Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Round 2: Deathtrap Dungeon

The idea of having a second go at the gamebooks I failed the first time around is that I can use the knowledge gained on my first go to know what not to do.

In theory, at least. 'Cause there's sweet fuck all in the blog entry for the first play through Deathtrap Dungeon that's of any use to me now! Except perhaps to avoid pits. Always a good strategy in FF, considering the powers that be named their compendium of monsters Out of the Pit.

So. I rolled up a 10/21/10 dude, which is better than the 7/24/12 guy I had last time, I guess. Potion of Luck it is, then.

Deathtrap Dungeon takes place in the city of Fang, which is in a part of Allansia that's clearly meant to echo southeast Asia - the province is called Chiang-Mai, it borders the River Kok, and the guy who wakes you up on the morning of what passes for the Olympics in Allansia is "a small man with slanted eyes". And no, they're not slanted because you cut them that way with your sword.

It was a different time, I guess. (And let's not get into what the "greatest hospitality" and "treated like a demigod" lines probably mean - these books were for kids, weren't they?)

There's a massive reward for getting through the dungeon alive, which no one has ever done. But your character isn't interested in the prize money - he's drawn to it because no one's ever come out alive. Kind of like what draws people like me to rabbit holes like Lost.

On first entering the dungeon, I find a box with my name it containing two gold pieces, and a message from the dungeon's designer Baron Sukumvit saying it is a "token aid". I'm no economist, but this is a dungeon no one ever leaves... and it has an economy? I guess the same could be said about [insert country/city of your choice here].

I'm quickly aware I've chosen the same random path as I did last time when I encounter the same bamboo stalk. What the hell, I'll drink what's in it - it gives me one stamina point, plus the ability to withstand melting-point temperatures without harm! I'm not sure how I know this - I can only assume on drinking any strange substance, I undergo a ritualistic prodding, burning, stabbing and melting of different parts of my body to see if it has any effect.

The very next paragraph I'm subjected to an increased air temperature... makes you wonder why the bamboo was there in the first place. Doesn't seem like the Baron had a very good business plan.

Couple of orcs later, I'm in the room with the dead barbarian and the goblet - JUST LIKE LAST TIME. It's like... I'm fated to go this way or something, like how I always run into the goddamn ganjees from Citadel of Chaos.

After popping over to the impaled barbarian and eating his meat (again, these books were for children), I head off (EDIT: no pun intended, seriously...)

The next encounter of note - or at least encounter I can make a pithy observation about - is the room with the dagger in a bowl of writhing worms. The full-page artwork clearly shows the handle of the dagger to be sticking out at least six inches from the slimy invertebrate enemy... yet if you choose to take it, "you lean over the pit and plunge your forearm into the mass of wriggling worms". The death wish theory is looking pretty good, right about now.

Turns out that dagger belonged to a giant fly, which I dispatch quickly before wiping the "vile yellow slime" off my sword. What, no chance to lick it off?

Then I come to the pit that killed me for good last time. This time I try swinging across on a rope, but it's been cut, and I fall to the bottom. In the pitch black darkness of the bottom of this pit, I eat two feeds and find a blood-red ruby. Sweet! Then I climb out, as easily as I fell down there in the first place.

Next up's an old weird guy who asks me a basic maths question. If there was something I was good at as a kid, it certainly wasn't playing FF gamebooks - it was basic maths! (No, seriously - I captained a maths-winning school team in 1992. I peaked seriously early.) He gives me back the skill point the book took when I fell in that pit.

Later on I run into a competitor in this game - no, not another reader (how weird would that be?!), a barbarian NPC whom appears to be wearing some slick '80s shades.

We team up like the lead guitarist and singer in an '80s hair band (going by his "grunts", he's the guitarist) and head west, soon arriving at another pit. Oh shit - this must have been the pit that killed me last time! Instead of trying to jump it, we both climb down. 

Anyway, half a buddy film later, we're at what surely must be the end of the dungeon - 'cause there's a dwarf who says we must undergo a series of tests to pass. Throm - the barbarian in the sunnies - says we should just kill him, but nah, the dice have been kind to me so far, I'll just undergo the tests, I tell him. Mainly because I doubt Ian Livingstone would have written a series of tests, then allowed us to bypass them by teaming up with a barbarian to kill a dwarf.

The first test is literally a roll of the dice, which I fail. The dwarf then says I have to take a pill marked S or a pill marked L. Hmmm, I wonder what those could stand for... luck it is! Then I drink my potion, leaving me better off than before I failed.

The next test is of skill - and snakes - so lucky I didn't choose S.  

The final test anagram decoding - which monster do I want to fight? NO CROP IS or RUIN MOAT? Well, NO CROP IS has ION OPS I'm sure, so RUIN MOAT it is. Dispatched without an issue.

Then I'm forced to fight my new best mate, Throm. It's close, but a few meals later and I'm back and ready to fight... the infamous bloodbeast of the cover. 

Again it was close, but one hit away from being allowed to turn the page, I'm dead. DEAD. SO GODDAMN CLOSE... I think?