Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Down to the Bottom of the Sea

It was probably Friday 24th January 1986 when I got issue 8 of Warlock. I remember being very impressed at the inside front cover ad for the next FF gamebook, Demons of the Deep, which announced that the book was out on the 31st. The following morning my wanderings took me down the High Street, and I popped into the bookshop where I'd acquired Scorpion Swamp, among others. And on the shelves, to my amazement, I saw DotD, before the book was supposed to be in the shops! Having enough money on me to buy the book, I hurriedly did so, lest the staff realise their error and pull the book from the shelves, forcing me to wait until the end of the month to get it. As I recall, my first attempt at it followed a similar path to my previous playthrough, except that I think I pushed my luck that bit too far and wound up drowning at the end.

In this book I play a ship's Captain first mate (is today really the first time I've noticed my character's actual rank?), the last of the crew left standing when pirates attack. Which is not utterly implausible with these stats:
Skill 10
Stamina 17
Luck 8
After all, they're only pirates, not master villains.

One of the rogues knocks me out, and when I come round, Captain Bloodaxe has selected me to be the straight man in his new comedy routine, which involves him giving me my sword and a big bag of Provisions, then shoving me overboard with my hands still tied. The other pirates laugh, but it's not exactly a classic even within the subset of jokes that involve someone ending up in the water.

Still, the joke may yet wind up being on him, as the ship happens to be floating above a sunken city, and I happen to hit the sea bed smack in the middle of a whacking great magical symbol that gives me gills and waterproofs those Provisions. I cut my bonds on a bit of coral, and start exploring my surroundings.

One of the buildings surrounding the courtyard in which I arrived is larger and in better condition than the rest, and something inside it is looking at me. I investigate, and find my observer to be a Mermaid. She tells me that I'm in Atlantis, the gills will last until sundown or until I surface, whichever comes first, and that I should look for Black Pearls if I want revenge on the pirates. Then she gives me a Lucky Charm, blows me a kiss, and swims away.

I explore the building further, ascending the tower and getting attacked by a few Barracudas, which don't pose much of a threat. There's a little gold in the room, so I help myself to that before descending and checking out a hallway. This time round I head in the correct direction, which takes me up an ever-darkening tunnel to a room occupied by a pair of glowing animated Skeletons. The first of these does a lot more damage than it should, considering the disparity between our Skill scores, but ultimately I prevail. The Skeletons have a Black Pearl in each eye-socket, so I help myself to them before moving on.

My next port of call is a large arena, where I find an abandoned harpoon. Investigating the seats, I find a group of Sea Snakes, and the dice give me a hard time fighting them, too. To make things worse, the Snakes' venom increases the damage they do, and I'm dead before I even realise how bad things have become.

A disappointing ending, but there's no point in cheating, so that's how it goes. At least this way I'm spared the ethical quandary of choosing between learning some rather dubious magic and having to settle for a sub-standard victory.

1 comment:

  1. Shame you didn't make it too far. But that's how it goes sometimes. You can have quite high stats...and the dice will just be against you.