More books I probably won’t read for years at this rate

Before we crack on with the next book, there’s a few finds I should update the blog with. Twitter followers will have seen a few of these already I believe, but I’ve managed to get four separate additions to my collection.

Oxfam Books continues to be a rich vein and has given me three books across two different finds. One was a gift aid book in the form of Eye of the Dragon.

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Oxfam again came through with a more diverse and exciting show of green-spines, several of which I already had in my collection, but there were gaps to be filled by Crypt of the Sorcerer and Return to Firetop Mountain.

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And most recently this weekend, surprisingly, a random wandering through Poundland to buy a cheap pair of pliers and a lightbulb resulted in the unexpected sight of Mr. Ian Livingstone’s name!

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Oh how I long to read some books written by that man! Anyway, like I said, Seas of Blood coming soon… although I do need to get Pillars of Eternity finished before Dark Souls 3 appears so do bear with me!

No, really. Soon.

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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!

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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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Temple of Terror – Conclusions

As I mentioned in my introduction, Temple of Terror is coming on heels of some non-fantasy books, so I was very happy to be back in more familiar territory. What you get in this book is the standard adventure that we are all sucked in by, a trek across the wilds followed by a dungeon crawl with a few traders to spend some gold with along the way. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have tweaked a few things though. Perhaps we were spoiled by the rich desert survival in The Seven Serpents, but I’d have liked a little more time on the desert section. Finding the ‘lost city’ seemed like a fairly trivial accomplishment, I’d have taken a slightly shorter portion of the book in Vamos and a longer exploration of the desert being required. My coffee-stained map shows how the adventure is heavily weighted towards the dungeon section.

tot 002 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† I had clearly missed some parts though as this interesting illustration depicts some kind of raid going on that I never encountered, a great action piece.tot 026 Another gripe I had, which I suppose is a little picky, is the bad guy, Malbordus. Obviously I never ultimately got to face off with him, but his presence in the story is basically non-existent. At least in other books where you are trying to stop a bad-guy, you’re in their domain, their dungeon, their Firetop Mountain. Here we’re in Leesha’s den and we never really learn that much about her other than the fact that she likes art. It is a minor complaint, but I would have felt more compelled to find the dragon artefacts if he’d been built a little more, in-fact at times I actually forgot I was supposed to be looking for them. Having said that, the book still had a great atmosphere, the sandy ruins felt dangerous and I was enjoying picking my way through. Malbordus might have had a diminished presence, but he was filled in for by the messenger of death rather well. This fellow was one of the most memorable parts of the adventure and was a good alternative to insta-death decisions, you could sometimes gain clues as to what he was doing. While it was certainly a penalty to find one of his letters, it wasn’t just a case of flipping back to the previous page after your death, it just turned up the tension a notch, which is a good thing. A tough dude I managed to avoid was the guy depicted below, a mutant orc assassin I narrowly avoided just before your¬†dragon artefacts are totted up, who is seemingly armed with¬†some sort of lightsabres. Skill 11 and Stamina 11 was not something I wanted to fight at that point, especially given my wildly fluctuating Skill score, I was trying to stay out of fights for portions of the book.

tot 021   My adventure was a failure, but had I found that 5th dragon artefact I believe I was in a position to get through the final encounter with Malbordus successfully. He is pictured here, played by the legend that is Nick Cave.

tot 024 I should hasten to add, I did not draw the horns and neither did Bill Houston. Some cheeky Shetland scamp must have done that at some point… It should also be said that my copy of the book did not survive the reading and scanning process, the water damage was too much to take and… he fell.

fallen_prince   Godspeed, Temple of Terror. You were a solidly enjoyable, if unspectacular, adventure.

Temple of Terror – Part 3

Doubling back from the tapestry corridor, I went down the mural corridor. Quite impressive it sounded too, twenty metres long, depicting a great battle between undead, orcs, men and dwarves. My study of its detail was suddenly broken by a voice behind me, ‘Do you like my work?‘. Spinning around, I was facing a man with paint pots in his hand and a brush behind his ear, the astute reader may determine that he is the artist. Flattery was the obvious course of action and he seemed pleased to get complimented on his painting skills, this loosened his tongue and so I learned of High Priestess Leesha. Leesha is the boss of this place, despite her terrible nature, she has a taste for finery and art. Every year she invites talented people to come and carry out their works with the lost city. The best entry is rewarded with 300g and the rest are sacrificed to the Dark One – whoever that may be. Our friend here was pretty confident of his victory and also let on that the artists were protected here by wearing magic rings and that Leesha’s inner temple can only be reached by walking through the curtain of golden rain. Despite all this juicy information, he had never seen or heard of Malbordus…

Leaving him to his paint pots I followed the corridor around to the right, off the corridor was a solid-looking door, from behind which I could hear agonized cries and sadistic laughter. I turned the handle and walked in to find Michael Jackson being tortured by a bare-chested man.

