Sunday 17 May 2015

If You Go Down to the Woods Today (DQ: Legion of Shadow - Scarlet in the Woods quest)

Previously on Destiny Quest...

Running mere errands for petty cash, Balthus Dire's time in Tithebury took a nasty turn as he agreed to help out Beatrice Fletcher, turnip-grower extraordinare. Dowsing Martha Weevil's turnips with some strange potion, Balthus was greeted by their transformation into murderous turnip monsters, which has put him off them for life. Filled with remorse (and hopefully he'd get some snazzy reward) Balthus agreed to help Martha get her own back. To that end, Beatrice is now a giant inanimate turnip, sitting peacefully in her kitchen. Surely now we can get back to something resembling a normal adventure? Let's find out...

Balthus Dire

Main hand - The apprentice (Sword, +1 brawn)
Feet - Crow's feet (Feet, +1 speed, +1 magic)
Ring - Widow's Band (Ring, +1 magic, Ability: Heal)
Backpack - Grime-coated key
Money Pouch - 3 Gold Crowns

Speed - 1
Brawn - 1
Magic - 2
Armour - 0
Health - 30 

Today we move on to the final green quest in Act 1. In theory, after this one they should get more difficult. Gossip travels fast around Tithebury, apparently. It's Valeron's equivalent of Albert Square, clearly. Some young girl has gone missing, so I hear. Turns out she's the daughter of this guy in a wood cabin near the, uh, woods. I seriously hope this quest won't be like that film. The man has a sword and a badly bandaged right leg. It is only too clear to me that he isn't in the best position to help me out here. The girl's poorly grandma, who lives the other side of the woods, is to blame here, if I'm being brutal. Scarlet Sunshine (the girl, as she will now be called unless she is given a proper name later) had taken her brandy and hasn't been seen since. The book once again gives me the option of deciding not to help and just returning to the map, and seeing what happened last time I helped someone out, I take this route. The end. 

I don't suppose it's these Goblins who live in the woods?
Just kidding. Before leaving, I decide to ask the man about the woods and how I can go about looking for Scarlet Sunshine. It is at this point he tells me she's called Liselle. Bugger. Liselle is the sort of name that sounds like it belongs on a "gentleman's site". (Apologies to any fine upstanding Liselle's out there!) The man grunts and tells me that it's perfectly safe if I stick to the path. Fail to do so, and the nasty goblins will come out and not play nice. And I must not look at Goblin men. Thanking the man for his advice, I head off to the woods. My journey starts off eerily idyllic, with chuckling streams and wildflowers lining the path. The whole scene reminds me somewhat of a recent book I've read as part of my degree, King of the Golden River. Sadly I don't think I'll find myself with the prize of a golden river by the end of my journey, but there's always hope, right? My moment of peace is broken by sounds of a screaming girl. Sounds suspicious. With all the reactions of an Olympic athlete I pursue the source of the screaming. I find Giselle tied up, something I suspect she may potentially enjoy. What she won't be enjoying, however, is the fact the Goblins who have captured her are busy going through her belongings. The swines! Drawing The Apprentice from its sheath, I prepare to fire the Goblins from life. After a quick duel, I deal a fatal blow to one of the pair, leaving the other to flee for his sorry little life. As I begin to give chase, I am stopped by a glaring Liselle, who demands I stop standing there gawping like the village idiot and cut her free. Her father had neglected to mention his daughter was a mouthy cow. Unfortunately she does speak sense; it would be more worth my while freeing her for now.

Hero Checklist: Saving a damsel
in distress - check.
Upon cutting her loose, she falls to the ground with a thump. Heh. Feeling as much satisfaction as I've had in a while at her discomfort, I eventually decide to ask her if she's alright. She seems pretty bummed out that I wasn't the handsome huntsman she was hoping to sweep her off her feet. Ungrateful brat. She says she fell foul of the Goblin's trap while she was picking mushrooms, but was sure her hunk of a huntsman would rescue her. But I spoiled everything. Controlling myself so I don't slit her throat myself, I question her about this hero who's clearly far more amazing than I. Predictably, he's "not like all the other men." A travelling gypsy, he's totally dashing and has more spunk than the global sperm bank. This all sounds too good to be true, but Liselle is clearly infatuated. I politely suggest I return her safely home to her father, and anyone would think I'd just asked her if she fancied a quick shag in the bushes. By that I do not mean she was delighted but rather horrified at my suggestion, and requests instead I help her find some findlewort so she can finish the recipe for the love potion given to her by the witch. Knowing how things tend to go down when you deal with this witch, I am highly sceptical that helping Liselle is wise here, and tell her that she is being a selfish brat. Liselle pulls out a sharp kitchen knife, retorts she can look after herself, and storms off. Sigh. Fools in love, eh? Oddly not given the choice to chase after her, I decide to go to her Grandma's house, like the silly girl was meant to be doing in the first place. A small thatched cottage is what I eventually find. A high-pitched voice greets my knock of the door, and tells me to lift the latch and come in when I say I'm sent by Liselle's father. When I enter, it appears I've made a right cock-up with proceedings. "Grandma" has got big, clawed green hands. Some illness, that. 'What big claws you have, Grandma,' I tell it. 'All the better to eat you with!' it replies. Well, bugger. Thoroughly annoyed I fell for Valeron's recreation of Little Red Riding Hood, I draw my sword to defend myself against what is actually a hideous hobgoblin. Taking quite a few scratches, I eventually slay the bugger, finding the remains of poor Grandma shortly after. I also claim a prize, choosing to go for the one that helps me the most, namely the Granny's Locket, a necklace that adds 1 to my Magic score. Hey, if it helps me become a badass warrior, I'll wear anything! Leaving the house, I decide to head off into the hills, making my way back as the sun is now setting. On my way back I come across a small campsite, presumably belonging to the wondrous huntsman Giselle is after. A rabbit is being spit roasted over a fire, while a pony is tethered to the nearby trees. Disturbingly, the pony is very unsettled, straining to break free and run for the hills. Equally disturbingly, I find a small broken bottle on the ground, leaking a a bubbling black liquid, not dissimilar to what you'd see in a cackling witch's cauldron. Even more disturbingly, from the other side of the campfire I notice a huge, amber-eyed wolf watching me, an oily black liquid seeping from its mouth. Oh Bugger.

