Your quest is to find the Warlock’s treasure, hidden deep within a dungeon populated with a multitude of terrifying monsters. You will need courage, determination and a fair amount of luck if you are to survive all the traps and battles, and reach your goal – the innermost chambers of the Warlock’s domain.
After acquiring a copy of book 1 at the end of last week, I’ve finally managed to dip into the book and explored the initial stages of Fighting Fantasy’s debut voyage. I have to admit to remembering next to nothing regarding the content of the book, only selective pieces of art ring a bell, but so far, things have been very simplistic, especially when I look at the map I have drawn so far. Understandable though given that it’s the first one, but there is still plenty of time for it to get more complex.
Things kicked off pretty positively with me genuinely rolling a 12/23/12 character, not a single moment of cheating required, the dice did it all for me. Setting the scene is a fairly basic task as there is relatively little information given, with the background section being a mere one and a half pages long. A warlock at the top of a mountain has some treasure and you’re an adventurer heading off to steal it. Base-camp for the adventure ahead is a nameless village where a few rumours are put forward, goblins are suggested as the initial line of defense employed by the warlock, but with much tougher adversaries found deeper within the mountain. I could have told them that. A two-day hike from the village and it’s well-wishing inhabitants and I was at the foot of the mountain, a cave across a clearing being my entrance to the warlock’s lair.
A quick word about the art; something I appreciate an infinite amount more now than I did back in the 80’s is the artwork of these books, they used to be just pretty pictures, now I notice the different styles I see in each book and realise how much my feeling and interpretation of the book was influenced by the style of art. I still have my favourites, and infact I have recently ordered a print of a very famous piece of Fighting Fantasy art that I will discuss when it arrives! Some of the work in Warlock of Firetop Mountain is very nice, the detail is so fine thanks to the line shaded style, but on a lot of the illustrations there is far too much plain white and it makes them look half finished and stark, but I’ll comment as I go if necessary. Now, back to the ’82 dungeon crawl…
My first choice was to make a total fool of myself. The dungeon opened up into a T-junction, at which point I took a right turn, heading east towards a locked door. No problem though, my Skill of 12 meant shoulder-charging the thing down was a formality and as I smashed through the wood I found myself flying through the air and landing at the bottom of the two meter deep pit that lay on the other side. Livingstone & Jackson must have been pissing themselves laughing, the Warlock too I imagine. What a start. Still, only lost 1 Stamina, plenty more where that came from.
Furthering what felt like a tutorial section, I rounded a corner to find a sleeping goblin sentry that I had to sneak past with a Luck test, which with my super lucky stat rolling, was impossible to fail. In hindsight though, I probably should have just killed the lazy good-for-nothing on the off-chance that he might have something useful to steal.
Following the path to the north, a door which emitted a lot of snoring presented itself along the left side of the wall, inside was yet another guard, fast asleep. Although this one appeared to be in a filthy barracks area, so could kinda get away with it I guess. A small box was pilfered with a luck roll with a gold piece and a mouse inside, kept the gold and sadly let the mouse go. The corridor continued north through the barracks area past another two rooms on the left wall of the passage. The first door revealed an unoccupied room, although investigating a small box revealed my first conscious opponent, a snake! The thing had 2 Stamina, so was chopped in half without missing a beat. The little guy was apparently guarding a key, which I took with me. The final barracks door was not emitting any snoring, but hideous singing. Naturally, I wandered in.
I would recommend that the warlocks security be upgraded. Presumably he’s paying these orcs to act as guards and they are completely drunk. Getting a +1 to my combat rolls because of their intoxication, I killed the two of them and a quick search of their den gave me a box inscribed ‘Farrigo Di Maggio’. Inside was a small book called ‘The Making and Casting of Dragonfire’, a book apparently written by Di Maggio which contained a spell called Dragonfire, used in combat with dragons. On reading the words aloud, they glowed and vanished from the page… I can only assume this will be pretty useful later, possibly if I encounter a certain type of enemy… hmm.
Again, walking north, a T-junction was reached and I took a right turn, heading towards a door taking me into a dining room. The warlock takes good care of his orcs. Sadly, I did not, as I killed all five of them. For my troubles, I found a large flat case which contained a bow with a single silver arrow, the case bearing the words ‘The giver of sleep to those who never can’. I’m sure that will make sense at the appropriate time. Continuing north, another door on the right emitted a large amount of screaming from what seemed to be a human, smashing the door open, I went to the mans aid.
I remember this image freaking me out a bit when I first read the book, but I can kinda understand why! Something rather unsettling about this guy. I’m fairly sure I instantly cut him down as he charged at me on opening the door as well, but this time I calmed him and told him he was free. Apparently the orcs had been keeping him as a ‘pet’ in his own filth, he had once been an adventurer just like myself and had been captured. He gave me some information (to give respect to the boatman and pull the right-lever at the end of the corridor) and I sent him on his way. I hope he didn’t wake the guards I left alive…
Again, a door on the right welcomed me as I headed further north, forcing the door open gave me access to a glittering armory. A crescent shield, allowing me to decrease damage taken by one on rolling a 6 on a D6, was my reward.
Surprise, surprise… heading north, yet another door was on the right side of the corridor. See what I mean about simple beginnings? Through the door, tortured screams could be heard, I entered what was indeed a torture chamber and discovered a dwarf, strung up, being stabbed and sliced by two goblins. The dwarf died just after I entered, much to the disappointment of the goblins. Fairly grim stuff for a 7 year-old to have been reading! Of course, I did the same to the goblins, but this time all I came away with was a lump of cheese. At the end of the corridor though was a large metal portcullis with two large levers to the side of it. Remembering the advice of the mad old man I freed, I pulled the right lever which caused a rumbling and set the portcullis rising…
The rest of the mountain awaits! See you in part two…