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Killing the torturer, I took a bunch of brass keys from his belt and set about freeing the prisoner and found his name was actually Thitta, an ex-servant of Leesha who was caught trying to escape. I explained my quest to him and the mention of the Messenger of Death perked his interest, a figure he’d seen was stashing something in a golden casket before disappearing into thin air… We went our separate ways from here.

A little further down the corridor was another door that popped open thanks to my Open Door spell, inside was a marble-floored room, bare except for a bronze head of a woman mounted on the wall which surprisingly started to talk to me. I was asked how many gold pieces Leesha gave to the winner of the art contest, the text telling me to turn to that page number. On giving the correct answer I was congratulated by the head and it started to pour a red smoke into the room which left me feeling invigorated, restoring 2 Skill and 2 Luck! For once I actually needed that Skill boost! Back in the corridor it led to a small room with doors leading off to the left and right, a nice disguise, but essentially another T-junction! Opting for the right door I discovered a room packed full of caskets, chests, urns and the like, oh and one of the urns also a fire-spitting fiend climbing out of it.

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Not that tough and opponent at 6/8, but it did force me to roll 1D6 per attack round to see if its firey breath did any damage to me, a roll of 1-2 would cause 1 Stamina damage, but fortunately I emerged un-scathed and un-toasted. My reward on exploring the room was a gold medallion with a heart carved into it, unknown to me though this was actually a medallion given to sacrificial victims and so I lost 1 Luck point. Beyond this room was another with a mosaic floor and a large Medusa head with a coin-slot. I didn’t fancy a Medusa vending machine, I was fine for Medusas that day, so I moved on into what was another darkened corridor my lantern plainly wasn’t good enough for. As a consequence I walked straight into a blade in the wall, costing me 2 Stamina and 1 Luck. Emerging into a candle-lit room with a floor strewn with rotting food, animal droppings and matted hair, the door behind me alarmingly slammed shut while the door ahead of me burst open.

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This fellow was a Night Horror and he was shooting bolts of white light from a silver rod at me, which I was none too happy about. A quick Luck roll meant I was able to have a rummage in my bag and not get a blast from the rod. I triumphantly pulled out the brass bell I’d found in the desert sands, ringing it forced the night horror to collapse on the floor screaming, clutching its ears. But Ii wasn’t out of the woods yet as a grinding noise signaled me to look up and see the ceiling was beginning to descend. Grabbing up the silver rod I was all set to brace the ceiling, but as soon as I picked it up, the ceiling stopped moving. A door led out of the room which I could open up with the crystal key I bought from Yaz. Before moving on though, being the nice chap that I am, I threw the rod back into the room, the ceiling grinding returned as it continued its descent, presumably crushing the cowering Night Horror to death.

The room I’d walked into was a workshop, carving materials littered the room and the job in progress was a carving of what was presumably Vatos being attacked by giant sandworms.

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Closer inspection resulted in me gaining 1 Luck point as tucked within a hollowed out building was a small ebony dragon carving! That’s three of five artifacts now found.

Leaving the workshop for the next room I found myself in a large hall, weapons and armour adorned the walls and at the opposite end was an altar being attended to three sallow-skinned men in black robes who on seeing me all picked up a sickle and started to ‘advance’ towards me. Although the illustration suggests they did this in a somewhat more confrontational manner than implied.

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Trying to avoid a fight with three maniacs I told them I had a gift for priestess Leesha, and on seeing¬†the¬†medallion I picked up earlier they seemed to buy it too, ‘The gift of your life will certainly please Leesha‘. Curiously I felt compelled to walk down the hall towards the altar, but I fought the chanting voices in my head and passed a Skill test to ensure I was able to keep my head on my body for a bit longer. The Dark Disciples weren’t too keen on this though and set about that task of removing my head once again, but while they had a decent level of skill, they weren’t that tough at 9/5, 9/5 and 8/6. The only thing worth taking from them though was a long sacrificial dagger.

Leading out of the hall was an archway that led into an ornate corridor with a familiar sounding gold curtain, but before I could pass through I had to deal with the small matter of a wall of stone arms brandishing swords at me.

