It’s been well over a year that I’ve had this one on the shelf, arriving at the same time as the last book I covered, Rings of Kether. It marks the final book in the trilogy of titles we received from Andrew Chapman, which can only be a good thing. I will certainly go into this one with a positive attitude though as it is at least set in the traditionally more successful fantasy setting as opposed to a Sci-Fi theme. The utterly dreadful illustrations of Rings of Kether are not an issue either as Bob Harvey who did some great work in Talisman of Death is on board here. Cover artist Rodney Matthews has worked on a lot of rock album covers over the years, Rick Wakeman, Diamond Head and loads of awesome sounding prog bands I’ve never heard of all show up on his Wikipedia, but he was slightly misled when creating this cover.
You Are the Hero tells us that a mix-up with a Junior Editor over his creative briefing led to an unintentional Arabian feel to his work, but he remains proud of his involvement. Rodney has done a lot of great fantasy work, including some Lord of the Rings stuff, so he’s well worth a Google.
My memory brings two things about the book, one is that of its ship and crew orientated combat system and also having just been bought a copy as a child, impatiently having to try on new shoes in Keighley instead of getting to go home and start throwing dice around. What I don’t remember is if I actually liked the thing or not, the Review Archive throws up a mixed bunch, but seems to contain people throwing praise at Rings of Kether, so we won’t speak of that place again today.
What I certainly don’t remember is the Spectrum version of Seas of Blood, which is a text-based adventure I’ve just managed to find footage of on YouTube. It doesn’t look good.
Story-wise, things are similarly thin. We are playing as one nasty dude, we are a villainous pirate and we reside in the city of Tak at the northern end of the Inland Sea. Quite the tough guy, we are matched by only one other, Abdul the Butcher, a rival pirate who has agreed to a wager. The two of us will set sail for Nippur, each in a single ship and whoever accumulates enough gold and booty within a 50-day journey will be named the King of Pirates. No damsels, no big-evil, just bragging rights and a chance to play the bad guy. While simple, it does however make me itch to see exactly what I’ll find out there on the Inland Sea.
My memory of a specialised ruleset for the book was slightly correct, there are a few new things to remember. There is a large-scale battle system in place, but one which simply replaces Skill and Stamina for Crew Strike and Crew Strength. Our 50-day spree of plundering is to be tracked in a Log, so the time-limit is something to consider it seems, but a positive side-effect is that 1 Stamina is restored for every day added to the Log.
Other than that, it’s business as usual, so knowing Andrew Chapman we’re about to spend 50 days sailing down a long, straight corridor. Good luck Abdul, you’ll certainly need it! Yarr!