Creature of Havoc – Part 2

Breaking open a coffin in a Fighting Fantasy book is always a risky decision, and the fork-tongued, ‘human’ corpse that sat up in my face from the box I had disturbed was proof enough that this theory holds water. The thing said something I couldn’t understand and fixed its eyes on me and set about laying a curse upon me which would knock 2 off my Initial Skill and 5 off my Initial Stamina. Harsh, but it was indicated that I could potentially remove the curse in the future. My friend in the coffin then closed his eyes and left me alone. From this room, the option of four potential exits was offered, although as far as I could tell, only the door to the East would actually allow me to progress.

Holding my Luck, I managed to to successfully cross a bridge that led me over a foul, stinking river flowing along the bottom of a chasm deep below me in the caves. Safely on the other side, the passages continued to intelligently light my way through glowstones in the walls, leading me up to two doors. The door to the east was emitting heavy breathing and snorts, the north door was silent and so I took the easy way out and went north. Crashing through the solid door shoulder-first cost me 1 Stamina, but brought me into a room containing numerous racks of parchments tied with string. As I went to investigate the parchments, a noise startled me and out of thin-air, something started to materialise in front of me.

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A Rock Demon was the result, and it didn’t seem friendly. I readied myself for combat but I shouldn’t have concerned myself as my fists swiped through the illusion in front of me and by pure accident my foot came down on the small mouse which this illusion had been cast, dispelling it instantly. Someone didn’t want me to read these parchments it seems. I went back to them and found that as previous, I was still unable to decipher the language used. Surely somewhere there must be a cipher I can use to crack the code? Confused, I returned to the corridor I had just come from and yet again smashed through a large wooden door to the cost of 1 Stamina. What I found was a large, hairy creature hunched over a half-eaten human carcass. This one was not an illusion.

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I was a little wary at combat with the Manic Beast, it was only 7/8, but due to its ‘manic’ state, with every combat round I won, it would gain 2 to it’s next attack roll. However, a glorious double-six meant I wiped the thing out, stone-cold dead with one flash of my claws. I love being the monster. I declined the option to eat either the human-carcass or the manic beast as neither seemed like they would be that appetising or hygienic and carried on to the east. Another door was soon upon me and this one was also producing sounds, but nothing that sounded like it was coming from a creature, the sounds were voices speaking. Being as stealthy as a giant, spined monster can be, I decided to sneak into the room rather than charging in, claws at the ready.

Stepping inside, the voices stopped. I was in a circular room with doors on all four sides, between the doors were a number of archways, which were all too dark for me to see how deep they were. Not wanting to move on just yet, I had a look into the archways and only then did voice speak up again. At first, it spoke in the gibberish I have become accustomed to, but then it changed to something I could actually follow, ‘What about this? Is that better? Ah, yes you can understand me. Look, I can help you. Maybe you would like me to direct you to a tasty morsel? Two fat Hobbits? Or shall I tell you about he who knows all your secrets? I speak, of course, of Zharradan Marr’.

Now, like you I’m sure, I was very interested to hear more as at this point I still had absolutely no idea what was going on in this story other than that I’m an absolute beast, aimlessly trudging through some caves. Working as intended, I’m sure. So despite my suspicion rising after the Hobbit comment, I went over to talk to the voice.

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No glowstones lit the way inside the arch the voice was coming from and inside I could make out the body of a man laid on the floor, his head covered by a cowl. I lifted it up to see a decaying corpse with hollow eye sockets and staggered back in fright. From above, a Chattermatter descended and covered me in a sticky web and soon I was succumbing to its deadly poison. This creature was apparently able to speak in a number of tongues to lure in its victims and I had just been duped.

So let’s take a step back then and pretend we didn’t talk to this sadly description-less foe and check out some of the other archways. The next was similarly dark, but part of the rear wall had fallen away. Behind it was a strange glittering, a sparkling light floating in the air. Curious, I moved in and climbed over the collapsed rock to discover what was Elven dust, an essential ingredient in Elven white magic; someone had been trying to wall it in and now I had received a covering of it. I turned my attention away from the arches now and went back to the circular room. Only two doors would actually allow me to progress, the north and south.

Heading south was not a good idea, a very brief sequence of events saw me falling victim to a blackmouth floortrap, a shimmering black circle on the floor which acts like some sort of black-hole. I was sucked in and was subjected to an gruesome fate, the specifics of which were unknown. North it is then.

This route perplexed me too. A cross-road and a T-junction came up in quick succession, none of which led to a path I could continue down except for one passageway which led into a small, round room. Unfortunately, as I entered, the exit from the room vanished. A roaring sound kicked up in the depths and the room started getting hotter. I was asked if I had yellow metal bracelets on – I did not. As a consequence I started to breath air so hot it scorched my lungs, I was trapped inside this furnace and soon I was dead. I’m fairly sure this is the point at which my childhood attempt at Creature of Havoc ended too.

