I’m sticking my neck out on this Facebook fad

Just a small piece of shameless self-promotion here, letting you know that I’ve created a Facebook page for this here blog. A ‘Like’ would be appreciated, and there should now be a little button down the side here so you can do just that without having to leave the page. All my scans have been uploaded to the Facebook page, so you do have some incentive to go visit it if you fancy idly browsing the artwork. Getting more people involved makes this far more interesting for me and hopefully helps boost the community of Fighting Fantasy fans that are out there. Share some images of demons, dragons and human sacrifice with your friends, they’ll think you’re totally metal! Just don’t share any of that crappy Starship Traveller art or you’ll lose friends, lovers and respectability.

You can of course continue to get all updates and plenty of extra bits on Twitter too.

So yeah, check it out here.

Next book will be started shortly!

House of Hell – Conclusions

Before I started reading this book, I voiced my concern in the introduction that my fond memories of this book were probably going to be destroyed by the experience my now more learned self was going to have with it. Thankfully, these concerns did not have any grounds in reality as I had a really great time with this one. Of all the books I’ve read so far I haven’t explored any in the detail I did this one, and that’s simply because I had no choice! Without reaching for a walk-through or encountering spectacular luck, completing House of Hell requires a lot of exploration. It truly feels like a totally non-linear experience, more-so than any of the books so far. I’ll be honest that the setting was what made this a palatable thing, this claustrophobic old house was something I wanted to search, a less interesting environment might have led me to say ‘screw this’ and ended the adventure prematurely. Remember my experiences with Scorpion Swamp? Ultimately, barely a cupboard or dresser went unexplored…

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I realise that scrawl probably makes little sense, but it’s all you’re getting.

Despite getting through the book off my own trial and error, I did have to guess my way through the password to obtain the Kris knife. The letter I had read was a red-herring, and I had wrongly assumed that the detail about ‘Shekou’ knowing the password was the false information. Shekou actually was able to tell me what the password was, Pravemi had been the password at one point, but it had been changed again it seems. Shekou was in-fact the hunchback jailer that I met after falling through the trap-door having pressed the button in the drawing room, who you can see here being played by Timothy Spall.

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My mistake came from not having met him previously, had I entered the house through the front door from the beginning I would have met Shekou and when I then met him a 2nd time in the cellars and plied him with some brandy, further dialogue would have revealed that the password was similar to the name of the house. ‘Drumer’ is an anagram of ‘murder’ and so through my decision to sneak in the back, the very first decision I made, the solution to that problem evaded me.

One thing I didn’t think worked very well was the Fear system. For a book that requires so much exploration and witnessing so many different encounters, you sure rack up Fear points at a rate of knots and to me it felt a little unbalanced. Even with a near maximum Fear allowance, I should have died of fright a couple of times over. Doesn’t really increase the fun of playing, one of Mr. Jacksons less successful experiments I’d argue. Combat is generally pretty easy in this book though, there aren’t many high-Skill opponents and the main challenge is finding your way around, which I think is the most enjoyable element of a Fighting Fantasy book.

I touched upon the grisly nature of some the art, which I generally thought was of a pretty good standard, but when we look at the image that was removed from early editions, it’s pretty amazing to see what they thought was perfectly ok for kids to see.

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Hanging corpses, tumbling bodies, blood-drooling goat-headed men… all fine. Not to mention the blood-frenzied description of the sacrifice, which even as a 32 year old I found a little unsettling. A bit of naked flesh? Good god no! Are you insane?

Anyway, I won’t waste anymore time raging against a 25 year old piece of censorship, I’ll end this here stating that when House of Hell the movie eventually does surface, the old ‘book is better than the film’ way of thinking will remain unchallenged.

