the immortal magic words "Barrabang Hinpo Garrabang". (Probably means something important in dodgy Bangkok nightclubs...)


There's no real "best path" through ToT that minimizes the risk to the player - you will still need to pass at least one Test Your Skill and one Test Your Luck to survive, a Test Your Luck is required to acquire an item without which the battle with the Night Horror will seriously drain your SKILL and there is an unavoidable SKILL 10 STAMINA 20 monster before you get to Vatos. Accordingly I have no desire to return to the gamebook and "do it correctly" with the dice and no cheating.

(Temple of Terror illos by Bill Houston, copypasta'd from a really poor PDF scan hence shitty quality of reproduction)

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Friday, 25 March 2011

Deathtrap Dungeon Cameltoe

Thanks to blog regular kelvingreen for this link. Truly bizarre.

(This cover reminds me very much of this Exalted splatbook cover, even down to the presence of mumblers)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Lets Play - Proteus #13, The Shadow of Shargan

We needed a casting vote after two votes apiece for each option, so I chucked a D6. East it is then.


You have gone only a short distance East when the tunnel
opens out into a long, low cave, filled with statues of people.
You hesitate for a moment, but there is no sign of life, so you
venture cautiously forward. Do you wish to examine the
statues more closely? If so, turn to 62. If you would rather
hurry across the cave to the exit you see in the East wall, turn
to 8.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Magical Using Of Fire Blowing Mountain

Literal translations of the Japanese titles of the Fighting Fantasy books. From Titannica.

Magical Using of Fire Blowing Mountain (The Warlock of Firetop Mountain)
Fortress of Barusensu (Citadel of Chaos)
Forest of Destiny (Forest of Doom)
The Space Ship Which you can Wander About (Starship Traveller)
Thief City (Cityof Thieves)
Underground Labyrinth of Trap of Death (Deathtrap Dungeon)
The Island of Lizard King (Island of the Lizard King)
Maze of Scorpion Swamp (Scorpion Swamp)
Cave of Witch of Snow (Caverns of the Snow Witch)
Mansion of Hell (House of Hell or to give it it's US title - House of Heck)
Necklace of Dead God (Talisman of Death)
Assassin of Outer Space (Space Assassin)
Soldier of Freeway (Freeway Fighter)
Sanctuary of Fear (Temple of Terror)
Federal Criminal Investigator of Outer Space (The Rings of Kether)
Pirate Boat van Sea Number (Seas of Blood)
Push Down the Cyborg (Appointment with F.E.A.R.)
Electric Brain Destructive Manoeuvres (Rebel Planet)
Demon of Deep Sea (Demons of the Deep)
Sword of Samurai (Sword of the Samurai)
Labyrinth Exploration Competition (Trial of Champions)
Robot Commando (Robot Commando)
Destructive Person of Mask (Masks of Mayhem)
Nightmare Castle (Beneath Nightmare Castle)
Revive Sorcerer (Crypt of the Sorcerer)
Star Strike Rider (Star Strider)
Illusion of Fear (Phantoms of Fear)
Thief of Midnight (Midnight Rogue)
Cave of Evil Spirit (Chasms of Malice)
Last Soldier (Battleblade Warrior)
Monarch of Basement (Slaves of the Abyss)
Sky Fortress Aarok (Skylord)

I hereby declare that from here on in, I will adopt Monarch of Basement as my official title. Anybody who doesn't like it can either exile themselves to their Space Ship Which They Can Wander About or suffer Electric Brain Destructive Manoeuvres.

The burning question raised by all this is, of course, whether Magical Using Of Fire Blowing Mountain is a better title than Der Hexenmeister vom Flammenden Berg.

(The pic is from a Yahoo auction of the Japanese edition of Warlock magazine which lived on far longer than the original UK edition. Seems to be some interesting artwork reuse going on there - I recognise a couple of the covers from UK Warlock but note with interest the tenth anniversary WD cover there (bottom left) and the Josh Kirby UK cover for Tunnels and Trolls 5th edition overlapping it)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Lets Play - Proteus #13, The Shadow of Shargan

OK, things don't go as well this episode. Anyway, onwards and upwards...

