Deathtrap Dungeon – Part 3

Right then, Throm, let’s do this. Despite his silly notions of attacking the seemingly quite powerful individual that stood before us, the trials to see who would progress began. Following the dwarf off into a hidden room, my tests began with simple dice rolls in a game of higher or lower. He rolled up an 8 on two D6 for me and I had to predict whether the following roll would be higher or lower… going with lower I replicated the dice roll for myself and managed a 5. Hooray!

My next test was one of pure Skill, a cobra was produced in a basket and the dwarf wished me to grab it by the neck, bear-chested. The bear-chested bit seemed unnecessary, but then I realised I’d misread and it said bear-handed, which makes more sense. Regardless, my awesome Skill score meant grabbing the scaly little dude was a formality. Bring on my next challenge, little man!

Guided into an arena type room I thought I was about to be put into combat with the pit fiend I had seen whilst flicking back and forth through the book, but instead I was face to face with two pieces of paper! One read ‘NO CROP IS’, the other ‘RUIN MOAT’. My opponent was to be of my chosing provided that I could unscramble the anagrams I had found. Using my skill and judgement I chose to face a scorpion over a minotaur. Scorpions are quite small, I’ll just step on it.

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Sadly, the anagram missed off the ‘AN GIT’ part, this was in-fact a giant scorpion. Should have gone with the minotaur really as this was a very tough fight; a 10/10 set of stats, the fact I had to treat its pincers as two opponents and the insta-death provided by its sting on an attack score of 22 all contributed to it being one tough little son of a bitch. Sadly though, for the scorpion, I eliminated him. Congratulations were in order from my dwarf overseer, and they were accompanied by the offer of food and drink, which I elected not to take…

Final test time came to the inevitable conclusion of a battle with my former companion, Throm. Staggering and wounded, he practically fell into the arena to face me and the dwarf shouted down to me that he’d been bitten by the cobra, but had managed to just about keep going. Should be easy then. But ‘poor Throm’ had stats of 10/12, so he still represented a fair challenge before I finally slayed him. Despite my victory, I harboured intense hatred for the dwarf for forcing me down this road and as he walked me to the cavern exit with a crossbow trained on me I thought ‘screw it’ and punched him in the face. Or at least I tried to, the tricky midget hopped out of the way, drew an axe and charged into combat with me, but at 8/6 he didn’t pose much of a challenge. Maybe we should have just killed him, Throm? Oops. Oddly though, I was able to take the dwarfs apparently ‘one-size-fits-all’ chainmail for a +1 Skill bonus.

On walking down the following tunnel, a buzzing sound caught my attention from a nearby turn-off. Exploration revealed a huge glass panel, behind which was a diamond encrusted crown sat upon a chair surrounded by a variety of huge, buzzing insects.

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That bad-boy had my name written all over it, the glass was smashed with my sword and I was quickly swinging the flaming torch on the wall at the flying things until I could grab the crown and get the hell out of there, sustaining only 6 Stamina worth of stings. My prize was however only slightly less painful than the insect stings though as the crown was merely painted iron and the diamond was a piece of glass. That’s just cruel.

Heading north, I opened up a casket, expecting the now seemingly obligatory vampire encounter only to find a nice large pearl that gave me +1 Luck. Progressing through the current chamber I discovered two doors, taking the left one I discovered some sort of arcane Jackass style trick as turning the handle projected a fist from out of nowhere, punching me in the stomach for -1 Stamina. Pouring the jug of acid I found earlier over what was apparently an Imitator saved me a combat encounter, but this was quite clearly a red-herring and so I plumped for the right door instead. Is it just me that always thinks that the ‘right’ door is the right door in the sense of more than just direction? Makes decisions awfully difficult sometimes…

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Continuing north, I passed up the option to drink at a couple of fountains to arrive at what was essentially a vending machine selling stilts. I did not see that coming. Not even the Japanese have that, I bet. One gold piece seemed a bargain, even though that represented 50% of my total monies, but soon seemed like an astute purchase as the very next encounter was a section of corridor covered in highly corrosive green slime. ‘If you are carrying a pair of stilts, turn to 183‘ it said. A little contrived you might say. And if I hadn’t bought them, in reality I could surely just turn around and grab a pair? Oh well, I did buy them, so I sizzled my way to a pair of wooden stumps crossing the slime and got on with my life.

