Saturday, 18 July 2015

Tin Man Games: Siege of the Necromancer

I'm told this book is hard.

Siege of the Necromancer begins with a classic FF trope - a bad dude has amassed an army, and someone has to kill him. You. Even if you've spent the last year working in a coal mine instead of practising how to kill necromancers backed by an army of 'goblyns' (don't tell me Peter Jackson has trademarked the conventional spelling...).

*adopts first-person perspective*

Aforementioned necromancer Erid Buul has taken control of my home town, and my investigation begins badly when goblyns kill two of my travelling companions and horse, leaving me wearing nothing but a backpack and a leather jerkin. Luckily, my lack of pants doesn't appear to be an issue - it's certainly never mentioned again. I guess the shocking sight of a pants-less coal miner must make up for the lack of defence in those nether regions.

My remaining companions, sans character shields, are quickly dispatched, but not before one of them gives me a badass battleaxe, which makes short work of an 'ogryn' and two more gobs.

Sneaking through the city, I eventually chance upon a dying redshirt lying in a boat who gives me a MacGuffin. To thank this kind stranger, I dump his body in the ocean and use his boat as a shield to escape being arrowed in the same way.

Ow! My dignity!
Following his instructions, I'm soon in a cave faced with four doors. Having had a glass of wine already (IRL - there's a disappointing lack of drinking in this gamebook, but that's understandable given the circumstances. I guess. *sad face*) I decide to keep things simple and just take door #1. There'll be time to check doors two through four later, right? 
In there is an alcove, which I can't resist checking out because to do so I have to turn to page 400 - no true FF fan can resist the option of turning to page 400.

The book could read, 'Would you like to dip your leg in oil and stick it in the fire?' and I'd do it if it meant turning to page 400 (not IRL - depends how good the book is, I suppose). 

So one thing leads to another, and I'm soon hanging from a stalactite fighting some kind of shrieking bird thing which is definitely the worst result from a page 400 I've ever had. But I also find another dead guy with a MacGuffin similar to the other one, giving me confidence I'm right in calling these things MacGuffins and also that I'm on the right track. 

The MacGuffins are rubies. I'm guessing they're important. You can have more than one, right? It's also a clue Siege of the Necromancer might be a gamebook in the Ian Livingstone fetch-quest mould.

With that in mind, when I soon came across a badass sword (did I mention I lost the badass battleaxe? Dropped it in the ocean. There's going to be some very confused sea anemones in that town), I had to have it. When I picked it up, it triggered a trap and I was shot by an arrow - figuring that was it, I decided to take it anyway. That wasn't it. 

To death!
I note this book gives you six 'bookmarks', whereas An Assassin in Orlandes gave you three. I wonder why?

If you want to try it out for yourself, check out the Gamebook Adventures website.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Tin Man Games: An Assassin in Orlandes

Fighting Dantasy is making a flying jump into the 2010s - hopefully successfully testing my skill in the process - and taking on one of the Tin Man Gamebook Adventures series.

But it's not a book - it's on a tablet! Aaeerreeerrgghhh!

Taking advantage of the vast amount of supercomputing power Samsung's able to fit in 7 inches of plastic, rare earth metals and patents ripped from Apple, the GA series takes ye olde FF template and multiplies it - but it's not quite Moore's Law in action. Instead of 12+2D6 for stamina, you get 24+4D6. And it's called vitality, but you and I both know what it really is.

The ever-diminishing luck mechanic is replaced by fitness, and fighting is split into offence - based on dice rolls - and defence, based on what you're wearing.

The rules also suggest it's possible to have companions who fight with you - rolling all those dice would have been a nightmare in 1988; I can only hope the Galaxy Note enjoys being shaken.

On starting An Assassin in Orlandes, I'm prompted to play Classic style, or Casual - if you've read any previous Fighting Dantasy blog entries, I don't need to tell you which I chose. It's basically the difference between using a three-finger bookmark - which is still cheating, really - and ignoring all the rules whatsoever. But in the words of Ian Livingstone: "Let's face it, most of us cheated when we read Fighting Fantasy books."

Yep. The guy who wrote the book(s) told me even he cheats.

Anyway, taking advantage of the tablet form, I get to name my character! Um... Let's go with 'Kane'. (I'm watching the fifth ODI between England and New Zealand in a couple of hours, so let's assume the experience Kane has Orlandes tonight is an omen of how his namesake bats this evening...)

After rolling some stats more akin to Chris Martin's batting than Kane Williamson's, I'm off!

The first page reads, "Today has probably been the worst day of your life..." Five minutes into the book, I'm face-to-face with a cannibal. In a sewer.

He tells me I'm his next meal, and I am. The text goes into excruciating detail - Hannibal smashes my ribcage and eats my intestines. That would never have gone to print in 1988. The Tin Man GA series is obviously aimed at the same readers as FF - only aged as they are now.

The good news is I got an achievement! 'Off the Beaten Path: Find Medius the Cannibal'. That's not an achievement...