Creature of Havoc – Conclusions

Wow, where do I start with this one?

First I think I should take a moment to actually look at my notes as I’ve taken a while to get this one written up. Reasons for this range through time away from home and the release of Dark Souls 2 (I really am glutton for punishment, aren’t I?), but mainly the fact that I needed a little break from the book! I knew it was going to be hard, you don’t maintain a legend as being such a tough little son-of-a-bitch for going on thirty years for nothing, but I didn’t anticipate it being so utterly draining. I certainly didn’t expect to follow up the six-part Crown of Kings with another six-parter. There were some very tough moments in this book that went beyond the usual problem solving of trying a different door or branch of a junction, despite this though my map was still 100% necessary, even though it ended up sprawling over a couple of sides of paper…

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I’m very much up for a challenge and the fact this book has eluded me for years was a great motivation to get it done, but one of the main mechanics to add difficulty I didn’t find all that fun, and that was the translation sections. I like the idea of having hidden elements to the puzzles, but it doesn’t half take a long time to translate what the encrypted passages actually say. Good idea in theory, maybe not in practice when the passages are so lengthy. I also disliked the fact that there was a certain element of fuzzyness to the cypher, certain aspects of translation were left for the reader to figure out. As I said in the text, you aren’t explicitly told how to handle consonants, I would have been happier if there was a rock-solid set of rules to solve these language puzzles.

Then there are the ‘errors’. There are a few references which seem to send you in the wrong direction and then the big one, the passage beginning with the wrong key-phrase in the early dungeon section which prevents you progressing. Given how Steve Jackson went out of his way to make this as hard as possible, I looked into whether or not this was in-fact an error or an attempt to be a giant pain in the arse! Asking Twitter, I gained no solid answer, but the feeling seems to be that Steve isn’t that mean afterall and it was a genuine error. Some discussion I read online suggests though that it was an attempt to push ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ into new ground, if it were intentional I would say that it’s not being hard, it’s just cheating the reader you handed a set of rules to. It wouldn’t be good design to change those rules and not tell anyone.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed things that explain away the things I got stuck on or had to guess through, for instance a reader points out how I might have figured out that the mirror was the way to discover Marr at the end. My technique was brute-force guess work, the more elegant method was to have noted the clue in this passage from the scroll I read – ‘A world of illusion in which where he appears to be he is not. AND A WORLD IN WHICH THOSE SEARCHING FOR HIM WOULD INSTEAD FIND THEMSELVES’. Sounds a bit like a mirror, yes? I’m an idiot. This is the kind of thing that I like though, the book is too clever for it’s own good by being so subtle, I wouldn’t normally think to pay attention to such things in a Fighting Fantasy book, but this pushes the books in the right direction as far as increased difficulty is concerned.

My companion, Grog, was also a nice touch , a mechanic that reminded me of the kinda trick Steve Jackson would routinely pull in the Sorcery books. I particularly liked the fact that he appeared to save you from certain death, assuming you were paying attention to the page reference anyway. At that point in the book you’ve seen so much failure, being told your adventure is over when you were so sure you’re on the right track is a cruel move indeed!

Another pointer I was given by a reader was regarding the Chattermatter, as you may remember I went blundering into it’s clutches at first attempt, but had I looked at the illustration closer, I might have noticed some evil eyes lurking up top in the dark…

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I certainly love clues and solutions in illustrations, if there are any others in this book that I passed over, feel free to drop them into the comments section below!

A few favourite illustrations of events I missed are all pretty metal it seems, you can’t beat some grave dwelling monsters…

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…and these things belong on stage with Bruce Dickinson.

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What has to be said though, that despite it’s niggles, despite it’s insanely hard difficulty, it is a brilliant title. The structure is meticulous, it feels like every single detail was considered and given an element of meaning. It has certainly made me want to make sure I read The Trolltooth Wars at some point as I want to learn more about the area and the locations in it. Story-wise it’s about as good as Fighting Fantasy books get, to give it such praise I have to say it reminds me of the brilliant film Memento, in that little makes sense until the very end. You can piece elements together, but the last few details given to you in that lengthy but gripping scene with Marr tie it all together perfectly. I haven’t even mentioned how much fun it was to be a hulking great beast either! That really is the reward to being in such a hard adventure, feeling like such a powerful being was another unique aspect to this book, I will miss the double-roll-insta-kill in the future! Truth be told, there is so much detail and layered elements to the story and the style of game, I can’t even begin to cover it all, Creature of Havoc almost deserves a blog of its own.