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Another attempt to obtain a diamond met me as I traveled further north; a heavily armoured warrior lay dead in the middle of a polished stone room, a huge jewel lay next to his hand. I went to reach for the jewel, but thanks to the trap finding potion I drank earlier, I was warned that the room was trapped and not safe. The dead warrior had somehow not told me this. Alas, a diamond had evaded me once more and I continued onwards to find the opening of a chute in the wall being seemingly my only option for continuing. Sliding down it I emerged in-front of the hideous bloodbeast I had previously read all about in the pit with Throm.

Remembering the warnings in the text about the toxic contents of the pool it dwells within, I covered my mouth with my sleeve and moved myself into position to take out its primary weapon, it’s hideously long tongue. Ready for it, I sliced the tongue off as it flicked out to grab me and then I launched into combat with the awful thing. Its many eyes were the secret to killing it, finding the real eyes and the subsequent route to its brain would kill it and on my second successful attack round I got lucky and plunged my sword in and left the thing thrashing in a frenzy. Taking the opportunity, I scuttled off out of there.

Part two of this read-through began with my disregard to the ‘useless’ poem I had read on the parchment held by the skeleton warrior. Well, serve me up a slice of humble-pie as it saved my ass as I stumbled straight from the bloodbeast into the loving embrace of a manticore.

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Not having a shield, I didn’t manage to evade its entire volley of spikes, but the knowledge that it was coming meant that only one hit me, losing me 2 Stamina. Going into the subsequent fight with only 12 Stamina meant this was a tough one against a manticore with stats of 11/11, and after initially taking a bit of a beating, a series of Luck rolls helped me smash the weird looking bastard down to the ground.

As I wiped the blood from my sword, a small figure introduced himself to me as Igbut, the Trialmaster gnome. Igbut was to help me through the final challenge of the dungeon, the collection of jewels. Ulp.

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So, first up he asked if I had discovered an emerald. Yes! Igbut, my friend! I have one! What’s next??

Ok, now do I have a sapphire?

No.

Well, that’s it then. Unceremoniously, I had failed. I would now work for Igbut, modifying and expanding the dungeon for competitors in future years. A life as one of those Imps from Dungeon Keeper awaits me.

My adventure was over.

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Deathtrap Dungeon – Part 2

Having just taken a fairly useless manticore related tip on-board, we rejoin the trip through Baron Sukumvits dungeon down in a cellar-like area containing where a number of rather large mushrooms are growing. Offered the option to eat some of them, I figured I would think twice about eating wild, raw mushrooms at the best of times, let alone in within something called ‘Deathtrap Dungeon’ and so I left them well alone. A long tunnel lay ahead, several hundred meters worth, and it led up to a trapdoor in the ceiling above me, behind which I could hear muffled voices. Fairly sure these voices wouldn’t belong to anyone friendly, I smashed through the trapdoor with sword at the ready and going straight into swift combat with two goblins. Two doors, a table, chairs and a cupboard was all that remained. In the cupboard I found a mallet and ten iron spikes. I took the westerly door taking me into a passage with a door on the right side that I decided to check out.

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Atop an ornate plinth sat a human skull with jewels inserted into the eye sockets, loaded crossbows sat in the wall next to it and a couple of wooden balls sat next to the entrance. Summoning all of my macabre fun-fair skills, I hurled one of the balls at the skull, knocked it flying off its perch and stepping cautiously into the room, was able to claim its topaz eyes. Now, I’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, so I decided against placing the skull back on its stand and crept out of the room, carrying the skull with me. Without a single crossbow bolt being launched, I left with my new shineys.

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Taking a sharp right turn, I was walking through a hall of mirrors from which a hideous, multi-faced, multi-limbed creature emerged from within the mirror itself. A pan-dimensional mirror demon from another plane come to claim my spirit as her own; how the hell did Sukumvit hire her? Anyway, an attempt to smash the mirror failed and so I had to take her down with my sword in a straight fight, the sword worked much better on her than the mirrors and she fell. My only reward, other than keeping my life, was a rather cool piece of art as I was offered the option of ascending one of two staircases further along the corridor.