Personally I wouldn't have done it, but then I've read the gamebook before even if it was over twenty years ago in a caravan in the Wales in the pissing down rain.


As you begin to make your way around the edge of the pool, there is a rush of bubbles to the surface and out from the water bursts a huge, black beast. You are drenched by its sudden eruption, and the black water is uncomfortably hot and stings your exposed flesh – lose one Strength point. The creature before you consists of a dozen long, powerful tentacles, each tipped by a glistening poisonous claw. The tentacles radiate from a black, amorphous mass, the only distinguishable feature of which is a circular gaping maw. It seems to sense exactly where you are, though, and as its tentacles reach out towards you, you realise you cannot escape.

You must fight each tentacle in turn as a separate monster. The tentacles have a Dexterity of 12 and a Strength of 4. If you manage to “kill” six tentacles (i.e. sever them from the main body of the monster), turn to 181. If the monster inflicts ten points of damage upon you before you manage to do this, turn to 161.

SKILL 12! Did Livingstone write this? Jesus wept.

Unsurprisingly this didn't work out very well. We aced the first tentacle with a laser sword shot, but by the the fifth tentacle came around we were down to STRENGTH 11 and it did two hits to us to do that all-important 10 points of pure, unadulterated TPK. So off we go to 161.


The creature has succeeded in paralysing you with its poisonous claws and you fall helpless to the floor. Immediately, the slimy tentacles curl around your body and draw you towards the slavering maw. Your adventure ends here!

But-but-but that can't happen! You have to sit there while I read out my great metaplot and you watch my Mary Sue NPCs save the World! What about my plot arc? YOU HAVE TO HEAR IT!!!!

OK, that was a bit of early doors GAME OVER so time for a mulligan.

(Have to admit, I don't see what all the fan boy slavering is about. She looks a bit like troubled Britney in this pic but obviously a lot less tarty and pregnant)

Off to 191 and pretend the campaign-derailing fuckup never happened. 181 just told us there were no other exits and sent us back to 191 anyway so it was completely ITS A TARP!

(Note the sequence of the numbering here - 141 or 191, 151, 161 or 181, 191 - somebody clearly had no imagination for randomizing the paragraph sequence).


Climbing the foothills of the volcano, you are relieved to
discover that the way you have chosen is not as treacherous as
you had feared. The narrow track you are following
meanders up the West side of the mountain, and you try to
stick to this is as far as possible.

Having climbed some distance, you consider pausing for a
moment to get your breath back, and reflect on your
situation. Even as you do so, there is a wild shrieking in the
air, and a sound like the beating of gigantic leathery wings.
You draw your laser-sword and search the skies – to see a
huge flying reptile, and a warrior with his legs firmly
clamped about it, wielding a blood-stained sword.

The sky darkens, there is a flash of lightning and a
thunderclap, and then an image forms from the clouds
themselves: a face, leering down at you, the mouth open
wide, revealing studded teeth. Slowly the eyes revolve, and
then there is a triumphant laugh, as the sky turns darker, and
the Pterodactyl and its rider swoop towards you. The
Pterodactyl’s beak snaps horribly close to your unprotected
head, and its rider swings at you with his sword. They climb
into the purple sky, whooping and shrieking, then swoop for a
second attack.

(Cover illustration I assume.)

You aim your laser-sword: first, you must kill the
Pterodactyl, and then its rider. You steady yourself against a
rock – this will be no easy battle.

Dexterity Strength
If you defeat the Pterodactyl, turn to 3.

This was more like it. We won the first round so shot the screechy proto-bird in the face for 6 STRENGTH points then finished it off while losing 4 STRENGTH ourselves. Ration eaten for +5 STRENGTH we are up to 18 now.


The monstrous flying reptile lies in a crumpled heap on the
ground, its barbarian rider thrown clear, but apparently
unhurt. You face him – now that he is grounded, he seems
to you to be less sure of himself, swinging his sword wildly.
He is no match for you, a trained Promethean Guildmember,
and his swings become almost manic, as you duck, parry, and
steadily drive him back.