Were all Fighting Fantasy books this hard, I don’t think I’d be sat here now writing a blog about them with such enthusiasm, but that the experiment was conducted to see just how infuriating they could be made, I am glad. Like Dark Souls I mentioned earlier, the satisfaction of getting through the tough times is ultimately worth the despair of not knowing where to turn or how to progress.

Give it a go, it’ll drive you nuts, you’ll love it.

And while you do that, I’m going to have a lie down and dream about reading Freeway Fighter or Robot Commando…


Creature of Havoc – Part 6

Rosana the strange friend of Grog had pointed me in the direction of some Sculliweed last time around, but not only that, she’d given me a coil of rope as well. You never know when that might come in handy afterall. I set off  to the north but as the moon began to climb into the sky and the light fell, I had a bit of a sleep behind a boulder for 4 Stamina points before continuing on until I reached a junction. This was another point that struck a bell in my head as I remembered another error I had read of where the signposted destinations at this junction were the wrong way around. One direction pointed to Coven, one to Bu Fon Fen. Seeking Toadmen in a Fen seemed like the logical choice, so I made for the sign that didn’t point in that direction… if that makes sense!

As the ground became muddier and the bull-rushes began to pop up I figured I’d got it right. I was doubly sure when I started to notice giant, webbed footprints appearing in the mud. Unfortunately, I’d missed the way these footprints led around the edge of a clearing as I happily flounced right through the middle of it. Of course this was a potentially lethal decision as the center of the clearing was home to a large area of deep mud, deep enough to see me sinking into it and leave me struggling to escape. Grog? Little help? No? Well it’s a good job Rosana gave me that rope five minutes ago as I was able to chuck it over a nearby tree stump and pull myself free by the virtue that this was Elven rop… I mean enchanted rope which knotted itself around the stump. Two large eyes staring at me from the surface of the mud were equally impressed by the performance of my rope and a thin, webbed hand shot out of the dirt and swiped it away from me.

Following the trail further into the swamp took me down towards a river bank where a large number of colourful plants were growing. Bulbous eyes stared up at me from within them, blinked and then turned and shuffled off into the undergrowth. Grog advised leaving whatever this creature was well alone and I agreed. I was far more interested in the plants. I chose to take some flowers with blue stems as this fitted the description of the Sculliweed I was searching for. I was told to make a note of the number 49.

Before I knew it, I was beset by one of the Toadmen I’d had a fleeting encounter with earlier, standing as tall as myself and carrying a trident, I attacked him before he could react. After I was victorious, I realised my foe had back-up…

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I was screwed, ‘None may enter the fens of the Toadmen. There is only one punishment for disobeying this law. That is DEATH…’. I was overwhelmed, I was subdued and dropped into the Sinkpits of the Bu Fon Fen to die.

Or at least that’s what I thought had happened, at the last moment I noted the page reference ended in a 7 – Grog! I deducted 52 and I was saved. Grog was sneaking around the edge of the clearing and launched into some suicidal, flying leap to attack what appeared to be the leader of the Toadmen. Unfortunately, Grog wasn’t as quiet as he thought and as he sailed through the air, one of the Toadmen noticed him and slung his trident through Grog’s neck. But as (my) luck would have it, Grog’s body clattered into the leader and sent him sprawling into one of the sinkpits. Losing the guy in charge caused a panic and I used the opportunity to get out of the situation and ran off into the undergrowth. Before his bodged attack though, Grog had taken his backpack off and I snatched it up as I escaped. Inside was a wooden box with a clasp too delicate to open, I took it with me anyway along with the more immediately useful potion of fortune I found in his bag.