 

House of Hell – Part 3

Last time we had just obtained a pointer in the right direction for how to defeat the Master, I had my eye out for a woman called Mordana, who may or may not be dead, and who apparently resides in the Abaddon room. Moving further around the balcony I quickly found what I was looking for, three doors and a staircase represented my options; an unmarked door, one to the Belial room and one to the Abaddon room. Wanting to explore a little first, I tried the other two rooms first. The Belial room was unoccupied, save for a selection of boxes covered by large white dust-sheets, and so I took the opportunity for a brief rest, gaining 4 Stamina. Soon enough things turned weird though as one of the sheets begain to rise into the air, giving me 1 Fear point. I snatched the sheet from the air to see what was underneath, but instead heard a small snap as I had broken the string it was being lifted into the air by… But lifted by who? Bizarre. The Fear point I had just gained was deducted. Next, I checked the unmarked room. This was a lavish, cosy-looking bedroom, also unoccupied. On the bedside table was an innocent looking snack of tea, jam and bread. Don’t mind if I do. An extra Luck point and 4 Stamina were mine!

So, next up was the Abaddon room where, based on the clue I read in the window earlier, I expected to find Mordana. What I found was a dark, musty room willed with flowers and plants which surrounded a bed, in which lay an old woman. Despite already having been told she was dead, I had to add two Fear points from the horror of discovering her body. I’d have been far happier to accept the Fear points in response to the corpse opening its pupil-less eyes and speaking to me!

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Words came from her, but her lips did not move, ‘Begone, intruder. Leave an old woman to die in peace!‘ I was told. But I wasn’t going anywhere until I found out where to get a Kriss knife. She still wasn’t keen on talking though and two great danes came bounding in through a secret panel which opened as she protested at me staying. Similarly weak to the ones I encountered last time, they represented no real challenge. It was only then as I began to rummage through her room that she showed a weakness, she wanted no harm to come to her flowers. Obviously, I then threatened her flowers and she talked. But before she would answer my questions, she wanted one more thing, for me to tell her her name. The ‘88‘ reference from earlier was my key here and I told her that her name was Mordana by turning to that page. I chose to push her for information on secret passages and chambers in the mansion and she gave up some priceless information on how to find the Masters most carefully hidden chamber, but not the password to enter it. Apparently it had been changed recently and someone named ‘Shekou’ would know it, the room itself however was under the cellar stairs and when in that location I have to deduct 10 from that page reference and turn to that page. And with that her eyes closed and our ‘conversation’ was over.

My only way forward now was down the stairs which took me to the entrance hall. Three doors awaited me, to my right and left as well as the front door. As before, Resident Evil has taught me that leaving through the front door is a bad idea and so I went for the door to my right. In here was a drawing-room, very cosy it was too and I made straight for the decanters of brandy and had a little sip for 3 Stamina points, just like in real life. I stashed a little away in a nearby silver hip-flask to take with me. Above the fire-place in the room was a carriage clock with a bunch of letters stuffed behind it, but whilst checking that out I caught my sleeve on some of the woodwork and noticed that a small carved demon face could be slid back and forth. Checking out the letters first I found one sent to the Earl, the writer tipping off the Earl that his house had just been raided and that the Earl should be careful, suggesting ‘…changing the password on your own cache. I for one know that is Goathead. Why not change it to something that will remind you of the sound advice of a good friend?‘. It was signed by ‘Count Pravemi‘. So there we go, the password was Goathead, as suggested earlier by Mordana it had recently been changed and this letter suggests the password could well be the name of its sender, Pravemi?

Before I could take further action, the fire started to lick itself back into life, slowly but surely the fire grew and two fire sprites leaped from the flames to attack me.

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Deciding the option to throw brandy on them might not help my cause, I backed off and threw a pot plant at them, the soil spilling out all over them and extinguishing their firey little lives without me needing to actually engage them. Ignoring the button for now, I went into the next room which turned out to be a Study. Leather-bound books and a rich smell of mahogany greeted me, probably, and a huge desk sat in the middle, lit by a single candle and presenting a single, black piece of paper. All of a sudden, on the paper, words began to form in a childish handwriting; ‘Find Shekou‘. This was apparently enough to add an extra Fear point. It should be noted that at this point I’d hit my 11 and by the rules of the book, I should be dead. However, screw the rules, I’m carrying on. Who or what Shekou was I still didn’t know, but I already knew I had to find him so you’re wasting your time, ghost-ink.