Who's afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf? ME.
My initial thoughts are that this is the witch's doing again, that cow who's been a pain in my arse ever since I started journeying in Valeron. Well, I say initial thoughts. My ACTUAL initial thoughts are something more along the line of HOLY SHIT I'M DEAD. This is not the Big Bad Wolf I've laughed at as a child.This was a creature moving in for the kill. Thanks to the luck of the die, he actually caused me less trouble then 'Grandma' had earlier! As the Wolf dies, it slowly transforms back into a man, as I feared may be the case. As his body grows stiff, I notice the black liquid still coating his lips. After his transformation is complete, I become aware of a quiet sobbing from near the trees. Liselle is shaking, tears streaming from her face. Her beloved huntsman is dead, transformed into a terrifying beast before her very eyes and then slain by the man who'd rescued her earlier from a Goblin trap. As first dates go, you'd have to say she's had a rough one. Poor girl is blaming herself too. She did everything the witch said, and yet it still transformed him into the Wolf I've just slain. Go figure, kid. Now trusting of me out of fear of what has just happened more than anything else, Liselle is willing to let me take her home safely. I neglect to tell her Grandma too has bitten the dust - don't want to ruin her day further. At this point the book tells me it is too late to travel back tonight, so we spend the night in the huntsman's wagon. UMM. As I am a fine upstanding sword-for-hire, I would like to suggest I do not bed her, instead merely spending the night together. Regardless, we share a cheery old breakfast (not) in the morning of overcooked rabbit, then head back to her father. He is overjoyed to see her, and surprisingly not angry when I tell him of events. Instead, he merely shakes his head and sighs. The damage this witch is doing is starting to get worse and worse, and I fear it'll all come to a head soon. My head, most likely. As a reward for getting his daughter back safely, the man gives me his prized sword Goblinhewer. I ditch The apprentice for this, as although I lose some Brawn I'll gain Speed and Armour. I seem to becoming more Magic-orientated anyway so it's no real loss. Not a bad prize.

This quest was longer than my first two, with far more potential for different paths. I can only assume quests become more and more developed as I progress, with whole storylines missable if I take a certain route. Indeed, with a little bit of searching I discovered that it is possible to meet the Huntsman before Liselle gets to him, thus saving him from his cruel fate. This is a promising sign indeed moving forward. My journey through the quest was longer than the first two as well, although not by as many entries as it felt like. 


I had a few fights, and could've fought more Goblins and even a Crocodile if I'd taken other paths through the quest. The Hobgoblin managed to take me down to 12 health at one point, thanks to what was clearly dodgy dice throwing.

Goblin Poachers - Speed: 0 Brawn: 1 Armour: 0 Health: 20
Hobgoblin - Speed: 0 Brawn: 1 Armour: 1 Health: 12
Big Bad Wolf - Speed: 0 Brawn: 1 Armour: 1 Health: 15

Balthus Dire

Main hand - Goblinhewer (Sword, +1 speed, +1 armour)
Feet - Crow's feet (Feet, +1 speed, +1 magic)
Ring - Widow's Band (Ring, +1 magic, Ability: Heal)
Necklace - Granny's Locket (Necklace, +1 magic)
Backpack - Grime-coated key
Money Pouch - 3 Gold Crowns

Speed - 2
Brawn - 0
Magic - 3
Armour - 1
Health - 30

Ok, so I am now a weed who has no brawn. However, I'm gaining magical strength and will likely be favouring items that help that stat from now on. That extra speed point will likely prove vital as well. I'm woefully poor though, so won't be buying things from the Tavern anytime soon. Time for a review!


Monsters/other NPC encounters: Little Red Ridin.... Liselle was entertaining as a stubborn girl who had allowed herself to be blinded by love and fell right into the Witch's hands for a spot of "fun". The huntsman, for the record, is called Manni and is a pleasant fellow. That is, providing you catch him before he goes all snarly. The better end to the quest is helping him kill the Goblin chief, getting you a better item and some money to go with it. Bugger. Decently fleshed out characters for a short quest I'd say. 7/10

Storyline/Plot: The witch is becoming a real pain in the arse. Classic fool in love story given a real "Grimm" fairytale twist. Poetic licence a plenty but an entertaining little quest. Worth pointing out though - Why the hell do I not tell anyone what had happened to Grandma?!!?!? 7/10

Difficulty: A supposedly easy Hobgoblin reminded me of why it is exactly that the Speed stat is king in Destiny Quest. In terms of what I would deem the best ending of acquiring the best loot, I'd say it's a little tricky to get there, but nothing in the quest is massively challenging. 4/10

Seal of Approval?: This was my favourite of the three quests I've undertaken in Destiny Quest so far, and I'm loving the multiple paths a quest can now take, even if it means I'll end up missing out on some killer loot down the line, most likely very soon. Being rebuked by a fiery teenage girl made me laugh, being nearly killed by a measly hobgoblin did not. All in all, a very positive sign of things to come. Not QUITE a seal-worthy quest though, so have my favourite Little Red Riding Hood picture from DeviantArt I could find that wasn't too risqué to include.