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A formality to pass by the four of them though as all the stats were so low at 6/4 each. I stepped through the curtain of golden rain and felt wetness, yet remained dry. I was in a luxurious chamber, decorated with paintings and the like, even scatter cushions. I wasn’t alone though, a Slave Guard was waiting at the end of the room with a very fine mustache.

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Having taken him out I was knackered, the scatter cushions were just far too inviting to this dusty adventurer and so I decided to have a drink of water and a sleep, a risky choice maybe but I was able to rest long enough to restore 2 Stamina before I was awoken by a deep humming noise, I dived behind some drapes to hide from whoever or whatever was making the sound. A white-robed man carrying a golden chalice entered the chamber, he saw the body of the slave guard and checked for a heart-beat before running out of the room, completely oblivious to my presence. Taking the opportunity to get out of there before he brought back more men with mustaches I set about getting the door out of the room open, I was given the opportunity to hack the door open with my sword as opposed to using my Open Door spell and was able to do so without any penalty or check… really glad I took that spell!

My next challenge was to pick a door, the corridor led me up to two doors, each bearing a different set of runes and, one with a moon, one with a sun. I tried to use my Read Symbols spell but apparently the golden rain had sapped away my magic abilities. I suppose that explains the door situation then.

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I went for the moon door and didn’t die, so I guess it was the right guess! A long, sloping corridor took me down into a chamber covered in hieroglyphics. Three clay pots, white, red and black sat on a stone table. The black pot had a shrivelled monkey paw inside, which I decided could only be bad news. In the white pot was a ring with a lightning bolt on it, I put it on to no obvious effect – could this be the ring the painter had mentioned? Usually I assume that Fighting Fantasy books that take you through a choice of three give you a good option, an indifferent one and a punishment. I’d had the in-different one, I was assuming the monkey paw was the bad one so there must be something awesome in the red pot! Of course there was nothing in the pot, but underneath was a letter ‘E’. Damn you, Messenger of Death! I lost 4 Stamina and 1 Luck for my inquisitiveness, maybe I was right about the rings value after all. On my way out of the chamber I found a small trapdoor, but finding it too dark to properly explore I moved on into what can only be described as a treasure room! There was a golden skeleton statue I quite liked the look of, so I had that. From what I was told earlier by Thitta clearly the Messenger of Death had left me a note in the golden casket, so I left that alone.

Leaving the room took me on to another T-junction where I took a right. Strangely there was a large bowl of grapes in the middle of this corridor, I took a gamble and ate the lot, 4 Stamina points were my reward. Ending the corridor was an archway blocked by a black curtain with a skull carved above it. I threw back the curtain and found myself in a small chamber with two guards standing at the end;¬†‘Give good reason to intrude on the domain of Leesha or die’.

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I didn’t have what they would consider a good reason to intrude the domain of Leesha, so I drew my sword and fought them off, which wasn’t easy as they both has a Skill of 9. Marble steps led onwards, up into a high ceiling room supported by parallel lines of white pillars. Screaming luxury, this was indeed the domain of Leesha as she was draped over some satin cushions, being fanned by a large, muscular servant. With a smile and a snap of her fingers he attacked me.

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After killing this milky-eyed freak I turned my attention to Leesha and found she was already coming at me with a shiny, black, crescent-shaped object. I was given the option to fight her using a giant sandworm tooth, which did the trick as it was, for some reason, her weakness and she turned and fled at the mere sight of it. Knowing I was still looking out for dragon artifacts I checked a large chest in her chamber. I remembered I was reading an Ian Livingstone book too late though because of course, inside was the final letter from the Messenger of Death, a letter ‘D’ written in gold-dust costing me 4 Stamina points. The silver lining was that I only had a D, E and H, so I had ultimately survived this particular threat!

Turning my attention back to Leesha I pursued her through the door she left the chamber by into another hallway, in the middle of which was a bronze idol in the shape of a dog. Taking a closer look I could see that the dogs mouth was hinged, inside was a small Golden Dragon, that’s four artifacts… is it enough?

Running down the hall I found myself in a cross-passage, also known as a T-junction, to my left I could see Leesha hurriedly opening an iron door, to my right was a dwarf! He was crawling on his knees, seemingly badly sunburned and carrying a hammer. He also seemed to recognize me, so I thought I’d best see what he wanted.