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Poking around the room revealed some interesting books and I opened up one called ‘Mystical Symbols and Their Part in Magic Rituals‘ and from its hollowed-out pages fell a pentacle, a piece of paper underneath it describing it as having powers over devil worshipers. Seems to be a fairly solid choice of item to be carrying in these parts, so I took it along, being told that I should turn to page 66 if I needed to use it. I left the room and ended up with a choice of two doors or continuing down the corridor. The corridor took me back to the kitchen I got stuck in earlier, the right-hand door led to a room with nothing in it other than a clue that mirrors here doubled up as portals to the reception area and so I was left with the option of the left-hand door. A small flight of stairs saw me descend into a cellar, bats swarmed around me from nowhere, chalking up another Fear point. Hiding under the stairs like a girl I managed to avoid combat with the bats who eventually decided to leave me alone to explore the cellar. Scrambling around the walls I eventually found a loose brick which hid a lever, pulling the lever opened up a hidden door to inky-blackness. I stepped through.

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What I had found was in-fact the devil-worshipers changing room. Gowns and goat head hung together on hooks waiting to be put on by whoever it was I could now hear approaching the room. About forty men entered, chatting and talking, giving someone called Brother Isaacson some friendly abuse about tonight being special for him. I played along and started dressing myself in some vacant robes and followed the men out of the room. It was at this point that I realised what was happening. I was witnessing the sacrifice I had seen before I restarted, but from an entirely new angle. Very cool idea. Unfortunately, this new perspective meant nothing and led me down the same path as before (except revealing that Brother Isaacson was doing the sacrifice and it was his first one), which as you may remember, led me into an insta-death-dead-end.

Back to the drawing board I go. It means relinquishing my pentangle, but let’s rewind to the drawing-room where I dispatched the fire sprites and find out what that button does.

Pressing the button produced a small click and a sliding noise as a panel on the other side of the room opened, wandering over to investigate I failed to notice that I’d been lured over to a trapdoor which sent me plummeting down into a cell below the drawing-room. As luck would have it, I had landed on a small pile of earth and so avoided injury, but I had to add a Fear point for the shock. Probably hearing my fall, someone was coming towards the entrance to the cell, I shot over to the wall and hid behind the door. A short, stocky man entered and seemed puzzled at the seemingly empty room before him, he was unarmed so I decided to say hello. I managed to talk my way out of things somehow, the text is a little unclear, but I think I somehow convinced him I was a friend of the Master and had accidentally fallen through a trap-door!

After he showed me out of the cell, I was given some directions to get me back into the upper floors of the mansion but I chose to ignore them and further explore its lower reaches after he had gone. Beyond an impassible locked door I opened up another into a second area of cells, but these ones were occupied.

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I had no way to release them, so of the current in-mates, I talked to the bald man and told him my intentions. He was sympathetic to my cause and gave me more information about how I would win the final battle here. The detail of the Kris knife I already knew, but apparently the Master must be killed in a red room – symbolising a battle in hell, the dining room would fit that description but it was locked, the key hidden behind a mirror during ceremonies. His suggestion was that I leave the cells immediately and so instead of talking to the others, I followed his advice and went back out to the hallway. Further along, another door was found on the right-hand wall and I went in to investigate, still very aware that I’d yet to find the Kris knife.

What I found was a very well equipped torture chamber… ok… you can torture people with a Kris knife, right? Before I could make a decision on my next move I was approached by a broad-shouldered, powerful looking man wearing an apron and eye-patch. Evidently, the torturer. He clearly had no time for my bullshit and took the stance that I should not be there, even when I pretended to be a friend of the Master, he didn’t believe me and with the help of some assistants he had me strapped to a rack to try and prove whether or not I was telling the truth.

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What followed was actually a very fun section, albeit with a slightly silly, and difficult to implement, rule. I was to be asked a series of questions about the mansion, I would be given a letter and I had to respond with the first word that came into my head related to the mansion. Sort of like Blockbusters in hell. As the reader I had to write down my answers and if I didn’t start writing immediately, I was to deduct 1 Stamina as the rack was tightened – that was the slightly daft bit. Regardless, the game went like so…

Given the letter D, I said ‘Drumer‘,

Given the letter A, I said ‘Abaddon‘,

Given the letter K, I said ‘Kris‘,

Given the letter M, I said ‘Mordana‘,

Given the letter S, I said ‘Sekou‘.