This is cool. 'Nuff said.

Having now finished all the Green "easy" quests in Act I, we'll be taking a short break from Destiny Quest to do some other gamebooks. But fear not, DQ lovers - we'll be back in Valeron soon enough. I've finally got round to sorting out the Destiny Quest homepage on this blog, so you should be able to catch up on what you've missed far easier now. The moral of this tale is thus: 

If you truly want someone to fall in love with you, use your wit and charm, not a potion. Else they'll likely become a bloodthirsty wolf and try and rip your head off.

Apologies as well for the slight delay in getting this post up - my laptop decided to do a full restore mid-week and I had to re-do the first half of the post. Fortunately I've lost no files that were more than 4 days old at the time so we're all good! 


May Your Stamina Never Fail...

Back to Allansia we go, with a visit to a swamp that offers multiple quests to us...

Saturday 2 May 2015

Quite the Turnip for the Books (DQ: Legion of Shadow - Best in Show quest)

Previously on Destiny Quest...

Balthus Dire wakes from a terrible dream with a purple hippie variant of the Dark Mark. Given an invitation letter to the great Avian Dale's academy, he sets off to get there. Arriving at the pleasant enough-sounding Tithebury Cross, he undertakes his first quest; to put an end to the Curse of the Cornfields! Succeeding without too much bother, he acquires a presumably-useful-eventually Grime-Coated Key and learns of a troublesome witch in the lands. What awaits him next? Let's find out...

So yes, we're back for more Destiny Quest! If you need a more detailed reminder of what happened last time out, I point you in the direction of the last quest for the complete account, as well as a briefing on the ins and outs of Destiny Quest - I won't be doing that every post. I may at some point do a "Rules" post and stick it at the top of the Destiny Quest page for easy reference, but for now that is the place to go. What I will do, however, is remind you (and myself!) what state Balthus Dire is in at Quests' beginning and end.

Balthus Dire

Main hand - The apprentice (Sword, +1 brawn)
Feet - Crow's feet (Feet, +1 speed, +1 magic)
Backpack - Grime-coated key
Money Pouch - 10 Gold Crowns

Speed - 1
Brawn - 1
Magic - 1
Armour - 0
Health - 30

Today we visit the quest to the right of the tavern.
So, we're nothing special at the moment, but hopefully soon Balthus Dire shall become one of the finest beings in the whole of Valeron! Shortly after stopping the curse of the cornfields, Balthus was inexplicably placed in stasis for 2 years. Remarkably, on exit from stasis everything was as it had been when he entered stasis. Indeed, nobody's dead Balthus! Before I head off to the next green quest on the map, I decide a trip to Tithebury's tavern is in order. I am presented with the choices of visiting the local market, The Pie and Black Bird or trundling over to a stone well, whereby a small congregation of villagers has gathered. As the book so kindly informs me the well visit starts a blue quest, which I remind you is supposedly of Hard difficulty, Balthus shies away towards the market. Tithebury's market consists of an apothecary, a clothier and a tinker, none of whom are in a tub, which is mildly disappointing. The apothecary had various single use items for sale that would heal me, raise my speed or raise my magic, but at 10 gold crowns a pot are too expensive for my liking at the moment. Politely telling him I'll come back later when I'm not poor, I head to the clothier. She has some rather interesting items that would improve a variety of attributes more permanently, but at 20 gold crowns a throw are even less affordable. However, if I acquire some items for her, she offers to fashion me some really snazzy gear. I shall now be on the look out for ragged boots, ragged cloaks, spindlesilk, bat leather and crocodile skin. Sounds rather witch-like, doesn't she? The tinker has useful items but is once again outside of my budget for now. He does, however, offer to bash together some crocodile skin and a damaged shield if I bring them to him. Thoroughly depressed at how poor I am, I head off to The Pie and Black Bird to get pissed.

An artists' impression of the tavern sign.
When I first enter, I am drawn to a group of farmers chatting around a table, and Valeron's answer to Gambit sitting on his own in the corner. Heading first to the farmers, on the basis of hoping to find out more about the key I got last time, I am told to go hunt the witch. After that they turn their backs on me and essentially silently tell me to piss off. Charming. Gambit is more talkative, telling me that if I'm after treasure I should head for the graveyard, as it's cursed and there's rumours of a book buried beneath the church. Gripping stuff, but as the colour quest by the graveyard is blue, I'll just put that on my 'To do' list. I decide to place a wager of two gold crowns on his little game of cards. He apparently explains the rules of his game to me, but as the book decides to skip this liberty I shall just assume we are playing Blackjack for the sake of arguments. Initially we have a stalemate, forcing me to add a further gold crown to the bet. Fortunately my second hand is better and I win three gold crowns! Satisfied with my winnings, I bid Gambit farewell until my next visit and go visit the Barman. He confirms that it is not just the farmers who are blaming the witch for the bad weather, then suggests I'd be better off passing straight through Tithebury and be on my way. Now, I'm all for shortcuts, but progressing onto the second 'home world' without besting many quests is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. He also informs me there's a giant causing trouble on the eastern pass, cutting off trade routes. I guess I'll deal with him later. Before I leave, I ask him if he knows anything about this Avian Dale I'm on the lookout for. It would seem he lives in the castle across the gorge, yet is a mysterious fellow. He doesn't appear to age, which the barman suggests is a sign of magic, which in turn means I should stay away from him. He does give me directions to his castle though, although there's a slight snag. Some troll has made it's home on the bridge crossing the gorge, and I'll get my head pummelled in unless I pay the toll. Well, bugger. I have a pint of Hobgoblin then bid The Pie and Black Bird farewell.

