Saturday, 10 September 2011

#58 - Revenge of the Vampire

After reading Revenge of the Vampire, something was bugging me. It didn't seem this vampire had anything to avenge, until I realised it's a sequel to Vault of the Vampire - replayed here - which has an almost identical cover. Hey, it's been a few years since I played that one.

Book 58, second to last, of the original FF series, and you could tell the publishers weren't giving too much of a fuck. The adventure sheet has three skill boxes instead of skill, stamina and luck, and the instructions talk about 'magic points', which as far as I can tell, there are none of in the book itself.

And there's the almost identical cover, but anyway...

I roll 11/20/7, with 4 'faith' - it's as if the dice know I'm an unlucky heathen.

The book also makes you keep a 'blood' score, which I initially thought was going to be a measure of literally how much blood I have, like in litres, but was more a measure of time, luck, and whatever else author Keith Martin felt like throwing in there at the time. Or luck, or whatever else....

Long story short, there's a vampire you have to kill... again. Setting off with a backpack bursting with 12 meals - none of them cheese, I hope, for reasons I'll explain soon - I'm thrown in the deep end, stealing a dead guy's gold and being run out of town.

I'm soon at the house of Sewarth, a monk who knows a thing or two about this Count Heydrich, but he's out - and no one seems to know why.

I don't trust his housesitters, and tell them so, but the book makes me stay the night anyway.
Not surprisingly I can't sleep, so decide to go chat to the creepiest housesitter, Endrell. He's not in his room, so naturally, it's time for snooping! Bad idea. Endrell catches me, sends me to bed without any supper, and gives me a "herbal nightcap".

Now, in real life, I'm suffering a pretty bad dose of insomnia, and know for sure that herbal crap doesn't work. In the book it does, so I'm guessing it's some kind of Allansian magic the doctor's here cant' prescribe. Like marijuana.

Turns out it's poison, and I'm dead.

Now, if you've read this blog before, you'll know this falls under my 'too short, not enough for a blog' rule, so backtracking to before I searched his room...

Endrell walks in, and sends me to bed with 'thin soup'. Hungry, I get up, and look for something to eat. I soon come across the dining room, but aren't given the option to go in (probably 'cause I'm carrying a backpack bursting with provisions, but still no cheese), so I pick a random door.

It's a prayer room, so what the hell, I decide to pray. The book tells me this time wasting costs me a blood point, which begs the question, what the hell god am I praying to?

It then tells me I should turn to page 381, if my 'hands are clean'. After that prayer session I'm not so sure! Anyway, following a trail of blood I find a ghoul monk, kill it, but am injured in the process - and by injured, I mean infected with 'bloodbane', which proceeds to drain my stamina - and initial stamina - luckily, this part of Allansia is overflowing with excess food (cheese still to come).

Next I find the kitchen, which for some ungodly reason has a trapdoor, where I find some of Sewarth's notes, telling me to find a 'Soul Gem'. It also has a smudged, unreadable map, which I assume was left there by some previous FF gamer.

I also gain two blood points - guessing Sewarth left a vial of it here?

Moving on, I'm heading out of town chasing this suspicious character riding in a horse-pulled carriage, and the only horse I can find costs me 'all' my gold. What kind of economy is this? Sounds commy.

In the morning, I catch up - he's heading into a bar. Fuckin' eh. I decline to go in, just hanging out in a local ditch for the night, sleeping in the day, as you do. Come evening, this guy I've no idea who he is, is leaving, and I need my horse, but the guys at the stable won't give him back. They want this thing called 'payment' - again with the socialism - which I can't provide, having spent all my money on the damn horse. So I kill them, take the hit in faith points, take their food (still no damn cheese) and head off.

A couple of lines of illegible note-taking later, I'm hanging with a dude called Sandar, who's wearing a sweet amulet. He's insane, but not after I snatch off his amulet.

Anyway, I need to find Crab Peak, which is where ye olde Count Heydrich is, and it takes me 10 blood points of time to find someone who knows. Um, okay...

Turns out, it sits in the middle of the 'Plains of Analand', near 'The Great Wall'. Both of these things are on the map at the front of the book, but a giant fucking mountain the middle of the plains isn't? Who drew this map? A FF gamer?