Deftly sidestepping his next, despairing, sword-thrust, you
drive your blade home to the Barbarian’s heart. You feel a
tinge of sadness, as you sheathe your sword; but the sky
lightens again. Looking up, you see that the image – the
face, you are sure, of Shargan himself – is fading; now you
must continue your search – though first, you feel that you
might rest a moment: turn to 106.


After the battle, you make your way to a nearby outcrop of
rock to sit down and get your breath back. Then to your
amazement, you discover a tiny cave entrance and waste no
time in crawling through into the darkness beyond – turn to

Hands up those of you who are really amazed that on the slopes of this volcano under which sits the BBEG's underground lair of evil we actually found an entrance? Thought not.

Note that this is the third successive paragraph that offers you no choices - padding the paragraph count out are we?


You activate your torch and find yourself in a tiny South-
heading tunnel. The rock is very dark and lined with black,
glass-like veins. The air is hot and dry, but not uncomfortably
so – yet. Very soon, the corridor ends in a T-junction. Will
you go:

East? Turn to 12
West? Turn to 155

Don't worry about the decision - I'm sure it's not like it would be important or anything as if one direction might allow us to get a geegaw we will need at the end and the other one won't. That would be just daft.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

We Attempt TSR's Dragon Quest

Big Al found a copy of this on one of this periodic trawls through the local charity shops. When he earlier told me the title of what he'd found I was actually thinking of SPI's rarity Dragonquest, ie. this;

But apparently not. Anyway, Dragon Quest (Two Word Title version) got dragged out last night for a game of the introductory scenario and, well, hmmm is about the size of it.

First impressions are that this is a Lorraine Williams-era TSR panic project brought about by the sale figures of MB/Evil Empire's Heroquest. Let's compare the backs of the boxes to see exactly what I'm talking about.

One of the games

The other one of the games

There are, I think we'll agree certain stylistic similarities although it appears that the bogbrush haircut of the late 80s seems to have vanished by 1992 in favour of the proto-curtains/centre parting shoegazer thing.

Pretty much 99% of the artwork is recycled from other late 80s/early 90s TSR projects and I'm sure there's some geeky trivia game enjoyment to be had from trying to spot them all. With the plastic figures of Heroquest being replaced by flimsy cardboard fold up things and the mass of artwork from other games it's clear that this was chucked together very quickly and little operating budget. Even the (very nice) white metal figures are straight out of the Ral Partha catalogue with a nice piece of lampshading of the fact on the cover of the box.

To the gameplay itself. One player is DM and has a scenario booklet. All games take place upon the plain castle map, scenarios state where doors are to be placed when the players enter rooms, therefore turning the map in a different layout for each game. So three of us sit down to play with DaveO doing the DM duty.

And then I get passed a PC card that is essentially a full Cyclopedia-era D&D character. And I mean full, it has the complete collection of STR, INT, WIS, DEX, CON and CHA with a THAC0 system (here called "Fighting Ability") and Prime Attribute modifiers and AC's listed with and without shield use and wait a minute what is going on here?

It's as if Heroquest sat you down with all the plastic toys and boardgame trappings and presented you with the full and unexpurgated rules of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I'll give you just one example that sums up this weird juxtaposition. Initiative is by individual, with DEX attribute modifiers. That's right, the clumsy system you never use in the real game is here in the juvenile boardgame version.



Have you ever heard of the Alfa-Romeo Arna? Probably not. This was a car that Alfa-Romeo and Nissan worked together on in the early 1980s. Obviously this was a match made in heaven - Nissan's Japanese quality and Alfa's design flair and ability to make driver's cars thus compensating for each other's flaws. What a match! So obviously you'd let Alfa design it and Nissan build it.

It's a no-brainer isn't it?

You'd have to be really bloody thick to let early 80s Nissan design it and early 80s Alfa build it? Nobody would be that stupid surely?

This is why you've never of the Alfa-Romeo Arna.