That tavern aside took longer than expected. In future I'll only revisit to do the well quest, and to buy anything from the market when I can afford the better items. Now it is time to go on another quest. Now, it is time for Best in Show...

Killer turnips - only £4.99 from Tesco.
On my way past a row of thatched cottages, an elderly woman pruning a cherry tree welcomes me over and introduces herself. She is Beatrice Fletcher, five-time winner of Best Root Vegetable in Tithebury. She grows turnips of gargantuan proportion that would make chefs rub their hands in glee. This year, however, she has a rival. Step forward Martha Weevil, who, I quote, I "should see the size of her turnips." Heh. Beatrice produces a vial of liquid she got from a supposedly kind witch from the woods. Offered money to spray some of this liquid on Martha's giant turnips (behave, children) I can't help but feel this is not really the work of a mighty hero. Not to mention that it stinks of cheating. Telling Beatrice as much, I get an angry rant how Martha is using witchcraft to win the competition to get enough money to feed her seven children now she's widowed. Personally I don't see how that is in any way bad, but as refusing to help Beatrice ends the quest, I reluctantly head on over to Martha's house. Her garden is in a bad way, weeds and dying plants all over the place. True to Beatrice's word though, three enormous turnips are growing in the corner of the garden. As the book offers me no further opportunity for a change of heart, I pull the stopper off Beatrice's potion and sprinkle it lightly over the turnips for a gentle seasoning of what I assume is anti-grow. Unfortunately, it is now where things go pear-shaped turnip-shaped. Martha's turnips sprout legs, arms, a scary jagged mouth and advance towards me looking not-too-dissimilar to my old geography teacher. Well, Bugger. Without any swede shoes to feed the turnips, I engage them in swordplay. I get some very lucky rolls for my attack speed and dispatch the turnips in a mere three attack rounds, literally cutting the smile off their faces.

As I slash the last turnip open I am greeted by a spray of white fleshy pulp showering the ground. I can't confess to having ever sliced open a turnip but I can really picture this sight of a dying turnip and, perhaps worryingly, the thought of it dying so gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Rather predictably, my performance has attracted an audience. Two of Martha's children look unsurprisingly shocked at some randomer murdering their turnips, and a third has gone and got Martha herself. For the second time in a single entry, I find myself laughing as the book tells me that Martha's "eyes scan the scene of turnip devastation." Not a line I expected to ever read in a book. Ashamedly, I chickened out and decided to blame the turnips for the scene before her. Martha says she felt they were magic but is shocked as they were to feed her family, and is grateful I saved her children from digesting deadly turnips. At this point I feel immensely guilty. So much for Beatrice saying Martha was trying to beat her to the prize, cunning bitch. Confessing my sins to Martha, I am pleasantly surprised that she doesn't immediately assault me. Instead, the widow breaks down in front of me at the mention of Beatrice's name, thoroughly upset that her narrow-mindedness has killed the miracle that was the turnips she'd managed to grow in her otherwise crappy soil. My conscience getting the better of me, I agree to help Martha get her own back on Beatrice, feeling it's only fair. Martha's plan consists of collecting bits of dead turnip and cooking up a pie from the same magic. Fight turnip with turnip, if you will. This is perhaps a bit crueller though, as Martha explains that she wants Beatrice to eat this pie. Wondering what on earth I've let myself in for this time, I offer Martha 10 gold crowns after seeing the squalor she lives in. Poor woman only has a bag of flour and some eggs left now those turnips are gone. As I imagine Tithebury's council is about as competent as any current UK council, I suppose this is no real surprise to see such poverty existing, but I hope my offering will at least go some way towards keeping Martha's family alive. After the pie is baked, I head back to Beatrice's place to switch it with one of her own.

I shall never look at a pie in the same way again.
The pie smells delicious as I carry it back, wafts of sugar, spice and all things nice infiltrate my nostrils and it takes all my self-control to not take a bite myself. Probably for the best though, knowing what powers of sorcery lie within the pastry. Beatrice has a pie she baked herself on her windowsill, so I perform a little switcheroo and head back towards Martha's house. After all, I've learned my lesson about waiting around to see what happens when you use unknown magic on things. Unfortunately I am immediately met by a sprinting Martha, telling me she's had a change of heart. Gee thanks sweetheart, bit late for that. Bursting into Beatrice's cottage, I am met by a scene best described as a more morbid version of what happened to Aunt Marge in the third Harry Potter book. Beatrice is ballooning in size, but unlike Marge, is also turning into a turnip before our very eyes! Wary of what happened in Martha's garden, I draw my sword. Fortunately though, Beatrice merely turns into a perfectly normal turnip. As Martha points out, it's fitting in a way - Beatrice will win the vegetable competition now! Remembering my kindness at giving her some money, Martha removes her wedding ring and offers it to me. Slightly scared at being offered a wedding ring by someone I've just met, Martha reassures me it's the least I deserve, but says it hasn't bought her much luck. Thanks. However, this Widow's Band will boost my magic and also give me healing powers. Yay! Thus ends my quest, which was far more barmy than I could ever have anticipated.

Once again, the quest was small, and theoretically could've ended before it begun if I refused to help out Beatrice. Instead, helping out both women ending up causing me all sorts of vegetable chaos which reminded me of the feature length Wallace and Gromit film involving Gromit's prize marrow. I've included my journey through the tavern section below as well, although I won't be doing so on subsequent visits there.

