Sunday 25 September 2022

Shadow of the Giants

*taps microphone* 

This thing on? Hello? Is there anybody out there? 

It's been a while since the last post on Ye Olde Fighting Dantasy. 

How olde? Olde enough the author began this blog in his 20s, and is now the age of the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Olde enough that in the beginning, he could have grabbed a sword and wandered off into the Icefinger Mountains in search of treasure and glory at a moment's notice, but now would have to make a detour to drop a dice roll's worth of kids to drop off at Yaztromo's on the way. Hell, there are 50 percent more younglings in this house than there were last time I posted! (Lose 8 STAMINA.)

My copies of the two new Fighting Fantasy books Shadow of the Giants and Secrets of Salamonis turned up in the mail yesterday, once again proving it's quicker in New Zealand to order books from the literal other side of the world than it is to order them locally. 

Thought I'd try the Ian Livingstone-penned Shadow of the Giants first. Based on the classic ruleset - 10 provisions, one potion, blah blah blah, I figured it would be a classic romp through the usual FF tropes and a way to easy my back in (but didn't the potion of luck used to also boost your INITIAL score too? It doesn't here, and - spoiler alert - I really could have done with it). 

Speaking of spoilers, if this is your first time here and you haven't had a chance to read SOTG yet, you might wanna stop. This is gonna be full of spoilers. It's pretty much nothing but spoilers. Abandon all complaints of spoilers, ye who enter here. Or read on, I don't care. Be a cheater! 

I rolled a 12 for my SKILL, always helpful, 19 for STAMINA and 9 for LUCK. 

In Shadow of the Giants, you play an adventurer off to find some riches in Firetop Mountain. So yeah, a classic romp - but I didn't think it would be quite that classic! Now I don't want to start off on a negative note, but the rules say you start with a sword, but the introduction here says you don't, and the first thing you've got to do is buy one. Proofreading, Ian! (That's actually part of my day job, so if you want to make an offer...) 

I buy a Fire Sword, because it sounds more kick-ass than the Vampire Sword, and the salesman chucks in a free dagger like I've just collected enough promo coupons from my local supermarket.

Next up I hit a local bar and hire a dwarf, Higgly, to come with me into Firetop Mountain. We visit a local mystic who tells us a poem about dragon eye colours and which means death, which was incredibly specific and no doubt it was just a coincidence the first thing Higgly and we find inside Firetop Mountain is a chest with gems the same colour as Mystic Mary mentioned in her sonnet. 

Higgly's convinced this chest must contain the Warlock's famed treasure, which you know, would have saved us a lot of time back in the '80s if he'd just left it inside the front door. 

Inside is a crown with a bunch of dudes carrying swords. Now I don't know about the character we're playing in the book, but I've been on enough Livingstonian dungeon crawls to know a cursed item when I see one. I tell Higgly he can try it on if he wants 'cause I sure as hell aren't, and sure enough, it starts crushing his skull.

"It's the Crown of Chaos, I'm doomed," he tells me, knowing exactly what it was but sticking it on his head anyway. Too stupid to live, really. 

The dudes with swords end up growing into Iron Giants, who storm off destroying everything in their path. Presumably with shadows?

I head off without the dead Higgly, and eventually find myself in the town of Hamelin, looking for this guy Marik who apparently knows how to stop the Iron Giants' orgy of destruction. 

But time doesn't appear to be of the essence, with a plethora of things to do in Hamelin - including checking out a graveyard and opening a sarcophagus for no fucking reason at all, except that the option was there. (The internet knows if you find a sarcophagus, you open it.)

I won't spoil what happens when you do, but by the end of the encounter I found myself with a Dragon Sword, in addition to my Fire Sword. Especially convenient at a later point in the book when I got pickpocketed, and for some inexplicable reason was allowed to choose the item that was pinched. I hope that thief got a good price for the surplus dragon-fighting sword he secretly swiped from my enormously long backpack. 

After failing to win a pie-eating contest and spending time in a clock store (pun not initially intended, but now that I've noticed it in my proofread, definitely is), I eventually run into Marik. He tells me the secret to defeating the Iron Giants is an item fetch-quest, and I head off.

Eventually I enter a cave Marik told me was the correct one, only to be confronted with a Screaming Demon. Rather than fight, it asks me if I have some Goblin Earwax. I.. I don't. Who does?! So it kills me, as if I was King Arthur unable to find a shrubbery


So... Shadow of the Giants is definitely an Ian Livingstone book. You're bombarded with items to find or buy, without knowing which completely useless-sounding thing will be essential; people tell you incredibly specific things which you just happen to need to know three paragraphs later; and instant deaths abound (well I can't say that for sure, but what little I know about Bayesian statistics suggests if I died an instant death for not having a jar of earwax...) 

Secrets of Salamonis up next.


thekelvingreen said...

Welcome back! Good to see that Sir Ian has lost none of his arbitrary cruelty.

Paul Smith said...

Welcome back! At my current posting rate I'll get to this one in... *calculates* about 130 years. Looking forward to it!

Andrew said...

A new Fighting Dantasy post with a promise of another one to come? Hooray!

Anonymous said...

You have been missed.

Deathtraps and Dungeons said...

Great to see the OG back in action!

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great blog

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Paufatir said...

Great blog, just found it. I have just played Shadow of the Giants and yes, it is very Livingstoneish. Looking forward to your post on Secrets of Salamonis.

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