Each answer was given a score and overall I’d managed a score of 23, only Kris wasn’t a top answer (from Blockbusters to Family Fortunes…), for which I should have said Kelnor instead. Regardless, I’d answered well enough to win a set of matching luggage and the apologies of the torturer who was now convinced that me and the Master were best buds and he bid me farewell.

From here, I stopped, looked around and realised this was bat-country. I was back in the cellar. At this point I slapped the book down, looked at my hugely convoluted map and started to wonder if I was ever going to get out of here. And yes, I can hear you screaming at me, dear reader, yes, I’d completley forgotten the advice Mordana had given me and I was reminded by accidentally seeing that page entry as I scanned for my now lost page. Excitedly I rushed under the stairs and deducted 10 from the page entry as that lovely old dead woman had instructed me to and BOOM, my finger-tips managed to locate the outline of a door sunken into the wall. But what was the password?

Big and clever, I knew exactly what that password was, of the options given, I picked ‘Pravemi‘ and of course the rock cracked and crumbled as the door began to open for me. Oddly though, only one half of the door hollow opened up for me and I squeezed inside to find a box sat on top of a table. Inside the box was my prize, a pearl-handled dagger and curiously, a bottle of black liquid as well. As I went to leave the room, the door slammed shut on me, leaving me trapped in this tiny secret room. Oh god… The only thing I could try was the bottle, I could swear I saw eyes within the swirling black liquid, but I opened it up anyway. As soon as it was un-stoppered, black smoke filled the room and then sucked back into the bottle as quickly as it came out, the only problem being that it had sucked me into the bottle with it. What I had actually done was release an evil genie, a Nanka, and it had just ended my adventure.

Ok then… erm. What? Had I not got the password right? My other options were ‘Goathead‘, which I knew was out, then I was left with ‘Murder‘ and ‘Kris‘. Neither made that much sense and so I went with the former and this yielded results, half the door opened (although the text doesn’t say which half) and I was presented with another box and table, only this one contained the real Kris knife!

Wondering exactly how I’d got the password wrong I went back up into the mansion proper and ended up in the reception area, a quick scout around revealed a hidden compartment in the reception desk which contained a small box. Inside was a Golden Key! Ah-ha! Back in part one I discovered the door for this key, I jumped through the nearby mirror which portaled me back to that room and I used the golden key… inside this dusty room I found a set of Iron keys marked with a number 22. All falling into place now as I knew that these keys belonged to a door in the kitchen section I was stuck in earlier.

And what’s next to a kitchen? A dining room.

A sparkling chandelier and red wallpapered walls met me; my body was ready. I rang the butlers bell.

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Franklins the butler came in and I sent him to fetch the Master, the pair returned shortly after, the Master furious that he was being bothered at this time of night. I chose this time to reveal my dastardly plan to end the evil in the house and had to chose who to attack first. If WoW has taught me anything, it’s that I should handle the adds first, so I went for Franklins the butler first. He ran from me like a coward, but I chased him down and attacked, but as my first blow landed, he began screaming. And he didn’t stop. It wasn’t the cry of  man in pain, but something quite different… Steam hissed from the floor around Franklins and his form began to change, the evil in the house was making itself fully apparent now as apparently, the butler did it. He had shown his true form, a Hell Demon.

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As he completed his transformation I had to add three Fear points. By now I’d acquired enough Fear points to kill me twice over, so again, screw that mechanic. Hell Demons are quite tough it seems, 14/12 are fairly formidable stats, but the Kris knife boosted my Skill by 6 for this fight meaning that for me, this was actually quite an easy fight. Much like all the other fights in this book actually. As the demon thrashed in his death throws, a chandelier was knocked from the ceiling and the room was ablaze in no time. The Earl had leaped to the body of the hell demon and was clutching it, he began sobbing at the loss of his precious demon… his… lover? We will never know, I ran from the house and watched it burn.

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A fitting end to a house of hell.

