Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Port of Peril


The _____ of _____. It's a classic Fighting Fantasy trope, and Ian Livingstone goes all-in on emulating the classic gamebook experience in The Port of Peril.

The rules are basically the same as those laid down in the series' original run, nothing fancy, although the font and artwork are distinctly more modern.

But something else Livingstone appears to have resurrected for this entry is the fetch-quest nature of his gamebook writing. In the first paragraph - the very first, before you've had a chance to make a single decision - in addition to the classic sword/backpack/provisions combo, you're saddled with... [deep breath] a roll of twine, a candle, a brass bell, an oil lantern, a knife, some chalk, a brass owl, a rope, some copper nails, a water flask and a unicorn head goblet.

Anyway. In The Port of Peril you play an adventurer/sword for hire, who's a bit down on his luck until he stumbles across an idiot called Gregor who's come into the possession of a treasure map.

And so is 'Dantasy' but at least I have an excuse.
Switching to the first person, I decide before heading off in search of fame and fortune, it would be good to eat. Funnily enough, the book lets me eat - and gain 1 stamina point - on the very first page.
Err, what? A quick rescan of the introduction doesn't say anything about losing stamina or starting on less than usual. As I mentioned, it's a classic FF by-the-numbers setup.

And it gets worse. Before long, I'm buying a 'demon dagger' with gold I didn't even know I had, giving me skill points I can't even use. I'm beginning to wonder if Ian Livingstone's staff are too in awe of the master to tell him when he's failed a skill roll.

So. Heading out of the rule-breaking town of Chalice, which I thought was the 'port of peril' in the title but clearly isn't, it's soon night and I need somewhere to crash. I find a cottage - abandoned - and decide it's better than the woods.

Something is clanking around in the cellar though, and there's a gross smell of rotting meat, so I figure I'd better check it out. It's a zombie! Soon it's a dead zombie.

Someone is upstairs though. I wait to see what they're going to do... bad idea. The man-orc (the implications are... unsettling) quickly drags an iron stove over the trapdoor, locking me in the concrete cellar with the zombie corpse, forever.

-------

I did a stocktake today.


I know I borrowed some of them for this blog a few years back, but the books I'm missing from my own collection are the final five of the original Puffin run back in the '90s.

If you have doubles, or see them cheap online anywhere, let me know!


1 comment:

Kelvin Green said...

The book does get better and overall is quite fun, and you do get the feeling that you're covering a lot of ground and going on a proper adventure. You see a lot of different places and you meet lots of people, and there are some nice references laid early on to things you encounter later. It's one of the better FF books in creating a sense of a real space.

It is a bit easy though, with only a couple of instances of Livingstone Instant Death -- you found one of them! -- and the final chunk of the adventure is a bit weird in that the villain's scheme doesn't make much sense and everything gets resolved very quickly, as if Ian suddenly ran out of ideas, space, or both. It feels a bit of a let down after the fun of roaming over Allansia in the rest of the book.

There are some nice cameos and references too, including one that will break the hearts of fans of Island of the Lizard King, but don't think too hard about working out where TPoP fits in the FF chronology as it's a bit timey-wimey!