Dragon Quest is like that - it takes the worst parts of two games and rams them together. The Heroquest clone format would be great (even with the bargain bucket components and reused artwork) with a simple set of game mechanics. Basic D&D is great with it's freewheeling RPG format. But Dragon Quest just messes it up by marrying rules which are far too complex in this situation to poorer quality "bits" than Heroquest.

I enjoyed playing A Game With Mates but in all honesty this is a "neither" game, it's not simple even to benefit from the whole Heroquest thing and not flexible enough to justify it's Cyclopedia mechanics. As I stated after the game if I'm going to be using a full D&D ruleset I'd rather have the flexibility and improv abilities of a full RPG, if a boardgame I'd rather it was at a level of Heroquest, Dungeon! (remember that one TSR?), The Sorcerers' Cave or Castle Schadenfraude Dungeonquest.

A game designed by committee and spreadsheets I think.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Ian Livingstone Tells Fibs

"The one true way involves a minimum of risk and any player, no matter how weak on initial dice rolls, should be able to get through fairly easily".


There are two parallel routes through to the desert city of Vatos where our dungeonbash and scavenger hunt awaits. The route that appears to lie upon our "true way" still involves a Save or Die special whereby we have to Test Our Skill succesfully or drown in a shipwreck.

The other one which doesn't involve a Save or Die involves, at best, a fight against a SKILL 7 STAMINA 9 Pterodactyl and at worst the same encounter whereby it has a SKILL of 8. That doesn't sound too bad but we have to fight it by proxy with a Giant Eagle of SKILL 6 STAMINA 11 and we die if it loses (we are flying on it's back and will do a Wile E. Coyote impersonation our mount runs out of STAMINA).

And then, on the unavoidable path to the dungeon we hit this:

OH SHIT! Get to the Ornithopter!

And there's no option to avoid it by walking in an irregular rhythm nor by planting a thumper in the sand some distance away.


Yes, that's unavoidable, we haven't even got to the titular Temple of Terror yet and in comparison the BBEG of the entire game is a "mere" SKILL : 10 STAMINA : 18

If we do beat it (i.e. cheat or had the good genes to be born with a SKILL of 11 or 12) and control the Spice and therefore control the universe we get a kris knife Giant Sandworm tooth which is a nice souvenir. And then later on, reference 73 asks us if we have a Giant Sandworm tooth, so it appears that that nice Mr. Livingstone didn't even realise he'd done this.

Suffice to say I've abandoned plans on doing this one with the dice. I do hope your playtesting at EIDOS Interactive is a bit better than this Ian...

(That said, playing sans dice is still good fun as it is an imaginative gamebook with great atmosphere. And Giant Sandworms.)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Lets Play - Proteus #13, The Shadow of Shargan

Previously on Let's Play PROTEUS #13 The Shadow of Shargan...

The FF commentard collective killed a demon (my handicraft with the dice) then accepted a lift from a stranger in a Traveller air-raft, presumably to go and see some puppies or something. Then the majority of the hivemind decided to start at the bottom of the volcano and work upwards with only one comment suspecting that maybe Shargan had a space rocket-eating bigger space rocket hidden underneath a fake flooded caldera that was actually just painted metal shutters.

An attempt to re-create the opening of Citadel of Chaos by Dr. Bargle was ruled invalid on technical reasons.

New Houseruling

Following from Zhu's comment last episode anybody who can indicate their choice by a song lyric whereby the title of said song indicates the chosen path whilst maintaining allusion to the democratic nature of the voting for choice process wins TEN INTERNETS.

- 141 -

You begin to search around the foot of the volcano,
scrambling over ridges of solidified lava, until you suddenly
come across a small cave entrance. You switch on your torch
and squeeze through the tiny crack to enter a low tunnel, the
walls of which are like black glass. You follow it North for a
short distance, till it opens out into a large, low cavern. Its
rocky floor is almost totally filled by a large pool of dark
liquid. Wisps of smoke rise from its obsidian surface, which
bubbles sluggishly like a simmering cauldron.

