The Rings of Kether – Conclusions

The Rings of Kether was an annoying book, it was so close to being quite decent but ended up being a chore to read thanks to some fairly poor story development. I touched upon some of my issues from within my read-through, it was quite obvious where the flaws were coming up as I was reading it. My comments are of course made with the caveat that I understand I have only seen one path through the book, but it felt very much like I would have got to the end of the story regardless of what decisions I made.

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At its heart this is a sci-fi detective story, and so the detective work is crucial to making this story exciting and engaging. So why, back in that bar at the very start did I have to choose who to talk to through the roll of a dice? Why couldn’t I make a judgement of who was in the bar myself? It all went wrong from there really, I was bumbling along from one place to the next, following a woman into the city night for absolutely no reason whatsoever, just hoping that she might possibly be connected to a drugs cartel. It was very much just a chain of locations, one after the other without any input from me.

What could have saved this was a little puzzle solving, some need for me to assess evidence myself rather than being shuffled along to the next clue. A few red herrings would have been interesting too, again perhaps I missed this, but what if I’d chased down the wrong man or got caught out and faced some instant-death ‘my adventure was over’ endings’?

My write-up came only to two entries as this really was such an easy book with so little to describe, our bad guys were given almost no time at all and posed even less challenge to defeat. The same could be said for a lot of the combat, especially given that you find a blaster that does 6 Stamina damage at the start of the story, not that there is much combat. That goes for the underused space combat too, which I believe I only encountered once. Having said that though, I can understand and even welcome a reduced emphasis on combat when I’m supposed to be a detective and not a killing machine, but when there’s so little detective work to do it gives you an itchy trigger finger.

Artwork wasn’t something that elevated the experience either, that laboratory illustration still puzzles me, I don’t even really know what it’s supposed to depict. Where are the bubbling chemicals and arcing electricity? There were some more exciting ones though, the weird tripedal alien was something this book desperately needed more of, and there were some cool looking things I managed to miss. More space combat was out there if I’d made other choices…

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As were robotic dogs.

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A couple of crazy illustrations caught my eye as I flipped around the book too, although they look like they belong in a very different story!

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I’d especially loved to know what the hell that second one is about!

Then there are some film-star cameos, who I believe have gone uncredited to this day…

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Mark Hammil.

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Kevin Smith.

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And Bill Murray, who is clearly as tired of this book as I am. All in all, not quite as bad as Space Assassin, but very nearly so.

The Rings of Kether – Part 2

Hot on the tail of presumed drugs traffickers, Gross and Babbet, we find ourselves overlooking a space port on an island in the middle of nowhere. Somehow I was able to land my craft there without any opposition or interest and decided to take a change of tactic. Up until now I’d tried to be subtle as possible, but this time I decided against sneaking in through one of the freight entrances, got into a nearby anti-grav vehicle and crashed it straight through the doors. Seemed to do the job too as when the dust settled I was inside a freight area looking at the four heavily armed guards I’d just crushed against a load of packing crates full os Satophil-D, presumably intended for shipping to the mainland. There was a fifth person I found there though, and this person was curled upon the floor in quite a state, looking like he’d been chewed up by an animal or a skilled torturer. No identifying marks were found on him, but I did however find four Pep Pills to add to my collection.

Leaving the area through a corridor, I found myself in an octagonal room being examined by a large, multi-sensored robot who proceeded to ask me what was presumably a security question.

‘Red I am,
the heart of a scorpion,
yet not of Arachnia at all!
Pincers I have,
but I grasp with the unseen,
In one word, what am I?’

Well, I didn’t have a bloody clue what he was, but the options I had were to pick an answer beginning with A, S or X. Guessing ‘A’, I provided the answer Antares, which as we all know is a star in the Scorpius constellation… ahem. The machine was quite happy with my answer and let me pass through to a T-junction. Taking a right I didn’t get very far as the corridor ended at a digital console saying the next shuttle was due in around 75 hours. Heading back, I took the left turn instead.