Tavern: 6-46-56-46-68-85-46-175-46-6-11-75-11-16-128-54-24-67-11-19-42-245-53-84.

Quest: 22-148-63-241-289-211-236-13-200-78-261-9-255-38-104

My only fight was with Martha's turnips, who somehow had some armour:

Turnips - Speed: 0 Brawn: 0 Armour: 1 Health: 10

As my speed is still only 1 at this point, any fight is still potentially devastating for Balthus. Hopefully I will soon acquire some items that enable me to be like Quicksilver, kicking arse all over Valeron. Martha's ring has boosted my overall stats though, for the cost of most of my money:

Balthus Dire

Main hand - The apprentice (Sword, +1 brawn)
Feet - Crow's feet (Feet, +1 speed, +1 magic)
Ring - Widow's Band (Ring, +1 magic, Ability: Heal)
Backpack - Grime-coated key
Money Pouch - 3 Gold Crowns

Speed - 1
Brawn - 1
Magic - 2
Armour - 0
Health - 30

I am now better suited to fight with magic than my fists/sword for the time being. Having dabbled in magic in this quest though, I am currently scared of dabbling further. (Not very fitting for the namesake of my hero, eh?) Anyway, time for the return of...


Monsters/other NPC encounters: Beatrice Fletcher, Martha Weevil, her killer turnips and her small armada of children. They are literally the only people encountered in the quest itself. I've never fought turnips in a gamebook before so I appreciate a change, and at least we get some development of the two women. They serve the quest well enough. 7/10

Storyline/Plot: More mentions of witchcraft at play, although not the big bad witch who caused me trouble in the cornfields. The paranoia of the villagers is starting to worry me though, as they seem to be on a bit of a witch hunt for anyone who does anything vaguely magical. Wonder if I'm next on the list. Never has the phrase "You are what you eat" been more valid than in this quest, either! I enjoyed the wackiness of the quest. 7/10

Difficulty: Even easier than the last one if I'm honest. 1/10.

Seal of Approval?: Destiny Quest II: The Turnips Strike Back. Perhaps would've been a better title for the post than my actual one, but this second quest on my journey was more enjoyable than the first due to more interesting characters and moments of humour caused by vegetable carnage. As a meat lover, slaying turnips was delightful. Not quite good enough to warrant a Seal of approval though, I'm afraid.

The only time I've ever enjoyed turnips. They're less deadly
in Smash than in Valeron, though.

I'm still no closer to finding the Legion of Shadow, stuck completing petty quests for very little reward. The moral of this story? Simple.

Never help a woman in distress. It only causes more distress.

Only kidding guys. Although in the case of this quest, it was certainly relevant!


May Your Stamina Never Fail...

Staying in the world of Destiny Quest, Balthus Dire recreates Little Red Riding Hood with dangerous results...

Tuesday 28 April 2015

The Parable of the Prodigal Blogger

I take no credit for this crude illustration of the ancient scribe.
Once upon a time, there was an ancient Allansian scribe who wished for all the brave adventurers who ventured the lands to have their exploits recorded in the form of a blog for Earth-folk to read and marvel at. He was the great William Shake-A-Spear, and he hired many scribes from Earth and gave them Fighting Fantasy books to read and generate adventures to be recorded. And so it was that these scribes went about the business of recording such epic adventures, from being a contestant in the deadly Deathtrap Dungeon to travelling among the stars in search of a black hole that will bring them back home.

However, not long after beginning his duty as scribe, the youngest (I believe) one decided to go to University, with the hope of furthering his writing prowess. It is at this point where things went wrong for the young man. He neglected his duty to the blog, being partly bombarded by the sheer demands of a Univeristy degree, but also due to laziness settling in, as happens to pretty much every student in the history of all time and space at some point. The scribe told himself he would continue his blogging duties but kept finding reasons to procrastinate from doing so, until he eventually reached the end of his degree with just a single post in the three years he'd spent doing it. Feeling somewhat remorseful, he returned to the ancient William Shake-A-Spear, and fell to his knees in front of him.
A perhaps slightly inaccurate recreation
of what the Prodigal Blogger got up to.
"Oh great skaker!" he cried. "I have sinned against Libra and before you. Your other scribes have produced many a great blog and I have left you with nothing but disappointment. I am no longer worthy to be called your scribe. Throw me to the Moon Dogs and be done with me." He then arose and awaited William's response. To his great surprise William tossed his spear aside, and embraced the young scribe.
"My friend, do not fret. Take this robe and ring, and feel free to take my pair of sparkly wellies. We must celebrate!" At this the young scribe looked positively stunned.
"I don't understand, your shakiness. Have I not done wrong?" William smiled, then shook the young scribe rather violently.
"Wrong? Of course not my boy! You were dead, and now alive again; you were lost, and now found." And so it was the whole of Allansia started to celebrate.

If you'll all forgive paraphrasing a parable from the bible and giving it a Fighting Fantasy feel, I decided that was the best way of explaining my absence from this blog over the last three years. Last week I sent off my dissertation (hooray!) and am now infused with new vigour to venture back into Allansia/Space/Orlandes/Valeron/Or.. (Shh it's a secret!) Whether my writing will be better and more witty following my degree remains to be seen, but I must admit I felt my stories produced in the second year of my degree were better than this years. My list of gamebook bloggers on the right of the site are likely outdated - if you have a gamebook blog and wish to have it listed here let me know and I'll add you to the list. I believe back in October 2012 I promised you all the next quest in Act 1 of Destiny Quest's first book, The Legion of Shadow, so that will come next. I'm hoping to try and do a post a week but I've learned my lesson to not make any promises in my second coming. For my moral of the post, I shall leave you with the words of Nelson Mandela. I'm back!