House of Hell – Part 2

Last time, we  ended in a prison cell deep beneath the ground; much like the Xbone – abject failure. Today, we’ll scurry back in time a little and try to stay out of that damn kitchen.

Things went south very quickly after we turned off the stairs after the vampire and ventured through the portal mirror. The option to continue down the stairs was the last big deviation I neglected to explore, so that was where we pick the adventure up. The narrow stairway descended further ahead and took me down to a T-junction at which I took a right, leading me to a short passageway with a door at either end. Going through the right hand door I was greeted by the sight of a food storage room in which I had the option to eat a number of food-stuffs, I opted to just go for some bread as that seemed reasonably safe. Good decision too as I got 2 Stamina points back. The room at the other end of the passageway was curiously locked from the side I was on, unbolting it led me into a small cell, inside which was this happy chap.

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He asked of I had ‘come for him’, desperate for any friends I could find in here and given that he’d been locked in this room, I figured I could trust him and told him the truth. What followed was a brief bit of exposition, mostly detailing how he had once been part of the Masters coven, but was now set to be a sacrifice in the next ceremony. But then, before we could continue two men burst in through the door wearing goat heads and wielding knives. Me and my new friend, who I’m calling Mungo II took the Devil-Worshippers on and as I felled my opponent I turned to see Mungo II take a dagger through the chest. Even more useless than Mungo I. In a moment of sheer bad-assery I simply punched the remaining Devil-Worshipper in the back of the neck and killed him instantly.

Exploring the left turn at the bottom of the stairs cost me a Stamina point as the stairs continued down even further and in the darkness I slipped and fell to the bottom. What awaited me was the hideous banned image that had been removed from later editions that I mentioned in my intro. Around forty goat-headed men in robes stood around a fire, chanting in a monotonous tone whilst a naked woman lay on an alter. One man with his goat-head dyed purple stood over her with a knife.

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I had no option but to watch the events unfold, the pitch of chanting rose, the men encircled the woman and with a huge scream, the one with the knife brought it down on the woman. The goat-men then descended upon the body to smear her blood all over themselves. That’s pretty heavy for a story aimed at kids, I must say! My escape was aided by the blood-frenzy though as a Luck test helped me sneak out of the room undetected through a passageway and slowly into the dark. Fumbling around against a wall led me to discover a small button which opened up a sliding door into a left-right passage with a door at either end. Going through the right door it seemed I had found one of the brethren who had completely forgotten about the sacrifice.

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I’m not even mildly concerned about the severed goats head on the table by the way. It seemed he wasn’t the most loyal of the brethren though as he whispered to me that he was not a poor man and would reward me if I helped him escape. I told him the truth about my fairly eventful evening in the house so far, he said his name was Rafferty and that we should escape together! Apparently there was a secret trap-door in the ceiling, if I were to allow him to climb up on my back he could get it open and then help pull me up. Now that sounded like a swift way for me to get double-crossed with a knife in my back, figuratively or actually, so I left Rafferty to his goat head. At the other end of the corridor, the door took me into some sort of kennel which housed some rather poorly drawn great danes.

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My awesome Skill came in handy as I killed three of them without getting bitten once. However my bravado was short-lived as I took the option to drink from their awful dog-water for 2 Stamina points. Beggars can’t be choosers. Leaving the room took me back into the corridor, but no way out was evident, the sliding door I had come in through had closed up. A bell-push on the wall seemed to be my only option and so I used it. Rather than open up the next stage of the adventure, what I had actually done was sound an alarm, a bell began ringing through the house which was about to result in the servants and devil-worshippers of the house coming in to take me away for the next sacrifice. My adventure was over, again!

Damn your eyes, Jackson! Another long wild goose chase, dead-end with no way out? Maybe I missed something, but I guess I need to back-track even further as without the keys I haven’t yet discovered, there is no way forward after the vampire. Looking back at my map, proving to be the most important one I’ve made so far, I think the best option is to head back to the landing overlooking the entrance hall and continue exploring around there…

We’ve already explored some of the balcony’s left side, the Balthus and Diabolus rooms, so now we’ll check out the right side. My first port of call was the Azazel room, set into the right side of the landing, and this turned out to be a small laboratory.

