Friday, 15 August 2008

#26 - Crypt of the Sorcerer

I'm finding it hard to believe I was once five from 15 in completing these books - and after a rather sudden end to Crypt of the Sorcerer, which I was really enjoying, I'm still at five... from 26.


Anyway, CotS is kind of a cross between Star Wars and the King Arthur legend; there's a powerful sorcerer (duh) spreading his influence and control over the land, using the 'dark' arts... and the only thing that can kill him is his old sword, currently being held by a former enemy who'll willingly give it up to anyone who can find him. He doesn't make it easy though, hiding in a secluded lake, sailing about.

It's obvious my mission is to kill the sorcerer, so the first thing I do is visit ye olde wizard Yaztromo, he of Forest of Doom and Temple of Terror. In CotS, he plays a Yoda analogue - the wise, grumpy old fuck who gets everyone else to do what he can't, being too old and all.

Turns out the lake with the sword is to the east, which is also the direction from the which the darkness (figuratively, and literally - the overcast skies are annoying Yodatromo) is spreading. Slightly annoyed at having to partake in the farcical aquatic ceremony of retrieving a magic sword from a watery skeleton, I decided to follow the river, and was almost killed by Harpoon Flies. Yaztromo's potion quelled the poison's effects.

I came across a cave, and knowing I'd need lots of amulets and things to defeat the evil sorcerer because a) Yaztromo told me, and b) this is an Ian Livingstone book, I decided to investigate. I came across a metal box, which unleashed two creatures called 'Rad Hulks'. Not green, but Rad. Hmmm.

Dispatching them eventually, after a run of four consecutive tied attack rounds, I then came across a wooden box. I figure a wooden box wouldn't be able to hold creatures as strong as Rad Hulks, and was rewarded for my wonky logic with chainmail. Sweet. My character decides on his own he doesn't need the plate armour, for some reason (but this being a Livingstone book, probably wisely).

Next stop is a smoking village, where a dying dward bequeaths me his barrel, in which I find gold, a knife and a crystal on a chain - a crystal of sanity! Something I could have done with in past adventures, no doubt. I remember back in the day (in my case, the early 1990s) when I'd use characters 12/24/12 and re-roll bad rolls, I'd re-use characters from one book in another - keeping any iron keys, gold pieces and so on from quest to quest. It made no logical consistent sense, but sure as hell made it easier. Cause you know, it was so hard with re-rolling and perfect stats already...

Anyway, I digress. I killed some chameleons, dabbed their blood on my skin in order to gain their camouflage skills - it's not made apparent in the text whether this only applies to the parts of my body I daubed it on, like sunscreen, or everywhere - though for laughs' sake, I hope it's the former.

Next up I came across a boneyard, which is one of those 'only in FF' things. Though I did once live in a student flat with a cat who had a stash of dead creatures behind the couch. The 'Bonekeeper' needed a new knife for carving his 'magic' rings, so I gave him the one I had in exchange for a ring that warded off werewolves. At least, that's what he said.

So far, so good. I'm feeling like I'm doing well, making good progress. I've had lucky rolls, I'm collecting a lot of gear, and I'm coming across fortuitious poems such as: 'To go beyond a granite door, press the numbers one, eight, four,' inscribed into boulders. Think about this. Someone went to the trouble of composing and carving a rhyming couplet into a random boulder about a particular granite door in some place not even I, on a quest where I'm likely to need to go through a granite door at some point, know. It's the FF equivalent of the modern, I don't know, reading a random article on Czechoslovakian economics then there being a question on it at that night's pub quiz. Or something. Either way, it's a slow golf clap for Livingstone here, surely.

But I was never to find out, as a wood demon - some kind of evil Ent - grabbed me, I failed a roll, and as I'd dropped my sword (where was my skill roll for that?!) reached for my knife... which I'd swapped for a bone ring, so I was crushed to death.


I was actually really enojying CotS, others say it's quite difficult though - I never got that impression, but sure I would have eventually. I'm going to assume you don't need the werewolf ring, for one, though.

I'd recommend it, for sure, but if it really is as hard as others say, it could get frustrating over a few reads.

My copy is the same as the pic above, excpet with a '26' in a yellow circle in the top right, and a message in pen inside the front cover - 'To Tony, with love from Anne & Bob.' I suppose I can't say for certain the copy pictured above doesn't also have this dedication, but what are the chances?

Probably greater than finding a random boulder with the pin number to a random door, that's for sure!


Ed said...

The werewolf-repelling ring is useful but not essential.
You were on the right path (the Crystal of Sanity is just one of many items without which you are doomed). Given that that right path includes the Harpoon Flies (instant death on a roll of 5 or 6), and two other must-not-avoid encounters in which purely random dice rolls determine whether you live or die, it doesn't take many attempts to gain the impression that this is one of the harsher books in the series.

Anonymous said...

In fact, you should NOT get the werewolf-repelling ring. You actually need to "illegally" obtain a different cursed ring from the source of the werewolf ring, in order to be attacked by skeletons later on, leading to the discovery of half of an object, without which you need to fight something with stats of 12/24 to get an ESSENTIAL object...

What an evil book!

Anonymous said...

What makes the book even more frustrating is that you do not even know what items you need until the very end - and some items are instant deaths at the end

Anonymous said...

Urgh, as if the 2 instant kill non stat based dice rolls aren't enough. The clay golem and Razaak himself is just wrong. Even a 12/24/12 won't make it too far into this book, and even if he does, Razaak will see to his end.

Anonymous said...

The book's difficulty is absurd.

I feel ripped off for having bought this book.

Shame on you, Ian Livingstone.

foadiron said...

This book is my biggest, hairiest bugbear in all of FF. Not because it's bad, or poorly written, but because it's ball-breakingly difficult beyond everything else. The final boss is a joke and I'm sure that no one has ever legally beaten him, which makes the whole thing impossible to complete without cheating: the only FF book where such a thing is 100% true. And the book, even without the boss is an impossible because of all the instant deaths and high skill enemies.

In fact someone once calculated that even with a 12/24/12 character, perfect dice rolls throughout, sticking to the exact correct path, you still only have a 2% chance of beating the book.

Personally, though I would say more like a 0.02 percent chance due to /razaak's ridiclous 'instant death' move, which the test did not take into account. Absurd. Ridiculous.

Even more of an insult is that the book has since been reprinted and has not had any of its insanely unfair difficulty corrected in any way at all, unlike some of the other reprints.

Anonymous said...

So ... with stats of 12 20 12 I got, on my 280th attempt, Razaak's stamina down to 7 ... and then died from the face manoeuvre. Has anyone actually completed this book legally? PS You don't need that high stamina if you use the Healing Potions selectively. With starting Skill and Luck of 12 and 3 correct dice rolls along the way you can get to Razaak with luck of 9 - which should theoretically enable you to dispatch him in 7 wounds - which isn't too low a chance of him not winning 2 attacks in a row ... anywho ... It's nice to have some things you can't actually achieve :-) like knowing Jesus perfectly, etc.