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This dwarf was an envoy sent by Yaztromo to bring me the legendary war-hammer of Stonebridge as only something so mighty was able to destroy the Dragon Artifacts. I’m sure this crispy, delirious dwarf was delighted that Yaz hadn’t sent me off with it in the first place! Continuing after Leesha I pushed through the iron door she had just gone through to find myself in a features room, save for a circular pit in the middle and a very high ceiling. Sadly, I had only four of the five dragon artifacts, Malbordus had won. A window was open at the top of the room and sunlight was streaming through, only to be blocked out by the shadow of a huge dragon with an evil-looking man on its back who could faintly be heard laughing, presumably in an evil-manner. All of Allansia would soon be in shadow as Malbordus would now lead his hoards across the land accompanied by dragons. I had failed in my mission.

My adventure was over.

Temple of Terror – Part 2

So having unwillingly entered myself into some sort of hideous, undead version of Countdown there was no time to mess around and so I made a move, going further into the city of lost city of Vatos; and now I think about it, a lost city that was remarkably easy to navigate to. At the end of the corridor was a T-junction with patterned drapes hanging down the wall. Pulling back the drapes revealed a large iron door, an unlocked one at that. Passing through I was in a dusty room, walls smeared with blood and a bucket hanging from the ceiling. Another door was on the opposite wall, but before I could make a decision as to what to do next a scratching, skittering sound from a low archway soon turned into a giant centipede.

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He wasn’t as fierce as he looked though and I was soon wiping some sort of ichor off my blade and moving to investigate the bucket. Inside was merely a bunch of old bones, but closer inspection showed one was carved into the shape of a dragon which will bee my first artifact! Leaving the room through the opposite door took me to a cross-road with nothing of apparent interest to the left or right, forcing me to push straight on. A large pit threatened to block my passage, but using my Jump spell sent me sailing over it unhindered. I say unhindered, it actually cost me 3 Stamina to pull this off, a magic system reminiscent of the Sorcery books. Hovering out of the torch-lit gloom came an awful creature which was now blocking my path, a giant floating eye-ball, an Eye Stinger, was trying to catch me with its hypnotic gaze.

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Having nothing in my pack which would be of use, I drew my sword and started swinging, eyes closed! Lucky old me managed to thrust my sword straight into its eyeball, sending the thing crashing to the ground, leaking a horrible yellow toxic ooze. My exit from the area was swift, but brought back to a halt soon after when I spied an iron grille on the right side of the wall. Prising it open seemed the thing to do, but as I reached up with my sword I realised the grille had been tampered with, the bars highlighted with chalk to form a ‘H’. The Messenger of Death had made his first mark on me, costing me 1 Luck, 4 Stamina and potentially ending the adventure prematurely somewhere down the line.

Taking a left turn at the following T-junction I turned sharply right to find an armoured lizard man guarding a pile of sacks. Clearly an important thing to be doing in an un-populated lost city in the middle of the desert. Not having a Creature Sleep spell I drew my sword and finished him off (9/8) without issue. His sacks only contained grains and spices, but there was a large iron key in his clothes which I took along with me. At another T-junction I followed it to the right, the corridor slowly opening up into a dingy room where two Ratmen were gnawing away at the carcass of a goblin, the illustration showing a pretty harrowing expression on the face of the dead goblin!

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Thankfully, the Ratmen were about as difficult an opponent as you might imagine (5/4 & 5/5) and the rewards were just as exciting, 3 gold and a monkey tail were in their pockets. Two archways led away from this dingy pit, I took the one to the left which led me to yet another T-junction, the right path was covered in broken glass so I only had the option of going left. I mean, c’mon, I’ll fight a giant sandworm at the drop of a hat, but broken glass? You must think I’m mad.

With the corridor ending at the now seemingly mandatory T-junction I went to the right but I could hear footsteps approaching. I decided to hang around to see just who it was.

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Jerkily walking skeleton warriors were on my trail and posed a smidge more of a challenge than the Ratmen duo (7/5 & 6/6), but that isn’t saying much. I was able to take one of their shields with me for 1 Skill point that I couldn’t use. Had I not stopped to investigate those boney footsteps I’d have ended up at a locked wooden door, my Open Door spell being rendered obsolete by the iron key I took from the lizard man just a moment ago. An un-natural cold filled the room and two caskets lay on the floor, now prepared for a vampire encounter all I actually found myself doing was taking a clay goblet with a heart etched into the rim… odd. I headed back to the previous T-junction and this time went left. A door on the left-hand wall offered itself up, its carved decoration of a hideous creature being consumed by flames made me think twice about going through it, so I carried on along the corridor which ended at a plainer door.