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Predictably, the right staircase collapsed under me, injuring my leg, but I was able to continue up to the top anyway. In the passageway before me I found the bodies of two orcs, someone else must be close by. Whoever had killed them had missed the necklace of teeth one of the orcs was wearing though, I took a gamble and tried it on to find it was an amulet of strength, giving +1 Skill and Stamina. Their killer was quickly found though as around the next corner I met one of the hulking barbarians who entered the dungeon with me at the start. A brief stand-off ensued, but eventually an understanding was formed and an agreement to work as a temporary team was reached. I have to say though, I now see it’s an eye-patch, but I always used to think the guy was wearing sunglasses.

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Heading west, we came across a large pit which represented a test of trust. He offered to lower me down on his rope, but I suggested he go first. Being a nice sort, I decided not to allow him to plummet to his death and carefully lowered him down before abseiling down myself. Throm was his name and we were now officially BFFs. At the bottom of the pit a tunnel led off into the dark, we followed it until a stone ledge appeared in the gloom. Two leather bound books sat on top of it, not being one for literature, Throm voiced his disdain and wandered off. I on the other hand took a look. One book was red and contained biological field-notes on the bloodbeast, which I assume can’t be far off now. The other book was black and on opening it I found that the pages had been hollowed out and inside was a small vial of liquid. Knocking it back I was rewarded with 2 Luck as it was a potion of trap detection, surely quite a boon in a place like this. Me 1 : Throm 0.

A little more walking and a couple of dead cave trolls later and the passage opened out to a huge cavern covered in stalactites. Searching the area turned up a leather bag but instead of a wonderous lost treasure, a little mouse ran out over Throms fingers and into the dark. Throm thought this was bloody hilarious and laughed his giant barbarian head off. Unfortunately the booming laughter started off a cave-in, rocks fell from the ceiling, stalactites crashed around us and only a successful Luck roll prevented us from being trapped in there. I told Throm to stop being such a dick and we moved on.

At the end of the tunnel was a large wooden door which Throm opened up and we went through. The door swung shut behind us as we entered a large, torch-lit chamber. Sitting alone in a big ornate chair was a dwarf, I love the artwork for him, probably my favourite in-book illustration from this title. He congratulated us on our progress, but reminded us that only one can conquer the dungeon and only one of us would be allowed to proceed. His trials would decide who that would be… in part three!

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Deathtrap Dungeon – Part 1

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#6

Deathtrap Dungeon

Down in the dark twisting labyrinth of Fang, unknown horrors await you! Countless adventurers before you have taken up the challenge of the Trial of Champions, but not one has survived. Devised by the devilish mind of Baron Sukumvit, the labyrinth is riddled with fiendish traps and hideous creatures of darkness to trick and test you almost beyond the limits of endurance!

Deathtrap Dungeon paints a picture in its introduction of a hysterically popular event created by Baron Sukumvit to promote his town, Fang. You can find Fang in the northern province of Chiang Mai, on the banks of the River Kok. Yes, Kok. With the help of the townspeople, Sukumvit created a vast labyrinth which to this date, has never been conquered by anyone who has attempted ‘the walk’, which is what those in the know call a trip into the dungeons depths. Our hero of the story, me, has decided that the challenge of a dungeon which has claimed the lives of all who have entered is too much to resist. The allure of a 10,000gp prize can’t be sniffed at either. Heading via Port Blacksand (‘that city of thieves’), we arrive in Fang to indulge in 3 days of celebration, being hailed as a superstar by the townsfolk, despite not having done anything of note yet, other than wearing a purple armband which denotes my status as a competitor. Hard to understand why they’re so excited though, it’s kind of like watching everyone go into the Big Brother house and then not being able to watch what happens inside.

Finally, the day to begin the walk arrives and we draw lots with the other five entrants, a ninja, an elf lady with some knives, some guy out of Dark Souls and a couple of bare-chested barbarians, to see what order we would enter the Big Brother House. Picking 5th, I waited for my turn.

