Freeway Fighter – Part 2

Heading out from the cafe in the morning, a D6 roll meant I blissfully sailed over a minefield unscathed to the tune of 1 additional Luck point and ended up at a junction where I headed east. My goal was to the south, but by now I had figured out that progression in this book means finding extra fuel, so heading off the shortest route might be the way forward. Above my chosen route was a railway bridge and as I passed underneath, a man appeared on top of the bridge and pushed a stone pillar off the top into my path. A successful Skill test meant I avoided the pillar, I came to stop and decided to go after this dick. He might have fuel. Carefully climbing the side of the railway embankment, revolver in hand, I came to the top and found my assailant rushing out of a caravan, and carrying a bag, towards his bike.

ff 018

Oddly, the choice to pursue and find out what was so valuable in that bag was not given and all I could do was watch him roar off into the distance. I took solace in being able to loot his caravan and turfed up a grenade and a tin of corned beef. What more could a man want?

The answer is of course some fuel as I soon realised I had driven down another dead-end in my adventure as I was again being asked if I had any spare canisters of petrol. I did not, and so I went back to the previous junction and tried heading south. Taking this route eventually led me to a dirt road that led off to to the side, clearly someone had driven down here very recently and I decided to see who it was. It was Chuck Norris.

ff 004

A gate barred me from going any further down the road, Chuck had a machine gun on me and wanted to know who I was. I told him I was from the Black Rats gang, which he had never heard of, probably because I had just made them up. He was quite happy for me to come in, trying to get me involved in a race. A logical choice given that petrol is probably the most valuable substance on the planet right now. What drew me in though was the prize… a can of petrol! I had to place a bet of 200 credits, the world of Blitz Racing was a popular one as many other parties were there placing their bets too. My race would be a one-on-one affair against some guy in a yellow Ford down an 8km track to a white house and back again – no rockets allowed. A girl dropped a white towel between us and a Skill test sent me shooting off ahead, leaving an angry faced Ford driver in my dust. Catching me in what must be a supercharged vehicle, my opponent rammed my Interceptor at high speed. Keeping the car under control with a Luck test I accelerated ahead only to break short of the grenade the Ford had launched ahead of me. Narrowly avoiding the subsequent explosion did however mean that the Ford had again caught me and delivered another ram, this time deducting 2 Armour points, and then accelerated ahead of me.

Now it was my turn, but my attempt at ramming only served to deal 2 more points of Armour damage to the Interceptor as the Ford was equipped with steel-plated crash bars, protecting it from impact. Swerving left and right, my opponent was blocking my attempts to overtake, but another successful Skill roll took me past him and into a position to use some of my rear-facing weapons. Setting a load of iron spikes down behind me I Luckily caught one of his tyres, only to the extent of causing a slow puncture, but keeping him far enough behind me to take the grenade launcher out of the equation. More ramming was exchanged as both vehicles hit a U-turn at the white house to make the return leg of the race which took us across a narrow bridge. I had to keep my nerve as there was only room for one vehicle, I kept my foot on the accelerator and with a Skill roll I got across the bridge first as my opponent lost his nerve and braked.

The finish line was in sight and the supercharged Ford was bearing down on me, unable to deal with his speed I would have to try to block him. A simple choice of left or right was given to me. I chose left, the same as the Ford, he couldn’t find a way through and with that final act I had won the Blitz Race! A can of petrol and 1 Luck point were mine! As I left, Chuck made a quick check about the name of the gang I was in, seemingly trying to catch me out, but I remembered the Black Rats was my cover story and he let me leave unchallenged.

I left the racetrack, heading south and came across a sign by the road-side, ‘Pete makes your engines sweet. One mile to the left’. My engine could do with being a bit sweeter, so let’s go see Peter.

ff 013

Two hours, two med-kits and one-hundred credits later and I was roaring out of Petes workshop with a supercharged engine guzzling all my petrol. Hope this was worth it… Heading further south and another Interceptor came into view, it’s owner had apparently had a bad day.

ff 017

Stopping to see what I could salvage, I got myself a new tyre, investigating the inside of the can got me a snake-bite. You see my character is an idiot who doesn’t know what a rattlesnake sounds like and decided to open up the cars rattling glove-box, promptly getting bitten and losing 1 Skill and 2 Stamina! A med-kit eased the pain, but didn’t restore any stats, I did however find a length of plastic tubing in the car which I took with me. Driving off from the wreckage, and sure enough, it didn’t take long for someone else to paint a big red target on me…

ff 003

 