On a large door was a brass plate which read ‘Zera Gross’. Opening the door, I headed into what was presumably the office of our favourite card-playing fat lady. And you know what? There she was, sitting and dictating notes to her robot secretary, but she saw me, stopped and then lunged for her blaster. A gun fight ensued, which despite her half decent stats of 8/11, she didn’t make her way out of alive. Only two hits were needed with my pilfered super auto blaster thing to immobilise her, but unfortunately our battle left the room in pieces and also a little bit on fire so there was nothing else to be taken from here.

In the next room I found a series of vidi-screens which detailed Satophil-d production and transport, the location of a nearby asteroid seemingly the place where this stuff was actually being made. And of course, we don’t get an illustration of key bad guy, Zera Gross, but we do get an illustration of some computer monitors. Get ready, it’s a corker…

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My next step was to take out this asteroid and so I set off in my ship, but found my progress hindered by a minefield.

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Using a Skill test I was able to carefully navigate my way through these explosives without triggering a single one, but what I failed to evade were the batteries of phasers which had detected my presence and I now had to have a taste of space combat with. Not a massive struggle though, their Weapon Strength of 9 and Shields of 6 wasn’t enough to stop me and I made my way to one of the emergency airlocks into the facility on the asteroid.

It wouldn’t be an Andrew Chapman sci-fi book without a long corridor, and that’s what a faced, leading down into the bowels of the asteroid. I took a detour though to check out a room to the side, but it contained nothing but pressure suits which were of no use to me. At the end of the tunnel was a cylindrical chamber which had a security sentinel which looked like some sort of 80’s puzzle spinning through the air towards me, blue electricity arcing through its core.

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Not wanting to mess about I leapt into the air and kicked the thing. A successful Skill test later and it was laid in a heap, sparking on the floor. What a wonderful technological marvel. Moving on I arrived at a cross-roads and took a right, went through an air-lock and found myself in a waste-disposal system being sucked out into space!

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A test of Luck saw me manage to grab an emergency lever though and the system was shut down, air rushed back into the chamber and I was able to continue onwards along the original tunnel. This came out into a cavernous area which was populated by large bulbous creatures with searching tentacles, a series of spheres with handles hung above them. Seems like a slightly inconvenient way to make your drugs trafficking gang members get around, but then I’m not an intergalactic drug lord.

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A series of Skill tests saw me manage to swing from handle to handle and cross the room to the laboratory. Now believe it or not, this illustration is supposed to be a laboratory.

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I could never have imagined a space drugs laboratory could look so utterly boring. According to the text I ‘busy myself destroying some of the equipment’. Must keep ones self busy. Two exits to the room were available, a continuation of the corridor or a side door.

Moving through the door a tripedal alien holding electronic bracers was stood before me on a narrow bridge, he shouted ‘Halt!’ and fired a few bolts of electrons at me. At last! Something actually exciting is happening!

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This Arcturian Vanque had some easy enough stats to deal with (7/10) and he was gunned down pretty quickly. Along this path I came to a T-junction and took a right, the control panel of the asteroid facilities nuclear reactor stood before me, but any ideas of fleeing from a timed explosion were soon dismissed when I found I didn’t possess the key to operate the system. Boo. So I headed back and took the left turn instead.

I found myself in a small cubic room, each surface seemed to be a door with a button in the middle. I set about hitting these buttons. I had to hit them in the right sequence, each failed attempt lost me 1 Stamina point. Perhaps the sequence was revealed at some point, but if it had, I missed it and so blind luck was required. A little trial and error saw me through until one of the doors opened up to reveal what seemed to be a living area, and a sumptuous one at that. A folded screen was beside the door and in the middle of the room were two identical figures, which the text informs me ‘must‘ be Blaster Babbet… odd as I have no evidence as to what he looks like. Regardless, he was about to attack, so rather than shoot one of them I took the option to try an alternative course of action and dived behind the folded screen. Behind it was the real Blaster Babbet, the figures I had seen were merely reflections, and so with his 10/8 stats in my way, I took on the kingpin of the operation.

Like his few henchmen, he didn’t last long and I was told to turn to 400 for the epic, well-earned ending…

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My adventure was thankfully over.