Leaving the fens, the moon began to make another appearence, so after a hard days toad slaying and flower picking, I again decided to take a snooze by a rock. This time I was rudely awoken by the Women of Dree, chattering and nattering about their root. I added my magic 49 number to the reference as instructed. ‘Ssssssso! The creature sssssssssuceedssss!’, they were pretty happy with their root. Holding up their side of the bargain, they started to lay out some knowledge for me. I was the creation of Zharradan Marr, but he was in turn their creation and he was getting out of control, his evil and chaos needed to be nulified to keep the balance. Knowing that his plans would be spoiled by the Women of Dree, they needed to use me to get close to Marr as his own vanity would not turn away his own powerful creation. One more ally was out there they said, Weaseltongue, a white-haired elf in Knot Oak Wood who knows the location of the Galleykeep, Marr’s ship. Weaseltongue lies though, only his sentences which begin with a vowel are truths and the Women gave me a ring of truth to use if I was struggling to get the full truth out of him by deducting 50 from the reference.

Weaseltongue sounded awfully similar to the elf I had met being attacked by the Brigands back in Part 5 before I poisoned myself and I after I left the Women, I was right next to the creature I rode all the way to him. So retracing my steps a little I got to the relevant point in the encounter and after asking about the Galleykeep, I produced the ring of truth. I should point out that the Galleykeep is a flying ship and Weaseltongue told me that it rarely came to ground around these parts, but I might find my way on board by one of the catapult traps hidden in the woodland which are used to catch food. He also told me that Marr would be hidden in a specific room on the Galleykeep, this room would be marked by a symbol, the exact symbol he didn’t know, but he gave me a riddle which should help me out –

‘When fire meets ice, who ends the fight?
Who stands between the two?
His symbol keeps them both apart,
Not red, nor white, but blue.’

I marched off into the undergrowth to try and get catapulted onto a floating ship, it seemed I was in the right area as a break in the trees revealed a dark shape floating above me in the sky which could only be the Galleykeep. A quick Luck test later and I was jumping into a trap, being hoisted into the air and left dangling in a net not long before the ship passed overhead and hoisted me up on-board! The two goblins who pulled me up didn’t last long against me, but the commotion appeared to have attracted attention and so I bolted through a door to hide which took me below deck. Weaseltongue had been correct about the traps and now I knew he was right about the doors with the symbols too.

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I’d already decided the answer was water before I’d seen this image, the jug on the right confirming my suspicions and so I tried that door. This took me into a dingy room, devoid of life, but was fully furnished, I had the option to check the wardrobe, mirror, desk, spiral stairs or a brass-trimmed device. To cut a long story short, all of these options resulted in me being overwhelmed by guards and my inevitable death. I was running out of ideas now. Scrambling through some of my notes saved me though, so many threads dangling in this book, I’d totally forgotten about the translated text I had found in Part 3.

‘If at some time in the future you believe you have located the entrance to Marrs netherworld deduct the page number above from the reference you are on at the time and turn to this reference.’

I tried this on the wardrobe and nothing… I tried it on the mirror and… there we have it! Before me, Marr began to materialise, a humanoid sitting in a library (indeed, the very character and scene depicted on the books cover!) and he began to speak. ‘So! Like a salmon fish, my creation returns to its home! And you have safely returned to me the vapour!‘. He told me of his work with marrangha, the magical transmutation of limbs and body parts from one creature to another, and his attempts to conduct this awful magic with a human subject had been done with me and my friends – ‘you and your colleagues were my first successes with higher animals‘. The rest of his experiments were rejected and left to scrape together an existence within the dungeons below Coven, where I had begun my adventure, ‘you and your crew were transported there!’. The room in the ship started to look familiar to me, ‘I see it is coming back to you now, you recognise this room, a little dusty now. I regret that your officers have not fared so well. Remember Ligge, the first mate? He took the form of a Blood Orc and was placed in charge of the blind fool, Hannicus. And Burgon the cook? You ran into him soon enough. The fat man was transformed into a Hobbit’.

So as it turns out, I was back in my own private quarters of my own ship and had just been given the news that unbeknownst to me, I had eaten my own chef. Marr really wanted one thing though, what was in Grogs backpack. I had already opened the vapours of reasoning and language, but Grog had the vapour of life and that was what Marr wanted me to deliver to him. Refusing only served to anger him and he began to cast a spell, but the magical eleven dust I had encountered by the Chattermatter was blocking his evil magic and he was unable to exert his true force on me.

