Saturday, 11 October 2008

#35 - Daggers of Darkness

At first Daggers of Darkness sounds awfully familiar - an enemy is ammassing an army, you're society's only hope, etc etc. But there are several differences here, largely in the gameplay - poison is spreading through your body, and instead of just killing the top bad dude, you've also got to ascend to the throne in his place.

With other extra bits and pieces, like collecting powerful medallions in some bizarre and inefficient ascension ritual, semi-magical powers and several passages of rolling dice and suffering at random, it's an interesting set up that works in some places but seems annoying in others.

I rolled 10/17/10, so took the Potion of Stamina and set off left. I sson discovered that after pretty much every fight, the poison would spread further - no matter how many times I was cut and bled some of it out! The adventure sheet supplies you with a body chart so you can track where it goes, but it doesn't seem to matter just what parts of your body are infected. I ended the book with a clear head and right leg, but the rest of me was riddled with it. 

Anyway, on my way I crashed at a beggar's place, waking up to an assassin. I had the option to roll out of the way of his dagger, or stop it with my hands. Err, I chose the former. Perhaps if these assassins didn't insist on using the shortest blades possible, they'd actually stab someone properly. 

Wandering further, I chose again to take the left path, this time because it was advertised with a picture of a horse and I could totally do with a horse right about now, I thought. Someone did eventually give me a horse, but only after tying me to the ground and letting it kick the shit out me first. Apparently it was a test, but it's not as if my skills or luck had anything to do with it - then again, I was tied to the ground.

Eventually I came to the maze of Bogomil, and entered, knowing one of the magic medallions would be in there. Don't make me explain the reasoning behind collecting medallions, just know they're important! The beggar told me which path to take through the maze, god only knows how he knew, but his directions got me through, medallion in tow. It was sitting on a trap, Indiana Jones-style, and I knew it'd need the weight of ten gold pieces to balance it - unfortunately I'd spent my money getting the directions here, ironically enough.

So I grabbed it, suffered through the volley of arrows, and kept on. The maze was pretty much the only part of this book I didn't choose to go left at every opportunity.

On exiting the maze, my good wizard friend sent me a message that all the medallions had been found, already, so I'd better head to Sharabbass and meet the evil dude. 

Okay, I'm not really focussing enough on why this book was frustrating. So many times where other books would have tested my skill or luck, I was instead asked to roll a die so many times, then so many times again, and compare the numbers - if any matched, something would happen - usually losses of skill and stamina points, or even death. But to be honest, it was never that scary, because the author played pretty loose and fast with losing and gaining stamina all the way through Daggers of Darkness - at one point, a waft of fresh air replenished me three stamina points. Goddamn! Throwing a ball on a chain into a hole cost me a stamina point each time; to think, I could have been killed attempting the hammer throw. 

So wandering on, I came across another contestant for the throne who conveniently died and left me another medallion (thankyou left path, again!). Going left again, an elf helped me slip past some orcs and a necromancer into Sharabbass (how bad a necromancer do you have to be in order to end up on orc duty?), where I went left and eventually found myself on the Street of Forty Guilds.

Now, as this is a 400-page book, not a 4000, only four of the tradesmen's shops were open. The first I went into just happened to be that of the very dude I needed to find - he loaded me up on mystery potions, then led me to the final mazey-kind of thing. I'm being vague, cause it was a little anticlimactic, to say the least!

I wandered through the final section, didn't even use my power of 'Great Wisdom' like was hinted at in the text, found the bad guy sitting on a bed, he told me to go fight his daughter, but instead I just wandered on up to the throne and sat on it. Err, and won!

By far the easiest FF gamebook so far, as long as the random dice rolling doesn't kill you. There wasn't much that seemed to threaten instant death; and as at every opportunity I had, I went left, it didn't seem to matter which way you went - in fact, I got two medallions, which apparently is about the most you can get anyway, and there are only three mazes anyway (whilst there are apparently seven medallions).

A wasted opportunity, even if the original premise sounds cliched - there was enough different in the set up to make Daggers of Darkness a classic, but it falls short for just being so easy. So many times it seemed I was going to be missing a vital piece of information - the number of times I was offered some for an amount of money I couldn't afford - but it didn't matter. Nothing seemed to matter in the end - as long as I got there, it was a cakewalk.

Hell, the medallions even let you come back to life and pretend you'd won the last fight no less than three times... each. In a world where even air can give you three stamina points, what was the point?


Davy Malay said...

I remember this one! I remember being pissed off that you have to tick off a poison box on the very first paragraph. :)
Was this the one that was all iron-age rather than medievil?

Unknown said...

Nah, it was kind of Mongolian. If that is an age.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan! Good blog. I found the link on the fighting fantasy group on facebook. I enjoyed the books and have written a couple of my own on

I agree with what you said about the book being loose about stamina. There's a paragraph where you get on a ship to travel somewhere and it says 'You decide that you are fairly comfortable. Gain 4 stamina points.'

Wow. Next time you're low on stamina, Dan, you should use the 'deciding to be fairly comfortable' option.