Friday, 2 March 2012

Round 2: The Citadel of Chaos

So last time I read The Citadel of Chaos way back in February 2008, I had too few Levitation spells, spent too long hanging around drawing attention to myself, rolled a skill of 7, and drank too much wine.

If we parallel this to my real life, well, I've solved none of these problems - do you know how hard it is to afford Levitation spells in a recession? - so my hopes aren't high for defeating Balthus Dire this time around.

Last time I didn't even get to him, so we'll take this in baby steps, eh?

I roll a 10/23/9 character, much better than last time. Roll a 13 for magic - three Levitation spells, just 'cause, Fool's Gold, 'cause there's not a creature in Allansia that can resist that funky beat, Stamina, 'cause it seems your dude forgot to pack some feeds before he left, two copies of Fire, 'cause it's best of the Planeteers' abilities, Illusion, 'cause tricks are what whores do for money (or cocaine), ESP, 'cause last time some crazy bitch wanted a gift, and I offered her a silver mirror, and she got crazy, Luck, 'cause I need it, Shielding, 'cause she tried shooting me with her eyes, Creature Copy, 'cause I want to see an ape with a dog face fight a dog with an ape face and a dog with an ape face fight an ape with a dog face, and lastly Strength, 'cause I'm a dude.

So! Onto the titular citadel. I didn't record my alibi for the ape-face-dog and dog-face-ape guards last time, so I'm going to go with... tradesman. Oh right, I'm not carrying shit. Better whip out that Fool's Gold spell. Ten minutes of white-boy dancing should convince them to let me in. Much success!

Inside, there's a bustling courtyard with a monument, some kind of fountain (ha, I wonder how many Stone Roses and Ian Brown links I can get into this one blog entry...). I'm just gonna stride across the courtyard... and someone starts shooting arrows! It's like that scene from Lost, except I'm not Frogurt. Well, I take one in the calf, but this is Fighting Fantasy, so taking an arrow in the k̶n̶e̶e̶ calf is no big deal - about the same as skipping breakfast.

Hiding behind the monument, the arrows cease, and it seems the monument is actually a temple. There's some drinks inside - one clear and bubbly, one red, and one milky. Now, I've drunk enough in my time to know to avoid the milky stuff and the red stuff, so to the bubbles it is!

Uh-oh. I'm knocked out, and have this wicked dream about a two-headed monster with a bunch of keys and a pet rat, wake up and decide to leave. No! I don't decide to leave! The book makes me. Stupid book.

One minor tentacle-related encounter later, I'm confronted by a guard I can't decide is Rocksteady from the Ninja Turtles cartoons or a one-horned Triceratops. A Monoceratops?

He wants a password I don't have, and I would like to use my ESP spell since I assume he must know it, but no. I'm forced to bluff. I'm also forced to bluff as a 'herbalist', 'cause I have weeds in my bag, which would have been good to know back on paragraph 1. And who needs Levitation spells when you have weed?

Anyway it works, 'cause rhinoceratopseses are stupid, and I'm soon wandering down a passage I'm not supposed to be, and I find a bell with a sign, 'Please Ring for Butler'. Yeah, alright.

A "hunchbacked, mis-shapen creature with rotten teeth, ragged hair and tattered clothes" emerges, begging the question whether this is casual Friday at the Citadel of Chaos, or Balthus Dire just doesn't give a shit.

He tells me to go left, so I go right (I failed last time, so I'm doing opposites, even if they're opposites I never tried), and end up in some trap, falling unconscious, waking up in that dream I had earlier.

"Iron bars at the window confirm you are in a prison cell of some sort. There is not much you can do but sit on the straw mattress in one corner until someone appears."

Err, what about cast a Strength spell and bust my way out? Cast a Fire spell and burn my way out? Cast an Illusion spell and just fool myself into believing I'm out?

