Monday, 1 October 2012

I Got a Message For You

A lot can depend on which page of a book you turn to when flicking through it. Looking at a copy of The Magnamund Companion in a bookshop, I was put off by the pages devoted to building model boats, which evoked memories of books and comics targeted at people significantly younger than I was. A few pages further in, and I'd have found the mini-gamebook at the back, and things might have transpired very differently. As it was, I dismissed the book as 'for kids'. Years later I came across a copy of the American release of the book in a charity shop. Unless my memory is misleading me, it's significantly skinnier than the British edition, which would suggest that it uses thinner paper or has fewer pages. Still, that's the one I bought.

My first attempt at Dawn of the Darklords, the adventure in the book, was made before I'd got the 'it's only a game' perspective I described last month. I refused to let my character use magic, and he wound up killed by a Helghast. There may be a way of beating the adventure without using spells, but I could do with another win on this blog, so now is not the time to try and find out whether or not such a path exists.

I'm playing this before I start on the actual Lone Wolf books because in terms of story chronology, it starts before Flight from the Dark, the first LW adventure, and concludes a short way into it. Its hero is Banedon, a wizard destined to become a good friend to Lone Wolf. Provided I don't wreck causality by getting him killed in the adventure that precedes his first published appearance.

My mission is simple enough on the surface: deliver a message to the Kai Grand Master. Given that the vast majority of people buying the book would have been Lone Wolf readers, there can be few people who didn't start the adventure aware that this objective is roughly equivalent to 'sail after the Titanic and deliver this puncture repair kit', but my character has no idea that the moving finger has already writ at least half a dozen adventures that post-date the destruction of the Monastery to which the message is supposed to be taken.

Time for character creation.
Combat Skill: 15
Endurance: 28
I get to pick five spells from a list of ten. It seems a little odd that, with Lone Wolf and Banedon's first encounter already set in ink, the spell Banedon is using when they meet is not compulsory, but I don't feel like messing with continuity just because I can, so I do take Lightning Hand, along with Net, Counterspell, Silence and Mend. The last of these serves as a healing spell, but to prevent overuse, it has the slightly odd restriction that it can only be cast while standing in fresh running water.

A useful spell to know for when your brain hurts.

Rules are pretty much as usual, with the odd typo that 'Combat Skill' is spelled '28' in the explanation of the penalty for fighting unarmed.

I set off, and ride south until I reach a signpost. Suspecting that Old Mine Road leads to an old mine, and aware that this adventure wasn't written by Ian Livingstone, so there's little likelihood that some crucial item can only be found there, I decide to ignore the detour and continue on my way. Up ahead is the village of Meadowood, which is being guarded by Border Rangers who refuse to let anyone through. Maybe the urgency of my mission will convince them to make an exception... Nope, nobody allowed past until they've found the spy they're looking for.

I can't cast Mind Charm, and attempting bribery would be foolhardy, so I try detouring through the forest. Some of the searching Rangers find me, and appear ready to shoot first and ask questions later. I try talking anyway, as fleeing would be asking for several arrows in the back. And I get two arrows in the chest. The Rangers then notice the sky-blue robes that mark me out as a trainee wizard, and make 'Oops!'-like sounds as my life ebbs away.

If they're too trigger-happy to even notice the colour of a man's clothes before opening fire, I don't see how running away could fail to lead to a similar death, as turning a horse around on a narrow forest track isn't going to be quicker than yelling, "Wait!" Either I was doomed the moment I entered the forest, or Dever didn't think that through. Either way, I am not impressed.

1 comment:

  1. When I read your starting spells, my first thought was "Oh, he must be really confident on this one to deliberately handicap himself by not taking Mind Charm" and then it turned out that you don't know this adventure as well as most of the others on this blog.

    Seriously, I think I have a good memory for numbers, but I can't imagine being able to pick out a particular section in a book I haven't played for years by the number alone.

    Anyway, it's possible to succeed here without Mind Charm, but it's much more difficult. A bit like tackling LW2 without Animal Kinship.

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