You cannot tell whether there are any other exits from the
cavern, so will you circle the pool to investigate the far side?
Turn to 151. Or go back outside and climb the mountain to
try and discover a more promising entrance? Turn to 191.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Lets Play - Proteus #13, The Shadow of Shargan

OK three people rang the premium rate vote line and we have a 2:1 split in favour of following Ming the Merciless's fatter brother, court official Lai-Ti. So back we scurry to paragraph 2 (1,11,2 - we are getting all the low numbered paragraphs) and...


Lai-Ti is the proud owner of one of the three hover cars
which exist on the Island of Aarlach (the other two belong to
the King). As the car speeds rapidly out of Isar, the little man
chatters away constantly about the glorious deed which you
are about to undertake, and how eternally grateful the King is
going to be, and how honoured he is to meet an actual
member of the Promethean Guild.

After a little while, you stop paying attention to his
ceaseless chatter and merely nod and murmur in what you
hope are the appropriate places.

Already Mount Villpus dominates the skyline, its black,
ridged slopes towering above the rest of the island like a
brooding, malignant shadow, ready to blot out the whole
land. It is not long before Lai-Ti brings the hover car to a halt
at the foot of the volcano, and you get out and turn to thank
him, but now he is in no mood for idle talk, and speeds away,
anxious to put as much distance as possible between himself
and the abode of the Sorcerer.

Will you now start to climb up the mountain to try and
discover an entrance to Shargan’s underground fortress? If
so, turn to 191. If you would rather search around the bottom
of the mountain for a cave entrance at its foot, turn to 141.

So then FF blog commentors, up the mountain or search for a cave at the bottom?

Hugo Dyson

You all know his thoughts on Hot Elf Chicks...

Right In The Tangley!

Tangley is now my favourite euphemism for vagina and one I intend to slip into normal conversation at every opportunity.

(Unintentionally hilarious advert from White Dwarf 18, April/May 1980)

Fiend Folio Rejects

Ages ago I mentioned in passing (whilst looking at early WDs) that a blog post on Fiend Factory rejects that did not make it into the Fiend Folio might be worthwhile. After all when heavyweight, deep level uber-foes such as the Flumpf make it in, what was missing must have been really bad. And then I promptly forgot about it.

Anyway Greg Gorgonmilk has rised to the challenge and started a series of blog posts on precisely that subject. Go read them.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Angus McBride

Angus McBride (1931-2007) is probably most famous amongst roleplayers for his beautiful covers for many a MERP and Rolemaster supplement.

However that is not his only legacy left behind for gamers. In the mid 70s he started a long association with Osprey Publishing, producing many a colour plate for the Osprey Men At Arms series, therefore becoming one of the most prolific illustrators of historic soldiers and warriors around and influencing many a wargamer and figure collector. British tabletop wargaming and it's cottage industry manufacturers owe him a huge debt of thanks.

Now I didn't know this until I did some Googling for the purposes of this post but McBride was involved in a fairly controversial children's book back in the 1980s. Ladybird, children's book publisher of slim hardbacks on all manner of subjects actually published child versions of Dracula and Frankenstein to some notoriety. As I recall Mary Whitehouse got involved and there was some media debate as to whether horror classics (and a sexualised one at that with Dracula) were suitable subjects for children's literature. Suffice to say my Mother, always keen to up my reading age, ran straight out and brought me a copy as soon as the fuss kicked off.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Lets Play - Proteus #13, The Shadow of Shargan

OK, noisms over at Monsters and Manuals has done this sort of thing before so lets have a go here. I'll copypasta from the OCR copy I have and handle all the dice-rolling, the decisions are made through a purely democratic method of you the readership commenting upon which choice to take, majority wins.