Now was my chance, I took my crystal club and swung it at the mirror, spraying glass about the room, destroying the portal between his netherworld and this. Turning towards the door, I felt a shot of pain from a shard of glass which should really have been blocked by my scaly skin. But looking down my foot had returned to that of a normal human! Marrs experiments were performed by sorcery, not surgery and his disappearance had broken the spell. The full memory of events returned to me, Marr had attacked my ship, his forces on Tooki, specially bred War Griffins, overwhelming the crew and forcing the survivors into surrender, only to be subjected to Marrs horrible experiments. But I had my revenge and his brainless creatures would now serve and respect my authority.

My adventure was over.

Creature of Havoc – Part 5

After my escaping the dungeon and my encounter with the witches I took a well earned rest. Consolidating what I had achieved so far, the text indicating that I felt as though I was developing wisdom! Quite a development from the hulking mass, uncontrollably smashing up and eating hobbits that we knew from the start of the book. A big boost of 8 Stamina and 2 Luck were mine as I set out the next day, fully refreshed and looking to find the Sculliweed roots for the witches. Out in the open, I had options aplenty, with all four compass points open for exploration I set off to the east into the woods. Another junction split off into three, this was signposted as ‘Coven’ to the north, ‘Bilgewater’ to the south and ‘Testing grounds’ to the east, so I continued east. A rustling in nearby bushes startled me and the next thing I knew, an axe was flying past my head!

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As soon as the fight with the woodcutter began it was over and in the distance I could see a river, as I got closer to it, the lush green vegetation around me began to turn to spindly, dying plants. The stench of the river picked up and I was again in the company of the Bilgewater river, carrying indescribable filth and excrement. Apparently that signpost was wrong then. I followed the river downstream, at one point even descending a waterfall. Just imagine that, a poo waterfall. Eventually the water flowed to a large, calm pool, steam rising across its wide expanse. Can you imagine anyone or anything using this as drinking water? I mean, you’d have to be a complete and utter… oh…

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…seems this thing was guzzling away at the steaming, lumpy water. Apparently, this thing was an Ophidiotaur and of all my options, the option to try and mount it was the glaringly obvious one to pick. A quick Skill test later and I’d sneaked up to it and had leaped onto its back, a shrug and a snort and it’d accepted being ridden as it’s reality. That was until I kicked my heels in and it took off at a gallop, crashing through trees and eventually coming to a stop in a clearing, thankfully before it could throw me off. Not long after my arrival, the quiet didn’t remain as a couple of Brigands bundled in out of nowhere through the trees, beating the hell out of a thin and nimble man.

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Initially the three were unaware of my presence, but as I came charging towards them to help the man, all three stopped and stared at me incredulously. But that didn’t last as I was soon in combat with the two Brigands (8/7 & 8/9) who managed a couple of hits, but did not live for very long. The man I had saved was in fact an elf, he revealed his name to be Whiteleaf from the village of Ethelle Amaene and was at my service. All I could ask about though were a few fairly uninspiring topics, so I asked to hear about Stittle Woad. Odd, as I’m not sure my character knows of Stittle Woad at the moment. Whiteleaf told me that the settlement was about two days east of here, close to the Rainbow Ponds and that it was hidden underground. Great, but not really of any use to me at the moment.

Leading out of the clearing was a path heading northwards which led me onto an east-west junction, which I followed to the west. Pushing on, the foliage got denser and thicker and eventually produced a small building. It was however in ruins and I took the opportunity to explore these ruins, the doorway still intact. Through the doorway was a big mess, the place had been trashed, broken furniture and rubble was strewn across what used to be a room. Poking through the debris was a skeletal hand holding a green bottle which I pocketed and quickly moved on before the skeletal arm could try to grab me.

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Oddly enough, given the adventure so far, the arm didn’t try to kill me and I was able to head off on my merry way with a shiny new bottle. My progress was short-lived however as the vegetation in the woods was getting thick, so dense in-fact that my path onward was reduced to what resembled a small tunnel which I needed to crawl into to be able to fit. Fairly predictably, this was a bad move. The tunnel began to move and close in, vines tightened around me, the more I struggled, the tighter they got, I was in something of a pickle. I was offered the option to drink the contents of the bottle I had just wrestled from the dead and so I gave it a try. What I had drunk was a slow-acting poison. Initially I thought I’d picked the right course of action as the Gluevines instantly released their grip on me and I was able to crawl free, however they had merely detected the fact that I was now pumping poison through my system and didn’t fancy eating me anymore. I detected that I was pumping poison through my system when I clutched my stomach, doubled over and died in agonising pain a few minutes later. My adventure was over!