Tearing up behind me was a motorcycle and side-car team, peppering me with machinegun fire to the loss of 1 Armour point. Some defensive maneuvering was required and so I dropped a spray of oil across the road and my pursuers were left rolling away into the distance behind me. The text again asked me if I had any spare petrol to use, so I poured the winnings of my Blitz Racing into the Interceptor and set off as night began to fall. Onsetting darkness did not obscure the wrecked police car at the side of the road though, I pulled over and prised the boot open using the crowbar I found earlier. Nice little find too as I discovered a bullet-proof vest, giving me 1 Luck and, considering the penalties I’ve incurred so far, a very valuable 1 Skill. What I discovered next was that parked just ahead of me, was an absolute nutcase.

ff 006

This guy had converted his truck into a sort of chariot shaped vehicle, with scythes on the wheels and somehow he’d managed to get his hands on what seems like a Centurion’s helmet. And of course he was bare-chested – who wouldn’t be. Regardless, I blew him to pieces quite quickly, only taking a couple of hits.

Further down the road, a sign indicated that a workshop was just off the side and would offer repairs, investigating further revealed a friendly who was willing to weld some extra plating onto the Interceptor for 200 credits, I agreed and gained 10 Armour points.

Ahead was a tunnel blocked by a bus, as I drove up a man jumped out of the front door and announced that he wouldn’t be letting me past unless I either paid him 200 credits or beat him in a pistol duel. Not having any money left, I had little choice but to indulge his old-school chivalry.

ff 019

After winning a single attack round against him, he thanked me for such an honourable challenge, shifted his bus out of the way and sent me on my way, warning me of potential landslides in the upcoming canyon. What a nice man.

We can’t be far off San Anglo now, maybe we’ll get there in part three…

 

Freeway Fighter – Part 1

FF 001

#13

Freeway Fighter

Life is lawless and dangerous. Survivors like you either live in scattered, fortified towns, or roam outside as bandits. YOUR mission is to cross the wilderness to the far-distant oil-refinery at San Anglo and bring vital supplies back to the peaceful town of New Hope. Even in the armed Dodge Interceptor you are given, the journey will be wild and perilous. Will YOU survive?

ff 002

Here she is then, my Interceptor. My limited car knowledge tells me that i’s basically a Lamborghini Diablo, which is an obvious choice to mod up for combat on a barren wasteland where petrol is worth killing over. After leaving New Hope all I see is desolation and roaming dog packs, civilization really has curled up and died. I pull up in a small town just outside New Hope and the sound of dog howls is suddenly joined by the crack of a shotgun blast, ignoring the chance to find out who is indulging in some gun-play, the best option seemed to be to get moving again.

Zig-zagging around the abandoned cars strewn about the highway I eventually came across a small filling-station, Joe’s Garage. A smart looking hot-rod was parked outside so I went to see if anyone was around, from inside the office an apparently rather cold young lady greeted me, ‘Hi! Can I help you?‘.

ff 005

I should really have smelled a rat, but the chance to buy some stuff is always tempting, especially as I had 200 credits burning a hole in my pocket. I stepped out of the car to speak to her and was promptly jumped by a skin-head with a crowbar who had been hiding behind the pumps. Not wanting to hand over everything I had at essentially the first hurdle, I took the guy on, not a tough opponent at 7/10 but I had only rolled a Skill of 9, so I wasn’t too hot myself. By the rules of the books hand-t0-hand combat I managed to knock him unconscious, but before I could turn my attention to the girl, she had jumped in their car and took off. Searching the garage didn’t turn up much, I set off on my way with a brand new length of chain.

Roaring out of the garage I was enjoying being able to hit a speed of 190kmph, uninhibited by the man, but I soon hit a different problem. There may be no police, but there are heavily armoured Chevvys with Steven Seagal sitting in a machine gun turret.

ff 001 (3)

Vehicular combat was going to be quite straightforward for me though as I’d rolled a maximum Firepower of 12 and damage was done at 1D6 per hit, so at 8/15, he didn’t last too long.

