Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Round 2: City of Thieves

Last time I read City of Thieves, I was killed by an apple past its use-by date. And that was on my second attempt - the first ended in a hail of arrows just after my much-hyped arrival in Port Blacksand, as it's better known.

I couldn't possibly do any worse this time, could I? With a skill of 11, stamina 21 and luck 12, surely it would be a walk in the park?

So the book begins with your character cutting his finger on his own sword, almost tripping over a black cat and a 50-mile trek across the badlands outside Port Blacksand, all to find some lazy wizard who won't protect his civilian neighbours from the evil Zanbar Bone, and kick some sense into him.

Taking advantage of my high skill, I cut my way past the guard (a haste that will come back to haunt me... spoiler alert!) and enter the city. Last time I went left, so this time, I head right. There's a madman, aptly named since he attacks awesome me with his skill of 5. I pocket his smoky crystal ball, and head on.

My next encounter is with an ogre who bafflingly, once dead (it's an ogre! Don't judge), bequeaths me a single white silk glove. Now, I'm a firm believer that Michael Jackson's white silk glove was the source of his powers, so I stick it on. "Bad" idea... it burns my hand, knocking 2 points off my skill and making it rather painful to grab my crotch and hit the high notes. Not that it's an option in the text. (And is it just me, or is the ogre's arm melting in the supplied artwork? Was he wearing the glove on his elbow?)

I'm then mugged by a bunch of fucking dwarves for all my gold. This is not going well. I don't even bother to stop in at the next shop - what use are flowers in this hellhole? Wait, is Nicodemus a woman?

Without any cash there's nothing for me at the city markets, so heading north I'm soon at the bridge where Nicodemus lives. I pay the bridge beggar my ghost money (just like last time, I got this far completely skint, despite being the land's most famed dragonslayer - I'm guessing people are just downloading their anti-dragon software these days) and pop down to the wizard's hut, get the instructions for defeating Zanbar Bone and move on.

First place I come across, down Candle St, is a guy offering 20 gold to anyone risking a 1 in 6 chance of death - how convenient, considering dice have 6 sides! I take up his offer, since I could do with the cash - unicorn tattoos don't sound cheap.

Between now and the north city wall, I win a game of baseball, fight some plants and buy some candles, before being accosted by some guards. It's not apparent just what I've done wrong - killing that guard, killing an ogre, gambling, stealing a flower... yeah, let's say it was stealing that flower.

I avoid them by climbing up a tree, but unlike everything single other thing in the FF universe, it seems jumping out of trees isn't guided by skill or luck. It's just... fatal.

Would have been better off attacking that entire pirate crew like last time.


DrBargle said...

Port Blacksand, City of Thieves is a great environment in which to adventure. It's just that the arbitrary 'logic' of a Livingstone gamebook makes the experience of actually PLAYING the book an exericise in incoherency and frustration.

I wonder what it would have been like to have been a player in a game that Ian Livingstone ran in the early 1980s.

Marsten said...

I'm suitably impressed that your adventure in Port Blacksand included a lot fewer naked pirates than mine.

Beroli said...

Having reached the guards without collecting all the ingredients Nicodemus told you you need, you'd pretty much lost anyway. All the fatal jump cost you was the ability to go crawling back to your employer and tell him you'd failed.

Gamebook Fanatic said...

Ironically, stealing that flower was the most "right" thing you did in this adventure. :P

Beroli said...

Winning the Bays Ball game was pretty good too.

Beroli said...

So...next up is Deathtrap Dungeon! You are going to die horribly! Hopefully it will take long enough to be fun, however.

Anonymous said...

I have trouble getting Hag's hair, black pearls and lotus flower. How do I get them anyway?