The journey begins with the typical detail that the hero of the story is an adventurer looking for trouble. Scorpion Swamp is dangled as a treasure-laden carrot in front of us, but despite it’s awful inhabitants, the means of which to navigate the mists is what claims most visitors lives, leading them in circles until they die of exhaustion or worse. As luck would have it though, a solution soon presented itself. Whilst walking along the Kings highway, I took on the role of good samaritan, offering a crumpled, dusty old woman on the roadside a drink of water. Blessing my kindness, it appeared that there was more to the woman than met the eye as my reward was a magic ring. Seems this ring offered me two new powers, I would be able to sense whether a person was friendly or hostile towards me, I would also be constantly aware of which direction was north. So, after that rather contrived means of dispelling the main threat of the swamp, it became my destination.
Fenmarge was the nearest settlement to the swamp and so of course, I strode boldly in, telling folks of my plans and was quite forcibly told I was an idiot for even thinking it and was going to die. Little did they know about my ring… As they muttered and shook their heads, one man stepped over to me and told me his name was Gronar, a farmer who seemed to be willing to give me a chance. We sat at a table together and he suggested that going into the swamp without a specific goal in mind. Here we find our way into the choice of quest in Scorpion Swamp, Gronar tipped me off to three men in Fenmarge that were in need of reaching into the depths of the swamp, but were unable to due to the danger it presents. Selator, Grimslade and Poomchukker were their names, with good, evil and neutral being their respective alignments. Despite Poomchukkers glorious name, I decided to bow to Satan and paid Grimslade a visit, my ring burning hot with warning.
Behind the huge iron door at the front of his tower, the skeletally thin Grimslade stood waiting for me and said he knew everything about me and the snivelling fool Gronar that sent me. He wanted to know exactly why I thought I could help someone such as him. Keeping quiet about the ring, I told him that I feared nothing and gave him a smile. He retorted by making his stone goblin statue attack me, which is a novel response to give. My sword proved ineffective against stone, so much to Grimslades amusement, I hacked the leg off a table and its crushing blows smashed the goblin statue to pieces. Reasonably happy, he gave me a healing potion and described the job he needed me to do. It seemed this arcane master had some rival wizards move in, and oddly, move into the swamp itself. Each of them had a silver amulet that was the source of their power and as a collector of such things, Grimslade wanted to get his hands on them and told me to bring back at least three of them, for which I would receive 500g each. To assist me, I was given six spell gems, which allowed me to pick six one-use spells, some of which could be ‘evil’ based on my allegiance with Grimslade. I went for Stamina, Ice, Fire, Withering, Illusion and Fear.
Standing on the southern edge of the swamp, my 10/21/9 hero was ready to leave. Hopping over a few insect ridden pools, I decided to map the area like I explore areas in video-games such as Baldurs Gate and Diablo, by going around the edge and filling in the middle later as much as possible. Of the north, east and west options I elected to explore to the east first and discovered a hollow tree.
Thinking it would be best not to have a little sit down on the rocks, I investigated the hollow and of course, our wandered a big angry bear, which managed a hit or two before being killed. Finding nothing os value in its den, I continued east. A small pool was in the next clearing and on my arrival, brown, rubbery tentacles appeared from the water and I was under attack from a very aggressive looking Pool Beast. The fella on the cover in-fact. Electing to keep my spells for now, I engaged him with my sword and he did manage to do a bit of damage as at 8/10, he had a reasonable amount of Stamina to wear down. But wear it down I did and cut out the violet jewel embedded in the creatures forehead.
The only path to follow was back to the west, past the dead bear, hopped over the insect pools again and this time, over to the west to find a log cabin. Outside sat a couple of growling wolves which prompted the emergence of a burly, bearded man from within the cabin. He wore an amulet that resembled what Grimslade was after… this guy certainly didn’t look like a wizard though. He gruffly shooed me away, but knowing I needed that amulet, I persisted with some magic. I used my Fear spell which sent him dashing inside, leaving me to fight his two wolves who soon met their end. Unfortunately this wizard, who frankly looks like one of the Bee Gees, had in his fear-stricken state, magically sealed himself and his amulet inside the cabin. Bugger.
Taking the northern route from here, following the western edge of the swamp, my progress was blocked by a deep section of swamp with clear signs of movement below the surface. Having taken a fair bit of damage so far, I elected to use some more magic and used an Ice spell to construct a bridge over to the other side of the deep water. My bridge took me into a clearing of trees and this soon became a clearing of trees attempting to take my life. See, these were in-fact Sword Trees and every branch ended in a little hand swinging a sword. Where a tree gets a sword I don’t know, let alone a number of them.
Getting a little trigger happy with my spell-casting, I decided to torch them with a Fire spell. Fake Steve Jackson had other ideas though and the spell only did 2 Stamina damage and then sent me into combat against them, which at 9/12 before my immense fire damage was an encounter that took its toll. I did hack the things down though and went on my merry way to the north with a handfull of their seeds.
Dipping down, the path took me into a grassy clearing where I saw what seemed to be a horse, but on turning to face me, it revealed itself to be a Unicorn, and a badly wounded one at that. Would I save it or hack it to bits? That’ll be for next time…