Shortly after this conflict, my radio crackled into life, it was one of the leaders of New Hope. Since I had left, they had been attacked by a biker gang who had kidnapped our council leader, Sinclair, and I was warned to be on the look-out for them. My progress was quickly brought to a halt though as the highway I was riding on was now completely clogged with abandoned traffic, my fuel situation was also becoming an issue as I had emptied the last of my supplies into the car and I needed to be finding some more pretty quickly. I took an easterly turn off the highway and my eye was caught by an ambulance off the side of the road.

ff 022

Checking out the vehicle turned up an empty drivers seat, I went around to the back to open up the doors and inside I found a small explosive that went off for 4 Stamina damage. Dazed and confused, I crawled into some tall grass, assuming that this booby trap would flush out its owner. Sure enough, an angry man in a headband followed the trail of blood I hadn’t realised I’d left and started shooting at me. Passing a Luck test, he missed, but I was now stuck in a shoot-out with him. Not easy given my Skill, he was 8/12, and despite killing him off I took a few hits. Sustaining in gunplay and getting hit more than once results in a loss of 1 Skill point – very harsh in my opinion, especially as this now meant I had a Skill of 8 to struggle along with. I took 150 credits and some knuckle dusters from his body and drove off to the east, then turning back south.

ff 020

My next obstacle was a small river with only a rickety old bridge to cross it. Wanting to keep moving south, I took the chance to drive across and the bridge was actually able to hold the weight of my vehicle! Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to sustain the blast of the explosives I triggered by driving across, destroying the support structure, sending me crashing into the water below. My adventure was very much over.

So let’s skip back and leave that one shall we? Turning back from the bridge, I headed back to the last junction, past the ambulance and found myself taking Skill tests to successfully jump a bridge. Another junction could take me south or  continue west, trying to keep on track, I took the southerly option. My progress was brought to a close again however as this path took me to a section asking if I had any fuel cannisters left… Having not yet found any reserves I had to again accept that my adventure was over!

Heading west at that last junction seemed to keep me running a little longer though so I stuck to that route, eventually coming across a man in a motorcycle helmet, waving his arms in the road. I was now one of them, ‘I might be able to kill him to get some petrol…‘, I mused.  Of course I still had a lot to learn in these wastelands and had been tricked into yet another ruse, the man ran to a ditch, flinging a grenade back at me, which a Luck test meant only caused a minor 2 Stamina points of damage. A second man popped up from behind the ditch and I was in another gun battle, thankfully they were relatively weak, having Skills of 7 and 5, I was able to dispatch them without sustaining any more loss of Skill. My reward was a throwing knife which I stuck in my boot and carried on driving.

More abandoned cars blocked my path as I continued west, but this time I did the intelligent thing and got out to investigate the vehicles for supplies. Very useful was the crowbar I came across, especially useful as I used it to pry open the boots of several cars, eventually turning up a precious cannister of petrol! An additional Luck point was also mine. Turning off south, this time I had the reserve fuel to keep myself going and I drove until it got dark. It was rime to get some rest, so I pulled up at a nearby cafe.

ff 021

Still having a modicum of self-respect, I rejected the option to sleep in the outhouse and went inside the cafe to find a bed. Satisfied that it wasn’t rigged with explosives like everything else seems to be in these parts, I set my head down for a bit of a sleep and managed a good nights rest for 2 extra Stamina points. Another day of driving and being blown up by things awaits…

Devastated by a killer virus, the world you once knew is a wilderness

Once upon a time, Mel Gibson wasn’t an utter maniac, he used to make films about policemen on the edge and Scottish terrorists, but one day he made a film called Mad Max. Ian Livingstone saw that film and then immediately wrote Freeway Fighter.

2014-10-28 18.26.09

 

Our adventure takes us to 2022, a world where World War 3 had been avoided and revolutionary farming techniques have all but eradicated world hunger, everybody is friends and it seems like science has saved humanity. An interesting detail is that the 2022 ‘soccer’ World Cup is actually being held in Australia, as if FIFA would hold it in such a crazy place. Even crazier is the idea that the final will be England vs USA. Anyway, the day that final was played, everything went a little bit Stephen King and a deadly virus emerged from somewhere in New York and within four days, 85% of the worlds population was dead. Civilization crumbled and people were willing to kill each other for a can of beans. As a survivor, our character finds himself living in the outpost town of New Hope where those holding onto the idea of civility hold up against the other half of humanity who are now rampaging around the place, looting and pillaging. New Hope has received word of another settlement in the south, San Anglo, and they are wanting to trade 10,000 litres of fuel for some of New Hopes food, which it has in abundance. So who do you think has to drive them sacks of grain and then bring back a tanker of oil amidst a lawless world of violence? That, would be our hero, who I shall call Mel.

