I approach The Rings of Kether with concern.
While I did eventually read it, my childhood brain remembers little of this one, save for seeing it in WH Smiths on many an occasion and overlooking it due to the sci-fi setting not being as exciting to me as demons and broad-swords, but also because of the strange fat man who intimidated me. Only in my adult years have I realised that the billowing red cloak he wears is in-fact a desolate red planet stretched out behind him. And while we’re on the subject of the cover art, a little Googling reveals that what appears to be the original is out there in private hands…
So my concern is not based so much on memories, but on my experience with Space Assassin, a book I didn’t get on with all that well which was also written by The Rings of Kether author, Andrew Chapman. To save you the click, I summed up Space Assassin by quoting Bernard Black from Black Books, ‘Enjoy. It’s dreadful but quite short.’.
Now we have to give Mr. Chapman a chance here, even though I fear his long, unending corridors, as Titanica quotes him as saying this was a much more focused effort. The Rings of Kether was actually planned as book 12, which turned out to be Space Assassin, as revealed in The Seven Serpents, which allows me to lazily re-use this picture from my Temple of Terror introduction.
If we get into the story of the book, it’s basically The Wire in space. Our hero is an undercover agent, sent by the Galactic Federation to infiltrate a drugs network responsible for flooding the Aleph Cygni system with that well known narcotic, Satophil-d. Oh go on, admit it, we’ve all got off our tits and slapped on some Happy Mondays after a few tabs of Satophil-d, but no more! The introductory text is barely a page long so that’s about all we’re getting for now in terms of details.
Reading around, it does seem this adventure is a fairly open-ended affair, which perks my interest, and there are some unique rules to consider as well. Combat is split between blaster, hand-to-hand and ship-to-ship variations. Blaster combat is differentiated by 4 Stamina of damage being done per hit compared to the regular 2, which is used here in hand-to-hand. Ship combat uses new stats called Weapons Strength and Shields, both 1D6+6, which pretty much replace Skill and Stamina. Another option is provided by Smart Missiles, which destroy an enemy ship in one hit, but I am limited to just two. Provisions are replaces by Pep Pills, restoring 6 Stamina each, but I only have 4. Currency is in the form of kopeks, of which I have 5,000.
Finally, if you want to see what the book looks like in motion, here’s a Youtube channel which has videos of Fighting Fantasy books. I know you’re all desperate for that niche to be filled!