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Opening up some of the drawers revealed a letter-opener which I could use as a weapon, pretty useful as I’m playing fair and so no longer had the knife I’d found in the store room, this getting me back to my Skill of 12. Hearing voices outside I had to move on after they had passed and so I couldn’t search around any further, this took me around the lading to the next door, the Erasmus room, which was locked and sadly too sturdy to break down. One door remained at the end of the landing, but before I could reach it 1 more Fear point was mine…

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She appeared in front of me and but seemed incredibly relieved that I had found her and told me we must speak immediately in the room ahead. Desperate for some help by now, I figured I may as well go in and see what she wanted, something positive has to happen at some point in this god-forsaken building, right? Well it seemed this was what I’d been looking for, some information as to what the hell was going on here and a little direction in how to make things better. I sat on the bed of the elegant Apollyon bedroom whilst my new friend hovered in front of me and told me about the house. The ‘Master’ we have heard of is a powerful Black Priest of the Night called Kelnor, Earl of Drumner. My arrival here at the house was no accident, as the lead-in with the white-haired old man suggested, and I am to be offered to the Demons of Hellfire by sacrifice. Tonight’s sacrifice is to be a young woman, a district nurse who called at the house earlier and my ghostly girl pal wants to save her and have me defeat Kelnor by finding the Kris knife – his only weakness. Which begs the question why you would keep a weapon which constitutes your only weakness about the house. Oh well, evil villain logic should never be questioned I ‘spose. Before she could tell me precisely where the Kris knife was though, she was torn apart by ghostly great danes. Perhaps she was what they were eating in the illustration above?

I left the room and decided to check out the other side of the balcony area instead of turning off into the store-room like previous. Following the landing around the the opposite side brought me to a passage that branched off to the left, this passage in turn had two doors which linked off it and following it straight ahead would take me around to the Shaitan and Mammon rooms. To my left was the Asmodeus room, which was locked, but thankfully some kind soul had left the key in the lock, I clicked it open and went inside. A single candle lit the room and a number of packing crates obscured my view, but before I could react, a white-haried man in a dirty grey robe came bursting out of the dark and knocked me to the ground, adding 1 Fear point. Was this the man who gave me the directions here earlier? Anyway, I was to do combat with him, another easy foe at 7/9 thankfully, but combat was stopped as soon as my first blow was landed.

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I raised my hands to tell him I meant no harm, he seemed terrified and accused me of being one of ‘them’, so to prove my story I crossed myself, which would apparently make anyone associated with the Master burst into flames or something I assume. He seemed pretty pleased to meet someone friendly and gave me some information about how to defeat his Master. Again, the name of the Kris knife came up, but he went one further than the ghostly lady and told me it was in a secret room somewhere downstairs, and while he didn’t know the password ‘Old Mordana’ did, although she died some time ago. However, I would assume that counts for little round these parts! Mordana was a familiar name too, hadn’t I seen that written in the window condensation earlier? ‘Mordana in Abaddon’? I think this one may be coming together now, let’s go find the Abaddon room…

 

 

House of Hell – Part 1

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House of Hell

Taking refuge in the infamous House of Hell has to be the worst mistake of your life! The dangers of the torrential storm outside are nothing compared to the blood-curdling adventures that await you inside. Who knows how many hapless wanderers like yourself have perished within its gruesome walls? Be warned! Tonight is going to be a night to remember …

Gleefully ticking off horror cliches left and right, House of Hell throws you straight into a car journey through a dark and stormy night, a white-haired old man has given you directions down some back-road to nowhere. A flash of lightning and a figure appears in the road ahead, thumping into your bumper, but on exploring in the torrential downpour outside, no body is to be found… and the figure looked very much like the man who gave you your directions. Of course your car now won’t start, you’re in the middle of no-where, freaked out and running the risk of missing tomorrows big appointment – which I’d argue at this point would be the very least of your worries – but then in the distance, a bedroom light clicks on! A house! It’s very old and in a shocking state of repair, but they’ll surely let you use their phone, right? I’ll state on the record right now that this is absolutely, definitely going to work out fine.