Anyway, the dream is true - there's a two-headed lizard thing trying to feed me. But I guess it must have some keys, so I call it over. It's not as dumb as I think, so I cast an Illusion spell, making myself invisible. Now it comes over, unlocking the door. Time for my first fight! (Here in the citadel, I'm assuming I've fought before this adventure.)

He's easy, I escape, up the stairs, and like any escaped prisoner, decide to start fucking around. There's a door, and I can't help but knock it down. Inside, there's a sleeping midget of some sort floating above a table.

O'Seamus? Oh, it's a leprechaun. Irish. So I draw my sword, which he turns limp. He speaks some crap about three doors, so I just pick one at random.

It's dark! I'm being savaged by some beast! I pass out! I wake up and O'Seamus is laughing! It's been a giant practical joke! He gives me a magic sword - I hope its magic power isn't the ability to go limp - and a silver mirror "of fine workmanship", to differentiate from all the shoddy ones I might find elsewhere in the book.

The next person I meet is a woman washing clothes in a river, who tells me I need to find a fleece if I want to find Balthus Dire. She doesn't explain further, so I guess she's just obsessed with clothes and stuff. Token female character.

Next stop is a golem, whom I almost completely defeat with my own Creature Copy golem, finishing him off myself. The book's not clear on what happens if my golem wins - do I get to keep him around to fight off other golems and gentiles I might meet? Apparently not.

He was guarding a jar containing a spider with the face of a man, which is something I think I might have needed last time around, hallelujah!

Not so hallelujah? Once again picking the one staircase (of two) that turns into a super-fun-happy-slide, just like last time. There goes one Levitation spell... and I would have used another soon after when coming across a chest separated from me by a trench, but the book insists using a Strength spell, and jumping, is better.

Now, I only have one Strength spell, so no, I won't be doing that. I instead pick up the rope, loop it over the chest, and pull. It's heavy. It pulls me in. That's two Levitation spells...

Then, according to the book, I "curse at the fiendish trap that had been laid for greedy adventurers like [myself]". Really? Without opening it? Following our ram-raid of Firetop Mountain last week?

Next up's the ganjees that killed me last time. I still have one Levitation spell on hand, after which I forget the magic words somehow. Their very presence causes me to lose 1 skill, 2 stamina and 1 luck, which is surprising since I still apparently have an arrow sticking out of my calf which no longer seems to be a bother.

The inevitable happens - I've nothing that can work against them, and they scare the fuck out of me until I jump out a window. But ha! I have a remaining levitation spell! Right? Right.


It doesn't work, and I plummet to my death... again.


Paul Smith said...

Great stuff :) I've just completed my playthrough of this book and it took 4 attempts, and the Ganjees did for me on two of those. Even if you found the correct item to get past them, you would probably have snuffed it in the next room if you didn't choose a correct door just before the Ganjees (1 in 3 chance).

Enjoying your re-reviews - not sure I'll be able to keep up!

Stuart Lloyd said...

Blast those ganjees. Book 3 is a lot easier, however.

Gamebook Fanatic said...

I believe I did comment (in the previous post where you last attempted this book) that even a Levitation spell wouldn't have saved you from the Ganjees. I guess that post came too late. :/

You actually took a better path on your last run, considering you found Balthus Dire's security code to his room in the library. You were really only missing that one vital item to get past the Ganjees, and that one is to be found very early in the game....

Anonymous said...

I was very glad to learn you've decided to replay the books you didn't win! I'm a big fan of the FF series and I've enjoyed your commentary and the stories of your adventures. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I was very glad to learn you've decided to replay the books you didn't win! I'm a big fan of the FF series and I've enjoyed your commentary and the stories of your adventures. Thanks!

Unknown said...

One thing I particularly love about this book is that the whole rubbish about 'Any scores, no matter how low, may be enough to win the book'. In the perfect path, you only really need one luck roll and a couple of (winnable) fights.

Alan C said...

In the 20+ years I've had this book, I've never managed to get past the Ganjees, not even once. I hate those bastards.