We messed up there then (yes I’m portioning some of the blame to you, the reader), so let’s go back to the start of this part and instead of heading east, let’s go south. I found myself in the town of Coven, but instead of a bustling settlement I found a run-down collection of shacks, residents fleeing at the sight of this giant green monster, stomping down their streets. But with a crack, one door flew open and a half-orc tumbled out of it, a bare-chested man followed with a crowd of people urging him to finish off the orc.

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Taking pity on my beastly brethren, I jumped in, claws flashing, and destroyed this smarmy looking villager. The problem now was all the other villagers who’d just watched a big green monster eviscerate one of their mates in the street and a gang of them were now advancing on me. The half-orc beckoned me to follow him and shouted ‘Quick! Come on!‘, and so I ran off after my new best friend. He looked like a sturdy fellow, carrying a sword though I’m not sure why he hadn’t drawn it back in the village, but nevermind. He told me to call him Grog and that he wanted to travel with me. The text instructed me to look out for references ending in a 7, deducting 52 from that number would take me to a reference where Grog would interact with me. Indeed, the next reference was 107, so I went to 55 to find a section where Grog went into a disused building we walked past, talking about a sentimental heirloom he’d buried in there and emerging with a backpack containing what looked like a large box. Curiously, he didn’t say what was in there. Discussion quickly moved onto what my current goals were, but not being able to speak, I was only able to communicate through nods and shakes of the head. I managed to convey that I was looking for something, but had no idea where it was. He exclaimed that someone called Rosina would be able to help, so that was where we went.

To the west we travelled and a small hillock rose up that appeared to shelter a small hut within some rocky caves in the side of it, Grog confirmed my assertion that this was where Rosina would be found and he gave me 2 gold pieces which he told me I would need. I wandered in through front door. Inside was what appeared to be a stereotypical fortune tellers booth. Incense burned, rich woven cloths hung about the walls and a crystal ball sat in the middle. Rosina of Dree was her full title and she wanted 2 gold pieces so that she could help me fulfill my destiny. Amusingly I was given the option to start a fight with her, but I chose to hand over the gold and let her do her thing instead.

Tarot was her weapon of choice for telling the fortune of a giant monster and after a little fore-shadowing of the finale of the book we’ll get onto next time, she deduced that I had been enlisted by the Sisters of Dree to help them find their Sculliweed root, ‘You have been set an unfair task. For the blue-stemmed Sculliweed grows only in the Swamps of the Toadmen on the southern shored of the Deedlewater‘.

Let’s croak us some toads!

Creature of Havoc – Part 4

Last time around I had the smug smile wiped from my face as the puzzle in my way I thought I’d solved remained sitting there, making fun of my pathetic yellow bracelets. All other options exhausted, I had some back tracking to do.

My first instinct was to look at the earlier choice I had been directly presented with inside my current route. The yellow bracelets I had coveted had not been the only item I discovered in the seemingly precious sack carried by Strongarm and co, there had also been a pendant. So, I went back to that point in the story and picked up the pendant, hoping it was a little more useful than the one on offer in Dark Souls. Thankfully this gave me a new thread to tug on as this dull, metal pendant had a little trick hidden up its sleeve. With it, I was able to detect the presence of hidden passageways within the catacombs. If I came across any passage in the book starting with the text ‘You cannot see a thing…‘ then I was to deduct 20 from the reference to find my hidden area. Recalling a section of dungeon just after the shadow creature being blacked out, I set off in that direction.