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Eerie silence accompanied the squelchy walk up to the porch, broken momentarily by an owls hoot and then softened by a glow of another light being turned on within the house. Given the choice of trying the door knocker or a pull-cord for a bell, I neglected to take either option and instead snuck off round the side to see where the light had come from. A window into a kitchen was the source and from within, voices could be heard, two men, one asking if they would be ‘visited’. The other stating calmly, ‘I’m having doubts about this whole affair. She is so young and came here in all innocence. I just don’t know’. Both walked into view and were dressed in long white gowns. Yep, it’s still all going to be fine.

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Listening further as they walked away, the doubtful individual was given a dressing down by the other, having his commitment to ‘the Masters’ teachings questioned by the other, only to then reassert his belief in whatever they had planned. So let’s go knock on the door and say hi, shall we? Getting their attention needed a Luck test which was fine as I’d awesomely rolled up a 12/19/12 character! As is par for the course with a Steve Jackson book though, there are some new rules to consider. Firstly, until I find a weapon, I have -3 Skill in combat. Secondly, I have a ‘Fear’ score (1D6+6) and as I encounter the inhabitants of the house I will accrue Fear points, if I exceed my Fear score I am considered to have been scared to death and it’s game over. Thankfully, mine came out as a nice and high 11. The two men came back to the door, questioning who would be knocking, supposing it could be ‘one of the bretheren’. Of course, when they asked who was there, I announced myself to be one of the bretheren. My ruse did not last long however, as soon as they saw my face they realised something was amiss and before I could build on my lie I was clubbed from behind by one of the men, costing me 4 Stamina and my consciousness.

Head spinning, I awoke in an empty room, hands and feet bound by rope, wind and rain still thrashing the night outside the window. My escape was made through another Luck test having me safely break the glass and cutting through my binds with the broken edges. In my first stroke of luck yet this evening, other than my successful Luck tests I guess, the door to this room was unlocked! Slipping out I found myself on a first-floor landing, a balustrade between me and the entrance hall below, the landing running left and right – I chose to explore the left-hand route. Two doors were set into the corner of the balcony, one named Balthus was the first I would explore. Other than a hearth, a box on the mantle-piece and an un-naturally bulging curtain, the room was bare. Now if Resident Evil has taught us anything, it’s that there is definitely something  unpleasant waiting for me behind the curtain. Despite this, I went straight for the box which was held shut by a catch, but only then did I hear movement from behind the curtain, and so I went to check that instead…

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Probably one of the best drawn illustrations in the book awaited me, a zombie lunged out, costing me 2 Stamina and adding 2 Fear points. Despite me being unarmed at this point, I was still more than able to take him down as he was fairly weak at 7/6. It’s at this point I should remind the good reader that I have no provisions and so I need to cling to as much Stamina as I can. Going back to the box on the mantle, I found it contained a key, my excitement at finding this precious item was soon quashed as I realised that it was the key to the room I was in and simply allowed me to leave. Brilliant; the net result of this encounter is a negative one. Plenty more where that came from too… And so I continued, entering the other door at the corner of the balcony which took me down a separate corridor with a door on the left side and ending at a window. I opted to check the door first, which was apparently to the Diabolus room. Completely empty, I took the chance to rest in here and regained 2 Stamina points. It seemed that I wasn’t to remain alone in the room for long though, the curtains began to drift slightly and a soft voice called my name. Leaping back against a wall I saw a figure begin to pass through the wall and into the room with me, a hideous apparition of a man carrying his own disembodied head. Add 2 Fear points. I’m fairly sure that’s Stephen from Dawn of the Dead too.

