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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.