Reference 257 did indeed start with those words and some simple maths triggered the pendant. The dull piece of jewelry started to hum and a red beam fired out of the center to point at a stone wall ahead of me, and following the beam, my eyes were drawn to what seemed to be a piece of stone hanging in mid-air. Pulling on the stone set off a release mechanism of some kind and a hidden door in the wall creaked and crumbled open. The text then readjusted the rules for finding secret passages, stating that any reference I found starting with ‘You find yourself…‘ was to have 20 added to it to reveal a secret. This was making me remember something potentially very important, but firstly I had a secret door to check out! Within a small chamber, a single glowstone provided just enough light for me to make out a chest. Inside were two items, a shield and a large lump of crystal. Having already translated part of the diary of Zharradan Marr in part three, I knew full well to keep my eye out for a crystal club, so my selection here was a no-brainer. My lump of crystal was revealed to in-fact be a crystal club which I could use by turning to reference 333.

Now I say I remembered something potentially important, before I began this read-through I had been tipped off by some readers and my own research that there was an error in one section of the book where the correct trigger phrase had not been used, rendering the book nigh-on impossible to complete. Sounding familiar to the mechanics of my new toy, I checked it out and lo-and-behold, the trigger phrase left out was ‘You find yourself…‘ which should have started reference 213, that reference instead starting with ‘You reach a dead end‘. I’ll save my seethe for now and leave it until the Conclusions section!

So where is section 213? Around the portion of the book where I thought the yellow bracelets were the answer amidst a selection of dead-end cross-roads, that’s where! Geographically, I was on the right track, I could continue from the spot where I obtained the crystal club and make my way back through the area where I met Hannicus in part 3, past the Chattermatter from part 2 and get my pendant swinging on page 213. Finally making some progress past my end-point of around 25 years ago!

As with last time, a beam of light projected from the pendant onto a seemingly solid wall, fumbling around on its surface released a hidden catch, sending jets of smoke bursting from the edges of the door that was now sliding open in the rock. Awaiting me was an entirely pitch-black room which as I stepped in started to light up as several little flames popped out of the gloom, four in total and all revealing a human face! An instant later and they were speaking to me –

‘Your progress has been watched, foul creature of destruction. So far you have done well though you know not why or what, but you have caused two of the vapours to be lost. Zharradan Marr himself has decreed your destiny. You shall remain in his dungeons and do my bidding for i am Darramouss your master.’

If you can understand him turn to reference ninety.

‘Your first order is this: Report for duty at the Yellowstone mines. Leave now and head there immediately. I will be waiting.’

Hannicus had told me about this guy and I was on full alert to find a moment when I could grab him and make use of the ring he had armed me with. The lights came up and my environment was very different, no longer was I in a cold, stone cavern, I was in an area adorned with rich drapes and gilt-framed paintings. Darramouss confirmed that I was a magical creation of Zharradan Marr and while my fate was yet to be decided, my immediate future would see me being sent to work in the mines. Resistance would be met with my demise. Gritting my teeth and growling my dissatisfaction I wasn’t even given the option of going along with the idea of becoming a miner and Darramouss started casting a spell. My moment had come so I added 50 to the reference and hoped my gift from Hannicus would do the trick.

….the Ring of Holy Blessing! Where did you get that? Give it to me! This instant!’, he yelled fiercely. Hannicus, you’re a star, sorry for leaving you to die. Grinding the jewel of the ring into the wall a sweet-smelling gas filled the air, Darramouss stepping back and hitting a panel in the wall to open up a secret passage, but he was too late. Clutching his throat he hit the deck, the gas had done the trick and the awful creature was dead. I headed north through the passage opened up by Darramouss as he attempted to flee. On my way I yet again crossed the foul-smelling Bilgewater river and continued until I arrived at a heavy looking door carved into the rock. Opening up, a dark-skinned man stepped through and began asking me who I was and if I had been granted permission to leave Marr’s dungeon. Of course, I said yes. Please, god, let me out. It clearly wasn’t going to be that easy though and he asked me what the secret gesture was. I chose to play dumb and made out that there was no ‘gesture’ to pass on. The end result was that for the price of my pendant, the guard would let me through. I figured that it’d served its purpose by now and handed it over.

Rummaging through keys, the guard let me through a cold metal door which led up a flight of stairs and into a dark, stone-walled room decorated with carvings and patterns. A crack of light shone through  the ceiling and edging around the room revealed a door which I swung open to be hit by the cool night air and a wide-open-space. I was out! The moon was described as a large white orb, this was the first time my creature had been outside I guess, the description of what sounded like a graveyard and church was all that I had to go on to accompany the ‘orb’. Still in awe of my new surroundings I decided to check out the ‘old building’, which I’m assuming was a church.

