The latter-day FF gamebooks were generally more complex in their structure and gameplay, and Siege of Sardath is no exception. There are numbered items, time, puzzles and clues galore - one even, as you'll read below, hidden in a picture with no reference from the text.
Saturday, 3 January 2009
So you're a town councillor/professional adventurer (there can't be too many of those nowadays) who resides in Grimmund, next to the ominously named Forest of Night. Something not quite right is happening in the forest, and it's your job to find out what it is and put a stop to it.
In perhaps one of the best introduction-first paragraph segues in all of FF, you're discussing the issue with the other councillors, when suddenly one of them is revealed to be an imposter, some kind of shape-changing dark Bat-elf thing. Having rolled some excellent stats, I quickly dispatch him and ransack his corpse of a few random, who-knows-why-I'd-need-them-if-this-wasn't-FF vials. Before he revealed his true self he was suggesting we lead a small army into the forest, so we instead decide to do the opposite and just send one, me, in alone, Lost-style (I've been doing revision in preperation for the imminent season five, as in watching all of seasons one to four, so excuse me if I make further references - it's on the brain).
Stormsday. I decide before leaving to check in with the local astrologer, who tries out a new trick, summoning up some guy called Suma whose presence tells me to find this tomb, an amulet, and not the attention of the Flyers. Alrighty then!
Leaving town, a trader offers me a buunch of potions and things, of which I pick up pegasus feathers, 'cause they're numbered much like the vials I found on Bat-elf, and a love potion. I can't afford the good shit, so stick with love potion #2, which is apparently: 1 oz Stoli Ohranj vodka, 1/2 oz Chambord, Raspberry liqueur and 1/2 oz cranberry juice.
I sail up the river, getting off at the rope bridge and heading west. I soon arrive at Ash Cleeve, an elven village. I'm greeted by my old friend Sorrel - or am I? The text describes him as having a scar across his right eye, but the illustration clearly shows it on his left, so unless the illustrator drew him as if he was looking into a mirror, something wasn't quite right. When he accused me of being an imposter, I took action, placing my fate in the hands of the FF sub-editing department.
I fired off an arrow and his disguise wore off - 'Sorrel' was an imposter, and quickly slain by the other elves. They let me crash the night, and I head off northwest the next morning - Moonsday.
It's soon Fireday, and the text tells me I detect a 'blackness' hanging over Lake Sardmere - funny, 'cause there's no Lake Sardmere on my map. Speaking of which, whoever drew my map has a serious thing for spiders. I used to draw sea serpents on world maps as a kid though, so I suppose it's not that weird.
Turns out Lake Sardmere is beneath the titular Sardath, so it's just that my map is out of date. I get there, and the city itself doesn't look worth besieging, but there's a sailor struggling with her boat who I help out. She rewards me with a brass key, tells me to find this giant in the mountains to the north. Goddamnit, I thought Sardath was the focal point of this book! Misleading, to say the least.
I reach the mountains and find evidence the others have an army. Why I'm on this mission alone, I'm not sure anymore... particularly when I'm heading up the mountain, go into a cave and die because I don't have a certain companion who can speak Elvish. Damn intolerant demons...
This part of the book did get a little confusing though. At one point the book asked if I was following a 'runnel'. I thought no, I've not heard of this 'runnel', and was told I was dead. Huh? I turned to the other page, and discovered a runnel is a stream, which I was told to follow earlier in the book by the sailor, but was given no option to once I arrived at the mountain. I thought fuck it, I was following the stream, and was killed in another way anyway. Ah well.
So Siege of Sardath - not bad, I felt like I'd gotten quite far into the book without much trouble, and seemed to be making good time and collecting a fair few items; but the difficulty suddenly levelled up and left me for dead. It definitely has an atmosphere, and is well written and apart from the part above which left me scratching my head a bit, seems well put-together.
But hey, I'm sure I said long ago I remember preferring the later books for consistency, at the very least. No more Sky Lords...
Posted by Dan at 20:35