It was time for some back-tracking then as I’d clearly hit a dead-end. Why is it always Steve Jackson books that embarrass me like this in front of everyone?

We’re looking for some metal bracelets then… and after a little scanning over my map, I picked out a couple of unexplored routes and found something that may prove fruitful. Just after the encounter with the flesh-feeders I chose to go east rather than west. Heading west took me down another dark, glowstone-lit passage, bending this way and that until I could hear a faint echo. Footsteps were ringing out up ahead. Turning a corner I walked straight into a group of adventurers, Strongarm the warrior and his two un-named companions. Naturally I slayed all three of them and went through their possessions, the objects catching my eye were a pouch of shiny metal discs, a dull pendant aaaaand… two shining yellow metal bracelets! Perfect! I swiped up those bad-boys and walked off to try and make my way back to the oven that I could presumably now emerge from un-cooked.

The foul smelling river I had crossed in my previous attempt reared its head again as I left the dead adventurers, but instead of crossing the decay and excrement on a rickety bridge, I was descending down the side of the chasm on tiny steps which I needed to pass a Luck test to get down without mishap. Continuing north through a cavern oddly abscent of glowstones to guide be onward, I fumbled through into another junction where I took an easterly turn into an area lit by torches. What looked like a pile of black cloth lay on the floor ahead of me and I bent down to pick it up, but as I did it vanished before my eyes! Before I knew it, I was being stabbed in the back by the Shadow Stalker I had mistaken for some discarded fabric.

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A pretty cool enemy is the Shadow Stalker, it emerged from my own shadow and slashed and stabbed with a knife leaving my physical form completely defenseless. The illustration is quite cool too as it offers an insight into what we actually look like… assuming the thing on the cover of the book isn’t supposed to be us? Maybe I’ll find that out as I continue… Regardless, I had to deal with this thing and to fight a shadow, light seemed like a good weapon so I went for a flaming torch. This only earned me a slash to the forearm and so I tried a different strategy – run away! My Python tactic worked a charm too as I retreated to the darkened areas my shadow began to fade, seemingly worrying the Shadow Stalker, who backed off to the lit room and reverted to his ‘cloth’ state. I think in that encounter I managed to shed about 8 Stamina in total. I need some fat, juicy Hobbits.

Onwards, back to the oven it is then in part three…

 

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Creature of Havoc – Part 1

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#24

Creature of Havoc

You begin this adventure not knowing where you are or who you are. All you know is that you are some kind of creature of instinct, understanding little. During the course of the adventure, it may be possible for you to begin to control your bestial nature, to find out more about yourself, and even to learn your destiny. But even if you know all this, success is by no means certain, for the traps and terrors of Trolltooth Pass are many … Are you ready — to become the Creature of Havoc?

All of the books I have read so far have kicked off with a small introduction to the story, Creature of Havoc sets the tone for the adventure with a 19-page description of the current events in the Trolltooth Pass, which is where our adventure is set. As the opening blurb states, you don’t know who or what you are in this book, and so the introduction actually offers you no information which is specific to you or your situation at all. So I think we’ll go straight into the adventure with this one (I also can’t be bothered to condense 19 pages of historical storyline!). However, what we will do is do some geography as I have a couple of maps to present you with.

Creature of Havoc is actually the first book I have read for this blog that features one of those nice colour maps on the inside cover, the map here illustrating the Trolltooth Pass.

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To expand on that I have scanned in a map from the novel, The Trolltooth Wars, which shows exactly whereabouts the region is situated within Allansia in relation to other locations you may be more familiar with.

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The pain is unbearable! Page one begins with a description of what sounds like an awful, awful hang-over. A monstrous being rising from the dirty floor, painfully trying to open slitted eyes to the light and clutching a pounding head. It seems I have awoken in a dark, rocky passageway, my body has great bulk and my back bristles with spines and walking seems to be almost a new experience to me. As I became accustomed to my surroundings it seemed like further along the passage, there was something alive, and so I trundled towards it to investigate. It should be noted here that some decisions were totally out of my hands at this point, whatever this creature was, it didn’t have full control over its actions or choices.

At the end of the passage, I found a huddled shape on the ground.

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I was both unable to distinguish what emotion the sight of this small, terrified figure instilled in me, and I had a similar inability to identify that he was holding a dagger, the text merely describing it as a ‘sharp, shiny shaft‘. Ultimately though, his fate did belong to me and despite being given the wonderfully evil option of bringing my foot down on his neck I made the choice to try and convey to him that I meant no harm. In reaching out a hand I scared the guy to death and he swiped out at my scaly arm with his weapon for 2 points of Stamina damage. Losing control of my actions again I gripped the dwarf by the neck and squeezed the life out of him, talons digging into his flesh. He managed one feeble, final blow of his own as he died, taking off a further point of Stamina. Before moving on I took a moment to check his body, but with no real concept of anything, this was not exactly a lucrative task. What I assume to be gold pieces were described as ‘circular pieces of shiny metal‘ and tossed aside. Curiously though, a piece of leather on him caught my eye. Almost like a dog, I put it on my arm, I put it on my head – it was coming with me. The text told me that I may find it useful in the future as it had writing inscribed upon it, page 337 was the key reference to read it, but all that was there was gibberish. Hopefully I will be taught to read later in my adventure.