And yes, I finally have an illustration to brighten things up. I hope you like hags.

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Chattering to each other and to me in equal quantities, these weird sisters three were the Women of Dree and said they could influence my destiny. They set me a quest, a relatively simple one, to collect some Sculliweed root for them before the next full moon and they would tell me everything. Well, I’m several thousand words into this now and I’d quite like to have a tangible goal to pursue, so ladies, by all that I stand for, you shall have your Sculliweed root!

Although I have no idea what it is, what it looks like, where to find it or even where I am.


Creature of Havoc – Part 3

Quite justifiably scared of my own shadow, I retreated back to the previous darkened cavern and took my only remaining option, which was to head west to another junction which after a right turn, branched off to the west and to the north. Persisting with my westerly track, I was soon bothered by the sound of footsteps ahead. Being a giant green behemoth I eschewed the option to turn back and continued directly towards the sounds. It was difficult to see who the footsteps belonged to as the passage winded back and forth, but when a straight section did appear, two human faces appeared in the faint light of the glowstone. Holding their ground, two non-descript adventurers were soon being torn apart by a charging creature who really had no time for face-offs. Just before I began my attack though, one of my victims put a brown sack down on the floor to one side and so that was my first item of interest to investigate. What had been held inside was another phial in a wooden box, much like the one I had found earlier in remains of the Flesh-feeders lunch. Sure enough, the bottle unstoppered itself and a swirling gas rose to form the face of an old man.

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Another round of gibberish followed, however a slightly different result followed. This was actually the ‘Vapour of Tongues’ and the spirit had bestowed upon me the gift of language! At last I had access to a cypher to help figure out the writings I had found and the speech of other entities I encountered. However, it isn’t entirely fool-proof. Here’s the exact description of how to translate.

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So lets’s give it a try shall we? Right at the start we met a dwarf who screamed ‘Kff pebw by afrp momf‘. I work this out to mean ‘Keep away from me‘, which does make perfect sense in the context the sentence is used. I have used a certain amount of guesswork though, the rules don’t mention how to handle consonants at all. But I’ll come back to this puzzle system in the conclusions I think and give some smart-arsed reader the opportunity to explain what an idiot I am for not understanding it properly!

So, I think I now have a handle on how to interpret the information imparted to me! I set about translating the piece of leather I found on the body of said dwarf, I came up with –

‘Swinebeard of yore. You have been found guilty of the crime of wilful and malicious arson a most serious offence in the dry region of Salamonis. As punishment you are sentenced to undertake a perilous mission of recovery. You must travel northwards and enter the undergound domain of Zharradan Marr there to seek out and recover flasks of swirling vapours. These are the vapours of Stittle Woad. You must find the three flasks containing these vapours and return them to this court. ON NO ACCOUNT MUST THEY BE OPENED. This is the sentence of the court and the geas has been cast. This is your punishment. You must succeed or die in the attempt.’

So these vapours are precious to someone (Stittle Woad is marked on our region map) and Zharradan Marr has taken them to his underground lair where I have found myself. Am I supposed to be protecting them maybe?

I went back to the text of the previous vapour I had released after the flesh-feeders and translated that –

‘I am released from my rest. Foul creature what do you know of the forces with which you tamper. But nonetheless my purpose is ordained. I bestow on you the power of reason. From now on you are in control of your own destiny. And now may i return to my peaceful rest until once more the heavens take their oppositions.’

And that I believe led to my ability to make decisions and not have to make dice rolls to assert my choices.

Christ, no wonder this was listed as a hard one. I was a clever kid, but never would I have been able to handle this stuff! Regardless, we struggle onwards, mind expanded and slightly boggled. What I found was something welcomly more mundane – a junction. An easterly turn took me down a passageway which ended at a large wooden door which was far too big and sturdy for me to break down, on the face of the door was a metal plate with a metal ball hanging in front of it. Apparently a knocker, I used it and waited to see who would answer.