Going through I found myself in a dark room with scratch marks all over the walls, a low growling sound could be heard in the murk. The door behind me suddenly opened and someone threw in pieces of meat, this fully got the attention of the Death Dog that had been lurking in the back of the room and he was now lurching forward to attack me.

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No slouch either this Death Dog, at 9/10 he actually managed a couple of hits on me, but it wasn’t enough. Into the darker end of the room it seemed a tunnel stretched off into the distance, so naturally I started to crawl along it. As the light faded completely away I was asked if I had the ability to cast the Light spell… curious, as the book clearly states you start with a lantern in your inventory. Not having the spell, or seemingly the nouse to use my lamp, I continuing to crawl along in the dark and was ominously asked if I had the Detect Trap spell. Not having this spell either I was forced to take a Luck test as I had just triggered a cross-bow trap which Luckily only hit me in the shoulder for 3 Stamina points of damage. Finally I reached the end of the tunnel and emerged into a small dusty room, but suddenly I was screaming, my mind convinced the room was on fire, my flesh burning and death only a moment away… five minutes later I came around from my fear, severely shaken to the point that I had lost 3 Skill points! This tunnel exploration was a non-stop success I’d say. No explanation was given as to why I’d just flipped out though, I can only assume it had something to do with the cross-bow bolt?

Leading out of the room was another T-junction, to the left was nothing obviously of interest, but to the right were floating, glowing lights. The glowing lights turned out to be giant fireflies, which of course attacked me, but even in my new kitten-weak state of having lost 3 Skill, I still had 9 which was more than enough to kill these things without sustaining damage. Further down the corridor the light of the fireflies was replaced by torches as the corridor opened into a huge room with an ornate golden ceiling, a massive bronze warrior statue stood in the middle of the room. I can see where this is going.

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Asked if I wanted to move round the statue to its left or its right, I passed to its left so as to be in a good position to avoid the inevitable hammer swing coming my way. As I walked past, nothing happened, so whatever I’d done, I’m calling it a win. The tunnel that led away from the room was sloping down and started to lead into a flooded room, water pouring in from a stone lion head in the ceiling. Going waist-deep through the water now I was comforted by the sight of writhing tentacles breaking the water surface, tentacles which were then trying to drag me under the water as I wildly hacked at whatever they belonged to. Not having the Bracelet of Mermaid Scaled I chose not to buy at the start of the adventure I had to fight the Tentacled Thing. I also had only 9 rounds (my current Skill) to do it without drowning, not an easy task given that the Tentacled Thing had decent stats at 8/10. A Luck roll pushed me over the line on the ninth round though so my adventure wasn’t over just yet… Deep red with blood, the water began to turn black, an acrid vapour rising from the surface. Interested to see if this would reveal anything hidden I decided to stick around, all I found however was that the vapour made me lose consciousness and fall, a Luck test thankfully meaning I landed on a ledge and not in the water, only losing 2 Stamina.

Continuing down the corridor I ignored the opportunity to turn off down another path and eventually came to a dead end, a solitary candle burning by the wall, but with something glinting behind it, Resident Evil has clearly taught us all that this means something useful is hidden in these situations, and so it remains as a silver box with a dragon motif was in an alcove behind the candle, inside which was a silver dragon artifact! Things taking a good turn at last, I headed back down the corridor to the turn-off I had ignored earlier.

Ahead of me was a very dark corridor, but a figure carrying a lantern could be made-out walking away from me. I pursued, but in true horror movie fashion, the thing spun around to face me just as I was right behind it…

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To survive the stare of the Phantom I had to pass a Skill test, which I did, but with no items to deter him and my sword apparently useless against him, all I could do was stand there and suffer his paralysing touch for 4 Stamina damage. Fortunately though the Phantom just wandered off and didn’t kill me, so when the feeling came back I was able to stiffly continue to a T-junction. Showing signs of more recent use this was a decorated passage, tapestries hanging to the right and murals to the left. Looking over the tapestries, they all appeared to depict deities and various animals, I took a fancy to one of a burning phoenix, so rolled it up and put it in my pack. A sphinx-like chair was the next piece I came across, I decided to treat myself to a little sit-down and a Luck test meant the chair was merciful and restored 4 Stamina to me. More healing awaited as a handy herbal water station was at the end of the corridor, my Read Symbols spell allowed me to translate the accompanying sign as ‘DO NOT DRINK’, but bathing my wounds in it seemed to do the trick and I gained another 4 Stamina.

All healed-up, I headed into the final run of the city dungeon, two artifacts down, three more remain… and only four more letters to spell and bring about death. I like those odds!