This is PROTEUS #13 The Shadow of Shargan. It's 225 paragraphs long so is similar sized to the adventures published in Warlock. (PROTEUS was a UK magazine putting out short gamebooks through the newsagent distribution chain - I did a blog post about it a while back)

Mighty infodump follows;

This is a story about a world where science and magic
exist hand in hand. Sorcerers work alongside Scientists
without conflict. Dragons fly through a blood red sky, while
androids and robots populate the world below. You are a new
member of the Promethean Guild, a secret organisation
whose aim is the elimination of evil. The tasks you had to
undertake to prove yourself worthy of entry into the Guild
tested your skills and strength to the limit – but it was worth
the effort. The way is now open to you for adventure and
wealth, and you have the friendship and trust of the other
members of this elite body. Before you begin, you must
discover how swift, strong and skilful you are.

tl;dr - It's like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

PROTEUS uses a FF-rip off gamesystem with DEXTERITY and STRENGTH replacing SKILL and STAMINA. In this adventure SKILL is actually FF's LUCK but doesn't decrease with each test. There's an extra complication in that we have a laser-sword

If this is the first
round of fighting, and you have fired your laser-sword,
subtract six Strength points from its Strength score at that
moment. For all subsequent rounds, subtract two Strength
points. If the creature’s Fighting Power is greater than yours,
it has wounded you – subtract two points from your current
Strength score (unless told otherwise in the text)



OK, out with the dice and our mans has
LUCK SKILL :12 (woot!)

We also have six PROVISIONS RATIONS each of which restore 5 STAMINA STRENGTH therefore suggesting that food in the future of science-fantasy is much better than that found in Allansia.


The kingdom of Aarlach is an insignificant little
island, far to the East of the more scientifically
advanced countries of your world. Magic still
rules there, and the Laws of Science which now
exist hand in hand with Magic over most of your
planet, have hardly touched Aarlach’s distant

That, you realise, is the sum total of your
knowledge of Aarlach, as you stand facing
Guildmaster Kreen and the Aarlachian emissary,
Kai-Tul, in a derelict building on the outskirts of
the city of Talsheen. Kreen has just introduced
you to Kai-Tul, a tall, thin man, dressed in black,
who scrutinises you with yellow, cat-like eyes.

“The kingdom of Aarlach wishes to hire you,”
Kreen explains. “Their emissary contacted me
this morning and explained the situation to me before you
arrived. I feel that you are the most suitable member of our
Guild for the task.”

He turns to Kai-Tul. “Is this
Guildmember acceptable to you?”

“The reputation of the Guild foregoes the need for any
testing,” the dark emissary hisses. “I know of the trials that
all who wish to enter the Guild must undertake.”

“The King of Aarlach will pay you 50,000 gold pieces if
you succeed in this mission,” Kreen tells you. “It is the
maximum amount he is prepared to offer and it is not
sufficient for the hire of one of our more experienced Guild-
members. Although you have only recently entered our
Guild, you show great promise, and it is my wish that you
undertake the task. The Guild will never force you, however,
and the choice is yours alone – but you cannot make that
choice until you know the situation. Kai-Tul?”

The Guildmaster invites the dark man to speak.

“Our land has recently fallen under the shadow of an evil
power,” the emissary begins. “The Sorcerer Shargan, who it
is said is also well versed in the Laws of Science, has
harnessed the power of a Fire Elemental, and with it has built
himself an underground fortress inside Mount Villpus, a
dormant volcano, which last erupted many centuries ago.
Mount Villpus is situated at the heart of our island kingdom,
and towers above all our lands. We believe that Shargan is
using the energies in the heart of the volcano for the building
of some terrifying weapon. I have told Guildmaster Kreen
here, that such a weapon could mean not only destruction for
Aarlach, but I believe for the rest of the world also.”

“Of that last point, I am not sure,” Kreen butts in. “But
whatever the case, it is clear that Shargan and the threat he
poses must be eliminated.”

“Many of our people have tried,” Kai-Tul continues. “All
have failed. Our people are not great in number and they are
filled with terror of Shargan and none will fight against him.
We need someone of great courage, skill and strength to deal
with him, a warrior who is familiar with danger and knows
how to deal with such power and evil. Are you that person?”

Are you? If so . . .

tl;dr - Go to volcano, kill man.


The next morning, you rise early and pack the few things
that you will need for your journey. Then you make your
way to the inn where you agreed to meet the Aarlachian
emissary, only to be told by the innkeeper that Kai-Tul is not
here. Something in the innkeeper’s expression arouses your
suspicion, and in one swift movement, the blade of your
laser-sword is at his throat. Swallowing nervously, he finally
admits that Kai-Tul was murdered in his sleep, and pleads
with you not to tell anyone or it will ruin his business. You
leave in disgust and head for the boat which you know Kai-
Tul had hired to take you both to Aarlach.