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My first impressions of the dungeon were good ones, we were off to a pretty start through a gloomy cavern lit by natural luminescence of large crystals hanging from the ceiling. Insects scurrying around the dripping pools on the floor perhaps hinting at the nastier things waiting below. After five minutes of walking through relative tranquility, a large stone table emerged from the dark. On top were six boxes, one for each of this years entrants to the dungeon. I found the one with my name on and popped it open. Two gold pieces welcomed me, along with a note from Mr. Sukumvit himself, he congratulated me on having the nouse to open up the box and warned me that I would need to collect several items to escape the dungeon alive. Relax, Baron-baby, I’ve played these things before…

The first real choice then faced me in the form of a east-west junction, one with a white arrow pointing west that was clearly the favoured choice of the four entrants before me as 3/4 sets of wet footprints took that direction. I decided that west was the better option as three people going before me was more likely to result in them getting killed by traps and monsters, softening things up for me. Logic you can’t deny in reality at least anyway.

Ignoring a northerly turn, taken by one of the wet footprint trails, I continued west through the darkness until I came across a large iron bell. ‘Lets ring this thing’, thought I, only good things can come of it surely? Well, apparently not because ringing the thing created such a cataclysmic din that I lost 2 Skill and 2 Stamina through the sheer pain of it all until I could dull the sound with my boot. Well, I still have my 2gp, right? Or do you want those as well, Livingstone? Pff.

A little further along the passage and I’d taken a northerly turn sending me right into the middle of two hobgoblins, seemingly locked in combat over the possession of a small brown bag on the floor. Before they could react, I’d killed one through my swift decision to engage them, the other was slain in combat, although I did take a few hits in the process. Inside the bag was a vial of liquid, which through the highly scientific method of dunking a bit of cloth into it, I deduced to be acid. Hopefully something needs dissolving later on… have half a mind to use it on that bloody bell.

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A strange obstruction was around the next corner, a series of twelve poles, half a metre off the ground, spaced a metre apart. Clearly something weird was going to kill me here, so I decided to walk stay well away from all of them. Success in a Skill test seemed to have done the trick as I managed to step between all twelve poles without misplacing my footing and suffered no penalty. I had still been following two sets of footprints, but now as the corridor meandered on they began to fade from view, but my chosen oath had eventually brought me out in a large chamber, inhabited by a giant stone idol.

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Eyes made of jewels, he sat there, flanked by two giant stuffed birds, just begging for me to scale his giant belly and take those eyes from him. And so I set off, up over his beautifully smooth gut, passing a Luck test in the absence of a rope in my inventory and triumphantly making my way up to his nose. Given the choice of taking the left or right eye, I used my skill an judgement to note that Mr. McCaig had chosen to draw the left eye glinting. So, I took the hint and went for that one, earning myself a nice big emerald. Unfortunately, but predictably, this removal triggered the two stuffed birds to come to life and attack! Losing 3 Skill due to my precarious position on the fat lads face, I very nearly got myself killed, going all the way down to 4 Stamina before the second bird fell. A few provisions methinks.

Down the following corridor a door to the left took me into what turned out to be a completely empty room, the door slamming shut behind me. An unseen voice spoke to me, asking me to pay my respects to Baron Sukumvit. Wanting to show my bravado in the face of potential doom, and partly because I remembered this bit from last time I read the book, I denounced Sukumvit as a worm. My insubordination was rewarded as a glittering gold ring appeared before me. No idea what it does, but I took it along for the ride. Continuing on my northerly path, the corridor was soon lit by a strange shaft of light bearing many laughing faces.

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Walking through the light, the happy faces were replaced with the sad face of a small girl who read me a few lines of a poem. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that I need to go swimming at some point if I want to survive this thing. Further down the northerly stretch of corridor was a heavy stone door, behind it was another dark room, filled with a faint humming sound. Algae and moisture covered the walls of the room and in the middle appeared to be a small pit, within this was a sickening, writhing mass of giant worms undulating around a bejeweled dagger. Mine! I fished around in the pile of worms and eventually managed to free the blade, tucked it into my belt and went to leave the room. The humming sound I had heard then made its presence fully known as a giant fly came buzzing into my life in an attempt to see what I had just been stealing from her babies. A Luck roll helped me avoid her shiny black proboscis and then I hacked her to bits with my sword. Sorry, love.

