Monday, 3 December 2012

An Image Dark and Small

I'm skipping T&T solo 7, Overkill, until I have a few veteran characters, because playing it with a first-level group would just be silly. Next up is James and Steven Marciniak's Beyond the Silvered Pane, which is structurally similar to Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon.

Like DED, BtSP was published alongside another adventure by Corgi Books, and that volume was actually my first ever T&T gamebook. I got it (and the Complete Rule Book and Game Guide) from the long since renamed, closed-down, demolished and other-buildings-erected-on-the-site store Chiesmans in one of their January sales. No idea how my first attempt ended, but it was almost certainly something lethal. Ken St. Andre's preface to my Flying Buffalo copy of BtSP estimates an 80% chance of not surviving the adventure. Still, its 'multiple micro-dungeon' set-up means that if I get lucky, I could live through a few trips and then call it a day.

Mind you, I'm not sure that my spectacularly average character is the sort to get lucky.

Strength 9
Intelligence 13
Luck 9
Constitution 9
Dexterity 11
Charisma 10
Speed 10
I was planning on making a wizard anyway, based on one of the traps I remember, but with stats like that I'd be a fool to make him anything else. And based on my memories of one encounter, I'm definitely picking a male character on this occasion.

The host for this adventure is Marcelanius the Fair, a dwarf who owns a mirror that happens to be a portal into other planes of existence. He allows adventurers to pass through it in return for a share of any loot the survivors bring back. The mirror glows red as I advance on it, which is not a massively encouraging sign, but I step through anyway.

I find myself in a torture chamber. This is not good, but not for the reasons the setting would suggest. Shackled to one wall is a beautiful girl in a rag that doesn't conceal much. And at last I get an opening to say something about the bowdlerisation of the Corgi editions. The thing is, there's some very mild sexual content in many of the adventures - if you've been following this blog regularly, you might recall my declining the option of pursuing a nymph with lustful intent, or my spurning the seductive advances of the false prophet - but gamebooks were largely targeted at a younger audience in the eighties, so any such references in the adventures published by Corgi were edited out or toned down. Gruesome deaths tended to be left in, though. This instance is actually uncharacteristic, and some might even consider it a more acceptable edit: the extreme skimpiness of the girl's rag is retained in the Corgi book, but the additional information that she shows signs of having been tortured has been cut.

Unsurprisingly, she begs me to free her before her torturer returns. For all the difference it makes, I do so. She tries to kiss me, and I decline, so she tries to hypnotise me into kissing her. I just make the saving roll to resist her compelling gaze, and the illusory torture chamber vanishes, leaving me to confront an angry soulsucker. So now you know why I was unwilling to kiss her.

Not that my resistance makes any real difference, as the soulsucker is a sufficiently nasty opponent that I fail to survive the first round of combat. In fact, I lose more than twice as many points of Constitution as I actually had. And that's why I was so disheartened to have wound up in that particular micro-dungeon. It's probably not the most lethal one in the adventure, but I'm sure it is one of the more dangerous.

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