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. 

I've missed this guy. Hopefully you all give my return a seal of approval too!

Thursday 18 October 2012

Small Beginnings (DQ: Legion of Shadow Prologue & Curse of the Cornfields quest)

Humble beginnings dealing with farm pests - not
quite a peril to haunt the existence of the universe...
The Legion of Shadow starts with me wakening from a dream. Sadly this dream doesn't involve fluffy Bunny Rabbits who eat bankers that threaten to stop your overdraft. That is, for the record, a most delightful dream to have. This dream instead involves black-scaled monsters with sharp fangs trying to do unspeakable things to me. I lie on a soggy ground, with rain and mud in abundance around me. Charred, twisted corpses surround me. What the fuck happened in that pub last night, anyway?!?! I feel in pain, yet I am not bleeding, nor am I apparently injured in any way. I'm certainly not a charred corpse like my fellow inhabitants around me, that's for certain. Looking at my arm, I'm now sporting some flash purple mark branded into my skin. What makes this far better than any tattoo I've ever had in other playthroughs of Gamebooks is the fact that it has three diamond-bodied serpents intertwined in spirals and stuff. Neat! I hear a groaning sound and locate its source to be a small boy clad in plate armour. He would be fine, but on closer inspection it appears he took an arrow to the knee.. well, chest anyway. I ask the boy what happened, having not a Scooby Doo myself as to what the hell is going on here. Take me back to the fluffy bunnies, please!....

The boy informs me that brigands and thieves attacked our camp and gave me a clobbering on my head. Following that mild inconvenience, apparently some weird shit happened with the mark on my arm and magic  flowed from it, causing the mass charcoal pile that I'm standing in. I, of course, have no memory of what happened, or even who I am. Back to more pressing matters; this poor fellow is dying in front of me, the head assassin's arrow having found its mark. As is always the case in such adventures involving mass burned bodies and a loss of memory, this head assassin is seemingly the only survivor from the 'bad guys'. Then again, who is to say I'm not the bad guy here? I did apparently murder hundreds of men with a flick of my purple arm! The boy goes on to use his dying breaths to inform me that he'd only known me for a day; we'd met on the way to Tithebury Cross, wherever that may be. This boy (Let's call him Pike, shall we?) tells me that he was due to apprentice with the great Avian Dale, who is apparently highly important, if only I could remember! I swear, this is the last time I drink that shiny blue stuff... Pike tells me to fetch his backpack quickly, as Harpies are moving in for the kill. In this pack is Pike's letter granting him access to Avian Dale's academy. As Pike draws his final breath, I vow to assassinate the assassin who assassinated him (try saying that 5 times really quickly late at night!) I also take his sword, The apprentice (main hand: sword +1 brawn). I will explain what the brawn statistic means as the time arises, but note that I can only have one main hand item equipped at any one time. Should I equip another, my current one is deemed to have been destroyed. Equip-able areas of my person are a Cloak, Head, Gloves, Main Hand, Chest, Left Hand, Talisman, Feet, Necklace and two Rings slots. This customizability is one of the main strengths of DQ; you can truly make your character unique compared to everybody else's. Leaving Pike to presumably rot and be eaten by Harpies, I make my way to Tithebury Cross.

Excuse the giant sun-flare on the right-hand side of the map.
Tithebury Cross does not really have a giant white spot near the mountains!
 The above is the layout of Tithebury Cross and so I should probably explain how the actual adventuring in DQ goes. Each number on the map represents the start of a quest, legendary monster hunt, boss battle or tavern. Green swords represent the easiest of quests, with Orange being slightly harder, Blue harder still and Red ones representing quests only the brave should undertake. Spider-like things represent Legendary Monsters, Skulls represent the Boss (i.e final quest) of the Act and taverns represent... err, taverns! While not every quest and monster must be conquered in order to proceed, for the purposes of this playthrough I will be attempting each and every one. I'm going to go about this methodically; starting with the easiest quests at the top of the map and work my way down until all the green ones are done and so forth. The hero sheet requires me to give myself a name, so I must confess to going all nostalgic and giving my hero the name that I have always thought to be simply the coolest, most badass name in all of fantasy. Balthus Dire it is! For my first trick, I shall attempt to rid Tithebury of the Curse of the Cornfields...

I haven't got the key for your brand
new Combine Harvester, honest!
Balthus Dire is having a pleasant stroll through some fields when some crazy old farmer comes charging at me waving his pitchfork about. Apparently his farm is cursed and like a good old superstitious type, he's blaming a witch. A strange mist lingers over the land, a mist which the farmer insists is not the cause of his cows. A mystery, then. The farmer tells me that in this mist he has seen more terrifying shapes move about than you'll find in a tub of Moshi Monsters Pasta for kids. Why is the witch to blame, I hear you ask? Oh, you weren't asking. Well, I'll tell you anyway! The farmer's wife got all bitchy with the witch, accusing her of not looking after the farmers crops properly. This has seemingly caused the witch to put a curse on the land, blighting all crops and the like. I tell you, women arguing ALWAYS ends badly. I agree to help the poor sod; after all, the quest isn't going anywhere if I don't! I trundle off into the mist, with only The apprentice to aid me against the monsters lurking within. Eerily, every time I think I see something move in the mist, the wind howls and the mist swirls, forcing me to believe that what I saw was just a figment of my imagination. For a basic quest, this kind of suspense-building atmosphere is nice. Before I can appreciate the aesthetics of the writing too much, a murderous Scarecrow emerges from the mist and decides I look like a crow. Gulp. Now would also be a good time to explain the combat mechanics of DQ...