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Taking an easterly turn at the next junction and leaping over a pit I’m pretty sure I fell into in the iOS version of the book, I was soon heading north again as the passageway took a left turn and revealed a side-door which I just had to investigate. Inside was a large, candle-lit room full of stone statues and from behind one leaped a white haired old man, giggling like a loon. He claimed that I would be another stone for his garden. As one of the statues seemed to be the Dark Souls guy from the start, I quickly figured out what was going on. He did offer me a chance to escape though by solving his riddle, so I heard him out. Motioning towards the Dark Souls guy, he said ‘This man weighs 100 pounds, plus half his weight. How much does he weigh?’. Unsure how mathematically accurate this question was, I plumped for the 200 pound answer. Seemingly impressed for someone who had just missed out on creating another of his clearly beloved statues he wished me well and cast a spell increasing all my stats by one.

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Following a bit of a pattern here, the corridors continues north before again presenting me with a door to open up, this one marked with a large X. Through the door sat a skeletal warrior clad in extensive armour and holding a parchment in his hands. You can see where this is going, can’t you? So yes, I took the parchment and the thing comes to life and then goes back to death as I battered it to the floor with my sword like a good little adventurer. In your face, Harry Hausen! Somewhat disappointingly, all the parchment could give me was a clue in the form of another poem. Apparently I’ll meet a manticore at some point and I have to watch out for his spikes. Good-o.

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An alcove at the end of the room led down deeper into the dungeon and that is where we’ll be heading next time…

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Down in the dark twisting labyrinth of Fang, unknown horrors await you!

Christmas now done, we can now return to the task in hand – Fighting Fantasy. Firstly, just wanted to say congratulations to Johnathan Green and his successful You Are The Hero project on Kickstarter, which at the time of writing you still have 45 hours to back and get yourself some goodies. And congratulations to the community too!

Secondly, the meat. Arguably the most famous Fighting Fantasy title other than Warlock of Firetop Moutain is the next book, Deathtrap Dungeon. Like City of Thieves, this comes from the writer and artist combo of Ian Livingstone and Ian McCaig, which as you’ll probably know if you read my City of Thieves account means that the illustrations are top-notch and push the atmosphere to another level. In my opinion, outdoing his work on the Forest of Doom cover, Ian McCaig created an iconic piece of fantasy art for the cover, a print of which I bought  several months ago and have finally got around to framing. And before you ask, it appears to be sold out still.

 

Considering the iconic nature of the cover, you’d expect it to survive into the publishing of the book in foreign territories wouldn’t you? Well, as I learned from the recent Dragonmeet panel with Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, the Japanese release had a slightly different cover.

DD_japanese_coverI shit you not.

My copy of the book itself is an eBay purchase, again in great condition, but this one did actually come with a hidden bonus; access to the sellers bank account! Normally when the bank sends you a new pin number, you’re expected to remember it and destroy it as opposed to post it to someone. You plum, eBay.

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Anyway, Deathtrap Dungeon was obviously a big favourite of mine as a kid, as it was for many other people. My memories of it are actually relatively fresh though as I did buy the iOS version back when it was still on sale. I’m fairly sure I died in a hole somewhere though, so hopefully I can rectify that outcome with the physical book. It really wasn’t done as well as iOS Blood of the Zombies though, and presumably the up-coming House of Hell conversion and others too! Regardless, Deathtrap Dungeon iOS looked a bit like this…

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And this isn’t the only computer based version, an old PSOne game was made back in 1998. From my memories of the demo disc off the front of Official Playstation Magazine, it was a fairly generic, very ugly hack n’ slash game which I had little interest in save for the Fighting Fantasy branding and the launch campaign which introduced a delighted teenage-me to Kelly Brook.

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As for reading it for the first time, I’m pretty sure it was a purchase from my favourite shop at the time, Alley Books. As my burgeoning army of Twitter followers will know, I visited the shop over the Christmas holidays, I hadn’t been there in years but some twenty plus years later, it’s amazingly still running. I swear it’s shrunk though, it was much bigger when I was 8.

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I remember being enthralled by the cover art, again like the Forest of Doom Shapeshifter, the Bloodbeast sucked me in and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was fascinated by horror as a child, sneaking looks at gory images on the backs of scary movies in video shops and specifically novelizations of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies which had stills from the film in the middle, all the stuff I knew I shouldn’t be looking at drew me in and fascinated me. Picking up Deathtrap Dungeon from the shelves of Alley Books and seeing this weird thing on the cover, I had to read it and kill it! And that’s exactly what I intend to do all over again; I know which is your real eye this time Mr. Bloodbeast…