Hidden artifacts stashed within an Oxfam shop

Just a small morsel for you to nibble on before the next book comes up, something I found a long time ago in an Oxfam book shop. A small crop of titles I already owned were on the shelves, but I do love to see if there is anything written on the adventure sheets so I had a look inside. What I found was that the owner of these books had left in a hand drawn map for City of Thieves as well as his own inventory sheets for City of Thieves, Forest of Doom and Space Assassin!

COT_MAP

Much better than the kind of crap I churn out! Seems he had some great luck on rolling his main stats too ūüėČ

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The Crown of Kings – Conclusions

Well that only took me six months to finish!

Blimey, what a ride. I’ll start off with looking at book four I suppose. The Crown of Kings was a very hard book indeed, there was a lot that went wrong there and running into obstacles, mainly in the form of the hardwood spear, forced me to do a lot of exploration to find out where I’d gone wrong, as you might expect from an 800 page title. I take a step back though and remind you that my failings began in the previous book, The Seven Serpents, where I failed to prevent all the serpents from arriving ahead of my in Mampang and telling all and sundry who to be looking out for. Had all seven died then I would have begun The Crown of Kings on page 237 and been given the information that anytime I am referred to as ‘the Analander’ I could deduct 40 from the reference and be sent to a version of events where you are not recognised. This would have saved many, many headaches along the way!

Despite being so tough though I really enjoyed this book, the epic scope just made it a fitting conclusion to this very epic series, this was the huge dungeon crawl that we hadn’t seen much of so far. It was more than just tricks and traps too, I particularly liked the kitchen encounter, the range of mutations was a real creative treat! My only real criticism I think would be the Archmage encounter, I loved how you are tricked into imprisoning yourself in the 2nd tower, but the actual fight itself was a little short. I remember the magic to-and-fro with Balthus Dire in The Citadel of Chaos and it would have been nice to see a more extended fight here as well. Having said that though, there were certain spell options I didn’t take, one of which accompanied by a rather cool illustration where the Archmage annihilates a wood golem you summon to fight for you.

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Something else I missed, but not from this book, was a locket. I was captured by Captain Cartoum during my infiltration of Mampang and was told to look for visual clues on his illustration. Well the clue went over my head, but it was the picture of the young lady on his wall I was supposed to be looking out for as way back in The Shamutanti Hills I could have found a locket bearing her image that if given to Captain Cartoum, he would have been so grateful to get a memento of his sweetheart he’d have sent me on my way with the key!

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When going back and forth through the book, one image continually caught my eye and made me wonder what it was about, but I never did land on it. It was this one –

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This was a simplistic version of darts, white numbers increasing your score, black numbers decreasing it. Winning the game was achieved by the first person to hit 10 or -10. Playing the game was as simple as ‘keeping a tight grip on your pencil, and keeping your elbow firmly in place, stab your book with your pencil!‘. Of all the bizarre mini-games in the Sorcery books, that’s clearly the most mental. All the poor books out there destroyed by over-enthusiastic 10 year-olds, all the thighs punctured by wayward ‘dart throws’.

And despite this awesome stabbing game, it has to be said that the encounter I regret missing the most was the devastating, the dreaded, the… cabbage-sized,¬†Jib-Jib!!

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I already said in my read-through that the nether world demon was my favourite illustration from the book, but I am rather partial to a busy crown scene, and Mr. Blanche came up with another good one that passed me by. Some sort of mutant party I believe!

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And as much as I love reading toilet graffiti, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed being in this particular latrine, and before you check, none of the scrawl mentions ‘cake’ or ‘lies’.

 

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I certainly didn’t expect this one to take up six parts, but to go into full detail as I always try to, I really did need the space to tell the experience as it happened as best I could. My map did sprawl out a bit as a consequence. Still don’t think it’s as bad as my House of Hell map though!

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As a whole the Sorcery series took my by surprise a bit, I really had no expectations as to what the books would be like and I had been sitting on them for months before I started reading them. When I started doing this blog it was about nostalgia and a means to make myself accountable in collecting the books and actually reading them again, I never really thought I would enjoy reading them as much as I have, but if I take only one positive thing away from the experience of blogging Fighting Fantasy it’s that I got to read the Sorcery books. They’ve been an absolute pleasure to read through and now I’m all done, I find it difficult to actually say which one I enjoyed the most! I loved the relaxing beauty of The Shamutanti Hills, the dirty urban sprawl of Khare, the desperation of hunting The Seven Serpents and the sheer tour-de-force scale of the final battle through Mampang, but if I have to go for one… I think it would be The Seven Serpents. I was so enthralled I did it in single sitting, there were so many elements I liked about the books central theme of a race against time and the discovery of the serpents weaknesses made it feel more exciting than the other, slower-paced books.

