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.


  1. Following my old general rule for these things, since we're in the triple digits, let's veer the other way. I say 12.

  2. New player here =)

    Lets get to those nice small numbers, I'll also vote 12

  3. "Blink" was amazing. Anyway it's not that kind of Blackpool then eh? Well, carefully considered numerological analysis brings me to the conclusion (12 = 3 inspiration, 155 = 2 harmony) tells me that both are good, the path of least risk is 155.

  4. DrBargle wins TEN INTERNETS!!!!

    Although it's not clear whether he intends us to do it in the open air (I somehow doubt life is peaceful there) or to break bread in new lands young man.

    I didn't see Blink until about two years after it first aired and felt a bit let down - but it had been hyped and praised to the hilt in those two years. I might have appreciated it more if I'd come to it cold. Still feel Girl in the Fireplace, Family of Blood or Empty Child is the best of the modern Who that I've seen (both far better than Blink IMO) but admittedly I'm not much of a fan anyway.

  5. Did I miss something in Blink, or did those statues just propel people back through time so that they would be dead by the time they got back to the moment that they were originally touched? That's more than a little inconvenient, but in a programme in which the hero/es give up all their ties to travel through time, it is hardly the most frightening thing. And as a bonus, if they go back far enough they'll never have to watch John Barrowman on the telly.

    p.s. Will Shadow of Shargan allow me to use any Billy Bragg song titles? If not, I'm pretty much all out.

  6. Don't know much Billy Bragg I'm afraid!

    P.S. I am currently a Googlebomb for "tarty and pregnant".

  7. I give Dr Bargle at least TWO BONUS INTERNETS, if I may? Reason being: 80's sophisti-pop duo, "Go West" had a top 10 hit with the song "we close our eyes" in 1984. The song contains the lyrics: "We close our eyes, we never lose a game, imagination never lets us take the blame" which ..erm.. perfectly sums up cheating at game-books.

    Blink is probably one of the most satisfying stories about time travel I've seen in Who, with paradoxes abound and the focus on possibilities lost, and yet still hopeful because the people who got blinked all lived good lives. But yeah, hype gets annoying.

  8. So far this does seem to be conforming to Livingstonian principles. Which means we should expect Shargan's lair to be strictly orthogonal in layout and randomly populated with freaks, skeletons, midgets and a witch.