To further illustrate my lack of control, my progress was now decided by a dice roll; 1-3 would send me east, 4-6 would send me west. A roll of 2 sent me east into a confrontation with a stout-looking door, a roll of 1 sent me stomping back to the west as I obviously didn’t feel like kicking a door down right now. The corridor winded back and forth into the darkness, I bumped into the harsh rocks numerous times but was protected by tough scales. Air temperature was falling and steamy snorts shot from my nostrils. Ahead it seemed like there was light and noises, but rather than act with the caution I thought this deserved, it actually spurred me on to discover the encounter. Teeth bared and claws readied I stormed  into an open chamber, roaring at the not-at-all copyright infringing Hobbits which sat around a camp fire. A feeling of hatred filled me as I picked up one of the unarmed Hobbits (5/6) and killed him in two attack rounds. This was possible without a Luck roll as special combat rules apply to me in this book due to my immense physicality; I only take 1 Stamina damage if hit and if I roll a double of any value my enemy is insta-killed. The Hobbit was smacked up-side the head with a double-4 roll in round two. I liked that.

The remaining two Hobbits were shouting frantically at each other, but I couldn’t distinguish their words at all. A Luck roll determined my choice for next opponent and as I’d rolled a very solid character (11/20/12), this was no issue in completing successfully. I swiped at the Hobbit wearing a red-robe, sending him to the ground screaming and clutching his face. Before I could finish him off though a sting in my back sent me spinning round to see the second Hobbit dressed in armour who had just stabbed me in the back for 2 Stamina. He was a bit tougher at 8/9, but another double-roll insta-gibbed him in round one. I could get used to this. I could also get used to eating my defeated opponents as the robed Hobbits sweet, juicy flesh restored my Stamina to its Initial 20.

Trudging off to the west and then to the north, squeaky, fluttering things burst out of the walls and swarmed around me before disappearing into the dark. We can’t stop here, this is bat country! They caused me no problem though and I soon arrived at a solid door in the end of the passageway which a roll of 3 meant I decided to smash to pieces. Behind the shattered remains of the door was a room lit with torches, the floor strewn with dead bodies and filthy straw. The bodies were of humans and what sounded like orcs, but before any further investigation could be made I was dumb-founded by seeing a small piece of flesh vanish from the leg of one of the bodies! Rolling a 3 meant that I had to check the bodies further and a quick poke to the leg of the corpse resulted in a shrieking noise and a number of shapes faded into view.

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What I was witnessing was a group of Flesh-Feeders, these awful little things turn invisible whilst they eat and I had interrupted them gorging themselves on the remains of the conflict that had occurred in this room. Another conflict was about to take place though as all three of them attacked me, but being rather small, scraggy things, they all died without landing a blow on me. When the dust settled, I tried some of the flesh of the dead orcs and spat it out in disgust, clearly not as tasty as Hobbit. Checking the possessions of the dead I discarded anything I didn’t understand, which turned out to be pretty much everything. However, one thing caught me out, a glass phial fell from the pack of one of the dead. It contained a swirling purple gas which was released as the phial un-stoppered itself as it fell. From the bottle came a rising purple gas which formed a face of a wisened old man who spoke to me, his speech interpreted just the same as all words have been so far – as gibberish. When he finished the gas sucked itself back into the bottle and it re-stoppered itself. An instant later it faded into nothing! Oddly, this was seen as a good find and I was given 2 Luck points, but what I had gained or learned was a mystery to me at this stage!

Interestingly, I was now able to chose my next destination and so I headed out of the chamber to the east along a dark, dusty passageway. Glowstone in the walls lit my way, lighting up ahead of me as I walked and then fading away behind me, almost as though someone was watching my progress. I retracted my claws and rubbed my belly in confusion. Carrying on I decided not to eat the small, dead furry thing I spotted on the ground (good advice for life there, kids) and continued to take a westward turn at a junction. The temperature continued to drop as I walked further through the light of glowstone and on taking a northern turn-off in the passage I came to a door which I promptly smashed open. I’m such a monster I don’t think I even bothered trying the handle.

What appeared to be some sort of work room awaited me, tall wooden boxes lay against the walls and metal tools lay on top of big wooden tables. I decided to have a look in these ‘tall, wooden boxes’. Or as you and I may call them, ‘coffins’…

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Oops.