We do actually get to name our hero in this book too as the adventure sheet has a section for the drivers name. There are actually a number of different rules to follow, we have 2D6+24 for our Stamina for instance. Unarmed hand-to-hand combat deals out 1 Stamina damage per turn and whoever takes 6 Stamina of damage first is knocked unconscious. Gunplay is run as normal combat is, but 1D6 damage is done per hit. Combat can also take place between vehicles as well, with a 1D6+6 Firepower score being the equivalent to Skill and a 2D6+24 Armour value being your Stamina, damage is again 1D6. We also have a number of special weapons in rockets, iron spikes and oil canisters.

Freeway Fighter is actually a book I remember getting as a kid, I actually remember being able to talk my dad into buying me a new Fighting Fantasy book, which is always a super exciting day as a youngster. My town hosts an annual fete with rides and all manner of duck hooks and associated rollercoaster fun times. Being a fan of video-games and books about wizards, this wasn’t exactly my scene… and to be honest, not a lot has changed! Anyway, as I managed to convince my dad that the money he would save on taking me on the rides would be best spent on a new book, and bingo – I’m cruising around a wasteland looking for oil.

With this book I get my first opportunity to steal anecdotes and information from Jonathan Greens You Are The Hero, which if you are sat reading this blog, you absolutely must own. From reading what is the Fighting Fantasy bible I am left wondering what might have been as apparently the amazing Iain McCaig was initially set to illustrate this book and produced this wonderful drawing before Kevin Bulmer took over.

FF_mccaig 001

 

But you never know, Kev might have sketched up a storm here, so let’s get stuck into the book and find out shall we?

 

 

How will you catch the Demon Fish?

Just a quick update here, very excited today to find this in Oxfam Books!2014-10-10 12.35.04

 

The Tasks of Tantalon, a Steve Jackson off-shoot based around visual puzzles it seems. I have never even seen the book before, let alone read it, so I’m fairly blind as to what I have here. Safe to say, I’m very happy to have got the hardback version for £2.99! I’m not sure if it will work for a read-through at some point but I will see what I can do…

Space Assassin – Conclusions

Cambridge Dictionaries defines an assassin as ‘someone who kills a famous or important person, usually for political reasons or in exchange for money’. It therefore am left perplexed by the conclusion of Space Assassin in that my character appears to leave his target alive, we drag an unconscious Cyrus from the Waldo and then that’s it. Unless there is a very dark inference that we then kill an unconscious man before making our escape, I think we’ve not exactly fulfilled our contract. It should also not go without mention that we’ve ended our adventure with what has to be the lamest ended of the series so far, two sentences and a single word, I’d be amazed if it can be topped in it’s ”will-this-do?‘-ness’!

Suffice to say that this was the weakest book I have played so farIt is a toss-up with Scorpion Swamp if I’m honest, but even though that book made some bizarre and infuriating decisions based around a non-linear structure that didn’t quite work, it at least tried something new. Space Assassin didn’t even feel like I’d been on an adventure. One long straight corridor after another, another meaninglessly easy piece of combat, no real obstacles to overcome, I had it finished in a single sitting that left me thinking ‘is that it?’.

sa 001 (3)

Setting and story I quite liked, a Josef Mengele style sci-fi villain certainly has legs, it just didn’t use them. In-fact, he actually turned out to be an absolute pussy. Perhaps some of the padding that was added to the original script by the publishers helped make the experience feel so empty, I guess we will never know. My play-through did miss a few additional sections that were added by the publisher though, one being this puzzle from page 332 where you have to pick a path across the room and add up the numbers on the tiles along your path to give you a page reference. I have no desire to figure that one out!

sa 017

Also missed was some sort of future video-game which pitted you in tank combat against an AI across a grid system, the point of which I’m not entirely sure of!

sa 023

sa 024

Less than spectacular illustrations seemed to pepper my route, but some better stuff was hidden away. Had I chosen to kill the small rodent scientists early on I would have been rewarded with this picture of my victims.

sa 008

And I can only imagine this interesting little scene would have greeted me if I’d somehow made my way to the surface of the surreal ‘outdoors’ section? Actually reminds me of the style we saw in the Sorcery series.

sa 014

Similarly crazy looking were these fellows…

sa 011

….and this guy who maybe failed the cut for Destiny.

sa 003

I was also glad to have avoided this monster, which may have been even more deadly opponent than the dreaded cleaners.

sa 015

One more illustration stood out to me as being particularly poor though, apparently this is supposed to be some sort of plant thing. To me it just looks like a mess.

sa 018

Anyway, Space Assassin is not a book I will remember with affection, as Bernard Black might put it, ‘Enjoy. It’s dreadful but quite short.’