In general the Sorcery series really lives up to its name of Advanced Fighting Fantasy. The use of so many little tricks such as puzzles in illustrations, continuity between books, the rest and food mechanic, and the fact I actually had to make notes of clues and hints to be able to progress, it constantly kept the experience fresh and lively and took the medium about as far as I can imagine it going. If I had one criticism it would be that sometimes the spell casting didn’t really fit as I could only cast the spells offered to me when I was told I could use them, obviously this is a restriction based on how the book is written, but it is annoying when you just want to use that DOP spell to get a lock open, but you aren’t allowed because the puzzle doesn’t work that way, but that is a minor gripe at best.

All in all,¬†it has been said that Steve Jackson’s favourite Fighting Fantasy book is the whole Sorcery epic, and now I know why.

Out of the Pit 2! Beyond the Pit, a Kickstarter Project

I absolutely love Out of the Pit, a superb ‘toilet book’. I don’t think I ever gave it any coverage here, but it was picked up from eBay some time ago and I repeatedly go back to it to check something in my playthroughs or just simply to soak up some monster information.

 

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It seems a sequel is brewing over on good old Kickstarter!

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Now the book is already written and within two days it’s already reached a third of it’s goal! I’ve pledged for my copy, here’s a link for you to go and get yours organised…

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2036759092/beyond-the-pit-advanced-fighting-fantasy

I will be badgering you again about this, oh yes.

 

I’m sticking my neck out on this Facebook fad

Just a small piece of shameless self-promotion here, letting you know that I’ve created a Facebook page for this here blog. A ‘Like’ would be appreciated, and there should now be a little button down the side here so you can do just that without having to leave the page. All my scans have been uploaded to the Facebook page, so you do have some incentive to go visit it if you fancy idly browsing the artwork. Getting more people involved makes this far more interesting for me and hopefully helps boost the community of Fighting Fantasy fans that are out there. Share some images of demons, dragons and human sacrifice with your friends, they’ll think you’re totally metal! Just don’t share any of that crappy Starship Traveller art or you’ll lose friends, lovers and¬†respectability.

You can of course continue to get all updates and plenty of extra bits on Twitter too.

So yeah, check it out here.

Next book will be started shortly!

Island of the Lizard King – Conclusions

We took a trip to Fire Island then and managed to defeat the lizard king, but not without some issues! This book was nearly fantastic, but some of the niggles got in the way of it reaching that level. I think the pacing is slightly off, it took me a bit too long to actually get to the meat of the story, it felt like things only really got exciting when I found the lizard men encampment near the mine. Wandering through the jungle was a good place to start, it just could have been trimmed down a smidge in favour of a longer section exploring the prison fort at the end maybe? And maybe keeping Mungo on the journey for a little bit longer before his death would have helped the story, which was otherwise the best of the books so far.

My other problem was of course the combat difficulty, which I alluded to several times over the reading. I always thought you were able to get through a book regardless of your ability rolls, but I’ll bet the previous owner of this book who had a Skill of 7 didn’t manage to avenge Mungo. As I ably showed, a Skill of 9 wasn’t even enough for me! So many really tough standard enemies, I felt they could have been toned down just a touch. I mean, I missed the Grannits on my playthrough, I think Fire Island could have used some more Grannits, Grannits have a Skill of 4. I like Grannits.

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As for my death itself, I think I touched on this when the Ganjees in Citadel of Chaos drove me bananas, but I’m here for the experience of remembering the books, any challenge is entirely secondary. Having said that, I am playing the books properly and if I die or have to replay a section to find a missing item, I’ll tell you guys where and why it’s happened. But unless something goes spectacularly wrong, I’m not going to start¬†completely¬†from scratch, I really don’t have the time! Whenever possible, I’ll be getting to the end of a book, I just can’t guarantee it will end as sweetly as this one did.

Illustrator Alan Langford generally did a pretty decent job for this book, I think I highlighted a few of the better images he created, but things did miss the mark here and there. I think my favourite of these was an encounter with a bear that I actually missed. Aggression is there in his posture, the claws are out, he’s reared up, but his eyes… he’s drunk isn’t he? I wouldn’t be scared of this bear, he’s clearly going to trip on that branch in front of him and start crying in the dirt.

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I should also briefly apologise to fans of The Doors, I admit to only being a very casual fan myself and had entirely forgotten that Jim Morrison was known as the ‘lizard king’. I think my accidental party-crashing use of the hash-tag #lizardking possibly caused them some confusion on Twitter.

Anyway, here’s a map. It’s not very good! I think I was somewhat overwhelmed by the vast number of illustrations towards the end and stopped mapping properly, plus your decisions aren’t quite as diverse either really.

Now grab your wellies, swamp next.

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