I've decided to take a veteran character into Lone Wolf book 6. Owing to an insufficiency of save slots in the LW section of my gamebook manager (which I have since rectified), I couldn't revive the character who made it as far as book 5 before dying in the endgame, as he'd been overwritten by my character for the mediocre mini-adventure The Key to the Future. Thus, I had to go back to the start of the series again, but I instituted a policy of between-book 'save points', so any time I failed, I'd only have to go back to the start of the adventure in which my character died.
I see little point in doing fresh playthroughs of books I've already beaten here, so I'll just give a brief summary of points where I deviated significantly from the previously recorded account. In Flight from the Dark I got killed by the Gourgaz on the bridge, and had to start again. The second attempt went more like the one summarised at the start of my Fire on the Water replay, except that instead of fighting a Vordak I hid in a cave and then got given some fruit by a hermit in a treehouse.
In FotW I decided to have a go at the fight that becomes mandatory in the Mongoose Books reissue. So after fleeing Gorn Cove, I investigated the cries I heard, and found a man with a spear in his chest, next to a dead Knight of the White Mountain. Pulling the spear out revealed him to be a shape-changing Helghast, vulnerable only to magic weapons like the spear I'd just removed. To show its gratitude, the Helghast attacked and killed me. I went back to the start of the book for another try, and got killed by that blasted mast.
Restarting the book again, I had one of the more interesting random encounters during the initial sea voyage: an attack by Darklord agents, which I only just survived. But that happened before the 'nothing happens for a while, so if you have Healing, restore your Endurance to the starting score' bit, so the damage I took had no lasting adverse consequences. Deciding to risk another go at the fight with the Helghast, I got much better rolls, managing to kill the thing for good and keep the spear. Thus, when I entered the Tarnalin tunnel, I ignored the Noodnics and killed one of the Helghasts who were waiting to ambush me.
On the homeward sea voyage, when the death-hulks attacked, I jumped onto one of them and sliced up a lot of undead. The hulk turned out to be the base of operations for Vonotar the traitor, who was hurling magical fire at the fleet that was transporting me. At least until he noticed me, at which point he targeted me, thereby providing a reminder that the Sommerswerd absorbs magical attacks. Thwarted, he fled, the hulks went down, and I defeated Darklord Zagarna again.
The Caverns of Kalte went almost exactly as before, except that I didn't fall into the river. And the only noteworthy deviation from my previous successful attempt at The Chasm of Doom was being more friendly to the Redeemers at the ruins, and consequently getting given the flask of holy water they had with them. Not that I ever needed it.
So, time for another attempt at Shadow on the Sand. If it were Monday, I might have another go at the 'capture and escape' route through the first half of the adventure, but since this entry is already a couple of days overdue owing to real-world concerns taking up a lot of my time, I'm going to stick with the 'contract Limbdeath' path.
I should list this character's stats, which are a little better than those of the previous Lone Wolf to make it through the first four books.
Combat Skill: 16
Kai Disciplines: Camouflage, Hunting, Sixth Sense, Tracking, Healing, Weaponskill (Broadsword), Mindshield, Animal Kinship, Mind Over Matter
Once I knew I could avoid the 'die if you take any damage' fight in Kalte, Mindblast became a lower priority Discipline, so i was able to get Camouflage by Chasm. It made next to no difference.
Talking of 'next to no difference', the first half of the adventure goes much the same as it did last time, up until the point where I try to get into the Palace. As I do have Camouflage this time round, I'm able to sneak past the guards without having to waylay and impersonate a messenger. Once inside the Palace, I let my curiosity get the better of me at one point: I'm supposed to be looking for the Imperial Apothecary, and must choose between a door marked with the sign of a mortar and pestle, and a door marked with the sign of a book. So what is the penalty for not picking the blatantly obviously correct door? Not entirely surprisingly, the door with the book on it leads to the library, which is deserted and contains two potentially useful items that I can take before going out and trying the other door. So it's better not to make the sensible decision. I wonder if Joe Dever has ever considered going into politics.
After that, things go as they did before until the transition to the second part of the adventure. Here I adopt a different escape strategy from last time, as I know the only way of escape is via the Itikar pens, so there's no point in heading downwards when I'll only be driven to the roof sooner or later anyway. While hurrying up the first flight of stairs, I encounter a guard, who yells to his master. Now he's attracted attention, I can expect more guards to be heading this way, so I just barge him aside and keep going.
The stairs lead to a walkway with a parapet. Guards at a lower level fire crossbows at me, but after one bolt grazes me, I duck below parapet level and am screened from further shots. The door at the far end of the walkway is bolted, but I can open it with Mind Over Matter rather than having to stand up and make myself a target again. Once through the door I wind up on the same staircase I wound up ascending the last time I played this, again hiding from hunting troops in the shadow of a statue.
The Itikar heist goes just like before, as does the convenient rescue by Banedon when my Itikar is mortally wounded by the Vordak. The fighting aboard the skyship is concluded without any trouble, and this Lone Wolf is even better at holding his drink than the previous one to live this long. Incidentally, this stage of the journey includes section 291, so leaping in at this point wouldn't enable anyone to evade the puzzle that's coming up in a bit.
Once we land and head for Ikaresh, I ignore the cave we pass, and don't bother going into the tavern, since I now know that there's no need. Banedon and I acquire Tipasa's notes, I make sense of them, and we travel to the tomb where the dénouement is to take place. The prism I found in the Palace library works as well as the Kaltean Blue Stone Triangle for opening the door to the final chamber (and makes more sense, being a product of the culture that built the tomb), and again Darklord Haakon does the Bond villain chair swivel thing. This time, after I'm momentarily disarmed, I retrieve the Sommerswerd, in the process taking the same amount of damage I'd have incurred had I moved to the cover of another pillar. Haakon's psychic attack is still ineffective against my Mindshield, but I take some damage fighting his summonation. Still, once the fight is over, I raise the Sommerswerd, waiting for it to convert the sun's light into a bolt of energy that will atomise Haakon.
I'm in an underground chamber, and it's the middle of the night. Time for plan B, which involves hitting Haakon with the Sommerswerd as often as I can, and hoping to do lethal damage before he can carve me up with his flaming sword. The odds are not good, even with the bias in the Combat Results Table. By the end of the fifth round of battle, he's down to 2 Endurance, and I'm down to 1. Even the worst possible roll for the next round will deal lethal damage to him, but unless I get above 7 (on the equivalent of a 10-sided die (with 0 counting as 10)), I'll die as well.
I get 8. I hope that whoop didn't wake the neighbours. Haakon's body vanishes, I find the Book of the Magnakai, and by the time I get back to the skyship, Banedon has succeeded in rescuing Tipasa. The Mongoose text makes him a little more restrained in his response to my triumph, declaring that, 'The Kai shall be reborn,' where the original had him proclaiming their rebirth a fait accompli. Considering that it takes the next 7 books in the series for Lone Wolf to reach a point where it's possible to actually establish the new Kai Order, and some of those books are tough, neither version of Banedon's words is a certainty, but with my new save point policy established, I should prove him right sooner or later.