Crow's Feet; Never leave home without them!
There are 4 key attributes to combat: Speed, Magic/Brawn, Armour (thank god this is an English production, I couldn't cope with seeing "Armor" everywhere) and last but perhaps most crucially, Health. Each combat round starts with the combatants rolling for their attack speed, which is usually 2D6 + their speed attribute. The highest wins the combat round, then rolls a single D6 adding the total to their Brawn score. The defendant's Armour score is then subtracted from that, leaving the final total to be deducted from their health score. A new combat round begins and the fight continues until somebody is very dead. Of course, the cavern-sized list of treasure one can acquire throughout DQ offers many items with combat modifiers, but I'll explain them as and when it is necessary. The good thing about DQ is that the combat scales in difficulty as you get through the book and get more powerful, something FF never did quite manage to perfection! Anyway, I start with 30 Health, an attribute that will refill to the maximum after every fight. My speed, armour and brawn all start at 0, although thanks to The apprentice my brawn now sits at 1. To cut a long story short, the Scarecrow ends up as little more than chopped straw, leaving me to escape with my dignity and pride intact. A necklace made of human bones around the bugger's neck appears to be what bought the thing life, so with one quick slash I remove it. I can now claim a reward for my victory from two items, with the one I plump for being Crow's feet (Feet: +1 Speed, + 1 Magic). After adorning myself with the bizarre item drop from our angry straw friend, I follow a green flickering light ahead, as that is what any self-respecting adventurer would do! Following the green mist road, I soon find a funky totem that is quite obviously out of place. The gleeful destructive side of me concludes that smashing it to pieces will be a most useful exercise, so The apprentice in hand I stride forth to kick totem ass.

Ahh, anyone remember this little gem of a game?
Tanks would have been far more effective
than my sword in destroying the evil totem too.
Unfortunately for me, I get winded by the mist punching me in the stomach. (See what I did there? I've been off a while, give me a break on the witticisms!) This Mist Stalker is a disturbing guardian, complete with 'green eyes glowing with a malevolent hunger'. My magic Crow's feet allow me to give this stalker a severe restraining order before I return to my favourite pastime of destroying evil totems. Slicing it neatly down the middle in a way that would impress on MasterChef, relief hits me as the mist and dodgy green light effects vanish almost instantly, leaving me standing with the crazy old farmer who arrives and does a little Irish jig around me in happiness. I demand a reward for my efforts in saving his crops, and get for my reward... wait for it, wait for it, it's a cracking prize.... a GRIME-COATED KEY. Thank you so much, you useless peasant. Thus ends the tale of the Curse of the Cornfields. What a nice easy start to my quest it was too!

So, the journey. As you'll have noticed, this pint-sized quest could (and was) undertaken in a mere 20 minute period, so they make ideal for short, regular blog posts! As Destiny Quest is a load of mini-adventures, obviously I do not start at reference number 1.


Short, sweet and effective. I like it! Only two fights as well, which were as follows:

Scarecrow - Speed: 0 Brawn: 1 Armour: 0 Health: 8
Mist Stalker - Speed: 0 Brawn: 1 Armour: 0 Health: 10

To fill you in on where Balthus Dire stands at the end of each quest, I've decided to include a short character summary;

Main hand - The apprentice (Sword, +1 brawn)
Feet - Crow's feet (Feet, +1 speed, +1 magic)
Backpack - Grime-coated key
Money Pouch - 10 Gold Crowns

Speed - 1
Brawn - 1
Magic - 1
Armour - 0
Health - 30

Ok, time to cross series and use a tried and tested feature, time for...


Illustrations: There are the colour panels in the middle of the book which are very nice, including the maps of each act/homeworld which you've seen the first of earlier. Apart from that, the one sad omission in my eyes is that of any black and white illustrations throughout the remainder of the book. Even if it was only for all the Legendary Monster quests, as illustrations of those would be welcomed with open arms. Without any illustrations this section of my analysis will obviously not feature when it comes to DQ titles sadly. N/A.

Monsters/other NPC encounters: The farmer, the Scarecrow and the Mist Stalker. That's all there is for this tale, but it's all you need for a minimalistic quest such as this. Think of it as a more sinister version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Mist Stalker is an interesting fellow, and for a first quest I am satisfied with the ensemble I encountered. 6/10.

Storyline/Plot: I believe this quest is part of an ongoing storyline with the Witch, something which should play out nicely as I get through the quests in Act 1. It is a fairly generic plot for the quest (Farmer has trouble with crops, needs adventurer to save his means of living) but the atmosphere with the mist and evil glowing green light saves it from being boring. 6/10.

Difficulty: Nice and easy. Not much more to say really! 1/10.

Seal of Approval?: Obviously this doesn't have to be the first quest you undertake from the book, but as my first quest I must say that it serves as a nice introduction to fighting and the aspect of equipping an item to your character. In that respect, it does very well in what I assume is intended to be an introductory quest in many ways. It is, of course, no classic, so no fluffy Seal here. An honourable mention though.

The award for a well-done if generic adventure.

A good start to my Destiny Quest adventure then. I'll round this up nice and quickly with a brief moral completely unrelated to anything you've read above:

Be yourself; everyone else is taken. Thanks for that one Oscar.


May Your Stamina Never Fail...

I sort out an altercation involving turnips and progress no further to stopping the Legion of Shadow...