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For some reason, I declined the opportunity to run and stuck around to listen to what the thing had to say as it began to speak. ‘Prepare yourself for death, miserable mortal!‘, it announced. Apparently I was going to die and be forced to haunt the corridors of this house for all eternity. Add 2 more Fear points. Blimey, I get a kick-ass Skill score and at this rate I’m just going to die out of sheer fear instead of somethings blade or fists. Leaving the room I took a look at the window at the end of the corridor. Still the storm outside raged and it became apparent that heavy iron bars lay against the glass, but it wasn’t apparent if they were to keep people out or in! Despite this though, a clue was to be found here as in the condensation on the glass, a message was written, ‘Mordana in Abaddon‘. Meaning nothing to me at the moment, the text instructed me that at some point it will and that I should turn to page 88 when it does. Good stuff. My only option now was to head back to the balcony. Continuing further round the left side I came to a small junction where I would either press further along the balcony, descend a flight of stairs or open a door to my left. I opted for the door which turned out to be a store room. A nice shiny meat-knife was my first prize, bumping my Skill up to 12 for my next fight, but also a few cloves of garlic… which by now is probably something which should just be included in your starting kit for all Fighting Fantasy adventures for the obligatory vampire encounter. Also sitting there was a bottle of clear liquid, which given the lack of trust I have developed after having success when being offered multiple items, I decided not to drink.

Opening a door on the opposite side of the store room took me out into another corridor with two doors, one leading to the Shaitan room, the other to the Mammon room. I went for the Shaitan room which turned out to be a lavishly decorated room, complete with roaring fireplace and a leather three-piece suite, two doors led away on the opposite side to my entrance. As I stepped in, the door locked shut behind me and a horrid voice spoke out, ‘So our visitor is inquisitive, eh? Or are you trying to leave the house? Perhaps you would like to see some more – shall we say – amusements?’. Another Fear point added on. Staying in the room a figure rose from a high-backed arm chair which was facing away from me. The pale skinned man had slick black hair and a cape fastened around his neck. If that doesn’t make you scream ‘DAS VAMPYR!’, then the illustration certainly will.

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Before he could make a move I produced my garlic cloves and the greasy swine started sweating and ran for one of the doors leading out through the opposite wall. I threw the garlic at him and went through the door he had intended to leave through as he cowered against the wall. The door opened up into a cupboard, but the back had slid away revealing a secret passageway which I took, slamming the doors closed behind me. I had made my way into a dark, narrow corridor which soon turned into a descending staircase, eventually I came to a landing and had the option of turning off through a door to the right or continuing my descent. Going through the door I found myself in a room with a door on the opposite side and an oddly shimmering mirror on another wall. The door required the Golden Key to open and so that wasn’t an option I could take, but investigating the mirror actually revealed it to be a portal of some kind that opened up into a reception room elsewhere in the house.

I stepped through the portal and having heard voices, I quickly moved out of the reception room into an adjoining corridor. A locked door was to my left and so I continued to the right down the corridor to a T-junction. The left hand door required me to have an Iron key with a (page) number etched into it, so I took the right hand door instead which led me into a kitchen. Immaculately tidy, the kitchen had two doors leading off it, one of which led outside as well as a set of keys laid on top of the cooker. Now I was fairly confident the keys were a trick as why else would they be on the cooker? So I tried the unmarked door which took me into a pantry which was being maintained by a Ghoul it seems! The chance to grab a knife was wasted on me as I was already armed, so I launched into combat with my 8/7 opponent and killed him without taking a hit.

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As I killed the monster, it crashed into a wall of pots and pans, creating an awful din. This hadn’t gone un-noticed as the doors opened and four men in white robes and goat-head masks, carrying knives entered. Resistance was useless and they took me off to a prison cell where I was to be detained at the pleasure of the Earl of Drumer.

My adventure was over.

However, a little page flicking took me back into the kitchen; the door leading outside was locked, so let’s bite the bullet and try those keys shall we? Arrrrrrrrrghh!! Yes, my suspicions were correct, the keys were red-hot and I’d badly burned my weapon-hand, losing 3 Stamina and 2 Skill, but a succesful Luck roll reduced this to just 1 Stamina. However, the scream and clatter of falling keys made enough noise to take me to the exact same passage as the noise the ghouls death had made. So what was the point in that Luck roll then if I was just being taken to insta-death? And indeed, what’s the point in the whole kitchen section as there appears to be no way out alive? One massive dead-end of a red-herring!

As much as I’m enjoying it, I think House of Hell is going to be a tricksy little bastard. Next time, we’ll be doing a little back-tracking me-thinks…

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