I get to Crab Peak, and there's a few old witches arguing. How do I know they're witches? Well, they're old, cranky and female - that's about all the evidence the book's giving me anyway.

I sneak into the mountain, and soon come across a room with 20 decaying dwarfs and an 'evil' monolith. I don't have 'Oil of Enchantment', a 'heart-shaped gem' or a 'magic sword', so can't do much.

Except kill the local witch and raid her treasures of gold and PRESERVED CHEESE! Finally, some goddamn cheese! Time to go through the ominous magical barrier? Nah, onto fight the other witch.

Easy fight, more gold (I could buy so many horses, if this were a capitalist society) and the book forces me on to this mansion, which I'm guessing belongs to the Count (one, one mansion, muahaha).

Another long story short, I end up in a room full of "weird" jars, with a "palpable sense of evil" in the air. So of course I'm going to smash a jar! Starting with an empty one, of course.
Nothing happens.

A dusty one? I lose one meal's worth of stamina due to a "freeze". Not given the option to open with stars and shit, 'cause it's "not wise".

A few doors later, I come across a mad scientist. He has a cure for everything - literally. The page says I drink his concoction, and I'm cured of whatever I have. I'm almost tempted to go find this guy in real life.

So I kill him, 'cause you know, he wants me to leave after performing his miracle cure, and find more cheese. Sweeet.

He also has these potions lying around, so I drink something called 'essence'. Turns out its effects are somewhat of a dice roll - lol - so I spend some luck to help it out. I lose one stamina. I guess I was drinking light beer?

Several battles with ghouls and zombies later - one fight is literally against 'more ghouls' - I come to Count Heydrich's quarters... where I die 'cause I dont' have a magic sword.

As if there's no other way to kill a vampire!

Right. So, it sounds like I've been pretty hard on this book, but it wasn't that bad. It just never seemed like I was in control of anything. I could tell early on it was one of those adventures where certain items would be vital - eg the book I saw in my ill-fated first attempt, which I had to pretend (several times) I hadn't seen in the second - and if I didn't have said items, it was a futile effort.

That's the flaw in these complicated adventure gamebooks - because it relies on asking if I have certain items, so often, I get an idea I'm going to fail pretty early on.

Still, I could see the depth was there - the game was long, even though I didn't have anywhere near the necessary number of items or amount of information to complete it, and I got to (I guess?!) the final boss without too much trouble - apart from the early death - but there were a lot of fights. A LOT of fights. Anything less than skill 11 and I would have been screwed.

A last question - why the hell weren't there any silver-plated stakes lying around? And why so much cheese, when what I needed was garlic?


Stuart Lloyd said...

Good post, Dan.

As well as containing many difficult combats, Revenge of the Vampire also has several bugs. You have to buy a horse win the game, but it uses up all of your money which makes it impossible to pay for a room at an inn (something you also have to do to win) later.

Gamebook Fanatic said...

Yeah, I still love Keith Martin's books, but this one doesn't seem to have gone through a proper editor, and is really buggy. Although only one of them (the gold for horse/inn) really screws up your chances of winning. There's a highly-important (technically not essential, but your chances of winning are horribly reduced without it) quest item to be found at the inn.

There's actually a stake (and some garlic) available somewhere in the book....but they're red herrings. Unlike book 38, this isn't your classical vampire, and the one way to kill it is very specific.

ParanoidObsessive said...

The Blood trait actually has nothing to do with YOU, per se... it's a measure of the strength the vampire is gaining while you're wandering around and wasting time. The longer you take, the stronger the vampire gets by the time you find him.

Beroli said...

When you get to this book on your second runthrough, I suggest you treat the horse as costing "all my gold minus the cost of a room at the inn," to evade the bug.

FightingFantasyFan said...

I read Vault and Revenge back-to-back just a few weeks ago, indulging a Hammer Films kick I've been on for a few months.

Yeah, this one was a bit of a mess. The screwy character sheet, the impossible Inn, some wording problems where "confront" means "apologize and get poisoned in your sleep", stuff like that.

Beyond that, it was another Keith Martin epic featuring several villages and areas which you can visit in different sequence, and two separate paths to success (which is good cuz one of them is the buggy Inn). The final battle is brutal even if you're maxed out (+1 sword, +1 armor, the Count's skill down from 14 to 11 because of your Faith). The bugs were exasperating, but the book was a satisfying followup.