Return of the Blogger

Good day to you all. It's been a while, hasn't it? A dodgy internet connection at University coupled with an onslaught of work in the early weeks caused me to take an early winter hibernation, but with a break this week I unleash upon you all the beginning of Destiny Quest: The Legion of Shadow, which frustratingly had been virtually finished an entire month ago. Sad times. Hopefully I will be able to do an update at least once every 2 weeks now that I've got my head in gear, but we shall see. Should I continue to fail you with updates once again, hop along to Marsten's Blog of Wonders, where I have been put to shame by regular updates despite an exploding computer. Not to mention a reminiscing about Knightmare, which was a frankly awesome TV show. Anyway, enough of this, get reading my next post, it's the one with action in it!  

A dancing Crocodile. Because I can.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

You Plonker!

At least I'm not a member of the Groovy Gang!
I have a confession to make. I am an idiot, a fool, a twit, a plonker, a dunce or whichever synonym you care to use. Having signed up for the Beta testing for the Ipod app of Blood of the Zombies as made by the lovely people at Tin Man Games, I received an email from Neil Rennison aka the Tin Man himself telling me that I was awesome and granting me a commission to write a Gamebook Adventure. Ok, maybe that was merely a dream...
What he did send me though was an email sent to all Beta testing applicants with an NDA (That's Non-Disclosure Agreement) for us to sign and return basically stating that we were aware that all work we were testing was property of Tin Man Games and we would not plagerise or otherwise rip off any of the work we were testing, or steal any of Neil's Triple Chocolate Cookies. I duly signed it and attached the signed copy in an email reply and sent it off...

Or, to be more precise, I thought I had. Upon receiving a further email from Neil this morning confirming the time had expired to send back the NDA's, I noticed something truly horrible in the corner of my eye! Having deleted the email from my Uncle Fester I also noticed the number 1 in brackets by my Drafts folder. Bugger. My fears were confirmed when I opened the folder. I may have filled out the NDA but I had never actually sent the email back. This was disappointing. Lessons will be learnt and I will hopefully get the chance for a later production; maybe the House of Hell app. For now though, I merely hang my head in shame and think that I probably deserve that stupid Tattoo on my forehead I got recently on my trip to Port Blacksand. A fairly obvious moral here;
Always check that you have done something you think you have, do not merely assume it has been done.
With that I'm off to hopefully use more sense in my adventures through DestinyQuest; I'll return soon folks!

Tuesday 28 August 2012

An important announcement that reveals all!

The time has come.
I'll keep this brief. I've been itching to get this started for a while and so it gives me great pleasure to announce that a new gamebook series will join the ranks of May Your Stamina Never Fail! In case the giant picture on the right does not give it away, this series is the Destiny Quest book, (Soon to be books!) The Legion of Shadow. Quite frankly, it's awesome. Think of Fighting Fantasy mixed with World of Warcraft, with a bit of old-school platforming in the vein of the classic Spyro the Dragon series. I say platforming for the reason this book is split into three acts (Home Worlds) with each one having various quests (Levels) and also a boss battle (As is) and various Legendary Monsters (Mini-bosses). It is not compulsory to complete every quest to finish this book, but fear not; I shall be attempting every quest and legendary monster going on my playthrough. The great thing about DQ is that when/if you die, you do not have to start the entire book from the beginning. Thank God for that by the way; this book is bigger than a person who eats McDonald's their entire life! You instead go back to the aforementioned "home world" and lose any items you picked up on the quest you happened to be on. That's a neat way of doing things, although it must be noted that the early quests are so short that you can breeze through them without too much trouble anyway. In Destiny Quest you can pick up items/armour/weapons to equip your character with that give bonuses to his/her stats and also grant them special skills. I won't bother listing them all here for there are far too many; check out the official Destiny Quest website for more, although I do plan on doing a post listing them all for convenience sake in the near future.

My method of doing a post for an entire gamebook will be torn to shreds for this series. Instead, posts will (probably) be shorter, each one focusing on a single quest, plus any visits to Taverns for healing/item purchasing between. I will still analyse my adventure as usual, with my journey through the quest laid out and ratings for each aspect of the book still present. (Barring Illustrations - more on that come the first quest playthrough) I thought about changing the title of that feature to 'How much Destiny was in this Quest?' instead of 'How much fight was in this fantasy?' although that seems:

A) Too cheesy.
B) I feel continuity is important to this blog and keeping my features with the same name feels right.

If anyone has any opinions on that matter please let me know, this is for your sake as much as mine! That especially applies to Michael J. Ward should he read this. If he does, firstly Hi, thanks for taking the time out to read my blog. Secondly, thanks for writing an awesome book and continuing the series with The Heart of Fire and hopefully many more to come. Thirdly, do you have any objections to me using a specifically FF-style name for a feature when analysing your gamebook? I should have mentioned; Michael J. Ward is the author of this little gem. I learnt yesterday that the greatest reward of writing a gamebook playthrough/review blog is getting the author of the work themselves to read the post after Ian Livingstone himself read my City of Thieves playthrough. I am unashamed to admit I am still floating around somewhere up on Cloud 9. Having already played through Act 1 of The Legion of Shadow in the few days after I got the hardback edition on release day, I can say that the first few quests should be easy to me and that therefore there should be a quick-ish stream of content coming this way soon. Seeing how this blog has evolved into much more than merely a Fighting Fantasy playthrough blog (It will remain primarily so though!) I have decided to remove the FF logo from the right hand side of the page. I've babbled on way too much now, so I'll cut to the moral:

Everybody in the world has the chance to do extraordinary things. All they have to do is be brave enough to take a leap and seize their chance with both hands. Don't wait for that chance to come to you; take that leap and find it for yourself.


May Your Stamina Never Fail...

The quest to stop the Legion of Shadow commences...