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The Rhino-man shuffled through the door towards me and spoke and I was able to interpret –

‘Come on then. what business have you here. Answer quickly.’
If you can understand the creature turn immediately to reference sixty two.

Amazed that I could understand him, Rhino-man, presumably being loaned out from the Citadel of Chaos asked if I was one of Marr’s creatures? I suppose I am a minion then. He realised that I didn’t really know if I was or not and suggested that due to the size of me, I should be heading towards the Testing Grounds, but someone named Darramouss would know for certain. Should I make the Testing Grounds, he had a message I had to pass on to his weapon-master, Legionnaire Twenty-Nine, called Thugruff – ‘Gat H’Ouile has escaped with the ring to the Forest of Spiders’. If I met him I was to add 29 to the reference to do this. I bid Rhino-man farewell and continued onward, following a junction to the east again and entering a door to my left.

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Two blood-orcs leaped from a table and made for their swords as soon as I entered through the door, a man in dirty robes stood behind them and uttered some words –

Who is it? What is happening? What has disturbed us? Please god release this black eye curse.

Needless to say, combat followed, but the orcs being 7/7 and 7/8 didn’t stand a chance. The man spoke again –

‘Have mercy on a blind man whoever you are. If you are friend then lead me from this place. If you are foe then leave me be.  You are strangely silent. Who are you? Do you understand me. My god intruder. If your plan is to do away with me then do it quickly. Otherwise be off with you.’

If you can understand the human turn to reference two hundred.

‘So what is it to be. Is not my misery enough. Show charity. Give me gold and feed me. Or leave me be.’

The man introduced himself as Hannicus, the ex-keeper of Zharradan Marr’s underground dungeons who had been usurped by Darramouss, an undead. Darramouss could be found north of the Chattermatter’s lair, which was roughly where we were heading!  Hannicus clearly had revenge as motivation to take Darramouss down and he produced a ring which he claimed I could use to defeat him by smashing the jewel at its center against the wall, releasing a gas deadly only to the undead Half-elf that is Darramouss. I was granted 2 Luck for my discovery, but Hannicus seemed to want his ring back, he wanted me to help him get out. I had no time for this, I had what I needed and so I took the ring and went on my way. The text informed me that when I encountered Darramouss I was to wait until I had the opportunity to grab him and then add 50 to the reference.

Moving on I found myself in a location familiar to a previous run-through, the coffin room. So, having previously ended up cooking an oven, I had managed to negotiate my way back to this half of the dungeon and so followed the same path I had before, back to the oven room. On the way though, I stopped to translate the scroll I attempted to read where the Rock Demon illusion had appeared. As I thought, it seemed to be a key document.

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‘Biography of Z Marr page ninety three:… thus came Marr to abandon the physical world and take refuge in his own. A strange netherworld which occupies no space in the world we mortals know. A world of illusion in which where he appears to be he is not. And a world in which those searching for him would instead find themselves. He has but one weakness in his new world and that is a crystal club which may be used to destroy forever the gateway between our world and his.’

If at some time in the future you believe you have located the entrance to Marrs netherworld deduct the page number above from the reference you are on at the time and turn to this reference. If you are correct you will meet the necromancer. For having the good fortune to find this parchment you may restore your luck score to its initial level.

So, yes, I guess you could say that was a fairly key document indeed! Amazing it would only be guarded by a mere illusion.

To the oven we go then and as previous, the furnaces roared and the rooms temperature began to rise. However this time I had my yellow metal bracelets I had found on the body of the adventurers in the previous part. Banging on the walls of the oven room I accidentally bashed the two bracelets together, creating a loud ringing noise which seemed to trigger a subsiding of the rising heat. And that was it. I was turned back out into the sequence of junctions I had been stuck in before. No secret door, nothing. Now I know this route is the way forwards as Hannicus had told me so, but clearly the oven puzzle was a mere distraction and not my route forward at all.

Damn your eyes, Jackson!!! What now?? I was certain this would be my way forward…

Here I stand then, stuck in a dead-end, unable to progress any further. I’m now fully grasping that this really isn’t like most other Fighting Fantasy books, my Twitter peeps are aware this one has been driving me crazy and so as I thought, we’re gonna need another part to get this one done. I will return and we will continue!