You tell the Captain of the emissary’s misfortune, and the
man is instantly filled with fear, saying it was demons sent by
Shargan that killed Kai-Tul. The Captain himself is a native
of Aarlach, and although it is obvious that he too fears
Shargan’s rage, he still agrees to take you to his country, for it
is in you that the hopes of his people lie.

The voyage to Aarlach will take three days, and all
proceeds smoothly and without incident until the night of the
second day. In the early hours of the morning, you are
awakened by an unearthly shrieking from the deck of the
ship. You spring from your bunk and grab your laser-sword
before racing up onto the deck, to discover six, winged,
demon-like creatures attacking the three crew members who
were set on watch. As you rush to their aid, one crew member
collapses, the life ripped from him by the miniature demon’s
dagger-like claws! The two demons who were attacking him
notice you almost instantly, and race towards you, shrieking
wildly. Praying that the remaining two crew members can
defend themselves against the other demons, you activate
your laser and attack! The second demon hovers, as you
battle with the first.


If you defeat the first demon, turn to 11.

Relatively straight forwards fight, we get 18 against the Demon's 15 in first round so shoot him square in the face for 6 damage. Round 2 we get 14 against his 17 but Round 3 we get 16 against his 15 and finish him off having lost 2 STRENGTH in the fight. Then we go on to paragraph 11.


At once, the second demon dives at you – only to be impaled
on your blade. As the demons die, their bodies vanish in a
cloud of black, foul-smelling smoke, and you turn to see that
with the aid of the other crew members, the rest of the
demons have been similarly disposed of. The white, fear-
filled faces of the Aarlachians tell you that they believe these
were demons from Shargan, but nothing is said and you
return in silence to your tiny cabin.

The rest of the journey is without incident, but the fear and
tension amongst the crew is very strong. On the afternoon of
the third day, however, the boat arrives safely in the
Aarlachian port of Isar, and you are met by a fat, balding little
man called Lai-Ti, who says he is an official in the Court of
the King of Aarlach, come to take you without delay to
Mount Villpus.

Will you trust him and go with him? If so, turn to 2. Or,
say that you would prefer to make your own way to Shargan’s
lair? Turn to 21.

Fighting Fantasist Dungeon Geomorphs VII

The missing #15 that got omitted from a post a few posts back.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Fighting Fantasist Dungeon Geomorphs VI - And A Question Related To Them.

Here's #16 which has secret passages coming out of it's arse (with added hypostyle).

And now the question - I've started knocking up a manuscript for a PDF ebook of my geomorphs with a eye to releasing it once there is a round number (say 100 or so). But which size would be best?

Scaled to 10cm x 10cm with a 1cm = 10' scale (admittedly this is implied), I can only get two of the full-size geomorphs on a page. Shrink them down to 5cm x 5cm, implying a scale of 5mm = 10' and you get three abreast and four deep for twelve per page. Any thoughts or preferences? What would make for a more useful (free) product?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Tunnels and Trolls UK Covers

If the art style looks familiar to you and you're thinking "Discworld" then that's because the late, great Josh Kirby illustrated both.

In the UK Corgi Books printed the T&T rulebook as a mass-market paperback and doubled up the solo adventures in similar-sizde paperbacks. The City of Terrors was, as I recall, a slim half-length book given away with some printings of the rulebook, sealed together on the bookshop shelves.

Unlike the US editions, the UK books were re-numbered with pure sequential numbers (not the curious mix of alphanumerics in the original printings). Kirby handled all the interior illustrations as well as the covers giving T&T UK-style an individual look and atmosphere. Proper sword-and-sorcery stuff. You'll notice that he kept the whole Troll-receiving-a-TTYF-in-the-face thing from the original cover in his remake.

Each solo gamebook had a much abridged version of the main T&T rules included so you didn't actually need the rulebook to play solo.

Scans acquired from here.